Building the Spiritual Temple of God
February 6th, 1983 @ 7:30 PM
1 Peter 2:1-25
BUILDING THE SPIRITUAL TEMPLE OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Peter 2:1-25
2-6-83 7:30 p.m.
And a thousand times welcome to the multitudes of you who are sharing this hour with us in the First Baptist Church of Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Spiritual Temple Of God. In our preaching through the chapters of 1 and 2 Peter, we are going to read tonight just that part that comprises the sermon. So turn to 1 Peter, 1 Peter chapter 2, and we shall read verses 4 and 5. Then we are going to read verses 9 and 10, then 21 to 25. Find your Bible passage, and if you are listening on radio, turn in your Bible and read aloud with us; 1 Peter 2, 1 Peter chapter 2. Now let us read verses 4 and 5 together:
To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
[1 Peter 2:4-5]
Now verses 9 and 10:
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light:
Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
[1 Peter 2:9-10]
Now beginning at verse 21 to the end of the chapter:
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth:
Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously:
Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
[1 Peter 2:21-25]
The spiritual temple of God: the Old Testament temple was a figure and a type of the spiritual temple God was to build with Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone [Ephesians 2:19-22].
If God cared for temples, He could have preserved the most beautiful temple the world has ever known, Solomon’s temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar [Ezra 5:12], and then the Herodian temple destroyed by Titus. In Matthew 24, verses 1 and 2, “The disciples came to the Lord and said, Look at these marvelous stones in the temple here in Jerusalem. And the Lord replied, Verily I say unto you, not one stone will be left upon another, but all shall be cast down” [Matthew 24:1-2]. If God cared for temples, He could have preserved that one. In one of the strange providences of history, Titus, in 70 AD, who was besieging Jerusalem—Titus, the son of Vespasian, the Roman Caesar, who himself followed his father as emperor of the Roman Empire, all powerful—Titus gave order to his soldiers to spare the temple when they finally battered down the walls of Jerusalem and entered the city. But forty years before Titus, our Lord had said, “Not a stone will be left, one on the other. All shall be cast down” [Matthew 24:2]. If God had loved stone temples, He could have preserved that one. But in God’s sight, a dead stone and a material temple is nothing but a type and a figure of the true temple, spiritual, made up of God’s people.
We have a strange turn in our thinking that says to us the real things are material things, physical things, but immaterial things, things that are of the mind and of the soul and of heaven, are immaterial. They are mythical, they are temporal, they are transitory, when actually the opposite is true. The real things are the things of the soul, and of the mind, and of the spirit, and of God, and of heaven. Plato, the incomparable Greek philosopher, saw that truth in his presentation of ideas. Plato taught that the materialities of life were transitory and temporal; but that the real things of life, the eternal things of life, were of the soul, and of the mind, and of the heart. And he called them ideas. For example, Plato would have said that a chair—see that one—a chair is temporal and transitory. Since I’ve been here we’ve had three different chairs for the pastor to sit in up here in this pulpit. Plato would say that the eternities are found in the idea—that the idea of a chair is the reality and the forever, everlasting truth. God says that. The last verse in that incomparable fourth chapter of 2 Corinthians goes like this, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” [1 Corinthians 4:18].
So, the physical temple in Jerusalem was a type and a figure of the spiritual temple of God’s people. And the apostle Peter writes that when he says, “You are living stones who are built up into a spiritual house” [1 Peter 2:5]. And that is twofold in our lives. First, our house, for God is in our hearts; our bodies are the spiritual temples in which God dwells [1 Corinthians 6:19].
In the [second] chapter of the Book of John, when they were seeking to destroy our Lord because of His cleansing the temple, He said, “Destroy this body, and in three days I will raise it up” [John 2:19]. And then John adds, “He was speaking of the temple of His body” [John 2:21].
“For the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld in Him the glory of God” [John 1:14]. The temple of God is in the human heart, in our bodies. The apostle Paul writes in the sixth chapter of 1 Corinthians, “You are not your own. You are bought with a price, and your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit of God” [1 Corinthians 6:19-20].
He dwells in our souls. He also dwells in the temple of the koinōnia, the fellowship, the communion, of God’s people, the ekklēsia, God’s assembled saints. When we come together here in the church, the church that houses God is not in brick, and stone, and mortar, and stained-glass window, and steeple, and roof. When we come to the house of God, each one of us brings with us the Holy Spirit in our hearts. And when we meet together, the communion of soul with soul, and heart with heart, and mind with mind, and love with love makes the presence of Jesus and the Spirit of Jesus doubly precious in our hearts, in our lives, in our souls.
We could meet in an arbor. I have preached many times in an arbor. We could meet in a barn. I’ve preached in a barn. We could meet on a street corner. For years I preached on a street corner. God is not contained in a temple made out of stone and brick and mortar, but God lives in His people, and the temple of the Lord is in our souls and in our hearts. We are living stones, the apostle writes, “Built up into the house of the Lord” [1 Peter 2:5]. When they made Solomon’s temple, they quarried the rock out of the dead earth [1 Kings 5:17-18]. So the Holy Spirit quarries us out of the dead, hard, earth of this life, and He builds us up; living stones into the temple of God [1 Peter 2:5].
Second: not only was the temple, according to the apostle, a type and a figure of the spiritual house of God [1 Peter 2:5], but the priesthood was also a type and a figure of the priesthood of every believer in our Lord. He speaks in the text of a holy priesthood [1 Peter 2:5]. Then in verse 9, “Ye are a royal priesthood” [1 Peter 2:9]. Because we’re kin to Christ, we are in the household of the King and are royal priests.
The contrast is vivid and living between the priests of the Old Testament with their gorgeous robes and their jewels and all of their ornaments, and the priesthood of every believer who comes in faith to Christ. A priest in the Old Testament was born into the holy sanctuary ministry because he was in the household and one of the sons of Aaron [Numbers 3:10]. So all of us are born into the household of the priesthood of our Lord; we are fellow priests and fellow intercessors and fellow mediators with Him [1 Peter 2:9].
In the eighth chapter of the Book of Leviticus, we are told of the consecration of the priest for his priestly ministry. Blood of sacrifice was taken and placed on the ear of the priest, and on the thumb of the priest, and on the toe of the priest [Leviticus 8:23]. That signifies that he was to hear the Word of God, and he was to do the work of God, and he was to walk in the way and the will of God. So we are consecrated in our priesthood before the Lord. We are to listen to the Word of God. We are to work the work of God. And we are to walk in the way and will of God. We are priests before the Lord. We represent God to the people, and we intercede for the people before God. As the priest, we blow the trumpet to arouse the people, and we bless the people in the name of God.
Numbers 6:24-26, “And thou shalt bless the people with these words: The Lord bless thee, and keep the thee: The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and give thee peace.” Not only was the Old Testament temple a figure and a type of the spiritual temple of God’s people [1 Peter 2:5], and not only was the priesthood a type and a figure of the priesthood of the believers who have found refuge in Christ [1 Peter 2:9], but also the sacrifices of the Old Testament were types and figures of the sacrifices that we offer unto God [Hebrews 10:1].
In the eighth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the author writes that if Christ were a high priest after the order of Melchizedek, He must have somewhat to offer unto God [Hebrews 8:3]. So with us; if we are priests before our Lord, we must offer sacrifices unto our God.
What are the sacrifices of the believer in Christ as he comes before the Lord? They are named beautifully, poignantly, sometimes tenderly in the Bible. This is one; Psalm 51:16-17: “Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: Thou delightest not in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” The sacrifices we bring to God are first a broken heart and a contrite spirit. “Lord. Lord, of all the sinners in the world, I am chief [1 Timothy 1:15]. Lord. Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner” [Luke 18:13]. No man offers a sacrifice unto God who comes before the Lord saying, “Lord, look how fine I am, and look how noble I am, and look how sinless or perfect I am.” But when the man comes before God, he offers the sacrifice of repentance and confession; a broken heart and a contrite spirit [Psalm 51:17].
What are the sacrifices that the priest who loves Jesus offers unto God? In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Mark:
One of the scribes came . . . and said to Him, Lord, what is the first commandment of the Law?
And Jesus answered and said, The first is this: Hear, O Israel; Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, and mind. And the second is likened to it; thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
And the scribe said unto Him, Master, Thou hast said the truth: there is one God. And to love Him with all the heart, and all the understanding, and the soul, and the strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
And when Jesus saw that he answered thus, He said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.
The sacrifices we offer unto God, typically, in the Old Testament, brought a burnt offering [Leviticus 1:1-17]. Now, in our hearts and in our souls, to love God supremely and to love one another as ourselves, this is the sacrifice acceptable to the Lord [Mark 12:30-31].
Look again. In Romans 12:1, “I beseech thee therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” What is the sacrifice we offer unto God? It is ourselves; the strength of my mind, the love of my heart, the hope of my soul, the energy of my physical frame. “All of it, Lord, is offered unto Thee.”
And one other in Hebrews 13, verses 15 and 16. What are the sacrifices we offer unto God? “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. To do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” [Hebrews 13:15-16]. Isn’t that unusual? To communicate, koinōnia again; that’s the Bible word for giving, to give, to praise God, to bless His name, to give thanks. These are the sacrifices that are well pleasing in His name.
Now, will you notice last? As the apostle began with a marvelous word to our Lord, “To whom coming” [1 Peter 2:4], he closes with a marvelous tribute to our wonderful Savior, “Even hereunto were ye called,” because Christ has left an example for us, “ye who were sheep going astray, but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” [1 Peter 2:21, 25]. He begins with our Lord, and he closes with our Lord. “To whom coming” [1 Peter 2:4, 25]; I could not think of a finer illustration of the Christian faith in definition, in summation, than that word, “To whom coming” [1 Peter 2:4].
We begin in our Lord, we continue in our Lord, and we finish in our Lord. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Beginning and the Ending. He is the A and the Z. He is the whole alphabet to whom coming, a description of the Christian faith and the Christian life, coming to Him for forgiveness, coming to Him for salvation, coming to Him for wisdom and direction, coming to Him for strength, to whom coming, following Jesus all the way.
Dr. Reed, in these years past, used to conduct many of us on tours in foreign lands. I went with him on a tour through England, and through France, and through Italy, and through Switzerland, and through Germany, and through Denmark, and through Holland. First long journey I ever made, I made with Dr. Reed. And we had many different guides along the way. There’d be one in England. There’d be others in France. There’d be others in Italy and others along the way, many different guides. But in the Christian pilgrimage, we have just one: our Lord.
Moses led the children of Israel through the wilderness [Acts 7:35-36], but it was Joshua who led them into the Promised Land [Deuteronomy 31:23]. David gathered all of the material for the temple [1 Chronicles 22:14], but it was Solomon who built it [1 Kings 6:1-14]. Not so with us and our Lord; the Beginning and the Ending, the First and the Last [Revelation 22:13].
And the continuing pilgrimage all of the way is with our wonderful Savior. If we begin aright, we begin in Him. If we continue aright, we continue in Him. And if we finish aright, we finish in Him. It is Christ in the morning, in the youth time of our lives. It is Christ at noonday, in the strength of our manhood and womanhood. It is Christ in the evening, when we lean upon the staff.
And if in life we are affluent, it is Christ who crowns it. If in life we are in poverty, it is Christ who consoles us. If in life comes to us honor, it is Christ who sanctifies it. If in life it is dejection and despair, it is Christ who consoles us. If in life it is sickness, it is Christ who heals us. And if, in the providence of life, the inevitable day comes and it is death, it is in Christ that we die. He is all in all.
I entered once a home of care
And penury and want were there,
But joy and peace withal.
I asked the aged mother whence,
Her helpless widowhood’s defense.
She answered, “Christ is all.”
I saw the martyr at the stake.
The flames could not his courage shake,
Nor death his soul appall.
I asked him whence his strength was given.
He looked triumphantly to heaven
And answered, “Christ is all.”
I stood beside the dying bed
Where lay a child with aching head,
Waiting Jesus’ call.
I saw him smile. ‘Twas sweet as May.
And as his spirit passed away,
He whispered, “Christ is all.”
I dreamed that hoary time had fled.
The earth and sea gave up their dead.
A fire dissolved this ball.
I saw the church’s ransomed throng.
I caught the burden of their song.
‘Twas this that Christ is all. In all. In all.
[“Christ Is All,” W.A. Williams]
That is Simon Peter. “To whom coming” [1 Peter 2:4], that’s the way he begins, and he ends: “returning unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” [1 Peter 2:25]. Bless God for such a Friend, and such a faith, and such a hope. May we stand together?
Our Lord in heaven, when the gospel is faithfully preached, when Jesus is lifted high, when He is named in faith and love and hope, God always blesses. The Holy Spirit carries the message to the hearts of the people, and the Spirit of God invites and woos and wins and brings to Himself. And our Lord, thank Thee for the work of the Spirit of God in this temple of the Lord, in this household of the saints [1 Corinthians 6:19-20], in these who have found peace, and quiet, and refuge, and hope in our wonderful Savior. And now, Lord, as we sing our hymn of loving and tender appeal, may it be once again our Lord shall crown the invitation with a gracious harvest. Lord, how we thank Thee for our praying people who love God, who have given their hearts in faith to the wonderful Savior, and how we praise God for adding to us every Lord’s Day, every service these who have found hope in Him.
And while our people pray and while our choir sings the hymn of appeal, a family you, a couple you, a one somebody you, “Pastor, God has spoken to us tonight, and we’re on the way.” If you’re in that balcony round, there’s time and to spare, press of people on this lower floor, into that aisle and down to the front, “This is God’s time for me, and we are coming.”
And thank Thee, Lord, for the sweet harvest You give us tonight, in Thy precious and saving name, to whom coming, we have found peace, and refuge, and forgiveness, and salvation, and strength, and finally heaven, in His wonderful name, amen. While we sing our song, a thousand times welcome, as you come, as you come.
THE SPIRITUAL TEMPLE OF GOD
Testament temple a type of the true spiritual temple, made up of God’s people
Had God cared for stone temples, He could have preserved Solomon’s temple or
the Herodian temple(Matthew 24:1-2)
Evidently, God meant the temple to be typical, figurative – the temporary
symbol of the real, spiritual temple
1. We think of material
substance as being real
2. Opposite is true(2 Corinthians 4:18)
The true temple of God(2 Peter 2:5)
Our body (John 1:14, 2:19, 21, 1 Corinthians
The church(1 Peter 2:4-5)
a. We are joined to
Christ, the foundation, the cornerstone
II. Old Testament priesthood a type of the
priesthood of every believer(1 Peter 2:5, 9)
contrast to decorated, ornamental, robed Old Testament priesthood
priesthood composed of all born-again children of God
Touched with the blood of sacrifice (Leviticus
A holy priesthood to represent God to the people, intercede for the people
before God(Numbers 6:24-26)
III. We are to offer spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to God(Hebrews 8:3)
are the sacrifices of the believer in Christ?
Broken heart, contrite spirit (Psalm 51:16-17)
Loving God, loving neighbor (Mark 12:28-34)
bodies (Romans 12:1-2)
thanksgiving (Hebrews 13:15-16)
IV. Jesus our great Savior and example(1 Peter 2:4, 21-25)
“To whom coming”
1. Christ is all,
beginning and ending
2. Complete description
of Christian life – a continuous coming to Jesus
3. The whole way it is
Christ(Deuteronomy 31:2-3, 1 Chronicles 28:10)