Is There Something Peculiar About You? 6/13/99

I Peter 2:9 – 10

JESUS CHRIST has called us unto Himself. This high and holy calling is expanded upon in I Peter 2: 9, 10. To understand our role let’s review this inspired description of believers.

God in His Word calls us “His own special people” (I Peter 2: 9b). What a compliment!

The word translated people is “ethnos.” It is used 143 times in the Greek New Testament and four times in this text. As used here it describes a special relationship between God and believers. It implies the idea of belonging.

The early church spoke with pride of itself as “a people for Himself” (Acts 15: 14).

Paul reminds us of a beautiful fact in Romans 9:25 by quoting Hosea 2: 23, “I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved.”

In the very next verse Paul quotes from Hosea 1:10: “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said of them, ‘You are not My people.’ There they shall be called the sons of the living God.”

It is a wonderful feeling when you have been overseas and return home to be among people with whom you belong.

Now note the characteristics of “His people.”

“You” in the Greek is emphatic meaning “but as for you.”

“Generation” is a reference to a body with a common life and descent.

Being chosen is with purpose:
1. It is a privilege. It offers a new intimate relationship with the Father. This privilege is born of salvation. Salvation through Christ’s blood is sufficient for all BUT it is efficient only for those who trust Him as personal Savior.

Missionary Watkin Roberts tried without success to help the Hmar people of India understand salvation. One day he heard of the process for making peace between warring tribes. Early in the morning the side desiring peace goes to a mountain top and beats a large war drum three times. If the other side responds before sundown by beating their drum, that means, “Come to the boundary separating us and let’s talk.”

The Chief who wants peace kills an animal and lets its blood flow along the boundary. Then he and his enemy place their hands on the animal and negotiate. When they agree, they embrace.

Calvary is God’s invitation to you by God to come to the boundary separating you and accept His sacrifice for peace.

2. It demands obedience. Privilege brings responsibility. When there is faithful obedience then one can summarily speak of life as did Bill Borden in this one of the final entries in his diary: “No reserve, no retreat, no regret.”

3. It requires service. He desires to use us to achieve His purpose. In verse 16c we are described as “servants of God.”

The noun servant and the verb serve are found about 500 times in the Bible. Such extensive use emphasizes its importance.

Albert Schweitzer, a man with a servant’s temperament, said, “The only ones among us who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”

In I Peter 2: 5 believers are called “a holy priesthood.” Here we are called a “royal priesthood.”

“Royal” translates the Greek BASILEION, meaning “Kingly.”

In Exodus 19: 5, 6 God stated the requirements for Israel to become a kingdom of priests:

a. Keep God’s covenants,

b. Obey His Word, and

c. Articulate His law.

Within the first covenant, the priesthood belonged to the sons of Aaron from the tribe of Levi.

They had three distinctives:

a. They had direct access to God.

b. They represented the people of Israel to God.

c. They brought offerings to God from the people.

It should be noted that during the era there were other priestly orders also. There were the priests of Baal, of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, and Canaanites. Being a priest did not mean you could believe anything you wanted to believe. You had to subscribe to the beliefs and practices of the order.

Doctors are allowed to believe anything they want to BUT they can’t teach or practice anything they want to indiscriminately. Physicists are allowed to believe anything they want, even that the world is flat. However, they can’t advocate a space policy based on this belief.

Every discipline has order. Christianity does also. Within Christianity you have various orders based on various beliefs. If you are going to be a Methodist, you should believe in baptism by sprinkling. If you are going to be a Presbyterian, believe in predestination. If you believe in soul sleep, be a Jehovah’s Witness. If you believe in praying through saints, be a Catholic. The point is, if you are going to be part of an order, adhere to their basic beliefs.

Certain of the Levites sought to do things their own way and God further narrowed the order of priests to include only the sons of Aaron. God confirmed this by making Aaron’s rod to bud and those of the Levitical princes remained sterile.

In the time of Ezekiel many of the priests went astray and the Zadokite priest who remained faithful became dominant. God has always had His faithful remnant.

When Israel failed to function as a nation of priests, God instituted the order of Aaron. When the Aaronic order failed, a new order of priests emerged. On the morning of the resurrection the ripping of the veil of the temple from top to bottom symbolized the coming forth of a new order of priests, the old order ended. Every believer is now a priest. We are to:
a. Offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (I Peter 2: 5c).

b. Offer our body (Romans 12: 1).

Christ is in the life changing business. Recently my wife recounted our encounter with Deon Sanders. We sat by him at a Hawks game. She was next to him. Not as a fan but as a human being she tried to make comments she thought might interest him. She summed up the evening by saying he was the most arrogant man I have ever seen.

Last week we heard the new Deon give his testimony at the Billy Graham Crusade in Indianapolis. As he stepped to the mike his first well delivered words were, “I was the most arrogant man who ever lived…”

He went on to describe his emptiness and loneliness. He told of his attempt of suicide by driving off a cliff into a lake. He then related how that in a hotel room in Cincinnati he reflected on Romans 10: 9, 10: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

That night he called on the name of the Lord and was saved. You too can experience such an exchanged and changed life.

Christ can do the same for you.

He is the Peerless Pilot for the sand-bound soul.
He is the Way for the wayward.
He is the Enabler for the unable.
He is the Timeless Truth for the ignoble ignorant.
He is the Life for the listless, lustful, lawless.

Institutions as well as individuals should be committed to Him. The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has an admirable history. It was established to equip students to be transformers of their culture. The charter granted by the state of Louisiana for the founding of what is now New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in October 1918 states:
“This institution shall center around the study of the Bible as God’s Word…”

The program of instruction is to be Biblical in orientation and relevant in application.

Confessional commitments of the Seminary are centered in Jesus Christ as Savior of believers and Lord of life, through His death and life, and in the Bible as the inspired Word of God.”

That is a worthy confessional for each of us.

c. Offer the sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13: 15), “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”

Praise is natural and essential to full enjoyment of an event, thing, or person. Watch an exciting, game-winning play by a super athlete and try to keep quiet. It would be frustrating to see a spectacular mountain or ocean sunset and not compliment it. To hear a good joke and not be able to share it would be exasperating.

A super pious pastor responded to a compliment on one of his sermons by saying, “Don’t thank me, thank the Lord.”

The lady responded, “I thought about that, but it wasn’t quite that good.”

The word translated “nation” was LAOS meaning “people,” or “a multitude of people of the same nature.”

We are to be “holy”. HAGIOS is the Greek word which means “different” or “saintly” or “set apart for service” or “belonging to God”.

Charles Wesley said: “What is our calling, our glorious hope, but inward holiness?”

Holiness is a two-edged sword meaning separated from sin and separated to God for His use.

Christians in the young emerging church understood this, as evidenced by this quote from Tertullian: “We engage in these conflicts as men whose very lives are not their own.”

In Galatians 2: 20, Paul described what it means to be holy. It means to have a “no longer I” sign posted on the wall of your heart.

Those who are holy are not people with a halo and an aura of ethereal remoteness. They are easily lovable people with a sparkle in their eyes, a spring in their steps, and a note of joy in their voice. They are not gaunt, reclusive, unapproachable, condemning, solitary persons who sit around in a fetal position eating lettuce leaves and birdseed while contemplating either infinity or their navel.

Howard Hedricks observed: “It is foolish to build a chicken coop on the foundation of a skyscraper.” To fail to live a separated life is to fail to build on the spiritual foundation of Christ and Him crucified.

How little understanding people have who think holiness is dull. When you see the real thing it is irresistible. It is a dramatically and radically changed life.

A Cajun went into New Orleans for the first time and saw his first elevator.” He stood dar in do sto and cas a eye on dat alley gator. A little ol’ lady all bent over wit a cane pass herself inside dat ting. A light flash, de do closed and she disappear. Pretty soon de do open and out step de prettiest femme, girl, woman he ever saw. As he walk away he say, “how you like dat? Me I shoulda brought ma ol’ lady to put in dat alley gator, I gar-on-tee.”

Jesus makes an even greater change in a life.

We are God’s people.

The word “peculiar” comes from a word which means “to make around.” It speaks of making something an surrounding it with ownership. Every believer is God’s unique, private, personal property.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonini Scalia made remarkable comments to the Christian Legal Society at the Mississippi School of Law. He said, “Being a Christian means holding values the world will count as foolish.”

Did you notice who said it? A member of the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Scalia. Did you notice what he said? He didn’t say Christian values are foolish. To the contrary, he thinks they are correct. He said the world will count them as foolish.

Did you notice who said it? A member of the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Scalia. Did you notice what he said? He didn’t say Christian values are foolish. To the contrary, he thinks they are correct. He said the world will count them as foolish.

Scalia warned that those who believe in the transcendent moral order and power of God that raised Jesus from the dead, must be prepared for derision. Often an item is valuable not because of its own worth but because of who owned it. My wife has a simple pair of agate earrings set in silver. If you could find a pair they would cost only a few dollars. However, they are very valuable to us because they were the personal property of and given to us by former Prime Minister of Israel Golda Mier.

Museums are filled with ordinary things made valuable by ownership and use. Likewise, we are valuable because of Whose we are. We are to be God’s museum pieces to – – –
“Sew forth,” that is “proclaim the praise” of Him.

“Praise” is a reference to His “gracious dealings and glorious attributes.”

We are to advertise the noble acts of God in history and make known His grace in dealing with us personally. We are to announce abroad the fame of the One who has called us to life. Jesus said it slightly differently: we are to confess Him before men. How can we do this?

By bearing the character of aliens from another world; invaders from above.

By being so careless of our own life, and so careful of conscience, so prodigal of our own blood, so confident of the overcoming blood of the Lamb, so unsubdued by the customs of the country in which we sojourn, so mindful of the manners of the country to which we are going.