Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Peter. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses one through twelve of the second chapter. When you come to this particular portion of this first epistle written by the apostle Peter you will find him writing and speaking concerning a very specific building—not only in the sense of a building itself, but also in the process of building. It’s worth noting when reading this passage of Scripture that the apostle Peter recognized and understood that there was something that was being built within the earth—something that was not built with or by human hands. As we read these words which the apostle Peter wrote unto the strangers which were scattered abroad, we find him bringing them face to face with the concept of that which the Lord was doing in the earth through His church. I can’t help but wonder if as the apostle Peter was writing these words his heart and mind didn’t journey back to that moment when he and the other disciples were in the presence of Jesus Christ Himself, and Jesus presented them all with a very specific question. If you’re wondering what particular passage I’m writing and speaking about, you will find the passage found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew. If you begin reading with and from the thirteenth verse of the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find the following encounter between Jesus and His disciples:
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou s halt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ” (Matthew 16:13-20).
When you approach, and when you read the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture you will not immediately find Jesus speaking unto His disciples concerning His building His church within the earth. As you approach this passage you will find that where Jesus began was not with a statement of intent, or a statement of purpose as it pertains to building the church within the earth, but rather with a question surrounding and regarding identity. It is absolutely imperative that we recognize and understand this all important concept concerning identity, for it doesn’t touch our identity, but rather the identity of the eternal Son of God who was and is the eternal Word of God who took on the form of human flesh. What gives this even more meaning and intensity is when you consider that twice within this gospel account there was a specific instance and occurrence when Jesus had an encounter—not only with His Father who was in heaven, but also with His own identity as the eternal Son of the living God. Before we can write, speak about, and even discuss that which Jesus has built, and that which Jesus is building within the earth, it is necessary that we first recognize and understand that at the very heart of that which He is building is the reality of Idenity. Within this New Testament gospel of Mathew we not only find an encounter between Jesus as His Father as He emerged from the waters of baptism at the Jordan River, but we also find a secondary encounter between Jesus and His Father as he was transfigured before Peter, James and John atop a high mountain. The first occurrence of Jesus the Christ with His Father who was in heaven concerning identity is found in the third chapter of the book. If you begin reading with and from the thirteenth verse of the third chapter of Matthew’s gospel you will read and find the following words:
“Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But john forbad him,s aging, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered Him. And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the after: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and HE saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17).
It’s absolutely necessary that we begin with the third chapter of the gospel which was written by Matthew, for it is this particular occurrence which took place at the Jordan River that served as the foundation for Jesus’ identity as the Son of the living God. It’s even more telling when you come to the following chapter within Matthew’s gospel—the first eleven verses of the fourth chapter—for within this chapter we find Jesus being driven by the Spirit into the wilderness where He would be tempted by the devil. In fact, when you read the account of Jesus being tempted by the devil there in the wilderness of Judaea, you will find that not once, not even twice, but three times the devil targeted and assault His Idenity as the Son of God. In the first temptation when the devil tempted Him to turn stones into bread, he began that temptation with the following words: “If thou be the Son of God.” When the devil began his second temptation of Jesus there in the wilderness he began that temptation with the words: “If thou be the Son of God.” Finally, in the third temptation which the devil hurled against Jesus, he began that temptation with the following words: “If thou be the Son of God.” Pause for a moment and consider that reality—the reality that three different times the devil not only proceeded to tempt Jesus, but also targeted His Idenity as the Son of God. You will recall that immediately before He was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness Jesus emerged from the Jordan River and heard the voice of His Father in heaven declare that He was His beloved Son. I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that Jesus heard the voice of the Father once concerning His identity as His Son, and yet three times in the wilderness He was not only tempted by the devil, but He also had His identity as the Son of God assaulted, assailed and targeted. I can’t help but wonder if for every one time we hear the voice of the Father speaking of and proclaiming our Idenity as sons and daughters of the living God, the devil comes against us with one one, not even two, but three different assaults against our Idenity as a child of the living God. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which John the apostle wrote in the first chapter of the New Testament gospel he wrote, as well as the words which the apostle Paul wrote when writing unto the saints which were at Rome. Consider if you will the words which these two apostles wrote concerning our Idenity as the children of the living God:
“He as not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:8-14).
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaners and travailest in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:12-24).
The words which we find in the first chapter of the New Testament gospel of John point to the fact that to as many, and to those who believed in and on the eternal Son of God—it was to those whom He gave power and authority to become sons of the living God. What’s more, is that these sons were not born of the flesh, nor were they born of the will and mind of men, but they were born of the Spirit and the desire of the living God. In fact, if you continue reading this gospel you will come to the third chapter, and in Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus you will find Him declaring that unless we are born of both water and the Spirit we cannot and will not see or inherit the kingdom of God. Thus, within the first and third chapter of the New Testament gospel of John—not only do we find authority and power being given unto men and women to become sons and daughters of the living God, but we also find the absolute necessity to be born of both the water and the Spirit. When writing unto the saints which were at Rome, the apostle Paul emphatically declared that we have been given the spirit of adoption whereby we cry unto the living God, saying, “Abba, Father.” Moreover, this same Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if we are children of God, then heirs—and not only heirs, but also heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. Furthermore, the apostle Paul goes on to write how all creation eagerly groans in anticipation and expectation for the revelation and manifestation of the sons and daughters of the living God. All creation groans for the manifestation of the sons and daughters of the living God, for it longs to see the sons and daughters of God bursting and breaking forth within and upon the earth. It’s even more enlightening when you consider that there are two other instances and occurrences within the New Testament epistles and writings of the apostle Paul where he again writes about our being adopted as sons of the eternal and living God. If you read the first chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Ephesian congregation, as well as the fourth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Galatians you will find the following words concerning our identity as sons and daughters of the living God. Consider if you will both passages, and the tremendous truth they present us with concerning our identity as sons and daughters of the living God:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in HI: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom use also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:3-14).
“Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, different nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoptions of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain” (Galatians 4:1-11).
It is quite clear and quite obvious from the writings of the apostle Paul—not only in the epistle written unto the saints of Rome, but also unto the saints in Ephesus, as well as unto the churches in Galatia—that we have been given the ability, the right and the privilege to be sons and daughters of the living God. It is necessary that we recognize and understand that this reality has at the very heart and foundation of it the fact that Jesus Christ is in fact the eternal begotten Son of the living God, and the firstborn son among many brethren. In fact, it was the author of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews which wrote the following words:
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that HE by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto His brethren, that HE might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:9-18).
If we are to understand this concept of Idenity, we must first understand the identity of Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of the living God. When He emerged from the waters of the Jordan River just prior to being driven into the wilderness by the Spirit where He would be tempted by the devil, Jesus heard the audible voice of the Father speaking directly unto Him declaring that He was indeed and was in fact His beloved Son. There were no other words which were spoken unto Jesus on that occasion, but suffice it to say that the words which He heard from the Father were enough. Before Jesus even performed a single miracle, taught a single parable, healed a single individual, cast out a single demon, and before He even went to the cross in order to taste and experience the suffering of death and burial, He heard the voice of the Father proclaiming unto Him that He was the beloved Son of the Father. As you read the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find that in between these two encounters of Idenity, Jesus Himself presented two very specific questions unto His disciples. After He had heard the voice of His Father speaking directly unto Him at the waters of the Jordan River, Jesus would be tempted along the lines of identity, and would later present the question concerning that Idenity unto His disciples. It’s worth noting that when He first experienced the voice of the Father speaking unto Him concerning His Idenity, the heavens were opened, and the Spirit descended as a dove from heaven, and lighted upon Him. When Jesus experienced and encountered the voice of His Father speaking from heaven a second time, He was atop a mountain with Peter, James and John, and there was an entirely different set of events which took place. There were no waters of baptism, there was no manifestation of the Spirit descended as a dove, and there was no vision of the heavens being opened, and the voice of the Father speaking. When Jesus heard and experienced the voice of the Father this second time, it came atop the mountain when Jesus was alone with these three disciples, as His figure and appearance was transfigured before their very eyes. Consider if you will the words which are recorded in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew beginning with the first verse:
“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him. The answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only” (Matthew 17:1-8).
The more I study Scripture the more I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated by these two encounters Jesus had with the voice of His Father, and a powerful declaration concerning His identity. On both occasions the Father declared that He was His beloved Son, and on both occasions the voice of the Father declared that In Him He was well pleased. The one difference between the voice of the Father the second time versus the first time is that in this second instance, the voice of the Father spoke directly unto Peter, James and John, and instructed them to “hear ye Him.” There were two instances within Jesus’ life and ministry when He heard the voice of the Father proclaiming and speaking concerning His Idenity, and in between each of these occurrences He presents this question of Idenity unto His disciples. In the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mathew we find Jesus first asking the disciples who men said that He was—a question which they responded by declaring how some thought he was Esaias, how some thought he was John the Baptist, and how some though He was Jeremias. After hearing them answer with the thoughts and opinions of other men, Jesus takes the question, turns and flips it on its head, and makes it personal. Jesus wasn’t concerned with what others thought, or what others said at that particular moment, for Jesus was concerned with what they thought concerning His identity. Immediately after presenting the question concerning whom they said He was, and who they believed Him to be, Peter spoke up and professed and declared that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. It was this declaration—this declaration that came not from a revelation of men, but from a revelation from the Father Himself—that Jesus declared He would build His church. It was in response to this declaration, it was in response to this revelation and profession that Jesus declared He would build His church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. It’s worth mentioning that Jesus didn’t say the gates of hell would not come against the church, but that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church. We dare not mix up and confuse the gates of hell coming against the church with the gates of hell prevailing against the church, for not only did Jesus declare that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church, but it was the Old Testament Hebrew prophet who proclaimed that no weapon formed against us shall prosper. The prophet never stated that there wouldn’t be weapons formed against us, our even that those weapons would not be used, but rather that the weapons formed against us would not prosper. The apostle Paul asked the question “If God be for us, who can be against us,” and yet he knew and understood that just because there was nothing that could be against us, that didn’t mean that there wouldn’t be those things that would seek to assault, attack and assail us. It was and is absolutely possible for weapons to be formed against us, for the gates of hell to try and prevail against us, and for those who would rise up against us—those who would lay charge(s) to God’s elect, and those who would condemn the elect of God. There isn’t anything in Scripture that states or declares that weapons won’t be formed against us, or that the gates of hell will not attempt to come against us, but rather than the gates of hell shall not prevail, and the weapons which are formed against us shall not prosper.
When I read the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the second chapter of the first epistle written unto the strangers which were scattered abroad, I can’t help but wonder if he was reminded of the words which Jesus spoke and declared concerning building His church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. I can’t help but wonder if the apostle Peter looked back on that moment when he professed that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Son of the living God. I can’t help but wonder if Peter didn’t look back on that moment and remember how Jesus emphatically declared He would build His church, and then thought about the events which took place from the Day of Pentecost on. You will remember that on the Day of Pentecost three thousand souls were added to the early church, and before that day was over, the early church boasted three thousand one-hundred and twenty souls. I can’t help but wonder if the apostle Peter didn’t look back on a secondary increase when the Holy Spirit would again add to the numbers of the early church and would bring the number to more than five thousand souls. Is it possible the apostle Peter remembered and was reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in his first epistle which was written unto the Corinthian congregation—perhaps even the words which were written by the apostle Paul unto the Ephesian congregation? Consider both accounts if you will—first beginning with the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints, and secondly the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Ephesian saints:
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body Is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But not hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempted the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now the are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint suppliers, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16).
IN the second chapter of this first epistle written unto the strangers which were scattered the apostle Peter first instructs them to lay aside al malice, all guile, all hypocrisies, all envies, and all evil speakings. It is absolutely imperative that we understand and pay close attention to these words which were written by the apostle Peter, for if we are going to talk and speak about the body of Christ, we must understand the tremendous need for these to be eliminated from among us, and from our members. There is absolutely no place for any malice, there absolutely no place for any guile, there is absolutely no place for any hypocrisies, and there is certainly no place for envies and evil speakings. There must be this profound and deep abiding purity and holiness among us as we desire the sincere milk of the word, in order that we might grow thereby. Did you catch that? The apostle Peter referenced the very same thing the apostle Paul wrote when writing unto the Ephesian saints, for just as the apostle Paul spoke of “growing up into Him in all things, which is the head,” so also the apostle Peter wrote of the tremendous need for us to grow, and for us to mature. When we speak of our being builded up as one body within the earth, we must understand the tremendous and overwhelming need to not only grow up in all things in Christ, but also to become mature in our walk and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This was one of the great dangers that faced those whom the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews, for in the sixth chapter of this epistle, the author bewails and denounces their immaturity and lack of growth:
“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame” (Hebrews 5:11-6:6).
The apostle Peter not only sought to promote and encourage spiritual growth among the members of the body of Christ, but the apostle Peter also sought to bring them into the fulness of the reality that they were being built up into something that was so much bigger than themselves. When I read the words which the apostle Peter wrote unto the strangers which were scattered abroad, I can’t help but come face to face with the reality that they—just as we—are a part of something much bigger than ourselves. When he wrote unto them that they were being built up a spiritual house, he was in all reality declaring unto them that they were a part of something beyond themselves, and that there existence was about more than just themselves. It would be very easy to get caught up in our own isolated world, and to allow ourselves to get caught up in our own bubble, and completely miss and lose sight of the fact that we are indeed part of something that is so much bigger and greater than ourselves. I am utterly and completely convinced that our lives can and will take on an entirely new and different meaning when we realize and understand that we are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves, and that our lives were meant to help build something bigger than, and far beyond anything we could even think or imagine. Consider the words which the apostle Peter wrote unto these strangers which were scattered abroad: “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are not the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers, and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles” (1 Peter 2:4-12). LIVELY STONES! A SPIRITUAL HOUSE! AN HOLY PRIESTHOOD! CHOSEN GENERATION! ROYAL PRIESTHOOD! AN HOLY NATION! A PECULIAR PEOPLE! STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS!
I would leave you with this final though—a thought which directly challenges me to the very depths of my being. As I read the words which the apostle Peter wrote unto these saints, I can’t help but be confronted with thoughts concerning identity, but also with the thought that I am personally a part of something so much bigger than myself. What’s more, is that while it is true that Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone, and that the foundation is the teaching concerning the kingdom of God, you and I are the pieces which are being fit and joined together to build a spiritual house within the earth—one that is not made with human hands. It is important that we recognize and consider this tremendous reality, for when we do, we come face to face with the fact that when we isolate ourselves, and when we remove ourselves from the body of Christ, we are actually removing ourselves from the spiritual house which is being built, and we are actually causing damage to this spiritual house which is being built. It is true that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and it is true that we are the body of Christ, but a Temple is made of many stones, and a body is made up of many members. I read these words and am directly challenged by the fact that I have been called to something that is much greater, and something that is much bigger than me. The question I must ask myself is whether or not I am willing to give myself to this process of building and being built into something that is far beyond and much greater than myself. I have been called to be a member among countless members of the body of Christ, and I have been called to be a single living stone in a spiritual house that is being built on the earth—one that has not been, and is not built with and by human hands. The question is whether or not I will allow myself to be a part of this process, and whether or not I will give myself to this process of building and being built. I must ask myself whether or not I will lay aside all malice, lay aside all guile, lay aside all hypocrites, lay aside all envies, and lay aside all evil speakings in order that I might grow up into something that is much greater, much larger, and much bigger than myself. Am I truly ready, willing and able to move beyond my small and isolate living in order that I can be a part of something that is much greater and much bigger than I could every think or imagine, in order that the the spiritual house of God might be built and established within and upon the earth.