Rocks and Stones

Psalm 118: 22 – 23

The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

Today’s psalm has several famous verses in it. I chose this one because of the imagery of it. Among the ideas presented by this verse is the representation of Jesus, the rejected stone, as something hard and unflappable. He is the rock upon which we stand and the stone upon which the whole building is built.

Wikipedia says of the cornerstone, “The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation. All other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.” As the foundational stone, the integrity of the whole building relies upon the cornerstone. It determines the strength of the whole building.

This is a more important concept than one might, at first, realize. Three of the four gospels quote this passage. It is also quoted in Acts and Paul referenced it in his letter to the Ephesians and it shows up in Peter’s first letter. Consider this from Peter:

[ As Living Stones ] 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 (See also Romans 9: 32 – 33).

This “chief corner stone” is also the rock of offense over which some will stumble but as for us, we are living stones; stones being transformed into the church of the living God through Jesus who is the principle stone upon which the entire structure depends.

I hope you find this as fascinating as do I. Since we have headed down this path, I wish to share one other verse with you that you may think about differently in light of the foregoing. “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone,” (Psalm 91: 11 – 12). This is commonly thought of a protection verse as, indeed, all of Psalm 91 is, but consider that Jesus is the stumbling stone, the stone of offense. Could it be that one of the angels’ duties is to help us to recognize Jesus as the corner stone so that we do not stumble over him to our eternal peril? At minimum, it is an interesting question.

I hope this Psalm Monday has found you well and that this excerpt from the psalms is a blessing to you. The Word of the Day will resume in October albeit in a slightly different form. We will continue our Psalm Mondays, but the other days of the week will be more brief. They will, as always, focus upon God’s Word as it is the life and breath we all need. I will, therefore, continue to send you a Bible verse daily. My elucidation thereof, however, will be shorter. It should make it easier for you to receive a dose of the Lord everyday without unduly burdening you. There will, of course, be the occasional message that needs a bit more but in any case, the Word of the Day will take five minutes or less to read. I hope this will aid you in your hectic schedules. Of course, I am always interested in your feedback. Simply reply to this email, use the comments section or leave us a comment on the website at https://iveyministries.org.

Edifice of God

Matthew 16: 18

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

We have been talking about this scripture in a group study I participate in and I have been giving it a lot of thought. Jesus said he would build his church. We use the word “church” interchangeably. When we say, “I am going to church,” the reference is usually to a church building. When we are not going to the church building we usually clarify by saying, “I am going to a church event.” Now, obviously, in this latter example the word “church” does not refer specifically to the church building but it may well be an event specific to our congregation even though it could involve other groups of believers too. Is this as clear as mud yet? Let’s go a step further. We also talk about THE church by which we mean the body of believers. In this case THE church is the nebulous group of people who call Christ Lord. We can divide this group into parts by saying the American Church or the Austrian Church, or whatever. Usually we use the word church in this capacity to describe how the masses of believers move, believe or think. It does not refer to any one denomination but rather the collection of us all.

So here is the question, when Jesus said, “I will build My church” what did he mean? It’s a little confusing, isn’t it? Does the word “church” refer to a building, a congregation or all of us en masse? Well, here are a few points to ponder. First, know that when you walk with Jesus, your mind and your thinking pattern have to become flexible. Thinking, “outside the box” most definitely describes Yahweh and Jesus. Let’s see, though, where we can get with this.

Note that Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter. The name Peter means “rock.” This is significant for the obvious reasons of stability and foundation but there is another insight implied here. Jesus is called the rock. He is also the corner stone but wait, it gets better. Look at 1 Peter 2: 5, “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.” The first mention of a living stone, rejected by men is, of course, about Jesus. So now we have Jesus the rock, cornerstone and a living stone. I didn’t even know stone was living, did you? There is a second mention of living stone in this verse. You, also, are living stones. I bet you didn’t know that. So if someone calls you hardheaded you can say you get it from Jesus. The even more fascinating bit of this scripture is the end. It says that we, the living stones, are being built into a spiritual house. Each of us is a brick in the house God is building through Jesus. Are you getting this? Can we go a bit further?

1 Corinthians 3: 9 reads, “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” There it is again. Collectively, we are the house of God. God is building us together into an edifice for Himself. We are the temple, His abiding place. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2: 19 – 22).

Picture this then. The foundation was laid by the apostles and the prophets. We are the brick and the mortar which has been laid upon that foundation and Jesus is the capstone and the cornerstone, the beginning and the end. The whole building rests upon and is dependent on the cornerstone and the capstone is the finisher. He is first and last, Alpha and Omega, the Aleph and the Tav but in him, we are all being fitted together as a holy building to the Father. We are the new temple. Solomon built the first temple but Jesus is building the eternal one in which the Father will take up permanent residence for all time. That is amazing!

So back to the original question – does the word “church” refer to the building or to the people. Now we know that the answer is “Yes!”