Transformational Living, Part 1 (1 Pet 2:9-10)


Ben Tellinghuisen - May 25, 2014

Transformational Living, Part 1 (1 Pet 2:9-10)

2 Responses to God's Transforming Work Transcript: I love to hear people’s testimonies. Some are rather jolting examples of, “I once was, but now am…” Aren’t they? I know some who tell stories of living the high-life, and literally the high-life; complete with drugs, alcohol, prostitution, you name it, they’ve done it, yet God has transformed them into loving husbands, fathers, and faithful followers of Jesus Christ. There is a book my dear wife is reading now and it’s called The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. It’s by Dr. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield and a good portion of the book is her personal testimony and it is actually quite engaging. Rosaria was a tenured professor at a major, secular University, Syracuse University, and she lived in an openly homosexual relationship along with her partner and were leaders on the campus in supporting both homosexual and women’s rights. Then in her late 30’s, she began to read the Bible, to disprove it of course, and a faithful neighbor, who happened to also be a pastor, helped her walk through her journey in God’s Word. Eventually, the Lord got a hold of her heart and caused her to resign her job, break off her relationship, and now she is married to a pastor, is a stay at home mom, and writes and speaks at a variety of Christian women’s events throughout the year. Talk about a radically different life. She calls it her ‘train-wreck of a conversion.’ I know many in this very room who have shared in the waters of baptism, similar testimonies of God’s power to transform their lives, radically forsaking the old way of living and pursuing a whole heartedly new life in Jesus Christ. Well this is part and partial to the Gospel message, isn’t it? - This transformation, this radical change. See, Jesus didn’t come so that you could just get out of Hell simply by self-identifying as Christian, or being born into a Christian home. Jesus came to set you free from being a slave to sin. That includes the ‘meth-head’ as well as the home-schooled kid. Anybody who becomes a Christian becomes a Christian and radically forsakes the old way of living and is transformed. Jesus came to transform your life as every Christian denies living for themselves, their own passions, they must radically give it all up (in a train wreck of sorts) to follow Christ. See, Jesus died to pay the penalty for sins, to enact forgiveness on those who trust him, who serve him as their Lord, and he rose again to give us the hope of eternal life. That that transformation that he promises really genuinely will take place. And so Christians, we have a brand new life in Christ. We have the privilege to begin to experience the effects of a new life in this life – to begin to live transformationally. That’s what our text is all about today: transformational living. Well, in the context of Peter, Peter has just taught on the centrality of the Word to living this transformed life. He says that in chapter 2, verse 2. Follow with me as I read: “Like newborn infants long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” That is used to describe every Christian; every Christian is one who should desire the pure milk of the Word of God so that they can grow in their faith. We also see that Peter then presents Christ as our chief cornerstone so that the central person of the Word acts as our guide and a standard for all of life. Only Christians and only the Christian churches that are built on this solid foundation of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone, can be transformed into God’s beautiful new temple. And now, Peter expands upon the transformation that has happened in the life of every Christian and encourages two different responses and so we are going to look at two responses to God’s might work of transformation today. Well, we’ll cover the first response today in verses 9 and 10 and the second response we’ll get to next week. 2 Responses to God’s Mighty Work of Transformation 1. Proclaim the Glories of Your Transformation (vv. 9-10) So there are two responses in verses 9-12 of God’s mighty work in transformation. The first response is in 9 and 10 and it is where we’ll spend our time and it is – Proclaim the glories of your transformation. Proclaim the glories of you transformation. One key command in these verses is really found in the middle of verse 9. There’s a lot of supporting reasons why we should follow this command but the key command is that you may proclaim the excellences of him who called you out of darkness. So with that in mind, let’s look at these verses: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellences of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people. Once you have not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” Clearly, there has been a transformation that has happened. We see several different ways that are used to describe this transformation. You’ve got ‘darkness into light’ transformation, you’ve got the ‘not a people into now God’s people’ transformation, you’ve got someone who had not been shown mercy to someone who has been shown mercy, you have someone who was not a holy or a royal priesthood and now who is a part of a royal priesthood. There’s also a marked difference in how God relates to his people. Before Christ, more or less, he left us alone, let us follow after our own passions and after Christ, after we’ve believed in Jesus Christ, God’s transforming power is in us – is shaping us. It’s molding us. That’s what we are to proclaim. We are to proclaim his mighty power to transform and give testimony to the fact that he has done that in our hearts. So as we look on what we should be proclaiming, there’s three works of his transforming power that we are going to see – these are really sub-points of what we’re to proclaim, how he transforms our lives, and you could actually probably have several more than this if you wanted to break it down, but we’re going to first ease of remembering these, we’re going to focus on three of them – 3 works of his transforming power. 3 Work of His Transforming Power A. You’ve Been Chosen to Receive Mercy The first is that every single one of us, if we are Christian, have been chosen to receive mercy. You’ve been chosen to receive mercy. Each one of those words is very important. It’s because those are the words that Peter uses. He starts off the verse in verse 9, “But you are a chosen race…” and he’s obviously contrasting something. Anytime you see the word ‘but’ it’s contrasting something that had previously come before and what is he contrasting? Those who are saved compared to those who are not. You, if you are saved, are a chosen race. According to then verse 8 though, “You stumble because you disobey the word of those who do not believe in Christ as they were destined to do.” So the unbelieving world loves disobedience to pursue self-love, to try and be right with God on their own terms, that’s why Jesus Christ, when he proclaimed a radical transformation, a radical view their own sinfulness, people rejected them. People rejected Jesus Christ and he became a stone of stumbling. And because they disobeyed him and because they would rather live for themselves and try to get to God on their own terms, they stumbled over Jesus Christ. So they stumble on the cornerstone of Christ because when they encounter Christ, they are offended – offended that Jesus was so adept at pointing out their sin, offended that one of those sins was trying to be justified in God’s eyes by their own efforts – offended that a common crucified criminal could be God, very God in human flesh. He could rise again. Ultimately, the world would rather disobey God than turn to Christ. And in the very last phrase, we remember from last week, was a very challenging truth because it says they were destined to do this – they were destined to disobey. This is challenging and the source of our direct contrast here, on the one hand God, in a sense, destines unbelievers to unbelief, to disobedience. On the other hand in the beginning of verse 9, he calls those who are Christians a ‘chosen race.’ And so last week, we discussed the first point in that phrase is challenging because we’ve got to harmonize this verse with other biblical truths. And so we ask ourselves, “How can God destine some for unbelief? How can this be? Isn’t he all loving? Doesn’t he desire all men to be saved? Doesn’t Jesus Christ emphatically call people to respond to the Gospel message?” And we have to respond with, “Yes, yes, and yes.” But there’s a tension: God is also all sovereign, and using even sin to show his perfect mercy, his perfect patience, his perfect love, his perfect grace, and even his perfect wrath. He allows fallen man and women to continue to do what they’re most inclined to do, even purposing to give them up to their sinful desires. That’s why he writes in Romans 9:22 and 23 these words: he writes, “In order to make known the riches of his glory, for vessels of mercy which he has prepared beforehand for glory, he has endured with much patience those vessels of wrath which were prepared for destruction.” So God wanted to make his glory known and wanted to show his wrath for vessels of destruction that he has prepared for destruction, has also then provided a contrast for us – provided a contrast between those who are destined to follow their own desires of the flesh and those whom he has chosen, those whom he is elect, whom he is sovereignly destined to come to him. But we also noted that ‘destined’ a weaker term that elect or chosen and carries more of a connotation of God letting and purposing sinful men to run their own course. And now in our verse, we see that he describes Christians as a ‘chosen race’ and this literally ‘elect race,’ the same word, it’s electoy. If Christians then, we have a special setting apart that has been accomplished in our lives. If Christians, we’ve been selected before we were even born to know Christ and to be his children. If you are Christian, God has chosen you in spite of your sin, in spite of your disobedience, in spite of your unbelief. God is indeed mighty and gracious and that’s the point of this wonderful, Scriptural proof. He wants it to be crystal clear to everyone that God has shown his grace and his mercy to those whom he wants to show grace and mercy too. It’s not because of you. It’s not because of me. Your salvation, that’s entirely a work of God. Some speak of this as God’s great injustice, somehow meddling with mankind’s sovereign free-will. I would challenge you to show me a place where the Scripture talks of man’s sovereign free-will. It talks about God’s love and God’s desire for men to come to know him and God asking people to make a choice, but it does not speak of mankind’s sovereign free will. And so I see no injustice on God’s part, only his perfect sovereignty and his amazing grace. RC Sproul has a pretty significant quote that I want to read for you that really helps us understand this truth. This is what he writes: God chose sovereignly to bestow his saving grace on some but to allow others to do what they pleased. God simply passed them over. No one in this equation is subjected to divine injustice, but the redeemed receive grace and the unredeemed receive justice – the due fruits of their labor. People complain against this, saying that God is unfair to give his mercy to some and not to all. However, when we complain about God’s sovereign grace in salvation, we see how gracious that salvation really is, because our complaining reveals how obstinate our hearts really are toward the majesty and sovereignty of God. (Sproul) So, we are blessed to know that God has chosen us. If you know Jesus Christ, we are blessed to know that he has elected us, that he has chosen us. So, we have been set apart – chosen to receive God’s grace. To what end? – To God’s glory, yes. Amen. But also remember in this verse our key command: “That you may proclaim the wonderful excellences of him who has called you.” - That you may proclaim his wonderful excellences. So, we must be those who give God the glory and specifically through proclaiming his excellences – his attributes, what he has done for you, and how he has accomplished that work of salvation in your life. So, far from stifling evangelism, God’s sovereignty should make us all the more excited to share what God is doing and what God has done, because God is the one who effects change in people’s lives. And so all we have to do is be faithful to share the message, proclaiming the joys and the wonders of forgiveness at the cross. Now the word that is used here, ‘proclaim,’ is actually the only time this word is found in the New Testament. It’s a rather rare Greek word. It can be used to advertise – to make widely known. In secular Greek, its usage is to disseminate previously unknown information. So, to go proclaim to somebody who had no idea what is that you are proclaiming him, in this case, the truth of the Gospel message. And also, in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, this word is used to sound forth praise of God, proclaiming God’s praise as well. So here Christians are to sound forth the excellences, according to verse 9, of God’s great salvation in our lives, both containing evangelism and personal praise. Now Peter isn’t done referencing God’s work in salvation either, he says, “You are to proclaim the excellences of him who called you.” – Of him who called you. This ‘calling’ is a reference to how we became Christians. See, God used the preaching of the Gospel in a very specific way – calls his chosen, his elect ones, to know him. As one commentator writes, “…the calling described here is effectual. Just as God’s word crates light, so God’s call creates faith. Calling is not a mere invitation; it’s performative, so that the words God speaks become a reality.” Peter just can’t stop talking about God’s sovereignty in this epistle. We’ve come across this truth several times thus far. Look back with me in chapter 1, verse 1. He starts off by calling the recipients of this letter ‘those who are elect exiles.” – it’s the same word used today – elect, chosen by God. Then in verse 3 he says, “It is according to God’s great mercy that God has caused us to be born again to a living hope.” It’s God’s mighty work of salvation, not ours. Then, God’s sovereignty is on display in verse 15 of chapter 1: “As God who has called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct.” Then we see chapter 2, verse 4, God’s sovereignty in choosing Jesus Christ as God’s chosen and precious cornerstone. Then we see chapter 2, verse 8, as we’ve already mentioned this morning, he destines some to continue to stumble over Jesus Christ, and then in verse 9, we are a “chosen race.” We are those who have been called out of darkness by God. That’s because emphasizing God’s power and control is extremely comforting for those in the midst of trials, isn’t it? And that’s what this congregation is going through, or this group of congregations that Peter is writing to. They’re going through immense trials, and brothers and sisters, if you are going through trials in your own life, you need to get your head around God’s sovereignty as well. See, God is in control, even of your trials. With impending persecutions that loom on the horizon, God is in control. When the world begins to reject you for your confession of faith, which is very much a reality in the world we live in now, God’s in control. When God allows personal disasters, like the loss of a job or death of a loved one, God is in control. It is so important to remember that God alone is always in control. He is right now, was at the point of your conversion, and always will be. He will never leave you nor forsake you. And just as we recognize that at creation God spoke light out of darkness, part of what we proclaim is God speaking spiritual light out of spiritual darkness in our own lives, isn’t it? That’s why he says, “We are to proclaim,” in the middle of verse 9, look with me, “That you may proclaim the excellences of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Now, our basement is quite dark because we have some windows but they are all covered in with some insulation. So you go down there, and if there are no lights on, it is pitch black. You’re talking you can’t even see your hand in front of your face black. Now, when you go in there and you do find the light switch and you turn that on, the darkness doesn’t slowly fade away, does it? Immediately it becomes light. That’s because the speed of light is rather fast, I think we understand that, but we also understand this truth spiritually, don’t we? When the light of the Gospel comes on in the Christian’s life, we’re those who immediately begin to hate the old way of living. We are those who, once we recognize darkness in our life, begin to hate it. We are those who love the light of God’s Word, even when it cuts deep, challenges our old nature and our flesh, and at the point of God’s calling, we have turned to light, no longer stumbling over Christ, but loving Jesus Christ – always and forever. That is why darkness and light are frequently used in Scriptures and are metaphors for God’s work of salvation, and I think one helpful text to look at is one that you probably know quite well and it’s John, chapter 3. If you want turn with me, we can look at that together. John, chapter 3, verses 16-21. Now, often we stop at John 3:16, it’s a very helpful verse indeed. It gives a very concise summary of the Gospel message, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” So it is a result of our faith in Jesus Christ, it’s all about what we do with Jesus that gives us eternal life. Well, 17-21, Jesus continues to talk about what this salvation, what this conversion looks like. So let’s read these verses. Verses 17-21, “For God did not his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that world might be saved through him,” sounds like wonderful news doesn’t it? That God did not send the son into the world to condemn it – that the world would only be saved, so maybe all of the world is saved. Well, lest you think that, verse 18 comes alone, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned,” Praise the Lord, “But whoever does not believe, well, that person is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only son of God. And this is the judgment, that light has come into the world and people love the darkness rather than the light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to light lest his works be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” And so clearly, we are, by nature, children of darkness, hating the light of God’s grace because, like cockroaches scatter with light, we hate the light when it shines on our sin. We don’t like to be told that we’re not good people, do we? Just think positively, that’s what the world would want you to think. Well, actually the Bible would want you to think negatively about yourself, think negatively about your sin, recognize your sin, recognize that you can’t get to God based on what you can do, and when you recognize that, you see then the glorious truth of the light of the Gospel message and you love coming to the light, because you want the light to expose sin in your life and you want to come regularly to the light. That’s why we come regularly to understand the reading through the Word of God. That’s why we do it not only in our times on Sunday morning, but in our personal devotional times. That’s why we have time where we get together in care groups and have small group meetings. But, the point of God’s calling, we became lovers of light, isn’t that true? We have been transformed; we have brand new desires, new loves, a new heart, a new life, and so 1 Peter 2:9 says, “He has called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light.” See, Christians love to do what is right and what is pleasing to God. We even long to be shown remaining sins because as children of light, we hate darkness; even darkness that remains and frequently tempts us. You show me a supposed Christian who is totally unwilling to be confronted, unwilling to look at yourself in the mirror of God’s word, and I will look at a very sickly type of Christian, if that person is even a Christian at all. That’s because as children of light, we want to be confronted. We want to be shown sin in our lives so that we can be made more holy, more like our God. We of all people are to be most humble, teachable, because we have undergone a massive transformation. Peter continues in verse 10 to describe this transformation, as he writes, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people. Once you have not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” We’re going to look at this ‘people’ concept in a moment and we’re going to focus on the ‘mercy’ concept right now. And so at the point of transformation, we are to proclaim that God’s mercy has taken over our lives. Mercy, of course, is simply defined as ‘God’s withholding of judgment.’ It’s actually a rather easy concept for virtually everyone to understand, unbelievers and believers alike. That’s because there’s a sense in which every moment we are alive, we are receiving in a general way God’s wonderful mercy, aren’t we? You see, if God is truly righteous, if he is truly just, we deserve immediate and instantaneous punishment. We don’t get that because you and I are still alive, right? We also get this idea that we would want swift justice. We see that in kids, don’t you? You take a toy – justice of the fist, or if you’re like my little daughter – a girly slap and a ‘ehhhh!’because she doesn’t know how to talk. As we get older, we want swift justice as well. Someone cheats in class, it is right for them to be caught and punished. Some colleges have a zero tolerance for cheats. I know of some at my alma mater who were expelled for cheating. We also think of swift justice and a desire for justice when we think of tragic events that happen in this life. Just recall the Tsarnaev brothers who were observed carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings last April. We want due process, yes, but we want justice and immediately, really in the days that followed that bombing, there was an intense manhunt for these two men who were recognized and known to have carried out an atrocity. And that speaks volumes to our innate desire for immediate justice. Well, if God were only just, if he were perfectly and completely justice and not merciful, then we should be brought before his high court of heaven, tried, and condemned right now because the wages of sin is death. And last I checked again, we are still alive – so are our unbelieving neighbors and there’s a general common mercy that is extended to everybody. But that mercy too, will end. There’s a day of reckoning with God because his justice requires it, and before conversion, we have not been recipients of God’s eternal, forever, and abiding mercy. But after our transformation, God looks down on our sin and forever sees the perfect sacrifice of his son, forever pardons, forever forgives, and forever is merciful. Christian, this is your new status in Jesus Christ. We have forever been recipients of God’s mercy. There is no more punishment for our sins. Praise the Lord. And so you see, we need to be those who help unbelievers see their need for mercy as well. Not just temporary or earthly mercy, but eternal mercy in light of a perfectly just God. And so if we view God’s saving work in us as truly transformative, truly merciful – we are those who would be quick to proclaim the greatness of God, the greatness of our salvation, and the greatness of his mercy. Now, there are some other descriptions of God’s transforming work in these verses and I want you to look back at the beginning of verse 9 to pick up the next one. Another evidence of God’s transforming work – the first one is that you have been chosen to receive mercy. The second is; you are God’s royal priesthood. B. You are God’s Royal Priesthood You are God’s royal priesthood – you see that right at the beginning of verse 9, “You are a chosen race and a royal priesthood.” Now, last week we discussed verse 5 which highlighted the Christian as a holy priesthood. And we are holy, as we discussed, because we have a holiness that is not our own. But this week we’re described as a royal priesthood, so we need to revisit this understanding of the believer as priest and why we have this concept of ‘royal’ added to our priesthood. Now, this idea of a priesthood of both Jesus and Christians is most clearly seen in the book of Hebrews, so I want you to turn with me to the book of Hebrews. We’re going to look through a couple different passages in Hebrews, and that’s really two books to the left, yet James and then Hebrews right before 1st Peter, and we’re going to look at Hebrews, chapter 2, and so I want you to follow along with me as we look at a number of different passages that talk about the priesthood, not only of Jesus Christ, but of believers. Hebrews 2:17-18 is where we begin our quick jaunt through the book of Hebrews - Hebrews, chapter 2, verses 17 and 18. The writer of Hebrews says this speaking of Jesus: “Therefore, he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he may become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God to make propitiation for the sins of the people, to make a payment for us. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” So that’s the basic definition of a priest – it is one who helps people get to God, right? So, in the Old Testament, you’ve got a priest who you would bring your offering to and that priest would then help you get to God. He would say, “Well, I’m going to pray to God. I’m going to help offer this animal, so that you could be made right with God.” Well now in this passage, it says that Jesus alone is our priest. Jesus is the great priest – you don’t bring an offering to Jesus, he is the offering – and you come to Jesus as a priest because he is able to sympathize with everything that you have gone through because he himself was human flesh as well. And as a result of that, we see in verses 14 and 15 of chapter 2 this truth: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same thing, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those, who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” So we are those, because of Jesus’ priestly sacrifice for us, are now no longer having to fear death. We don’t have to fear the consequences of our sin. We are those who have hope of eternal life. Now I want you to flip over to Hebrews, chapter 9, verses 11-14 (Hebrews 9:11-14). Here the writer of Hebrews continues to talk about the priestly work of Jesus Christ, and he says this: “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is not of this creation, he entered once and for all into the holy place, not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by the means of his own blood thus securing an eternal redemption.” In other words, Jesus died and brought his sacrifice to the literal heavenly throne room of God. See, the earthly temple, the holy of holies, the throne room so to speak, went to represent where God dwelt. And so the high priest would come in there one time a year with his sacrifice and go into the holy of holies. Well, Jesus went to, not a representation of where God would dwell, he went directly into God’s presence and he offered a sacrifice of himself. Verse 13 and 14, he continues, “For the blood of bulls and goats and the sprinkling of a defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” And so we begin here focusing on the service we have the opportunity to perform, and that’s a priestly service. We have the opportunity to serve God. Before, it was only the priest who had the opportunity to serve God, now we are those who have the opportunity to serve the living God, because we have been purified by Jesus. Now, look at Hebrews 10, verses 11 and 12 (Hebrews 10:11-12). Here, he writes: “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices which can never take away sins.” In other words, those earthly priests, they did their sacrifices time and time again and it never permanently took away sins. Well, verse 12: “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” And so, here we see a complete contrast between an earthly priest who regularly, habitually, offered sacrifices, and Jesus, who once and for all offered a sacrifice and sat down in the holy of holies, in the presence of God - so that he could be a constant source of access for those of us who are believers in him. So we have constant access into the throne room of God. Christ is seated in God’s presence and he is always there, and so through Christ, we have access to God. We are free to serve the living God. Then comes a clear understanding of this ramification for Christians in verses 19 and 20 of Hebrews, chapter 10 (Hebrews 10:19-20): “So therefore brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, since we have confidence to enter the heavenly throne room, by the new and living way that he opened through the curtain, that is through his flesh, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, we are to draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” We are to draw near to God. In other words, there’s no more curtain that separates the holy of holies from a priest who could go in there one time a year. No, we are those who have constant access to God. There is no more curtain – it is through Jesus Christ that we have constant access to God, and so we are to draw near bringing our offerings, bringing our prayers, bringing our lives as service to him. And so we very much are a holy priesthood, with one great priest, that is Jesus. We have no more need for a mediator to God. Some people who don’t get this or who have a catholic background call me priest or father. I get that sometimes when people come to the church or stop by asking for something or they find out I’m a preacher and they’ll call me priest or father. And though I, and a lot of times they will ask me to pray for them, and although I love praying for and with people, my prayers are no more special than any of yours, right? I don’t have some special mediatorial power to get into God’s presence any more than you do. That’s because we are all priests serving under the great high priest, Jesus Christ. Now in our text, there is a rather jolting development in the concept of our priesthood – royal priests. We are said to be a ‘royal priest.’ I say jolting because if you know your Old Testament, you know that the divisions were rather stark between priest and royalty, weren’t they? Take King Uzziah as an example. He’s said to be a good king in the Old Testament. He reigned faithfully over Judah and according to 2 Chronicles 26:5, he sat under Zechariah’s ministry, was taught to seek after the Lord and faithfully did seek after God most of his life and God blessed him for that. He had great wealth, he had military success, he had great technological advancements – pretty neat to read about the towers that he built and the different contraptions that he built in Jerusalem. But then something strange happened. King Uzziah became prideful and thought he could do the role of a priest as well as king. And so he took incense into the temple and began to offer incense into God and the priest, eighty of them, confronted him, and he responded in anger and said, “Who are you to talk to me? I’m the king and now I’m going to be the priest as well.” And at that very moment, God immediately struck him with leprosy and he died in seclusion and great shame. And so you see, royalty and priestly functions did not mix – period – in the Bible. And yet, in Jesus, we get a glimpse of this mix, don’t we? Ever heard of the Melchizedek priesthood? Hebrews also talks about that and describes Jesus as the kingly priest, similarly to Melchizedek, who in Genesis was described as a king and priest, the only other person to be described as king and priest. And so Jesus not only as our perfect mediator, not only our perfect priest, but will reign forever as king as both the Millennial kingdom and the New Creation, or the eternal state. And so now the Christian in 1st Peter is described not only as a holy priest here, track with me, but as a royal priest as well. Just like Jesus. Well, how can this be? How can this be, well look at 2nd Timothy, chapter 2, and you get a glimpse of how this can be. 2 Timothy 2:11-12, he writes this: “This saying is trustworthy, if we have died with him, we will also live with him. If we endure, we will also reign with him.” And here, we’re encouraged and promised that we will also reign with Jesus Christ. We also see that in Revelation, chapter 20, verse 4 (Revelation 20:4), which says this: “Then I saw thrones and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who have been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the Word of God, and for those who had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received its mark in their foreheads or on their hands, they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” Believers, that describes all of us who endure, according to 2nd Timothy. We are those who get to reign with Jesus Christ forever – during his Millennial kingdom on earth as well as the New Creation and the eternal state. And so God will see fit to delegate some of his regal authority to come to people like you and I. It even says we are to judge the angels, according to 1 Corinthians 6:3. So we are to be ruling judges. So, this is a blessed truth indeed, isn’t it? If you have been saved by our great God, then you are a priest and you have access directly to God and you have the hope and promise of reigning with him one day as well. Now this is not a completely foreign concept to the Old Testament either. Exodus 19:5-6 speaks of this. Exodus 19:5-6 – you can listen as I read, or turn there – Exodus 19:5-6. Moses writes, “Now therefore,” speaking to the Jews, “If you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you will be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” This is really where Peter borrows the language that we have in our verses – a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. That’s why in the Septuagint, the word ‘kingdom’ is translated ‘royal’ and that’s why we have a royal priest. Israel was and is God’s chosen people, but because of their rejection, Gentiles have been now grafted in and receive God’s favor. Notice the conditional element in verse 5, right?: “Now therefore if you will indeed obey my voice, then you can be those who will reign with me forever.” So those promises that we read up in Revelation that we’ll get to reign with Jesus Christ forever, that we get to have perfect access into God – that was first given to the nation Israel if they believed in Jesus Christ. Well now it says that ‘if you obey my voice, you will get these blessings.’ Well, as we know the nation of Israel by in large have rejected Jesus Christ and have rejected obeying God as their savor and so now the church, those of us who believe in Jesus Christ, have been grafted in and receive these same blessings and Peter wants to make that crystal clear. You now are God’s royal people and you are a royal priesthood and God’s chosen people. That’s exactly the second promise in Exodus 19:6, “You shall be a holy nation,” and that’s where he gets that concept in verse 9 as well. C. You are God’s New Nation, People, and Race And so that’s really our third description of the benefits of the blessings of God’s transformation in our lives. You are God’s new nation, God’s new people, and God’s new race. Verse 9 says, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,” you see the connection to Exodus 19, I’m sure. So the church is now in a unique situation to be called God’s holy nation. Of course, we are not literally a nation - we come from all sorts of different nations - nor is there such a thing as a ‘Christian Nation.’ America, despite what we may think, is not a Christian nation. By in large, it is most evidently not now, but we are all citizens of the same kingdom, of the same nation; God’s eternal nation, God’s eternal kingdom, and we are citizens who will reign with Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20 says, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” So, the church then is a new nation, not with borders, not with elections, and a representative in the United Nations. No, we are citizens of God’s eternal kingdom. It is for that reason that we are foreigners in this land – sojourners in every country as Peter has already described Christians. So, not only are we a holy nation, but also we are a chosen race – a people for his own possession. This idea of a holy nation is that we are kingdom citizens. This idea of now race and people is that we are a family – that we’ve been adopted into God’s family, that we now are kinship with Jesus Christ, we’re now part of God’s family having been adopted as sons and daughters and co-heirs with Jesus. Just as the Jews had a rich heritage of men like Abraham who trusted God even when all reason has said to give up, we too are those who are to look to Abraham, to David, to the prophets, and to the men who trusted in God as our spiritual forefathers. Why? No, I’m not a Jew, but I’ve been adopted into God’s family, and as family now, God possesses me. A people, as it is described in this passage, for his own possession. He possesses you and as someone who possesses you, he will never let you go. You see the clear illustration; if you have a possession; it is something that you own. It’s something that is yours. Well, you are described as God’s. God possesses you. How precious is that? So, clearly there’s a sense in which the church is the new Israel of God. The church is God’s chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, all terms previously used only for Israel. But, this does not mean that the church replaces Israel. We got to understand that as well. God does indeed have a future plan for Israel. You see that evident in many prophecies yet to be fulfilled. We’re not going to look there, but Romans 9-11, Zechariah 12-14, Revelation – all clearly speak of very specific prophecies about Israel that are yet to be fulfilled. So there is a day when which Israel will accept Jesus as her Messiah, but until then, the church is front and center in God’s redemptive and adoptive work in the world today. So, Christian, rejoice that you are now part of God’s people, but it was not always the case, was it? We go back to this idea of ‘transformation living.’ And we look at verse 10: “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people.” - Yet another example of the mighty transformation in the life of every Christian. You see, every single one of us used to reject God. Every single one of us used to live for ourselves. Yet every single one of us used to identify more with our earthly citizenry, despising the notion of a heavenly citizenship, but then God called and all became different. Really we all fit that description before our conversion, both Jews and Gentiles. We’re not born a Christion – we are born sinners. That’s why I pray earnestly for the salvation of my kids. Just because they are born into a Christian home doesn’t mean that they are for sure going to be a believer. I pray that they too might become the people of God – that God too would do a mighty work of transformation in their hearts. This text relays some pretty stark evidences of god’s transforming power in the lives of every Christian. You see, we are now God’s people – adopted into his eternal family, citizens of a heavenly kingdom. It says too that we will reign with Jesus Christ as a royal priesthood – that we have access to God. It says that you have been chosen to receive God’s mercy in spite of yourself. We were those who were not deserving of that mercy. It’s very easy to silently praise God for all this in your heart, isn’t it? In fact, that should be a response and I pray that it is your response, but don’t forget the one response that we are called to have in these verses. What is it? That you may proclaim these truths – the middle of verse 9 – the only command: “That you may proclaim the excellences of him who called you out of darkness. So we are to be proclaiming these truths in praise. That’s easy to do, but we must proclaim the power of the transforming Gospel in evangelism. Central to both these types of proclamation is your personal testimony. We have to praise God for his works that he’s done in our own lives and give God the praise and the glory for that. Amongst believers, we need to thank God and rejoice that God has blessed us with making us his children, that he’s taken the shackles off of our lives so that we are free to do what is right, rather than just pursue what is sinful and selfish. We have to be rejoicing in that and we have to rejoice constantly for that, but we also ought to be those who proclaim that wonderful transformation that he has done in our lives to others. See, there is no such thing as a common testimony, is there? See, every Christian has experienced the Gospel’s power to transform. Every Christian, even those that grow up in pastor’s homes, desperately need to be born again, and every Christian is described in our passage today. We’ve all been given immense blessings in spite of ourselves. You know many of you have grown up in the church like myself, and I think its helpful to understand that we are those who are prone to be the worst sinners, to be hypocrites, to be the people that Jesus had the harshest words for. We are prone to know a lot about the truth, and yet still reject it by our lives. And so that God would take you, a religious person, and open your blind eyes and make you willing to see your own sin and make you love to see your own sin so that you can take it off and pursue Jesus Christ with your whole life – that’s an amazing work of transformation in your life. No one, and not everyone, needs to have this radical story of how God has changed you out of drugs and a life of debauchery. God has saved me out of a religious hypocrisy and I thank God for that. So, every single one of us has a wonderful testimony that God has done in your life and we need to be faithful to share that with others and to share God’s excellences and his mercies. And so, as you have the privilege to share the Gospel, share what God has done for you, and if you have a hard time remembering, you can start with the verses that we studied today. We have a great God that has transformed us, amen? Let’s pray: God, we thank you for what you have done in saving us and we pray that you would help us to be those that constantly remember these truths that you have made us into a royal priesthood, that we will get to reign with you forever, that we have complete access to lift up all of our requests and that we can serve you completely unhindered because of what Jesus has done for us. God, that is such a blessing. What a privilege it is to be in this right relationship to be called your people, a people of your own possession – that you hold us so close into your hands, and that you have chosen us in spite of ourselves. God, what a wonderful privilege – what a wonderful truth. I pray that these truths then would not then just be something that effects our private worship, but that we would publicly be overfilling with joy and gratitude and thankfulness for what you’ve done in our hearts, that we might be able to proclaim these same truths to others, that through knowing Jesus Christ as their Lord and their Savior and turning from their sin, turning from living for themselves, they too can know these wonderful glorious truths and that they too can be transformed by God’s mighty power. May you give us the strength, the boldness, and the conviction to keep on doing this in our lives. And we pray this in your son’s name. Amen.

Scripture References: 1 Peter 2:9-10

From Series: "1 Peter: Standing Firm in this Shaky Life"

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