“And Jehovah God formed man with the dust of the ground…” (Gen. 2:7). As God’s creation we were made from dust. But God desires something solid and precious to be built up into the consummation of His eternal economy, the New Jerusalem. Therefore, He has to transform fallen man through the stages of His full salvation to make man useful for His building. So from creation to the New Jerusalem there is a marvelous process through which God brings man in order to change him from the dust of the ground into precious stones built up into the wall of the New Jerusalem.
God firstly changes man from dust to a stone in regeneration. This is seen in the Lord’s first interaction with Peter, recorded in the Gospel of John. In verse 42 of chapter 1, the Lord Jesus tells Peter that his name would no longer be Simon, but Cephas (or Peter), meaning a stone. In regeneration, the Lord begins a work in us that will transform our “dusty” nature into a stone. But the work of regeneration occurs mainly in our human spirit. So after regeneration our spirit is solid and substantial, but there is still a major work of the Lord to be carried out in the rest of our being.
After regeneration, we need to keep “coming to Him,” to the Lord, as Peter tells us in his first epistle (1 Pet. 2:4). This One to whom we are coming is the real living stone, the foundation stone, the cornerstone, and the topstone, and by contacting Him and receiving Him into us daily, we allow more of His stone nature to be added to our being. It is by this addition that the Spirit is then able to transform us into precious stones. The Spirit in the Bible is revealed in many ways, but one significant aspect of the all-inclusive Spirit is that He is the transforming Spirit. Second Corinthians 3:18 tells us that we are being transformed from the Lord Spirit. This transformation is a metabolic process in which the old element (our “dusty” nature) is discharged and a new element (Christ’s “stone” nature) is wrought into our being. As we come to Him and behold and reflect Him, He transmits His stone nature into us and the Spirit is then able to work this nature into us, transforming us from dust into precious stones.
However, God’s desire is not merely to have many individual precious stones lying around as specimens. The New Jerusalem as the consummation of God’s eternal economy has a great and high wall built up, and this wall is composed of precious stones. Therefore Peter, in his first epistle, continues to explain the result of coming to Christ, the living stone. Chapter 2, verse 5 says that we are being built up as a spiritual house. This building work is the issue of our transformation. When we are transformed by the Spirit working the element of Christ into our being, we need to go on to be built up with all the other believers who are going through the same process. This building work shapes and fits us, not allowing us to retain our peculiarities or rough edges. It is when we are built with all the other saints that we are truly the solid, immovable wall, losing all trace of our former “dusty” nature.
Finally, this matter of transformation into precious stones implies the matter of deification. The God on the throne whom John saw in Revelation 4 was like a jasper stone in appearance (Rev. 4:3). The wall of the city in Revelation 21 is also like a jasper stone in appearance (Rev. 21:11). This shows that we who are the wall become the same as the God who is on the throne in life, nature, and especially expression. So today we need to heed Peter’s exhortation to come to the Lord and like Peter, we need to have our name (our nature) changed from Simon to Cephas, from dust to stone. By beholding and reflecting the Lord every morning and every day, we are then transformed by the Lord Spirit and built up into the wall of the New Jerusalem.