Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Our Relationship with Christ (1Peter2:1-12; Ps34:8; Ps42:1-2.4,9; 50:13-15,23; Zech6:12-13; Matt5:3,5,6,8,10)

  1. Redemption we have in Christ (Chp1)

  2. Relationship we have with Christ (2:1-10)

  3. Responsibilities because of Christ (2:11-3:16)

  • To Sinners (2:12)

  • To Sovereigns (2:13-17)

  • As Servants to Masters (2:18-25)

  • To Husbands (3:1-6)

  • To Wives (3:7)

  • To One Another (3:8)

  • To Every Man (3:15)

  • Summary (2:17)

  1. Reality of the Resurrection Life of Christ (3:18ff)

  • In Salvation (3:21-4:7)

  • In Service (4:8-11)

  • In Suffering (4:12-19)

Getting Started with Christ:

wherefore laying aside all malice” (v1)– saw in chp1 that Peter deals with the Doctrine of the Lamb, Peter presents that Powerfully, Practically and Personally! He’s not so interested in what will happen with the Lamb in eternity but practically what impact does the Lamb have upon me today! Practical Peter!

It is the Power of the Passover Lamb (1:21,22), that changes us from lust (v14) to love (v22).

In chapter 2 we are gong to make progress and we see that not only have been Redeemed by Christ but Peter is going to exhort us to enjoy a 3 fold ongoing Relationship with Christ:

3 Fold Relationship with Christ:

  1. As Newborn Babes (2:1-3) we are to be Feeding Upon Christ.

  2. As Living Stones we areFounded Upon Christ .

  3. As a Priesthood we Carry aFragrance of Christ.

as a Holy Priesthood (v5) we carry a fragrance of Christ to God

as a Royal Priesthood (v9) we carry a fragrance of Christ to men.

There are certain things which will hinder me in enjoying that relationship with Christ, and these things we must first put away, “laying aside,” :

  1. malice”: evil, wickedness of heart / life, used in Acts 8:21 of Simon the sorcerer, wickedness arising from a wrong thought, “for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 22Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” (Acts8:21). Used of the root of evil in the soul.

  2. guile”: 1388: from the word for ‘bait’ – guile, deceit, intrinsic dishonesty. Illust: mouse trap, peanut butter, there’s some dinner for you wee mouse, along comes the mouse and whack, down on the napper, things weren’t what they seemed to be! The essence of guile is deception!

  3. hypocrisy”: 5272: from the word for an actor, who wore a mask to pretend to be what he wasn’t. Anything that I hide behind before God or before men will hinder my spiritual progress.

  4. envies” : 5355: the desire to take away what another has, whereas jealousy is the desire to have what another has.

  5. evil speaking”: 2636: slanderer.

Are these 5 sins, just 5 sins picked at random? Are they connected in some way?

Some have suggested that these are all vices that will destroy fellowship between believers, undoubtedly. Over the years many of us have learned this, not so much from scripture as from experience!

These sins do seem to have raised their head amongst the Christians to whom Peter wrote for in 3:8-10 Peter presents a set of spiritual virtues which are the cure and the answer to these carnal vices, virtues which will restore the harmony of fellowship:

  1. Contrast “having compassion one of another, love as brethren” (3:8) with the “malice, guile, hypocrisies, envy and evil speaking” of 2:1.

  2. The word “evil” of 3:9 is from the same route as the word “malice in 2:1.

  3. Contrast “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing.” (3:9) with the ‘slander’ of 2:1.

There is an even deeper problem than this however with these 5 sins, for we cannot harbour these sins in our heart, harbour grudges against one another or attempt to get one over on one another and yet continue to make spiritual progress.

Any believer marked by these sins is intrinsically spiritually unstable. For with them lies an even greater problem than that of the disruption of fellowship with one another.

There are 2 places in scripture where these vices come together:

  1. Eden (Gen3) –– these were the 5 vices that marked Satan, these are Satanic in origin.

  2. Golgotha – these are the sins that led to the rejection of Christ at Calvary:

    1. And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.” (Matt26:4) – “subtilty” = “guile

    2. And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.” (Luke20:20) – “feign” – ‘hypocrisy

    3. For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.” (Matt27:18)

These are vices which come to the fore when Satan is active and busy!

These are vices which do more than simply attack our fellowship with one another but rather they will disturb the fellowship which we have with God Himself.

In essence these are 5 sins against sincerity.

A hint of insincerity in 1 Peter (3:8, 4:8-9, 4:15)?

How do I keep myself from such sins (v1)?

  1. By the Power of the Passover Lamb (1:21-22)

  2. By the Power of the Spirit (1:22)

Such new life is fed and encouraged as we come to the Word (2:2)

As we come to the Word we come to the “sincere” milk – literally ‘Guile free’ milk, cf. ‘fat free milk.’

Sin will keep me from the Word (2:1) and the Word will keep me from sin (2:2)!

We will see when we come to the priestly service of the believer that God has no time for double standards! “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.” (Prov11:1). The standard for service in the sanctuary is the same as the standard for service in society! Those who minister in the sanctuary as a Holy Priesthood (v5) are the same as those who minister in society as a Royal Priesthood (v9).

  1. Newborn Babes (2:1-3) – Feeding Upon Christ (Ps34:8; 42:1-2)

Of what is the apostle speaking in verse 2?

That’s easy he’s speaking of the Bible, the Word is the Bible:

  1. When the sower went out to sow seed he sowed the Word of God

  2. 1Tim5:17 – overseers “labour in the Word

  3. 2Tim2:15 – Timothy was to rightly divide the Word of Truth

  4. Heb4:12 – “The Word of God is living and powerful…”

But verse 3 – “The Lord is gracious

But verse 4 – “To whom coming as unto…”

On what am I feeding? On the Bible? On Christ?

I want you to help me to interpret this section, for this I’ll need top draw upon your experience.

You have come to the scriptures in the past:

  1. Some sin half plastered over; that sin has been exposed

  2. At crossroads in your life, at a decision, come to a section of scripture with such undeniable relevance, you were given the guidance and direction required.

  3. Come to the scriptures over a period of days, weeks, months, a certain line of truth, doctrine or ministry, but it seemed to have no direct relevance at that time. You turn a corner in life and there SMACK! You are faced with that very issue, you have been prepared for that eventuality.

Let us just consider those encounters with this book. They have been marked by:

  1. Intelligence – knowledge of need

  2. Relevance

  3. Prophetic insight – seem to know what lies ahead

  4. Sovereign plan – certain scriptures brought at certain times

  5. Sensitivity – ministering to your need in a sensitive way

These are not the features of a book! These are the features of a person!

As I have an encounter with this book, I have an encounter with a person!

So the first sphere of relationship is: Feeding upon Christ!

Important to see how we encounter Christ – not voices in head, not a hunch or a feeling, through His Word!

As we come to the page of the Word of God we come to the person who is the Word of God.

Is there a contradiction here from what we said on Chp 1? We said that the power for the Christian life comes from the Passover Lamb? Here we say that the Power comes from feeding upon the Word of God.

Gods provision for power in the Christian life lies not only in the blood of Christ as the lamb but lies in the resurrection life of Christ!

We have a living Saviour who is able to understand our need and who is willing to sustain us from His Word!

In the reality of His resurrection He is able to draw near and minister to us.

Christ Himself drew near” (Luke24), “Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures.” (Lk24:32).

If you’ll put down your paper, switch off the Tele, take out the CD, unplug the video, put the telephone answering machine on, and set real time aside in His presence with His word, He will do the same again!

Christ Himself will draw near and He’ll upon unto you the scriptures, the reward for the sacrifice of time spent in His presence is this that your heart will burn within you while He talks with you by the way and opens to you the scriptures and you will have “tasted that the Lord is Gracious” (2:3).

Well we’re doing this already Stewart! We’re not all doing this! For we’re not all growing (v2). If we were all doing this we would all be growing.

  1. Founded Upon Christ (Ps42:9)

Christ as the stone:

  1. The stone is a person (Is8:14) – The Person is The Lord (v13)!

  2. The stone is a place (Is8:14)

  3. The stone is a problem (Isa8:14)

  4. The stone is precious (Isa28:16) – since it is the object of faith.

  5. The stone is a paradox (Ps118:22)

  6. The stone purges sin (Zech3:9).

  7. The stone is marked by the Power of the Spirit of God (Zech3:9).

A strange transition from the babe and the milk and the stone?

Compare Genesis 28 – the stone which was a pillow becomes a pillar at Bethel – the pillar and ground of the truth and then on Gen 29, Rachaels first memory of Jacob will be of the man who roles away the stone for her to receive refreshment from the well for the flocks. The stone connected with foundation and with refreshment.

What is the connection between feeding upon Christ and being founded upon Christ? What is the connection between the milk of the Word and the Stone?

  1. Not only does Christ build us up individually but He also builds us up collectively. Individual growth leads to collective growth.

God doesn’t just find me as a lost sheep and forget about me!

God finds me and feeds me as a newborn babe, and fills me and then fits me for His purpose in His work.

As we move from individual growth to collective growth, the foundation is the same – Christ!

  1. The 2 go together because 2 desires go together:

The desire for sustenance – feeding, I want to be satisfied goes hand in hand with a yearning for stability – the rock, I want to be secure:

that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom15:4)

We have perhaps here in the stone the thought of Reliability (v6).

In particular 4 features of the stone seem prominent in 1 Peter chp2:

  1. Reliability

  2. Resurrection

  3. Rejection

  4. Resemblance

  1. Resurrection: “a living stone” (v4)

A Living Stone because of His resurrection.

This is no ordinary stone, for this stone is not only laid as the foundation for the house but it also does the building of the house, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church;” (Matt16:18).

A hint of this in Zech3:9 where the stone has upon it 7 eyes, the Spirit of God. “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zech4:6).

  1. Rejection: “disallowed indeed of men” (v4)

Christ is “disallowed indeed of men” (v4) – a reference to Ps118 but why include it here? Of what relevance is it?

The foundation of this house lies in a rejected Christ!

The foundation of this house was laid at Calvary; “For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.” (Zech3:9)

I think we have here again the principle of conformity to Christ, that we are not only founded upon Him but that we are fashioned after Him.

Only those who have identified with Christ in His rejection can be part and parcel of this building (1Pet1:1;6-7).

disallowed” (v4,7): 593: to try, prove, discern, used in 1:7 of the believers “tried with fire.”

The believer is proven by God by trial and the Saviour was rejected by men by trial.

God is building a house on a foundation of rejection, only those rejected by the world can be built into this house.

This is a house of those accepted by God and rejected by men.

The pattern was set in the foundation and it is unalterable.

The word is also used in the LXX of Zech13:9 for saints rejected by men and accepted by God, “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried.”

This is why I am passing through what I am passing through so that as a stone I might be fit for Gods purpose.

  1. Resemblance:

ye also as” (v5) – after the pattern of Christ.

Note the principle of conformity here!

The building is made up of living stones, the building is living!

Do our assemblies resonate with the vitality of the resurrection life of Christ (1:3,5) or is it more the empty echo of the museum?

The life of these living stones is empowered by the Spirit of God, Presence of Christ, Resurrection of Christ (1:3) and the Power of God (1:5)!

You would think listening to some that the reality of the Spiritual life was something that happened in the past and all we do is just keep the second hand memory of it alive.

Is it a case of ‘formality with little reality, a certain faith without fervour’ (Jim Allen on Ephesus).

  1. Fragrance of Christ (Ps42:4; Ps50:14,23)

We have here believers presented as priests, but priests in a 2 fold way!

  1. Holy Priesthood (v5) – serving in the sanctuary

  2. Royal Priesthood (v9) – serving in society

  1. Holy Priesthood (v5) – ‘offering up to God’

  2. Royal Priesthood (v9) – ‘showing forth to men’: to tell, declare abroad.

  1. Holy Priesthood (v5) – linked with Gods House

  2. Royal Priesthood (v9) – linked with Gods Kingdom

I notice this that the believer functioning as a Holy Priest precedes him functioning as a Royal Priest, that the entering into Gods presence (v5) precedes the showing forth of Gods character (v9)! I must go into God before I go out to men!

From this 2 fold presentation of the priesthood of the believer I would deduce this; that if I experience failure in ‘going out’ the first thing I must examine is my ‘coming in’ before the Lord! These 2 spheres of service go hand in hand! The standards required for service in society are the same as those required for service in the sanctuary! We’re trying to be a Royal Priesthood and we’re not a Holy Priesthood! We’re trying to preach and we’re not praying! We’re going out and we’re not coming in! So often we experience failure in evangelism and we examine the method, rarely is the method significant, we need to examine our soul!

Ps50:23 - Holy Priesthood: “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me…” and the Royal Priesthood: “and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.”

What are these sacrifices which are being offered in the sanctuary (v5)?

These Spiritual Sacrifices (v5) are offered up “by Jesus Christ” and therefore must be consistent with His Glory.

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” (Heb13:15) but see how this goes hand in hand with “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Heb13:16).

Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? 14Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:” (Ps50:13-14)

15O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. 16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm51:15)

Notice that in Zech3:9 the Holy Priesthood is linked with the foundation stone of the temple.

Royal Priesthood (v9) – a priesthood of Kings? That would be inconsistent with scripture that we are all Kings and Priests (Rev1:6), we are a Kingdom of Priests to our God.

This then is a priesthood that belongs to a King! But of course a priesthood belongs to God and so the King to whom this priesthood must belong to must be God!

I suggest that here is a priesthood governed and guided by a set of principles and values not of this world and not of this order but which belong to a different administration, a different world, a different Kingdom.

Consider some of those principles of conduct that emerge:

  1. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matt5:8) - Purity of Heart: “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (2:11) –.

  2. Persecution for Righteousness sake: “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (2:12) – “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” (Matt5:10-11).

  3. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.” (Matt5:6) - Live unto Righteousness” (2:24).

  4. Blessed are the meek” (Matt5:5) – “meek and quiet spirit” (3:4)

From 2:12 to 3:16 we move out towards men but with a set of values that does not find its origins in man, we live as belonging to another, with the seed of His Kingdom within us, live according to a set of values foreign to this world.

Such a priesthood is an anticipation of a system of Divine government for this world in a day to come, read of it in Zech 6:12-13 – The Royal Priest:

  1. Rule will come from a temple not only a palace

  2. Rule will come from a priest and not only a King

  3. Rule will come from God not only a man

In the conduct of the believer today, a man or a woman who is in touch with our Great High Priest, who has a fragrance of Christ and a fragrance of the sanctuary there is the anticipation of a future day in their life and service for Christ.

As we move out into the world we take with us a fragrance from the sanctuary, a fragrance of Christ clinging to those priestly garments!

Is that not it? Is that the source of our lack of power?

Not feeding upon Him, not really founded upon Him and thus we fail to take a fragrance of Him out to others?

God wants to see us:

  1. Enjoy that Relationship with Him – that is a priestly action – Holy Priest

  2. Display that Resemblance to Him, go out for him – this too is a priestly activity – Royal Priest.

Christ again determines the pattern, the principle of conformity to Christ is once again clearly seen:

    1. Feeding – is Feeding upon Christ

    2. Founding – is founding upon Christ, living stones as He is the Living Stone and rejected stones as He is the Stone whom the builders disallowed!

    3. Fragrance of Christ: The Sacrifice of the Holy Priest is “acceptable by Jesus Christ” and the Service of the Royal Priest is to “shew forth the praises of Him” (v9).

One other very practical lesson that comes form all of this is that evangelism and testimony is a priestly function, a priestly activity!

The core, the heart of my testimony for Christ does not lie in my preaching to others, the power for testimony does not lie in the multitude of words!

The core of Christian testimony lies in the activity of the Christian living as a Royal Priest, that is taking a fragrance of Christ out to a lost world!

In fact Peter teaches that it is as I live out Christ and as I show something of the character of Christ in meekness, righteousness, patient suffering and kindness that doors begin to open to testify of Christ and questions begin to be asked of my faith in Him: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (3:15).

But remember that the power for this testimony lies in the sanctuary it lies with my own personal experience and relationship with Christ! Nothing else will substitute! If I experience failure in my going out the first thing I must examine is my going in!

At times we can have a very elevated view of ourselves, as if the Lord is somehow obliged to use us in whatever spiritual condition we might be in, distant form Him, not marked by time in His presence, lacking any real burden for prayer and not really feeding upon His Word! So often in our spiritual condition we really are in no fit condition for the Lord to open the door of testimony for us to go through.

Evangelism begins not with our lip but with our life not with what I say but with what I am. We saw the same truth in 1Thess1:8-9, it was the power of changed lives that carried the message of the gospel.

The power for that life flows from the sanctuary: from my prayer life, my appreciation of Christ, for who He is and for what He has done and from my feeding upon Christ in His Word.

This truth is brought out again in 3:15 – “and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.” Our evangelism flows from our relationship with Christ, not form a second hand appreciation of Christ or simply from a good knowledge of the Bible but from a living and vibrant experience of Christ.


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