What happens when someone hears how God sent his Son to die for us that we might be saved and then that person chooses to respond to this good news by relying upon Christ? The short answer is God forgives that individual and incorporates him or her into his people, the body of Christ. Does anything else happen? Yes!
Just as God gave Israel a new identity when he claimed them as his people (Exodus 19:5-6), so too today when someone relies upon Christ crucified, he or she is given a new identity and role. John recounts a song he heard in heaven describing the redeeming effect of Christ’s blood upon human life. He recorded, “… at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God persons … You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God” (Revelation 5:9,10).
Similarly Peter describes those who come to Christ as being made into “a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” as well as having become, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness” (1 Peter 2:5,9).
When we consider the role of God’s priests in the Old Testament, clarity emerges about who we are to be today as Christ’s disciples. Priests engaged in worship and assisted others in worship by offering sacrifices to God (Leviticus 14:19). Their other critical role involved teaching those around them God’s ways (Leviticus 10:8,11; Deuteronomy 33:8,10; 2 Chronicles 15:3; Malachi 2:7).
Ever thought about yourself as God’s priest in this world? Imagine waking up each morning with the realization that God has given you a new identity. Imagine seeing yourself as God’s commissioned priest for the purpose of worshiping him, assisting others to draw near to him and teaching those around you God’s ways.
With these thoughts in mind, Ephesians 2:10 and Philippians 2:12-13 gain an added profound richness. It means something to be a saved person. God desires for us to live out our new identity in this world.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12,13).