Faithlife Sermons

A Kingdom of Priests

2020  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  46:00
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We’ve been looking at the theme of the Kingdom of God throughout the Scriptures. So far we’ve looked at Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Today we will be looking at Moses.
Before we begin, let’s pray together.
God previously promised to make Abraham and his descendants into a great kingdom, and that all the other nations on earth would be blessed by God through them. Let’s look at it again really quickly.
God said to Abraham —
Genesis 12:2–3 CSB
2 I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
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He repeated the promise to Isaac —
Genesis 26:4–5 CSB
4 I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky, I will give your offspring all these lands, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring, 5 because Abraham listened to me and kept my mandate, my commands, my statutes, and my instructions.”
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And He repeated it again to Jacob —
Genesis 28:14 CSB
14 Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.
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Jacob was renamed Israel by God and his sons make the 12 tribes of Israel.
God promised to make them into a great kingdom and He showed through the patriarchs that He could do it, but so far He hasn’t, and not only has He not made them into a great kingdom, they are actually slaves to another kingdom, Egypt.
But God foretold this to Abraham
Genesis 15:13–16 CSB
13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know this for certain: Your offspring will be resident aliens for four hundred years in a land that does not belong to them and will be enslaved and oppressed. 14 However, I will judge the nation they serve, and afterward they will go out with many possessions. 15 But you will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
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Why did they have to wait 400 years, because God would bring judgment on the inhabitants of the land that He would give to Abraham’s descendants, but He wasn’t going to bring judgement on them until that judgement was deserved. God was patient with them for hundreds of years until he finally brought judgement on them because of their sins. God is a just God and a patient God, wanting to forgive us but because He is just, He will not act corruptly and turn a blind eye to sin. All sin will be judged by God, and either we will be judged for our sin, or Jesus will be judged for our sin in our place, we have the choice to follow Him or to reject following Him, and that choice will have eternal consequences. Please do not reject his offer of forgiveness and His love for you. Make the decision today, if you haven’t already to love Him from your heart and to follow Him in obedience, to walk in the Spirit, to live as He lived, or as John put it,
1 John 3:18 CSB
18 Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth.
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or as God Himself said
Isaiah 29:13 CSB
13 The Lord said: These people approach me with their speeches to honor me with lip-service— yet their hearts are far from me, and human rules direct their worship of me.
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Let’s not honor God with lip-service or let human rules direct our worship of Him. Let’s honor Him not just with our speech but with our actions, and not just worship Him according to traditions but from a sincere heart of love for Him.
One thing that I’ve said several times before is that you don’t come to church to experience worship, you bring your worship with you. You see when you worship God, you aren’t coming to a place to experience something at that place that you don’t have access to the rest of the week. If your worship of God is an inner feeling that you only feel at church, then your worship of God, put nicely, is fabricated. True worship is not coming together to fill up the emptiness inside of you. True worship is coming together to empty out the fullness inside of you. True worship is an overflow your love for God that you have inside of you, pouring out to God collectively through praise, and prayer, and the study of God’s word, and fellowship together. True worship is when you are full of love for God and finding ways to express that love for Him when you come together.
That is why you don’t come to church looking to find worship done well.
You worship God well all week and you bring that worship with you when you come.
This is how God wants us to be His people. He doesn’t want people who worship Him according to rules and with their speech but their hearts are far from Him. No, He wants people who worship Him with their heart, soul, mind, and strength, with everything they are.
Which brings us to why He called Israel out in the first place to be a distinct nation, His nation. God chose to create a new kingdom that would be His own out of all the kingdoms on the earth at the time. They would live in right relationship with Him and He would live in their midst. Why would He do that? Why would He create a new nation and live among them and not among everyone else? Was He racist? Did He love a certain people based on their bloodline and hate others based on their bloodline? Of course not. His ultimate goal was not to just bless the Israelites, or to just save the Israelites, but to save and bless everyone on earth. He has already told us so in the promise to Abraham. He told Abraham, I will bless you and make you into a great nation, but then he said and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you. His purpose from the very beginning was to bless the entire world by showing all the nations how they can turn from worshiping false gods and return to worshiping the one true God.
Let’s pick up in Exodus 6. The descendents of Israel have grown greatly in number and have been enslaved by the Egyptians for 400 years now . And as God is about to begin judging Egypt with plagues this is what He tells Moses:
Exodus 7:5 CSB
5 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the Israelites from among them.”
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and again after all the plagues, when God parts the sea so that Israel can cross on dry ground He again tells Moses:
Exodus 14:18 CSB
18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I receive glory through Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
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You see, God told Moses before and after He judged Egypt’s idolatry that He wanted the Egyptians to know the He is Yahweh. He wanted Egypt to worship Him, not false Gods. He wanted Egypt to be saved and reconciled to Him for all eternity.
As a matter of fact we read this right before the last plague:
Exodus 11:3 CSB
3 The Lord gave the people favor with the Egyptians. In addition, Moses himself was very highly regarded in the land of Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and the people.
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And He said in the next chapter
Exodus 12:12 CSB
12 “I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night and strike every firstborn male in the land of Egypt, both people and animals. I am the Lord; I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt.
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So we see two things. One that He gave the Israelites and Moses favor with all of the Egyptians, and through the ten plagues that God sent against Egypt showed their gods to be powerless. Yahweh showed Himself to be all powerful and the Egyptian gods to be powerless. His desire was not just the liberation and salvation of Israel as an ethnic group, but for the liberation and salvation of every ethnic group on the Earth. For not only did Egypt witness the power of Yahweh as the one true God, but every other nation heard of His amazing power and care for an oppressed group of slaves. Every nation new the name and character of Yahweh through this judgment of Egypts gods and king.
And so right after this, God tells them why He has decided to liberate them and make them His own people. In Exodus 19 He says this:
Exodus 19:3–6 CSB
3 Moses went up the mountain to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain: “This is what you must say to the house of Jacob and explain to the Israelites: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, 6 and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”
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Do you see that? He said that even though the whole earth is his and everyone and everything on it, He is going to single this group out and distinguish them from the rest of the world by choosing to come and dwell in their midst and live with them. And the role He is going to give them is the role of priest. They are going to be a kingdom of priests and they are going to live holy. They are going to live the way God would live. To be holy, simply means to be like God. God only does what’s right and good, so to live holy is to do what’s right and good, and God defines what is good and what is evil, not us. So they will live holy lives before the other nations, and other nations will take notice. If they live holy like God has commanded them to, then they will stand out like a shining light among deep darkness. They will always tell the truth, they will never cheat each other, they will never take advantage of one another, they will care for the needy and stand up for the oppressed. They will deliver justice and not take bribes or act corruptly. They will protect each other and not harm each other. They will laugh and love and live life to the fullest. Every nation on earth would see them and their God and they would want to know Him.
And Secondly, they are to be a kingdom of priests. A priest was someone who consecrated themselves and made sacrifices to God and stood as an intercessor between the people and God. They taught the people how to have their sins atoned for and how to be restored to God. They taught the people how God wants them to live. And they were responsible for distributing God’s blessings to the people.
Deut 21:5 says:
Deuteronomy 21:5 CSB
5 Then the priests, the sons of Levi, will come forward, for the Lord your God has chosen them to serve him and pronounce blessings in his name, and they are to give a ruling in every dispute and case of assault.
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You see, God has chosen the priests to serve him directly at the temple and to pronounce blessings in His name. So when God told Moses that Israel would be a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation, He was telling him that Israel would act as a holy priest to the other nations. That Israel would serve the role of priest to the other nations. Israel would teach the other nations how God wants them to live. Israel would teach the other nations how they can be made right with God, how they can have their sins forgiven, and how they can receive God’s favor and blessings. So when you go back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we see clearly how the nations will be blessed through them. Israel will serve the role of priest and will pronounce God’s blessings in His name.
But sadly we know that is not how things turned out at all. We see clearly what God intended for them to do, but they don’t do it. They don’t live holy lives, and they don’t reach out to the other nations to reconcile them to God. They fail miserably. But keep in mind, so have we. And if we would have been in Israel’s shoes, we would have too. So God promised future king who would obey Him and do what He has asked Israel to do, the messiah, Jesus. Jesus came and did exactly what God had asked Israel to do from the very beginning. He obeyed Him perfectly, He lived a perfectly holy life, and He fulfilled the role of priest to the nations. Hebrews chapter 4 says this
Hebrews 4:14–16 CSB
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.
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And so through Jesus, the promise to Abraham finds its ultimate fulfilment. Where Israel failed, Jesus succeeded. And He is now the only mediator between God and humanity
1 Timothy 2:5 CSB
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus,
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But the role of Israel has not completely dissolved yet. Jesus came to fulfil the prophecies of old, but He has not fulfilled them completely yet. He has come to bring the kingdom of God to earth, but not in its final form yet. You see, He is still being patient with us, giving us more time until one day He will come again and put an end to this life as we know it, and then will come the final judgement where everyone dead and alive will stand before God to be judged one final time. But until that day comes, we are still here on earth, and we still have that same responsibility that we had before Jesus came. You see Israel was to be God’s chosen people, who lived holy and who stood as priests to all the nations on earth. When Jesus came, He selected 12 apostles and started the church. The 12 Apostles took the place of the 12 tribes of Israel. We see a picture of this in Revelation, you may remember from last week. Notice how in the eternal holy city of Jerusalem, both the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles are inscribed in the city forever.
Revelation 21:12–14 CSB
12 The city had a massive high wall, with twelve gates. Twelve angels were at the gates; the names of the twelve tribes of Israel’s sons were inscribed on the gates. 13 There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. 14 The city wall had twelve foundations, and the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb were on the foundations.
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Our Bible is split into two sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. Testament means covenant. So in other words, our Bible is split into two sections, the Old Covenant, and the New Covenant. The Old Covenant was built mainly on this promise to Abraham and to Israel and the 12 Tribes, or 12 sons of the nation of Israel. The New Covenant is based upon Jesus and the 12 Apostles of the global Church. Paul talks about All Israel not being true Israel.
Romans 9:6 CSB
6 Now it is not as though the word of God has failed, because not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.
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He goes on to explain what he means later by using a metaphor. Notice how he talks about Israelites and Gentiles through a metaphor about an Olive tree. He describes God as the root of a cultivated olive tree, one you would find in someone’s garden, and Israelites as branches of that tree. He describes Gentiles as branches from a wild olive tree. Each individual person whether Israelite or Gentile could be thought of as a single branch on those trees. Since God is the root of the cultivated tree, then what we see in the metaphor is only the branches that are attached to the cultivated tree represent people who are saved. Any branch who is not attached to the cultivated tree would represent someone separated from God. He starts off by talking about some Israelites being broken off, or separated from the root which is God, and addresses some Gentiles who were saved and therefore grafted into the root of the cultivated tree..
Romans 11:17–24 CSB
17 Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree, 18 do not boast that you are better than those branches. But if you do boast—you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 True enough; they were broken off because of unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but beware, 21 because if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 22 Therefore, consider God’s kindness and severity: severity toward those who have fallen but God’s kindness toward you—if you remain in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even they, if they do not remain in unbelief, will be grafted in, because God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from your native wild olive tree and against nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these—the natural branches—be grafted into their own olive tree?
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So you see, Paul makes very clear, that it is through faith, belief, that a person is saved or not, and he uses that analogy to describe if someone is considered to be Israel or not. True Israel is made up of Israelites and Gentiles who have been reconciled to God through the New Covenant, through Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Luke 22:20
Luke 22:20 CSB
20 In the same way he also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
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So we, now as Gentiles have been grafted into the cultivated root, which is God, and we have been adopted as sons and daughters, and we have recieved the promised blessing of Abraham, and we are now members of God’s kingdom through faith. Peter said to us:
1 Peter 2:9–10 CSB
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
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Once we were not a people, but now we are God’s people. We have recieved mercy, and therefore can approach the throne of grace with boldness. We have been grafted in to the kingdom of God. And notice what Peter said.
1 Peter 2:9 CSB
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
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We are now a chosen race. We are now a royal priesthood. We are now a holy nation. We are now a people for his possession, SO THAT we may proclaim the praises of the one who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light. Remember how that goes back to Exodus 19:5-6
Exodus 19:5–6 CSB
5 Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, 6 and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”
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A people for his possession, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. That was Israel’s role so that they would lead all the nations to God, but they failed to do that. They failed to make that their main priority, to love God, to love others, and to make disciples of God. And so when Jesus comes, He perfectly fulfills that role and then He gives us that command.
1 Peter 2:9 CSB
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
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So now we are grafted into the nation of Israel through faith. We are members of the New Covenant, but are given the same charge to fulfil that Israel was given when they were first formed by God. To live holy lives, in God’s presence, and to serve as priests to all the other nations. We are to teach others how they can be reconciled to God. We are to teach them what God has done to atone for their sins, and what they must do to become adopted as His children and forgiven. We are to teach them how they can be reconciled to God. He has made us ambassadors for the kingdom of God.
2 Corinthians 5:17–6:2 CSB
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! 18 Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 1 Working together with him, we also appeal to you, “Don’t receive the grace of God in vain.” 2 For he says: At an acceptable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. See, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation!
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Today is the day of salvation. You can be reconciled to God. God wants you to be reconciled to Himself. He wants you to be reconciled so much that He left His throne in heaven and came to earth and died in your place so that you could be forgiven of your sins. He loves you, and He wants you to love Him, and follow Him, and spend eternity with Him forever.
The same Peter who we’ve been looking at today preached the gospel at Pentecost and 3,000 people were saved that day and baptized. After hearing the gospel they were convicted of their sins and asked him what they had to do to be saved, and this is what He said.
Acts 2:37–42 CSB
37 When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt generation!” 41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added to them. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.
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Notice how he said that you should repent, which means to stop sinning against God, and be baptized which is a public profession that you will stop sinning and will follow in the steps of Jesus for the rest of your life. To repent means to turn from sin. The same Peter who preached this message and instructed the people to repent and be baptized gives us even more detail in a letter he wrote later in life. Let’s look at it
1 Peter 3:18–4:5 CSB
18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 in which he also went and made proclamation to the spirits in prison 20 who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared. In it a few—that is, eight people—were saved through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not as the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him. 1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same understanding—because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin—2 in order to live the remaining time in the flesh no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. 3 For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the Gentiles choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you don’t join them in the same flood of wild living—and they slander you. 5 They will give an account to the one who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.
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You see, Baptism is your public profession that you believe that Jesus is the son of God and that you will turn from sin and live a holy life for God. Peter describes it as a pledge of a good conscience toward God. That means you are making a pledge to live with a good conscience toward God, or in other words, a pledge to live a holy life. He goes on to say that since Christ suffered in the flesh, that we should too, and that the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin in order to live the remaining time in the flesh no longer for human desires, but for God’s will, because we’ve already spent enough time sinning, and everyone will have to give an account to God for their sin on the day of judgement.
And Paul also describes baptism as a visual image of us repenting of sin in Romans 6
Romans 6:1–13 CSB
1 What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him, 9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over him. 10 For the death he died, he died to sin once for all time; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. 13 And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness.
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Do you believe that Jesus is the son of God and died for your sins, and was buried and was raised three days later by the power of God and is alive today at His right hand? Have you repented of your sins? Have you publicly proclaimed to everyone that you have decided to die to sin and live to God? If you haven’t, then don’t put it off any longer. There is not a single one of us who can guarantee that we will be here tomorrow. But there is one thing I can guarantee. The day that your life comes to an end on this earth, you will stand before a holy God that gave you life, and existence, and who laid down His own life for the forgiveness of your sins, and who offered that forgiveness to you freely if you would just repent and believe in His Son. Are you ready for that day? Are you ready to meet the King of the universe? If not, take this time right now to ask God to forgive you. Pledge your life to Him right now, and commit to turning from sin. He will forgive you, and He will come to live inside of you through His Holy Spirit and He will give you the ability to resist temptation and to live a holy life for Him.
And then if you made that decision today or any time in the past, let’s band together as members of his holy nation, the kingdom of God, as royal priests, and let’s take that blessing to the ends of the earth. Because he said that all the nations would be blessed through us. How? Through our proclamation of the gospel.
1 Peter 2:9 CSB
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
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We will proclaim to the nations the goodness of God, and His love and desire to reconcile the world to Himself through His son.
Let’s pray together.
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