IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: I AM OF A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
Rev. Innocent Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
“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” 1Peter 2: 9.
Summary: We Christians are a privileged people, given awesome responsibilities to fulfil until the Master returns.
We consider the Aaronic/Levitical priesthood, it is important to remember that although the tribe of Levi was set apart to perform the sacrifices and lead worship in the tabernacle and temple, God never intended the descendants of Levi to be the only priestly figures in the nation of Israel. In fact, the Lord originally called His people out of bondage in Egypt so that the entire nation would serve Him as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:1–6). The priestly institution itself was needed only because the sin of the people had not yet been finally dealt with, and an intermediary was required between Israel and God lest His holiness break out and destroy His sinful people (v. 24; Amos 5:6).
Only when the wickedness of Israel had finally been dealt with could the people of God truly become that nation of priests that requires no Levitical mediator between them and the Almighty. Having sanctified and perfected us in His Father’s sight forevermore through His offering of Himself (Heb. 10:10–14), Christ Jesus has made all who are in Him the priesthood that God always intended His people to be. No longer need we rely on an intermediary who is a sinner like us; rather, the Lord has become the mediator between Himself and His own in the person of the God-man Jesus Christ (9:15).
We are that royal priesthood who need none but Christ to stand between us and the Father (1 Peter 2:9–10). Martin Luther pointed out in his Babylonian Captivity of the Church that “all we who are Christians are priests,” and no believer has greater access to the Creator than any other. Pastors and elders are appointed to teach the church the will of God from His Word (1 Tim. 3:1–7), but they do not represent us before the heavenly throne like the Levitical priests did under the administration of the old covenant.
In Christ, there is a true priesthood of all believers. All of us who trust in Jesus alone for salvation have free access into His presence, and all of our lawful vocations are set apart for true God-honoring service. The janitor who does his work to the Lord is in no worse position spiritually than the most gifted preacher on the planet, for all Christians have been declared righteous servants of the creator God.
In our justification, God has declared us righteous in Christ through His blood. In our sanctification, God is working to make us righteous in what we do, say, think, and feel. As the Lord’s holy priesthood, we can be sure that His work to sanctify us is not in vain and that even though we might get discouraged at times, He will most certainly transform us into the holy priests He has designed us to be.
“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 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 (I Peter 2:4-10).
In the above text Peter uses one key word to describe who Jesus is. He is the stone upon which the whole church is built. You can see that in four different places in our text:
In verse four, he is the “the living Stone.”
In verse six, he is “the cornerstone.”
In verse seven, he is “the capstone.”
In verse eight, he is the “stone that causes men to stumble.”
But there is even more in our text about Christ the stone:
He is the stone the builders rejected (v. 7).
He is the stone chosen by God (v. 4).
He is the stone that is precious to every believer (v. 7).
We can say it another way:
To the world, he is the stumblingstone.
To God, he is the chosen stone.
To believers, he is the cornerstone.
But that’s not all. In verse four Peter calls Jesus the “living Stone” and he says that we who believe are like “living stones.” That means that he is the Rock and we are like chips off the Living Block. If we understand what Peter is saying, then we know something about the church and we know something about the world. A living stone sounds strange to our ears because stones are always dead. But when we come into contact with Jesus Christ, we are made alive with him. That tells us that the church is more than a human organization. The true church is an ever-growing collection of living stones, being built one upon another by the head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ. From our perspective, the church often seems weak, confused, uncertain, competitive, divided, and ineffective. But our Lord is building a spiritual temple that spans the generations. And he’s building it one living stone at a time. That temple matters much more than the most beautiful sanctuary or the most ornate cathedral built of brick and mortar. The greatest buildings built by man will one day crumble to the ground.
Because the temple God is building is made of living stones, it will never be destroyed. It will never crumble and it will never need renovation. And we who believe are part of it. Every Christian is part of God’s temple.
A DISTINCTIVE IDENTITY — “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession.” We are a chosen race. Christians have a distinctive identity. Our identity is thoroughly integrated with the Risen Son of God. Our purpose is clearly stated in the text for the message this day. As Christians, we are in Christ; having said this, it is doubtful that any of us fully understand all that this means. Nevertheless, we know that in Christ we have been set apart to God’s holy service as priests even as we enjoy God’s call to reign with Him as co-regents.
“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth.”—Revelation 5:10
I know, this morning, that I am a justified man; I have the full assurance that
“The terrors of law and of God,
With me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.”
there is not a sin against me in God’s book they have all been for ever obliterated by the blood of Christ. and cancelled by his own right hand. I have nothing to fear; I cannot be condemned. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” Not God, for he hath justified; not Christ. for he hath died. But if I am justified, who made me so? I say—”And hath made me what I am.” Justification from first to last. is of God. Salvation is of the Lord alone.
THESE PRIVILEGES WERE ORIGINALLY GIVEN TO THE NATION OF ISRAEL, BY GOD.
EXO 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth [is] mine:
EXO 19:6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These [are] the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Sometimes we don’t recognize the position we are in as Christians in Christ’s church. It’s hard to know when to be humble and when to stand up and let it be known that Jesus Christ is Lord and we serve a God that is over all things. It’s a good thing to be humble and meek, but if it is keeping us from advancing the cause of Christ, then we might be taking it too far. Advancing the cause of Christ is sharing the gospel with those who are lost and offer them an opportunity to obey that gospel and become a child of God in His holy kingdom. This is an inclusive kingdom that is willing to take in all who choose to be part of the kingdom of God. Jesus, in His ministry, invited people to be part of this kingdom, “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” Mark 1:14-15. What is this kingdom of God? It is the church of Christ that was built on the confession by Peter (Matt 16:16-18). We are to proclaim this same message for our Lord Jesus Christ today.
So, what does a royal priesthood mean anyway? The Hebrew writer said, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast [keep] our confession” Heb 4:14. Christ is the high priest and we are His priesthood who take on the duties of worshiping God and being witnesses of the Lord to all people in what we say and do. We are royal because Christ is the King in God’s kingdom, “They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers” Rev 17:14. As a royal priesthood we have access to God through Christ, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” 1 Tim 2:5. The veil has been torn in two, “Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” Mark 15:38 when Jesus died on the cross. This was what separated God from the priests that came to Him on behalf of the people of Israel. We don’t have that separation anymore and we shouldn’t think that God is up in heaven away from us. Like I said before, being in God’s kingdom, we now have Him dwelling in us through His Holy Spirit.
God made you who you are so you could tell the world who He is. We exist to advertise God’s excellence to the world. We are in the PR business. We’re God’s agents on the earth. This is the full-time job description of a royal priest—to declare the glories of our God and King.
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