Anniversary Service: 4th August 2018: Adrian Brake

Adrian Brake-August 181 Peter 2:4-12

This passage of scripture enables us to stand back and take stock, to ask two important questions:
Who are we?
What are we here for?

What is our identity as a congregation? What is our purpose? The apostle Peter tells us, if we’re the Lord’s people, who we are and what we are here for.

Who are we?
We are the people of God. Peter’s emphasis, in verse 10, is that this hasn’t always been the case. We were fallen, unredeemed men and women, a hotch-potch of individuals. By nature, we are almost completely individualistic in our thinking. We made ourselves the centre of everything, promoting our own causes. Few of us will help others unless there is something in it for us.

Through the gospel, God replaces individualistic identity with a corporate one. He unites people to one another, making a people, making a nation, making a church. The grace of God builds relationships. We are part of a community, part of a church. This community the Spirit creates through the gospel. We all have the same experience. We all live to glorify the God who has rescued us.

We are children, citizens, stones, sheep in the same flock. We are a people united in Christ, looking to serve, to minister one another, displaying the Spirit of Christ. Through the express will and purpose of God, we at Penuel are a local expression of Christ, bound together, serving one another. Do you see yourselves bound as a people in love? Do we have fellowship together, sharing in common the Christian faith? We are planted here with an opportunity to show people something different. In the church there is love, there is care. The relationship we have with one another can act as a powerful evangelistic tool – grace, forgiveness, love. May we serve one another. We are a people, a community placed together by God. We have a corporate identity, a corporate life.

Peter says we are the people of God. We belong to one another because we belong to God. We are God’s own special people. We are His and His alone. He owns us exclusively. We once belonged to Satan, but now to Jesus Christ. He will never abandon us. We are delivered from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of love. His forever!

Unbelievers long to know they belong. We are all made for relationships. Our fellowship is with the Father and His Son, the creator and sustainer of everything. By belonging to Him, we belong to one another.

God rejoices over us, His face is towards us, He holds us in His hands. We are the apple of His eye. His ear is always open to our cry. We are unspeakably precious, His jewels. He stores our tears in a bottle. Our suffering moves Him. He dries our eyes and stores our tears. How much are we worth? The blood of His precious Son. How valuable, how precious we are to our Father. The apostle John says, “God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:9-11).

When Satan comes to you, you suffer. Go to the cross. God loves you enough to send His Son to take your guilt. The Bible tells us Jesus went to the cross out of love for us. Do you know we are part of Jesus’ reward for enduring the cross? We have been given to Him, we are His people. We are the Father’s love gift to His Son. Paul speaks of the glorious riches – we are Jesus’ inheritance. Jesus regards us as a gloriously rich inheritance.

We are a people drawn together, united to Jesus, bought by Him, belonging to Him. Because we belong to Him, He has a responsibility to care, to provide and to protect us. When He bought us He committed Himself to look after us and provide for us in every way. We are His people, nobody else’s. We are to be loyal, obey Him and walk in His ways.

We are a ‘holy’ nation (verse 9), set apart, consecrated. To love the world, to obey the world, is to commit adultery to our God. It’s a challenge. Are we a holy people, dedicated to God, devoted to Him? Can people see who’s we are? Is it clear in our community that we are God’s people? The church in our land is often losing its distinctiveness. May we be a people totally devoted to Him.

How do we become the people of God? We are a chosen generation (verse 9). God chose to set His love upon us. He chose to make us one of His jewels. There was nothing in us that would recommend us. We had nothing to offer Him, we were in no ways deserving. We haven’t earned it. It has been freely given in an act of grace. God has gifted you a place amongst His people. He has chosen the unloved to be the lovely. Free, unlimited, undeserved love. It is so humbling. It magnifies God’s grace that He chose me, before the beginning of time. We are a people bought with the life blood of His own Son at Calvary.

God called us to Himself out of the darkness into His marvellous light. In darkness, eyes are closed to truth about ourselves and God. By nature we are oblivious that we are sinners under the righteous wrath of God. We can’t grasp it. In the dark we are blind to eternal reality. But by the grace of God, the Spirit shone the light of truth into our darkened eyes. Suddenly, the light of truth shone and all makes sense. The Spirit called us into the light of saving knowledge, to repentance, to the need to turn to God for forgiveness. We are called to the light of the gospel.

Just as God sent light to dispel the darkness of creation, so He sent light to dispel the darkness of our lives. At our conversion there was light. Praise God He shines ever increasing light as the Word is preached week by week. In verse 10 Peter tells us we are a people who have obtained mercy. He delights to show mercy. We deserve to be punished, condemned to Hell for all eternity. But God has chosen to pardon us, judgement fell on His Son.

We have been formed into a people, united in Christ. We are not here by accident; God has forged this congregation, you are blessed to be part of Penuel, Roch. God bought you, called you, pardoned you and rescued you.

Peter’s readers were battered and bruised, undergoing a fiery trial (1 Peter 4:12). Peter wants to comfort them, to strengthen them. He points them to who they are. The world writes them off as worthless, but God loves them and God loves you. He has given us things that can never be taken away. He loves us, He has taken us on freely. He has shown us mercy. We are to serve the Lord in difficult times too. We have been chosen, bought, called, loved, the recipients of mercy. Let us keep this at the forefront of our minds.

Privileges have been bestowed upon those who have turned from sin. They are channelled to us in Jesus. Have you looked to Him for grace and pardon? Perhaps you haven’t come to Christ. What you enjoy now can be taken from you in a moment. We are here to declare the praises of Him who did all this. He wants you to be declaring His excellencies, His attributes, His unmerited love, to Him in song and in prayer. Tell one another of the great attributes of God. He is all powerful, all wise, faithful. Encourage one another. Stir one another. Declare the gospel to those in darkness. Bring the greatness of God before them. We have a purpose, we are called for special work.

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