God's People

Bible Book: 1 Peter  2 : 9
Subject: God, Belonging to; People, God's; Church; Faithfulness
Introduction

The new pastor had preached his fourth week at his new church and was speaking to some of the members following the morning worship service. A man stood in line leaving the church and when he got to the front of the line he said to the pastor, "That was the worst sermon I’ve ever heard." The new preacher was shocked but thanked the man and went on speaking to others. Then he noticed the hateful fellow had gotten back in line again. He thought to himself that it was all a practical joke and he assumed the man was coming back to tell him so. This time when the man came by he said, "The more I thought of the sermon you preached, I realized it was without a doubt the most awful sermon I have ever heard in my life." A third time the disgruntled man did the same thing. The preacher went to his chairman of deacons and asked if he knew the man and the deacon said that he did know the man and went on to tell the pastor not to worry about what the man said to him. In fact, the deacon said, "That man is a little crazy. He only repeats what he has been hearing all over town."

Sometimes when people describe us they have a biased opinion, but when God describes any Christian He is giving an accurate description of who you are. In our passage we see several characteristics that mark the people who belong to God. These characteristics can be seen as describing who we are in Christ, but they can also be seen as referring to who we are becoming or how we are to live for Christ.

I. We are a Chosen People

The description God gives to His children has to do with selection. God has chosen or selected us through His loving kindness and grace.

The word used to describe us as chosen is a word that means "selected." It is a word that might be used to describe one of us going out to shop for something and picking out exactly what we want to purchase. When we buy a steak in the supermarket, we might look for something special and choose one based on our preference. God selected you, then he made you what you were meant to be and stamped you "select" or "choice." Of course, God didn’t chose us because we are “select” or “choice” in terms of our own qualities. He chose us to make us “select” or “choice.” He is the one who makes us special by His grace and goodness.

Also note that Peter is speaking to you as a group of people and not just individuals. There are places where he speaks of our selection as individuals, for we certainly are chosen on a one-by-one basis; however, when we become a Christian, we become part of a body of chosen people who belong to God. In this instance in the scripture, God is speaking to His people as a body – as the Church with a capital “C”. This means that each of us is important and that no redeemed person is unimportant in God's sight. We have different ministries with differing results, but each is necessary and each is "select" in God's sight.

The subject of choosing those who will be saved is a really complicated subject and not one we are going to deal with today; however, you do need to know that you never would have sought out the Savior if He had not first sought you. The Bible states in 1 John 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” It is not we who sought God, but it is God who sought us and called us to His Son. We read again the words of Jesus in John 6:44, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Not one of us can brag that we found Jesus, for He is the One who found us.

A little boy went out to play and wandered too far into the woods near his home. When his mother called for him, he didn’t answer. She called the boy’s father and he came quickly to help find the boy. Soon several people were traipsing through the forest calling the boy’s name. It some hours later that the father came across the boy lying under a tree asleep. He reached down and gently woke the little lad. The boy rubbed his eyes, looked up at his father and said, “Oh, daddy, I found you!”

When it comes to our being part of the family of God, we did not find Him, He found us. There is a way that old-timers used to speak of salvation. They would say, “I found the Lord,” or “I found religion.” No, my friend, you didn’t find the Lord; He found you!

To be sure, God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son so that we might not perish but have everlasting life. He didn't just love a few of us, but gave His love to all. The problem is that some will never hear His call and, thus, they cannot be drawn to Christ. In Adam we all became sinners, and in Christ all who respond to Jesus become pure through the second Adam - Jesus. As the first Adam birthed a family into sin, the second Adam (Jesus) births all who respond to God's call into a redeemed family. What a wonderful God we serve, and we serve Him as part of the family of God - born again to eternal life! As Jesus said in John 14, heaven is the Father's House where He has prepared a place for all who are saved. What a day that will be when we gather as God's family in the presence of our Redeemer!

II. We are a Crowned and Anointed People

The next description given to us as God’s redeemed people is one with a double meaning and holds a very important truth for us to grasp. The Word of God speaks of us as a “royal priesthood.” J. Allen Blair, in his book on 1 Peter, points out that the king and priesthood were kept separate in the life of the people of God, but that in the use of the phrase "royal priesthood" God joined the two together. How is the joining of these two ideas to be understood and what is the meaning of it?

The royal side of our nature speaks of our responsibility to carry the message of the Lord to the people. We follow the true King and go forth in His name to defeat the evil one. In the Old Testament days the king, in his role as leader, directed the people as they went out to face an enemy.

The priest, on the other hand, had the role of acting in behalf of the people before the Lord. The priest worked at the Tabernacle or Temple and represented the people before the altar of the God. His role was one of an intercessor for the people. He went before the Lord with the sins or hurts of God's chosen people.

In a New Testament sense, we have a double role. We go forth to take the gospel to the world – to aid in the release of those who are held captive by the evil one. But, also, we act as priests bringing people to the Lord. He uses us in the role of taking the message of salvation to those who are held captive by the enemy. The bible speaks of sin as enslaving people and holding them captive. As God's representatives (ambassadors - 2 Corinthians 5) we go forth to proclaim God's Word and share that in Christ the captives can be free. As priests we stand before God serving, praying, worshipping and honoring Him. Thus, we serve the King in the world and we serve the Lord before His throne.

To act in a way that does not reflect the Lordship of Christ is to be a deserter in God’s army. If we fail to worship Him in holiness we desecrate the temple - which is our bodies - purchased with His blood at Calvary. To act in a way that never seeks to bring people to Jesus is to be slothful and lazy in God’s work. To neglect our worship and godliness before His throne is to make light of the blood of Christ. We are a chosen people, and we are kings and priests unto our Lord - let us live like it before the throne and before the world.

III. We are a Consecrated People

We are holy in the sense that God has set us apart to Himself. That is why we are called a people belonging to God, and as such we are to make sure that we live accordingly. We are going to say more about this next week, but just for now please know that you do not belong to yourself but to the God of heaven! You are not your own, you are bought with a price. In 1 Corinthians 6:19 we read, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” We are to be constantly aware of the price paid for our redemption and to live a life worthy of that which Jesus paid for our salvation.

Take a moment and recall Moses as described in the book of Hebrews.  In Hebrews 11:25 we are reminded that Moses chose to suffer with the people of God rather than experience the pleasure of sin for a season. In other words, he went against the temptation and natural course of life in order to obey God. This is the sign of truly being who we are to be in Christ. To do that which pleases God and not that which pleases oneself is the nature of a child of God who is totally consecrated. That is why Jesus said we are to take up a cross and follow Him daily! Carrying a cross is not easy or pleasant, but is painful and arduous! We are to take it up and follow Him "daily." Why? Because we love Him, yes, but also because we have been set apart for the purpose of obeying Him and making Him known to the world!

The people Peter was writing to were going through many trials and tribulations. They lived in a time when the Roman government sought to stamp out this new religion - Christianity. They were persecuted, hunted down, imprisoned and on occasion put to death. So, please understand that Peter is not writing to people regarding a cross to carry as being some flippant passing hardship. Some Christians in this day and time consider it a cross to bear if they must come to church on Sunday when its raining! Others consider it a cross if they must cut short their vacation by a couple of days in order to tithe the next week. That is laughable when you consider what the readers of Peter's letter were experiencing. No, they people who received this letter were being told to endure incredible hardships for Christ  -  to serve Him in a hostile and bitter world. They were to be kings and priests to God in a world that hated them. Consecration calls upon us to be holy and faithful under all circumstances. We are God's people and we are to act like and live like it through absolute consecration.

IV. We are a Celebrating People

We are to show forth the praises of Him who called us and saved us! The word "declare" comes from a Greek word that means to be an angelic, praising messenger! How can we praise God properly?

A. Through our Worship

We should make our worship a time of praise and rejoicing. Sometimes we do not feel like praising God because we come to the House of God with heavy hearts and troubled minds. Yet, the Bible says, "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise." I truly believe this is one way that Christians can reveal to the lost world the joy that God has placed inside our hearts. When we praise Him regardless of our situations in life, it tells the world that our love for Jeus is deeper than the level of our heath, our bank account or our employment position. Our gospel is not based on prosperity! We serve Him because He loved us and saved us from eternal judgment. We love Him because He never leaves us nor forsakes us. We love Him and praise because of who He is! We are filled with praise for Him and we do so joyfully regardless of our circumstances.

I was reading the other day a survey taken of baby-boomers and those that followed after them. They differ greatly on many things related to the church and to the work of God, but they argeed on one thing when asked to describe the one thing they felt was most important in their church and in the life of a believer. The number one choice among a majority of those people who responded was praise and worship! Yes! That is something we must learn to do well!

Worship puts the enemy on the run. Worship scatters the forces of hell. The Lord inhabits the praises of His people. So, let those of us who know Him make this place one of celebrative worship from week to week!

B. Through our Witness

Our witness is not one of condemning others or acting superior to them, but it is a witness to God’s goodness, greatness and grace. A true witness for Jesus tells of His love for us and our love for Him. It speaks of our gratitude for His saving mercy! We do not witness as those who are arrogant but as those who have been delivered from our sins though the blood of Jesus Christ. We are to witness of His resurrection and His presence with us, now and in eternity. In essence, our witness for Christ is not one condemning the sinner but one conveying the Savior.

C. Through our Walk

Our daily life must reflect the praise and joy we have in Christ. The greatest Christians I have ever known were not those who had everything the world holds dear or every blessing that so many people seek in this life. Indeed, some I remember best were those who suffered the most. What I remember is how they smiled through it all. I remember a lady with polio who radiantly reflected Christ in her wheelchair daily. I remember a lady whose daughters had gone astray and broke her heart, but she kept the light of Jesus in her face and her smile spoke of her love for Him. I recall a man who had lost a fortune in income through wicked living, who had a heart attack and could not work, but had come to know the Lord. He kept a bright spirit, often went with me to visit lost people and declared daily the praises of His Lord. I remember a young lady who had a car accident and was paralyzed, but she went forth from that accident to testify of the goodness of God in spite of her physical problems and led many people to faith in Christ.

Oh Christian, look at who we are! We are chosen! We are crowned and anointed! We are consecrated and set apart! We are to be celebrators of the goodness of our Lord!

Conclusion

Let us renew our devotion to God this very day. Remembering how He chose us when we were so unworthy, and placed us in His family, ought to prompt us to greater service, to joyful worship and to faithful witnessing. Let us live up to our nature and show by our character the inner reality of who we are and whose we are! With apologies to the hymn writer, I share a paraphrase of his hymn in closing:

"Rise up, Oh people of God,

Be done with lesser things,

Give heart, and soul, and mind and strength,

To serve the King of Kings!" (original lyrics by William P. Merrill, 1911)