Other Facts of Truth
Scripture reading: First Peter chapter two.
The five expressions found in verse nine suggest another division of Peter’s first epistle. New Testament saints are “a chosen generation” according to chapter one; “a royal priesthood” according to chapter two; “an holy nation” in chapter three; “a peculiar people” in chapter four; and a people trained to show forth the excellencies of Christ in chapter five. The strangers scattered by persecution, Jewish Christians of the dispersion, had inherited what the nation of Israel had forfeited by unbelief. Moses had described that nation in the first five books of the Bible in exactly this same way. In Genesis 12:1-3 she was viewed as “a chosen generation”; in Exodus 19:6 as “a royal priesthood”; in Leviticus 10:10 as “an holy nation”; in Numbers 3:13 as God’s “peculiar people”; and in Deuteronomy 4:6; 28:10 as a people trained to show forth the excellencies of their God.
Furthermore, these Jewish converts to Christianity were taught that as “a chosen generation” they shared the life of Christ their Redeemer. As “a royal priesthood” they shared His ministry. As “an holy nation” they shared His nature. As “a peculiar people” they shared His obedience to the will of God. As a people trained to show forth His excellencies, they shared His victory.
The second chapter views the people of God in four different ways: as children growing in the likeness of God (Vv. 1-3); as priests ministering in the sanctuary of God (Vv. 4-10); as pilgrims progressing in the will of God (Vv. 11-17); and as servants labouring in the work of God (Vv. 18-25).
The Children’s Growth
They are to lay aside an insincere mind in order to receive the sincere milk of the Word. This is the principle of spiritual growth that is taught throughout all the Scriptures. The Psalmist could say that he loved the Word because he hated evil (Psa. 119:113). James says that we must lay aside all filthiness in order to receive with meekness the engrafted Word. Paul teaches that the mystery of the faith can only be carried in the casket of a pure conscience (1 Tim. 3:9). Growth in godliness entails a growth in a sensitiveness to sin. Another rendering of verse two reads, “That ye may grow unto salvation.”
The five sins mentioned in verse one are sins against the love of the brethren, the love that is the fruit of the new nature (chap. 1:22). Malice is an inward wish for another’s hurt. Envy is an inward repining at another’s good. Guile is deceit, and hypocrisy is a mask. Guile puts duplicity in the heart while hypocrisy puts it in the tongue. Evil speaking usually takes the form of building up one’s reputation on the ruins of the good names of others.
There are certain things which are necessary for healthy spiritual growth: the fresh air of God’s holy sanctuary which we breathe in prayer; the sunshine of His love in which we are to abide (Jude 21), the good food of His Word which we are to assimilate, and by which we are to be cleansed daily (Psa. 119:9), and a godly exercise to things that are pleasing to our Lord (1 Tim. 4:7-8).
The Priests’ Ministry
Our Lord is declared precious three times in these few verses. According to verse four this preciousness of Christ draws forth our worship, in verse six it affects our walk, and in verses seven to nine it produces a noble witness for Christ.
Of our blessed Lord, we read, “To Whom coming …” Experimentally we are always coming to Him. We come daily for life, for sustenance, for love, for fellowship, for truth, for instruction. We cannot do without Him even for a moment.
God declares, “Behold, I lay in Sion a Chief Corner Stone.” David took the stronghold of Zion, and on the place of that victory Solomon built the temple “that the Lord God may dwell among them.” There the ark rested and all Israel rejoiced. This is the historical background of Psalms 24, 68, and 132. From the same background, Paul draws the picture of our Lord’s victory on the cross (Eph. 4). In His mighty stoop to make atonement for sin, He descended from the highest heavens to the lowest parts of the earth. That is, He plumbed the depth of humiliation at the cross and in the grave. He came to grips with all the forces of evil, and triumphed over them, making a show of them openly. The true Ark of the Covenant, Christ, then began His ascent to the place of His rest at the right hand of God. From there He gave gifts for the enrichment of the House which He is building upon the Foundation Stone that was laid in Zion.
With this thought Hebrews 12:18-24 agrees perfectly, “But ye are come unto Mount Sion.” Along with the mount of the curse with its seven figures of the inaccessibility of God, comes into view the mount of grace with its seven figures of the accessibility of God. At the latter we see the blood of sprinkling as the basis of all our blessings. There we behold our right of entrance into the city of God, our fellowship with Him and with all the inhabitants of heaven. The same two mountains in the Epistle to the Galatians (4:21-31) are said to be an allegory of the two covenants. The one that gendereth to bondage and the other that speaks of liberty, joy, and fruit. It is in Zion, the sphere of grace, that we offer our priestly sacrifices and adorn the temple of God with our praises. We are both priests and temple. For the exercise of our priestly devotions there are needed: priestly fitness, purity, food, stability. Priestly stability is the result of always coming to Christ to be built up in Him. The New Testament believer enjoys a priestly status which is not of this world (Vv. 9-11). Moreover, his behaviour must be priestly (Vv. 12:20), and he must keep his eye on Christ, our perfect Example. (Vv. 21-25).