Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s Teaching.
- What were the four spiritual sacrifices (mentioned in the Scripture) that we heard in the sermon? Which sacrifice do you find is most difficult for you to make? Which sacrifice do you find is most natural?
- Read John 15:5 and 1 Peter 2:5. Why must our spiritual sacrifices be made through Jesus Christ? What happens when we attempt do things through our own power?
- What does it mean for your life to be a story of God’s mercy and God’s mission? How can you live out that truth this week?
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard on Sunday?
So it would be fair to say that stones tell stories. See when we go back into the history of time, you see all the time in history stones that tell stories. If I were to march back into 3000 BC, about 5,000 years ago, you probably have seen this rock formation, Stonehenge. Nobody's really sure how it got there and there's all kinds of like aliens or whatever. But whatever, Stonehenge, about 3000 BC, what it does is it tells us a bit about the way that that community viewed death, the way that they performed rituals around death because these stones tell stories. Now, a few hundred years later, you could also see these formations, the Egyptian pyramids. And the Egyptian pyramids tell stories as well. These stones tell stories because they tell us about how the Egyptians viewed death, specifically the death of pharaohs that they thought were gods of sorts, and it gives us some kind of indication of that.
And there are other things like when we begin to read in the Bible, a few hundred years after the Egyptian pyramids, we see Jacob who is at Bethel. And what does he do when he finishes wrestling with God? He erects some stones that are there, that are kind of standing stones, so to speak, that are there to tell a story of what happened, or you could go to Moses at Mount Sinai. And when Moses was out Mount Sinai after the giving of the commandments, there he built some standing stones because it was there that that could tell a story of what God had done, or you could find Joshua crossing over the Jordan River and the 12 stones that were there. And those stones were there very specifically so that the generations to come would ask, "What are these stones here for?" And they could tell the story of God's faithful deliverance of the people of Egypt into the land of promise.
Stones tell stories. Even in the United States, by the way, we've chosen to tell stories through stone as well. Maybe you have seen this in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore. You've got on their four presidents. Some of you can name them, some of you are going, "Yeah, they're for guys, for presidents." You've got George Washington and you've got Thomas Jefferson and you've got Teddy Roosevelt and you've got Abraham Lincoln that are there. It tells stories. There's another place in Georgia called Stone Mountain. Stone Mountain has three Confederate generals carved on the side of that mountain. You've got Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. What's interesting about these two places, about Mount Rushmore and about Stone Mountain, is that those stones tell stories as well.
Sometimes, particularly if you know the history surrounding who was involved in the initiation of these things and for what purpose, you might realize that it's not a story really that we're overly proud of in some cases in the United States if you know the history behind some of these things. But here's what I'm trying to tell us all, stones tell stories. And generally speaking, when we start looking at stones telling stories, here's what we see. We see dead rocks telling stories about dead people. Generally speaking, through history, dead stones tell stories about dead people. That's why when we get to 1 Peter, which is where we're going to be today, and you can look it up, it's about 90% of the way through your Bible if you're looking for it, when we get to 1 Peter Chapter 2 that's why the language that Peter uses is so startling to us when we read it. Because it is an interesting thing that through the course of history what we have seen is we have seen dead stones telling stories about dead people.
But when we get to 1 Peter, he makes a statement that causes us to pause real quickly. Notice what he says in 1 Peter Chapter 2 beginning in Verse 4, "As you come to him, the living stone." Did you catch it? "As you come to him, the living stone." Now, what's interesting about this is that Peter, who is writing this has a familiarity with rocks. You know why? Because Peter's original name was Simon and Simon's name got changed to Cephus or in the Greek, Petros, which means rock. Jesus actually changed his name and said, "You know what? I like Simon. That's a decent name. Your name from now on is Rocky. That's what I'm calling you. You're Rocky. I'm going to name you a rock." That's what Peter was doing. And so Peter was real familiar with this idea. And here, he uses a term that is unique to all of scripture by calling Jesus the living stone. Isn't that a remarkable thing?
The Bible has referred to God as a stone or as a rock in a number of different places in the Old Testament. It is upon this rock, we come to this rock where we hide, we find our solace on this rock. I stand upon this rock. He lifted me up out of the mud and mire and set my feet upon a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He is my rock and my fortress. We have all through the course of the Old Testament commentary after commentary from the prophets and the writers telling us that God is our rock. But Peter says that he is a living stone or a living rock. He's talking about how God has revealed himself to the world in the person of Jesus Christ. And Jesus is God in the flesh who not only died, but rose from the dead. So he's giving us this picture of the resurrected rock, the Lord Jesus Christ.
You see, stones tell stories. Listen to this, stones tell stories. But if there's a living stone, that is the story. Stones tell stories. But if there's a living stone, then that is the story. And so we have to remember as Peter helps us to see that Jesus is the story. You see, for us, we keep in mind the resurrected Jesus is what history is all about. That everything revolves around him. He is the living stone. He's the one who died and who was buried and they rolled a rock over the grave site to keep him in. But come on, man. Do you think an aging rock can hold the rock of ages? The living stone lives. He died and now he lives. And this is what history revolves around.
And then what Peter does is he begins to open this up by telling us some truths about this living stone. Notice what he says there in verse number 4. As you come to him, meaning Jesus, the living stone rejected by humans, but chosen by God and precious to him. Did you catch it? He was rejected. He's chosen and he's precious. Now, when we see that in the context of scripture, I think it's important for us to pause just to make sure that we understand what's being said here. Jesus was rejected. Do you know that Peter begins to articulate that a little bit later in 1 Peter 2 just a couple of verses down. Look what it says in verses 7 and 8. He says, "Now, to you who believe this stone is precious, but to those who do not believe the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, and a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message, which is also what they were destined for. He actually talks about this idea of rejection of Jesus and uses stone language that the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
Of course, when Peter is using this language, he's talking out of both. He's kind of quoting here from the Psalms and from the book of Isaiah, which is reminding me of the imagery of Isaiah Chapter 53 that I think that was probably in the back of Peter's mind as well, or maybe even the front of his mind. He says, talking about the Messiah, Isaiah says he was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering and familiar with pain, like one from whom people hide their faces. He was despised and we held him in low esteem. You know what I find interesting? In our day and age, there are a number of people that are okay with Jesus as long as Jesus is one of many. Oh, you like Jesus. That's cool for you. You just, man, you live your truth. That's you do Jesus, that's awesome. I'm doing this. That's cool. We'll just like each other. Everything's cool. Hey, man, all roads lead to God. No, no, they do not. Not according to the scripture.
Jesus said, "I'm the way, the truth, and the life. And no one comes to the father except through me." That's what he said, period. End of story. That's what he said. And you can go, "Well, he didn't really know what he was talking about." Well, that's one option, or you can say, "Ah, he was fruitcake, he was crazy." Okay, that's another option, or here's the third option. He is who he said he was. He is the son of God, the one who lived, the one who died, the one who rose from the grave, who is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the father except through him. It is just that exclusive and it is just as inclusive as the arms stretched out on the cross dying for the sins of the world. But see, in our day and age, it's difficult, isn't it? Because people are in fact are usually generally speaking good with you talking about a generic God, as long as it's generic. "Yeah, man, God's cool. That's awesome. Yeah, God." As long as you don't define who God is. But you start talking about Jesus, man, like you got to turn the fan off because everything starts flying into it.
That's what happens. You pray, you can pray all day about God. Talk to God, make sure it's generic God. You start talking about Jesus and people get all sideways. Why? Well, just like in Jesus' day, Jesus was rejected by humans. He was despised. Why? Because this is what he came to say. He came to say that there is one way to be reconciled to God and it is through him. This is what God's plan of action was in the world. And so we see that Jesus is rejected, but Peter tells us that he was also chosen and precious. And in fact, Peter goes on further in 1 Peter Chapter 2 to say this, Peter says, "For in scripture, it says, see I lay a stone in Zion a chosen and precious cornerstone. And the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
Now to you who believe this stone is precious, Jesus is precious. You see, what he was doing here was quoting, again, Isaiah the prophet, and he was saying this. Jesus is chosen. He is handpicked and he is of the highest worth. He is of inestimable worth. Jesus is the most precious being in the universe. And listen, ladies and gentlemen, he is worth our lives, he is worth our love, he is worth our allegiance because he is the most precious one. Nothing in our lives should be more precious to us than Jesus because nothing, listen to this, nothing in God's world is more precious to him than Jesus. He says he is chosen, he is precious. This is what God has said about his son. And so shouldn't we also have the same mind as the father?
Now, here's what Peter reminds us of everybody's got to deal with the living stone one way or the other, one way or the other. Either you believe and you come to him and he is precious, or you stumble upon him and you fall to your destruction. Those are the things that happen. That's what Peter has told us about this living stone. Listen to this, you can hate him, you can love him, but you cannot ignore him because everybody, everybody will come face-to-face with the living stone. And we will believe and value him as precious, or we will reject and we will stumble and fall to our destruction. That's what Peter sets up in this passage of scripture talking about the living stone. But here's why, because the Livingstone is the story. Stones tell stories, but the Livingstone is the story. Rightly so, all of creation centers around him.
Now, what Peter goes on to do and what we want to spend a few moments on is he goes on to connect the people of God with the living stone. You see, what we're talking about in the series is the story of us. Really, the story is ultimately about God. When you look at the big picture of the story of everything, it is a he story, it's a we story, and then it's a me story. This is a story about God, then it's a story about God and his people, and then it's about me as an individual as a part of the people of God. And so when we begin to understand that, we see that Peter starts connecting the dots between the living stone and between the people of God. Notice what he says in verses 4 and 5, "As you come to Jesus, the living stone rejected by humans, but chosen by God and precious to him, you're also like living stones, or being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
Now, this is a beautiful passage of scripture because it starts to make your head spin. Basically, what Peter is saying is what Jesus is the living stone you as the people of God are becoming. What he is, you are becoming. And then with a series of metaphors that would make a literary critics headspin, he starts talking about a number of different things related to this. He says, the people of God, or a house, a spiritual house, he's referring to a temple, he says that this temple is also a holy priesthood. And you're like, "How can I be a temple and a priesthood at the same time?" Just relax. He's using pictures to tell us all about our nature. He's basically saying, this is what you're made of. This is what you are, and he's using pictures to be able to say that. You're a temple where the spirit of God dwells. You're a priest who helps to mediate the presence of God and who offers... listen to this, he also says you offer spiritual sacrifices to God.
What Peter does here is he takes the language of Israel that God had given to Israel and he places it on the church. He gives the language that Israel was talked about in the book of Exodus, and he places it now on the church. You see, God has always desired his people to be a holy priesthood. That's what... when you read the book of Exodus and you see how Israel was constituted as a people, God's desire was that they would be a kingdom of priests. God's desire was that they would be a holy priesthood, not just Moses as the priest and Aaron as the priest, but basically that they would all be priests before God. What do priests do while they minister to the Lord and they mediate his presence in the world? And also here's what they do. They offer spiritual sacrifices.
This is what he's saying in the New Testament. In the New Testament, what a holy priesthood does is they offer spiritual sacrifices. Now, some of you are going, "I don't really know what spiritual sacrifices mean. How would I offer those?" Let me tell you how, and then let me tell you what. How are those spiritual sacrifices to be offered? Well, the text tells us, we just read it a second ago in verse number 5, you also like living stones are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
You do realize, ladies and gentlemen, that you will offer God only that which is acceptable if it is offered in and through Jesus Christ. Here's what that means. If you think that you can offer sacrifices to God outside of Jesus Christ, you are sadly mistaken. If somehow you're going to cause God's arm to be held behind his back and you're going to say something like, "Well, God, I walked a couple of ladies across the street this week, God, I paid my taxes, so you need to do blank, God, I showed up at church today cause Jerry got on us last week... the people that aren't laughing didn't actually watch the stream of what I talked about. No, I'm kidding. God, I did these things. Therefore, you've got to do blank. It's not that at all. The only way that we make an acceptable sacrifice before God, listen to this, is in and through Jesus Christ. Do you know why? Do you know why? Because Jesus is the great high priest who has made the ultimate sacrifice that we now can be a priesthood that offers sacrifices to God in and through Jesus.
So that's the how we do it. It has to be in and through Jesus Christ. But what are spiritual sacrifices? It's a fair question. If we as a priesthood, if we as a people, a body are supposed to be offering Jesus, our great high priest, if we're supposed to be offering him spiritual sacrifices, it's fair to ask what are spiritual sacrifices? Because that's what's going on. I can see it. I can see some of your minds running and see some of the smoke coming out of your ears and you're going, "I need to know what that is if I'm supposed to be doing those kinds of things."
Well, the Bible actually talks about in a few places in scripture things that get identified as spiritual sacrifices. I'm not endeavoring to try and uncover all of them, but here are some that we could pay attention to. The first one is ourselves. What our spiritual sacrifices? Ourselves, who we are, our bodies, our person. That's one. In fact, I want you to listen to the words of Paul in Romans Chapter 12, he says this, "Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters in view of God's mercy to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship." Did you hear the language there of spiritual sacrifice when he says, "Here's a spiritual sacrifice. I want you to offer your body as a spiritual sacrifice." The idea there is offer all of you as a living sacrifice.
Do you know the difference here, the term Paul uses? He says, "Living sacrifice." You do know that all the sacrifices in the Old Testament, they killed those animals. And they were dead. They were dead, they put them on the altar. They were dead, they poured their blood out. That was the deal. That was like dead animals. That's what they did. Paul says, "Nope, I'm not looking here for dead animals. I'm looking here for life people, living sacrifices." Can you see the picture? Let's pretend this is the altar right here. Here's what we know. I've got a goat, kill the goat. Goat goes here. Goat's not going anywhere. You know why? Goat's dead.
But if God says, I want you to offer yourself as a living sacrifice, Jerry gets on here. I'm kidding, not doing it. It's going to go down, it's going to go sideways, it's going to go badly. I can just assure you I thought about it for a half second. And then now that I'm old, I decided that's a bad move. But imagine this, imagine I'm up here and like God says, "All right, here's what I want from you." And I'm like, "Nah," and I just get down. I'm a living sacrifice. That means I crawl up and I crawl off.
I think too often in our lives, we are willing to crawl off of the altar and not do what God has called us to do. That instead of being a living sacrifice where we say, "All of me, all of me, for all of you, God, whatever it is you want from me, whatever it is you want me to do, whatever it is you're calling me to, I'm yours. I stand here on the altar of grace asking you to do with me whatever it is you want to do." But instead, we just jump off and say, "Nah, nah, I'll do my own thing."
See, a living sacrifice is a beautiful thing because, listen to this, we're choosing to stay. We're choosing to say yes because we trust the living stone, the great high priest, the foundation of our life, our very rock and fortress who died and who lives again, and we say, "We want to offer all that we are because you are more precious to us than anything, than anything." Maybe we've got to start climbing on the altar and offering all of ourselves to God as opposed to continually climbing off. You see, a spiritual sacrifice would be ourselves. But there's another one that I would pay attention to in the scripture and it's our gifts, our gifts, what we give and how we give from our heart. Listen to how Paul says it in Philippians 4, he said, "I received full payment and have more than enough. I'm amply supplied now that I've received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent." Listen to what he says they are, they are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. He uses the language of spiritual sacrifice to describe the gift that is being given.
In fact, the writer of Hebrews says it this way in Chapter 13, "Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices, God is pleased." You see, even when we give, ladies and gentlemen, when we give for things of the kingdom, when we give to meet the needs of people around us to be able to help, when we do that from a posture of Jesus has changed our lives, everything we have is his, we are now a conduit for his grace. He is the manufacturer, we are the distributor. When we do that, that is an acceptable sacrifice to God because it is being done in and through Jesus Christ, even when we give to him or we give to others.
There's a third thing that I would remind you of and it's this, spiritual sacrifice in the Bible is talked about, is proclaiming the gospel, proclaiming the gospel. This is a part of what the priesthood does when we offer spiritual sacrifices. In fact, if you listen closely to how the apostle Paul talked about himself and what he did in sharing the gospel, you'll hear the language. Notice what he said in Romans 15. He talked about to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. Paul says this, "God gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God." Why? So that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Do you realize that part of what it means to be the priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices is to proclaim the gospel of God? That's exactly what Paul said.
Paul said... listen to this. He said, "It is my priestly duty to proclaim the gospel of God." Why? Because it was a spiritual sacrifice. This is what he called it, a spiritual sacrifice. It was my priestly duty so that when people believe they become unacceptable offering to God. It's a beautiful reminder of what we are called to as a people. Let me give you a fourth one that we don't want to miss and it's praise. Praise is a spiritual sacrifice. When you look at this list here, what we are to be doing as living stones, what we're to be doing as a holy priesthood, us together, is that we are offering ourselves to God, we are offering our gifts to God, we are proclaiming the gospel as priests and priestesses of God, and we are offering praise to God.
In fact, notice how the writer of scripture says it in Luke Chapter 1. So do you remember this by the way? Pause for a second. Do you remember this? Do you remember when Jesus was going in on Palm Sunday and everybody is saying, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord," and the Pharisees were basically saying, "Just tell them to shut up"? You remember that? Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples." I tell you, he replied, "If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." Well, guess what? They are living stones. That's what we do, that's what we do. We cry out in praise. Jesus said, "If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." And eventually, because of what Jesus has done in the life of his people and because now we in the living stone are living stones ourselves, we are now crying out in praise as a sacrifice of praise. This is who we are, this is what we are designed to be. And in fact, we were made to praise God. This is how we were wired.
Listen to how the writer of Hebrews says it in Hebrews Chapter 13, "Through Jesus, therefore... Notice carefully here, "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise. The fruit of lips that openly profess his name." It is a sacrifice of praise, and we do it in and through Jesus. Now, some of you are saying, "Ah, okay, this is challenging for me sometimes to be able to praise God in and through the power of Jesus to other people. It's difficult for me." Listen carefully. If you can get used to praising God to God, it will come much easier to praise God to others. Listen, if you can allow yourself to really learn what it means to praise God to God, you can begin more easily to begin to praise God the to others.
You see, this is a part of our spiritual sacrifice, ladies and gentlemen. This is what we do. What a holy priesthood does and part of the reason the writer of Hebrews tells us, "Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing," is because when we do that, we set aside this vocation of offering the spiritual sacrifices of praise and we ought not do it. That's why when we sing together, ladies and gentlemen, when we are singing together, we ought to just allow our hearts and our minds to say, "Yes, God, yes, to all of these things," because we're going to make sure on our end that what we're singing flows from the word of God. And it really doesn't matter. I'll be honest with you. When people get about music, everybody just gets all wonky and weird and sideways, "I got my preference, I got my preference. I wanted this. I want this, I want this." It's like...
Hey, you live in a world where you can listen to everything you want to listen to anytime you want to listen to it. We all have that access. What we want to do is we want to center in on the truth of the content of who God is, and we want to magnify him for what he's done, who he is, what he's doing in our hearts and lives, and I can get on that. You would become a lot less finicky if you went somewhere in the world. Let me say, let me say it, let me say it again. I've been to 35 countries, is every place that I've been and worshiped in my style. Seriously? I've been in Cuba and they were ripping it. I mean, sweating like they have never sweat in their lives, singing for two hours before I ever get up to preach. I'm hoarsed by the time I get up to preach because they've been so oppressed. They are so joyful and they are worshiping the Lord.
And I've been in Ukraine, where I was thinking to myself, "Do you even like God?" Oh God, the joy of my... and it was like stone face and I was going, "Okay, tell your face, bro, what's happening right now." It wasn't my style, but you know what? It didn't matter because the content of what we were doing, we were magnifying the glory of who Jesus is. You see, at the end of the day, when the content of our worship comes from our heart in and through Jesus, the sacrifice of praise is a fragrant offering that is Holy and acceptable and pleasing to God. Why? Because he's the living stone and we are living stones. And part of that role is that we are a priesthood, and that priesthood offers a sacrifice of praise. And here's what I've found, ladies and gentlemen. If we can get a lot more comfortable praising God to God with our mouth, we will be a lot more comfortable praising God to others with our mouth.
In fact, let's practice. It's just the right place and the right time to do it. I want every band on every campus to come back. Just come back because I want us to take a moment and magnify the Lord together. Why? Why? Here's why, because it is a sacrifice of praise, man. I guess it's take a seat if you can. He's the living stone, he's the one we magnify, he's the one we praise. And as a priesthood, we offer him a sacrifice of praise, we offer him ourselves, we offer him our gifts, we offer the praise of our lips and proclaiming the gospel, and we offer the praise of our lips in magnifying who he is to him and to others. You see, all of these spiritual sacrifices are what we do as a holy priesthood. That's why Peter uses the language of Israel to describe who we are by our very nature. Look what he says in verse number 9, "You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession." Leave that up for just a moment.
We are all of these things because Jesus is who he is. Jesus is chosen and we are now chosen in him. Jesus is the great high priest who is also the king of the kingdom and in him we are a royal priesthood. We are a holy nation set apart because when Jesus died, he made the Jew and Gentile one new kind of human being, a new nation called the body of Christ, the Christian. We are a set apart people of God, and we are God's special possession. We are precious because we are in the one God says his most precious Jesus Christ. Ah, sorry. Jesus is who he is. Therefore, we are who we are. We are becoming what he already is. He is the living stone. We are now living stones. And as living stones, listen to this, as living stones, we don't just have a story, we are a story. As living stones, we don't just have a story, we are a story.
What story is it that we are telling? As living stones, we are the story of God's mercy and God's mission. This is what we are. Not just what we do, but what we are. As living stones, we are the story of God's mercy and God's mission. Let me explain that real quickly for you is in the very end of our text here in 1 Peter Chapter 2. Let me explain to you what it says in verse number 10, says, "Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." You see what we are as living stones is we are a picture of the mercy of God.
And do you know that this language, I haven't really called attention to this very much, but do you know when you read 1 Peter, maybe of all the books in the entirety of scripture in terms of it being rather small, it had probably has the most volume of Old Testament passages that are quoted in it, or that are behind the language of any book, maybe in the Bible, at least based on size and percentage of volume? And even here, when we find out that we are people who now we have received mercy, even though we didn't receive mercy, now we are a people even though we weren't a people, do you know that that's calling out from the book of Hosea in the Old Testament? Do you remember Hosea and Gomer? God told Hosea to marry a prostitute and then she was giving birth to people. God was trying to show something to the people of Israel, ultimately about his mercy.
Here's what it says in Hosea Chapter 1. It says, "Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter, and then the Lord said to Hosea, call her Lo-Ruhamah, which means not loved, for I will no longer show love to Israel that I should at all forgive them. And after she'd waned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son, then the Lord said, call him Lo-ammi, which means not my people, for you are not my people and I am not your God. Listen, he says to Israel, "You're not my people. I'm not your God." And he shows this through the birth of this woman or this child through this woman who was a prostitute, who he said to Mary to Hosea. But notice then what God says in Chapter 2 of the book of Hosea, "I will plant her for myself in the land. I will show my love to the one I called not my loved one. I will say to those called not my people, "You are my people." And they will say, "You are my God."
You see, what God was saying is this, is that, "I will never forsake those that I have called." And by the way, it's not based upon what you've done. You don't deserve this. I'm a God who shows mercy. And now, those of us who are not even a part of Israel, we are Gentile in our background, have been grafted into this beautiful thing called the body of Christ. And it's not because of our worth, it's not because of what we've done, it's not because we forced God's hand, it's because God's mercy is evident to us that while we were yet sinners, Christ still died for us. You see, as living stones, listen to this, we are a story of God's mercy. It's no wonder we should praise him. It's no wonder we should give thanks to him. Sometimes we don't give God praise. Listen to this, we don't give God praise because we've forgotten how far we were gone and what he's rescued us from.
Some of us need a crash course in remembering what it was like to be lost and failing and destructive because it is God's mercy. It is God's grace that has rescued us in and through Jesus Christ. You see, as living stones, we are the story of God's mercy. We are also the story of God's mission. Listen to what Peter says in verse number 9, "It's your chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." You see, ladies and gentlemen, what we're doing now as living stones is we have a story to tell and we are a story to the world together, that God is merciful and that God is the one who is on mission.
You see, God creates, God draws, God rescues, God sanctifies, God redeems, God commissions, God glorifies. The whole story from beginning to end is all about what God has done in Jesus Christ. Listen to this, and that God is on mission so that people in the world would know that he has shown mercy in Jesus, and that through Jesus, they can be reconciled to the Father, and he's using living stones like you and me to tell and to show that story. That's why, ladies and gentlemen, you see it on our walls. That's why you know that what our mission is here at The Chapel is not just specific to The Chapel, it's the mission of the people of God. It's the mission of the church that we exist, the church. I'm not talking about a building, I'm talking about living stones. I'm not talking about dead stones, I'm talking about living stones that we exist so that every man, woman, and child might have a repeated opportunity to hear and to see and experience the good news that they can be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.
This is why we do what we do because everywhere through the scripture you see the mission of God continues to beat forth. You have a story, but we are a story. We're living stones, and stones tell stories. And even more specifically, stones are stories. And our story together must always be Jesus. He's our story. Our story is actually less about us and almost entirely about him because had he not initiated, had he not rescued, had he not come, had he not died, had he not resurrected from the grave, had he not regenerated, had he not done all of this in our lives, we would have nothing to talk about. The story that we're telling as living stones is the story of the living stone because stones tell stories, but the living stone, he is the story. And that's why when we are found in him, our story is just bragging on him and offering the sacrifices of praise of our lives, of our gifts, of our telling of the gospel, and of our praise of his name because that's what we do as the people of God.
Let's bow our heads together. As we're going out in just a moment on our way out, if you're here and maybe you're new, maybe this is new to you, maybe you've just heard the communication of the gospel and you're like, "You know what? I want to come to the living stone, I want to believe in Jesus, I want him to be precious to me," we would love to talk to you about that. And when you walk out of this room or in the East Worship Center, come right across the atrium, there's a room called the Fireside Room, and we've got pastors and some other friends in there who would love to take a moment and pray with you and talk to you about that. You have no bigger issue in your life than knowing that you have turned from your sin and put your belief and faith in Jesus. It's an issue of eternal magnitude. And if you've never settled that, I encourage you to come by. We'd love to talk to you about that.
Father, you said so much through your word to us by your spirit. There is no way we can actually in any amount of time exhausted. But I pray that we would receive the overtures of your spirit in our hearts this day, and that we would be reminded of who we are. That because of who you are, Jesus is the living stone. We are becoming more and more like you as living stones, that we've been raised from death to life, that we've been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, and that now as living stones, we are to tell a story and to be a story to everyone around us, not just as individuals, but as a body, because we are being built into this temple of your presence, and we are a priesthood that offer spiritual sacrifices.
May you allow us to grow and become what we are, that being found in you, we would be found to be living stones that tell a beautiful story of Jesus and demonstrate a story of Jesus in all of our lives. So that the world around us may be captivated by the glory of who you are because we exist not just for ourselves, we exist for you and we exist for those around us. So may you help us, God, by your spirit to implant that in our hearts, that we may learn what it means to act in that regard as a living sacrifice, that willingly offers ourselves to you every day of our lives. Jesus, you truly are glorious. We could never thank you or praise you enough. But may we be a people where we see the praise of who you are on our lips, and that the world around us would sense and know that you are the living stone. We love you and we bless you in Jesus name. Amen.