21 I will praise You, for You have answered me, and have become my salvation. 22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:21–24, NKJV)
We often hear verse 24 quoted and applied to the the first day of the week, the Lord’s day of worship. Without question, the Lord set the first day for assembled worship (Acts 20:7). Yet, the thanksgiving of this passage transcends the day of our weekly assemblies. It speaks of a day that evokes rejoicing and praise every day, including the first day of the week. “We will rejoice and be glad” in the day of God’s marvelous work of salvation, that He accomplished when He set Christ as the chief cornerstone of His temple, the church. The great day of Jesus Christ’s resurrection declared Him to be the Son of God, the very truth upon which He built His church (Romans 1:4; Matthew 16:18). His ascension, and exaltation at God’s right hand, declares the power to save us is in Him, and Him alone (Acts 2:32-36; 4:10-12). God made the day of salvation. It is accomplished in Jesus Christ. That day is marvelous in our eyes. Let us rejoice, and be glad in the day “the Lord has made.”
6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. (1 Peter 2:6–8, NKJV)
Jesus is compared to two very different stones in this passage. First, He is the chief cornerstone from whom the temple of God, the church, has been measured and built (1 Peter 2:4-6; Matthew 16:18). Chosen by God for His preciousness, believers who trust Him will not be put to shame, for they are “living stones” in God’s spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4-5). Second, Jesus is a stone of stumbling and rock of offense to those who reject Him as the chief cornerstone. Refusing to put their faith in Him, they disobey His word. The disobedient are set (appointed) to stumble over Christ in their unbelief. Christ has been set as the chief cornerstone of God’s house. By believing and obeying His word, He will not be a rock of offense over which you fall, but the precious, living stone who gives life to you (1 Peter 2:4-5).
11 “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11–12, NKJV)
The rejected stone of which Peter speaks is none other than Jesus Christ. Prophesied by David in Psalm 118:22, the apostle signals its fulfillment in the death and resurrection of Jesus. He is now the “chief cornerstone” of God’s temple, the church (Eph. 2:19-22). It is worth noting (for those who believe one can be saved without the church) that salvation is inextricably connected to the chief cornerstone of God’s church. Since salvation is in Christ, and He is the chief cornerstone of the church, one cannot be saved and not be a “living stone” in the spiritual house of God (1 Pet. 2:5). There is no “join the church of your choice” here. Instead, there is only salvation in Christ, who is the head of the church and its chief cornerstone. Without Christ there is no salvation. And, without the church, there is no assembly of saved souls. This helps explain why the Lord adds to the church those who are being saved (Acts 2:47). Salvation and the church of Christ cannot be separated.