Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: Two Stones In One
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 2:6-8 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
Pastor Fred Musser tells an interesting story in The Tabernacle. He writes, A few days before I left home to prepare for the ministry, my gray-haired pastor, Rev. Temple, told me this story.
When my son was small, we often walked together out through the fields and neighboring pasture behind the parsonage. At first, the little fellow would hold onto my little finger, but he found that when he stepped into a hoof-print or stumbled over something, his grip would fail and down he’d go in the dust or snow. Not giving it much thought, my mind on other matters, I’d stop and he’d get up, brush himself off, and grab my little finger again, gripping a little harder this time.
Needless to say, this occurred frequently until one day as he was brushing himself off, he looked at me and said, ‘Daddy?’ I replied, ‘Yes, Son, what is it?’ He said, ‘I think if you would hold my hand, I wouldn’t fall.’
Pastor Temple then turned to me and with a tear in his eye he said, “You know, he still stumbled many times after that, but he never hit the ground. Now, as you walk with God, don’t try to hold on to Him, let Him hold on to you. You may stumble but He’ll never let you fall.”
The one who trusts in the Living Stone, the chosen and precious Cornerstone, will never fall. They will never be embarrassed or ashamed. Our strength may fail, and we may stumble, but we will never fall because His strength cannot fail. It all depends upon whether you’re trying to hold on to Him, or if you’ve trusted Him to hold on to you. Those who trust in their own strength and works to hold on to God will find themselves flat on their faces. Those who by faith allow God to hold on to them will walk and never grow weary.
The Apostle Paul twice quotes this same Old Testament passage from the prophet Isaiah in his letter to the Romans. It’s the passage in Romans 9 that really helps us to understand how Christ can be both a living stone and a stumbling stone. Paul says, “…the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the ‘stumbling stone.’
As it is written: ‘See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’”
One stone. Different effects on people. Those who by faith alone trust in Christ for their salvation will stand on the Rock and be exalted in eternity. Those who try to earn their way into eternity by their works will trip over the Rock and fall to their doom. It is the grace of God in Christ that becomes the stumbling block for most, while for us it becomes the rock of our salvation.
People have trouble receiving unconditional gifts. Several years ago, my wife and I stood for 45 minutes in the parking lot of a tourist attraction trying to give away tickets that we couldn’t use. Each ticket was worth $18.00. Dozens of people walked by and would not extend a hand to receive the free gift. Some just ignored us. Others asked, “What’s the catch?” All of them refused the gift, went inside the attraction, and purchased their own tickets. Finally, one couple decided to take advantage of the offer.
What a perfect example of how the free gift of salvation is rejected by so many because they will not believe it is truly free. How sad!
But even after we receive the free gift, we often stumble because we are prone to be prone. We tend to take back into our own control what we claimed to have given to Christ. We trust ourselves rather than trust Him. We choose to grab God’s little finger and hang on with all our strength, when we could just let God grab our hand with all of His strength. The first step is a scary one, because it requires us to let go. But you can trust God. He is your Living Stone.