Summer 2017

Recounting God’s Mighty Works

As living stones, we tell stories of our faith in the Living Stone.

In his worship of God, David writes, “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:1-3, English Standard Version1).

David’s worship is grounded in God and His works. God is great, He is to be greatly praised and His greatness is unsearchable, i.e., although God’s greatness is revealed and experienced, we will never reach its depth. Grounded in who God is and what He has done (and will do), David “extols,” “blesses” (2x) and “praises” God.

This praise of God is not just an individual experience; it is corporate and generational. David continues, “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).

The word commend conveys more than just recounting events or restating doctrine. It recounts God’s work and ways but does so from the posture of belief, having experienced the truth of God personally. This is why it goes beyond a retelling to a commending—a telling of God’s faithfulness with an exhortation, a plea for others to know, believe and trust so that they can experience similar truths from the same Lord.

In other words, one generation recounts or gives testimony to the truth and benefits of trusting the Lord, and then recommends or entreats the next generation to trust Him too.

We look back to God’s faithfulness in order to walk faithfully and obediently into the future.

These truths are never to be kept to ourselves. This is the way in which thanks, praise and worship of God reaches its purpose: to proclaim His greatness and to commend Him and His works to others.

In the same way, Kevin Kompelien’s presidency (beginning June 2015) has provided a time to remember, to worship and to commend God, His words and His works. Some of the key truths we are focusing on—looking back to God’s faithfulness in order to walk faithfully and obediently into the future—we refer to as foundation stones, which rest upon the Living Stone and are manifested in living stones.

Jesus Christ: the Living Stone

Jesus Christ is the one in whom the fullness of God dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9); He is the living fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises (2 Corinthians 1:20); and He fulfills all for which the temple stood (John 2:19-22). The inanimate stones used to construct the temple become a living stone in the incarnation of Jesus. As the Living Stone, who through the resurrection lives forevermore, Jesus serves as the cornerstone for the new temple.

Peter articulates this essential truth when he refers to Jesus as “a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious” (1 Peter 2:4). He is the cornerstone promised in the Scriptures (Ephesians 2:20). For those who reject Him, he becomes a “stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense” (1 Peter 2:8; cf. Psalm 118:22-23; Isaiah 8:14-15; 28:16). For those who come to him (1 Peter 2:4), those who believe, they will experience life (1 Peter 2:6). Only those who live in Christ can come to the Father (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5).

With Jesus as the Living Stone, the cornerstone, the new temple, those who come to Him are living stones.

The people of God: living stones

As Jesus is the true temple, those who are in Christ are the people of God. Using terms for God’s chosen people in ancient Israel (Exodus 19:5-6), Peter takes these Old Testament Scriptures and applies them to the believers in Jesus Christ, who then become living stones.

The people of God are living stones, a spiritual house that is being built as each believer worships.

Peter writes, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession. . . . Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Those in Jesus Christ, the Living Stone, become living stones, “being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5; cf. Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:15-16).

The priesthood and the offering of sacrifices were reserved for a few under the old covenant, and those sacrifices were only offered in the physical temple. Yet through Jesus’ life and ministry, His death and resurrection, all believers are priests and all of life is the scope and sphere of worship. The people of God are living stones, a spiritual house that is being built as each believer worships (“spiritual sacrifices”). Only this worship is “acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

In addition to engaging in a life of worship, offering spiritual sacrifices, believers also “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9b; cf. Isaiah 43:20b-21; Colossians 1:13-14). As living stones, a spiritual house, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, we worship and we proclaim.

The reason God has done this work is captured in the term “that you may proclaim,” which is purposive. If God’s people are not proclaiming Him and His works to others, they come short of God’s design and purpose for them as a missional people.

As we remember our past and look ahead to the future, may we continue giving thanks and worshiping the Living Stone, and then proclaiming/commending Him and His works to others.”

1 All verses cited are from the English Standard Version.

Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing. He also serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing, the Spiritual Heritage Committee, and the ReachGlobal Theology and Missiology Advisory Council. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minn.) EFC.