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Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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February 23, 2024 12:01 am

The Royal Family

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 23, 2024 12:01 am

Christians must never forget that we are royalty, adopted by grace into the family of the King. Today, Sinclair Ferguson explains how this identity informs our calling to reflect God's majesty and glory in the world.

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It's not just the attribute of wisdom that God puts on display in the church. It's every single one of His attributes so that the church is a reflection of His holiness, the church is a reflection of His love, the church is a reflection of His goodness, the church is a reflection of His faithfulness. I think this may be one of the reasons why when there is a real living church, it's kind of incomprehensible to unbelievers. My name is not Prince Nathan.

I was not born into a royal family. But in a real sense, as we'll hear today, as a Christian, I am part of a royal priesthood, and you are too if you're in Christ. We have a clear mission given to us according to the Apostle Peter. This is the Friday edition of Renewing Your Mind as we conclude a week with Sinclair Ferguson as he has taken us through 1 Peter chapter 1 and into chapter 2. Today is your final opportunity to request the complete 12-part series if you'd like Dr. Ferguson to walk you all the way through to the end of this book.

Learn how to request this brand new teaching series at So what is our mission as the people of God according to 1 Peter 2.9? That we are to proclaim the excellencies of God, the one who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Here's Dr. Ferguson to explain. Now, we've come together to what I think is our fifth study in the first letter of the Apostle Peter. We are fairly early on in chapter 2 still, and we're going to look in this study at verses 4 through 12. Remember when we left off last time we were focusing on this marvelous idea that the church is the new community in which the command of Jesus you remember in the farewell discourse, a new commandment I give you that you love one another, that commandment is beginning to be fulfilled among God's people.

And in the first century, this was a source of astonishment to the world. And Tertullian records a couple of centuries later on that non-Christians were commenting on the fact that Christians seem to love one another in a very different way from non-Christians. And one of our applications of this marvelous letter is that it speaks with the same power to post-Christendom as it did to anti-Christendom, before Christendom, and that the same thing is true of the church in the twenty-first century.

And now Peter continues with that theme. He has been emphasizing holiness. We are to be holy because our heavenly Father is holy. And he's actually working that out in all the different spheres in which we live our ordinary Christian lives. He'd spoken about what that meant for us individually, and now he's moved on to what does that mean for us in our relationships with one another within the context of the Christian church. And to answer that question, he comes back to this basic principle. If we are to live the way God wants us to live, we must understand the new identity that God has given to us. And for this reason, he's beginning to focus, as we saw last time, on our life within the fellowship of the church, our need to love one another, our need to be hungry for the Word of God so that we may have an appetite that is filled with love for one another.

But now he backs up on that. He, as it were, takes us down into the foundations, and he tells us at the beginning of verse 4 why this is the case, and is the case because of what God has done among us, what God has made us. And this is very wonderful. Again, I think it would be interesting at the end of a church service to hand out three by five cards, give everyone in the congregation a pencil and say, how do you think about this church? How would you describe this church? And perhaps to our shame, we might not describe our church the way Peter describes the church here, that we are living stones, that we are being built together into a temple for the Lord, and that the cornerstone is actually the stone that the builders of the early first century rejected. And you'll notice how he draws on the Old Testament Scriptures to make that point. And God prophesying that he was going to lay a stone in Zion that was a cornerstone, that would lead to salvation for those who trusted in him, and yet that was the stone that the builders, the leaders of the community of God would reject.

Now, you remember, this is not the first time Simon Peter referred to this text with amazing courage. He referred to this text, you remember, in Acts chapter 4, when the builders who had rejected God's stone were actually standing in front of him. And he pointed his finger at them and said, you are the builders who rejected the cornerstone that God sent to us. And you failed to understand that He is the One around whom and upon whom God is going to do all His marvelous work of salvation. And so, he turns to these Christians and he says, now, what is happening in this new community God is creating is that you have come to the cornerstone, and you are piece by piece, stone by stone, being built together into a marvelous temple building in which the glories of the Lord will be seen, where the doors will be opened to Jew and Gentile alike, and where the praises of God, as he goes on to say in verse 7 and 8 and 9 and 10, where the praises of God will be made known.

Now, this seems to me to be a great key. Peter calls this, you'll notice, an honor, verse 7, the honor is for you who believe. But what is the honor?

What is the honor of belonging to the church? And the answer is that together, without exception as believers, as living stones, not stony stones, but living stones, Christ is carefully placing us together. And the glue or concrete that joins us together is the love that He puts into our hearts for one another. And this seems to me to be a marvelous picture. Maybe we need to think about it in cartoon terms because these stones that are being built together are people.

They're you and me. So, if with your imagination you can see this picture of Jesus Christ, the temple builder, using the concrete of His love and placing this Christian beside this Christian, and on top of them another Christian, and behind them another Christian, and let's be frank, none of them fits together. We are not naturally drawn to everyone in the church, but we are fit together by the glue of the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I wonder if in Peter's mind is the memory of the fact, do you remember when the temple was being built, there was a principle that the stonework of which it was built should be crafted away from the temple so that there would be no noise. And if you think about the life of the church as Jesus Christ crafts us together and places us together beside each other on top of one another, there's an awful lot of noise in our churches. There is a kind of often basic contravention of a simple biblical principle that we see the beauty of what Christ is doing rather than the ugliness that we see in one another, that makes us noisy about one another, that makes us complain, that makes us say as we tend to say, not, I don't fit, but she doesn't fit. And so, Peter is holding out for us an image, almost a cartoon of the beauty of what Jesus Christ wants to do. He wants to take people who are naturally incompatible, the wise with the simple, the rich with the poor, one ethnicity with another ethnicity, and bring us all together. And of course, that only works when we recognize, as we've already seen, that different though we may be, we are brothers and sisters in one and the same family of Jesus Christ. We are indwelt by one and the same Holy Spirit. Now, Peter doesn't quite make that point here, but Paul makes it, doesn't he? He says, you are the temple of God, and you are indwelt by one and the same Holy Spirit. And if you think about it, if I just thought about you through biblically informed eyes, this is a lady who is indwelt by Jesus' own Spirit.

It surely ought to be all I can do to stop myself saying, I will do anything for you. I will fit in with anything that is Christ's will for your life. And so, as we grasp this, Peter is saying, we begin to grasp what the church really is. And you'll notice he goes on, in case we have missed the point, to spell that out in verse 9. He is saying, look, God has placed Jesus Christ as the cornerstone. You have come to Him. You recognize that there are others in verse 8 who have stumbled at Him because they disobey the Word as they were destined to do.

That has not taken Him by surprise. But what is it that is true of us as those who have come to Christ and belong to the church? There is surely no beautiful description than what he goes on to say in verse 9. You are a different race. Remember how the early Christians were sometimes called a third race of men? You are a chosen race. That is to say, chosen by God. Our dignity depends not upon ourselves, but upon the One who has chosen us.

Isn't that true? I remember hearing about a little boy who had been adopted, and all his school friends knew he had been adopted. And sometimes they gave him a very hard time until he hit on what he needed to say to them. Your mom and dad got what arrived. My mom and dad chose me. That's why I'm special. And that's what Peter is saying here. Not for any good in ourselves, but because of his love, God Himself has chosen us. And again, you see, in a subtle way, he keeps on shaping and molding our thinking about ourselves and about one another. That means we cannot think about each other the way worldly people think about each other. Worldly people never think about other people as chosen by God in His love and designed for His glory.

And so, Christians think about themselves and one another totally different way. And then we are a royal priesthood. And of course, he's reflecting on the Old Testament Scriptures here where there was one family line that exercised the priestly ministry, but there wasn't a family line that exercised both the priestly ministry and the kingly ministry.

And he's saying, now, that privilege belongs to us in Jesus Christ. We have become a royal priesthood, every single one of us. We are royalty. We have been brought into the royal family. We are royal princes and princesses. It's interesting to me, I was in a church that was meeting in a school in Scotland a number of years ago in a relatively conservative part of the land, and all across the side of the school gymnasium was this great proclamation to the girls of six and seven years old, you are all princesses. Total nonsense and harmful for them to be told that they are princesses and then to look in the mirror and realize they're not beautiful, that they can't do anything they want, that people don't love them. That's why the more money is put into this drastic escapade of our governments to raise the self-image of children destroys it, and the sociologists have demonstrated that's true, and the governments persist because they do not know the answer to the problem of the human race in the twenty-first century. But you see, it is true of you if you're a Christian, that you are a member of royalty because you've been adopted into the king's family, and it is true of you as a Christian that you have access into the most intimate fellowship with God so that you call Him, you dare to call Him, as the fathers used to say, you dare to call Him, Abba Father.

But He's not finished, is He? He goes on to say, you're a holy nation. And you catch the sense that Peter has that the church of Jesus Christ is a nation separated from all other nations except that it exists in every nation.

It's a wonderful thing to experience that, isn't it? To meet someone whose language you can scarcely understand, but you're able to communicate with one another that you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you realize you belong to the same nation. The church is the genuine league of nations. The church is the genuine united nations. And all the political efforts to bring unity and harmony, they're bankrupt.

I mean, we're living in days when it's clear that these great powers do not have the power they need to bring unity and harmony. But the gospel does, and we become part of this glorious united nation, because ultimately, as He says here, we are the Lord's own possession. And this is the secret of the life of the church.

It's very simple. Now I belong to Jesus, and Jesus belongs to me. It's hardly surprising that Peter says in verse 7, the honor belongs to you, because this is what we are as the church.

Now, what is it that produces this? Well, it's produced, as He's been saying all the way along, by the fact that we have the same Father, the same new birth, and the same certificate of adoption, and the same brotherly love. So, that's who we are as a church. He goes on now to explain again in verses 9 and 10 what we are for as a church.

And this is another occasion for the blank three by five card, isn't it? I can't imagine the number of answers you would get to the question if it was asked in our churches, what are we for? And isn't it interesting that our tendency is to make that up?

Let me try and think what we should be for. And we lift up our heads and try to think what's in our brains instead of looking down to see what is in the Scriptures, because Peter makes it very clear. You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession in order that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Now, I think the way Peter expresses this is perhaps quite significant. It would be true to say, it would be true to fill in the blank card, our church is for the evangelism of our neighborhood, the evangelism of our neighbors, the evangelism of our world. But that would only be part of the truth, and sometimes part of the truth can become a distortion of the truth.

We are for something much bigger than that and something much more fundamental. We are to exist in order that by our common life together, there may be put on display the glories of the attributes, the excellencies of God. I wonder if you remember how in Ephesians 3, verse 10, Paul says that in the church, God has put on display to the angelic powers, whether good or evil powers, he doesn't say he's put on display to the angelic powers his own wisdom. He's kind of said to the angelic hosts, what do you see in the church? Answer, you see my wisdom. You see my wisdom in its foundation and the work of my Son, and you see my multicolored wisdom in the way in which I have done something this world can never do. I've brought these people together to love me, to trust me, and to serve me.

Peter is going even further than that, isn't he? He's saying it's not just the attribute of wisdom that God puts on display in the church. It's every single one of His attributes, His so-called communicable attributes, so that the church is a reflection of His holiness, the church is a reflection of His love, the church is a reflection of His goodness, the church is a reflection of His faithfulness, the church is a reflection of His perseverance, the church is a reflection of His wisdom. I think this may be one of the reasons why when there is a real living church, it's kind of incomprehensible to unbelievers. I was thinking last week about an occasion when at the end of a funeral service, somebody from the outside who was attending because of some social connection with the person who had gone to be with the Lord came up to me afterwards in complete astonishment, complete astonishment, and said, I didn't realize I was coming to a worship service. I didn't realize I was coming to a worship service. And I think what they had noticed in the midst of, yes, our sorrow and our pain, there was something that she could not put her finger on in which there was a display of the presence of God among His people in their heart approach to the Lord and in the Lord's heart approach to us in His presence in the way in which He seemed to hover with His peace over the whole service.

And that's how it is, isn't it? The world does not have the categories to understand what makes the church tick, but what makes the church tick is that the Father has given us this new family nature in order that in our life together there may be made visible the marvel of His attributes to the world. And if we pursue that a little further, we find something else. We find, as Peter goes on to say in verses 11 and 12, that this influences the way we live in the world. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles, as aliens, to abstain from the passions of the flesh to keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable so that when they speak against you as evildoers, isn't this interesting?

Surely, this is what happens. Non-believers today actually regard Christianity as a bad thing, as wicked, that the positions we hold on social matters are wicked positions. But when they come among Christians, they cannot deny that here they see good deeds and they are constrained even against their better wills to recognize that God is among His people and recognize His glory. We are aliens here.

That's the big point. And as aliens here, people will notice the difference and they will be hostile. There will be prejudice against us. But when a congregation is a congregation like this, God's new temple emerging, salt and light, the salt will be rubbed into the wounds of people's consciences, but it may be the means of preserving them for eternity. The light will expose their darkness, but it may be the means of leading them to Him who is the light of the world. One of the wonderful things about this letter is that Peter is saying to us, it's not rocket science. It's simple trust in Christ and conformity to His purposes that will make us shine as light in a dark place and make us be salt in a polluted world.

So may God make our churches like that and make us useful in His kingdom. Living in such an individualistic society, hearing Peter's emphasis on the people of God, the church of God, us as a collective holy nation is so important and refreshing. It's really good to have you with us on Renewing Your Mind. I'm your host, Nathan W. Bingham. What you heard today was the fifth message in Sinclair Ferguson's 12-part study in Peter's first letter and this series is titled Sojourners and Exiles. Today is your final opportunity to own the entire series, both the DVD and digital editions for your donation of any amount at Take your time as you work through this gospel-rich letter with Dr. Ferguson when you request this series by calling us at 800 435 4343 or online at

This offer ends at midnight, so respond while there's still time. What do you believe and why is it so important for Christians and the church to be clear on where we stand? Next week you'll hear several guest teachers as we feature messages from Ligonier's recent winter conference simply titled We Believe. Join us Monday here on Renewing Your Mind. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-23 03:10:58 / 2024-02-23 03:19:24 / 8

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