Strangers & Pilgrims: This World Is Not Your Home

Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Peter unto the saints of God which were scattered through Asia and the surrounding regions. More specifically today’s passage is found in the second chapter of this New Testament book. “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desiring the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:1-3).

 

            “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. offence, 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 marvellous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:4-10).

 

            “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 that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of vastation. Submit yourselves to ever ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not lusting your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentile, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, the threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are not returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1 Peter 2:11-25).

            When you come to the second chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Peter you will find him continuing to guide, teach and instruct those to whom he is writing. These saints which were scattered, struggling and suffering the apostle Peter now instructed them to lay aside all malic, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this portion of Scripture for what we find within it is a powerful picture of Christian living and the invitation the apostle Peter was indeed giving unto them to be saints which were purified, sanctified and made righteous in the sight of the living God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for it draws and calls our attention to how these saints were instructed to live in light of the imminent return and appearing of the Lord Jesus. It is quite interesting to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for what we find within this epistle is a powerful declaration of the return and appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. Pause for a moment and consider what it would have been like for the apostle Peter to look forward to the return and glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus having personally walked with and followed him for three and a half years. Consider what it would have been like for the apostle Peter who not only walked with the Lord Jesus Christ for three and a half years but was witness to His transfiguration atop the mountain as He appeared talking with Moses and Elijah. What’s more is consider what this would have been like for the apostle Peter to write and speak of the return and appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ in light of His being a personal witness—both to His resurrection from the grave as well as His ascension from the mount of Olives to the right hand of the Father.

 

            If you read the first epistle written by the apostle Peter you can and will be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that the apostle Peter was indeed one who looked forward to and anticipated the coming return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter had spent three and a half years walking with and following the Lord Jesus and now for a period of time he would walk upon the earth—still as a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, however, not personally walking with and following Him. The apostle Peter would now spend his days as a faithful disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ who would teach and preach the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we must needs recognize and acknowledge within our hearts and lives for the apostle Peter would walk in the place where many of us have been and are called to walk—namely as those who look forward to and anticipate the return and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for at the very heart of the teaching and preaching of the apostle Peter—and not only the apostle Peter but the other apostles as well—was not only the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus which was followed by the resurrection and ascension of the Christ but also the appearing and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter together with the other apostles, those who had personally borne witness of the Lord Jesus Christ from the time of His baptism in the waters of the Jordan River unto the time of His ascension atop the mount of Olives would now live their days with full expectation of beholding the Lord Jesus Christ once more. This time, however, He would not be as the Word made flesh but would be as the One whom the Father invited to sit on His right hand until He made His enemies His footstool.

 

            In the first and opening chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Peter emphatically declaring unto them the lively hope they had as well as an inheritance that was incorruptible, undefiled and which did not and would not fade away. This inheritance would indeed be reserved in heaven where neither thieves broke in and stole nor where moth and rust would corrupt and defile. The apostle Peter wrote and spoke unto his readers and audience concerning their being kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation which was and would be ready to be revealed in the last time. What’s more is that as you read the words which are found in this epistle you will find the apostle Peter not only writing and speaking of “the trial of their faith” but also “the end of their faith.” It’s truly astonishing and remarkable when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for within it we recognize this awesome and powerful truth surrounding the end of our faith which the apostle Peter wrote and spoke of as the salvation of our souls. Please pay close and careful attention to this for if you wish to experience the end of your faith which is the salvation of your souls—not only must your faith be tested but you must needs be kept by the power of God through that faith. If you truly desire to behold the end of your faith which is the salvation of your soul then you must needs be that one who not only embraces the testing and trial of your faith but also is one who patiently endures and bears up in the midst of whatever suffering, trials and afflictions you face.

 

            If you take the time to read the words which are found in this epistle you will be brought face to face with the language of suffering, the language of affliction and the language of trials, troubles, and tribulations. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and be brought to the place where you recognize that these saints who were scattered abroad throughout Asia and the surrounding regions were those who would indeed experience suffering, affliction and perhaps even persecution. As you read the words found in the first chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Peter writing and speaking unto them concerning their being in heaviness through manifold temptations. Not only this but you will find the apostle Peter writing and speaking unto them concerning the trial of their faith which was more precious than of gold which perishes being. Tried with fire. Please make note of the words which the apostle Peter wrote in this passage of Scripture for what we find here is the apostle not only speaking unto them of manifold temptations but also the trials of their faith which was tried with fire. The apostle Peter recognized that these dear saints were not only scattered throughout the regions of Asia and Europe but were also suffering and struggling in the midst of it. That which the apostle Peter sought to do when writing unto these beloved saints was strengthen and encourage their faith that they might be able to stand and withstand in the midst of their suffering and affliction.

 

            I sit here today thinking about the words which the apostle Peter wrote unto these dear saints and I can’t help but be captivated with the fact that when we speak of suffering, affliction and persecution we must not only be those who are able to stand in the midst of it but also those who are willing to withstand that which is brought against and upon us. I am absolutely convinced that there is something to be said about those saints who can experience and walk through suffering, affliction and persecution and not only stand in the midst of it but also withstand anything that is brought against them. We know from the Scripture that no weapon formed against us shall prosper which is found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah. We know from the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints of Rome that in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who strengthens us. We know that nothing shall separate us from the love of the Father which is toward us in and through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. What we find here in this particular passage of Scripture is an awesome and powerful picture of those who were in heaviness through manifold temptations—and not only manifold temptations but were also walking through the trial of their faith. There is absolutely no denying the words which are found in this passage of Scripture written by the apostle Peter that these dear saints were indeed walking through incredible and intense period of suffering and affliction within their hearts and lives.

 

            If you want to truly understand the words and language that is found within this epistle there is a great need to view it through the lens of suffering, affliction and persecution as well as through the lens of the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is that as you read the words which are found within this epistle you will find that the suffering we walk through and face in this life is intrinsically linked and connected to the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now I fully realize you might be asking yourself how the suffering we walk through and experience in the flesh in this life is connected to the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. In order to truly understand this there is a great need to turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. It was when writing unto these dear saints the apostle Paul spoke unto them concerning the sufferings which we experience in the flesh and the glory which shall be available unto us when the Lord Jesus Christ appears unto us in His glory with all the holy angels. The apostle Paul viewed the sufferings, the afflictions and the persecutions he endured in this life through the lens of the coming and appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ and how that which he faced positioned and prepared him for that moment when the Lord would return and come again for those who were His own. One thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the suffering and affliction we experience in this life is that it is designed to prepare and make us ready for the coming and appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes in the air to gather together all of His holy saints.

 

            Before I go any further in this epistle and the words which are found therein I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints as well as the words which are found in the first epistle written unto the Thessalonian saints. What we find in each of these epistles is a strong and powerful picture of the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ and how He will indeed come in the fulness of the glory He had with the Father from the beginning and all of His holy angels to gather together all of those who are His—both those who have died and passed from this world unto the next and those which are alive and remain. Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in each of these epistles concerning the glorious appearing and return of the Lord Jesus Christ:

 

           

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold I shew you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this. Mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this. Mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).

 

            “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

 

            “But of the time and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety: then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).

 

            We must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture for what we find here calls and draws our attention to the awesome and wonderful truth surrounding the imminent return and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even when we read the narrative of the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ from the mount of Olives we find two men appearing in white apparel who appeared unto those who were still present upon the mountain. It would be there upon the mountain where these two men would appear unto them and ask them why they stood gazing into the heavens after the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover these men who were clothed in white apparel would declare unto them that in the same manner in which they witnessed and beheld the Lord Jesus ascend unto the right hand of the Father in heaven so also would He return and coming again. In fact this is something which is truly astonishing when you consider it for within the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ is a powerful shadow and picture of His return and ascension for in the same manner in which He departed so also would He return and come back. Just as He ascended unto the right hand of the Father from the mount of Olives and the clouds would conceal Him from their sight so also would He descend from heaven, the clouds would be parted thus revealing Him and He would step upon the mount of Olives. Oh what a great and glorious truth this truly is when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that just as the Lord Jesus Christ ascended unto the right hand of the Father in heaven from the mount of Olives so also would He return in the same manner to gather together the dead in Christ first and then those which are alive and remained unto that day.

 

            What makes the words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Peter so incredibly powerful when you take the time to think about and consider them is when you read them through the lens of suffering and affliction and the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul you will find him writing how “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 groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:18-22). It is with these words the apostle Paul calls and draws our attention to the incredibly strong and powerful truth that whatever sufferings, whatever afflictions, whatever persecutions we face and experience in the flesh in this life are not worthy to be compared and even considered with and in light of the glory which shall be revealed in us at the coming and appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. In that moment when we who are alive and remain at the coming and return of the Lord Jesus Christ witness and behold Him in the air coming on the clouds in all His glory the sufferings, the afflictions, the trials, the troubles, the tribulations and everything we faced and walked through in this life will be of absolutely no importance to us. What’s more is that even in death when we pass from this life to the next all the suffering, all the affliction, all the trials and tribulations we faced and walked through in this life will vanish and melt away as we witness and behold the glorious person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            The more I read the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle Peter the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the suffering(s) and affliction(s) we face and walk through in this life. It is absolutely impossible to read the words found in this epistle and not encounter and come face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding those saints who were scattered throughout Asia and the surrounding regions were indeed experiencing suffering and affliction in this life. What’s more is the apostle Peter never reveals nor does he mention the specific suffering and affliction these dear saints were walking through. As you read the words presented in this epistle you will find the apostle Peter never mentioned nor did he disclose the type(s) of suffering and affliction these saints walked through and experienced. The more you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more you will be brought face to face with the wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the intrinsic and powerful link that exists between the suffering and affliction we face and experience in the flesh and the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes in and with all His glory. It is within the first chapter the apostle Peter writes and speaks to them of their heaviness through manifold temptations as well as the trial of their faith and how their faith is more precious than of gold which perishes though it be tried by fire.

 

            The words which are presented and written in this passage of Scripture must needs bring us face to face with the incredible truth of the suffering, the affliction, the trials, the troubles and the tribulation we walk through and experience in this life. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they bring us face to face with how we are to live—not only in the face of suffering and affliction but also in light of the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh the more I read the words found in this passage of Scripture the more I come face to face with the truly wonderful truth surrounding the invitation the apostle Peter gave unto these dear saints to devote themselves to Christian living in the face of their suffering and in the face of the affliction they were experiencing. What’s more is the apostle Peter called and invited them to live their lives as holy, as righteous, as pure and as obedient saints in the sight and presence of the living God. The apostle Peter looked ahead to the end of their faith—even the salvation of their souls which was a salvation which the prophets inquired and searched diligently for. The ancient Hebrew prophets prophesied concerning this salvation and earnestly looked into the grace that would come unto them and searched diligently what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which spoke unto them would reveal the sufferings of Christ and the glory which would follow. What makes this all the more interesting is when you consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote for not only did he declare that all who are godly in this life will suffer but he also declared that we must needs through much afflictions and trials enter into the kingdom of heaven.

 

            In the final verses of the first chapter of this first epistle we find the apostle Peter beginning to encourage these saints concerning how they ought to live—not only in light of their suffering and affliction but also in light of the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. Beginning with the thirteenth verse of the first chapter the apostle Peter invited them to gird up the loins of their mind, to be sober and to hope to the end for the grace that was to be brought unto them at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Moreover the apostle Peter would go on to write unto them as obedient children and those who did not fashion themselves according to the former lusts of ignorance but as He which called them is holy so also they were to be holy in all manner of conversation. The apostle Peter would then appeal to the words which the living God spoke unto Moses while he was atop the mountain when he presented unto them how it was written, “Be ye holy: for I am holy.” The apostle Peter clearly sought to remind these dear saints of the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ and the tremendous need to live their lives as perfect and holy in the sight and presence of the living God. The apostle Peter would go on to write and declare unto them that if they called on the Father who without respect of persons judges according to every man’s work pass the time of their sojourning here in fear they will recognize and understand that they were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold from their vain conversation received by tradition from the fathers. The apostle Paul would write and speak unto them how they were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot who was foreordained before the foundation of the world but was manifest in the last times for them.

 

            When you come to the second chapter of this New Testament epistle written by the apostle Peter you will find him instructing them to lay aside all malice, all guile, all hypocrisies, all envies and all evil speakings. Essentially that which the apostle Peter was calling and inviting them to do was to abandon, forsake and remove from their lives anything that would create enmity and division between themselves and the living God. What’s more is the apostle Peter would also go on to write and speak unto them and instruct them as newborn babes to desire the sincere milk of the word that they might grow. What’s more is the apostle Peter also called and drew their attention to the awesome and wonderful truth that we can indeed taste and seen that the Lord is gracious. This is something which must needs be recognized and understood for not only do we find in the Old Testament book of Psalms the invitation to taste and see that the Lord is good but we also find in the epistle written unto the Hebrews concerning those who have tasted of the word and of the Spirit. Perhaps one of the greatest truths and realities we must needs recognize is that we have indeed been invited to taste and see that the Lord is not only gracious but also that the Lord is good. It was the psalmist who invited us into the place where we recognize and understand that we can indeed test and see that the Lord is good—and not only that the Lord is good but also understand and recognize that His mercy endures forever. Oh how absolutely wonderful it is to read the words the apostle Peter wrote in this passage of Scripture and how he spoke unto them concerning their tasting and seeing that the Lord is gracious.

 

            If you continue reading in the second chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Peter writing and speaking unto them concerning something he had undoubtedly heard the Lord Jesus speak—namely that which He had spoken from the words and mouths of the prophets unto the scribes and Pharisees. Beginning with the fourth verse of the second chapter we find the apostle Peter writing unto those who were scattered of their coming unto a living stone who was disallowed of men but was chosen of God and precious. The apostle Peter clearly and emphatically declared and proclaimed concerning the Lord Jesus Christ how He was indeed a living stone—and not only a living stone but THE living stone—who was disallowed of men but chosen of God and precious. In direct relation to this living stone we also are lively stones and are built up a spiritual house which was a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. It was the Lord Jesus who quoted the words of the prophets and the ancient writers how the living God would lay in Zion a chief cornerstone who would be the head—powerful words which would directly speak in regards to the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be the Lord Jesus who would indeed be the chief cornerstone of the building which was being built—a building that was to be a spiritual house made without human hands in the sight and presence of the living God. Oh in order to truly understand this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in each of the epistles written unto the Corinthian saints as well as the words which are found in the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints and congregation. Beginning with the fourth chapter of the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints we find the apostle Paul writing and speaking of this spiritual house which was being built within and upon the earth for and unto the living God:

 

            “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, on faith, on baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 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 supplieth, 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;1-16).

 

            “Know ye now that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body: but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:12-20).

 

            “O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:12-18).

 

            “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no. man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (1 Corinthians 12:1-7).

 

            “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” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).

 

            It is quite clear when reading the words which are found in these passages of Scripture that the Spirit of Christ was manifested in the earth to help prepare a spiritual body made without human hands for the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul wrote heavily concerning the reality of our being the body of Christ—and not only how we are the body of Christ but how we are one body which is made up of many members. The apostle Paul recognized and understood that we are being built unto a spiritual house which is indeed the temple of the living God and the temple of the Holy Spirit. This is something we must needs recognize and pay close attention to for it calls and draws our attention to the words the apostle Peter wrote in the second chapter of this epistle. In the second chapter of this epistle we find the apostle Peter writing and speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ as being a living stone which was disallowed of men but chosen of God and precious and how we are lively stones which are being built up a spiritual house which is a holy priesthood that we might offer up spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. There is perhaps no greater spiritual sacrifice than the presentation and offering of our bodies as the apostle Paul—when writing unto the saints which were at Rome—besought them by the mercies of the living God that they present their bodies as living sacrifices holy and acceptable unto God which was their reasonable service or spiritual act of worship.

 

            I sit here today reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and how the apostle Peter not only wrote of a spiritual house but also spiritual sacrifices. This is indeed something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for just as when the Lord Jesus came unto the earth the first time as the Word made flesh and there was a physical body prepared for Him so also when He came unto us in the form and person of the Spirit there was a spiritual body that was prepared for Him. I am absolutely and completely convinced that when the Lord Jesus Christ came unto us in the form of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit there was indeed a spiritual body that was prepared and made ready for Him—one that was not made with human hands. It would be this spiritual body which would not only be the temple of the living God but would be the temple of the Holy Spirit. I am absolutely convinced when reading the words found in Scripture that there was indeed a spiritual body that was prepared for the Lord Jesus Christ when He came in the form of the person of the Holy Spirit for the Lord Jesus Christ did in fact come just as He said He would. It would be when speaking unto the disciples that He would declare He needed to return and go unto His Father but that He would come unto them again. Not only would He come unto them again but He would also send unto the person and presence of the Holy Spirit.

 

            As I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that the Lord Jesus Christ did indeed have a spiritual house that was prepared for Him—a spiritual house in which spiritual sacrifices are in fact offered and presented unto the living God. The apostle Peter wrote in this particular passage of Scripture that we are living stones fashioned after the ultimate living stone which are being built up a spiritual house in the sight and presence of the living God which is a holy priesthood offering up spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable in the sight of the living God. What adds even more weight to this is when you consider the words which are found in the ninth and tenth verses of this second chapter. It is within these verses we find the apostle Peter writing unto these dear saints how they are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a peculiar people that they should show forth the praises of the One who called them out of darkness and into his marvelous light. Moreover the apostle Peter also went on to speak unto them how they were in times past were not a people but were now the people of God which had previously not obtained mercy but have now obtained mercy. This is something which must needs be recognized and considered for if you turn and direct your attention to the Old Testament prophetic book of Hosea you will find him having children with Gomer who was a harlot whom he would marry according to the word of the Lord. What’s more is that if you examine the names of certain of the children who were born unto Hosea you will find that two of those names signified and suggested that the people of God were no longer His people and how His people had no longer obtained mercy.

 

            Upon reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Peter writing unto these dear saints and using the language of the Old Testament to show and demonstrate unto them that although they were previously not the people of God and although they had previously not obtained mercy they would now obtain mercy and would be the people of God. Not only this but the apostle Peter would write unto them how they were indeed a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a peculiar people that they should show forth the praises of the One who called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. In all reality this is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and wonderful reality of this spiritual house which was prepared for the Lord Jesus Christ and built without human hands by the very Spirit of the living God. There was indeed a spiritual house that was prepared and made ready for the person of the Lord Jesus Christ—a spiritual house that is made up of priests who would offer spiritual sacrifices unto the living God which were acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Oh that we would indeed recognize and pay attention to this for we as the saints of God have indeed been called to be those who recognize that we are indeed a spiritual house made ready and prepared both for and by the Spirit that we might offer unto the living God spiritual sacrifices. Just as there was a priesthood in the Old Testament which offered the sacrifices of the living God unto Him—both the sacrifices of the altar and sacrifices of worship and praise—so also would there be a priesthood in these last days that would offer spiritual sacrifices in the sight and presence of the living God. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ:

 

            “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come: and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath. Made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:4-6).

 

            “And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by the blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:1-10).

 

            The words and language found in these two portions of text within the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding this spiritual house—this temple of the living God and of the Holy Spirit—which was built around and upon the chief corner stone which is the Lord Jesus Christ. This chief cornerstone was laid in Zion and the whole entire house was built around and upon it—and not only upon this chief cornerstone but also upon the teaching of the apostles. We as the saints of the living God have indeed been called to be those who are a kingdom of priests before and unto the living God recognizing and understanding that we have been called to be those who offer spiritual sacrifices which are holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God. We as the saints of God have been called to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a chosen generation and a peculiar people just as the children of Israel were chosen in Abraham according to the election and foreknowledge of the living and eternal God. It is with this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. It is in the twelfth chapter of this epistle we find the apostle Paul using similar language to that which the apostle Peter used here—namely language concerning spiritual sacrifices which are holy and acceptable in the sight and presence of the living God. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in this passage of scripture beginning with the first and opening verse:

 

            “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be no conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching: or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:1-8).

 

            The words and language we find listed here in this passage of Scripture are incredibly unique and captivating when you take the time to truly realize what we have been called and invited into by the apostle Paul. In the days of the Old Testament it was the priests and Levites who ministered before and around the altar in the midst of the sacrifices and offerings presented by the people. Although it was the people who themselves brought the offerings and gifts unto the entrance of the Tabernacle and the Temple it was the priests themselves who would actually present the gifts and offerings and sacrifices before the Lord. In the days of the Old Testament it would be the individual who brought the gift and offering to the tabernacle or Temple and were the ones who laid their hands on it that it might be put to death in the presence of the Lord and His holy priests. In the New Testament—not only do we see the Lord Jesus as being a living sacrifice as he hung there suspended between earth and heaven but we also see how we ourselves are invited into the place where we must needs present our bodies as living sacrifices. There is a great and powerful need within our hearts and lives to recognize and understand that we have indeed been called to present our bodies as living sacrifices. What we must needs understand is that in the presenting of our bodies as living sacrifices there must needs be absolutely nothing that is held or kept back. Remember the words which David king of Israel declared when he professed that he would not offer unto the Lord that which cost him nothing. When we think about the invitation that was given unto us to present our bodies as living sacrifices we must acknowledge and understand that in the days of the New Covenant we are the sacrifice. If when writing unto the Thessalonian saints the apostle Paul spoke of them being sanctified wholly—their soul, their body and their spirit—and if the greatest commandment of loving the LORD our God involves our heart, our soul and our strength then we must conclude that when we present our bodies as living sacrifices it must needs include every part of ourselves. When we present ourselves as living sacrifices unto the Lord which are holy and acceptable there must needs be every single part of our being offered upon the altar. Just as there was to be nothing left from the offering that was presented upon the altar in the Tabernacle and the Temple and everything was to be an offering made by fire unto the Lord so also must we offer everything before and unto the living God.

 

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it important to draw and call your attention to the words which are found in the latter portion of this chapter. In lieu of the coming and appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ we must needs recognize and understand that this world is not our home. Although we do in fact live in this world we are not of this world and we must devote our days and spend our times living as strangers and pilgrims in the midst of this land. Just as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sojourned as strangers and pilgrims in the midst of the land of Canaan while they eagerly awaited the promise given unto them so also must we ourselves live as strangers and pilgrims in this earth. What we must needs recognize and understand is that this concept of living as strangers and pilgrims in this land not only touches how we view and interact with suffering, affliction, persecution, trials, troubles and the like but it also impacts and touches how we live our lives in response and anticipation of the coming and appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who look forward to and anticipate the coming and appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ recognize that this world is not their home, that they are living on borrowed time which has been entrusted unto them and that there is coming a day when the Lord Jesus will appear in the fulness of His glory with all his holy angels. In the second chapter the apostle Peter twice mentioned unto these saints which were scattered that although they might have been scattered throughout the earth they were in fact strangers and pilgrims in this earth. This is important for us to recognize and understand for when we live as strangers and pilgrims in this world we know that this world has absolutely nothing for us and we can indeed live our lives completely and utterly detached from the things of this world.

 

            With all of this being said we must needs understand and acknowledge that when we truly live as strangers and pilgrims in this earth—not only are we able to endure hardship and suffering looking forward to the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ but we can indeed live our lives completely free from fleshly lusts which war against our souls. What’s more is that if we truly do live our lives as strangers and pilgrims in this earth we recognize and understand that we can in fact submit ourselves unto those who are in authority in this world knowing that we are ultimately submitted to One who is higher and mightier than any in the earth. In the latter portion of the second chapter the apostle Peter admonished them as strangers and pilgrims in this world to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul but would go on to instruct them submit themselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake. The apostle Peter would instruct the saints who were scattered throughout the earth to submit themselves unto whatever authority was in power wherever they were recognizing that they were submitting to an authority that was higher and greater the one that was manifested in the earthly and natural realm. It would be in the second half of the second chapter the apostle Peter would invite the saints of God to honor all men, to love the brotherhood, to fear God and to honor the king. The apostle Peter urged submission to all earthly authority present in the midst of the earth recognizing they were doing so as servants of the living God. In the second chapter of this epistle we find the apostle Peter writing unto these saints which were scattered to not only offer spiritual sacrifices unto the living God and not only submit themselves unto those in authority but also to commit themselves to living as sojourners and pilgrims in this world.

 

            When you come to the final verses of this chapter you will find the apostle Peter once more writing unto these saints concerning the conflicts, the struggles and the suffering they faced. Beginning with the nineteenth verse of this chapter we find the apostle declaring how it is a thankworthy saying if a man for conscience toward God endure grief and is willing to suffer wrongfully. Moreover the apostle Peter would also go on to ask them what glory or benefit it is for them if they be buffeted in their faults and took it patiently. The apostle Peter would immediately follow this by declaring that if when they do well and when they are living righteously in the sight of both God and men they suffer for it they take it patiently which is acceptable in the sight of the living God. This would immediately be followed by the apostle Peter professing and proclaiming that it was for this whereunto they were called because Christ also suffered for us leaving us an example that we should follow in His steps. This Christ did no sin, nor was their any guilt or guile found in his mouth and yet when he was reviled he reviled not in response and when he suffered he threatened not. Instead that which the Lord Jesus did was commit himself to He who judges righteously as He bore our sins in His own body on the tree that we might be dead to sins, should live unto righteousness and know that it is by His stripes that we are healed. With all of this in mind I invite you to consider the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints as well as the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew which brings us face to face with the need to suffer and endure hardship without seeking retaliation, retribution or revenge. The apostle Peter boldly called the saints of God into a place where they were willing to endure hardship and suffering in light of the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is with this in mind I leave you with the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount as well as the words of the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints:

 

            “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).

 

            “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).

 

            “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworothy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” (1 Corinthians 6:1-7).

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