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SCRIPTURE REFERENCES » 1 Peter 2:1-12

Morning Sermon: The Church As Temple: Its Purpose, 1 Peter 2:1–12

Old Testament Reading: Psalm 71

“In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me! Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man. For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you. I have been as a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent. For my enemies speak concerning me; those who watch for my life consult together and say, ‘God has forsaken him; pursue and seize him, for there is none to deliver him.’ O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! May my accusers be put to shame and consumed; with scorn and disgrace may they be covered who seek my hurt. But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again. I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long, for they have been put to shame and disappointed who sought to do me hurt.” (Psalm 71, ESV)

New Testament Reading: 1 Peter 2:1–12

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’ So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:1–12, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

Brother and sisters, I want you to see that Christ’s church is glorious. 

From an earthly and unbelieving perspective, the church of Jesus Christ does not seem to be glorious. Christ’s churches are often small, poor, powerless, and even persecuted in the world. Those who look in upon the church with natural and unbelieving eyes, will not see her glory but will consider her to be weak, insignificant, and even foolish. But those with eyes to see – that is to say, those who can see how things really are with eyes of faith – will perceive that the church of Jesus Christ is in fact glorious. 

The church is glorious because her builder is glorious. And who is the builder of the church except for God the Father himself. He is building his church through Christ his Son, and by the Spirit. The church is glorious because her builder is glorious. 

Two, the church is glorious because her foundation is glorious. And what is the foundation of God’s temple-church? It is not made of stone or precious metal. No, Christ himself is the foundation. He is the cornerstone. And alongside him are set the apostles and prophets who have testified authoritatively concerning him. The church is glorious because she has a  precious and glorious foundation.

Three, the church is glorious because her stones are glorious. And what are the stones of God’s temple-church. They are not literal stones, but living stones. The stones of God’s temple-church are people made alive through the hearing of the gospel of Jesus Christ and by the working of the Spirit. The stones of God’s temple-church are those who have believed in Christ. These are those who have aligned with him. These, by the grace of God,  and by the working of the Spirit, have faith in Christ and have been washed by his blood. The church is glorious because her stones are glorious. They are living stones made alive by the Spirit.


Four, the church is glorious because her destiny is glorious. The tabernacle and temple of Old were grand and glorious structures. Indeed, the glory of God did fill them. And indeed, they were used by God in a glorious way, for a time. But they were designed to pass away. Those earthly structures were designed to give way to Christ, his new covenant, his finished work, and his eternal reward. There is no physical tabernacle or temple under the New Covenant. There will be no tabernacle of cloth or temple of stone in the new heavens and earth when Christ returns. Those structures will have no purpose or place there. But God’s spiritual temple-church is here now and she will be present in the new heavens and earth too. Christ, our cornerstone will be there. The apostles and prophets will be there. And every living stone that God has chosen and called to faith in Christ will be there too. Then, the glory of God will fill all, and we will behold his glory. And so I say, the church is glorious, for she is eternal. The temple-church that God the Father is now building through the Son and by the Spirit is eternal for it will be brought to completion in the new heavens and earth, which is the eternal state. 

Five, the church is glorious because her purpose is glorious. And that is what I would like to talk about today – the glorious purpose of God’s inaugurated temple-chruch. 

And what is the purpose of the church? Why does she exist? Or better yet, for what reason does she exist?

I hope you can see why this is an important question. Every institution exists for a purpose. And those who wish to understand the institution, or to be a part of it in a meaningful way, or to see to its flourishing, had better understand its purpose. 

A man and a woman would be wise to ask the question, what is the purpose of marriage?, before entering into the institution of marriage. I would argue that a lot of marriage troubles stem from a misunderstanding of what the purpose of marriage is. Our confession speaks to the purpose of marriage when it says, “Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and the preventing of uncleanness” (2LCF 25.2). That simple statement is true and helpful.

Similarly, a person would be wise to ask the question, what is the purpose of government?, before entering into public service. Our confession speaks to the purpose of government with these words: “God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him, over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and to this end hath armed them with the power of the sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers. A great deal of the problems that exist in government would be cleared up if men and women would first ask the question, what is the purpose of this institution? 

Of course, when I speak of the institutions of marriage and family, and of the civil government, I am speaking of things that have been instituted (created, established, set into motion) by God. God instituted marriage and the family in the beginning. And God has instituted civil authority (see Genesis 9:5-7, Romans 13:1-7). Ultimately, these are not institutions created by man, but of God. And so it is he, and not we, who has established their purposes. We, as his creatures, are to receive these institutions and submit to God’s design for them, as revealed in nature, and much more clearly in Scripture. When we ignore God’s word concerning his design and purposes for these institutions, we ruin them because we misuse them. 

Now, the institutions of marriage and the family and of the civil authority are common to all men and women living in all times and places. The leaders of nations and all who live within them ought to be concerned to maintain these common institutions and to encourage their flourishing. They will flourish only when we submit ourselves to God’s design for them as revealed in nature, and much more clearly in Scripture. But the church is not common to all. No, it is only those who trust in Christ and who are aligned with him as their foundation who are a part of the church. And the government of the church has not been entrusted to civil authorities. Ought the civil authorities to leave men free to worship God? And ought they to even desire to see God worshiped in their realms? Yes! But they have not been entrusted with church power. No, the church has Christ alone as Head and Lord. And he has given authority to his churches. In brief, elders are to lovingly rule, lead, shepherd, and oversee. Deacons are to serve. And members are to freely submit to the loving rule of the elders as they use their various gifts for the building of the body of Christ in love. But who, I ask you, is head of the church? Answer: God is. And he rules the church through Christ. 

Listen to our confession on this point: “The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner…” (2LCF 26.4) Who is the Lord and Head of the Church? Christ is. Who is building the church? Christ is. Who has instituted the church? Christ has. Who orders and governs the church? Answer: God, through Christ the Lord.

To state the matter very directly, it is not up to us to decide what the church is. No, God has revealed it. He has told us who the only foundation of his church is: Christ the Lord, and the Apostles and prophets who have testified concerning him. God has revealed who the stones of his temple-church are: they are those that trust in and align with Christ. And he has told us what the purpose of his church is. One, the purpose of the church is to worship God. Two, the purpose of the church is to proclaim the excellencies of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Let us now consider the purpose of the church under these two headings. 

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The Purpose Of The Church Is To Worship God

One, the purpose of the church is to worship God.

The fact that the church is called God’s temple makes it clear that she exists for worship. God redeemed Israel from Egypt, he entered into a covenant with them, and then he commanded that they build his tabernacle, which was a portable temple. Temples are for worship. And so we may say that Israel was redeemed to worship the Lord.

And the same is true for all who have been redeemed by Christ, but in a much greater way. Christ has redeemed his elect from the domain of darkness. He brings them to faith and into the Covenant of Grace by the preaching of his word and by the working of his Spirit. He then adds these as living stones to his ever-expanding eternal temple. Temples are for worship. You have been redeemed to worship, brothers and sisters.

This is what Peter says in that passage we read earlier. 1 Peter 2:4: “As you come to [Christ], a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4–5, ESV). 

So then, those who come to Christ and receive him by faith are both being built up into a spiritual house and they become a holy priesthood. And for what? “…to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

What are these “sacrifices”, are what makes them “acceptable to God?”

Let us address the last question first. What makes these sacrifices “acceptable to God”? 

One, they are acceptable to God when they are offered up “through Jesus Christ”, that is to say, through faith in him and by his mediation. 

Two, these sacrifices are acceptable to God when they are offered up by the working of the Spirit. That is what “spiritual” means here. It does not mean “invisible”, though it is true that these sacrifices are often invisible, especially when compared with the physical and tangible sacrifices of the Old Covenant. No, spiritual does not mean invisible here, but Spirit empowered

Three (and this is somewhat related to what was just mentioned)  these sacrifices are acceptable to God when they are offered up to God up from the heart. 

Do you remember how Cain’s sacrifice was rejected while his brother Abel’s was received by God? What was the difference? It was the heart. Cain’s heart was far from God, as his actions proved. But Abel’s heart was true. As Hebrews 11:4 says, “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4, ESV). 

And do not forget King David’s famous words in Psalm 51. He sang to the Lord, saying, “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:16–17, ESV). 

To worship God in an acceptable way is to worship him, one, through faith in Christ, two, having been made alive by the Spirit, and three, from a  heart filled with love and thanksgiving.

And what are these sacrifices that we are to offer up now under the New Covenant? Not the blood of bulls and goats, not an offering of grain, drink, or incense. No, we are to offer ourselves up to God as living sacrifices, as Paul famously says in Romans 12:1ff. This means that we are to worship God with all that we are. We are to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. 

In particular, when God’s people assemble, they are to, one, worship the Lord by listening attentively to the word of God read and preached. We are to receive God’s word by faith. We are to examine ourselves by the light of the Scriptures. And we are to resolve to obey the Scriptures in thought, word, and deed. 

Two, God’s people are to worship him through prayer. “Prayer is an offering up of our desires to God, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, believing, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies” (Baptist Catechism, 105). Prayer, alongside the reading and preaching of the Scriptures, is an element of New Covenant worship.

Three, God’s people are to worship him by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Listen to what Paul wrote to the church in Colossae. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:15–17, ESV). Notice two things about singing. One, there is a sense in which we sing to one another in the church. We sing to one another because we are to sing the Word of God, that is to say, the truth of Holy Scripture. One of the ways that “the word of Christ [will] dwell… richly” in a congregation is through the singing of songs that are true to Scripture. Two, there is a sense in which singing in the church is prayer, for we sing to God the Father through faith in Christ the Son, and by the Holy Spirit. I wonder if you have thought of our singing in this way. When we sing we encourage one another with the word. And when we sing, we pray to God in unity in a melodious and harmonious way. Singing is an element of New Covenant worship. 

Four, God’s people are to worship him by observing the sacraments, or ordinances, that Christ has given to the church. There are two: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper ought to be observed weekly (Luke 24:35, Acts 2:42, Acts 20:7, etc.). Baptism ought to be administered whenever the Lord blesses us with an opportunity. The administration of baptism and the observance of the Lord’s Supper are elements of New Covenant worship. 

The Old Covenant had its elements for worship. And the New Testament has elements of its own. 

Second London 22.5 identifies these elements of worship when it says, “The reading of the Scriptures, preaching, and hearing the Word of God, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord; as also the administration of baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, are all parts of religious worship of God, to be performed in obedience to him, with understanding, faith, reverence, and godly fear…”

You have been redeemed to worship, brothers and sisters. And yes, it is true that we are to worship God always and with all that we are as individuals privately, in families, and as we go about our lives in society. But here in this sermon our concern is the corporate. God has not redeemed you to worship merely as an individual, nor merely as a family, but corporately, Lord’s Day after Lord’s Day. This is why the scriptures warn against neglecting the assembly. This is why so much ink is spilled in the New Testament concerning the church. And this is why the church is described in corporate terms: the church is God’s kingdom, God’s flock, and God’s temple – you, brothers and sisters, are the living stones, and you were made to worship.  

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The Purpose Of The Church Is To Proclaim The Excellencies Of Him Who Called Us Out Of Darkness And Into His Marvelous Light

The second purpose of the church is to proclaim the excellencies of him who has called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light.

I have not left much time to elaborate on this point. Lord willing, we will return to this idea in a sermon in the not-too-distant future. For now, let us simply acknowledge that this is what Peter says in 2:9: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, ESV).

The purpose of the church is to worship. And the purpose of the church is also to proclaim. 

To proclaim is to declare or announce. To proclaim is to publish abroad. 

And what is the church to proclaim? Answer: “the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9, ESV)

What is meant by “excellencies”. One who is excellent is great, glorious, good and praiseworthy. 

And who is this excellent one? It is God. The purpose of the church is to worship. And the purpose of the church is to proclaim the excellencies of God. In particular, we are to proclaim the excellencies of the work the Father has done through Christ his Son and by his Spirit, to call us out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

To whom is this proclamation to be made? We are to proclaim the excellencies of God the Father and of the redemption he has accomplished through his Son and applied by his Spirit, to one another, to our children, to those who do not yet believe who are in our midst, to our friends, family and neighbors, and even to the ends of the earth. 

Those who are in Christ have been called “out of darkness into God’s marvelous light.” And we are to be a light in the darkness, therefore. As Paul says, “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8, ESV)

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Conclusion

I began this sermon by saying, I want you to see that Christ’s church is glorious. 

In order to see her glory and her beauty, you will need eyes of faith. Natural eyes will not do. 

I pray that God would give you eyes to see the church is glorious because her builder is glorious, her stones are glorious, her destiny is glorious, and her purpose is glorious. I pray that  God would give you the wisdom to see that the glory of Christ’s church is not superficial – no, it is spiritual and substantial. There are many counterfeit churches, brothers and sisters, that for one reason or another appear to be glorious on the surface. But if its builder is not God – if its foundation is not Christ – if its stones are not living stones made alive by God’s word and Spirit, and if its purpose is not worship and the proclamation of the excellencies of God and Christ, then its destiny is not eternal life, but eternal condemnation. 

Christ’s church is glorious to the extent that she possesses these characteristics, qualities, and purposes. She is glorious to the extent that she trusts in Christ, submits to God and to his word, and lives for his glory. May the Lord help us to think with clarity concerning the church, and may we grow to love her more and more. Indeed, Christ loved the church and gave up his life for her. May we love the church because we love our Savior and all that he loves. May we love the church because we love our God who has called “us out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  (1 Peter 2:9, ESV)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, 1 Peter 2:1-12, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: The Church As Temple: Its Purpose, 1 Peter 2:1–12


"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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