- “What is a Christian?” “What is the identity of true believers?” And perhaps, a related deeper question, “How is it that you are a Christian?”
- Continuation of our previous sermon “The Living Stone and God’s People”
- Last sermon, “Christ the Living Stone,” precious in God’s sight
- Whatever people think of Christ, he is the only Savior. It’s either we believe in him or not.
- Believers find him to be a sanctuary, a stone of refuge and security (“whoever believes in him will not be put to shame” – v. 6c)
- For unbelievers who reject Christ, they stumble and he becomes a stone of offense towards their destruction
- v. 8 — “They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.”
- Today’s sermon: “The Identity and Membership of God’s People”
- READ: Verses 9-10
SERMON POINT 1: The Identity and Membership of God’s People
- 5 allusions (more or less disguised references) from 3 Old Testament texts
- “Isaiah 43:19-21”
- Context: God promising deliverance for Jews in exile. “ I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior” (v. 11)
- vv. 19-21 — God will provide deliverance for his “chosen people”
- LXX : “Chosen race” (γένος) — 1 Peter 2:9
- “Chosen race” — Refers to Abraham’s descendants. And it implies that if they are the “chosen race” from Abraham, there is promise.
- NT Text: Peter applies this to his audience regardless of their race (Jews and Gentile who are Christians)
- “Know then that is is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7)
- Peter: “As believers in Christ, you are the true Israel, the true descendants of Abraham. The true children and recipients of promise.”
- Exodus 19:4-6
- Context: Israel before God in Sinai. Between escape from Egypt and the giving of the 10 commandments (Exo. 20)
- LXX: “Kingdom of priests” / “royal priesthood” — 1 Peter 2:9
- Why “Kingdom / Royal” — Israel just escaped from slavery in Egypt, and will now receive God’s commandments as his people. Implies that God will now rule over them as their King.
- Peter applies this to Christians who also had their escape (“exodus”) from slavery to sin and now under the dominion of Christ.
- Why “priesthood” — They are now holy and consecrated to God (banal at itinalaga ng Diyos para sa Kanyang sarili)
- Peter: “You are now priests to God.”
- SIDE NOTE: Often used to claim “priesthood of all believers” (i.e., lahat pwedeng maging pastor)
- Note: OT Context, after declared priesthood to God in Exo. 19, God still appointed the priests who will serve the tabernacle. Likewise, in NT, although all of us believers are “priests” to God, it doesn’t mean there’s no need for the special office of the pastors, elders, and deacons in the church.
- Again, as priests, believers are “to offer spiritual sacrifices to God” (1 Peter 2:5). As a royal priesthood, yung pag-hahari ng Diyos ay nagiging manifest o malinaw sa ating mga puso, isip, at buong buhay.
- Exodus 19:6 — “Holy nation”
- Context: Israel becoming a nation, one tribe, with one constitution, one land, and one covenant with God
- Peter applies this to the Christians, Jews and Gentiles, “you are now one people under the same covenant of grace through Christ.”
- Eph. 2:12-19
- “… you who were once far off have been brought near”
- “… You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”
- Exodus 19:5-6 / Isaiah 43:20-21 — “a special or treasured possession”
- **No exact wording, but is obvious in both OT texts.
- As God’s covenant people, Israel belonged to God. They are God’s possession, out of all nations and people in the world.
- And in Isaiah 43:21, “the people whom I formed for myself, that they might declare my praise” —> 1 Peter 2:9 – “a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim his excellencies…”
- Peter: Like Israel who were the testimony / light to the nations, the believers are a testimony (patotoo) of God’s mighty acts of salvation.
- Hosea 2:23
- Context: Because of the spiritual adultery of Israel (Northern kingdom, and eventually Judah), God already disowned them. Hindi na sila itinuring ng Diyos bilang Kanyang bayan. (Although there were still a remnant, the whole nation was disowned by God)
- Yet in his mercy, God now reverses his sentence against them. The time will come that those who have become ‘not my people’ (essentially “Gentiles”) will become ‘My people.’
- Fulfillment in the NT: God was merciful not only to the remnant of Israel (who became ‘Gentiles’), the true believers, but also to the other ‘Gentiles’—who are racially “Not his people” at first. (*NOTE: We are also Gentiles)
- Peter: “You believers are all part of God’s people, Jews and Gentiles.”
- Galatians 3:28-29 — “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one [people of God] in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
Implications: Summary of Allusions
Peter tells the believers, both Jews and Gentiles, that they are:
- The chosen race, the true heirs of promise
- Royal priesthood, consecrated to God
- The true nation
- God’s treasured possession
- Recipients of God’s mercy.
How significant and helpful for the NT believers to be reminded of their identity:
- While living in the midst of an ungodly society
- While being tempted to compromise
- While being accused, mocked, and threatened of persecution.
APPLY: Likewise, we believers live according to our identity in Jesus Christ. And it is important and helpful to be reminded of who we are as God’s people.
- ILLUSTRATION/EXAMPLE: During election, there’s temptation to forget and make our political biases our identity before others instead of being Christians.
- EXAMPLE: During temptation, you don’t engage with worldly activities, and when people ask why: “I’m a Christian.”
- EXAMPLE: During trials, you remind yourself, “I am God’s treasured possession. How could God abandon his people?”
**We’ll learn more application of our identity as believers in the succeeding passages in 1 Peter (applied to government, marriage, etc.)
POINT 1 SUMMARY: But let is suffice for now to say that our identity as believers brings unavoidable challenges as we live in society, but it is also a glorious privilege—that of all the people in this world—we are God’s own people.
[TRANSITION]: Now, we must recognize that Peter’s declaration of the believers’ identity as God’s people is connected to larger passage since verse 4. (*Conjunction “but” — kasalungat)
- Unbelievers reject Christ and his gospel, as they were destined to do…
- “But” as for you, you were chosen. Of all the people, you were given mercy.
- How come that the unbelievers reject Christ towards destruction, while you’re not? “I’ve received mercy…” “Well, I’m chosen.” How come that you received mercy and are chosen by God yet they are not? Why are they destined to disobey the gospel, while you are destined to receive mercy?
- The whole point of the passage from vv. 3-10 is this:
- The reason that there are those who come to Christ in faith and there are those who remain in unbelief is the sovereignty of God in salvation (repeat)—particularly in choosing who to save, and who’s not to save. Who will receive mercy, and who will not.
- Ang dahilan kung bakit may mga taong nagsisisi at sumasampalataya kay Cristo, ngunit may mga nagmamatigas at nananatili sa kanilang kasalanan—ay ang makapangyarihang kalooban at awtoridad ng Diyos sa pagliligtas.
SERMON POINT 2: The Sovereignty of God in our Salvation
TEXT: “They disobey as they were destined…” but “You are a chosen race”
*When we look at the whole Scripture, God’s “choosing” happened since eternity. (ILLUSTRATE: Not like in a Varsity tryout, where everyone performs and then the coaches chooses who to include in the team)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the word… he predestined us.
What is predestination?
- The decree of God since eternity in which he already determined (itinalaga) the end of all moral creatures—some to eternal life, some to eternal damnation.
Relate: Perhaps the most controversial and most difficult topic
One sermon is not enough to discuss the great beauty and glory of this doctrine, but will only focus on:
- What election is and is not
- What reprobation is and is not
- The sovereignty of the Triune God
The decree of predestination has two sides/parts: “election” and “reprobation”.
READ: Romans 9:21
- “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?”
- “Same lump” — (1) No value. Referring to the fallen condition. (2) Same condition (all by nature children of wrath like the rest, cf. Eph. 2)
- Out of all the human race who are fallen in sin, God predestined some to eternal life (election). (Canons of Dort 1.7)
- But election is not that God foresaw our faith and obedience, that’s why he elected us. No. God decreed creation, and upon foreseeing that mankind will fall in sin, he elected some to eternal life and appointed all the means to bring them to repentance and faith.
- Kung ipinasiya ng Diyos (appointed) na ang ilan ay maligtas, ipinasiya Niya rin na hindi iligtas yung iba.
- CLARIFY: Often, because we try not to make it sound that God is unjust, we imply that in “reprobation” God is passive. “Pinabayaan niya.”
- Asymmetrical Double-Predestination (hindi pantay):
- All is bound to hell due to sin
- Elect (God causes): God rescues the elect, regenerates and converts them actively towards eternal life.
- Reprobate (God does not cause): God does not force them to sin and go to hell (as if they want to go to heaven in the first place)
- Romans 3:11 – No one seeks for God
- Hence, reprobation is not as if God brings innocent souls to hell. Like the rest, they are guilty.
- There’s the difference in how God works for the elect and reprobate
- Asymmetrical Double-Predestination (hindi pantay):
- But it is not as if God did not “will” and “intended” that they will be reprobate.
- Romans 9:22 – “vessels of wraths prepared for destruction”
- ILLUSTRATION: Choosing between two items in a mall. When you choose the one, you reject the other and you mean it.
- Hence, may pinili vs sinumpa, itinakwil.
Is there injustice in God?
- Predestination shows both the justice and grace of God
- Romans 9:22 — He “desires to show his wrath” to those who deserve it (reprobate), but to show his grace to those who don’t deserve it (elect).
What’s behind all this? Why/how choose who to save and not to save?
His sovereign will, his sovereign pleasure (**What is sovereign?). Why not save all when he is all-powerful?
As sovereign, God has all the power but also the right to exercise his power and will however he wants, whenever he wants, and to whomever he wants. And that’s what makes God, God.
- The Father chose whomever he wanted to save, predestined them before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-5)
- The Son, Jesus Christ, paid the price required to “give eternal life to all that the Father has given him” (John 17:2)
- The Holy Spirit, like “the wind that blows wherever it wishes,” regenerates and calls whoever was elect—so that all that the Father chose, and whom the Son died for, will repent, believe and be actually saved.
It is not of man, but of God.
SUMMARY: The reason that there are those who come to Christ in faith and there are those who remain in unbelief is the sovereignty of our TRIUNE GOD in salvation.
Exhortation to Unbelievers
- Common response: “Well, may pinili na pala ang Diyos eh, wala na akong gagawin.”
- My prayer is that seeing that there will be a judgment for sinners, (and that God already predestined everyone), may your question be, “HOW WILL I KNOW I AM SAVED?”
- None of us knows who are the elect. It is the secret will of God. But we can be sure that God is also sovereign in appointing his means for salvation. He is sovereign that you are here receiving the gospel message (the central message of God) every Sunday.
- If God is calling you right now, repent and believe in the gospel. And when you see the work of God in your life, then you shall now that God must have chosen you and gave you mercy.
SERMON POINT 3: God’s People Proclaiming His Excellencies
Exhortation to Believers
I don’t know who are the elect here, but assuming that you are true believers, hear the words of Peter: “The unbelievers reject Christ and are headed to destruction, as they are destined… But you.. you are chosen.”
- Every single day, people die without Christ and shall be judged in hell, but you received mercy. What makes you different? We are also sinners.
- Inviting ate Anjie to church plant someday
- Every Lord’s Day as you leave to church, you observe your neighbors, people who are just busy with their lives as if there’s no coming judgment. We better ask, “Lord, why me?! Of all the people, why me?!”
- Friends, since we are believers in Christ, and we are here, WE DESERVE NOTHING. We’re here not because of anything in us—but it is all because by his sovereign will, God chose us and showed mercy to us in Christ.
- Hence, the truth of God’s sovereign predestination creates in our hearts nothing but gratitude. Ito’y nagdudulot na ang ating mga puso ay mag-umapaw sa pagpapakumbaba, pasasalamat, at pagpupuri sa Diyos.
- We are God’s own possession that “you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (From darkness > light; death > life; eternal wrath > eternal life)
- How excellent it is that those we are sinners, God chose us, Christ died for us, the Spirit works in us. And if the sovereign God is the one who chose us, who consecrated us, who showed us mercy—what an assurance we have in it!
- Hence, we sing, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost!” …
- And this is what will consume not just our lips, but our hearts, minds, hands and our whole being as believers. That we will desire nothing but to live for the praise and glory of our God.
- What are we Christians? We’re nothing more than guilty sinners, but chosen by the sovereign grace and mercy of God, that we would be a people who live for his glory. (Tayo’y walang iba kundi mga makasalanan, ngunit pinili at niligtas ng Diyos ayon sa Kanyang grasya’t awa, upang tayo’y maging Kanyang mga anak na namumuhay para sa Kanyang kaluwalhatian).
Reuel Dawal is the Minister of the Word and Sacraments at ZCRC. He was an intern prior to being ordained and installed as the church's new pastor. He is currently finishing his Biblical and Theological Studies at the Miami International Seminary (MINTS) online. He and his wife Yeng are married since 2017 and lives in Imus, Cavite.