Why not join us for 8pm prayer? We are encouraging everyone in their homes to pray at the same time each day....'And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.' Ephesians 6:18
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
The following is an adaptation of the sermon preached on Sunday 29th March 2020
1 Peter 2:9-10 New International Version (NIV)
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession,
that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
We are in unprecedented times as the coronavirus keeps us home or isolated, at work maybe or in a profession that means we must still engage. It is important as Christian people that we understand the identity we have in Christ; we are not defined by a building, walls our boundaries. The purpose of the sermon is to remind us of who we are in these difficult times.
The Gospel Coalition said
‘The church is the God-ordained local assembly of believers who have committed themselves to each other. They gather regularly, they teach the Word, celebrate communion and baptism, discipline their members, establish a biblical structure of leadership, they pray and they give tithes and offerings together. Certainly the church may do more, but it is not less than this’.
Let’s consider again the words of Peter in his first letter to the church.
The Gospel Coalition was correct in all it has said when it said ‘but it is not less than this’ - BUT PETER, SAID WE ARE MORE THAN THIS…
1. You are ‘A Chosen People’
The apostle Paul tells the early church in Ephesians 1:11-12 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
Paul expands on this theme in Romans 8 where he teaches the doctrine of Pre-destination.
2. You are ‘A Royal Priesthood’
So Paul underlines the words of Peter - That we are chosen to be worshippers of God himself. We are called into His Courts to be everything that is Praise and honour to Him. In fact Peter uses the words ‘ROYAL PRIESTHOOD’
What could he mean by this? does he mean a priesthood serving Royalty? Does he mean a priesthood made up of royalty?
To understand this fully is to understand something of ‘Source Criticism’. In a nutshell this is to return to the source of the inspiration of the scripture originally spoken by God through Moses to the Israelites in Exodus 19 when Moses tells the people
‘you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’
So here Peter is re-iterating to the Christian Jews the words spoken many times in the synagogues of their heritage - 'You are a kingdom of priests’
So we know, those of us who are not Jewish, that we are now included in this meaning as we were ‘Grafted in to the vine of the chosen Hebrew people’ according to Romans 11
So our label of Royalty is given to us as being a true part of the kingdom of believers; but what about the label as Priest?
Well we don’t have to search too hard….
A priest is an individual who is utterly devoted to God but more importantly - Has access to God
The Roman church would suggest that we are not a royal priesthood and that we need an intermediary that we might call ‘a priest’ But the truth of scripture means that our priesthood, in the context of its levitical application means ‘A servant of Lord’ and in its Christian context a ‘Priest who needs no intermediary who is not called Jesus Christ’!!!
3. You are ‘A Holy Nation’
Firstly this is a nation without borders! Neither Moses or Peter was referring to a physical boundary’d state. He was referring to the people themselves…….. YOU - Are a holy nation!!
What could he mean - I think the first thing we need to note is that we are being called the same thing as God…
He is a holy God - we are called a holy nation. So here we have a clue.
If God is holy and we are a holy nation then it stands to good reason that God sees us as Himself. Or, we could say in the current context of the church that God is looking for Himself in us.
It is something of being made in the image of God - TO BE A HOLY NATION.
4. Gods special possession
I don’t know about you but when I think of some of my special possessions in life, I sometimes think about some physical stuff - I love my guitars and my wristwatches; I’m a fan of a nice shirt and a suit when I can afford.
Then I might think about the stuff I have and own on the back of my achievements - a special possession of mine is the Hood I received when I graduated bible college
Some of my special possessions are memories of times so unique and wonderful that I treasure them - my wedding, the birth of my children, the planting of a church and seeing it thrive etc
But my really special possessions are the people in my life. My family, my true friends, those people who will stand by me when others will choose to walk away; those who love me unconditionally; those who speak up for me every time, regardless of the consequences of being a part of my family, or a friend.
This is how God sees you - His family, His friend
HE TREASURES YOU ABOVE EVERYTHING -
Look at the riches of the natural world around you; God considers you more special than this. He considers you so special that He chose to sacrifice the physical life of His Son on a cross.
Imagine what you would go through for your own children, deserving that they are. Then, imagine what God went through for His own children, undeserving that we are….
The special possession that you are was exemplified in the sacrifice of His own Son on your behalf. You are so special to Him that though He does not need you, He chose you. Though we are undeserving of His mercy, we received it fully, as His Son died, that we might live.
That makes us special possessions beyond our own imagination…..