A HOLY NATION PEOPLE
1 Peter 2:4-25
"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. " (lPe 2:9)
During this visit, I have seen many beautiful buildings in Seoul. Last Sunday, I visited Yon Hee UBF and saw their beautiful new center. On my previous visit, I saw Kwan Ak, Kyung Sung, Nam San and Han Yang centers. Their buildings are so beautiful and memorable. In l Peter 2 we find that God who created heaven and earth is also building a house. His house is a spiritual house. Spiritual sacrifices are made there by holy priests.
Let's read l Peter 2:4-5. "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." God's house is made of living stones. These living stones are very precious. We are these living stones. We are living stones chosen by God to build his spiritual house. Jesus is the cornerstone and capstone of God's house. God lives in his house. So it is full of love and righteousness. There is peace and joy there. God's purpose in building his house is to bring people who are living in darkness and misery into his wonderful light. Read verse 9. "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." These are words given to us, the living stones of God's building.
First, a royal priesthood.
The duty of a priest is to lead people to God. In the Old Testament, the duty of the priest was to pray and to offer sacrifices to God. He was the mediator between God and God's people. Jesus is our great high priest. Jesus shed his precious blood. By his blood we receive forgiveness and cleansing from sin. Jesus rose from the dead. He is our great high priest. He intercedes for us at the right hand of God.
Why is Jesus called a royal priest or a kingly priest? Jesus is not of the line of Levi, the priestly line. He is a priest and king after the order of Melchizedek (Heb 7). Because we belong to King Jesus, we are royal priests. It is our priestly duty to proclaim the love and forgiveness of God in Jesus to people who do not know God. Our priestly duty is to declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. Shepherds and missionaries and Bible teachers who teach the word of God 1:1 are all royal priests.
We must live a sacrificial life in order to fulfill this priestly duty. Read lPeter 2:20,21. "…But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."
God sent the incarnate Jesus as the first missionary. He came and lived in a dark and sinful world. To be with us, he laid aside the glory of heaven and came to this world to live with us. We who are missionaries must follow the incarnate Jesus. Msn. Peter and Monica Park of Nigeria lived in a comfortable embassy house. They moved from the compound to the village so that they could be friends with the students. God blessed their ministry and made it fruitful. They still suffer.
Last year I visited India. I met three beautiful women missionaries. They were graduates of top universities in Korea. They gave their marriages to God and went to India to marry Indian shepherds and establish missionary homes. The Indian shepherds gave their families to God and they work together to bring the gospel to Indian students. UBF lay missionaries are scattered all over the world. They are all royal priests.
Second, a holy nation people.
Holy nation people love God. They love others and they love each other. They are different from the people of the world. Holy nation people can't follow the world. They must obey Jesus. What did Jesus command? Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations.
Jesus commanded his disciples to love each other. When we try to love each other, Satan uses every means to stop us. We are not naturally holy. In our hearts are hidden anger, jealousy and hatred. We can't love some people. And if someone doesn't repent, we can't forgive him. But Jesus commanded us to love one another and to forgive one another. He did not mention any excuses or conditions for not doing so. We struggle to defeat these sinful desires in our hearts.
Sometimes we fail. It is easy to become discouraged, to give in—and give up. If we are determined to struggle in our own strength, we will surely fail. This failure is the fruit of pride. We cannot struggle with our own strength. We struggle by faith in Jesus. So we must pray. We must read the Bible, study the Bible, and think about the passage so that we may fight our spiritual battle with the sword of God's word.
Jesus took our burden of sin. He died to make us holy. By his mercy, he clothes us in his holiness and forgives our sins. He pulls out of our hearts roots of anger and hatred. We should forgive others even if they don't repent. We should love them even if they hate us. By God's grace alone, we become a holy nation people. We can love God and love one another. We can know God's heart for the world. We do not live for our own happiness. We live for the glory of God. Then, real happiness follows. It is absolutely necessary that we become a holy nation people.
After visiting Kazakhstan, I was curious about the Ugar people. So I asked Msn. Grace Kang about them. I was surprised by her answer. They were once all Nestorian Christians. The word Ugar means Christian. But they all became Muslims. When I thought about why this had happened I realized that the Christians of the 6th and 7th centuries did not love each other. They were busy hating each other, looking for heresy, playing politics, burning heretics at the stake. They did not obey Jesus' command to love one another.
This year I visited Jerusalem. Jerusalem was once a Christian city. But in the 12th Century the Muslim general, Saladin, conquered Jerusalem. He did so easily because Christians were fighting among themselves. We must not only obey Jesus' command to make disciples of all nations. We must also obey his command to love our enemies, to love our neighbors and most of all, to love one another.
He chose his people so that he could use them to penetrate the darkest places of men's hearts and the darkest places of the world with the wonderful, life-giving light and life of God. Let us hear God's call. Let us be a holy nation people. Let us pray for our missionaries who are living stones. May God call all of us to join them in the task of world mission. May God continue to work in the hearts of Muslim people as our missionaries pray and work in Muslim lands. May he open the heart of General Kim Jung II of North Korea to allow the gospel to be preached in Kim II Sung University. This is the 100-year anniversary of the great revival in Korea. May God again pour out his Spirit on the church of Korea. May God bless the Korean church to send out many missionaries. May UBF around the world send out 100,000 missionaries by the year 2041. May God make us a kingdom of priests. May he help us be a holy nation people.
"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."