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1 Peter 2:9-10
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a HOLY NATION,
a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies
of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 
for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you
had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (NASB)
While snipers, soldiers, and biochemical experts are hard at work
keeping athletes at this summer's Olympic Games safe, elite priests will
also be on duty to deal with matters of the soul. Orthodox priests
from the Church of Greece will be available to any athlete at any time.
They will also hold morning and evening services every day at the Olympic
A spokesman, Father Economou, said the priests are multilingual
and speak European or Slavic languages and have received special instructions.
They will have printed material in foreign languages for athletes.
Economou added, "Not just any priest could do this work, they have to have
special qualifications." The church of Greece also instructed area
churches to clean up their property, ring bells sparingly, and have brochures
ready for tourists who are interested in the country's Orthodox heritage.
I'm glad the church of Greece is providing this ministry for the
athletes and am sure the spokesman is right when he says these priests
are especially qualified for the job they are doing. But even if he is
right, I wince when I read his words, "Not just any priest could do this
work..." The whole concept of "Elite Priests" helps to widen a troubling
gap between ministers. There is a sense in which ministers
need special qualifications to do the work of the Lord, but that doesn't
mean there isn't something for everyone to do. God has placed us
in us special spiritual gifts that allow us to do the work He's called
us to do. Everyone, not just priests and pastors are ministers.
The scripture never taught the division of laity and clergy.
All of God's people are to live holy lives and to serve Him. In the
Old Testament, there was a priestly order, but its function was to serve
and guide the people of God. The New Testament declares Christians
are " . . . a royal priesthood . . ." If the division isn't biblical,
when did it appear? Kenneth Scott Latourette answers that question in his
book, A History of Christianity Vol. 1. He writes, "As early as the
beginning of the second century a distinct cleavage had begun to appear
between clergy and laity, and this in spite of the fact that in the first
century every Christian was held to be a priest unto God. By the
end of the second century the clergy had clearly become a separate order
. . . " (p. 133)
Latourette refers to the priesthood of the believer here.
I've casually mentioned the Doctrine of the Priesthood of the believer
the past few weeks and haven't had time to fully develop in those sermons.
Unfortunately, there isn't time to do so today either. But I have
prepared a two page paper for you to take home and read if you are interested.
You can pick one up at the information table at the back after the service.
For now, I'd like to develop the idea of being the people of God,
beginning with The Exclusive People of God.
The Old Testament records the calling of the exclusive people
of God, the Jewish race. God calls them His chosen people.
Of particular significance is Abraham's obedience to God, in offering the
son of his old age as a sacrifice. Isaac was the sole heir
born to Abraham and his wife. Isaac was a miracle child, he
was the result of a promise made to Abraham. Yet God called on Abraham
to sacrifice that precious son.
Obediently, Abraham went to the altar to sacrifice his promised
son. God stopped him, providing Abraham with a ram for sacrifice.
Abraham sacrificed the ram in place of his son. Paul, commenting
on the faithfulness of Abraham said: "And Abraham believed God, and
it was reckoned to him as righteousness." (Romans 4:3, NASB) Faith
led to righteousness, and God blessed the seed of Abraham.
In Genesis 22:17-18, God gave a promise to Abraham. ". .
. indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed
as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore;
and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. And in your seed
all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed
My voice." (NASB)
Thus the children of Israel became God's chosen people to impact
history, commissioned to change the world. The promise was to be
blessed and to be a blessing. The Jewish nation was the exclusive
people of God.
We are not the exclusive people of God, but because of what Christ
has done for us, we are the people of God nonetheless. We are the
Inclusive People of God.
Our text says, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a HOLY NATION, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim
the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous
light;  for you once were not a people, but now you are the people
of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (1
Peter 2:9-10 NASB)
Abraham offered his son Isaac, and God stopped that sacrifice
and formed the exclusive people of God. However, God did not stop
Himself from offering His only Son to form an inclusive people of God.
Romans 8:32 says, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him
up for us all, how will He also not with Him freely give us all things?"
(NASB) God's sacrifice made it possible for Him to include the excluded.
Just when Abraham was about to kill his son, God in effect said,
You are faithful. Because of your faithfulness, I will count it as
righteousness, as if you made the sacrifice. Then God stopped Abraham
and provided a substitute for death on that altar.
Yet, when God watched His only Son dying on the cross, the Scripture
records that He did not stop the death blow. Instead He turned His
back on Jesus, allowing His only Son to die. Jesus died to buy all
His people back, to give everyone an opportunity to become part of the
people of God. Romans 9:26 states, "And it shall be that in the place
where it was said to them, ' you are not My people,' There they shall be
called sons of the living God." (NASB) All Christians are the people
God specializes in using His ordinary people to do extraordinary
work. Elisha was plowing in the field when Elijah confirmed his call.
He was doing ordinary labor. There are a number of times in the Bible
ordinary people were called by God for ministry. Moses was tending
sheep! Exodus 3:1 says, "Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro
his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west
side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God." (NASB)
That was not only an ordinary position, it was a loathsome one. It
was not a position of high esteem. Moses was an ordinary person tending
sheep, yet he became the law-giver. God used him in a special way.
Gideon was beating wheat! Judges 6:7 says, "Then the angel
of the Lord came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged
to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine
press in order to save it from the Midianites." (NASB) It is ordinary,
David, the great king of Israel, was tending sheep--just another
shepherd. "He also chose David His servant, And took him from the
sheepfolds;" (Psalms 78:70, NASB)
Amos, the fiery prophet, was a herdsman, and a grower of sycamore
figs. Amos 7:14 says, "Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, 'I
am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and
a grower of sycamore figs.'" (NASB) Throughout scripture God takes
hold of ordinary people, then does extraordinary things with them.
He can use people like me and people like you. This week
we will be reading about the fourth purpose for our lives: Ministry.
I pray you will read with open hearts and open minds because I believe
God wants to use you to do great things. God builds His kingdom through
the ministry of His people. But He does more. Ministry is also
how He builds his people. Are you a minister?
For more information on "every member a minister" go to: