Monday, February 1, 2016

Declare Good Theology: Part 3 – Special People – Titus 2:14

purify for Himself His own special people… (NKJV)

Special People

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims … (1 Peter 2:9-11a NKJV)

Peter also calls us a special people. As used in both Titus and 1 Peter, the King James uses the word, particular. The Greek refers to the concept of a purchase or possession.[1] While this is the primary meaning of special in these two verses, the Encarta Dictionary (Microsoft Word) has seven definitions for the adjective special and nearly all of these apply to God’s people in one way or another, especially in 1 Peter 2:9-11. Let’s look at the world’s definition of special and see how it applies to us.

Unusual or Better (distinct, different, unusual, or superior in comparison to others of the same kind)

The Lord has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands. And if you do, he will set you high above all the other nations he has made. Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown. You will be a nation that is holy to the Lord your God, just as he promised. (Deut 26:18-19 NLT)

Doesn’t this fit with the definition of special? The promise given to Israel in the Old Testament is reaffirmed by Peter in 1 Peter 2:9-10. Just as God chose the nation of Israel to be His treasure and a nation that above others, we are elected by God not just to be nation, but to be part of the family of God (Eph 1:4-5). We are not superior in the sense that we are morally better than others for all have sinned (Rom 3:23). However, when we become Christians we certainly have a better future. Once we were dead but now we are alive (John 5:24). That sounds a lot better than those who are still dead in sin. Israel found praise, honor, and renown as long as the obeyed the Lord. When the final judgment comes, we will appear with Christ in glory (Col 3:4; 1 Peter 1:7). 

Reserved (unique to or reserved for a specific person or thing)

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth. (Deut 14:2 RSV)

God chose Israel for himself. He reserved this special people out of all the earth to be his own. Paul affirms that we are now the chosen remnant for Himself just as Israel had been in the Old Testament (Rom 11:5). However, being chosen also requires that we fulfill the responsibility of a chosen people. “And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col 3:12 NASB). Just as God loves us and because He has chosen us, so we should be extending the same kind of love to others. Being special does not mean that we can lord it over others but that we should serve others.

Peter said that we are “sojourners and pilgrims” (1 Peter 2:11). We are reserved not for this life but for heaven. Our home (John 14:2 ) and citizenship (Phil 3:20 ) is in heaven where our treasure (Matt 6:21) and inheritance (1 Peter 1:4) is waiting for us.

Made for Specific Purpose (made or used for a specific purpose or occasion)

that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you  out of darkness into  his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)

We are special because God has called us to do something that is impossible for non-Christians to do. While others may be able to speak wonderful things about God and Jesus, they have not been called out of darkness yet. They are not in the light so their testimony of God is deficient. They are speaking of something they have not experienced. They are speaking about a person they have not met. But we were saved out of the darkness and have now experienced the light. We have met God the Father through Jesus Christ and commune with them though the Holy Spirit. This should enable us to worship our God and Savior, Jesus in ways that they cannot do. It means that when persecution comes, we don’t fall away. It means that we have a calling to spread the Gospel making more and better disciples (Matt 28:19-20). 

Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. (2 Cor 4:1-2a NIV)

We can achieve our purpose only because we have received mercy (1 Peter 2:10). Without God’s mercy, we would lose heart because we would be trying to please God through our own strength and works. We would be like cults and other religions, some of which use secret and shameful rites. Others use deception and distort the Word of God. Because they have not received mercy and have not been called to God’s purpose, they can do nothing else. Because we have received God’s mercy, we can truthfully proclaim the God’s Word (2 Cor 4:2b). We can proclaim the light because we have the light of the Gospel in our hearts which is “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6 NIV). 

Aren’t you glad that you are one of God’s special people? If you aren’t, you can become one by turning to Jesus in faith for the forgiveness of your sins. But remember it is a faith that results in obedience; it isn’t fire insurance but surrender to the living God.

[1] Thayer's Greek Lexicon, s.v. “NT:4047,” peripoieesis, “that which is one's own, belongs to one's possessions: a people selected by God from the other nations for his own possession,” Titus 2:14

Stong’s Numbers and Concordance, s.v. “NT:4047”  peripoiesis, “obtain (-ing), peculiar, purchased, possession, saving, 2 Peter 2:9.

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