PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
By Robert D Pace
Privileges of the Righteous
Awhile back, I pondered the word privilege. It wasn’t a word that shocked my soul like thunder and lightning. It came softly. But neither did it go away. And the longer it lingered the stronger it grew. The definition of privilege states that it grants special rights to select people; the privileged enjoy benefits that are un-afforded to others. They are afforded special treatment and special behavior. (That sounds like a politician, doesn’t it!)
But I want to investigate the Biblical implications of privilege. What does the Bible say about this word? Who are the people so fortunate as to obtain God’s privilege? In what way does it operate for them?
(Transition) l’ll start by disclosing some high profile people that the Bible marks as privileged.
The Privileged of the Bible
Privilege started with Adam, as God chose him to be the first human. Quickly thereafter, God fashioned Eve from Adam’s rib.
Sometime later, God selected a succession of ten righteous men that descended from Adam, through his son Seth, and until it reached Noah. God guarded these ten righteous individuals for the purpose of preserving the genetics of the human race. Genesis 6, recounts how fallen angels slept with what the Bible calls, “the daughters men,” intending to pollute human flesh. Had Satan’s plan worked, it would have prevented Jesus from becoming fully human, and thus, preempted his saving work at Calvary.
Look, once again, at Noah, the man God chose to build the Ark. Once the Ark was built, God saved the human race by selecting eight people to enter the Ark and survive the Flood: Noah, his wife, their three sons, and his son’s wives.
You can see God’s pattern of divinely selecting certain people throughout the OT:
After the Flood, God chose one man—Abraham—to be the revered forefather of his chosen people, Israel.
And from the chosen people of Israel, the Lord handpicked unique men like Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, Elijah, Isaiah to fulfill his purposes.
When the NT opens you see the same process:
God chose John the Baptist to be the forerunner of Jesus.
He chose Mary to be the birthmother of the Savior of the world.
God then sent his only begotten Son into the world as the Incarnate One—the God-man.
After that Jesus selected his 12 Apostles to help start the Church.
(Transition) I want to “put this on pause” long enough to ask a question. After hearing this successive list of Bible champions, how do they make you feel? If you’re like me, you’re shrinking in their presence! How could we ever measure up to serving God like they did? Fortunately, God isn’t calling anyone here to be Abraham, or Noah, or David, or Solomon, Samson, or the Apostle Paul. God has chosen you to be you!
Consider Who You Are
I want to point out something that should make everyone here feel important! Would you like to know what it is? It’s a distinction you share with all those notable people of the Bible I just mentioned. And it’s this: when you accepted Christ, you didn’t go searching for God. God came searching for you! Christianity is the only religion in the world that pictures God seeking out his followers. All other religions show man searching for God. Several scriptures testify to this:
Jesus said this in John 15:16. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
Notice what 1 Peter 2:9 says about this: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
And here’s one final passage that illustrates how the Almighty God searches for us and not the other way around. Everyone here has this verse memorized. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” [NIV].
Those three verses should assuage any self-esteem issues that might plague you! Especially John 3:16. God was first to step forward and choose every Christian in the world to serve him. You and I may have said “Yes” to his offer, but only after God said, “I want you on my team!”
(Transition) But let’s “put this on pause,” too. I began by mentioning the notable people of the Bible. From there, I pointed out your personal significance. God chose you, and that makes you special! But there’s something else that’s consequential, too. Let’s now focus on where God has called us to serve. That is, the camp or place of our service.
Consider Where You Serve
Do you realize God has chosen us to serve in the highest order; the preeminent congregation (organization or establishment), in the world? This assemblage goes by many names—the Kingdom of God; the Kingdom of Heaven; the Church; the Body of Christ; Mount Zion—call it what you will, God has positioned you into the highest, most exclusive establishment in the universe! There’s no organization anywhere that’s of greater importance to God than his Kingdom. I want you to notice what Hebrews 12:22–23 says about this organization.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, (23) and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven….
Now that I’ve read this passage, do you see what happens to Christians that die in the Lord? When we are so fortunate to pass from this life, we immediately relocate to our heavenly address, and in some fashion continue our work in the same Kingdom forever! The Kingdom of God is so important that it continues forever and ever, “world without end.” That’s why this kingdom is superior to every other kingdom in the world.
Just to illustrate the superiority of God’s Kingdom, I want to read a revelation that God gave to one of Israel’s most noble prophets—Daniel. One of Daniel’s chief prophetic gifts involved his ability to prophesy with pinpoint accuracy. For instance, on one occasion, Daniel foresaw the major kingdoms that would successively dominate the world. His prophecies were so accurate, that centuries after making them, Bible critics accused the Jews, who assembled Daniel’s prophecies, of purposely mis-dating them. These critics did not believe God could speak with the precision by which Daniel had prophesied. Let’s read Daniel 2:32—35. It starts with Daniel interpreting the vision of king Nebuchadnezzar.
The head of this image was of fine gold [Babylon], its chest and arms of silver [Media Persia], its middle and thighs of bronze [Greece], (33) its legs of iron [Rome], its feet partly of iron and partly of clay [A group of nations during the Tribulation].
[Now watch what happens at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The angel speaking to Daniel said this:] (34) As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. (35) Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
Wow, what a vision! The Everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the Kingdom that “keeps on keeping on.” And the amazing aspect of this is, You and I are its citizens! We are the chosen and privileged ones that implement God’s Kingdom duties today and in the ages to come.
But while that is wonderful, there are aspects of God’s eternal kingdom that are totally impossible to decipher. Can anyone explain the interlocking of the heavenly kingdom with the earthly? I’m talking about the part where the earthly saints coordinate with the heavenly saints. How are Abraham, Moses, David, Paul, Elijah, Gideon, along with our parents and Grandparents all working with the millions of saints here on Earth? I can’t explain that! In fact, notice how Paul constantly referred to the mysteries of the Kingdom:
I’ll begin with 1 Corinthians 4:1. This is where Paul said we are “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
In 1 Timothy 3:9, Paul said this to the deacons of the early Church, “They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.”
And then Paul said in Ephesians 5:32, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
In Ephesians 6:19 Paul urged the Ephesian Christians to pray “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.”
And Ephesians 1:7—10 is an amazing passage concerning the overlapping mystery of the Kingdom on Earth and Heaven. It says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
But thankfully, not everything about the Kingdom of God is indecipherable. The Bible shows us numerous mysteries we have come to understand, at least partially. For example:
In the Old Testament, the Jews thought they were the only citizens of God’s Kingdom. But the Holy Spirit gave the Apostles and especial Paul the understanding that Gentiles could also enter God’s Kingdom (Ephesians 3:9; Romans 16:25—26).
Then there is the mystery of the personhood of Jesus Christ. We know, by means of the Incarnation, that God became a man. Jesus was both the Son of God and the Son of Man (1 Timothy 3:16) Do we fully understand this mystery? No, but we do have limited knowledge of it.
Colossians 1:26–28 discloses the mystery of the Believer’s oneness with Christ and our coming glorification in Heaven.
Now this is the overarching point that I want you to understand: if Jesus Christ has saved you, it means he has chosen you for a unique and important assignment. The Lord handpicked you to serve in his Kingdom, and the part you play is important regardless of how insignificant it seems to you (1 Peter 4:10; Romans 12:6—7).
Always remember: whatever you do—whether trivial or magnificent—everything done in the Name of Jesus bears eternal consequences! It’s not so much what you do in God’s Kingdom that’s important; the important thing is, you are doing; it’s that you are engaged in God’s work!
I found an interesting quote from Helen Keller that eloquently underscores this:
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.” Hellen Keller
(Summary) I want to summarize all that I’ve been saying. God has bestowed privileges upon Christians unlike any other people group on Earth. We have privileges not given to kings, presidents, or prime ministers. Billionaires, Think Tanks, and world’s elites cannot attain to the entitlements God has assigned to those chosen into his Kingdom. So if God believes you are important to his Kingdom then you should also believe in yourself!
That brings me to the point where I want to disclose the privileges of those that faithfully serve in God’s Kingdom. And because I could take months preaching on the privileges of the righteous, I want to narrow down these privileges by use of three words and then elaborating on each.
(Transition) Thus, because you are chosen and because God has honored you to serve in the most exclusive organization in the universe, God has privileged the righteous to enjoy: Advantage, Exemption, and Opportunity.
Three Privileges of the Righteous
1. First note that God privileges the righteous with Advantage.
Why can it be said that all Christians have been inherently blessed with God’s advantage in life? It’s because, “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31). And when you couple Romans 8:31 with Philippians 4:13 that says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” that’s double indemnity for advantage.
I love what Jesus told the Philadelphian Christians in Revelation 3:7. “These are the words of the One who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open.” Do you see what Christ is saying? As the Sovereign One, holding the “key of David,” opening doors that nobody can shut, and shutting doors that nobody can open, God is able to make our ways successful!
2. Second, God has privileged the righteous with Exemption from the “just deserts” of unbelievers.
The Apostle Paul uttered a wonderful promise from God in 2 Corinthian 5:1 when he said, “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Thank God that life doesn’t end for Christians when they die. On the other hand, death has only begun for sinners when they die.
I’m so glad that the Lord’s mercy has exempted me from the “just deserts” of sin! Nobody deserves Heaven. All humans are born into sin. We are sinners by birth and without God’s intervention the eternal sentence of Hell awaits us. Only Christ’s grace opens the gates of Heaven to us.
3. Thirdly, the righteous are privileged with opportunity.
Before I comment on the general privileges of the righteous I want to comment on a grand and specific privilege God has granted to Christians. I’m making certain to mention this because of its unrivaled importance. And the privilege is this: none but the righteous are qualified to supply an accurate interpretation of God and his Word (1 Corinthians 2:11–16). The righteous have been entrusted with this. Only the righteous! Paul asserts that sinners cannot do this! The liberal-minded professor that bypassed the New Birth and then claimed the title “Bishop” is entirely unfit to interpret the Holy Scriptures. The Spirit of God discloses the mysteries of the Word strictly to those that have been “born of the Spirit.” This, dear Christian friend, is the peerless privilege of the righteous! The “oracles of God” have been committed to you!
With that said, I’ll continue by making some general comments about privilege. When God offers Christians divine advantage along with exemption from the sentence of sinners, it makes way for divinely given opportunities.
I must admit that God has blessed me with many opportunities that would have never come my way without Jesus being my Savior. Paul made certain to note the reason for all his successes in 1 Corinthians 15:10. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” Always remember that this applies to you, too!
(Illustration) The other day, I watched a video of Billy Graham’s 1953 NYC evangelistic crusade, where thousands came to Christ over the course of two weeks. Then Vice President Richard Nixon attended the event, and greeted the people one night. As many 100,000 people attended the nighttime services. I’d say that was quite an opportunity God granted Billy Graham.
And one day, when you arrive in Heaven, you will look back over your life and realize all the opportunities God gave you. They will all be attributed to the fact that you accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior,. And because Christ ‘opened the doors that no man could shut,’ you were the privileged!
(Prayerful Application) I want to close today’s message with a Pastoral Prayer. At the conclusion of these words, if you’re in agreement with them, I want the entire congregation to give a hearty, “Amen.”
I will no longer recognize myself as being John or Jane Q Public. I’m more than a citizen of the USA. I’m more than a social security number to the government. I’m not limited to a paycheck. God doesn’t view me as living “on the other side of the tracks.” I’m more than a business executive that’s lived the American dream. Rather, I belong to the most exclusive organization anywhere! I’m a stranger to this world. My citizenship is written in the roll-book of the “Church of the Firstborn” in Heaven. One day soon I’ll be residing there. And when I arrive, I’ll have God as my neighbor. . . . Amen!