In my last 2 messages, I have been trying to consider some of the blessed privileges we have as Christians. Peter first mentions unbelievers – the “disobedient” – and then compares them to God’s people. “But YE are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”
One of our great privileges is that we have been made priests after the order of Christ our Melchisedec. Which means that we don’t need other priests of any kind – Catholic, Jewish, or whatever. We may come “boldly to the throne of grace to may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We may open the scriptures to hear the voice of God without the necessary intervention of any other man. We can offer the sweet incense of prayer – and even the thank offerings of our grateful hearts. The only priest above us is our Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, “who has passed into the heavens, making intercession for us.”
Another of the blessings to which Peter refers is that we are part of a ROYAL priesthood. Not only are we priests under Christ, but we are kingly priests as is He. Whereas we grew up slaves to the world, the flesh and the devil, we have, in Christ, been given authority over our hearts and lives. And some day soon, during the Millennium, we shall be given even more regal authority.
I am not going to say that these two things are at the pinnacle of God’s blessings to us, but if they were all we have as Christians, they should make our stay here in this world worth the time. The reality is – these are just a couple of the sprinkles on the top of the great dessert of God’s grace. In our opening scripture Paul spoke of the “riches of God’s grace,” – he repeats that in other scriptures. One of my theology books states that there are 33 fantastic blessings contained within our salvation. The author calls them “miracles.” We could spend a year examining them all, and I am convinced they would be a tremendous blessing. There are the theological things like reconciliation, redemption, Justification and forgiveness. We are children of God and free from the law; made nigh and delivered from the power of darkness. Saints are made to be God’s inheritance, as well as receiving a part of our Saviour’s inheritance. We are complete in the Lord and glorified, possessing every spiritual blessing. As we have read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”
Going back to I Peter 2:9 – have you ever given any consideration to the lyrical beauty of this verse? Our translators have given us four couplets which rhythmically echo the heart of the Apostle in 4/4 time. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people…” Having looked at the second couplet, I’m going to tie the other three together this morning. The words, “Ye are a chosen generation… an holy nation, (and ) a peculiar people” say essentially the same thing in slightly different ways. And oh, what a blessing they contain.
Let’s begin by considering the words “generation,” “nation” and “people.”
Remember – Peter is speaking about us – you and me. “YE are a chosen generation… an holy nation, a peculiar people.” But this is not the way in which he started this epistle. I Peter 1:1 addresses people whom he called “strangers scattered” across Asia Minor. We are God’s “diaspora” – people disbursed or sprinkled like salt across a tasteless, sinful wilderness. And despite what many so-called “Christian ministers” are saying today, we are NOT supposed to feel comfortable in this world. “Our (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:” And it is to this new citizenship that the Holy Spirit, through Peter, refers.
But first, have you ever heard me say that I believe God has a sense of humor? It certainly is nothing like our own, so I am not making any direct comparisons. But there are times, as I read His word, when I think I can hear Him laugh. Jehovah not only laughs at the foolishness of His creation, as the Bible tells us. But there are occasions when I think that He must smile at His own holy whit. And one of those occasions might be right here. After telling us that we are “a royal priesthood,” the Holy Spirit declares that we are His “laity.” In corrupt religious thinking there are two kinds of people – the priests” and “laity.” But God says that His
n saints are both “priests” and “laos.” Ordinarily, the word “laos” speaks of a specific race of people with the same customs and language. Without getting into the adjectives describing them at this point – Peter says that we are God’s people. It is infinitely better to be one of God’s people than to be one of Trump’s people. For those of you in the loop, I saw a sign the other day speaking about “Few’s Good Men,” but I would rather be one of God’s good men. It is better to be one of God’s people than to be listed in the pages of Forbe’s Magazine. Rhode’s scholar? What is that? Member of Mensa? Who will care a thousand years from now? You, brother or sister in Christ, as lowly as you might picture yourself to be, are one of God’s people.
Peter may have been thinking about the first chapter of Hosea’s prophecy, as he wrote this verse. I know that Paul was thinking about Hosea in Romans 9, because he tells us so, and in his quote he points out the blessedness contained in being one of God’s own people. Romans 9:25 – “As God also said in “Osee, I will call them my people, which were NOT my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.” Beloved, to be one of God’s people is to be one of His children, and there is nothing greater than that.
We are also people of Jehovah’s particular nation. Once again, this Greek word is quite well-known; it is “ethnos.” God’s saints all have the same ethnicity – leaning more to the idea of race than of country. Saved Canadians are of the same race as redeemed Japanese. And born again Indians are of the same ethnicity as born again Indians. With Peter’s ethnicity, he may have immediately thought about Israel when he penned that word. Like hundreds of other cultures, Israelites considered themselves to be “THE people.” Perhaps at one point they were, but now God says, “YE (Christian saints) are my chosen generation; my holy nation.” But the Christian is NOT a sanctified Israelite – we are not spiritual Hebrews. The redeemed of the Lord belong to a NEW nation – an holy nation – unlike any other race the world has ever known.
Peter says that we are a special people and ethnicity. And we also belong to a new generation, speaking of the same sort of thing but just a bit differently. Peter’s use of the word “generation” is not the way it is commonly used today. Many of us here today are said to be of the Baby Boomer generation. Our parents are described as coming from the “Silent Generation.”. Some of you are of the Millennial Generation, and then there is Generation X, and now Y. My parents were of the “Greatest Generation” – people who grew up during the Depression and WW2. Generally speaking, parents are one generation, grandparents are another, and children are a third. Roughly speaking a new generation starts every 40 years.
But that is NOT to what Peter refers. He was saying simply that Christians are all the children of God. They have been generated by the same Father – Jehovah God, and they have one elder brother – the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, Christians are all of one family, whether they were born in 1900, 1600 or the year 2000. Jacob Dirks, the subject of today’s historical vignette, is one of our brothers, as is Sir Isaac Newton, and Charles Spurgeon. You and I are kin to the greatest people in human history – and I am not referring to Alexander the Great, Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin. All of God’s New Testament saints are a part of a single glorious generation. “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”
Peter’s references to “generation,” “nation” and “people” speak essentially about the same thing. The words are instructive and blessed when applied to us. But it is their respective adjectives which make them outstanding – spectacular.
So let’s consider those adjectives.
“Ye are a chosen generation” – an “eklektos” (ek-lek-tos’) “genos” (ghen’-os).
In 1939, my father and mother – both young people at the time – volunteered for military duty and fought in World War II. That same year my grandfather volunteered to fight again – after earlier serving in the First World War. My parents were each a part of Tom Brokaw’s “The Greatest Generation.” But there is a sense in which they were a part because everyone at that time was a part.. They were born between the designated years. They survived the Depression and the war. They may have VOLUNTEERED for duty, but they were DRAFTED into that generation.
Similarly, you and I did not volunteer to become a part of GOD’S chosen generation. And most of our neighbors, even today, are NOT a part. We were “chosen” by God and invited to join this special generation of people. The Greek word “chosen” in this verse is translated “elect” in Peter’s first chapter. Though we are strangers scattered across the world we are “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” Grace has been given unto us – and as a result “peace has been multiplied unto us.“
Despite sinful man’s hatred of the subject, sovereign grace is one of the most blessed topics and perhaps the greatest gift God has ever bestowed on any of His creatures. No one is a member of God’s family because that person chose to join or enlist. Children make no decisions about their conception and birth whether physical or spiritual. As we read in our opening scripture, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as (God) hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
Beloved, you are part of a chosen generation – you are a chosen child – adopted into God’s family. Out of the millions of souls in this world, you are among the few God has chosen. Don’t be ashamed of that when the unbeliever sneers at the words which I just quoted from the Lord. Of course, there is no room for any of us to be proud of that election, because it was entirely of God. And yet, we can and should rejoice to high Heaven. “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God; I’ve been washed in the fountain, Cleansed by His blood. Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod; For I’m part of the family, the family of God.”
Peter’s third couplet describes us as part of an holy nation – “hagios” (hag’-ee-os) “ethnos” (eth’-nos). God’s saints are members of a race of people sanctified unto God. I cannot understand why so many Protestants claim to be some form of a New Testament Israel. Peter was making a clear distinction between Old Testament Israel, which was so sinful and rebellious, and God’s NEW holy nation or race. Israel should be used only to prove man’s inability to be holy in God’s sight. That race of people, descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were given the best circumstances and society humanity has ever had. They had God-ordained prophets and priests – speaking for God and interceding for God. They had good government in King David and the wisest of all monarchs Solomon. They were given God’s judges and the written Word of God. But that race, like all other human segments of people, was stubbornly wicked – unholy. “But YE are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an HOLY nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light,”
The holiness which we enjoy – our sanctification – doesn’t come from within us, or by anything we propose or try to do. Paul describes us as “sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” – “holy” – I Corinthians 1:2. We were born and grew up just as wicked as Israel – “but we are washed, but we are sanctified, but we are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Again, Peter began this letter to the scattered strangers by calling us, “Elect (chosen) according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”
Let this thought cover you like a warm blanket – we are sanctified – we are holy before the sight of God. This comes through our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; it is not something we must create ourselves. Is there a greater blessing than to know that we are exactly what God requires of us – holy? We no longer have to fight and strive to improve and perfect ourselves – we can “simple rest on His unchanging grace.” It is done – “Ye ARE a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation.”
And also we are “a peculiar people; that we should shew forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.” “Peculiar” is one of those English words that has radically evolved during the last 400 years. Today, to most people it means “weird,” “odd,’ “unusual” and even “queer.” But when the King James Bible was written it meant “unique” in a good way – or simply “special.” If you look up the history of the word – it’s etymology – you’ll see it comes from the French word for “private property.”
Christian, you are uniquely the private property of the sovereign God. You are “peculiar” – but that is not something about which to be ashamed or disturbed. We are not God’s chattel or slaves; we are His children. Contained in that thought is the power of the Almighty God to protect what is His. The redeemed soul can never be lost or stolen. We might be distressed but we can not be deserted. “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.
In these four relationships are bounties and gifts greater than we can ever understand in this world – maybe than we can ever. Who would not want to be a part of God’s chosen generation? Who would not rejoice in being one of God’s royal priests?
If you are beginning to thirst for such things, when you have never have before, it may be the Holy Spirit squeezing your heart. I pray that you’d recognize the hand of the Lord. I implore you to repent, casting yourself down before the Holy God. No, none of us deserve such blessings, but God, through Christ, often grants them nevertheless. Perhaps He is doing that to you. Acknowledge your unworthiness, but trust the Saviour for them anyway. Put your humble faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. These are just the cherry on the top of God’s blessings. With your repentance and faith in Christ, you will be born into these relationships. And with your salvation these and so much more will be given to you – for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.