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We are People of God

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Christ has taken our nature into heaven, to represent us; and has left us on earth, with his nature, to represent him. --John Newton
Fresh Sermons God’s People

While snipers, soldiers, and biochemical experts are hard at work keeping athletes at this summer’s Olympic Games safe, elite priests will also be on duty to deal with matters of the soul. Orthodox priests from the Church of Greece will be available to any athlete at any time. They will also hold morning and evening services every day at the Olympic Village.

A spokesman, Father Economou, said the priests are multilingual and speak European or Slavic languages and have received special instructions. They will have printed material in foreign languages for athletes. Economou added, “Not just any priest could do this work, they have to have special qualifications.” The church of Greece also instructed area churches to clean up their property, ring bells sparingly, and have brochures ready for tourists who are interested in the country’s Orthodox heritage.

Sure glad that during the 2004 olympics that the church of Greece provided this ministry.
“Especially qualified” catches my attention.
Even if right, it makes me wince to read, “Not just any priest could do this work...”
The concept of “Elite Priests” only widens the gap between between ministers and people.
There is a sense that ministers need special qualifications to do the work of the Lord.
However, that does not mean there isn’t something for everyone to do.
God gives gifts to everyone to do the work he calls us to do.
TRANS - That’s were we’re going this morning’
EST - Our text will tell us who are God’s people.
ESS - Our message will help us grasp our place in God’s kingdom.
OST - The message will conclude with opportunity to consider our own unique place in ministry.
TRANS - Let’s turn to the Word.

What does it say?

1 Peter 2:9–10 ESV
But 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. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

What does it mean?

God calls His people to get to work.

God gives every believer a special gift to do kingdom work.
Part of every believers purpose is to use their gift in the community of saints.
Everyone, not just priests and pastors, are ministers.
Scripture never teaches division of lay people and pastors.
Every person called by God is to live a holy life of service.
In the OT there was a priestly order, but it was to serve and guide the people of God.
In the NT Christians are called “a royal priesthood.”
If not biblical, when did the division appear?
Glad you asked.
We trace this divide back to the 2nd century.
Yet, it was in the 1st century every Christian was held to be a priest unto God.
Yet, by the time of the end of the 2nd century clergy were clearly a separate order.
Let’s talk about the Priesthood of the Believer for a moment.
Luther called it the “Priesthood of ALL believers.”
There is no such thing as a one person church.
No, Luter was right. “all believers.”
Sadly, the idea of radical individualism has even plagued this biblical teaching.
So, God calls his people to work.
What else do we know about who these people are?

The Bible teaches who are the people of God.

The OT notes the Jewish race as exclusive people of God.
God calls them His chosen people.
Recall Abraham’s obedience to God in offering up Isaac?
Isaac was Abraham’s sole heir and a miracle child.
Isaac was part of God’s promise to Abraham, yet God told him to sacrifice Isaac.
Abraham was obedient and after placing Isaac on the altar as a sacrifice, God stopped him and gave him a ram for a sacrifice instead.
Abraham sacrificed the ram in place of his son.
Paul said about Abraham’s faithfulness:
Romans 4:3 ESV
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Faith led to righteousness and God blessed the seed of Abraham.
God gave a promise to Abraham:
Genesis 22:17–18 ESV
I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
The children of Isreal became God’s chosen people in order to impact history; they were commissioned to change the world.
The promise was a blessing and they were to be a blessing.
The Jewish nation were was exclusive people of God.
We are not the exclusive people of God, but because of Jesus, we are people of God.
We are the inclusive people of God.
Out text reads:
1 Peter 2:9–10 ESV
But 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. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Abraham offered Isaac and God prevented that sacrifice and formed the exclusive people of God.
Yet, that did not stop God from offering up Jesus, his only Son, to form an inclusive people of God.
Look at what Paul writes in Romans:
Romans 8:32 ESV
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
It is God’s sacrifice that made it possible for Him to include the excluded.
Just when Abraham was about to kill Isaac, God basically says “You are faithful and because of that, I will count it as righteousness, as if you made the sacrifice.”
God stopped him and provided the substitute for death on the altar.
When watching Jesus die on the cross, Scripture teaches us that the Father didn’t prevent Jesus from being sacrificed.
God turned his back on Jesus, his only Son and allowed him to die.
Jesus died in order to give everyone an opportunity to become part of the people of God.
Romans tells us:
Romans 9:26 ESV
“And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ”
All Christians are the people of God.
So we know God’s people by their work and by what the Bible teaches.
Let’s consider they “type” of person God calls to be part of his people.

God uses ordinary people to the extraordinary.

Take Elisha who was plowing one day in a field when Elijah confirmed his call.
He was doing ordinary labor.
There are many times the Bible relates ordinary folks called to God’s ministry.
Moses was tending sheep:
Exodus 3:1 ESV
Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
That was not only ordinary, it was a loathsome position.
It was not one of high esteem.
Moses was an ordinary person tending sheep, yet he became the law-giver.
God used Moses in a special way.
Gideon was beating wheat:
Judges 6:11 ESV
Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites.
Gideon was doing ordinary dirty work.
Take David, the great king of Isreal, he was tending sheep:
Psalm 78:70 ESV
He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds;
Do you remember Amos?
He was a fiery prophet, a herdsman, and a grower of sycamore figs:
Amos 7:14 ESV
Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs.
All through the Bible God takes hold of ordinary people and does extraordinary things with them.
God can use each one of you.
God uses people like me, like you.

What does this all mean?

Ministry is a purpose for your life.
Approach this with an open heart and an open mind.
God wants to use you to do great things.
God builds the kingdom through the ministry of his people.
In addition, ministry is how God builds his people.
Are you a minister?
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