Lesson 11—Living Stones and a Holy Priesthood
Audion Commentary by David Daniel
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:5
Lesson Goal: To gain a better understanding of the biblical truths of Christians as living stones and the priesthood of the believer.
In Lesson 10, we learned of Christ the “living stone.” In today’s lesson, we will learn that when we as sinners come in faith to Jesus Christ, the living stone, we also become living stones. To be living stones means that believers have eternal life in Christ and are united with Christ in a personal relationship. We do not just worship Him, obey Him, and serve Him; we are united with Him as stones in a spiritual building of which Jesus himself is the Cornerstone.
Read Ephesians 2:19-22.
1 Peter 2:5— Peter uses a special metaphor for true believers. He calls them “living stones” that “are being built up as a spiritual house.” The true church is an ongoing construction project as Christ builds His church using “those dead stones quarried from the pit of sin, brought to life as ‘living stones’ than fit into His glorious structure called the church” (Swindoll).
The wonderful picture is this: each time someone becomes a true believer through faith in Jesus Christ, another dead stone becomes alive and gets placed into Christ’s building called the church. Each stone placed in the church has its place and purpose.
➢ How does this help us to understand that every believer is important?
➢ How does the fact of each believer being a stone in the building speak to those who say they do not need the church?
Also in verse five, Peter draws upon another analogy. Not only are believers true “living stones,” but they are a “holy priesthood.”
To understand what Peter means by “holy priesthood,” we must look back to the Old Testament when entrance into the priesthood was controlled by the Mosaic Levitical code and was restricted to the tribe of Levi, particularly to the family of Aaron. The priesthood was open to no one else. But we must remember what happened when Jesus died.
Read Matthew 27:51.
Notice the manner in which the curtain was torn—from top to bottom, not from bottom to top. From bottom to top would have been man doing it, but from top to bottom was God doing it.
When Jesus died, God rent the temple veil rendering the old way of the Old Testament exactly that—the old way. Instead of the elaborate religious system of the Old Testament, with robed priests engaged in endless ritual, we now have a new way. We have Jesus Christ, enthroned in Heaven as our “Great High Priest.” Now there is a blood lineage by way of the cross. The cross of Calvary rendered the Old Testament system null and void. Now, not by way of Levitical priests, but by way of the cross, Jesus Christ blazed a trail for every believer into the throne room of Heaven. In the Old Testament, and then by type only, were a few priests allowed into the Holy of Holies to stand before the mercy seat (see Hebrews 10:19-23). Now all believers, through Jesus Christ, are accepted in the beloved (see Ephesians 1:6 and Hebrews 4:14-16).
➢ What does it mean to you that you personally have direct access to God?
Every true believer can approach God, and every one stands before God as a priest. This teaching of the Bible is known as the “priesthood of the believer.” The true believer can stand before God with access into His presence any time of any day.
Note what Peter writes: “a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” We (true believers) “need no animal sacrifice to cleanse us, no earthly priest to serve as middleman, no ritual or ceremony to give us access to the door of Heaven. We have direct access to God. We can truly pray “our Father” (Swindoll).
“acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”—“Let us remember the primary function of the Old Testament priests, as they ministered in the tabernacle and then the temple, was to offer animal sacrifices to God. But when Christ inaugurated the new covenant by ‘His blood,’ animal sacrifices were no longer necessary (see Hebrews 9:11-15) (see Hebrews 10:1-18)” (Maxwell).
➢ What kind of sacrifices are true believers to “offer up”?
Read Romans 12:1-2.
We must remember that a God-honoring sacrifice begins with believers offering to God all of their human faculties, including mind and body. A second spiritual sacrifice acceptable to God is “praise, thanksgiving and worship.” Offering praise to God is more than speaking or singing; thanksgiving is more than a holiday, and worship is more than lifting your hands during a service (see Psalm 83:18, 86:5, 99:9, 102:26-27, 8:1-9, 19:1, 30:1-7).
We also learn from Hebrews 13 a third and fourth acceptable sacrifice. See verse 16. “Do not neglect doing good and sharing.” Doing good is the doing of what is righteous and honors God. Sharing is a specific work of generosity that flows from the heart. It means to give something up to help someone in need.
Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-5.
➢ Was this sacrifice acceptable to God?
➢ What made it acceptable to God?
A fifth and often overlooked acceptable sacrifice is found in Romans 15:15b. Paul saw the precious souls of those God had enabled him to witness to, to share with, and ultimately lead to Christ as “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God.”
A sixth acceptable sacrifice unto God is recorded in Ephesians 5:1-2. Love with a pure heart and motive, demonstrated toward someone, is well-pleasing to God.
A final sacrifice acceptable unto God found in the New Testament is prayer. The Apostle John, at the beginning of his vision of the seventh seal, identified the saints’ prayers as offerings (Revelation 8:3-4).
Questions for Life Focus
What are some ways that you offered acceptable spiritual sacrifices to God this week?
Explain the relationship between sacrifice and worship.
If someone were to say, “I can’t preach; I am not a teacher; I cannot sing; I don’t like being in front of people; I just don’t think there is a place for me in the church,” what could you do to help them understand there is a place for them?
How well are you fulfilling your God-given assignment in the church?
Today, how would you describe your assignment as a Christian?