Intro: how would you describe your relationship with God, or who you are in Christ. A child of God. image of God. Loved of God. What would you say if I told you you are a priest.?
But I am an ordinary person. I like to watch football, I grill meat. I have an ordinary job in an office space. I don’t work in a church and don’t sit in a confessional. I carry an iphone and not a thurible. I don't get rituals or ceremonies and prefer straight forward events. I wear blue jeans or khakis and never ever wear a robe. I do pray but I'm not that good at it, and I get uncomfortable being in front of a lot of people. I like going to the lake, tubing, and trying to see how hard I can bounce my friends in the tube. I like talk about the weather, I share what's really going on in life. I’m an ordinary Joe. Last I checked I'm not ordained and those who know me would laugh at the thought of me being a priest.
Last week we talked about how we are to glorify God in all of life. This week we are talking about how everyone is a priest. Regardless of what you may feel or think, if you are in Christ you are a royal priesthood. You have a holy title and a holy calling. And you need to live up to this calling.
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation-- 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone," 8 and "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 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. 10 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 2:1-10 ESV)
In this section of sacred Scripture Peter states that the people of this church are a holy priesthood. There are two aspects to this calling that I want to look at: their identity and their work.
● Your Identity
Your identity is who you are. It’s the qualities, beliefs, and state that defines who you are. Peter tells these people what their status is in Christ.
Peter wrote this letter to Christians who were suffering in the world. 1.6 says they have been grieved by various trials in the word: false accusations of evil doing(2:12), loss of property. He says don’t let the hardships define you. Being in Christ should define you, and when Christ defines you there is a litany of blessings that come with that. Their new identity means they are:
Chosen Race; a chosen people: God is doing something special with this group of people. Not because of their brilliance or pedigree, but because of grace. God chooses the foolish things in the world to display his greatness. That’s who you are in Christ.
History is full of people who wanted to exalt their race. Nazi Germany and their Uberman, or super human, a chosen elite made race. But it’s gone today. Our own country is scarred by racial divisions and oppression of others. This is the human way. But superficial differences of skin color matter not to God. He created the different people, and his chosen people cuts through all the tribes and races of men, it goes right through dividing them. What men strive for in their own oppressive effort God does through grace. If you have ever wanted to be a part of something truly special here is it, it is God with his people. And you are brought into this race not by your effort but by his gracious choosing. And his chosen people are not marked by arrogance and superiority but of compassion, sympathy and humility.
A holy nation: They are a nation, a people united together with a common Lord, a common law, a common purpose, a common Spirit, a common mission. This new nation is not based on race, geography or ethnicity, but on allegiance to king Jesus. This is your people! Exod 19:6. They are brought out of darkness and out of dark ways. They can put the old ways of malice, deceit, and hypocrisy behind them. Holy purpose.
A people for his own possession, (1Pe 2:9 ESV). We are his possession. In Scripture you see his people are his treasured possession. What is your favorite possession? How do you look on that. With what fondness and delight. Do you know that is how God looks on you, as Father looks on his children.
A popular song right now that we have sung at church is the song, What Beautiful Name. It has a line that says,
You didn't want heaven without us
So Jesus, You brought heaven down
My sin was great, Your love was greater
What could separate us now
“ You didn’t want heaven without us.” That’s a provoking line. I love that song and wrestled with that one line too. Scripture teaches God is not dependent on us and does not need us. If you say he needed us then he is not truly God, he is a dependent creature. That song doesn’t say that. It says he didn’t want heaven without us. This helps us see the love God has for people. He created people out of the overflow of his love. People are the apex of creation in Gen 1, people are his treasured possession (Zech 2:8, Deut 7:6), it was out of love that he sent his Son into the world. He had heaven without us and was just fine in heaven without us, but for some reason he chose to create and redeem, and so it seems that he did prefer heaven with people than without.
It is mind boggling. But it is what the Bible says. I have a hard time thinking about it for myself. I love telling my kids this is who you are! I need to let it seep in.
A Royal Priesthood. By virtue of trusting in Christ you are a priesthood. As if that is not enough it says a Royal priesthood. Fit for a king. The royal palace. It’s a place the king would stay. It’s not the motel 8. Fine furnishings. Not the cheap one that cleaning just means spraying high quantities of cheap air freshener. He is a making you fit for the king. A priest fit for the king.
Priesthood. Priests were charged with being in God’s presence, teaching God’s word, making sacrifices, sharing the things of God with the people.
Priest had to go through extensive rituals in order to be set apart for their work. They were washed and groomed, adorned with priestly garments, and offered sacrifices to atone for their sin.
Those elaborate rituals and safeguards showed the need for cleansing and atonement, but only God could provide the true and spiritual sacrifice. It involves a cleansing of the heart. You may not feel qualified.
Christ makes us priest! Christ gives us access to God. Christ atones for our sin (Heb 10:19-25). Christ makes us clean. Christ anoints us with his holy Spirit. Christ gives us his word to share with others. Christ brings us out of darkness being without hope and gives us the light of his promise that we can live by. We are made priest by faith in Christ. We are made priest by knowing this great high priest. Christ makes us fit as priests. This is who you are in Christ!
This new identity is profound. Fish, grows according to size of container he is in. We do the same. It’s impossible to fully recognize the size of God’s love for us. When we see that we grow in showing that love to others. When we trust in Christ he gives us a new identity: we are a chosen people, a select people; we are a holy nation, a royal priesthood. It’s a deep and profound change of who we are.
That’s who we are but also in process, “ being built into” (2:5). Note it is a present action. It is in process. All that you go through is that you might become who Christ wants you to be. Holy, chose, royal.
Everyone. Priest of all believers, means if you are in Christ you are a priest! It’s not just those in full time ministry. It is part of your identity too!
That’s who you are. So what is the task of our priesthood. Are we going to offer a new class on burning incense. May go all Old Testament and start sacrificing some animals?
● Your Work
Priests do priestly work. It is not just a spiritual privilege but a moral responsibility. The prince has an obligation. Think about when people don’t do their job. Your teacher doesn’t teach and you don’t learn. Trash man doesn’t come on your street and it gets bad.
Notice that in both verse 5 and verse 9 conclude with purpose clauses. ... “ to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1Pe 2:5 ESV). ... “ that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1Pe 2:9 ESV)
After describing who you are in Christ, Peter shows that identity gives purpose. You are to do something. In this case, we are to offer spiritual sacrifices. We are to proclaim the excellencies of him and offer spiritual sacrifices.
Declare Excellencies: the perfections of who God is.
The parallelism between the offering sacrifices and praising God shows us what peter has in mind. The fruit of lips that confess his name (Heb 13:15). The sacrifices in the OT were ceremonies of worship, glorifying God, symbolizing the atonement for sin and the giving to God the life and devotion of the worshipper. We present ourselves to God as spiritual sacrifices. Peter here quotes Isaiah 43:21 “ the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” This people is to tell others the praiseworthy deeds of God. It also invokes the language of the Psalms and in the Psalms there were two ways used of declaring
We proclaim God’s glory in who he is. He is all good, all powerful, all knowing. He is good, merciful, and loving. He created everything in the world. They sing of his wisdom and knowledge.
We proclaim the glories of his acts. He saves his people. Throughout history he has been there to guide his people. To redeem them when they were oppressed. He acts to save them, to be their shade in the day and their help at night.
You cannot do this if you are silent. Your priesthood is contingent on speaking. Say something during worship! Tell people where you have found grace. Even minimal speaking can be encouraging. A private faith is a dead faith.
Proclaim what you know of God in his word: God reveals himself primarily in his word. Can you share that with others? Can you share where is word gives you hope? Where it talks about who God is? Where it tells you how to be a better husband? Where it tells you about Jesus love that is to fuel how you love others? God leads us by his word. The anger of man does not bring about the righteousness of God (Jas 1:20).
Proclaim what you know of God in experience: you knowing of God should lead to you living a life of faith. Can you testify to stepping out in faith and God providing? Can you testify to falling on your face and getting up again. Can you testify to know the love of Christ and it changing you. Can you declare his praises? Knowing God starts in his Word, but it has to flow to experiencing him to. You have to know what God has done in the past and the promises he made there. Those promises are for eternity. But your faith can’t be just built on the past. It is a living faith. An active faith. A faith that is constantly saying God not my way but your way. God I surrender. God I m going to go hard after what you call me to. If you have not done this. If you do not know such a faith then you need to abandon a hollow priesthood. A priesthood that has no substance in it. A fatherhood with no substance
Brought from darkness to light so that we might show others God’s praises. Peter had experienced God’s deliverance from dungeon darkness when the Lord sent his angel to deliver him, he had been saved from storms on the sea by the Lord, yet what he wrote of is salvation in Christ.
A priest is an intermediary. He mediates between people and God. He stands in the ordinary world, with one foot in the finite, material, world with finite ordinary people who toil, fret, fight over lifeless inanimate objects; where people lose jobs, get sick, and never realize the dreams they have for themselves. This is the world he lives in and yet he peers into another world of the infinite and eternal, of never ending glory of an all powerful all loving being whose blinding glory could incinerate him, but instead that intense energy is focused on blessing him. He hears and sees the glory and hope to come and shares it with those around him. Like a man standing in the darkness but watching the sun rise in the distance. Though he stands with shadows all around him he sees something else on the horizons. That is us in our priestly call. We are in the world as ordinary people, but have a glimpse, a revelation of something greater, and we share that with others. We seek opportunities to share it with others.
Martin Luther “Every Christian is someone else’s priest, and we are all priests to one another.” We are priests as he is priest, sons as he is son, kings as he is king. You represent God to someone else. You have a message to share with them.
A community of intercessors, a priesthood of fellow helpers, a family of mutual sharers and burden bearers. Those who are your neighbor, thirsty, hungry, poor, lonely, confused, the lost. Direct your help toward them, begin your work here.
Go to those who need help. NO EEO. NOt just a people chosen to enjoy the presence of the other. If you are called to christ you are sent to others.
We have opportunities all around us to serve and help others. We need to take advantage of those opportunities.
Look for Entry Gates
Door are profound. They allow you access. You have the biggest, strongest, most impenetrable house, and yet if the door is left open a thief can walk right in. You have entry gates into people’s lives every day. Do you know they are there. Counselor Paul Tripp mentions a few entry gates that a priest can come alongside someone. Look for:
These are indications people need help seeing the light in the midst of darkness.
We need to take advantage of these gateways. If you are ever unsure what to say. Ask another question, a Why question. Why do you say that? It leads you to know the person and their situations. When you know what is going on you can better share with them. Share your experience of how God has provided and helped you. Share your knowledge of what he has done for you that grounds you. Tell of his wonders. Tell of his love.
If you are a Christian then you have a priestly duty. A responsibility to tell others about who God is and what he has done. You live an ordinary life and are looking for gateways to take the ordinary to the eternal. When a child is crying you can give him words of life. When a coworker is anxious those are opportunity to declare God’s greatness. When a teammate is dejected and angry you encourage them with biblical truth. Moments of ministry are all around us. We need to see them and take advantage of them. We are ordinary people in an ordinary world, trying to bring eternal realities into our hearts and minds.