REDEEMED TO BE PRIESTS FOR THE GLORY OF THE FATHER
By Rev. Paulus Budiono
Sunday, February 18, 2018
We sing joyfully as we declare that Jesus is magnificent and that He is able to make something out of nothing. But how awesome is He for us personally?
A biography is typically written to remember a country’s leader for his outstanding achievements. It highlights his backgrounds and his great success in leading his country resulting in tremendous progress in economic, social, education sectors and so on. How about Jesus? What makes Him different from any world leaders in terms of excellence? Recording Jesus’ biography (including His personal life and great works), the Bible has been translated into hundreds of languages. But how far do we know His greatness?
What does Ephesians say about Jesus’ greatness? Ephesians 1: 7, 11-12 writes, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace… also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.”
Take note of this! Having less, or no, Bible intake, we will only see His greatness partially. Owing to that, the problems in our lives remain unresolved. Because we only see Jesus’ awesomeness and love in part.
God annointed His servants to write His story from Genesis to Revelation; they were moved by the Holy Spirit, not by human sentiments, emotions or cultures.
Never ever forget that God the Trinity always work together (Ephesians 1: 3-14), but this time we will only focus on the Person Jesus without excluding the work of the Holy Spirit or the glory of the Father.
God chose us before the foundation of the world (v. 4). Talking about elections, there must be some conditions one should meet: high intelligence, good morality and such like. Now here is the analogy: Before buying pets (dogs, cats, horses, etc.), animal lovers would thoroughly check the health conditions of the animals. More so humans. How were our conditions when God first called us? We were sinners, wretched, ready to be cast into eternal condemnation. How could He possibly choose us? Through His only begotten Son, Jesus, who died on the cross on our behalf. In Him, we have redemption through His blood (Ephesians 1:7). Saving our souls, His precious blood (1 Peter 1: 19) is irreplaceable. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul (Matthew 16: 26)? The truth is that our labor in seeking the riches of this world is in vain for the Lord provides His blessings for His beloved (Psalms 127: 2).
More often than not, God’s choice is not in line with man’s thoughts. Great prophets and God’s servants are no exception. They can think and make wrong choices. With this in mind, what are the qualifications for being the Lord’s elect?
Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16: 7).
Samuel, the prophet, was assigned to annoint someone as a replacement for King Saul whom God rejected due to his disobedience. The choice fell on Jesse’s sons. Evidently, Samuel, full of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, did not always wish to be “led” by the Holy Spirit. He was impressed by the well-built physiques of Eliab, Abinadab and Shammah (who were all soldiers – 1 Samuel 17:3). Then God reminded him not to judge them by their looks ( 1 Samuel 16: 6-7). None of Jesse’s seven sons was chosen. Long story short, God’s choice was the youngest, David, a humble, laid-back young man – a low-educated shepherd (vv.10-12).
The main lesson here is that God’s servants, no matter how great they may be, must obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Do not quickly lend an ear to “the whisper of the Holy Spirit” or a remark such as ‘The Holy Spirit is speaking to me.’ Such practice is wrong and could be misleading as it is contrary to God’s will. My message for the congregation: Do not judge your pastor by his excellent performance in preaching and spectacular miracles he performs. Instead, judge him by the way he lives out the Word of God on a daily basis.
He kept His promise to the obedient Abraham (Deuteronomy 7: 7-8).
God chose the Israelites to be His beloved people. He said, “The LORD did not set His love 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 the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers…”
God blessed His beloved people. Jacob/Israel immigrated to Egypt with 70 people in total (Genesis 46: 27). When the Exodus from Egypt took place, their next generations numbered ± 2,5 million people.
He chooses man who knows his worth.
God chose Aaron from the tribe of Levi who were notorious for their harshness (Genesis 49: 5-7). It was Levi who killed every male in Shechem when they were in pain after the circumcision (Genesis 34: 25-26).
Aaron also had his own shortcomings, among others:
- He was not outspoken but impressionable. For example, when they could not wait for Moses’ return from the mountain, the people urged Aaron to make a golden calf for them to worship. He did not have the courage to refuse their petition. Then, Aaron told them to give him their gold earrings and made a molten calf out of them. Having built an altar before it, he proclaimed that day as “a feast to the Lord” (Exodus 32: 15).
- He was a blameshifter.
When Moses rebuked Aaron who had brought forth such great sin upon the people, he blamed them, saying, “...you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil.” (Exodus 32: 22)
Introspection: Were we, the priests, aware of our conditions before He chose us? This also applies to the priests-to-be, who have joined the selection process and received a training. Are they worthy of their pristhood ordinations according to God’s Word? Your joy in ministry should not end up being a flash in the pan. After a while, you slack off or get contaminated by the senior priests who do not set good examples.
Notwithstanding Aaron’s imperfections, God still chose and annointed him as high priest who was self-aware enough to know his weaknesses. Accordingly, he could gently deal with the ignorant and the misguided, and offer sacrifices not only for the sins of the people but also for his own (Hebrews 5: 1-3).
He chose the fool and the weak of the world to shame the wise and the strong so that no man may boast before God (1 Corinthians 1: 26-31).
Don’t get me wrong─ you could study to the nth degree! What concerns me is that if you seek the wisdom of the world and rule God out from your lives, you will consequently plunge into misery. Take King Solomon for example. He owned everything─riches, fame and God’s wisdom. By God’s wisdom, he formulated 3000 proverbs and composed 5000 songs and hymns (1 Kings 4: 32); he rendered justice when faced with difficult situations (1 Kings 3: 16-27; 10:3) and many more great things. Unfortunately, reaching the end of his life, he was unfaithful to God; he was irresistibly attracted to the women who turned his heart after their gods (1 Kings 11:1-2). How on earth could he benefit from God’s wisdom to acquire 700 wives and 300 concubines? In his book of Ecclesiastes he admitted that the wisdom he had gained was vanity (Ecclesiastes 2: 15). In reality, he had not obtained the true wisdom which was God Himself.
In the light of that, God will destroy the wisdom of the wise, so that man may return to God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1: 19-21). What is the wisdom of God? Christ! (v. 24). But man takes God for a fool. How come that such an immense God became man through Jesus – helplessly weak, rejected, mocked, even tortured and crucified without fighting back. Man cannot comprehend God’s plan: the stone which the builders rejected became the very corner stone (1 Peter 2: 4, 7), that is, Jesus Christ.
If we realize who we were before knowing the Lord and then received His life-transforming grace, we will not be too quick to judge trouble makers. Instead, we will help them and lead them to know the Lord who is able to transform their lives as we have experienced it. Make sure they know that our life transformations followed a reconciliation with God!
Do you know that you were created in Christ Jesus for good works which God had prepared beforehand? (Ephesians 2:10) Do not be misled into doing meritorious works for the sake of the Torah or church organization like what the rich young man did (Matthew 19: 16-22). He thought that he had kept all the commandments in the Torah but then he asked Jesus, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?”
Jesus saw the “defect” in this young man’s heart. And He wanted to remove it so that he might become healed and gain a pure heart. What did Jesus say? “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But he preferred living with his “deformity” and his possessions to doing good things Jesus’ way.
Be careful with the good works we perform! Do not be proud and do not feel good because we can keep the rules established by the church and attend church in a regular fashion. And then you judge others who go to church on a-hit-and-miss basis without knowing all the facts. The truth is, there is none who does good, there is not even one (Romans 3: 12).
What is the purpose of our election as God’s own possession after the blood of Jesus has sanctified our hearts? To proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2: 9-10).
Now we grasp the points. If we see someone who is weak in faith with his/her shortcomings, we are obliged to help and lead him/her to Jesus who is able to help him out. Let me illustrate my point. No one would buy a dead, decayed cat. We were once dead in our trespassess and sins that landed us in trouble (Ephesians 2:1) ─ corrupt talks, unfeeling attitudes and unkind actions and so forth. But God made us alive by His great love (v. 4). Having received God’s help, we should not stay passive. Rather, we must help those who live in darkness and sin for since the fall of the first man, every intent of the thoughts of man has been only evil continually (Genesis 6: 5).
Darkness and sin are getting increasingly intense and real these days. Need any proof? More sadistic offenses committed by the minors; vulgar sexual crime done without shame as a result of easily accessible porn content; marital infidelities in church because the congregation loathes the sanctifying Word.
Living in His marvelous light and becoming a royal priesthood are manifested by walking in the light. We put off corrupt or silly talks, immorality and greed (Ephesians 5: 3-4). The one who fears the light prefers darkness. After their fall, for example, Adam and Eve were afraid and stayed away from the light. Upon hearing God’s footsteps walking in the garden, they hid themselves among the trees of the garden at once (Genesis 3: 7-8).
We ought to give thanks for the forgiveness of our sins by the blood of Jesus, for our sanctification and for our ordinations as priests for the glory of God (Revelation 1:6). To sum up, we must faithfully devote our priesthood to God, love Him by reading and meditating on His Word and honor His sacrifice until one day when we sit together with Him in the New Jerusalem forever and ever. Amen.