Yup, You’re a Priest!

// January 27th, 2020 // Sermons

This entry is part 10 of 13 in the series 1 Peter Series

This is now Sermon #10 in the 1 Peter Sermon series… You can listen online or download it and listen later…Yup, You’re a Priest…using the theme:  Hope in a World that is not our Home!  In the verses of our text, Peter tells us who Jesus is and who we are because of who he is.  So, let’s dive right in….

  1. This is Jesus

Peter uses one key word to describe who Jesus is.  He is the stone upon which the whole church is built.  You find this in four different places in our text:

  • 4 – Jesus is “the living Stone”
  • 6 – Jesus is “the cornerstone”
  • 7 – Jesus is “the capstone”
  • 8 – Jesus is the “stone that causes men to stumble”

But there is even more in our text about Christ the stone:

  • He is the stone the builders rejected (v. 7);
  • He is the stone chosen by God (v. 4);
  • And, He is the stone that is precious to every believer (v. 7);

Or, we could say it another way:

  • To the world, Jesus is the stumbling-stone
  • To God the Father, Jesus is the chosen stone
  • To believers, Jesus is the cornerstone.

But there is more about the “stone” Jesus.  In v. 4, Peter calls Jesus the “living Stone” and he goes on to say that those who believe in Jesus are like “living stones.”  He is the Rock and we are like chips off the Living Main Rock!

If we get what Peter is saying, then we have the beginning of understanding what the church is all about, and we have the right foundation for a correct worldview.

The phrase – a living stone – sounds strange to our ears because stones are always dead.  Paul wrote that without Christ, we are dead in our sins” – but when we come into contact with Jesus Christ, we are made alive with Him.  That tells us that the church is more than a man-made organization.  The true church is an ever-growing collection of living stones, being built one upon another by the head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ.  It may seem like the church is weak, confused, uncertain, competitive, divided, and ineffective.

But, the reality is, our Lord is building a spiritual temple that spans the generations.  He’s building a temple that is much more significant than a beautiful sanctuary or ornate cathedral – and he is building it one living stone at a time.  The greatest buildings built by man will one day crumble.  Nothing built by man lasts forever.

Because this temple that God is building is made up of living stones, it will never be destroyed.  It will never crumble and it will never need renovation.  Everyone who truly believes on Jesus as their Savior are part of it.  Every Christian is part of God’s temple.

A man by the name of Darryl Dash came up with this illustration to help us understand how our church fits into the big picture.  You can always tell when a new building is being constructed by the massive scaffolding that encircles the new building as it rises from the ground.  As long as you see the scaffolding, you know the building isn’t finished.  The scaffolding is the last thing to be removed before the building is open.  When the scaffolding is gone, you know the building is finished.

According to Mr. Dash, every local church is part of the visible scaffolding around the invisible temple God has been building for the last 2,000 years.  When the final living stone has been placed in the temple, the scaffolding will come down, the trumpet will sound, the archangel will shout, and we will get to see the finished work that God has working on for the last 20 centuries.

This is a revolutionary picture of the church, if we will grasp it.  Many people get frustrated by how slow the church moves.  There are so many meetings as we talk about budgets, buildings and programs.  Someone has said that the church today is all about “noise, nickels and numbers”.

It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture if you focus on the machinery of church – by the way, that machinery is necessary for the church to do its work in the world.  But God is doing something beyond all of that.  Everything we do changes when we grasp Peter’s vision:

  • Every Bible class becomes a quarry for living stone transformation.
  • Every children’s worker would say, “I have living stones all around me to polish and to smooth until each little child finds his place in God’s great living temple.”
  • And every worship service would be a time of suspense as we wait to see what God is doing to add more living stones to His temple.
  • Every missionary would be a stonemason sent to the ends of the earth in search of living stones for God’s temple.

Peter’s words also teach us something about the world.  The world stumbles over Jesus because it has no use for Him.  Notice how Peter describes it:

  1. The religious leaders (the builders) – they rejected Him.
  2. But God made Him the Savior of the world anyway.
  3. Christ causes men to stumble because they choose to disobey.
  4. End of v. 8 – Peter explains why unbelievers choose to disobey God – they were destined to do this.

We need to see the perfect balance in v. 8 – there is the human side (“they disobey the word”) and the divine side (“as they were destined to do”).  The human side we understand; but, it’s the divine side that bothers us.  We prefer not to spend much time with statements like this.

But, Peter wants to clearly state that unbelieving man cannot overturn God’s purposes.  The need this kind of reminder in our day!  Though people reject Jesus and crucify Him, nevertheless God makes His Son the cornerstone of the church and the capstone of salvation.

No unbeliever will ever be able to say, “Look at that, I messed up God’s plan.  God wanted me to be one of the “living stones” but I said no to Jesus and now there is a gaping hole in God’s building.”  We need to be absolutely sure that there are no gaping holes in God’s temple.  All those whom God has chosen will eventually be saved.  None of the elect will ever be lost.  And those who end up in hell will discover that though they chose to disobey, God has the final word.

There is a warning here that we must not miss.  The same stone that saves some causes others to stumble!  Three times in this passage Peter uses the word “precious” to describe Jesus.  But to the world Jesus is not precious at all.

You recognize the value of something just by checking popular opinion.  The world was wrong about Jesus 2,000 years ago, and the world is still wrong about him today.  You cannot be neutral about Jesus.  He will save you or he will judge you – there is no third option.

Since Jesus has been revealed from heaven, no one can avoid Him.  People try and that’s one reason unbelievers often get so frustrated.  They keep coming face to face with Jesus and they don’t know what to do with Him.  They stumble and fall over Him.

So, what/who is Jesus to you?  Is He your cornerstone or is He a stone you stumble over?  What foundation is your life built on?  Build your life on Jesus and you will never be disappointed and you will never be ashamed.

Who is Jesus?

  • He’s the living Stone.
  • He’s the cornerstone.
  • He’s the capstone.
  • And, He’s the stumbling stone.
  1. This is Us

This passage addresses who we are in a variety of ways:

  • 4 – we are the people who come to Christ by faith.
  • 5 – we are a spiritual house and a holy priesthood.
  • 6 – we are the ones who will never be put to shame.
  • 7 – we are the ones to whom Jesus is precious.
  • 9 – we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.
  • 10 – we are the people of God who have received His great mercy.

This list is so incredible that it’s easy to get lost in the details.  Peter is giving us a clue about what is most important when He uses the term priesthood twice.  In v. 5 he calls us a “holy priesthood” and, in v. 9 he calls us a “royal priesthood.”

In the OT, God called the Levite men to serve Him as priests.  They had special privileges and special responsibilities.  They had many duties, but you could sum them up by saying they offered sacrifices before the Lord.

When the people brought an animal to be sacrificed, the priest would do all the work of sacrificing that animal on the altar.  There was one man called the High Priest who offered the most important sacrifice of all.  On the Day of Atonement each year, and only on the Day of Atonement, he would take the blood of a goat and go behind the thick veil into the Holy of Holies where he would sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat – which was the golden lid of the Ark of the Covenant.  That act signified that the sins of the people had been atoned/covered, by the blood of the sacrifice.

He was the only one who could offer that sacrifice and only on that one day each year.  It was one man, one sacrifice, and only once a year.

The whole OT sacrificial system clearly implied that it wasn’t easy to approach God.  The ordinary Israelite could not offer his own sacrifices; he had to go through the priest who offered his sacrifice for him.  The priest served as a go-between to bridge the gap between God and man.

But Peter says, “That’s all changed now that Christ has come.”

In the OT, they had a priesthood; in the NT, we are a priesthood.

In the church, every believer is a priest!  What this means, is that as priests, we have access to God.  In the OT, you had to go to the priests who had to follow certain procedures that governed what they wore and how they offered the sacrifices.  But now that Christ has come, we are all able to go directly to God without offering an animal sacrifice.

What does that mean to us as a congregation?  I am your pastor, but I am not a priest acting on your behalf.  You don’t have to come to me in order to pray or read your Bible.  You can talk to God on your own any time you like.

In the body of Christ, we are all fundamentally equal.  I couldn’t tell you how often I have had people ask me to put in a “good word for them” because they feel I have a special inside track to God.

As a church, we have pastors – I see Darryl functioning in that kind of role with our youth…and we have elders – but we don’t have a special group of priests.  Every believer is a priest.

When J. Vernon McGee preached on this passage, he called his sermon, “You are a catholic priest!”  He was right – because the word “catholic” means universal.  So, we are all priests before the Lord!

How many of you brought a lamb with you to church today?  Did anyone bring a bull and leave it tied up out back?  Anyone bring some turtledoves?  No, we didn’t bring any animals because Heb. 10:1-4 tells us that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin.

That whole system of animal sacrifice ended when Christ died on the cross.  His one sacrifice did away with all animal sacrifice.  But, that doesn’t mean we don’t offer sacrifices.  It just means we don’t offer animal sacrifices.

John MacArthur, in his commentary on this passage, lists seven sacrifices that Christians make as part of the royal priesthood:

  1. Our bodies – Rom. 12:1
  2. A sacrifice of our praise – Heb. 13:15
  3. Our works are a sacrifice – Heb. 13:16
  4. Our generous gifts – Heb. 13:16
  5. Those we win to Christ – our converts – Rom. 15: 16
  6. Our love – Eph. 5:1-2
  7. And, our prayers – Rev. 8:3-4

Every part of our lives are to be a sacrifice offered to God.  All that we do and say should be a heartfelt offering of ourselves in gratitude to God for all His goodness to us.

There is another way to look at what it means to be a priest.  The Latin word for priest is pontifex, which comes from two words meaning “to make” and “bridge.”  A priest makes a bridge between God and man. Jesus left us on earth to be bridge-builders for Him.

  • We do that when we worship.
  • We do that when we praise Him.
  • We do that when we confess our sins to Him and not to a priest.
  • We do that when we pray.
  • We do that when we give.
  • We do that when we witness – tell others about Him.
  • We do that when we do acts of mercy and kindness to others.

Jesus left us here to represent Him on earth.  You and I can be a priests wherever we are, 24/7.  You don’t have to wait to come to church to be a priest.  We are all portable temples and mobile priests.

And just to be clear, you don’t have to go to seminary to be a priest.  You don’t have to preach to be a priest.  And, you don’t have to wear a robe to be a priest.

One of our most powerful activities in exercising our royal priesthood, is prayer.  I heard a senior saint recently say, “I can’t do much anymore but I do have time and strength to pray.”  If praying is all you can do, don’t cut yourself short – prayer is the most important part!

And, the church is not just what happens when the royal priesthood comes together to minister in Jesus’ name.  You are acting like a priest when you go visit Loretta Blain in Red Deer Hospital – she commented on Friday night that she wasn’t getting very many visitors.  You can’t stay long, but a short visit is a good thing.

You act like a priest when you take note of who is missing from our midst, and you call them up to let them know they are missed…no guilt, just a simple statement, “We miss you!”

You act as a priest when you pop in on Margaret Dinnsen or Shirley Felker or Bob Towns.   Or, when you call Mel & Nancy and let them know you are praying for them as a family and particularly for Wilma.   And the list could go on and on.  But, most important of all pray for all of these needs and so much more.

There’s another part of the text I want us to notice in closing.  In the ESV, in v. 9, Peter says God has done all this for us so that we might “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  This is the true work of the church.  We are left on earth to proclaim how excellent our Lord is!  That’s our job description.  That’s our calling.  That’s why God left us here instead of taking us straight home to heaven when we were born again.  We serve a God of unending excellencies!  And, therefore, it’s our job to make sure the world knows how excellent He is!

So, again…like I’ve been saying in several of my sermons recently, it’s not about you and it’s not about me.  It’s all about God and what He has done for us!  When the church fulfills its true calling – what we are here for – the world will recognize that we are radically God-centered.

  • We all know it – but were in darkness until God called us into His marvelous light!
  • We were not a people until God made us His people.
  • We had not received mercy until God showered His mercy on us.

This sermon in just one sentence would be:  God made you who you are so you could tell the world who He is!  We exist to advertise how excellent our God is, to the world around us.  As children of God, created in His image, we are in the PR – Public Relations – business.  We’re God’s agents on Planet Earth.  This is the full-time job description of a royal priest — to declare the glories, the praises, the adoration, the worship – of our God and King.

So, what does that mean for us this morning?

  • We ought to be flowing over with gratitude to God for what He has done for us and in us. If we are not thankful to the Lord, shame on us!  Christians ought to be the most thankful people on earth and not just on the 2nd Monday of October.
  • Secondly, out of this thankful heart should flow a joy that cannot be suppressed. If you can’t find reason to rejoice in who you are as a follower of Jesus, then something is seriously wrong in your walk with God.
  • Out of abundant joy, should come an overflow of worship before God. When a team leads us in singing songs of worship…belt it out!  Not because you are the greatest singer, but because you know the King of kings, Lord of lords and God of all gods.

And, by the way welcome to the priesthood.  Let’s praise the Lord together.

Let’s pray…

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