Let’s say you have been experiencing horrible pain behind your left eye, and now it seems to be in both. You finally relent and go to an ophthalmologist, where you receive a thorough examination. When finished, he tells you that you have a rare form of cancer. If you don’t have immediate surgery to remove it, the cancer will enter your brain, and you will die. Then he goes on to tell you that although this operation will save your life, you will be left totally blind. The surgery is scheduled for the day after tomorrow. Your life has only one more day of sight. How would you spend that day?
My favorite aunt once told me she’d rather die than to loose her sight. She considered her ability to see as one of the most precious things she possessed. On the other hand, a person born blind might say the same thing about his hearing. How precious are these things, or how precious is something like freedom? You might not consider their values until they are taken from you.
The Christ-rejecting man in Jesus’ parable awoke one day under judgment and punishment for his sin. “In hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off… And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.” At that moment, under excruciating pain, he considered even a single drop of cool water as precious. Depending on circumstances, the value of things change. For example, when something is extremely rare, its preciousness increases; like water. And I am here today to remind you that of all the valuable things in this world, there is nothing more valuable or precious than the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In preparing for an earlier lesson, I was surprised to see how often Peter uses the word “precious.” He didn’t throw the word around willy-nilly, like the acquaintance who asks, “How is your precious wife?” Peter uses that word carefully and deliberately. He encourages us to “greatly rejoice… that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth… might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” And then he says that the most blessed people on earth have been bought out of the slave market of sin “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Here in our text he uses the word three times. Coming to Christ, “as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious.” “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 in the introduction to his second epistle he introduces himself, as “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ,” writing “to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ…” And finally he praises God, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world…”
The trials in life may be valuable, and certainly God’s promises and what we believe are precious. But the most precious of all is Jesus Christ, the Son of God to Jehovah, and the Saviour to us. In fact, it is the Lord Jesus who makes all the rest of the good things of life, precious.
Notice that Peter doesn’t attempt to quantify Christ’s value – he doesn’t try to put a value on Him. Other scriptures may compare our Saviour or His blood to fine gold, but Peter doesn’t do that here. Christ is simply chosen of God and precious; He is the elect of God. And “unto you therefore which believe he IS precious.”
Perhaps I shouldn’t try to put words and values into Peter’s mouth or heart, but that is exactly what I am going to do this morning.
In verses 4 and 7 the Lord Jesus is declared to be precious to GOD THE FATHER.
As I pointed out last week, verse 7 is a quote from Isaiah 28, so I think we can say that God repeats Himself, saying, “My Son is precious to me.” Let that thought sink into your soul. It is more profound than you might consider it to be. As I have said, the more we have of something, the less value each of those somethings become. The man who has a safety deposit box stuffed full of gold coins, isn’t going to worry when a dime drops out of his pocked and rolls under a parked car. The gardener who has a long row of bean plants isn’t going to grieve and mourn if one of them dies. The Lord Jesus spoke of a woman who had ten pieces of silver, when one of them fell and rolled away. She lit a candle and pulled out her broom, diligently sweeping her house until she found it, because it was 10% of her fortune, and it may have been necessary to keep her fed during her senior years. She didn’t have a thousand pieces of silver or even a hundred; she had only ten. So this was precious to her.
But now think about Jehovah. He has more than ten pieces of silver. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.” Psalm 50: “Every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” The Bible says that every nation belongs to God, and we might say every continent, every city, every acre. There is nothing which the Creator does not rightfully claim as His own. And it is under this huge blanket of ownership and dominion, God says, “My Son is precious.” Christ Jesus is the rarest and most valuable “commodity” in the universe, even to God Himself.
Those of you have children, please ask yourself this question: Would you give up your eyesight if that sacrifice could save the life of one of your children? Would you spend all your savings, and all your future wealth, if it could buy good health for your daughter? If your son was being sentenced to life in prison, but the unjust judge declared that he would accept your life in exchange, would you take that offer? For the salvation of the soul of your child would you sacrifice your right arm? There is something extra special, extra valuable about someone’s child. He is precious, no matter how wealthy you might be in the things of the world.
But remember that you and I have limited resources compared to Jehovah. In fact, we have no way to measure the wealth, or anything else for that matter, about the Lord. For example, how can we judge any of the emotions of God, if God has what we call emotions? How can we judge the love God the Father has for God the Son? It is impossible. We don’t have a yard stick, mass spectrometer, or theodolite sufficient for the task. All we can do is point to a scripture or two, like verse 4 and repeat, “Christ is infinitely precious to our God.” The Lord Jesus, is superlatively precious; immeasurably precious, to the Father. Nothing compares to the value and importance of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Why? What gives Him such value? The question reveals my foolishness. If the Father says that the Son is precious, then that is enough. I should sit down and shut my mouth. But I would like to shine my little, AAA-battery flashlight on the Lord for just a moment.
I would like to say that Christ is precious to the Father, because of His obedience to the divine, eternal decree. Christ Jesus willingly gave Himself to accomplish the Father’s will. For example, He gave up the glory He had with the Father, and John 17 teaches that He dearly missed it. Ultimately, He gave His life in order to bring other sons and daughters into God’s family. “The good sheperd giveth his life for the sheep.” He “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” He “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, EVEN the death of the cross” (Philippians 2). I am probably laying things upon God which He might not appreciate, but I hope that you do. God the Son is precious to the Father because He gave His life a ransom for many.
Jacob the grandson of Abraham, had thirteen sons to go along with a number of daughters. Sadly, Jacob was told that one of those sons, Joseph, had died. It nearly broke his fatherly heart. After that all of Jacob’s love fell on his youngest boy, Benjamin. When drought forced the family to think about buying grain from Egypt, but the Egyptian prime minister demanded that all of the sons of the family present themselves before him, Jacob at first refused to permit Benjamin to go. Fearing that Benjamin too might die, Jacob was not willing to let him go, even to save the rest of the family.
Jacob’s love is not a good example for us to follow, and it certainly doesn’t represent the love of God. Jehovah did permit His favorite Son, His only Son, to come to the Egypt of this world in order to purchase life for those sons and daughters the Lord intended to save and adopt into His family. Christ was precious to the Father from eternity, but I am going to say that He became even more precious when He did the Father’s will in sacrificing His life to save my sinful soul. And in doing that He also became extremely precious to me.
Peter says to me, and I hope to you as well…
UNTO YOU therefore which believe, He is precious.
There is a sense in which it doesn’t matter whether or not the Father thinks the Son is precious. Just because something is valuable to one person, even if to God, it may not be valuable to another. Just because Jehovah considers Jesus to be precious, He may not be so with you. That is something very, very serious, and I’ll come back to that thought in just a minute. But first…
To those who believe on Christ, putting their trust in him, He is precious – infinitely precious. Those sinners, who have been brought to understand their spiritual condition, and by grace have been made to see that Christ Jesus gave His life for their forgiveness and salvation, He is extremely precious. To them, Christ didn’t just save their lives; in truth they had no lives to save. We come into this world spiritually dead. Granite rocks have as much spiritual life as we have. Christ sacrificed His life that sinners might have life where there was none before. He died and suffered the effects of Hell, that those who trust and believe on Him might escape Hell. In a sense, He sacrificed his honored position as the precious Son of God that you and I might be made children of God. To those believers, the beneficiaries of grace, Christ Jesus could not be more precious.
As some of you know, in my former life, a few years ago, I was a philatelist – a postage stamp collector. But even when I was buying and selling stamps, studying old envelopes, and writing articles about my discoveries, I didn’t love those stamps more than I did my wife or my Saviour. I still have all my old collections, but they sit on shelves in my study, ignored and unattended, because I now consider other things more valuable. Also, I love to read biographies of Baptist ministers from the past, but they are not my primary interest. There are doctrines which I think are important and which cannot be compromised. There are Biblical doctrines which some men think are worth vilifying their neighbors. But I’d like to tell you: there is something more valuable and important than correct doctrine.
A greater test of a genuine Christian is not what he believes about the nature of God’s church or even about the sovereignty of God; it is whether or not Christ is precious to him. It is better to count Christ precious than to count good Bible doctrine precious. Salvation is not contained in theology, it is found in Christ Jesus and His death on the cross. So it is not in loving a doctrinal statement that proves you to be a Christian; the test is in loving Christ. And if someone rejects the fact that God foreknew those he intended to save, but he holds Christ to be precious and loves Him with all his heart, then I should love that man as a brother.
But what about that person who doesn’t hold Christ as precious? Then it doesn’t matter if he believes in the virgin birth of Jesus. It doesn’t matter if he believes in the imminent return of Christ to earth. It doesn’t matter if he believes in Heaven and Hell. If he doesn’t cherish the Saviour, then all his correct doctrine is meaningless.
Again, what about the PERSON who DOESN’T hold CHRIST as PRECIOUS?
I said earlier that I’d come back to you, if this indeed is you. Peter wrote, “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 offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.”
“Unto you therefore which believe he is precious, but unto them which be disobedient… Disobedient in what way? Disobedient in not following the Father’s example in His love and glorification of His Son. Disobedient in not listening to and giving respect to what the Son of God has said about repentance and trusting Him for salvation. Disobedient in not surrendering to His grace, continuing to live in wilful rebellion to His authority.
“Unto YOU therefore which believe he is precious, but unto THEM which be disobedient…” Peter contrasts two kinds of people, those who believe and find Christ precious, and those who do not believe and find Him a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence. Every person hearing this message is one or the other of these people.
If Christ is not precious to you, then He will one day be your judge. In Matthew 25, the Lord Jesus was talking about a group who did not consider Him precious. After describing some of their behavior He said, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” This what Peter is talking about in our text. Those who don’t consider Christ precious will find Him offensive. In that condition they will stumble before Him, and He will come down on them in wrath and judgment.
What about that last statement: “whereunto also they were appointed?” The word Peter used is rarely translated “appointed.” Far more often it is “to put or place,” “to lay,” or “to lay down.” It is blasphemy to suggest that God appointed or predestinated these people to be disobedient, ie., to sin. James says, “Let no man say when he is tempted” (or when he sins), “I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” God has never ordained anyone to sin, and He didn’t ordain anyone not to believe. Rather, we sin, because it is our nature to sin – because we are born sinners – and it is contrary to our nature to repent and to trust in the Saviour, the Lord Jesus.
What God did ordain is that unbelievers – those who don’t find Christ precious – will be judged. Judgment for sin – eternal punishment for sin – is as guaranteed as death itself. The disobedient and unbelieving will be crushed by Christ and then be cast into eternal judgment. He will say, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
I am not going to say that every Christian loves Christ equally. I am not suggesting that all God’s saints find the Saviour equally precious. Perhaps that will be true one day, when we lay these corrupted hearts and bodies down. We may not all, today, hold our Redeemer infinitely precious, but every Christian does to some degree love and cherish Him.
If you don’t love Christ Jesus, I can say with the authority of the Word of God, you are not one of God’s children – you are not a Christian. Peter suggests that you do not understand either Christ or your own heart. You are not a believer, and that leaves you in mortal and eternal danger. If that is you, confess to God your unbelief and plead with him for the ability to trust and rest upon the Saviour. Don’t let another day go by without seeking reconciliation to God through His precious Son. The scripture says, “He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life,” and “the wrath of God abide upon him.”
Please, O please consider Peter’s words, and humbly put your faith in Christ.