A Living Legacy
A writer’s or speaker’s style is generally punctuated by words, expressions and phrases which, though perhaps interestingly varied, nevertheless become typical of the individual. Such words and expressions are found in the style of the human authors of the Bible, for while it is hastily affirmed that the Bible is the Spirit-inspired Word of God, the Holy Spirit did not abrogate the personality of the individual writer. In other words, God did not make some sort of human dictating machine out of those through whom He wrote the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16. 2 Pet. 1:20-21).
The Apostle Peter was especially fond of two words which most certainly permeated his thinking and conversation, even as they found definite expression in his writings. The two words are “precious” and “living,” and it is this latter word which engages our attention presently.
Every true Christian possesses in Christ a living legacy, and Peter both in conversation and letter has placed in focus specific aspects of that wonderful legacy.
The Living God
When the Lord Jesus Christ asked His disciples, “But whom say ye that I am?”, it was Peter who spoke up and declared, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:15-16). From this occasion forward there can be little doubt but what the word “living” became more and more endeared to Peter’s heart through the continued illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
It is a word which is made much of in this jetomic age, especially by the advertising media. which bids the public to watch in “living color” or to “come alive” by joining the “Pepsi generation,” whatever that might be. Today many of us often see on car bumpers those stickers which read, “MY GOD IS ALIVE … . Sorry to Hear about Yours.” What a great time Peter would have had in this so-called “now generation” confidently and joyously declaring those truths concerning the Living God, and that Christ is indeed “the Son of the living God”!
Do our lives and conversation spell out and tell out the fact that we are daily in touch with the Living God? Is it because we are not walking with Him as we should that some try to tell us He is dead?
The Living Hope
Paul has been called the “Apostle of Faith,” John the “Apostle of Love,” and Peter the “Apostle of Hope,” Peter speaking of that hope as “a living hope” (1 Pet. 1:3).
The world today is full of dead and dying hopes, but the Christian has a sure, steadfast and living hope in Christ, a hope that some day shall be realized in all its glorious fullness. What is this living hope? It is none other than the coming again of Jesus Christ, remembering that He Himself is the very personification of the believer’s hope (1 Tim. 1:1). Does this blessed hope motivate our lives day by day? (cf. Rom. 8:24-25; Tit. 2:11-13; 1 John 3:1-3). Is it really a living reality to us?
Here, in 1 Peter 1:3, we have the declaration of the Christian’s hope, while in 1:13-16 we have the display of that hope and the practical influence it should have in the believer’s life and testimony.
As to the Christian’s living hope, observe:
A. Its Beginning
It begins, we enter into its possession, by the “new birth,” for Peter addresses these who have been “begotten … again” (cf. John 3:3, 7 with 1:11-13; Rom. 8:17).
B. Its Basis
1. “according to His abundant mercy”
2. “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (cf. John 20: 1-10).
The basis of every blessing in Christ is His bodily resurrection (1 Cor. 15:12-19).
Regarding the Christian’s living hope, Dr. James M. Gray has observed:
1. Its Source - “abundant mercy”
2. Its Ground - “begotten again”
3. Its Means - “the resurrection of Jesus Christ”
4. Its Nature - “an inheritance”
5. Its Security - “reserved”
6. Its Consummation - “in the last time”
7. Its Effect - “wherein ye greatly rejoice.”
The Living Word
“Being born again (lit. having been born again) not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Pet. 1:23). The context of this verse reveals that the Bible is the eternal, as well as the living Word of God (see 1:25). As such, we observe the seven following things about the Bible:
A. It Cuts (Heb. 4:12; see Acts 7:54; 13:6-13).
B. It Converts (Psa. 19:7; Jas., 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23; see Acts 4:4).
C. It Cleanses (Psa. 119:9; John 15:3).
D. It Corrects (2 Tim. 3:16).
E. It Confirms (John 8:31).
F. It Comforts (Psa. 119:50, 54; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).
G. It Consecrates (John 17:17).
The Living Stone
In 1 Peter 2:4 the Apostle refers to Christ as the “Living Stone.” William Lincoln in his helpful little commentary on 1 and 2 Peter has pointed out that, as a rule, in the Old Testament our Lord is referred to as the Rock, while in the New Testament He is generally called the Stone. He condescended to become the Stone in order that mankind might comprehend something of His blessed Person and come to truly know Him as Saviour and Lord (see John 1:14; 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6-80 etc.). However, it was as the Rock, that is, as the God-Man that Christ was smitten on the Cross of Calvary; this precious truth has been clearly stated in A. Toplady’s classic hymn, “Rock of Ages.”
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save me from its guilt and pow’r.
The Living Stones
As the Lord Jesus Christ is the “Living Stone,” so His people are “living stones” (1 Pet. 2:5; cf 2 Pet. 1:4). At this point in his letter, Peter’s heart and mind must have recalled the scene of Matthew 16:13-20. And what of that earlier scene in his initial contact with and conversion to Christ? No doubt Peter reflected on this experience as well and recalled in particular the words of the Lord Jesus addressed directly to him, “Thou art Simon, the son of Jonah; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone” (John 1:42). Christ delights to give men new names, and He still does it, for all who trust Him are given a new name. This was Peter’s new name and in later years he became rock-like in his bold stand for Jesus Christ, eventually sealing his testimony with his life’s blood.
What is so dead as a stone? However, by coming to Christ, the “Living Stone,” believing sinners are made “living stones” in and by Him and are “built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5; cf. Eph. 2:1; see also 1 Pet. 2:4 with Isa. 53: 3).
Notice the words, “To whom coming…” (1 Pet. 2:4). Have you come to Christ for salvation? (Matt. 11:28). If so, then as His people we need to come to Him continually for spiritual strength and sustenance, keeping in mind that wonderful promise — a truly great one for times like these — “he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded” (1 Pet. 2:6).
On Christ, salvation rests secure;
The Rock of Ages must endure;
Nor can that faith be overthrown
Which rests upon the “Living Stone.”
No other hope shall intervene;
To Him we look, on Him we lean;
Other foundations we disown,
And build on Christ, the “Living Stone.”
In Him it is ordained to raise
A temple to Jehovah’s praise,
Composed of all His saints, who own
No Saviour but the “Living Stone.”
View the vast building, see it rise:
The work how great! the plan how wise!
O wondrous fabric! pow’r unknown
That rests it on the “Living Stone.”
But most adore His precious name:
His glory and His grace proclaim!
For us, the lost, condemned, undone,
He gave Himself, the “Living Stone.”