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1st Peter 2:4-15


"To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.  Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious:  and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.  Unto you therefore which believe he is precious:  but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient:  whereunto also they were appointed.  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous 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.  Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation [conduct] honest among the Gentiles:  that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.  Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake:  whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.  For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:"


In Review


"We have come as far as verse 4, in chapter 2, Peter challenging the believers, and many of them in difficult circumstances, to gird of the loins of their mind, to think properly, that they are part of a greater family than just what they realize.  That in regards to those that are around them, they should lay aside, he began in verse 1, all malice, and all guile and hypocrisies and envyings, and all evil speaking, those things that are not conducive to what the Lord desires to see flourish in the Body of Christ, amongst believers.  And as newborn babes, to desire the sincere milk of he Word, that you may grow thereby, if so be that you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.  If you realize how gracious the Lord has been in your life, why should you be gossiping about somebody else or bitter or envious of somebody, why should you envy anybody?  If Christ is picking you up out of the darkness of sin and God has cleansed you with the blood of his Son, and called you his own son or daughter, why should you envy anything that anybody else has, when that's happened in your life?  If you've tasted his graciousness, why should you not be gracious too anyone? 


Christ, The Chief Cornerstone, And We Lively Stones Being Built Into the Spiritual Temple Of God


Verses 4-8, "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.  Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion [Zion] a chief corner stone, elect, precious:  and he that believeth on him shall never be confounded.  Unto you therefore which believe he is precious:  but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient:  whereunto also they were appointed."  Then he changes the imagery to a building, a temple.  Jesus said to the religious leaders of his day 'Tear down this temple, and I'll build it again, I'll raise it up in three days.'  And they used that to accuse him of treason and of political upheaval, that he was talking about the Temple in Jerusalem.  But John said he was talking about the temple of his own body.  Because what he tried to convey to them was it isn't the Temple, God doesn't just care about mortar and stones, what does God care if we all gather here on Sunday or Wednesday, and our lives are filled with compromise and sin and hypocrisy, and we teach heresy from the pulpit, we don't believe correctly, and people aren't getting saved, he doesn't care what color the walls are, and whether they are pastels and the colors are warm and people are comfortable and how good the sound system is.  He doesn't care about any of that stuff.  It's all wonderful when it's an addendum to the truth and those things are all tools in regards to an uncompromised truth being set forth that changes people's lives by the power of the Holy Spirit.  But he says that 'we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, corporately and individually.'  And Peter listened to that.  Peter was there.  So he's going to challenge them here, that Christ is the corner stone, he is the stumbling stone to some, but that we are all living stones in regards to being part of what God is doing.  And Peter's sensitive to that, because Jesus changed his name from Simon to Cephas, to a stone.  And he told Peter, your name is Cephas, your name is petros [stone, rock, small by comparison] but upon this petra, rock [large rock outcropping] I'm going to build my Church, and Peter is sensitized to those things, he listened.  So he probably read through all of the Scriptures in the Bible that had to do with rocks and stones, and looking probably for some place maybe where he was prophecied in the Old Testament, and he wasn't, but Peter is sensitized to those things.  So he says in verse 4, "to whom [to Christ] coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious," we've come to Christ, as a rock, as a stone, "ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." (verses 4-5)  or "are being built up a spiritual house."  So we are being built into a spiritual house, every one of us individually, living stones in a building.  Paul will use the analogy of the Body of Christ, every joint and every ligament supplies.  Then he [Peter] switches us into the fact that we are part of a royal priesthood [that of Melchisedec, cf. Hebrews 5], not just the Temple corporately, we are also the priesthood.  He's going to take us to some interesting places, because he saw Jesus constantly dueling with the religious leaders of his day.  If Jesus were around today, he'd turn over some tables today I'm telling you.  He'd drive out some money-changers today, and boy there are some, aren't there.  And he might ever turn over the tables in my heart, and the tables in yours.  Peter took note of all that, he says 'We've come to Christ, as a living stone, he's the Rock of ages, he's the Rock that we're to build upon [cf. Matthew 7:24-27], you also,' he says, 'are living stones, and you're built up into a spiritual house,' that when you get saved, you are part of something.  There are no lone-ranger Christians.  You can't grow and flourish and become everything that Jesus wants you to be, independent of the Body of Christ.  You are made to be around people, tall people, short people, wide people, all kinds of people, mature people, immature people, Christians that love you, Christians that don't like you, you are made to be around all of that.  And to be tested there, and tried there and to be chiseled away there, and to be perfected there.  We need to be around people, we need to be around people when we're broken, when our life is falling apart, the Body of Christ has to be there for us.  We need to be around people when they have a need so that we can give, because we don't grow unless we give, we just become stagnant.  We need to be around people that are gracious to us, that are an encouragement to us, and we need to be around people that bite us and bark at us, so that we can be more like Jesus, and love them.  Because you've bitten enough people and barked at enough people yourself.  So he says we're being built into a holy temple, as living stones, we're all part of this,  it's necessary.  [see which has an interesting study about members of the Body of Christ being built up into a holy temple of God, and that we are all as individuals, separate stones that are being placed into that temple by God.] 


We Are All Members Of A Holy Priesthood, Of The Order Of Melchisedec


'a holy priesthood,' interesting, 'to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.'  Now he's writing to the Diaspora, he's writing to the Jews [whom God had called through Paul in his missionary journeys through Asia Minor] and he's saying 'that we are all now members of a holy priesthood,' when Christ died on the cross it says the veil in the Temple was torn from top to bottom, the Holy of holies was laid open, so that all of us have access to God now.  [see which shows if we are of Christ, we are priests under him, of the order of Melchisedec, and Peter is confirming that here in 1st Peter 2.]  And he's saying all of us, we're part of a holy priesthood.  There's no longer a man or a pastor or a priest or a reverend or a potentate, or anybody, standing between you and God, you all have access.  You all have as much access as I do, you all have as much access as Billy Graham does, you all have as much access as the pope does, to go right into the presence of the Living God, that's what Christ did on the cross, that's why the veil was torn.  [By direct implication, this is why ordinary members of a church can have their own ministries, which is why studies like this rub hierarchal churches the wrong way, because they do not want to concede, as the Sadducees and Pharisees didn't, any authority to anyone under them.  We're all, under Christ our High Priest, in the royal priesthood of Melchisedec.]  You all have access.  And in that he says we're a holy priesthood, all of us, "to offer up" he says, "spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."  Now what are they?  Spiritual sacrifices, what kind of spiritual sacrifices can we offer?  We know Romans 12 tells us that we should offer ourselves a living sacrifice.  But that's according to his abundant mercies, not because when we offer ourselves where God says 'oh man, I was waiting for this one, I'm excited.'  No, we offer ourselves according to his abundant mercy, as living sacrifices, not to be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove out to completion what is the acceptable and perfect will of God.  We're to offer the sacrifices of our lips, God says he can't stand it when people sing praises, and they honor him with their lips but their heart is far away, and it's not real, it's just people going through the motions.  Everybody in this room has done that.  I think all the way back, years before I was saved, the Lord's Prayer, never thought about it, but I could say it, and the Lord gives us that prayer, and in that prayer he says to avoid senseless repetitions like the heathen.  I've gone to church services and funerals, where every, 19 times they said the "Our Father," and I'm thinking 'Wait a minute, nobody's thinking about this, this is not real, this is not genuine.'  We can offer to him praise, as we worship, as we sing, we can offer to him prayers, offer to him ourselves, there's much the Scripture says, of spiritual sacrifice that we can offer.  It doesn't earn us anything, it's in response to what he's done for us.  So, all of us, it says are part of a holy priesthood, everybody here.  "to offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."  Not on your own merit, but by Jesus Christ. 


Jesus Christ Is The Chief Cornerstone We're To Measure Our Lives Off Of


"Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion [Zion] a chief corner stone, elect, precious:  and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded." (verse 6)  It says in Isaiah, Romans chapter 9 Paul quotes it, and says 'shall not be ashamed' all of this is built off a chief corner stone which is Jesus Christ.  Our righteousness, built off of him.  Let me tell you something, your morality, Christ is the chief cornerstone, it means the rest of the building [made out of us] is measured off of him.  It doesn't matter what people say, it doesn't matter what the government legislates in the sense of what's right and wrong, it doesn't matter what the popular opinion is about morality, it doesn't matter what others say.  What matters is if Christ is the chief cornerstone, I want to measure off of him what kind of a husband he wants me to be.  And then ask him to help me every day to do that.  I want to measure off of him what kind of parent I'm supposed to be, what kind of a man I'm supposed to be.  He's he chief cornerstone, everything in my life is measured off of him.  My destiny, whatever gifts that I have, everything in my life, the measure comes from him.  And it says 'he is the chief cornerstone, precious,'  he is precious, because our righteousness comes from him.  'He that believes on him shall not be ashamed, shall not be ashamed [KJV, 'confounded'].'  (verse 6b)  That's good news, isn't it?  So I don't know about you, but I've got enough on my resume' to make me ashamed.  I mean, if I was going to show up in heaven, with everything [on that resume'], you know what I mean, I'd expect to get incinerated immediately.  But I trust that my life is measured off of Christ and what he's accomplished on my behalf, that when I show up in heaven [on the Sea of Glass, i.e. the Wedding Feast, cf. Revelation 19:7-9] my Father's going to say 'Enter in, well done thou good and faithful servant.'  [It's not what we were before Christ came into our lives, but what we are now in Christ, and what we become in Christ right up to just before we die that counts, we're all a work-in-progress.]  When I show up in heaven, it's going to be 'My Father,' not my judge, waiting for me.  When I show up in heaven it's going to be in the righteousness of Christ, and not in my sin-laden life that I lived, and not in all of my mistakes and failures [even as a believer, he means too], but in the very righteousness of Christ.  "and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded [ashamed].  Unto you therefore which believe he is precious:  but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner." (verses 6b-7)  Now its "disobedient" in the sense of refusing to believe.  Now of course in Psalm 118 it says 'The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner, this is the LORD's doing, it is marvelous in our eyes.'  Now to read all of it, it says 'This is the day which the LORD has made, you'll rejoice and be glad in it, save now I beseech thee,'  They were doing this [singing this] on Palm Sunday [really Palm Friday], 'Save now, Hosanna in the highest, save now Lord, O Lord, I beseech thee send now prosperity, blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord, we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord,' it's interesting if you read through the next verse, it says 'God is the Lord which hath showed us light,' he's brought something to light for us, 'bind the sacrifice with cords, even to the horns of the altar.'  So, Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone, precious to us, because he's given us a reason to live, he's given us a purpose to live.  I don't wonder anymore 'What am I here for?'  I'm here for him, for his purposes.  I'm passing through, I'm not staying long.  I'm on assignment.  I'm going to finish my tour of duty, and I'm going home.  So are you, so are you.  And he's precious to us. 


What Jesus, The Chief Cornerstone Will Do To Unbelieving Nations, The Smiting Stone


To those who disbelieve, though, it says "the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner."  No doubt Peter heard Jesus when he was rebuking the Pharisees and Sadducees, he said 'Did you never read in the Scriptures, 'the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner, this is the Lord's doing, it is marvelous in our eyes'?  Therefore I say, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.  Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall it will grind him to powder.'  Then Peter of course, when he's preaching in the Book of Acts in chapter 4, and he's challenging them, it says he stood up, he's filled with the Holy Ghost, he's giving an answer to the Pharisees and Sadducees in regards to the man that was healed, he was the cripple that resided at the Gate Beautiful, and he says to them, 'Be it known unto you and all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him does this man stand here before you whole.  This is the stone which was set at nought by you builders, which is become the head of the corner.'  So Peter picks up on the same verse that Jesus uses, and he says 'Christ is the chief stone, rejected of some, but has become the chief cornerstone.'  And he says, that when he's writing to believers, he says 'We're all being built into a spiritual Temple.'  It doesn't matter what's happened in Jerusalem, it's a spiritual Temple.  And we're all part of that.  When we're gathered here corporately, God inhabits our praises.  He didn't come here when it was a meter factory, before we moved in in the 1990s, he didn't say 'Oh, I love to go down and watch them make meters in that place.'  Now it's since we came, we're the Church, the Ecclesia, the called out ones, he's here when you're here.  [i.e. a church is not a building, but the people in the building]  And corporately he inhabits our praises, he comes, and we're built together.  And he's precious to us because of that.  'But to those who disbelieve, that are disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, they didn't want anything to do with Christ, he says the same has become the head of the corner, he has become a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the Word of God, what they can't believe is the Word, being disobedient'   That's in regards to believing in Christ, whereunto also they were appointed.'  (verses 6b-7)  Peter's saying 'In the final analysis, those who reject Christ to the end, were appointed to that.'  Hard thing to hear.  But he says to us basically what the Scripture teaches, that Christ is either the smiting-stone, a stumbling stone, or the cornerstone, depending where you're at.  We saw that great prophecy in Daniel, where Nebuchadnezzar has a dream, and he's troubled.  He's taken the kingdom over from his father, Nebopolazar, he's inherited the cabinet that his father kept, and fed and paid for, and a lot of them are phonies.  And Nebuchadnezzar has a dream and it troubles him, so he calls in all the soothsayers, the magicians, Chaldeans, get's everybody gathered together, and he says "I had a dream, I want you to tell me what the dream was and what it meant, or I'm going to cut off your heads and make your house a dunghill."  Incentive.  They say 'OK, Neb, tell us what your dream was, and we'll tell you what it meant.'  Now I'm not sure he could remember what the dream was or whether he figured 'If you guys know what you're doing, you should know what the dream was.  If I tell you what I dreamt you'll make up anything.'  He says, 'No, that's not the way it's gonna be, you're going to tell me what I dreamt, and you're gonna tell me what it means.'  They said 'O king, no king has ever asked this of any of his subjects, of any of his soothsayers,' and he says, 'Give me my answer, what don't you understand about 'Cut off head, make house dunghill?'  So they go to Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and say 'Hey boys, time for a prayer-meeting, ah, I don't know what your God can do, but we're in a deep problem here.'  And Daniel begins to pray, and the Lord comes to him and reveals to him what Nebuchadnezzar dreamed, and what the interpretation was.  He said, 'Nebuchadnezzar, you saw in your dream this huge statue, head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, and legs of iron, and feet of iron and miry clay.'  And it's a picture of world kingdoms, 'You O king are that head of gold, and God has given to you all of the kingdoms of the earth, and all of the beasts of the field and everything.  But after you shall come this other kingdom of silver, and then after that another kingdom of bronze,' which was of course Greece, and after that Rome.  And then finally in the end, a coalescing of something in Europe which we're seeing in front of our eyes today [see].  I don't know if you watched those who made contributions to the relief effort for the Tsunami, number one was the European Union, $45 million, number two, the United States, $35 million, number three Japan, $30 million, you go down the list, France is last $136,000.  Wouldn't it be great for us to put in the paper, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia gave more than France to the relief effort?  I'd love to be able to do that.  But you see Europe at the head of the pack with a greater gross national product than us now, a greater economy than us, and just the way the Scripture says it would happen in the last days, that Europe would become the economic and political center of things.  And then it says, 'And I beheld, and a rock, a stone cut without hands, began to fall from heaven, and it smote the image on the feet, and broke the head of gold, chest of silver, the belly and thighs of bronze, and the legs and the feet,' and so forth, 'and it grew into a great mountain and filled the whole earth.'  (cf. Daniel 2:34-35)  And that's the smiting stone of Jesus Christ, and to the unbelieving nations of the world that refuse to hear the truth of Jesus Christ, he will come in power and great glory, and smite the nations of this world.  Jesus said, 'Every one who falls on him will be broken,'  You know, I remember the night I got saved, how I wept.  [not everybody has that experience.]  And my heart was broken, because somehow, through the agency of his Holy Spirit, I realized my sin [this follows the pattern of coming to understand the Gospel of Salvation, of which realizing your sin is a crucial part, knowing we're sinners, in need of a Saviour.  See]  And I hung my head, and I was ashamed.  I never knew it before that.  I thought I was righteous before that.  If I sold pot to somebody I always gave everybody a full count, I was righteous.  I only slept with a girl that I loved.  You know, I had my own righteousness.  I only punched somebody if they deserved to get punched.  But somehow all of a sudden the Lord was so gracious to pull all of that away, and you look, and I remember hanging my head and weeping.  I was tired and I was empty, and I was a sinner, I was unclean, and I knew it.  And I fell upon Christ, and I was broken.  But he says 'But whomsoever this rock falls upon, if it falls on them, it will grind them to powder,' that's the unbelieving world at the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ.


What Jesus The Chief Cornerstone Is To The Religious World


Then there's the religious world.  'To the religious world it says Christ is a stumbling stone, a stumbling stone,' and Paul tells us about that in 1st Corinthians chapter 1, that the religious, the Jew, the religious person can't understand, 'You mean you're telling me, all of my life I kept the dietary laws, and I was circumcised on the 8th day, and I went to temple on the holidays, and you're telling me that all of that means nothing, that if I accept Jesus, and all I have to do is repent of my sins [which does mean repenting of breaking Gods law, 1st John 3:4, and we don't obey on our own, God's Holy Spirit enables us], that then his blood cleanses me, and that's what makes me accepted?  It's too simple.  I'd rather ride around on a ten-speed with a suit on and go from door to door, I'd rather do something to earn my lucky stars, you know, to try to get into the kingdom, I'd rather earn my way in.' You have friends and relatives like that.  And they do the same thing to you.  Because you get saved, you come around with that dumb smile, humming those dumb songs, carrying your Bible, and how many of you got it at Christmas time, 'Let the nut pray, alright, we'll give him his annual five minute microphone and let him say grace at the table,' and they think you've lost your mind.  'What's wrong with you, you don't go to Atlantic City anymore?  You don't go to the bar anymore.  You go to church now?  What's wrong with you?  And don't come around here humming those songs, and get that smile off your face, and you're not supposed to read that book, it's only for the priests, if you read that too much it'll make you nuts!'  'And you mean to tell me we went to church our whole life, and we paid tithes, and we gave in the offering every week, and we helped put the carpets in the church and the stained glass windows, and we were there every week, and we went to the beef and beer nights, we did everything, and put money in the basket of cheer, and you're telling me that junky no good for nothing heroine addict friend of yours, all he did was get on his knees and he said "Lord Jesus, forgive me" and he's going to go to heaven and I'm not!?'  'Yeah, that's what I'm trying to tell you!  That's exactly what I'm trying to tell you.'  And you see to the religious person, Christ is a stumbling stone.  Because they want to say 'There's got to be something good in me.  Certainly I've gotta be able to do something good, I gave money to an orphanage, doesn't that count for anything?'  And the Bible says 'All of our righteousness is like filthy rags,' because we may never commit adultery, but we look at somebody and lust after them, and it's in the heart.  We may never hurt someone, but so often we think 'Oh I'd like to flatten that guy [or gal]!'     [And here is the great mystery of the Church.  Many of the older denominations we find around us, as Charles Stanley says, "have far more "born-into" the church than those who are born-again in the church."  Many of the older denominations came from genuine revivals God started with his Holy Spirit, such as Elder Brewster and the Separatists, who became the Congregationalists, and John Wesley, whose revival became the Methodists, just to name two major ones.  And as time went on, and the centuries went by, those revivals-turned-denominations died spiritually, ceased to have many, if any who were genuinely born-again of the Spirit.  They became the "religious" Pastor Joe is talking about, whom Christ to them has genuinely become a stumbling stone, they stumble over the very Word of God, and over Christ himself.  See for a study on this subject which has proven to be an enigma about the Church, how some of the genuine parts of the Body of Christ have turned into Pharisaic dead orthodoxy which stumble over Christ and the Word of God.]  And the Bible says the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart, and you can do religious stuff, but you've got a disease inside.  And God can deal with that.  And he changes us from the inside out.  And it's so simple, that a child can come.  It's so uncomplicated, that a six-year-old can come and be saved.  And people are offended at that.  So to those who refuse to believe anything, he's going to be the smiting stone, and grind the world to powder.  To the "religious" he's the stumbling stone, 'It can't be that simple, you mean you just ask Jesus to forgive your sins, and if you mean that with your heart, you'll be born-again?'  'Yea, it's exactly what we mean.'  That's how we got in. If it was any more complicated than that, we'd have never got in.  [Comment:  That's the heart of coming to Christ and receiving God's Holy Spirit, recognizing you're a sinner, recognizing your sin, and coming to Christ and asking for his forgiveness and for him to come into your life.  But within the past 200 years this has evolved into "the altar call" method of coming to Christ.  The early apostolic churches of God in Acts and the Epistles followed a method of repenting of their sins (initial repentance) and as a show of their belief, were baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and had hands laid upon them, and then as Acts shows, they received the Holy Spirit.  The Sabbath-keeping Churches of God continue in this Biblical method of asking Jesus into their lives and the receiving of the Holy Spirit.   But God in Acts 8-10 showed he was not going to be put into a doctrinal box on this issue, by giving the entire family of Cornelius the Holy Spirit before their baptism.  So with God, he's proven either way works with him.  This subject is discussed at:]  'Well I joined the Church!'  You can't "join" the Church, I have four kids, none of them joined my family, they were all born into our family.  You have to be born into the Church [Body of Christ].  People come up all the time and ask "how do I join this church?"  You can't.  'Oh, you're full, huh?'  No, [laughter]  'Let me know if there's an opening.'  There is.  You can't join.  Now look, church membership is not a bad thing, we wrestle with that, we track kind of our population, between the giving and the tape library we have kind of a directory that the elders and the pastors are able to use, to access your names and phone numbers so we can track you if somebody's in the hospital or something.  But the negative side of this is there's so many out there that are told if they join the Church they're going to heaven [ie. more accurately, "they're going to be granted entrance into eternal life and enter the Kingdom of God as resurrected immortal beings"] and it couldn't be further from the truth.  You have to be born-again to get into God's Kingdom (cf. John 3:1-8).  You can't join an organization to get in.  My kids did not join our family.  They were born into it.  And God doesn't want you to be "a member," he wants you to be his kid.  I don't want my kids coming to a once a week daddy meeting on Sunday morning, for an hour, or come on just Easter and Christmas.  I want to look at their faces every day.  I want to know what's going on, I want to argue with them, I want to drive them crazy, I want to wrestle with them.  It's a relationship.  Peter's very specific about that, 'Christ will be the smiting stone to some, he is a stumbling stone to the religious,' people reject the simplicity, they stumble over Christ.  But he's precious to us, he's become the very head of the corner, the third group are those who come in faith and for them he becomes the chief cornerstone, he's the bedrock of our lives, nothing moves us, because of Jesus Christ, and our lives are built off of that, and he says that (cf. Matthew 7:24-27). 


'You Are A Chosen People, A Royal Priesthood, A Holy Nation'


Verse 9 there, the word is emphatic, "but", "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:"  'But, you in contrast to those who will not believe,' he says, you first "are a chosen generation,"  It doesn't mean everybody whose been born since 1950, it's genos in the Greek.  And it's 'you are a chosen race, you are a chosen race,'  "you are a royal priesthood," remember, the priesthood of Christ is after the order of Melchisedec.  Aaron and his sons were just priests, we will be "kings and priests" (cf. Revelation 5:10).  It's a royal priesthood, we will be kings and priests, it's a royal priesthood, our Father is the King, a royal priesthood.  "a holy nation," that's what we are, we are "a holy nation," in the midst of this nation, there is a holy nation, and you and I are the citizens of that nation.  [Essentially we hold dual citizenship.  If we live and were born physically in the United States of America, we hold U.S. citizenship.  When we're born-again, born from above, we now hold citizenship within the Kingdom of God, awaiting our full entry into that Kingdom at the 1st resurrection to immortality.  But we hold dual citizenship, just as a U.S. citizen of Jewish race can hold automatic citizenship in both the U.S. and the nation of Israel.  That's the closest physical analogy I can make.  We are also ambassadors of God's holy nation, the Kingdom of God, ambassadors to those in the nation we live in and to those around us.  We directly represent God's Kingdom to everyone around us who is not of God.]  You are "a peculiar people;" now that's King James, and a lot of people have used that as an excuse to act strangely, and justify it by Scripture.  And there's enough evidence of that around here, at any given time [he loves slamming the whackos that tend to hang out in the Pentecostal churches], that if you think that's what it's saying, you can say 'Well, the Scripture actually said that, didn't think they'd be this peculiarÉ'  It's "peculiar" in the sense, it's a Greek construct that means to have a point, and then draw a line around it.  What it speaks of is God's attentive care, that you are in the center of the fact that he's drawn his care around your life as an individual, that you are peculiar because you are the center of God's attention.  That that sets you aside from the unbelieving world, that all around you is God's providence, his sovereignty, his care, his love and his grace, and that you're in the center of that.  It's peculiar in that sense.  Don't use it as an excuse to act like weirdoes.  That's not what it's talking about.  "that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:" that God has made us a race, ok.  He's made us a race.  You know, I wish this was Sunday morning [and Saturday morning for me] and I was saying this to all of the services [and to the whole Body of Christ], it's a badge of honour that we've become a multicultural church, and I thank God for that.  And there's only one race, in that sense.  If you have a problem because the person next to you is white or black or Hispanic or American Indian or Eskimo or Philipino, Oriental, you have a problem.  The Bible doesn't have a problem with that.  And that's something that you have to get over.  I have news for you, our great, great, great, great, great grandfathers stepped off the Ark, Noah, we are all in the same family tree, everybody in this room, everybody on this ball of dirt.  But beyond that, in the Spirit we're all one, something even higher.  It never says we lose our culture.  Charlie's wife is Mexican and she made me Christmas tomolies and gave them to me tonight, I never want her to lose her culture.  Man they're the best tomolies you ever ate in your life.  And she didn't make a bag big enough for all of us, so, sorry, I'll just tell you about them.  But if someone in this congregation makes a disparaging remark about race or culture or something, it does not represent this church, that is not my position, and it is not the position of this church, and I'll tell you why, because it is not the position of this Book [i.e. the Bible], and it is not the position of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  That's why.  That is why.  'You, he says, are a chosen race.'  Something higher.  You know, it's interesting, we look at this problem in Tunisia, and Indonesia and Sri Lanka, in India, all those that have died.  But do you know that every year in Sri Lanka over 100,000 people are killed in revolution and political unrest?  Do you know that more are killed in India.  In Indonesia over 100,000 are murdered every year in political unrest and rebellion.  That annual death-toll is much higher from just people being with each other, that's the world that we live in.  I've been to Israel 15 times, and the people that hate each other there, I can't tell the difference between them, looking at them.  Most of them have Abraham's blood in their veins.  Most of them all have dark hair, dark eyes and olive skin.  And I can't tell one from the other, and they hate each other.  Culture just gives us more of an excuse for our sin.  But God has raised us above that.  You'd better love that person.  I've got news for you, guys that are from this church that are in Iraq, and you're laying in a foxhole, and you're firing a gun behind a wall, you don't care if the guy next to you is white or black or Asian or American Indian, that guy is your brother.  Because he laid his life down for you, you laid your life down for him.  And we're fighting a war, and I think our level of honor is higher, we have an enemy, we have a warfare that we fight.  [You might add one more type of discrimination that God looks down upon, and that is discriminating against our spiritual brothers and sisters who are in different Christian denominations which are truly spiritually alive, indwelt with the Holy Spirit.  Yes, discernment is needed, but also a good dose of giving the other the benefit of the doubt is also needed.  We'll all be unified in the resurrection to immortality, I'll tell you that, and some of you will be surprised by who you see rising up in it with you, if you're fortunate enough to be in that one.]  And he's saying here that Christ has built us all into one structure.  And there's an unbelieving world, and we have nothing to do with that.  But is says for you and I, we're a chosen race, we are a royal priesthood, we're all royal, kingly.  We are a holy nation, we're separate, pilgrims and sojourners.  Our citizenship is not of this world, or of any country of this world, it tells us in Philippians 3, verse 20.  We are a peculiar people, in the sense that we are in the center of God's love.  Why?  "that ye should shew" forth" demonstrate "the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:" God has called us to something higher, that we should demonstrate it.  That we should demonstrate it.  He says "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." (verse 10)  How did we live in time past?  We were not a people, "but are now the people of God:  which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy."  We were not a people before, but now we are a people, we in this room, we are a people, we are the same people by the work of God's Spirit.  In time past we had not obtained mercy, but now we've obtained mercy, that's why we're here.  Remarkable. 


'Since You Are A Chosen Race, A Royal Priesthood, Lead Clean Lives, Abstain From Fleshly Lusts'


So, he moves into verse 11, so what does it all mean? Where's he going?  "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;" Now he doesn't say "I beg you as strangers and pilgrims", he says "I beg you, as strangers and pilgrims," he's going to ask us to do something.  He doesn't say he's begging us, 'you guys are a bunch of strangers and pilgrims, let me beg you.'  No, he says 'Let me beg something, beseech something of you, this is what it is,  as strangers and pilgrims,' he says, 'abstain from fleshly lusts which, which war against the soul;'  'Now let me beg something of you, if you're a holy priesthood, you're a nation, you're a race, God has taken you and he's elevated you, made you one through the power of his Holy Spirit, there's something that we should demonstrate that the world knows nothing of.'  And we do, and hopefully to a greater and greater degree, to a greater and greater measure.  He says "I beseech you as strangers" that's foreigners, and that's what we are to those in this world, we're foreigners, "and as pilgrims" those who are passing through, that's us.  Ok?  You are a foreigner, in this world.  Philippians 3:20, 'Our citizenship is not of this world,' our father Abraham traveled through as a stranger and a pilgrim, looking for a city whose builder and maker was God, he didn't really settle down here.  He was 'the man of the tent and the altar.'  He was extremely wealthy, he never built a mansion.  The tent defined his relationship with this world, he knew it was temporary, the altar defined his relationship with the next world, he knew it was through the death of a substitute he would go to glory.  We are strangers, foreigners, and we are pilgrims, we're passing through.  I mean, that should define a lot of what our attitude is.  Because of that, if that's true to you, if you know that this is not your home, if you know that you're just passing through here, and someday we're going to stand in front of our King, we're going to give an account, not in a sense of not being saved, but just in regards to the Bemis throne, receiving our rewards, he says, his advice, "abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;" (verse 11b)   Abstain from carnal attitudes, carnal desires, carnal lusts.  Why?  He says 'they war against your soul.'  I don't know anyone in this church that backslid and used drugs to the benefit of their life.  I don't know anyone in this church, and I talk to them, that backslide and use alcohol to the benefit of their life.  [Calvary Chapels, being part of an alcohol-drug recovery type ministry teaches against the use, any use of alcohol.  They do understand that the Bible teaches alcoholic consumption in the range of extreme moderation is Biblical and ok.  But it's the very nature of their ministry to recovering alcoholics and past drug users that prevents them from teaching what the Bible teaches on this subject.]  I don't know anyone in this church whose messing around with pornography to the benefit of their life.  It says fleshly lusts war against our souls, the life that Christ has given us.  Those things are destructive in regards to who Christ wants us to be.  So he says 'I beg you,' you know, God's chosen you out of the world, you're different, if you are different, demonstrate that different-ness.  You're a holy nation, you're a race of people that God has taken unto himself, filled with his own Spirit, with his own life.  And he said 'There should be a demonstration of that, because you were not a people before, but now you are a people, you hadn't received mercy, but now you have received mercy, so I beseech you therefore, as foreigners, as those that are just passing through, abstain from fleshly lusts, those things war against your soul,'  he says, 'lead clean lives, it's simple.'  You know, people do that all day, people come up to me after the service, and I don't want you to stop coming up, please, that's not my point, but they'll come up and say 'Pastor Joe, is it ok for me to live with my girlfriend, I don't know if it's ok or not.  I don't know, what should I do?'  I say, 'Wait a minute, why are you here talking to me?  Your problem isn't that you don't know, your problem is that you do know, and you're looking for a loophole.  If you didn't know, you wouldn't be here talking to me, you'd be out there somewhere.  Your problem is that you do know, because you have the same Holy Ghost that I have.  You're under the same conviction that I'm under.'  'Well isn't it ok just to smoke pot?  You know, it's legal in some states, and it's natural?'  And I can say to that person, 'Cut me a break, you're not asking because you don't know, you're asking me because you do know---and you expect me to give you a loophole?  What do you mean it's natural, lead is natural, go shoot somebody, uranium is natural, build a nuclear weapon, what's not natural, you talking about something from another dimension or something?'  Lead clean lives, all of us know that from the second that we get saved, and the reason we know it is because it says the Holy Spirit comes and convicts us of sin,  and of righteousness and of judgment, and what I knew the second I was getting saved is that I was a sinner, I hung my head.  [The Holy Spirit is the agency whereby God writes his laws in our hearts and minds, the very simple and Biblical definition of what the new covenant is (cf. Hebrews 8:6-13).]  I was saved, and I saw the difference between darkness and light.  And I don't have to get some professional opinion to tell me whether I should be doing something wrong or something right, we all know that.  [And if you need to know God's standard, read his law, the Ten Commandments, what God writes in our hearts and minds through his Holy Spirit.]  The Scripture confirms it, the Holy Ghost confirms it, we know in our hearts, it's a wonderful system.  God's given us a compass within that points us in the right direction that we know is right (cf. Hebrews 8:6-13; Jeremiah 31:31-34).  Yea, we struggle with some of it.  'We say Lord if I do this, how do I know things will work out?  If I step out of the boat onto the water, how do I know I won't sink?'  that's faith.  It's the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, it's what he calls us to, what the unbelieving world doesn't have.  You know, isn't it a funny thing, on one side of the coin we complain about faith, 'and you know I have to do that,' and the other side of the coin, when life is terrible and falling apart, 'oh God, oh God, oh God,' then we want faith to work in a remarkable way on our behalf.  Peter says 'Let me start with simple advice, just let me beg you as foreigners and those that are passing through as pilgrims, lead clean lives, you know, look out for those carnal lusts,' you know why, Peter says? 'because they're destructive, they're warring against your soul, Christ has entered into your heart, you've been born-again, there's a new dominant life-force, the very of Spirit, and when you yield to those things, it wars against that,' he says. 


Live Clean Lives, And Let Your Good Works Speak For You---That's Your Best Witness


"having your conversation" your lifestyle "honest among the Gentiles:  that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation." (verse 12)  This is what he says, he says, 'Lead the kind of lives, having your lifestyle honest among the unbelieving world, that whereas the unbelieving world speaks evil against you,' and you can see it every day on the news now, 'The Church is the problem in America.'  Every day on the news now.  We're the ones who are closed-minded, we're not politically correct [the Pharisees and Sadducees who had Christ killed were "politically correct", so I never want to be politically correct], we want to enforce this morality, we're the ones that are wrong now.  They speak evil against you, but the Lord says this, 'but if you live in the Spirit, if you walk the right way, then your life, individually, will be beheld, considered by some unbeliever, at some point "in the day of visitation."'  In other words, the news can be screaming every day about the Right, about the Christian Conservative, but when somebody you work with, their mom is dying, or they find out they have cancer, and you're the one who shows up at the hospital, you're the one who makes a meal and comes over, you're the one who says 'Can I cut your lawn, vacuum your living room?' it says 'by you demonstrating that,' because it's easy to talk the talk, 'but by you demonstrating that you are a foreigner and a pilgrim in this world, called to something higher,' it says, 'in the day of visitation, that Christ will come to them, they'll behold the glory of God in that.'    They're going to look at it, and we've seen it over and over again, where they say "I want to know what you have, I want to know what this is all about."  I don't know how many times we've seen a husband dying at home with cancer, I could name a few, 'Aah, I don't need those people up there,' he says the same thing to his wife, 'Ah if you want to go up there, that's fine, people, Bible thumpers, that's fine, I was born Catholic, I was Catholic my whole life, I was born making the sign of the cross, that's good for me.'  and then you see, Lutheran, Baptist, whatever, you see that person going to their deathbed, and the church over there bringing meals, I think of one person, "What's the noise?" "Well the people in church are checking the antifreeze in the car, they're taking out the screens and putting the storm windows in for the winter, they're cleaning out our gutters."  People from church are doing that, your church, not my church.  And to finally hear, 'You know what, if I get back on my feet I'm going to that church, I'm going to go there with you.'  and to finally hear that person say 'Honey, I want to know your God.'  And through the demonstration of the lives of believers, to see so many come to Christ, because there are ten thousand people who will never read a page of the Bible, and they will read you, every day, living Epistles, your demonstration, so important.  [see  and and]  Peter says, 'Lead clean lives, lead that kind of life, so that even though they may accuse us of being nuts, they may accuse us of being this or that, but when that day comes in the life of an individual, the day of visitation, by your demonstration, by them seeing reality, they might glorify God,' he says. 


Submit Yourselves To Every Ordinance Of Man For The Lord's Sake, For The Sake Of The Gospel


Verses 13-15, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake:  whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.  For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish menÉ"  Ah, submit to the powers that be.  Paul tells us the same thing in the Book of Romans (cf. Romans 13:1-7).  We can complain about the government, we can complain about the person whose in the White House, but the Scripture says we should pray for them.  The Book of Timothy tells us that, so that we can lead quiet, peaceable lives, so that we can share our faith.  That the powers that are in this world are powers that are ordained of God, he's moving the governments of the world, he's allowing things to take place, and that for the sake of Christ, that's what it says here, for the Lord's sake, we should submit to every ordinance of man.  Look, there is a line where that's drawn.  Peter is writing that to us, submit to the government, the ordinance of man.  And Peter would be crucified upside down for not submitting.  Paul would write, that we should submit because the powers that be are ordained of God, and Paul was beheaded for not submitting to Rome.  There is a point, where the government says to us 'You can no longer own Christ as your Lord and Saviour, you can no longer read the Scripture, you can no longer share your faith, you can no longer tell your children that Jesus Christ is Lord,' there is a line that gets drawn, where we no longer step over that line.  [Let me tell you, some governments tell their people that, in Muslim nations, in North Korea, where Christians are killed on a regular basis, for their faith.  When the United States government becomes like that, we will find out what it's like to be in the shoes of some of those Christians who live in those nations I just mentioned.]  But, foolishness, people saying 'Why do we have to get married in the church, why do we need a wedding license, that's just man's rules, in God's heart we're already married, he knows we're married in the heart of God,'  oh really, you're going to get divorce in the heart of God too then, I got news for you.  If it was only a piece of paper before you got married, it will only be a piece of paper after you get married.  It's an ordinance, God's allowed the government to be established, there's a right way to do it.  'Oh I don't believe in income tax because this says,' I know I'm touching somebody here, so just come down [implied "and talk to me"], we're strangers and pilgrims, you have to love me anyway.  'Well, I'm working under the table,' or really, you clean floors, working under the table?  You're allowed to earn a certain amount of money every year that you don't have to pay taxes on, but beyond that you're supposed to.  And we're not going to give you an excuse not to do that, that's what the Bible says, you submit to the powers that be.  And all of us have trouble with some of those rules.  I can say two words and you'll understand, 55.  'Well I was going downhill, that's why my car was going 190, I had to get by a drunk, and he was going 140, that's why I had to go 160 to get passed him,'  God has instituted government.  Go back to Genesis 9, you can read about it.  Once God gives the right of capital punishment, 'whoso sheds man's blood by man shall his blood be shed' (Genesis 9:5-6)  That there was under the law just balances and so forth.  God establishes government.  He establishes authority in the home, in the Church.  Here he says that we should yield to those institutions, of course, until, it says, until they cross the line and ask us to deny our faith, we can't do that.  "Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.  For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish menÉ" (verses 14-15)  Now lots of people say, 'What's the will of God for my life?  What's the will of God for my life?  What's the will of God for my life?'  Well, here's one of the ways that God expresses his will for your life.  "For so is the will of God," you comply to government structure that God has allowed, because he says ultimately that's in place so there can be order.  It's there because evildoers have to be punished, that God has allowed governments, "for so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish menÉ"  That's literally, "that you may muzzle the ignorance of foolish men.'  That almost sounds like a little bit of fun to me.  That by doing what's right, you can muzzle the mouths of fools.  Doesn't that sound like a job that you want?  Live the right way.  Do those things that are right.  Even when people, we're not going to be able to go that far tonight, but he's going to hold up Christ as our example.  That when he was reviled, he didn't strike back, when he was smitten, he yielded himself to the Bishop and Shepherd of his soul, it's what it's going to tell us when we go down here [through the rest of 1st Peter 2], that he left that example for us. 


In Closing


So, here we are.  Put away all malice, all guile and hypocrisy and envy, put away all evil speakings, as newborn babes desire the truth of God's Word, if you've tasted in fact that God is gracious.  Because Christ, who is the living stone, he's given us life, he's the one that all of our lives should be measured off of.  Yes, to the unbelieving world, he's the stone that the builders have set at nought.  But to you and I he's precious, he's going to crush the unbelieving world (cf. Daniel 2:44), he's a stumbling stone for the religious world, but for you and I, he's the chief cornerstone, we can get our bearings from him, our life has purpose, we can live for a reason and it's to measure off of him.  And he says, in contrast to the unbelieving world, we're a chosen race, a royal priesthood, we are a holy nation, we have an identity that's above earthly citizenship, we're a peculiar people, the center of his affection.  Why?  That we should show forth, we should demonstrate something.  You know, how are we going to tell the world out there 'Hey Christ can change your life,' how are we going to tell them that with an unchanged life?  Do we believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, he's risen from the dead, and that we can have a personal relationship with him, and that relationship is life-transforming, do we believe that?  You want to believe that about me.  Do you want a pastor who during the week is using drugs, or living in sexual sin, or messing with pornography?  You want, I assume, a pastor who is filled with the Holy Spirit, you don't want who I was before 1972 to be sitting up here.  You want to believe that Christ can transform a human life.  I believe that.  I can believe he does it in my life and he does it in your life.  And Peter says if that's what we believe, then we should be demonstrating something, not just with our mouth, but with our lives.  We should be different than the rest of the world.  Are we really telling the world out there we believe in the life-transforming power of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, that he is risen from the dead, and if you give your life to him he will transform your life, he will set you free and give you life---do we really believe that?  And will God use us if we're still living in compromise and sin, to tell a compromised world about a life-changing Christ?  Peter's saying to us then, live clean lives, don't give yourself over to those things that are just warring against your soul to be destructive.  But rather live the right way.  Oh, the world might speak evil of you, but the day comes in the lives of individuals, when your good works come to play in the day of visitation.  I'm telling you, the day I got saved, I had the voice of a friend ringing in my ears, who was telling me about Jesus all the time.  And I loved to argue with him, and he comes here on Sundays sometimes, and he never punched me, he loved me, and he always shared Christ's love with me, and it bothered me that I couldn't get under his skin, because I would have had a better day if I could have gotten under his skin, because if I could have gotten under his skin, I wouldn't have to believe what he was saying was true.  The thing that bothered me more than anything was I knew him before he got saved, and he really did seem different.  And we could make fun of him and say all kinds of things about him, but when it came to my turn, and I was broken, he was there, and his words rang in my ears, and they rang true, because they weren't his, they were from here.  Peter says live that way.  Submit yourselves to the rules and regulations that are around you in the government, it's God's will, that you should live the kind of lives that muzzle the mouths of foolish and ignorant men.  What a great calling that is.  I wish that it muzzled them and shut them up.  Because you can still hear them, 'mumble, grumble, mumble, mumble,' they're muzzled, but you can still hear them sometimes.  I encourage you, read ahead, we can't do it, we're overtime, we can't finish this chapter.  So, read ahead, there's some remarkable things as we come to the conclusion of this chapter, 'Who his own self bear our sins in his body on the tree,' Peter tells us something specific happened, it didn't happen in Gethsemane, didn't happen on the way to the cross, something happened up on the cross in regards to Christ bearing our sins on the tree, something that no cinematographer could ever put on film, something happened there unimaginable in its power and its influence.  And he's going to talk to us about that, and maybe that's a smart thing to talk to us about before he goes into husbands and wives.  Because that will be chapter 3.  And let me give you plenty of warning when we get there, Sunday morning, I'll dare you to come out, and say 'This week we're gonna talk about wives, I dare ya.'  And wives, if I was you, I'd strike a deal with your husbands, because when we're done with the wives, we're going to talk about husbands, so you can say 'Hey look, I'll go listen to him this week, you go listen to him next week.'  But we're going to look unapologetically at what he has to say about husbands and wives, and always something for us to learn.  Just hope my wife doesn't get the tapes.  [laughter]  Because she'll want me to listen to them.  So, read ahead, there's some great stuff here about living in trying times and in trying circumstances, and not always what we want to hear, but always what we need to hear, undoubtedly, because he loves us.  And he knows the end from the beginning.  And he knows how all of this ends up.  And he would never as a loving Father give us one bit of advice that would detract in any wayÉ[tape abruptly ends, transcript of a connective expository sermon on 1st Peter 2:4-15, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]


related links:


We as believers are being built up as lively stones into a spiritual Temple of God.  see,


We are in the priesthood of Melchisedec.  What does that mean?  See,


Christ as the Chief Cornerstone will smash to powder all the unbelieving nations of this world.  See,


Our good works are a greater witness to unbelievers that our words 'on the day of their visitation.'  For some good articles on good works, see, and

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