Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 May 7, 2017
“Who We Truly Are”
Text: 1 Peter 2:9-10
Previously, in our larger context (1 Peter ii.4-10), we have noted that Jesus is a living Stone, the Cornerstone, chosen and precious—and that His Person and work are honor to us who are believing in Him. We also have noted that we too are living stones built into a spiritual house—each with a place and function. This week, we look a bit closer at what we truly are in Christ—and as we see God’s estimation of us, we shall rejoice both in His gracious elevation of us and in the glory of His Name. Let us hear the Lord as He speaks to us in this portion of His Word.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
The Apostle Peter, led by the Spirit, tells us in soaring terms who we are in Christ Jesus. First, we are a chosen race (or generation: Greek genea [genea]). All true Christians, whatsoever their denominations, doctrinal emphases, locations, languages, and the like, are one family in their Head, Jesus Christ. Consequently, we—a chosen people in Christ—are different from the world system all around us. Truly, as Jesus said, though we be in the world, we are not of the world. All of this comes to us through God’s sovereign, gracious, loving choice of us—and that before the foundation of the world, and that in spite of the depth and pervasiveness of our sin.
Second, we are a royal priesthood—not unlike Melchizedek, who was both priest and king in his day. Being a royal priesthood, we find ourselves increasingly separated from sin—and standing increasingly aloof from friendship with the world—by the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying power. We are consecrated to God—both to Himself and for His purposes in us and in His created order. As such, as noted in earlier weeks, we offer to God spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. We do these, moreover, as those who shall reign forever with Him Who is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Third, we are a holy nation. The blood-bought Church of the living God, in every age, is collected from all the human nations of earth under one Head, Christ Jesus. No matter where on earth God’s people in Christ live, they are one commonwealth—governed in her behavior by the moral law of God and under one supreme Sovereign, the triune God. We live together under His righteous reign and we share in His total victory.
Fourth, we are a people for his own possession. Notice these further words of our commentators that signify possession. We are the people of God’s acquisition; we are bought at a price, namely, the lifeblood of the living Lord Jesus. As mentioned earlier, we are the people of His choice. In His choosing of us, we are both rescued from a miserable end and elevated in Him to infinite degree. Moreover, we are the people of God’s care. As the Psalmist declared, we are the flock that He shepherds. We abide and thrive under the matchless care of the Good and Chief Shepherd. Finally, we are the people of His delight. There is this caricature of God as eternally, infinitely morose—especially concerning the people He has made. This simply is untrue of God. As He views His people, looking on them through the infinite merits of His Son, He views them with delight. Scripture tells us that He rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).
This glad estate is contrary to what we were before—individually and collectively. This dramatic change for the good for us fulfills prophecy. We read in Hosea’s writing (Hosea 1:2-10, 2:21-23) that he was to name his children Jezreel (“God sows”), Lo-ruhamah (“Not shown mercy”), and Lo-ammi (“Not my people”) to show their estrangement from Him. Later God, through Hosea, tells His Old Testament Church that once they were not His people, but now they are—once they did not receive mercy, but now they receive mercy. The Spirit leads Peter to show that our ingrafting into the society of Christ is the highest fulfillment of Hosea’s prophecy.
Thus, we see who we truly are in Christ—and the news simply thrills our souls. We are who we are in Christ to a happy end, namely, to proclaim His excellencies. We do this more particularly along two lives. First, we extol God for His being, or for Who He is—and we do this by noting His attributes, as expressed in Scripture, and praising Him for them. Second, we praise God for His acts, or what He did, does, and will do. Fundamentally we praise Him for the Person and work of Jesus, which grounds our salvation, and secondarily we praise Him for every blessing that He so graciously grants to us in everyday life.
The world system, and those enslaved by it, think of us very differently—and in much lower terms. It has such endearing terms for us, such as the offscouring of society, the scum of the earth, the idiots of the academy, and the stench of death. God’s Word—and, therefore, God—speaks of us differently, with soaring, exalted terms. We are not who the world—and, therefore, Satan—tries to tell us we are. We are what God says we are. Therefore, let us remember who we are, but let us also remember Whose we are—in order that our boast may be in the triune God, and in none else.
 For the main and subordinate points in this exposition of 1 Peter 2:9, I am indebted deeply to Zechariah Merrill (in Matthew Henry, Commentary). Matthew Henry (1662-1714), before his decease, completed his massive Biblical commentary through the Old Testament and into the New Testament through Acts. Thirteen non-conformist ministers completed the work from Romans through Revelation, and Rev. Merrill (cited above) wrote the commentary on 1 Peter.