But You Are...! (1 Pet. 2:9) Part 5 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 29 September 2017

We are God’s, not simply by virtue of His creation but also by virtue of His redemption. We are marked not merely by the fingerprint of the Creator but by the blood flowing from the nail-pierced hands of the Redeemer. Of us God says, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” (Isa. 49:15-16). He cares for us as the very apple of His eye (Deut. 32:10). If God so cares for us, what should we fear?

 

 

As much as God loves and cares for us, let’s not ever forget that we are His. Though He deeply loves us, He does not exist for us; we exist for Him. He is our Maker, our Master, our Owner. It was He, who made us for His glory and pleasure. If we think of ourselves as God’s special possession, His holy nation, His royal priesthood, His chosen race, it will bring about the most radical change in our life and much needed clarity and focus into our life. At the end of the day, our success will be measured, not by how much we make of ourselves but how much we make of God—like a telescope that is there to magnify the heavenly bodies.

But You Are...! (1 Pet. 2:9) Part 4 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 27 September 2017

But now, all Christians, even the least of them, are part of “a royal priesthood.” Even at Peter’s time, many Christians were Gentiles according to the flesh. As such, they were not allowed to come into the temple proper: they could come only as far as the Court of the Gentiles. Now, in Jesus Christ, Gentile Christians have what an ordinary Jew could never hope to be—not even all the kings of Israel, including David! How can this come about?

You see, Israel was a holy nation in the sense that it was set apart from the world to God through the Sinaic Covenant. But it never became a holy nation in the sense that it was a kingdom of priests. It could never be as long as it remained under the Sinaic Covenant. For it was the Sinaic Covenant, which set the priests aside as a separate class. Unless one was born into the line of Aaron, he could never be a priest. In order for Israel to be a kingdom of priests, it had to be under a new, different covenant—the kind of covenant which made all of God’s people priests!

This is precisely what Jesus has done through the new covenant. Because Jesus offered Himself as the once-for-all sacrifice for all our sins, the animal sacrifices became unnecessary. This rendered the temple and the priestly office unnecessary as well. This new situation called for a radically different kind of worship and reorganization of God’s people—a worship without animal sacrifices, without the priests to offer up the sacrifices, and without the temple where the sacrifices were made.

But You Are...! (1 Pet. 2:9) Part 3 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 27 September 2017

You are a royal priesthood and a holy nation.” I’m combining these two because they are closely related. Peter seems to have taken these two titles and the next one (“a people of his own possession”) from Ex. 19:5-6: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, 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…" This is what God said as a promise before He entered into covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai. As you can see, Peter collapsed “a kingdom of priests” into “a royal priesthood.” And the two titles seem to refer to the same thing: a kingdom of priests is a holy nation. So, for the sake of time, I’ll focus on our title as “a royal priesthood.”

 

 

This is also a remarkable designation for Christians. Not only are we called priests; we are called royal priests. In this designation, kingship and priesthood are joined together. Few people in the Old Testament had those two offices at the same time. Adam as our covenant representative had all three offices of prophet, priest, and king. And there was that mysterious figure, Melchizedek, who was both a king and a priest. We can say that the Patriarchs--Abraham as well as Isaac and Jacob—had those offices in a very limited sense. After them, Moses had all three offices, too, if only temporarily and functionally without the official titles of “king” or “priest.” David did much to help organize the temple worship but he did so as a king in a theocracy, in which church and state were closely connected together. But he was not a priest in any official sense. And what happened when King Uzziah in his pride tried to offer incense in the temple, which was an official priestly function? God struck him with leprosy and he had to live with it for the rest of his life!

But You Are ...! (1. Pet. 2:9) Part 2 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 27 September 2017

We are God’s chosen race. God chose us to be on His side. If this doesn’t make us overwhelmed with gratitude, I don’t know what will. You know what it feels like to be not invited—something as frivolous as to a fun party all your friends are invited to, and how deeply you get hurt. God’s election decides between heaven and hell, between eternal joy and eternal torment, between the infinite abundance of God and eternal solitude of pain. Oh, to think that God chose us graciously: He chose us out of the fallen human race, who deserved to be thrown into hell not only for the Original Sin of Adam but also for our actual sins! God chose us sovereignly: He did not choose us because we were better than others; He chose us by His mysterious, sovereign choice (Deut. 7:7-8). And God chose us for redemption—not just to be delivered out of the fiery hell and grip of sin but also to find life and security in the loving embrace of God. And God chose each of us into the chosen race, a community of God’s redeemed. Practically, this means we should participate in the life of the church, the visible expression of God’s chosen race. 

 

 

As God’s chosen people, we should be humble: we have nothing to boast of but everything to be grateful for. And we should remember that God has chosen you to be part of New Life Presbyterian Church of La Jolla for now and we should love and serve one another as we celebrate our blessed redemption in Christ.

But You Are ...! (1. Pet. 2:9) Part 1 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 27 September 2017

 SHAPE  \* MERGEFORMAT “But you are a chosen race….” Who are the “you” here? Not ethnic Jews but Christians. By “a chosen race,” Peter meant those who were elected by God’s foreknowledge for obedience to Jesus Christ (1:1-2), not to the Mosaic Law; who were born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1:3), not just born of Abraham according to the flesh; who received an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for them (1:4), not in the land of Canaan. This is surprising because the chosen race throughout the Old Testament was the people of Israel. But even as a Jew, Peter designated Christians, who were made up of both Jews and Gentiles, as the chosen race of God. Thus he signaled that the nation of Israel had been replaced with the church of Jesus Christ, which is made up of Christians from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 

 

 

This didn’t mean that God changed His mind about the people of Israel. Regarding this, Paul said that the true children of Abraham are not necessarily those who physically descended from him but are chosen as children of promise (Rom. 9:6-8). This is why God changed Abram’s name (which means “exalted father”) to Abraham (which means “father of many nations”), why Abraham was justified by faith (Gen. 15) before he was circumcised (Gen. 17). It was so that he could be the father of both groups—the Gentile Christians who are justified by faith without circumcision as he was and the Jewish Christians who are not merely circumcised but are justified by faith as he was (Rom. 4:11-12). From the beginning, God’s plan for salvation reached beyond the boundaries of the ethnic Jews. God’s election of the Jews as a nation was a type or picture of God’s election of saints unto eternal life.

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