The First Letter of Peter: Chapter 2:4-10

Study No.8: (1 Peter 2: 4-10)

As the Body of Messiah we are spiritually joined to each other. We are in fact like bricks or stones cemented together. The cornerstone is the Messiah our Lord Jesus. In Roman times a stone bridge was built with a cornerstone which held all the other stones in place by pressure. It was a very strong bonding that did not actually have any cement as the cornerstone held them tightly packed together. Even today there is some old Roman Bridges in England that are still standing and in some cases you can still drive a small truck over the bridge, so sturdy were these bridges the Romans built. As New Covenant believers in Messiah Jesus we are spiritual living stones that together are God’s Temple.

Today God’s temple is not a physical temple built of physical stones but a spiritual temple which has its life and centre in the hearts of God’s people individually and corporately when New Covenant believers come together to worship God. As it is written; “He who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). Each individual member of the Body of Messiah has the one and the same Holy Spirit dwelling in them and it is the Spirit of God that unites them as one Body. He is the Spirit of truth not error, and where the truth of God’s Word in its entirety is given absolute authority in the local assembly of believers there will be true unity in the Spirit in the bond of peace.

As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:3-6).  The unity of the Holy Spirit is based on the truth of God’s Word and any other ‘unity’ attempted that is not in line with the Word of God is not the unity of the Spirit but a false and deceptive unity. This is why ecumenism will never work! God calls us His temple and lives in us as believers individually and unites us corporately as His Body in the person of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19) (2 Corinthians 6:16) (Ephesians 2: 19-22).

Unity in the Spirt in the bond of peace was essential to the spiritual wellbeing and survival of the first century believers facing increasing persecution. They were exhorted to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit cemented by the bond of peace. In these last of the last days making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace is absolutely essential for the survival of the Body of Messiah, especially when the beast kingdom of the Antichrist starts to persecute the saints for the last three and a half years of this present age (Revelation 13:6-7). At this time the Second Coming of Messiah will be the only hope His Body on earth will have. What will matter will not be the timing of the rapture but the Second Coming of Messiah to earth to catch us up to meet Him in the air at His coming and return with Him to earth as the bowls of God’s wrath are being poured out. We are destined for tribulation in this world but not for wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9). Now let’s look at what the apostle peter tells us about God’s living Temple on earth…

Exposition: (1 Peter 2:4-10)

(Vs. 4) “As you come to him, the living Stone–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him”

The Lord Jesus Himself is the Living Stone and the full embodiment of the Temple of God in human form, and the rock of salvation and the foundation stone upon which we stand by faith and build our spiritual and temporal lives in this world as God’s building. The Word of God is our instruction manual on how to do this and our street directory as it were to help us find our way around in the Kingdom of God. As the Living Stone He is the source of all true spiritual life and is that rock of that indestructible and eternal life. He is a spiritual rock of steadfastness, consistency and un-ending and endurable spiritual power and sustenance that we will ever need for this life and that will carry us into the life to come after the close of this present age.

To the unsaved in this world and to those who are religious but not spiritually reborn from above He is not relevant to them. They may acknowledge that He existed in history and there are many within Christendom who know about Him but do not Know Him as their true source of spiritual and temporal life in this world. They do not have the inner witness of the Spirit with their inner spirit that they really belong to Him. As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father! (Daddy in Hebrew)” (Galatians 4:6).  Our position in the Messiah is not religious but relational!

While the Lord Jesus is not really relevant to those who do not know Him personally or have not encountered the revelation knowledge of Him in their lives He is not precious to them, but to God and to us who have been saved by Him He is precious and chosen by God. What men call precious and place value on in this world is totally different and diametrically opposed to what God calls precious. For those of us who have been born again by the Holy Spirit the Lord Jesus is the sure, solid and totally dependable foundation rock upon which we are building our daily lives and the one we hold in the highest esteem and honour above everything else we hold dear (1 Corinthians 3:11).

The Messiah our Lord Jesus is the only foundation rock upon which to build our lives in this world and will stand when the storms of life hit us hard. A beautiful building may be grand and splendid to behold and its architecture awe-inspiring and made of the finest and strongest materials, but if it has been built upon the sand it will not stand when the adverse storms of life come. As members of God’s spiritual temple we cannot avoid the storms of life, but if our lives are being built on that solid foundation rock of God’s Word then our lives will stand and when the storm has passed, and it will in God’s time, still be standing even though it has been battered by the severity of the storm. We build that foundation when we hear and obey the Word of God (Luke 6:46-49). Peter then continues…

(Vs.5) “… you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Messiah.”

As we constantly grow in our spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus the Living Stone we become more like Him. We become those living stones because the source of our spiritual life and power comes from Him. Because He is holy we also become partakers of His holiness and progressively become more like Him in our thoughts words and actions. This is what God has predestined us for (Romans 8:29). How does God do this? The author of Hebrews tells us; “Furthermore, we have all had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them. Should we not much more submit to the Father of our spirits and live? Our fathers disciplined us for a short time as they thought best, but God disciplines us for our good, so that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:9-11).

Our holiness comes from being joined to Messiah Jesus by faith. He is our holiness and through the Holy Spirit He imparts that holiness to us. As rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “It is because of Him that you are in Messiah Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God: our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). He is our salvation and we are saved by His indestructible perfect life dwelling in us through by the Holy Spirit. It is also written; “holiness adorns Your house, O Lord” (Psalm 93:5). In the time of the Temple there were High Priests who were ordained by God to appear before Him to offer up sacrifices and offerings for the sins of Israel. These priests were to be holy, set apart to God who served and worshipped God in His temple and interceded for God’s people. They were a royal priesthood set apart to serve their King the triune God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Now Peter tells us that as God’s living temple every believer is royalty, a royal priesthood serving God and their fellow priests in the Body of Messiah. As a royal priesthood all of us as a kingdom of priests have been given by God the right and privilege as His sons and daughters to enter into His presence with boldness and freedom of speech, to worship and communicate with Him, and to intercede for our fellow brothers and sisters. This way has been made possible by the blood of Messiah our Great High Priest who offered up Himself as the Passover Lamb of God by shedding His own pure blood untainted by sin once and for all time to atone for our sins, and for the sins of the whole world (Hebrews 10:19-20) (1 Corinthians 5:7) (Hebrews 9:26-28, 10-14) (John 1:29) (Hebrews 9:14).

The priests in the Temple offered up spiritual worship through the physical sacrifices and offerings, however, we as a kingdom of priests offer to God the spiritual sacrifices of praise, worship, thankfulness and through prayers and intercession for others. We are to be living sacrifices and we can only do this through the grace and mercy of God when we offer ourselves unconditionally to His will. As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect “ (Romans 12:1-2).

We have a spirit. Also we have a soul consisting of our intellect, our emotions and our will and a physical body. If God gets control of our bodies then He gets control of the contents as well. We yield our bodies to God to become instruments through which His righteous character is revealed to others who are unrighteous (Romans 6:12–13; 8:11–13). When we are filled with the Spirit and worshipping together we are offering up spiritual sacrifices to God. As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Messiah” (Ephesians 5:15-21).

Spiritual sacrifices then, are any words or deeds motivated by a desire to glorify God alone and done because we love Him and want to please Him in all things. This is at the very heart of holiness. Jesus promised us rewards for every kind action done in His name (Mark 9:41; Revelation 22:12). With these spiritual sacrifices God is well pleased. These spiritual sacrifices are only possible by the lavish grace of the Messiah our Lord Jesus who enables us to offer them through the power of the Holy Spirit. As John writes; “To Him who loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood, who has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father— to Him be the glory and power forever and ever! Amen” (Revelation 1:6).

Now the purpose of stones related to a building is not that they be kept in isolation from each other but to be joined together to erect the building. If you take too many stones out of a building it will collapse. This is why fellowship in the Holy Spirit with other believers around the Lord’s Table, around the Word of God, and through united prayer in the Holy Spirit and by the exercising spiritual gifts in worship is important to our spiritual survival as individual members of the Body of Messiah as it was to the assemblies to which Peter was writing. God gives us gifts of the Spirit that they might flow through us to others in the assembly when the believers meet for worship.

When we exercise these gifts it is not for our own gratification but for the sake of others that they might be edified and encouraged in their walk with God as we comfort others with the comfort we have received ourselves from God. All of the gifts of the Spirit are given according to the will of the Spirit and not according to our will (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). There are specifically gifted men who are ordained by God to equip the local assemblies for works of ministry and service. These are permanent appointments within the corporate Body of Messiah (Ephesians 4:11-13). Then there are other gifts which flow among the local assemblies when they meet together for worship and ministry and for other spiritual ministries (Romans 12:6-8) (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

As living stones in God’s temple we are dependent on one another if the temple is to remain solid and strong, especially when under attack from Satan and his henchmen in the unseen spiritual realm of the atmosphere. The gifts of the Spirit are God’s spiritual weapons through which His people are edified, exhorted and encouraged and have the wherewith all to wage spiritual warfare with the powers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in that unseen spiritual realm. These are part of God’s spiritual arsenal to pull down spiritual strongholds in our lives and in the lives of others. As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “For though we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Messiah” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Now let’s continue…

(Vs.6) “For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

A cornerstone, or a foundation stone, or a setting stone, is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation. All other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.  Since the ascension of the Messiah our Lord Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost God has been building His living Temple on earth, namely the Body of Messiah. Just as the corner or foundation stone holds all of the other stones in the building together so the Lord Jesus as the head of His Body, the faithful Church, holds each member together and sustains them by His powerful word, the same word that holds everything together in the universe.  As the author of Hebrews writes; “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).

If we would be upheld spiritually, and especially in those times when we are hit by the storms of life, then we need to be living moment by moment of every day by faith while trusting totally in His Word which is the only foundation for building and stabilising our lives in this wicked and perverse generation in which we are living as we hold out that Word of Life to others. As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).

No one who has put their trust in Him will ever be put to shame. The world may reject us and seek to shame us but God will never shame us but say to us when we arrive in glory; “Well done My good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord!” As we read in the book of Romans; ““the word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed (put to shame).” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “whoever will call on the name of the lord will be saved” (Romans 10:8-13).

So then the Messiah our Lord Jesus is God’s chosen and precious stone that He has laid in Zion, being the people of God corporately on earth, and they are precious to God as His sons and daughters by adoption and totally excepted by God in the beloved Messiah (Ephesians 1:6). Rabbi the apostle Paul had much opposition to his stand for Messiah Jesus and when the gospel of the kingdom was preached by the beleaguered apostle he was not ashamed of the message he proclaimed because he knew it was the power of God for salvation to all who would believe and absolutely vital for ones place in eternity, being either in heaven or in hell and ultimately in the lake of fire (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). As we read in the book of Ephesians; “He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Messiah, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the Beloved One. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:5-7).

By and large the world rejected the Lord Jesus and this will be the same in for us as Jesus’ brothers and sisters in Him in the last of the last days. While multitudes will be saved the majority of mankind will perish. God has always had a faithful remnant and it will be the same at the end of this present age. The Lord Jesus told us that if the world by and large rejected Him they will also reject us as His followers and disciples (John 15:18-21). Despite what men say or do to us, despite our circumstances or how we feel, if we are really trusting in the Messiah Jesus moment by moment to guide and preserve us spiritually, and seeking to walk continuously in step with the Holy Spirit and according to the Word of God, we will never be put to shame no matter what the devil dishes up to us! As God’s beloved children in this world we have nothing to be ashamed of!

(Vs.7-8) “Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message–which is also what they were destined for.”

The Lord Jesus is precious to all that believe and we hold Him in the highest esteem and honour above all else we have in this life. Our first and foremost desire should be to please Him by seeking to do what He tells us to do in His Word, the Bible. He is precious because He is the only source of our spiritual and temporal life in this world. We draw our life and power from being connected to Him by faith. Apart from Him we cannot bear spiritual fruit for God that will last for all of eternity. He is the true vine and we are the branches spiritually grafted into Him. He is our life! (John 15:1-8) (Colossians 3:4). To the born again, blood washed, blood redeemed child of the Living Triune God the Messiah Jesus is the capstone of His body, the final stone at the top of the wall, or that final stone that completes the structure or metaphorically speaking of someone’s greatest achievement.

The builders that rejected this capstone and vaunted themselves against His Lordship were the religious leaders, the Pharisees and the Sadducees of His day, and by and large the whole Jewish nation who called for His blood at His trial before Pilate. They did not hold Him to be precious and the only foundation stone upon which men and women could become a part of God’s living temple on earth and enter into His eternal kingdom. Having said this, at the end of this present age Israel will be fully restored spiritually and nationally after a remnant have encountered their risen and glorified Passover Lamb sacrificed for their sins and return to Him with tears of joy and repentance! (Zechariah 12:10-13:1) (Romans 11:25-29).

The unsaved of this world, “the wheelers and dealers” and those engrossed in the fleshpots of the Egypt of this world when they encounter the Lord Jesus will either turn to Him or reject Him. There is no middle ground in salvation. It is not a take it or leave it matter to be discussed over a cup of coffee, but a vital decision that one must make in light of eternity. In the Word of God men and women were confronted with life or death with no grey areas of compromise. In the New Testament it was a matter of heaven or hell. In the Bible the Lord Jesus, the apostles and the Old Testament prophets gave people the law of God before they gave them the grace of God. This has been true of all of the preachers down through the ages that have preached the uncompromised Word of the Living Triune God without exception. Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, George Whitfield, John Wesley, William Booth and many others always gave men and women the law of God before they gave them the grace of God.

The Lord Jesus and His Word is that strong rock that causes those striding through life without a care for God to stumble when they are confronted by Him and they ultimately fall as they are faced with the eternal issues of life. Their plans and ambitions are shattered and in that shattering will be confronted with their need to rebuild their lives on a strong foundation found only in the Messiah our Lord Jesus. They fall and their only hope is to be picked up by the good shepherd and have their lives put back together according to the will and the Word of God. As God says through Jeremiah the prophet; “Is not My word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that smashes a rock?”(Jeremiah 23:28-29). C.H. Spurgeon said; “The Word of God is the iron anvil upon which the hammers of men’s opinions are smashed!”

Those who reject God’s commandments and insist on living only for themselves, for their pleasures, for their careers and for the material and sensual pleasures this world offers, will stumble and ultimately fall into perdition where there is weeping and grinding of teeth because they will see what they should have had, and could have had, and could have been in Messiah Jesus, but have forfeited it for all of eternity and that without reprieve. While God in His foreknowledge of all things knows who will ultimately be saved and who will be ultimately be lost He still gives people the choice as we see all the way through the Bible.  As Moses said to the Children of Israel as they were about to enter into the Promised Land; “I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life, so that you and your descendants may live, and that you may love the Lord your God, obey Him, and hold fast to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life in the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

(Vs.9) “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.

In these verse Peter tells us who and what we are in God and what He has chosen us to be in the Messiah our Lord Jesus…

“We are a chosen people;” chosen by God, not because we have deserved it or earned it or merited it in any way but because of his love. We did not choose Him naturally or by a sudden action of our will because in our flesh dwells no good thing from God’s perspective. He chose us even before we were born and gave us the capacity to respond to Him but did not do the responding for us, this we have to do ourselves. We were chosen to belong to God for His exclusive use and to fulfil His will and purposes on earth. In His foreknowledge He saw that we would respond to Him and on that basis chose us even before the foundation of the world to belong to the Lord Jesus. (John 15:16) (Genesis 18:19).

As we also read in Ephesians; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Messiah, who has blessed us in Messiah with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:3-5). David also writes in the Psalms; “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16).

You are a believer today, not because you woke up one morning and decided to believe, but it was the unmerited favour and calling of God at work on you long before you even realised it, that led you to repent of your sins, to put your trust in the Lord Jesus to save you from the power and eternal penalty of your sin, to enable you to trust in His atoning, redeeming, and cleansing power of His blood shed for you on the cross, and to receive forgiveness of your sins (Ephesians 1:7). Why did God choose you and me? Only in eternity will we know as we are known (Ephesians 2:8-10). As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

“We are a royal priesthood;” because every New Covenant believer in the Messiah is a priest before God and can go before God on behalf of others and primarily not for themselves. This priesthood we have directly comes from the priesthood the Lord Jesus has. We belong to God and are co-heirs with His Son and members of God’s eternal family through adoption.  What the Lord Jesus receives from the Father we also receive. As sons and daughters of God by adoption and the brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus through the new birth, God is treating us the same way that He treated the Lord Jesus when He walked this earth. The anointing of the Spirit that was upon the Lord Jesus has flowed off from Him onto us (Acts 2:33) (Psalm 133:2). We derive our spiritual life and power from Him alone. He is the source and wellspring from which we drink of the eternal quality of life that resides in Him (John 4:13-14). As royal priests we have the privilege and God given right to come into the very throne room of God Himself with boldness and freedom of speech.

As the author of Hebrews writes; “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16). Our spiritual sacrifices offered to God in His very presence are praise and worship, thankfulness and gratitude and interceding for others on their behalf. As the apostle James writes; “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail” (James 5:16).

The Lord Jesus has a permanent priesthood on the basis of the power of an indestructible life as we read in Hebrews as “one who has become a priest not by a law of succession, but by the power of an indestructible life” which nothing or no one can overcome including Satan and his henchmen from Hades (Hebrews 7:16). That same indestructible life and power is in us who are trusting in Him to save us to the uttermost because we have fullness of spiritual and temporal life in Him. All of the Triune Godhead dwells fully in Him as well as in us and we are complete in Him in every way before the throne of God as royal priests (Colossians 2:9-10) (John 14:23). As the author of Hebrews also writes; “But because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely (to the uttermost) those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly befits us—One who is holy, innocent, undefiled, set apart from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:24-25).

“We are a holy nation;” that derives its holiness corporately as His Body and individually as His brothers and sisters directly from Him. He is the true vine and we are the branches drawing the divine sap of His indestructible life to produce spiritual fruitfulness for God and for the extension of His kingdom on earth. “If the root is holy so are the branches” (Romans 11:16). As it is written; “Your testimonies are very sure; Holiness adorns Your house, O Lord, forever” (Psalm 93:5). God’s Temple is holy and we are His temple “As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (2 Corinthians 6:16). Living for God and walking in His love shed abroad in our hears by the Holy Spirit is the distinguishing mark of each one of us as God’s Temple in whom He permanently dwells in the person of God the Holy Spirit. As it is written; “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a).

“We are a people belonging to God;” because we are His possession purchased by the redeeming power of the blood of Jesus the Messiah. We have been set apart to God for His exclusive use and according to the pleasure of His will. As it is written; “For it is God who works in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). We are no longer our own to do as we please or see fit, but through the blood of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit we are given the desires to please God as obedient children. We are family as far as God is concerned! We are to seek to do what His Word tells us to do and although our obedience is not perfect if our desire to be obedient is in us and we are willing to be made willing to be obedient, then the blessed Holy Spirit will go to work perfecting in us that holiness without which no one shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). God has done all of this for us and has adopted us into His everlasting family and sealed us with the Holy Spirit of Promise for the day of redemption. Why? Well Peter tells us…

“…that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.

Whatever we receive from the Lord we are to praise and thank Him for it as “the Lord inhabits the praises of His people” (Psalm 22:3). We are also told “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Messiah Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Thankfulness is the highest form of praise we can give to God as it honours His character and please Him as thankfulness is an act of faith, not primarily the emotions. Our faith will release the right emotions, and the peace of God that transcends all human understanding will garrison the seat of our affections and channel our thoughts to focus on the Lord Jesus and the promises of God’s Word the Bible. We offer up to Him the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving as the two go together and are power twins that move the heart of God to go into action especially when the enemy of our soul is attacking us. Praise and thankfulness will drive him out of our affairs (Psalm 8:2) (Psalm 9:1-3) (Psalm 50:14-15, 23). God is pleased with persistent faith and He rewards it (Hebrews 11:6) (Luke 18:1-8).

Having said this, there will be times when we will all face times of oppression, depression, trying circumstances that seem unyielding and other various trials an afflictions, and it is at such times we learn to give things in all things. Not all trials are from the devil. Sometimes God will actually allow a situation to come across our path that we did not engineer and that the devil had nothing to do with it, although he will always seek to take advantage of such situations. However, God has allowed it, not to afflict us or because we have done anything wrong, but to see if we will trust Him because He already has the answer and to thank Him for it even though nothing has changed in the natural.

All of us can testify to the fact that we are no longer in spiritual darkness, ignorance and under the power of sin but that we have been given spiritual sight and light and it is “marvellous and wonderful” compared to what the world can offer What greater comfort our soul and spirit can have when everything around us seems dark and even foreboding, His Word remains the same and will still say the same thing tomorrow as it does today (Isaiah 40:8) (Psalm 119:89). Whatever our circumstances God through His Holy Spirit can be totally depended on to lead and to guide and to strengthen us by the light of his Word the Bible. As the psalmist writes; “Send out Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, and to the place where You dwell. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy. I will praise You with the harp, O God, my God” (Psalm 43:3-4). And then we read…

(Vs.10) “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

We will become what God has called us to become according to His foreknowledge and plan for our life set in eternity. When the Messiah our Lord Jesus called Peter “a rock” he was anything but a rock. However, after he had been spiritually restored by the Lord Jesus after denying Him three times, Peter became a solid pillar of strength in the Body of Messiah. For any one of us it is always and only by the grace of God that we will ever spiritually survive in this world. Even Peter had his moments of weakness and in the Bible we are told that in one instance when he sided with the Jews through fear of them and distanced himself from the gentile believers even though he kept many of their customs, it was Rabbi the apostle Paul who called Peter out for showing partiality in relation towards the Jewish converts (Galatians 2:7-14).

There is a story told about Peter which may have credence within Church history of how when the Christians were being persecuted in Rome that he started to walk down the path away from Rome. As he walked he met the Lord Jesus walking the other way and asked Him “where are you going Lord? Jesus replied “I am going to Rome to be crucified.” Peter then turned and walked back towards Rome. When the Romans came to crucify Peter he asked them to crucify him upside down because he said he was not worthy to be crucified as His Lord had been.

Before we were saved we did not belong to God or were we numbered among His people, but now through our faith in the Lord Jesus that has brought us salvation are now joined to the Lord and one in spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17). Once there was a time when we did not confess and have the name of God written on our hearts, being the seat of our affections, and we were in desperate need of God’s mercy until we received His mercy through His grace and by faith, not of ourselves, it was the gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-10). When we experience the mercy of God that He lavishes on us we need to extend it to others in need of mercy, the mercy of God (Luke 6:36) (James 2:13) (Hosea 1:8-10).  As it is written; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Messiah, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). As the Lord Jesus Himself said; “Blessed are the merciful because they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

Go to Study No. 9