Sunday, June 25, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon The Cornerstone the Builders Rejected ]

Lonnie Branam

Psalm 118:22-25 says, “The stone which the builders rejected has be- come the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.. Save now, I pray, O Lord.” This is one of the more prominent prophecies of Jesus Christ in the book of Psalms. After His resurrection Jesus appeared to two men on their way home to Emmaus and said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” The prophesy in this Psalm is one of those prophesies , and it is is applied to Jesus several times in the New Testament. Jesus first applied this prophesy to Himself in Matthew 21 when He said to the the chief priests and Pharisees, “Have you never read in the scriptures, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. . This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes”(Matt. 21:42) In rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, the chief priests and Pharisees fulfilled this prediction unknowingly in Psalm 118:22-25..

After the resurrection of Christ, Peter was teaching on the Temple compound, and he healed a poor, crippled man who was lame from his birth. Peter was arrested by the leaders of Israel and was made to appear before the Sanhedrin to explain how he performed such a miraculous cure. The rulers said to him, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered, “Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands before you whole.” Then Peter quoted from Psalm 118 these words, “This is the stone which was rejected by you builders which has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is their salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”(Acts 4:8-12) In that statement Peter, speaking as he was moved by the Holy Spirit, interpreted this prophecy for us. The stone rejected by the builders is Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and the builders were the rulers in the Sanhedrin and all other religious leaders in Israel.

Peter revealed another truth from the prophecy when he wrote these words to Jewish Christians all over the Roman Empire, “Coming to Him as a living stone rejected indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious, you also, as living stones are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore to you who believe, He is precious,


but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner- stone”( I Peter 2:4-8). By a figure of speech we learn that Jesus Christ is called the chief cornerstone in God's new spiritual, living temple, composed of Christians all over the world. God no longer dwells in a temple made by hands. His temple is made of living stones, people who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. God's temple today is a spiritual temple composed of holy, redeemed men and women. Christians are now the only priests God has on the earth
As the cornerstone was the most important stone in Solomon's temple, Christ is compared to its cornerstone, and He built His church on the rock foundation truth that He was the Divine Son of God sent from heaven, Israel's appointed Messiah. The interpretation is sure. Psalm 118 was a prophecy that Jesus the Messiah would build a new kind of temple, a living spiritual temple for both Jews and Gentiles; and Christ would build this new temple on Himself as the Divine Son of God. Some of the great thoughts in this prophecy deserve some elaboration. There will never be another temple like Solomon's used in the worship of the one true and living God. God does not dwell in any of the magnificent cathedrals in the world today. I would like to comment further on the words, “the stone which the builders rejected.” Christ was this cornerstone, and the builders who rejected Him were the political and religious leaders of the nation of Israel.

The builders of all nations are their political and religious leaders. When the political and religious leaders of a nation disagree with and reject Christ, it spells trouble for Christians. So it was with the early Christians who lived in the nation of Israel. The first great persecution against Christians was caused by those of the Jewish nation who rejected Christ. The builders of the nation rejected Him, and they rejected unmercifully their fellow Israelites for being Christians. Stephen was the first Christian martyr on record, and this is the statement he made to the builders of Israel that cost him his life: “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” Th builders of Israel had him stoned to death for that statement. Only eternity will reveal how many Christian Israelites lost their lives during the first, second and third centuries. Sadly, down through the centuries the unbelief of the builders in Israel has increased instead of decreased.

In spite of the rejection of the nation as a whole, there were a substantial number of Israelites who accepted Christ and established the Christian religion in the world, and we all owe them a debt of gratitude. In fact they took a leading part in wiping out the ancient religion of Idolatry in the Roman empire and replaced it with the Christian religion. By some 300 A.D. the Christian religion was the official religion of the Roman Empire. No one can take that honor away from the early Christians, both Jews and Gentiles. However, the number of Jews who became Christians was relatively small; the greater part of the nation rejected Christ. In Romans 11 Paul said that throughout Old Testament history only a small number of Hebrews remained faithful to God. About 55 A.D. he made this statement about Israel: “Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”(Romans 11:1-5) A remnant is a small number. Only a small number of Israelites became Christians and were saved in the first century. In the past two thousand years only a remnant of Jews have become Christians, and the rest of the nation God cast away from H im as His chosen people. Since the beginning of the Christian religion , the only Jews who are God's chosen people are Jews who have become Christians. In the 21st century only a remnant of Jews have become Christians, and all others lost the favor and honor of being the chosen people of God. The only chosen people of God today are those connected with this new temple of Psalm 118, of which Christ is the Head and chief cornerstone.

Furthermore, let us understand that Israel is not the only nation that has rejected Christ. The new temple of Psalm 118 has been on the earth for the past two thousand years, and Christ offers His salvation to both Jews and Gentiles as promised to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. . Just like Israel, the builders of al l Gentile nations have rejected Christ as the Ruler and Savior of the world. . The political and religious leaders of all nations on earth today have rejected the moral and religious authority of Christ. Israel still rejects Him: all the Arab nations reject Him; all communist nations reject Him; all Atheistic nations reject t Him; Russia rejects Him; China rejects Him and some twelve other world religions, representing many nations, reject Him. Even the builders of the United States have rejected many of His teachings. The Bible is not allowed to be even referred to in our educational system as acceptable truth on the origin of the universe, the origin of life and as the authority on morality, even though Christ supports all teachings in the Bible. But the builders of our nation say that the truths in the Bible cannot be used. or applied in Higher Education. I think our forefathers would turn over in their graves if they knew the changes that have occurred in the builders and caretakers of America. There is only a remnant in America who have


accepted Christ, and the rest have rejected Him. How sad when you consider the fact that America is the greatest supporter of the Christian religion in the world. More Gentiles have become Christians than Jews, but they represent hundreds of nations. From these facts, it is a correct conclusion that during the past two thousand years, only a remnant of Gentiles have become Christians, and the rest have hardened their hearts. As it was and is with the Jewish nation, so it was and is with all Gentile nations. When we consider how hostile the world is to Christ, how the builders world-wide are rejecting Him, and how worldly wise men who do not believe the Bible are controlling the education of our children, it is wonder that the church can even exist in the world. It is a marvelous thing that anybody believes in Christ with such an antichrist attitude in the world

I realize this part of Psalm 118 is depressing, but I now turn to a happier theme in the psalm. I would like to elaborate on a wonderful prediction made in Psalm 118 that is connected with Christ being the chief cornerstone of God's new temple, even though the builders of Israel rejected Him. . Even though all nations reject Him, the good news is that God has chosen Him. After saying that the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone, we read this wonderful statement: “This was the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day Jehovah has made; we will rejoice in it and be glad.” The subject has turned to joy and happiness. Please note this statement, “This is the day the Lord has made.” The word Lord here is the name of Jehovah. What day is this? The word day is often used in scripture as a period of time, long or short. In the King James version it has been rendered by such words as day, time, age, season, space, year and many others. Thus ,we need not think just of a 24 hour period, but of an age or epoch. The context shows that the psalmist is thinking of the Christian age of the world and God's new temple of worship, of which Christ as the chief cornerstone. The meaning is that God has ordained the day or age of Christ's reign on earth as a time of blessing to all mankind. Christ is reigning on earth now and has been for two thousand years. He will not reign on earth at His second coming. At that time all the saved of earth will be taken to heaven. Everyone should rejoice in the Christian Age of the world, for Palm 118 reveals that this Church Age is the day that the Lord God has made. This present day the Lord has made is the greatest period or age in human history. Today and every day for the past two thousand years, it has been the day of Christ, the gospel day, the day of the Christian religion, and the day of the Kingdom of God on the earth. We live in the day of salvation, for
2 Corinthians 2:6 says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.” This is the day of the Christian religion, not the


Jewish religion or any other religion. We are living in the very day Psalm 118 predicted. It is the accepted time for the human race. . The day the Lord has made is a day or period of time in which God is in the accepting business. He is accepting all sinners humble enough to be washed by the blood of the Lamb. John 1:17 says, “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” The day God made is the day of grace and truth

Jesus remained on this earth for forty days after His resurrection and showed Himself alive by many infallible proofs. He then ascended to heaven, and ten days later He established the Christian religion on the earth. At that time about 33 A.D the resurrected ascended Jesus became the Headstone or cornerstone of the New Testament church which is called the Temple of God. God no longer dwells in a temple made with hands. God's new temple exists in all parts of the earth wherever Christians may exist. In the word of God Christians are often referred to as the Temple of God. Every congregation of Christians is a part of that living, spiritual temple. These marvelous events had their beginning about 33 A.D. in Jerusalem, and from that day to this, it has been the Day of Christ, the Day God made. Since that day to the present Christians have rejoiced in the New Covenant predicted in Jeremiah 31: 31-34. We are now living in the very day Psalm 118 was talking about. The whole gospel day is the day of Jehovah's making, and great blessings are flowing to the human race in this age of the world. One of the unique characteristics of the gospel age is that it is the last period of human history. It is mankind's last chance to make things right with God.

Many people have come to a time in their lives when they have said, “Life can't go on like this forever. The time has come for a new beginning.” On the back of our American dollar bill is the motto–“Novus Ordo, Secloram,” When translated these words mean, “Toward a New Order of Ages.” This motto suggests the daring experiment our forefathers tried to put into practice when they first came to this country, Deprived of freedom, they decided their lives could not go on like this. Revolution was a new word, and no other nation had tried it. Could they really overthrow the old order and put something in its place. They sought to be a nation of free men and women in a world where real freedom for the common man had not yet been won. For our American forefathers it was truly a “Novus Ordo Seclorum.” a new order of ages. Revolution, freedom and a new order of ages are terms which are held very dear by Christians. In this day of Christ, every person can have a personal revolution in his or her own life. There is a possibility of a new order and a new beginning ( 2 Corinthians 5:17). Real freedom can be found only in Christ. .

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