In 1 Peter 2:4-6 Peter describes the people of God as a new temple built with living stones. This new temple is a mobile temple – free to move and to go anywhere the Spirit of God leads us. Wherever you see the people of God living as the people of God – there you will find the presence of God. The church is the presence of God in the world – demonstrating that it is good to live under the reign of King Jesus.
But what exactly does this presence of God look like?
1 Peter 2:11-12 tells us;
“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
Our lives lived together are to be of such a nature that those who do not believe see our good deeds and glorify God. In 3v15 Peter says that “by doing good we should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men”. Our lives together are a visual demonstration that it is good to live under the reign of King Jesus. This blessing then overflows in a continual fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that his seed (Jesus) would be a blessing to the whole world. Our lives together are a powerful demonstration of this truth and an experience of the presence of God in the world.
The effect of these good lives and lives of goodness lived under the reign of King Jesus has a saving effect on those who are not believers. 2v12 speaks of the pagans glorifying God – to glorify God is salvation language perhaps reminiscent of Jesus’s own words in Matthew 5:16
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
As evangelicals I suspect we have become fearful of any talk of good work – because as we all know we are not saved by our good works. To be clear – I am absolutely convinced that my salvation is through faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone. But what Peter does seem to be saying is that while my good works cannot save me (us) – they can save you! It is as they see our good works/lives that they are led to praise God.
Let me be clear though that our proclamation definitely has a place and 1 Peter has much to say about this but in these verses it is our good works/good lives that bring people to salvation not our words per se. Those good works/lives must include words but they cannot be reduced to them. 3v15 tells us that it is our lives together which raises questions in unbelievers about our hope.