Community Group Study Notes
Have someone in your group provide a 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
What was one thing that God was showing you through Sunday’s message?
What does it mean for us to be called a “priesthood”? Where does this come from?
What does it look like in your life to use your access to God for others? What is necessary in order for this to happen?
What is one action step you can take in light of this message and our conversation?
So as we are reemerging from a global pandemic that has kinda put the world on pause for 14 months, I've been watching in some of the headlines in some Christian publications and trying to understand what they're saying. And there's a lot of content as you can imagine, but there were a few headlines that grabbed my attention that I wanna point out to you. And I'll tell you why in just a second. Here's the first one, it's from "Christianity Today." And it says, "Back without a bang, returning to church won't be the celebration we once imagined." And there was another one from called "Church Fuel," and the headline was this, how to get people to come back to church. And then finally, "The Christian Chronicle" had this headline; after the pandemic, will people return to church? Now, I don't fault any of these magazines for writing stories along these lines, they're to be expected. And we obviously expected some of those stories to come out. But what I was concerned with, is what it communicates. It communicates a wrong idea about the church. It suggests that the church is a place, how to get people to come back to church? Well, that's kinda an odd thing when you start to read the context of the New Testament about the idea of the church, because that idea actually separates people from a place called the church. How to get people to come back back to church; as if the church is just a place. The New Testament it's clear that that's not the case, that the church is not a place, that we're not talking about just bricks and mortar, a destination that someone goes to as if we could somehow separate ourselves out from the place that we're not a part of the church because we're not in this place called the church. And therefore we can just be and act as consumers do in terms of choosing our cars or our coffees or our churches, right? But the New Testament actually talks differently about the nature of the church. And to be honest with you, that's why we're kind of taking on or embarking upon a series that we're calling Church Reset. Because as we're all reemerging from this time where we have been separated for some period of time and still are to some degree, and I recognize that, we wanted to actually look at pictures of the church. That the New Testament gives us so that we could understand the church's nature and understand what that means for how we actually live our lives. Because if we're just thinking about church as destination, if we're just thinking about church as place, if we're just thinking about church as a building, we're missing how the New Testament paints these beautiful pictures of what the church actually is. And so today, when we begin looking at the first of those pictures and we're gonna look at a number of them over the next few weeks, we're gonna look at the church as a priesthood. Now I know, I know, I know, I know. I know. You're probably thinking to yourself, that is not how I would describe myself. Because when I think of the priesthood or priest or whatever that is not the first thing that comes to mind, when I think about this describing me. And you're saying the church is the people of God, and that the people of God are a priesthood. And you're thinking to yourself, "I don't know if I can really dial in to that because that doesn't make good sense to me. In fact, that's actually something that I use not to describe myself." When you're at the family gathering and they say, "Hey, so-and-so, why don't you pray for us?" And you're like, "Well, pray out loud." What do you think I am a priest or something?" Right? Or when you wanna make some kind of moral commentary on something, but you don't wanna seem like you're too holy. You kinda set it up with, "No I'm no priest or anything, but;" and then you fill in the gap, right? So it functionally becomes, this idea of the priesthood functionally becomes something that we use not to describe ourselves because we view it as a special class of people, right? We think to ourselves, wait a minute, there's this priesthood. And they're the special class of people. And I'm not a part of that class of people. And so I'm not really one of those people. But I find it interesting that in the New Testament, we have a fisherman who explains to us who we are in our role as priests. His name is Peter. You can find it in 1st Peter chapter two. And if you have a Bible, I would encourage you to turn with me there, so that you can take a look at this alongside of me. 1st Peter chapter number two. And if you're looking in a physical copy of the Bible, maybe start from the back. Because 1st Peter is further on into the New Testament. You can start from the back and start working left if you want to. If you've got a device, you just type in one Peter, and you'll be able to find it pretty easily, okay? 1st Peter chapter two, let's listen to this fisherman tell us a little bit about our role and our status as a priesthood. Here's what he says beginning in verse number four; he said, "As you come to Him," Him meaning Jesus; "As you come to Jesus, the living stone rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him, you also like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood; offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in scripture it says: 'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone. And the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.' Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone and a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. They stumble because they disobey the message which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." So two times in this passage, Peter actually refers to the fact that we are a priesthood. He calls us a holy priesthood, and says that we are a royal priesthood. Now, if you're wondering, why is Peter the fisherman, writing about us being a priesthood? Well, you have to understand a little bit about who he's writing to. Now, he's writing to a group of people that are believers who have been scattered all over the place. In fact, you see it when you begin to open up 1st Peter in the very first words of the book are these; in 1st Peter chapter one. It says, "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ," he's telling you who he is, that's writing. And he says, "This is to God's elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with His blood: grace and peace be yours in abundance." You see what Peter does here in the opening of this book, is he tells us that he's writing to all of these believers that are scattered out all over the place. So here's what that tells us, listen carefully; it means that Peter is writing to a group of believers who do not share the same place, they do not share the same background, they do not share the same, maybe even ethnicity in many ways that we know that to be the case because of places like Antioch and other places, right? They don't share any of these things. So he's writing to them, not because they have a shared geography, but because they have a shared identity; and their shared identity is, they are a priesthood. Now, the reason that Peter is talking about this idea of the priesthood, is because he's carrying over something that was true of Israel. And he's saying that it applies to the church. You see, Peter is actually quoting from the Old Testament scripture where God spoke through Moses and said, "Moses, I want you to tell this to the Israelites." Here's what that said, in fact, it's in Exodus chapter number 19. God says, "Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites." So not only did God tell Moses to tell the Israelites that you are to be a kingdom of priests, but even when you fast forward a number of generations, the prophets are anticipating the same thing; a time when that will be the case. Listen to what Isaiah said in Isaiah chapter 61, he said; "And you'll be called priest of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God." So what you have in the Old Testament, is you've got Israel that is set up to be a kingdom of priests, and that they will be priests and ministers to the Lord. But because we're talking about an identity, right? Not just a geography, we're talking about an identity as a priesthood, this actually goes back farther than Israel. It goes all the way back to the beginning of humanity. In fact, when you look at Adam and Eve, you may not realize this when you're reading it because you're thinking to yourself, "Well, Adam and Eve, man, they're just, they're the first human beings that are recorded in the Bible." They're the first people to demonstrate the image of God, right? Yes. But you know what they also are, priests. Jerry, how did you get that? I got that because that's what the Israelites thought of them. That's exactly how they viewed them. That when we see Genesis chapter one and Genesis chapter two what we see is in this creation narrative that God has created this cosmic temple for Himself, a place in which His presence is going to dwell. And He places image bearers of His, as priests that are ministering in this place. That functionally what you have, is this holy place that's called Eden. And inside of that, you've got a most holy place called the garden where these priests, Adam and Eve, are ministering and a part of the presence of God Himself. You say, "Jerry, do you really think that the Israelites thought that about it?" Yeah, for sure. Because when you read the Hebrew form of how God walked in their midst in the garden, it's the same Hebrew form as when God dwelled in the presence of the tabernacle. When you look at the construction of the tabernacle and the temple, what you find in there, is you find woodcarvings of the Garden of Eden and the tree of life. Why? Because they viewed that place as a cosmic temple of God's presence; and Adam and Eve, as ministers or priests in that temple. In the same way, Adam was told, that he is to keep and to work the Garden. And that is the same instruction that is given to priest when they minister in the temple. And by the way, when the temple was built, do you know what direction it was facing? East. Do you know why? Because that's the same as the Garden of Eden. They viewed it as a temple into which priests were operating. So the beauty of this is this, is that Adam and Eve were priests, Israel as a nation is a priesthood. And now Peter says, "The church is also called a priesthood." Now, how has the church of priesthood? How is that even possible? Well, through Jesus of course, that's how it's possible. Because He's our great high priest, right? That's how we understand that. In fact, when you look at the very first words of 1st Peter two verse number four, it says this; "As you come to Him," Him, meaning Jesus, right? That ultimately the reason that we can be called a priesthood, is because of Jesus Himself. In fact, the writer of Hebrews says it this way in chapter five, he says; "every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed," listen to these instructions. "And is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. That priest is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since He Himself is subject to weakness. This is why He has to offer sacrifices for His own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, Christ did not take on Himself the glory of becoming high priest. But God said to Him, 'You are my Son; today I've become your Father.' And He says in another place, 'You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.' During the day days of Jesus' life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death. And He was heard because of His reverence submission. Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered and once made perfect or complete, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him. And was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek." So Jesus was given this status as high priest. He didn't seek after it, He was given this status by the Father as the great high priest. And what did He do as the high priest? Jesus is the great high priest, as you remember, right? Because you remember what happened with the priest of old. One day a year, they would go into the Holy of Holies on the day of atonement, right? There was this holy place but then behind this massive thick curtain, there's what was called the Holy of Holies or the most holy place. One day a year, on the day of atonement the high priest would go into there and He would offer sacrifices on behalf of the people; to plead with God for His mercy over the sins of His people. The priest would offer them for Himself as well. And remember it was the blood of bulls and goats and lambs, those types of things, that were offered up as sacrifices. And this happened one time a year. But Jesus, our great high priest, goes into the presence of God, because what He did is He not only was the great high priest, but He also made Himself the offering. The great high priest was Himself the offering. He was priest and lamb, and He offered Himself on a cross, to die on behalf of the sinful humanity that He had come to save. And that even though He was a perfect sacrifice, He took upon Himself the wrath that God would pour out against the sins of the world. And He took it upon Himself and He died in place of sinful people. But He was raised from the dead, demonstrating the sufficiency of His sacrifice to the Father and that now through faith in Him, the resurrected Son of God, we can be reconciled to God. Aren't you grateful for a high priest who made Himself the offering, so that you and I, could be reconciled to the Father? This is the beauty of the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ now. You remember what happened, right? The reason we know that Jesus was the great high priest, do you remember what happened when He was on the cross itself? When He died on a cross? Matthew tells us this in Matthew chapter 27; "At that moment the curtain of the temple;" that separated out everybody from the most holy place. "The curtain of the temple was torn in two." Notice what it says, "From top to bottom." Why was that so important? Because it was God Himself that tore the curtain, because Jesus now through His body, through His death, had opened a new and living way for us to enter into the Holy of Holies, and come to God through no human mediation, but only through the mediation of Jesus Christ. This is the beauty of what Jesus has done on a cross for us. And listen, I'm going somewhere with this, because this is what Peter says to us that we are a priesthood because of Jesus. If you wanna write down a summary statement, it's this, is that all believers share in Jesus' priestly status; as He was anointed as a priest, so too are we, in Him. Now, I know you're jotting some of this down and trying to make sense of it, but what I wanna make sure that you understand is this, is that every believer, shares in Jesus' high priestly status. Because He shared it with us. As He was anointed as a priest, so are we. Now, some of you are going, "Wait a minute, are you saying that I'm a priest?" Sort of, what I'm saying is that we are a priesthood. That's what the scripture actually tells us; that we're a priesthood. Now, does that imply that we are priests? Yes, it does. But we are a priesthood. Now this idea of the church as priesthood, was precious to the early church. But over time, this idea got buried. Now I don't have time or energy frankly, to go through the history and the reasons. I'm not sure that I could actually name them all anyway. But the history and the reasons for why this got buried, are long and varied. But let me summarize by simply saying this; within a few centuries after the birth of the early church, you had what emerged was a special class of people called the priesthood. And then a regular class of people called the laity or lay people. That's what happened after a few centuries on from the beginning of the early church. And that became to be ingrained in everybody's mindset, right? Is that there's this special class of people called the priesthood. And as regular people, we're not a part of that, that's a special class of people. But the rest of us are called lay people or the laity, right? But thank God that there was a man, there were a number of people by the way, but there was one man in particular named Martin Luther. And a number of centuries ago, Martin Luther is reading the New Testament, and the New Testament is exploding in his mind and in his heart. And what he's seeing is he's almost feeling like he sees it for the first time, all over again; not only the idea of being justified by faith in Jesus alone, but he's also seeing the idea that there's a priesthood of all believers. That this is something that the New Testament actually talks about, and that was precious to the early church, but that we've somehow allowed to get buried over the course of time and tradition and all of that. And he began talking over and over again about the priesthood of all believers. Now what's the thing is that, he just reemerged something that was already true, that was already contained within the scripture but had been buried over the course of so long a time. And as he did, people's minds began to say, "Yes, of course that's exactly right. The priesthood of all believers." But do you know what happened? Is that the more the time passed after Martin Luther and the more individualized our culture has become, what you began to hear more of, was not the priesthood of all believers, but the priesthood of each believer. Now, I understand that there's nothing wrong with that, because every one of us are priests within the context of the priesthood. But what Peter was saying, when he was writing this to all of those scattered believers, is that he was writing to you plural as a priesthood, not you singular as a priest. That's important for us to remember, even though we as individuals, have access to God on our own, we don't have to go through anybody; you don't have to go through me to get to God, you have access because of what Jesus has done. And there is a sole efficacy for every single individual human being that we thank God for. But Peter's emphasis was actually on us as a priesthood, more than I as a priest; even though both are true. Now, the reason that that's important is because ultimately what we begin to understand is that Luther, when he began to reemerge these thoughts, is he began arguing that our priesthood is not actually fundamentally about us. It's about others. That priests by their nature, were there to minister on behalf of them. We read that earlier, I called your attention to it. They were there to minister on behalf of others. That's important for us. I love the words of Dr. Timothy George. He was the founding Dean of the Beeson Divinity School, a really great first rate scholar. And he said this about Luther. He said, "For Luther, the priesthood of all believers did not mean, 'I am my own priest.' It meant rather: in the community of saints, God has so tempered the body that we are all priests to each other. We stand before God and intercede for one another. We proclaim God's word to one another, and we celebrate His presence among us in worship, praise and fellowship. Moreover, our priestly ministry does not terminate upon ourselves. It propels us into the world in service and in witness." I think he's got this exactly right, because when we start asking the question, now that we believe that we are a part of a priesthood, what does that mean in terms of how I live my life? Those are questions I believe that we can answer from 1st Peter two. That we've just been looking at. So let's take a moment, and let's pull out some ideas from 1st Peter two, that will help us understand how we live as a priesthood. What does this look like practically? The first is this, is that we use our access to God for others. We use our access to God for others or for the sake of others. Look again what it says in verse number five, it says this; "You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering;" notice that the implication is, is that what priests do or what the priesthood does, is the priesthood is actually making an offering, right? That's part of the idea of what it means to be a priest. And that this offering is actually on others' behalf. That's what priests did. Is that they ministered before God on behalf of others. So in other words, the priest was given access to God on behalf of other people. So what should you and I do in that regard, if we want to practice our priesthood, if we want to live out our identity as a priesthood? We should use our access to God for others. You're saying, "Oh, Jerry, okay. Yes, but how do I do that? How do I use my access to God for others?" I can give it to you simple, one word, pray. You've got access to God on behalf of others. Pray, pray for them. This is I believe exactly what Paul, was motivated to teach his young protege Timothy when he was helping Timothy; saying, "Timothy, you gotta go lead this church in ." And Paul wrote him a letter, right? He wrote him too actually 1st Timothy and 2nd Timothy. And do you know that this idea is what was motivating Paul? When he talked to Timothy? Listen to what he said in 1st Timothy chapter two; "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving, be made for all people; for Kings and all those in authority that we may live peaceable and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." Do you know what he was saying to Timothy? "Timothy, teach people to practice their priesthood." "How, Paul?" "By making intercession, prayers, petition and thanksgiving before God for all people; including those who are ruling you." Including them. By the way, when he's telling that to Timothy, there are Caesars that are leading the Roman Empire, that have governmental control on all of these places to which these people have been scattered all over Asia minor. It is still within the thumbprint of the Roman Empire and under the control of a Caesar. And you know what Paul says? whine about it. Nope, pray for him.
I don't care who you voted for in the last election, I don't care who you voted for in the election before that; your responsibility to practice your priesthood, is whoever occupies governmental offices, you pray for them. You pray for; whether it was President Obama, or President Trump or President Biden, we pray for them. And we pray that God would keep them and frustrate things that they would do that are ungodly. And we pray that God would help give them wisdom that they would receive from Him, so that they could do the best for the most people in our country. And so that we can live peaceable and quiet lives, and help the gospel to run free among the people. That's how we pray. We pray for governors, we pray for congresspeople, we pray for those that are in authority. We do it here from time to time in our corporate worship. We should do it on our own as well. But he actually says pray for everybody. Pray for everybody. How can we do that? The interesting thing is when Paul wrote that in 1st Timothy chapter two verses one and two, the reason that we can do it was named in verse number five of that same passage. Notice what it says; "For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus." The reason that we can approach God is because of Jesus being the only mediator between God and humanity. And now we have access to the Father, and it's unhindered access. Can you just sit with that for a second? You and I, if we have put our faith in Jesus and been transformed, been born from above, we have unhindered access to God. That God that spoke the cosmos into existence with a word. And we can have a word with Him. Can you imagine! God allows us to enter in to the very throne room and to speak to Him! How are we using that privilege? How are we using that privilege? Are we practicing our priesthood? Are we priests in our family? Where we are praying for those that are in our immediate family? Are we priests in our neighborhood? Where we are praying for those that live in our neighborhood and around us. Are we priests in our church family, where we are actually praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ? I long for the day when we see that playing out as it should. Because at times, people still have something in their heads. Now I wanna say something, I love the fact that when I'm walking around, sometimes in the atrium and seeing people or whatever, and they'll stop me, "And pastor, I need you to pray for me." I'm honored to be able to do that. Thank God, we have access to the Father and we can pray for one another. But I want you to understand something, I don't have any more access to the Father than any of the rest of these brothers and sisters in Christ. I don't have sitting in my office a red phone, that I can pick up, and I hear it from people all the time. "Hey man, why don't you have your brothers and sisters in Christ pray for you? Well, you've got a special line there." There aren't special lines. Jesus is the special line. He's the mediator between God and humanity. There aren't some other special connections. Every one of us has access to the Father. So wouldn't it be awesome, that when you look around an atrium, or you look around after a Sunday and people are seated in the seats or whatever and milling around afterwards; that instead of just the only thing that you see, as occasionally you see the pastor or one of the pastors praying for somebody in the atrium, but you see priests praying for priests all over the place! Because we're using the access we have to God for others. Sometimes that means, we use the access that we have to God to bear the burden of other people. People that have been marginalized, people that have been abused. And we gladly fill up in our flesh; that which is lacking in the sufferings of Christ as Paul said. Because it's an honor for us to go before God on their behalf and bear up their burden with them because we are practicing our priesthood. We are being preached to one another. So y'all are going, "Oh, yeah." Yup. I know I need to do that, hadn't been doing it. I probably should. I'm clapping so the Lord knows my heart's in it, but I need it help. I understand. We're all there. That's the first idea here that we need to remember from the text. Is that we use our access to God for others. It does impact our own lives too by the way, in a beautiful way. But as priests, what we do fundamentally, is we are ministering on other's behalf. Let me give you a second reminder. This is another way we can live out our priesthood, is that we offer spiritual sacrifices. Right, the text tells us this really clearly. Look again in verse number five, it says this; "You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." Let me show you a couple of things here. So when it says that we are a spiritual house, this idea here can also be translated that we are a temple of the spirit. Some of you, if you're looking in your Bibles, you'll see a footnote next to that that'll say, "Also can be translated as, a temple of the Holy Spirit." And what happens within a temple? That's where priest minister. That's why we're talked about as a holy priesthood. And what do priests do? They offer sacrifices that are acceptable to God. But what's interesting here, listen to this. What's interesting here, is that Peter says that what we would be doing in this spiritual temple, is that we're offering spiritual sacrifices, right? Remember what you saw kind of initially in the Old Testament as you saw the blood of bulls and goats, and sometimes you would see incense that would be offered as well. So you've got these kind of tangible things that are offered as sacrifices. And here Peter says, that we're to offer spiritual sacrifices. What does that mean? It doesn't mean that everything is non-tangible, but certainly some things may be. What does that mean exactly? What does it mean for us to practice our priesthood by offering spiritual sacrifices? I'm gonna give you three real fast, you're ready? The first, is that we offer ourselves. That this is a spiritual sacrifice. You're going, "Wait a minute, are you sure about that?" I'm positive. You know why? Not only because of what I'm gonna show you in the text of scripture itself, but I want you and I to remember that Jesus, listen to this, Jesus was priest and offering. And do you know those of us who are in Christ, that now get to share in His priestly status, do you know what we are as well? Priest and offering. We offer ourselves. Listen how Paul said in Romans chapter 12, he said; "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy; to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God; this is your true and proper worship." There's the language, isn't it? The languages is that we take ourselves, and we put ourselves on the altar, and we say, we are as priests, making an offering to you, God. And that offering is we're offering ourselves. Whatever you want, however you want it, is a yes from us, God. Because we are here, you have made us, you have saved us, you have changed us and you didn't do that to allow us to just start living any way we want it to live, you are Lord over our lives. Here is our life, do with it what you desire. That is a spiritual sacrifice; an offering of ourselves. But, there's also so the tangible nature of offering our gifts as well. Not only ourselves, but our gifts. In fact, listen to how Paul said this in Philippians chapter number four; he said, "I've received full payment and have more than enough. I'm amply supplied, now that I've received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are," listen to how he described these gifts. "They are fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God." He's actually using the language of spiritual sacrifice to describe this generous gift that was given to Him in the fulfilling of His ministry. And then listen to how it's also related in Hebrews chapter 13; "Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." This also is a spiritual sacrifice, this idea of being generous, being willing to give. And do you know what that comes from? First, being willing to offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. Because you know what comes with offering ourselves? It says that, "Hey, we wanna be able to offer our gifts, our abilities, our resources, our time, our faithfulness, all of that; it's all yours, God." And so as we offer ourselves, we can also offer our gifts and steward them for the sake of the Kingdom of God. But there's a third way that is described in terms of spiritual sacrifices, and that's praise itself. Listen to how Paul, I'm sorry, listen to how the writer of Hebrews; and Hebrews chapter 13 says it; "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise; the fruit of lips that openly profess His name." The sacrifice of praise. Do you know how attractive it is my brothers and sisters? Do you know how attractive it is, when people who have hearts that have been transformed by the glory of God, open their mouth and give Him praise for what He's done and who He is? Do you know how attractive it is, when your circumstances are not so good, and you still open your mouth and say, "Whatever my circumstances look like, here's what I know, God has not changed. He is good. He is worthy of worship. He is worthy of praise. He is still who He is regardless of what happens in my own world." That's an attractive witness to the people in this world. And when we gather together, listen, when we gather as a priesthood, our praise should explode from our lips.
Because we are people who have an overflowing grateful heart, and our lips begin to offer the sacrifice of praise to God. We should not, when we gather as the priesthood of God, and some of you are like, "I'm not really a singer. I just like listening to this stuff and all that stuff." I get it, but let me tell you something. Jesus is worthy of you suffering through your own embarrassment listening to your horrible singing voice. The scripture didn't say sing good, it just said, make a joyful noise. For some of you the emphasis is on noise. For some of us, I want the emphasis to be on joyful, right?
That we joyfully make this noise, even if it doesn't sound great. Listen, even if it doesn't sound great to your neighbor, you're not singing to your neighbor. You're singing to Jesus. And He thinks it's beautiful. Have you ever had a child, if you've ever had a child and they come in when they're two or three, and they wanna do a talent show and they can't hold a tune in a bucket, they couldn't hold it in a bulldozer. It's like a dead llama on the side of the road, and you love it. You love it.
You don't walk away going, "My child can not sing for nothing." You walk away saying, "Yeah, they're not a great singer, but man, that was awesome. That was awesome." Our Father rejoices over us with singing. We sing and we pour out our praise to Him and He sings back over us. It's a spiritual sacrifice because we're priests. This is a priesthood. And when we gather together, we should open our mouths to let out that which He's done in our hearts. Because out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks or the mouth sings. And we ought to give Him the praise and the glory that's due Him.
He is worthy. How do we live of our identity as a priesthood? Well, we use our access to God for others and we offer spiritual sacrifices. But thirdly, let me just remind you quickly that we talk and live our faith in Jesus. You'll see that in our text here that we both live our faith in Jesus and talk our faith in Jesus. You realize that priests couldn't just live any old way that they wanted to. They were expected to be people who had dealt with their own lives before they started walking into the Holy of Holies. That they were repentant and they were desiring to walk close and clean with God. They didn't just do whatever they want and show Him just go, "Wisdom of God;" and start walking into the Holy of Holies. That was a good opportunity for being dead. 'Cause this was a holy place, right? And they needed to be purified before even walking in this place. But we who have been purified by the blood of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, we need to have lives that reflect the transformation. And then maybe it gives power to the words that we say. Listen to what Peter went on to say in, beginning in verse number nine, he says; "But you're a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession; that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, now you are the people of God. Once you had not been shown mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us." Do you know what was contained within that? That we would not only be people who proclaim the good news of who God is, but that we have lives that back up the good news of how He's transformed us. You see, as a priesthood, we should be people that live lives that demonstrate the gospel, and that speak the words of the gospel. In fact, Paul, when he was writing to the Romans, Paul called it our priestly duty. Listen to what he said in Romans chapter 15; "Yet I've written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles." Listen to this phrase; "He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God sanctified by the Holy Spirit." Why are we proclaiming the gospel of God? Because we are a priesthood. And what we want to see, is we want to see more and more acceptable offerings to God in people. That's what we want to see. This is our priestly duty that we talk and we live our faith in Jesus. What I'm concerned about, is that oftentimes, the reason in our generation and in our culture, the reason that people are not as quickly responding to the gospel of Jesus when it's presented, is because there are not lives of the gospel of Jesus that are presented. And that's the difference. We need to be people who live our faith in Jesus and who talk our faith in Jesus. Just imagine, if we acted out our priesthood together as a body, imagine if we didn't live like consumers, who were just only concerned about themselves, man, I really loved going today, I really love the feeling I got when we sang that song. I really like listening to that guy talk, he really talks in a way that I can understand. And that's kind of it. It's like, it's all for you to consume. But instead, we lived out our priesthood. And we used our access to God as a vehicle of grace for others. Imagine if we offered our entire selves to God, which doesn't often happen by the way, there are so many people that make up the church of Jesus in the Western culture. And they know how to sing the songs, and they know how to do the motions, and they know how to talk the game; but when life happens and the rubber hits the road, they don't remotely look like Jesus, act like Jesus or think like Jesus; it's like He doesn't even exist. They just walk in the flesh and act like the world. This deep, superficial. What if instead we offered our whole lives? You don't hold things back, you offer everything to Him; who you are, period. It's all His, whatever He wants to do with it. And then we see what happens to those kinds of lives. Those kinds of lives that are so generous with their service, so generous with their time, so generous with their resources. Imagine if our individual lives and our corporate worship were marked by praise that came from grateful hearts. It's hard for people around those kind of people to resist the beauty of those lives. Imagine what it would do for our gospel witness in the world. Because for some of us, we think that our gospel witness is only in getting people to hear me proclaim the gospel. And I'm grateful for that, and that is a way. But there's a better way. That's for you to practice your priesthood among the world that you live in. Because they know you, I'm just a guy on a stage that they don't know. But they know you, they could tap into the authenticity of your faith. They could know that you tell the truth about Jesus. They can know you believe the reality of the gospel and it's transformed you. My brothers and my sisters, you are the church. You are a priesthood. You are a royal priesthood. You are a chosen priesthood. You are a holy priesthood. So let's live into that identity, because that's who we have been chosen to be, who we are anointed to be; and frankly, it's fundamental to our identity in Jesus. Because just as Jesus was chosen and anointed to be a priest, we share in His priestly status. And as a result, we can live out our priesthood for the sake of others, for His glory. Let's bow our heads together for prayer. We're gone in just a moment. If you're here and you've never before entrusted your life to Jesus, understand what I've already told you today, and it's this, it's that Jesus the great high priest has gone ahead of us. And He has offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins to satisfy the justice of a Holy God. God is Holy, God will judge sin. And what Jesus has done, is He has in His perfect life, stood in our place to take upon Himself the judgment that we deserve. What a gift of grace to us! And that through His death and His resurrection, He has paved the way for us to be reconciled to God; if we would but put our faith in Jesus, repent of our sin and trust Him. There's one mediator between God and man, that is the Man Christ Jesus. Jesus said, "I'm the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me." And so if you've never before turned from your sin and put your faith in Jesus, then I wanna encourage you to do that today. When we dismiss in just a moment, and I say amen to our prayer, when you leave this space, or if you're in here in the East Worship Center, if you just come right across the atrium into the fireside room, somebody love to take a moment and talk to you about what it means to enter into relationship with God, through His Son Jesus. To have your sins forgiven, your life made new, to have the security of an eternal home with Him. What great news! And if you're unsure of that, please come by we'd love to talk to you about that. If you're watching online, you can certainly connect with us that way. It's on the screen for you to be able to see. We'd love to know and to hear from you as well. But I also remind you of this; practice your priesthood. Maybe you need just somebody to pray with you. Well, there's two reminders: one, your brothers and sisters in Christ will do that. You can always just walk to the fireside room if you want to, and there's brothers and sisters in Christ waiting on you, and they're to pray with you about whatever your need is. They could join you in bearing your burden and going before the Father using their access to God on your behalf. You can do that among one another, people that you sit around. But if you're thinking to yourself, "I don't really have that many people around me that I can do that with;" why don't you try and find yourself in a community group? You'll have automatic people that'll do that for you and with you. You can be a priest to them, they can be a priest to you. We are a priesthood. Father, I pray in the name of Jesus that you would write this on our hearts so that we would begin living out of our identity. And that we would live up to our identity by your strength, by your power. Because it is you Lord Jesus who have shared your priesthood with us. And we thank you for that. May we be people who are willing to both be priest and offering. That we offer ourselves completely to you. And that in every way we would think about, ministering to others because of our access to you, God. God, may you be pleased with the spiritual sacrifices of our very lives, of ourselves, of our gifts, of our praise. And would you help us to live lives that are so winsome, in the way that we share and show the gospel to the world. That they would not only hear words that bear testimony of Jesus and His salvation, but they would see lives that testify to the same. Because our darkened world needs this truth, and needs us to live into the reality of who we are as a priesthood. Would you do that among us for your glory. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.