God is with you - Part 12
1 Peter 2v8b-10
2nd June 2017
The passage we studied last time finished with these words:
1 Peter 2v7b-8a
The rest of verse 8 says this:
1 Peter 1v8b
Can I ask you to think about this? We believe that God chose the church before the beginning of time to be grafted into His holy people. Calvinism also teaches some people were chosen not to be grafted in - the doctrine of so-called "double predestination" - some are predestined to be saved and others are predestined to be lost. And this verse proves that idea is Biblical - some people are destined not to believe. We talked last time about the unadulterated milk of the word, and here it is.
I don't believe I could have got myself saved if God had not intervened. I would never have understood the Gospel, let alone accepted it, without the help of the Holy Spirit, revealing the truth to me and giving me faith to believe it.
But some are chosen to be saved. Peter writes to Christians:
1 Peter 1v9
This is another part of the true self-image of every Christian. It's not just what you can aspire to be, or what you might become; it's who you are now.
Again, Peter is using Old Testament language to talk about the New Testament people of God, because he wants us to understand that we are just as much God's people as they were. Deuteronomy 7:6 says, "For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession." Deuteronomy 14:2 says, "for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession."
One thing the ancient Israelites knew was that they are a chosen people. And Peter, writing to Gentile Christians, says "You are a chosen people. You, too, are God's people".
The rest of this verse is a close translation of Exodus 19v5-6, where God said, just before He gave them the Law at Mt Sinai, "Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation..."
Peter has lifted those words out of Exodus and applied them to you, if you're a Christian. The Israelites are God's chosen people, and Christians are God's chosen people. Please accept this clear Biblical truth: you are God's chosen people, you are His royal priesthood, you are His holy nation. Feel the honour. Feel the privilege. Feel the responsibility.
And Peter tells us why God has done this. He tells us that we Christians are God's chosen people, so that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Some of us were brought up in a Christian environment, and came to faith so young, or so gradually, that we hardly noticed the day we passed from death to life. But I was brought up atheist, and didn't have a clue about whether there was a God at all, so I understand what Peter's talking about when he says we've been called out of darkness.
Somehow God revealed the truth to me. Now I know Jesus is Lord. I know he died to pay for my sins. I know He rose from the dead. I know I will live for ever with Him. I know these things by the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to me. I could never have worked all this out with a large sheet of paper from first principles.
I know all this because I tried to work it out for myself for months, and totally failed, until one day Jesus revealed Himself to me. I know he called me out of darkness, into his wonderful light.
It's wonderful, isn't it, that people like us, ordinary folk, should know Jesus? He saw all my sin and all my stupidity, and He thought "I'll have him anyway. I'll reveal myself to him anyway." Why did He choose me? I don't know. But I'm so glad he did!
We've been grafted into His holy people and we always will be His holy people, and our role is to declare His praises, not merely coming to church on Sunday mornings and singing, glorious and important though that is. Singing songs about God to Him and to one another is good but it's not enough. Your role and mine is to declare His praises to the world, and not always with words.
Our role is to live such holy lives that everything we say and do declares God's praises, so that sometimes we'll have an opportunity to explain who He really is to someone who hasn't met Him yet.
God called me out of darkness and into His wonderful light - and He used Christians to do it. If Christians hadn't told me the truth about Jesus, I wouldn't have known. And if we don't tell others about Jesus they probably won't find out.
We are to declare God's praises to Him. We're to declare His praises to each other. And we're to declare His praises to our neighbour, the person on the bus, the person at work.
Sometimes this can result in our receiving verbal or even physical abuse. For some of us, it involves being arrested by the police and fined.
But we are more than conquerors. The persecution will not stop us. We're called to tell others about Jesus, one way or another, any way we can. Paul once said, "I have become all things to all men so that by all means I might save some" (1 Corinthians 9v22b). Whatever it takes to get someone saved seems a good plan to me.
1 Peter 1v10
Once we didn't know each other. Once we believed all sorts of things. But now we're God's people, brothers and sisters, fellow citizens of heaven with people from Australia and Japan and Papua New Guinea and every other country under heaven. We're now one people, the church, whom God has grafted into Israel.
Once I was a rather lonely, solitary sort of person, but now I have brothers and sisters all over the world. Once I didn't know what to think, but now I have the Bible. Once I didn't have a future, now I have an eternity.
Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God and we all have an equal right to be included in God's people, because we were all redeemed with the same price.
Once you had not received mercy. Can you remember what that was like? Some of us can't but many of us can. For some of us it was truly wretched, knowing we were lost, knowing we really had no idea how the universe worked, or what our purpose was, or what the future held.
But now you have received mercy.
Let's give reverence to God.