A Living Stone, I Presume? | Tomorrow’s World Commentary — July 6, 2024

A Living Stone, I Presume?

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The phrase “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” became famous after an American correspondent by the name of Henry Morton Stanley hunted for and finally found in 1871 the “lost” African explorer and missionary, Dr. David Livingstone. This famous phrase is still occasionally recounted when someone meets again a “long lost” friend after many years.

But there is another “living stone” we all need to seek and find. The Bible describes Jesus Christ as “the Living Stone.” The Apostle Peter describes Jesus as the “living stone” who is “rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious” (1 Peter 2:4–6). Peter quotes Isaiah’s prophecy describing Jesus: “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame” (cf. Isaiah 28:16).

It is interesting that a cornerstone used to be the first of the foundation stones laid for a structure. The rest of the stones, not just foundation stones but the whole building, are all aligned to the cornerstone. The cornerstone often bore the name, date of founding, or other information commemorating the dedication of the building. The cornerstone symbolized a “seed” from which the building would “germinate” and rise. This analogy fits the Bible’s description of Christ as the Seed (Genesis 3:15, Galatians 3:16). Christ is the foundational cornerstone of God’s temple, which true Christians are (1 Corinthians 3:9–16).

Ephesians 2:10–20 explains that we are the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ as the chief cornerstone. In Christ, the whole building is fit together (like a mason fits stones together) and grows into a holy temple in the Lord. How wonderful!

Peter also describes Jesus as a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, quoting from Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14. The rulers and elders of Israel rejected Jesus (Acts 4:8–11), and many leaders and even some who call themselves Christian also stumble at and reject Christ’s teachings in His word. Much of what God condemns in His word is ignored today, but what He calls “abominations” are instead accepted and approved. A Christian is supposed to be a follower of Christ, but many go their own way, in the opposing direction. These have no right to call Jesus their Lord when they do not do what He says (Luke 6:46).

True Christians are to come to Jesus Christ and become “living stones” to be built into a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4–5). Our part of the building process is to “hear and do” Christ’s sayings. Christ gave the analogy that this is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. To not “hear and do” is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand (Matthew 7:24–27). Only the house built on the rock survives. We are also to “build ourselves up” (Jude 1:20), praying, studying, and striving to be like Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit.

Jesus said He would build His Church (Matthew 16:18), and He has been doing that since that Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given, the beginning of the Church of God. God’s word uses several analogies for God’s Church: bread, fellow workers, God’s field, God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:9; 10:17). Another apt analogy is that the Church is also the Body of Christ, composed of many members and yet one body (1 Corinthians 12), just as a building has many stones, but it is one building.

Like many stories, there are some doubts about the veracity of some of the historical details regarding Henry Morton Stanley’s famous greeting upon meeting Dr. David Livingstone. But there is no doubt that Jesus Christ is the Living Stone, or that Christians are to become “living stones” built into a spiritual house.

To learn more, be sure to check out the Tomorrow’s World article “A Quarry of Living Stones” and the telecast “The New Jerusalem.