This post was first published in September, 2019. —ed.
It’s easy to take God’s blessings for granted. It’s even easier to be unaware of many of them. But Scripture calls all believers to regularly take inventory. That is what the apostle Peter is pointing out when—with a hint of sarcasm— he asks his readers “if [they] have tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1 Peter 2:3).
Of course the believers he was writing to had “tasted the kindness of the Lord”—they were well acquainted with His goodness and grace through their conversion and through the daily blessings He poured out in their lives.
We as believers ought to make a habit of recounting the goodness, kindness, and mercy of the Lord in our lives. We ought to remember, as Paul enthusiastically writes, that,
God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4–7)
We ought to rejoice that,
When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:4–5)
We who belong to Christ have, in the words of the psalmist, “[tasted] and [seen] that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). He “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). We know firsthand that “the Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22–23).
Regardless of temporal trials and hardships, Scripture is clear that believers live blessed lives in the kindness and abundant provision of God. The Bible is replete with examples of His lovingkindness, patience, mercy, grace, and faithfulness to undeserving sinners. We should not grow tired of reading the account of His consistent goodness throughout His Word. Nor should we neglect to praise Him for the lavish blessings He faithfully provides to us.
In case his readers struggled to recall God’s faithfulness and goodness to them, Peter goes on to recount many of the spiritual privileges granted to those who know and love the Lord:
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. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:4–10)
We don’t have space here to fully unpack the riches of this passage, but we can briefly glimpse the spiritual privileges Peter wants us to cherish. He begins with the phrase, “And coming to Him” (1 Peter 2:4). We have access to God. That alone sets the Christian faith apart from false religions, including the dominant religions of the first-century world. We do not require an intermediary—we don’t have to go through a priest, a mystic, or the saints of old. We don’t have to petition Mary to get the Lord’s attention. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have instant, uninterrupted access to the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. We live in His constant presence.
Moreover, we enjoy this constant communion with “a living stone” (1 Peter 2:4), and not merely a carved rock or some other dead idol. Put simply, our God is not stone dead—He lives. He has an active presence in our lives, convicting us of sin, growing us in His likeness, and using us as He sovereignly orchestrates the work of His kingdom.
Verse 5 continues, “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.” To be living stones is to be united with Christ, our cornerstone. This is the glorious reality of the relationship Paul described in his letter to the Ephesians:
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 on 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)
Believers have the privilege of unity with Christ in the ongoing work of God as He continues to build His church.
Within the “spiritual house” God is constructing, He has set us aside as “a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5). Consider this: Believers have greater immediate access to God than any of Israel’s priests ever enjoyed. Only the high priest could enter the presence of God in the Holy of Holies, and even then only once a year. Instead, we can “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Later, the writer of Hebrews explains why we can draw near to God: “We have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19). Israel’s sacrificial system was insufficient to save—it pointed ahead to Christ and to the redemption He alone could provide. Only on this side of the cross can we confidently and constantly approach God, because our assurance is not in ourselves but in the completed work of His Son.
As God’s holy priesthood, we have been called “to offer up spiritual sacrifices” (1 Peter 2:5). What is a spiritual sacrifice? Paul describes it for us in his epistle to the Romans:
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1–2)
We are spiritual sacrifices—our minds, bodies, deeds, words, and everything else about us ought to be sacrificed to the praise and glory of God. We’re not concerned with expressing our individuality or parading our “authenticity” (tragically, that has become a byword in the church for flaunting one’s sin). Rather, we sacrifice our lives and wills, striving to obey and serve the Lord out of our desire to be conformed to His image. As His holy priesthood, we could give nothing better than this—and it’s a privilege to give ourselves up for the sake of His kingdom.
In 1 Peter 2:6–8, Peter continues to identify the believer’s abundant privileges. We have security in 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’” (1 Peter 2:6). Unlike the unbelieving world, we have affection for Christ:
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 2:7–8)
Peter uses several short phrases to highlight more of our privileges in verse 9: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Following the apostle’s inspired train of thought, we have been blessed through God’s work of election, setting us apart for salvation before the foundation of the world (cf. Ephesians 1:4–5). We look forward to our future dominion with Christ in His kingdom (cf. Revelation 5:10; 20:6). We’ve been called out and separated from the corruption of this world (cf. Romans 6:4–6; 2 Corinthians 5:17). We’ve been bought through the sacrifice of Christ, and we are now the permanent possessions of God (cf. John 10:28–29; 1 Peter 1:18–19). In saving and separating us, God has set us to the task of proclaiming His glorious gospel (cf. Matthew 28:19–20; Colossians 3:16–17). And we know firsthand the power of His gospel, as it has illuminated and transformed us (cf. Psalm 119:105; Colossians 1:13).
Finally, the passage concludes with one last privilege in 1 Peter 2:10: “For you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” Here Peter draws our attention to the blessing of God’s compassion. This isn’t merely the compassion of God’s common grace and the mercy He daily shows to all. This is the compassion that God’s people have experienced through His saving, regenerating, and sanctifying work.
Human language is insufficient to describe that aspect of God’s compassion in its fullness. The psalmist attempts to describe its scope, writing, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:11). In Psalm 65:4, David cries out in praise of God’s compassion, “How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You to dwell in Your courts.” Paul likewise reflects on the blessings poured out on us through God’s compassionate, saving work:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:28–30)
In His immense compassion, the Lord has redeemed us from the penalty of our sins, transformed us into His likeness, and secured us for an eternity with Him.
Altogether, these are the rich, indescribable privileges we enjoy in Christ—the abundant spiritual blessings that should prompt us to cultivate a consistent hunger for God’s Word.
Used with permission from John MacArthur.