But you are a chosen family, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
Peter says, “But you are a chosen race.” The Greek in this particular verse is emphatic. He is talking about the doom of those who are sentenced to hell because of disobedience and a failure to love Christ. And then he says, “On the other hand, you are a chosen race.”
Unlike those who are destined for destruction because of their rejection of Christ, you on the other hand are a chosen genos, a chosen race. And the term genos speaks of source. We are a chosen race coming from a special source, namely God.
Peter’s words here allude to a passage back in Deuteronomy:
For you are a holy people to Yahweh your God; Yahweh your God has chosen you to be a people for His own treasured possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Yahweh did not set His affection on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because Yahweh loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your fathers, Yahweh brought you out with a strong hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:6-8)
Here, Israel is said to be chosen by God. It is this text, no doubt, that is in the mind of Peter as he pens these verses. He is seeing the church, the redeemed community of God, as chosen, just as Israel had been chosen.
Back at the beginning of the letter, Peter says this:
To those who reside as exiles, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to the obedience of Jesus Christ and the sprinkling of His blood. (1 Peter 1:1-2)
It is absolutely essential for us to know that we are Christians because we have been chosen by God. This is the most incredible privilege of all. You see, it is out of our being chosen that all other privileges flow.
Over and over and over again in Scripture, we read that we have been chosen by God:
You did not choose Me but I chose you. (John 15:16)
And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)
Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What shall we say then? Is there any unrighteousness with God? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the one who wills or the one who runs, but on God who has mercy. (Romans 9:13-16)
God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him in love. (Ephesians 1:3-4)
But we should always give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:13)
Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus from all eternity. (2 Timothy 1:9)
Over and over again, the testimony of Scripture is that we were chosen before the foundation of the world in Christ by God. Why? Because He sovereignly determined to set His love upon us for His own holy purposes, which we may never fully understand. Is that not a mind-boggling privilege?
You are a Christian because God chose you before the foundation of the world. And that choice unto salvation was activated when the Spirit of God moved your heart to believe. Your being chosen does not come to reality without your faith, but that too is the work of the Spirit.
This is the only hope for wretched sinners. And if I’m thankful for anything, above all things I’m thankful that He chose me. Aren’t you?
This post is based on a sermon Dr. MacArthur preached in 1989, titled “The Believer’s Privileges, Part 5: Election and Dominion.” In addition to serving as the pastor of Grace Community Church and the voice of Grace to You, Dr. MacArthur is the chancellor of The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, Calif. You can learn more about TMU at masters.edu.
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