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You are God's People (1 Peter 2:9-10)

May 17, 2015 Preacher: Miguel Davilla Series: 1 Peter: Strangers and Aliens

Topic: Corporate Worship Passage: 1 Peter 2:9–2:10

We are making our way through 1 Peter and this morning we come to one of the most beautiful passages in all the bible. And the reason is is so beautiful is because it is speaking about the church. In times of suffering, it’s important not just to remember our individual identity but also our corporate identity as well.

We have a danger today of what is known as individualism. We have the temptation of making Christianity into only a kind of individual, personal relationship between us and God. And it is that. But we must remember that Christianity is personal, it is never private. The bible will never make any sense to you if you look at Christianity that way.

If you are a Christian, you have been brought into relationship, not just with God, but with others as well. Christianity is a collective faith. A faith that requires relationships. Which is why the bible uses words like body, members, temple, and family, to remind us that our Christian life is designed a group project. The Christian life was never meant to be lived alone. And God has given us a means to live that out with one another - that is through the local church.

If I were to ask you the question “What is the church?”, what would you answer? Some people might say that church is a building. Others might not say but think that the church is like a:

  1. Restaurant - where you go eat good food and leave.
  2. Theater - where you watch a production for entertainment.
  3. Social Event - where you go to find people just like you.

Well, the church is none of those things. The church is not like a restaurant you frequent, or an event you attend. That is not what this is. So what is the church? The church is a people you belong to. If you are a Christian here this morning, you are connected with other Christians in this room in ways you can't even imagine.

When I first became a Christian, I immediately learned a lot about certain biblical truths and theological positions. But one of the things that I didn't understand until much later in my Christian life was the role of the church. I didn't have a great understanding of its significance or more importantly its beauty. See, a Christian can make the gospel audible, but the church makes the gospel visible. And until I understood what that church is, I could never understand how I was called to live.

We cannot understand what the church is called to do, until we first understand that the church is called to be. So In our text this morning, Peter is going to give clarity to what the Church is and I pray will increase our love for it.

OUTLINE

So, this morning, I want us to take a look at the three things Peter tells us about the church. The church is a community of people that have been:

  1. Given a Corporate Identity
  2. Assigned a Common Mission
  3. Shown Undeserved Mercy

POINT #1 - GIVEN A CORPORATE IDENTITY

Peter gives us 4 descriptions of what the church is.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9, ESV)

Now, where does Peter get these words from? These are all descriptions that were used in the OT to describe Israel. When God brought Israel out of Egypt, he brings them to Mt. Sinai, and says these things to them.

“I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God ...” (Exodus 6:7, ESV)

and also:

“... you shall 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.”” (Exodus 19:5–6, ESV)

And what is amazing is that Peter is now saying that the church has inherited these promises and is realizing these promises today. He says that the corporate identity of the church is 4 things:

  1. A Chosen Race
  2. A Royal Priesthood
  3. A Holy Nation
  4. A People for God’s Own Possession

Let’s look at each one of these briefly:

A Chosen Race

Peter says that the church is a chosen race. There is nothing more fundamental to identity than race. Which is why Peter begins here. We have been given a new corporate identity because we are now collectively part of a chosen race. How can Peter say this?

It makes sense that God was tell the people of Israel that they were a chosen race, because they were all related by common blood. They were of the same bloodline. They were are all Jews. But Peter is now talking to people of many different races. How can he call them a chosen race? They are not related by common blood. Are they? Of course they are. Not their blood. They are related by the blood of their common savior.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” (Ephesians 1:7, ESV)

Peter is saying that the church is the display of that new race - people that have bought with the blood of Christ. What makes you a member of this race - is not your bloodline - not your family - not your background - but God’s grace. Far more important than the blood in your veins is the blood that was shed. And as Christians, we are identified corporately by that blood.

Now to some, that would sound very elitist. What does it mean you are a chosen race? But if you really understand what God is saying here - its the exact opposite of elitism. Now notice what it doesn't say - it doesn't say you are a choice people. It says you are a chosen people. A choice people means that you would be the best of the best. But a chosen people makes the basis by which each of us are saved the same - by grace alone.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9, ESV)

God says to chosen Israel:

“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you...” (Deuteronomy 7:7–8, ESV)

Why are you chosen? Because He loves you. God says “I loved you because I loved you.”

We are now a chosen race which means that we no longer relate to God on the basis of our blood but on the basis of Christ’s blood. Which also means we no longer relate to one another on the basis of their blood but on the basis of Christ’s blood as well. It allows each of us now to relate to one another with the same grace that we have been shown in Christ. And we are now called to relate to others with this same grace as well. We relate to each other based on upon the love that has been shown towards them and towards us. Which is why don't relate to each other solely based upon our preferences.

The answer is the same for everyone. How did you get in? Grace. It levels the playing field.

Why are you a Christian? Not because one of us made a right decision and others didn't. Not because one of was brought up in a Christian home and others werent. Not because we didn't mess up your lives as much as others did. If you are a Christian, you are a chosen people simply because of God’s grace.

A Royal Priesthood

Peter says that the church is a royal priesthood. All Christians according to the bible are priests. Now, what is a priest? To be a priest means you have access to God. Isnt that amazing? Before, only a priest could have access to God. But now, because of what Jesus has accomplished by tearing the veil that separated us from God, we all can now have access to Him through Christ.

We no longer need a priest to represent us before God - because Jesus who is our true high priest - has granted access by his blood. We have access to the King. Which is why Peter says we are a ROYAL priesthood. It means that every Christian has access to the throne of God. He gives us open access to himself. We can now approach God anytime. Anywhere. This should give us confidence in prayer. It means that God always listens to the prayers of his children.

It also speaks to our service to one another. What else did priests do? A priest prays for others. A priest serves as an advocate. And just as Jesus is our great high priest - and he intercedes for us - we are to intercede for one another. Which is why we give you a membership directory. We should be interceding and praying for one another.

Priests also made sacrifices on behalf of others. So we are called to a life of sacrifice as well. A life where we give our gifts, our possessions, ourselves in service to God and one another. I think this is what Paul means when he says in Romans 12:1:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1, ESV)

It means that our lives are now a life of sacrifice. Christians are called to live sacrificially for the sake of God and others. Which is why God has given us various gifts:

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:” (1 Peter 4:10, ESV)

Every Christian is called to the ministry. Each of us have been given gifts to use in the ministry of this role.

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10, ESV)

A Holy Nation

Peter says that the church is a holy nation. The literal translation would be a holy ethnic or holy tribe. What is a ethnic group? A people with a common culture. When Peter says that the church is a holy nation - it says we are a completely new culture. We have moved to a whole new nation. We are citizens of heaven. Things are going to have to change. The way we think about everything has to change.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, ESV)

When you become a Christian, everything changes. Everything in your life is now is affected. Our lives are to reflect the nature and character of God. Our values have changed. Our language has changed. Our lifestyles have changed. Its a whole different way of seeing the world. We have an entirely new worldview. Which is why we constantly have to be conforming our values and language of the Word of God. We are to have a distinct flavor from the world. We are now a people with a common culture. Christianity is not an add on to our life. It is now our life.

A People for God’s Own Possession

Peter says that the church is a people for God’s own possession.Now there is no good translation for this. It means that the church is God’s special possession.

How do you regard your greatest possessions? Why are they so special to you? It’s because of the value that they mean to you. You can always judge a possession based upon the value that it possesses. The higher the value - the greater the possession. So what does that say about the people of God? The value of a possession is based upon the cost of what was necessary to purchase it. And if there is no greater value than the blood of Christ.

“...You are not your own, for you were bought with a price...” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, ESV)

And the church was purchased by that infinite value. What does the church mean to God? God loves the church. God loves this church. God loves you. That is how God regards you. God is jealous for you. Your His.

“(for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),” (Exodus 34:14, ESV)

This is how we should treat one another - protect the possession.We feel this responsibility as elders of this church. We have been charged to:

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”
(Acts 20:28, ESV)

When we gather together as a church family, when we interact with each other during the week, we are building relationships with people that are very special to God. People whom God chose to be His people. We need to be very careful with them. Which is why, no one in this church is to be overlooked, looked down upon, neglected, or abandoned, because they are God’s own possession, and very dear to Him.

This is what the church is.

  • It is a chosen people.
  • It is a sacrificial people.
  • It is a holy people.
  • It is a purchased people.

And out of this corporate identity forms our common mission.

POINT #2 - ASSIGNED A COMMON MISSION

Until we first understand our corporate identity - we will never understand our common mission. The mission of the church must flow out of the corporate identity of the church.

Having been made:

  • A Chosen Race
  • A Royal Priesthood
  • A Holy Nation
  • A People for God’s Own Possession

all by the finished work of Christ, we are now called to proclaim Him and His work to all the world. Let’s look at verse 9 again:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9, ESV)

This is best course in evangelism you can ever get.

  • What are to do? - Proclaim - to make widely known, to verbally declare.
  • Who are we to proclaim? - Him (Christ)
  • What are we to proclaim? - His excellencies
  • Where do we start? - By telling others how he called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.

If you are a Christian here this morning, you have been called out of darkness into his marvelous light. You have been saved so that you would declare to the world how beautiful Christ is. That is your mission. You dont need to know a lot to share this good news with others. You just need to say along with the blind man in John 9:25:

“... One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”” (John 9:25, ESV)

Now I know that the topic of evangelism can make people nervous. It can be an intimidating thing to tell others that they are in darkness and need Christ to bring them into the light. But one of the things that will liberate you from that fear is the fact that God never holds us responsible for the results of that proclamation. That’s God’s job. He only hold us responsible for the obedience of the proclamation.

As Mark Dever says, “When you understand that evangelism isn’t converting people, but that it is telling them the wonderful truth about God, the great news about Jesus Christ, then obedience to the call to evangelize can become certain and joyful. Understanding this increases evangelism, as it moves away from being a guilt-driven burden to being a joyful privilege.”

Our job isnt to convert people. Our job is to simply proclaim what God has done for us in Christ and tell others how they can get in on that. Where is the motivation going to come to proclaim Christ like that? Peter is going to remind us. We have to be reminded that we have been shown undeserved mercy.

POINT #3 - SHOWN UNDESERVED MERCY

“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:10, ESV)

Peter tells us that the church is a group of people that are now God’s people. And this group of people were once not shown mercy, but now have been shown mercy. Once we were not considered God’s people, but now, because of the grace of God given to us through Christ, we are now His people.

“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” (Galatians 3:26, ESV)

What better family to belong to than the family of God? A family made of people that once were once under the judgement of God, but now, because of God’s love for us, we have received mercy. The church is God’s people that have been shown mercy by the finished work of Christ.

But there is something deeper Peter is communicating here. Peter is actually quoting a verse from the OT here. Do you know where? It’s in the book of Hosea.

In the book of Hosea, God comes to Hosea who was a prophet and says to marry a woman. Her name is Gomer. And God tells Hosea to marry her even though Gomer will be unfaithful to him. So Hosea does. And Gomer ends up being unfaithful to Hosea, just like God said. And she has children that are not his. And God tells Hosea to name two of the children:

  1. No Mercy
  2. Not My People

By doing this, God was communicating to the world that because of our unfaithfulness, he will show us no mercy and we are not his people. Gomer’s unfaithfulness to Hosea, points to our unfaithfulness to God. But the story doesn't end there. Gomer ends up leaving Hosea and goes to live with other men. And eventually she ends up being sold into slavery. And God comes to Hosea again and says, “Go and love her again.” And Hosea goes and purchases his wife from slavery.

What is Peter communicating here by quoting this verse? He wants us to see that just as Hosea purchased his adulterous wife from slavery, Christ purchased us, and adulterous people, from the slavery of sin as well. Which is why he quotes Hosea 2:23:

“... And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’ ”” (Hosea 2:23, ESV)

Peter is saying that this promise has now been fulfilled in the church. That once we were a people shown no mercy. Once were we were not God’s people. But now, we have been shown mercy, and now we are God’s people. The church is God’s people who have been shown mercy by being purchased with the precious blood of Christ. Does that show you how excellent Christ is? Isnt that worthy of proclaiming?

There is no greater mission you can devote your life to than to proclaim the excellences of Christ who purchased you with his own blood and brought us out of darkness into his marvelous light.

CONCLUSION

Do you see what the church is? Do you see how beautiful she is? She is the bride of Christ. Purchased to proclaim the excellencies of Christ. A saved people of God’s own possession. We are a people that have now been given a corporate identity, assigned a common mission, and shown undeserved mercy. There is no greater privilege than to be part of the church.

I'll close with this quote by Charles Spurgeon on the church. He called the Church the dearest place on earth.

“Give yourself to the Church. You that are members of the Church have not found it perfect and I hope that you feel almost glad that you have not. If I had never joined a Church till I had found one that was perfect, I would never have joined one at all! And the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect Church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us…

As I have already said, the Church is faulty, but that is no excuse for your not joining it, if you are the Lord’s. Nor need your own faults keep you back, for the Church is not an institution for perfect people, but a sanctuary for sinners saved by Grace, who, though they are saved, are still sinners and need all the help they can derive from the sympathy and guidance of their fellow Believers. The Church is the nursery for God’s weak children where they are nourished and grow strong. It is the fold for Christ’s sheep—the home for Christ’s family.”

Let’s Pray.

BENEDICTION

“For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:18–22, ESV)

 

More in 1 Peter: Strangers and Aliens

August 9, 2015

The God of all Grace (1 Peter 5:5-14)

August 2, 2015

Shepherd the Flock (1 Peter 5:1-4)

July 26, 2015

Sharing in His Suffering (1 Peter 4:12-19)