The Sin of Rejecting Christ Jesus

by Frank Jones


And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. (1 Peter 2:4–8)

"In Ps. 117 LXX the rejected stone has become the chief cornerstone of God’s building program. ... Even in the psalm, the chief cornerstone rejected by “the builders” is closely associated with salvation, implying that to reject the stone is to jeopardize one’s salvation. Alluding to the later Greek versions of Isa. 8:14, Peter further describes the stone in relation to those who reject it as a stone of stumbling (προσκόμματος, proskommatos) and a rock of temptation to sin (σκανδάλου, skandalou, 2:8).4 Ironically, Peter himself (the rock) was accused by Jesus of being a skandalon when Peter rebuked Jesus and attempted to deflect him from his predicted road to rejection and death (Matt. 16:23). Peter had become an occasion for Jesus to sin, a temptation that Jesus vigorously overcame by his sharp rebuke of Peter’s thought. Here in 1 Pet. 2:8 Peter claims that Christ the cornerstone presents an opportunity either for trust or for rejection. Moreover, rejection of Christ is not an amoral decision; it is itself an instance of sin. This is a message that our religiously pluralistic society today finds just as offensive as did first-century polytheistic society. To reject Christ is to stumble and sin. (ed., bold added) Peter quotes only the portion of Isa. 8 that refers to those who reject and stumble, but that passage also refers to the rock as a refuge for those who trust (Isa. 8:13–14 LXX): “Sanctify the Lord himself; and he himself will be your fear. If you trust in him, he will become your sanctuary, and you will not encounter him as a stumbling caused by a stone, nor as a fall caused by a rock” (NETS). Isaiah is speaking of those who do trust in the Lord. Peter uses the prophet’s words to reflect on those who do not. By implication, those who have not trusted in the Lord have not “sanctified” him, and therefore they have indeed encountered him as a stone and rock over which they have fallen.

As Marshall (1991: 73) summarizes, the quotation of Isa. 28:16 LXX and Ps. 117:22 LXX (118:22 Eng.) functions in Peter’s argument first to explain that the unbelief of those who reject Christ was already predicted in the OT prophecies; therefore, the rejection of Christ by friends and neighbors should not cause Christians surprise or doubt in their own faith. (ed., bold added)Second, Peter has clearly presented Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation, by which all will be judged. When people reject him, they do it to their own peril." (Jobes, K. H. 1 Peter (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament). Baker Academic, 153-154)


Living Stones

by Frank Jones


And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. (1 Peter 2:4–8)

"The image of living stones being built into a spiritual house whose cornerstone is Christ also speaks of the unity, significance, and purpose of all believers, concepts essential for Christian self-understanding. The primary attribute of a temple in first-century thought was its holiness. Just as God’s presence sanctified the temple of Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit sanctifies the Christian community, setting it apart as God’s own. The unity of the temple is derived from God’s presence, the one Cornerstone, and a unity of purpose. There is one single temple into which all believers are built. The Christian church is not primarily a social organization but the new temple where the transformed lives of believers are offered as sacrifice to the glory of God. The imagery of the living stones being built into a single unit implies that the significance and purpose of the individual Christian cannot be realized apart from community with other believers. Coming to Christ means coming into relationship with others, not only in one’s own generation but also by being united with believers of every generation, who likewise have been built into God’s grand building project. The structure will be completed only when the scaffolding of human history comes down and the kingdom of Christ is revealed in all its glory." (Jobes, K. H. 1 Peter (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament). Baker Academic, 149)


Deal Tenderly

by Frank Jones


"The rule of humility and love will be - Deal tenderly with others - severely with ourselves. Our Master's pattern illustrates the rule, and sheds light on every step of our path." (Bridges, Ecclesiastes, 173.)


Do Not Say ...

by Frank Jones


Do not say, "Why is it that the former days were better than these?" for it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. (Ecc 7:10)

"Verse 10 is even more crushing, as befits an answer to nostalgia, which is an enervating and self-indulgent mood. To sigh for ‘the good old days’ is (we may reflect) doubly unrealistic: a substitute not only for action but for proper thought, since it almost invariably overlooks the evils that took a different form or vexed a different section of society in other times. (Kidner, The Message of Ecclesiastes, 67)

It has been said that “the good old days” are the combination of a bad memory and a good imagination, and often this is true. … The Victorian essayist Hilaire Belloc wrote, “While you are dreaming of the future or regretting the past, the present, which is all you have, slips from you and is gone.” (Wiersbe, Be Satisfied, 88)


Do Not Say ...

by Frank Jones


Do not say, "Why is it that the former days were better than these?" for it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. (Ecc 7:10)

"After all – ‘it is folly to cry out of the badness of the times, when there is so much more reason to complain of the badness of our hearts (if men’s hearts were better, the times would be mended); and when there is such reason to be thankful that they are not worse; but that even in the worst times we enjoy many mercies, that help to make them, not only tolerable, but comfortable.’" (Charles Bridges, Ecclesiastes, 150)


Spiritual Mindedness

by Frank Jones


For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom 8:6)

"Wherefore, the “minding of the Spirit” is the actual exercise of the mind as renewed by the Holy Ghost, as furnished with a principle of spiritual life and light, in its conception of spiritual things and the setting of its affections [inclinations] on them, as finding that relish and savour in them wherewith it is pleased and satisfied. ... “To be spiritually minded;” that is, to have the mind changed and renewed by a principle of spiritual life and light, so as to be continually acted and influenced thereby unto thoughts and meditations of spiritual things, from the affections cleaving unto them with delight and satisfaction. ...

It will therefore be no small advantage unto us to have our souls and consciences always affected with and in due subjection unto the power of this truth,—namely, that “to be spiritually minded is life and peace;” whence it will follow, that whatever we may think otherwise, if we are not so, we have neither of them, neither life nor peace. It will, I say, be of use unto us if we are affected with the power of it; for many greatly deceive themselves in hearing the word. They admit of sacred truths in their understanding, and assent unto them, but take not in the power of them on their consciences, nor strictly judge of their state and condition by them, which proves their ruin; for hereby they seem to themselves to believe that whereof in truth they believe not one syllable as they ought. They hear it, they understand it in the notion of it, they assent unto it, at least they do not contradict it, yea, they commend it oftentimes and approve of it, but yet they believe it not; for if they did, they would judge themselves by it, and reckon on it that it will be with them at the last day according as things are determined therein. ...

When there is in any a love of earthly things that is predominant, whence a person may be rightly denominated to be earthly minded, he is not, nor can be, spiritually minded at all; he hath no interest in the frame of heart and spirit intended thereby. And thus it is evidently with the greatest part of them who are called Christians in the world, let them pretend what they will to the contrary." (John Owen, Of Spiritual Mindedness, vol. 7, 270-273)


Man's Great End (Valley of Vision)

by Frank Jones


LORD OF ALL BEING,

There is one thing that deserves my greatest care,
that calls forth my ardent desires,

That is, that I may answer the great end for which I am made –
to glorify thee who hast given me being,
and to do all the good I can for my fellow men;

Verily life is not worth having
if it be not improved for this noble purpose.

Yet, Lord, how little is this the thought of mankind!

Most men seem to live for themselves,
without much or any regard for thy glory,
or for the good of others;

They earnestly desire and eagerly pursue
the riches, honours, pleasures of this life,
as if they supposed that wealth, greatness, merriment,
could make their immortal souls happy;

But, alas, what false delusive dreams are these!

And how miserable ere long will those be that sleep in them,
for all our happiness consists in loving thee,
and being holy as thou art holy.

O may I never fall into the tempers and vanities,
the sensuality and folly of the present world!

It is a place of inexpressible sorrow, a vast empty nothingness;

Time is a moment, a vapour,
and all its enjoyments are empty bubbles,
fleeting blasts of wind,
from which nothing satisfactory can be derived;

Give me grace always to keep in covenant with thee,
and to reject as delusion a great name here or hereafter,
together with all sinful pleasures or profits.

Help me to know continually
that there can be no true happiness,
no fulfilling of thy purpose for me,
apart from a life lived in and for the Son of thy love.

(Valley of Vision, 22-23)


Entangling Our Affections

by Frank Jones


"When the world fills our thoughts, it will entangle our affections. ... Hence men walk and talk as if the world were all, when comparatively it is nothing." (John Owen)


Terror of Conscience

by Frank Jones


"Our heavenly Father does not usually cause us to seek the Saviour till He has whipped us clean out of all our confidence; He cannot make us in earnest after heaven till He has made us feel something of the intolerable tortures of an aching conscience, which is a foretaste of hell." (Charles H. Spurgeon)


Gospel Progressing in Conflict

by Frank Jones


"The suffering of the Puritans, the illustrations in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, the bloody strictures of Bonner and his crew, the Pope and his crew, the progress made for truth and the gospel through stocks, prison, burnings, and blood permeated Spurgeon’s understanding of mission theology. That they did not count their lives dear to themselves in comparison to the great calling of working for the defense and propagation of the gospel—such scenes settled in Spurgeon’s memory and molded his conscience. God’s gospel would make progress when its propagators looked death in the face and did not relent. The issues of eternity overwhelm any temporal and, relatively speaking, momentary suffering that a gospel missionary might endure. When Baptist missionaries returned from Ireland because the Irish hooted them, and threw stones at them, Spurgeon snarled, “Now don’t you think you see Paul taking a microscope out of his pocket, and looking at a little man who should say to him, ‘I shall not go there to preach, because the Irish hooted me!’” What a small edition of a preacher such an intimidated creature must be. But they threw stones! Tell that to Paul with a face unashamed. But the police interfered, they might put us in stocks, and some might even die. “Our business is to preach the word,” Spurgeon responded; “Where is that zeal which counted not its life dear, so that it might win Christ?” The killing of a few of our ministers would prosper Christianity, he preached; if men die by the hundreds and thousands in defense of hearth and home, so surely it is no great grief to lose a dozen to death in the cause of the gospel. “I would count my own blood most profitably shed in so holy a struggle,” Spurgeon affirmed. When the gospel prospered aforetime, it did so because some laid down their lives for it and others walked “to victory over their slain bodies.” (Nettles, T. J. Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (Revised edition ed.). Mentor, 25.)


God in Action

by Frank Jones


And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers (1 The 2:13)

"Paul's conviction that the preached word of God 'is at work in you believers' is similar to the view of the Old Testament prophets that God's word is God's deed: God's word goes out into the world as a powerful force that accomplishes his purposes. Peter also echoes this belief when he reminds his readers: 'You have been born anew ... through the living and abiding word of God.' If anyone should wonder what that word of God is precisely, Peter explains: 'That word is the good news which was preached to you' (1 Pet 1:23, 25). Like the prophets and Paul, Peter is convinced of the power of the preached word. that power is not some magical force in the words themselves but is the power of God whose word it is, for the gospel 'is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith' (Rom 1:16). The New Testament, therefore, views preaching as 'God in action.' Preaching is not merely a word about God and his redemptive acts but a word of God and as such is itself a redemptive event. (Greidanus, S. The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text: Interpreting and Preaching Biblical Literature, 5)


Authority in the Word

by Frank Jones


"Because God gave them his word, the [Old Testament] prophets were able to proclaim: Thus says the Lord, and Hear the word of the Lord! Since the prophets proclaimed God's word, their preaching was authoritative. This relationship suggests that the authority of the prophets did not reside, ultimately, in their person, their calling, or their office; rather, their authority was founded in the word of God they proclaimed." (Greidanus, S. The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text: Interpreting and Preaching Biblical Literature, 2)