The People of God

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: Which in time past were not a peoples, but now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”- 1 Peter 2:9-10


Are you discouraged? When you turn on the news and see all the turmoil in the world, does it bring you down? Do you worry about what life will be like in the near future for us as believers in Christ? Does the very real prospect of persecution frighten you? When we go through times of discouragement, it is important that we remind ourselves of who we are. We are the people of God. Let that thought sink in for a moment. As a born again believer, you are a part of the family of God. You belong to Him. In 1 Peter 2:9-10, Peter encourages us by reminding us of who we are and what our purpose is in this life.

Who we are. The word ‘but’ in verse nine is a key word indicating a contrast. In verse eight, we find that those who are disobedient to the Gospel are destined for destruction if they continue in their disobedience and not repent. ‘But’ for us who have obeyed the Gospel by coming to faith in Christ, we are a special group of people who belong to God. Peter describes to us in verse nine who we really are.

First of all, we are a chosen generation. Here we find the same encouragement that we received in the first part of chapter one. As believers in Christ, we are the elect of God. We are chosen for a specific purpose. That purpose, as we will see, is outlined for us in the later part of verse nine and also in verse ten. The encouragement here is that since you have responded positively to the Gospel, you are now a part of God’s chosen people. If you recall, we mentioned in our study of chapter one that by the great sovereignty of God and according to His foreknowledge, He has elected three basic things. He elected a plan (the plan of redemption), He elected a nation (the nation of Israel), and he elected a people (the church). All three of the things God elected, He did so for a specific task or purpose. After all, that’s what the word ‘elect’ means. It means to be chosen for a specific task or purpose. As a believer in Christ, you are a part of His church. You are a part of God’s elected people, chosen for specific task and purpose. In other words, your life means something. You have a Divine call on your life. When you find yourself discouraged with life and all that is going on around you, look up, and remember you are a part of God’s chosen people!

Secondly, we are a royal priesthood. Here Peter mentions the great doctrine of the priesthood of believers. A priesthood is a class of people who are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the church and to carry out its functions. In the Old Testament period, God’s people had a priesthood; but today, God’s people are a priesthood.”[1] In Old Testament times, only the priests could enter into the presence of God. Now, all who have been transformed by the power of the Gospel have the privilege of entering into the very presence of God. Read Hebrew 10:19-25. As priests of God we can enter into the presence of God through our High Priest, Jesus Christ. Gathering together as priests of God in order to offer ourselves as sacrifices to Him in praise and obedience is something that must not be neglected. We are to be priests of God ‘together.’ In other words, we cannot perform our duty as a priest of God on our own. There must be a proper balance between personal growth and growth as a body. We need each other. We cannot be priests of God in this life on our own. This is why the writer of Hebrews instructs us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.

A third description of who we are is that we are a holy nation. As a holy nation, we are set apart as the people of God. We have been called out of this dark world. We are no longer a part of this world, we are a part of a heavenly kingdom. As a holy nation, we are called to be separate from the world. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate says the Lord.” “It is important that we, as God’s priests, maintain our separated position in this world. We must not be isolated, because the world needs our influence and witness; but we must not permit the world to infect us or change us. Separation is not isolation; it is contact without contamination.”[2] Sadly, many local church bodies have been contaminated by the world. The church today needs to repent of the sin of flirting with the world and once again be the holy nation that God has called us to be.

The final description of who we are as God’s people is that we are a peculiar people. When Peter mentioned that we are a peculiar people, he was saying that we are God’s own special possession. In other words, we have been bought out of the bondage of sin, and we now belong to Him. We no longer belong to this world or to ourselves, we belong solely to Jesus. He paid for us by His blood, therefore, we are His possession. We have no right to live any way we want to live. It is not our life to live. This brings great comfort to us as believers. We do not have to face this world on our own. We don’t have to live this life in our own power. It is all for Him and by Him. As His own special possession we can relax in the arms of the one who is in control.

Our purpose. Our purpose as the people of God is two-fold. We are called to display the glory of God and the mercy of God. As the people of God we are to display the praises of the one who has called us out of darkness. In other words, we are to live a life that brings glory to God. A good test to see if something is right or wrong for us to do is to ask ourselves, ‘can God be glorified through what I am doing?’ We can even test our thoughts the same way. Is God glorified by the things you think about? Is God glorified by the words that you say? Is God glorified by the things that you do? Think about it. Our purpose is to bring glory to God. If there is something in our life that we cannot honestly say that it brings glory to God then we should rid ourselves of that thing.

We are also to display the mercy of God. We are a people who have obtained the mercy of God and we should share that mercy with others. In other words, we are called to live a life that points people to the Gospel. The purpose that God elected the church for is to bring Him glory and the specific task that God elected the church for is to proclaim the mercy and grace of God to a lost and dying world.

Be encouraged. The world may be falling apart all around you. Life is hard. It is not easy living as a Christian these days. However, you are a part of the people of God. You are chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and you are God’s own special possession. So, don’t give up. Don’t hang your head in defeat. Display the glory of God through the way you live so that the mercy of God may be proclaimed to the world around you.

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 401). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 402). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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