Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pleading for the Priesthood of All Believers

This is a simple plea for all Christians to embrace the wonderful doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. This biblical truth is one that is given lip service in the church but is often ignored when it comes to church practice.

The profound reality is that God intends for all his children to be his priests. We all have the tremendous privilege of having direct access to him. Peter tells us:

"You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." I Peter 2:5 (emphasis mine)

"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." I Peter 2:9

Amazingly, despite our sin we are able to live in a sacrificial manner that pleases God. According to Paul:

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." Romans 12:1

This, of course, is a reality because of what our great high priest, Jesus Christ, accomplished on the cross to pay for sin:

"But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God." Hebrews 9:11-14

I plea to all followers of Jesus Christ to fully embrace this great privilege and responsibility. Since we have direct access to God, let's live like it. We don't need to go through others to get to him. Instead, let's help others see this incredible news. As we make disciples, let's be sure to let them know that they have no need of anyone to stand between them and God. Christ alone is our high priest.

Interestingly, God originally intended for all in Israel to be his priests:

"Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." Exodus 19:5-6

As we know, Israel rejected God's design. God soon after instituted the Aaronic priesthood.

Now, the happy reality is that if we are Christians we are priests. There is no choice in the matter. It is fact.

In light of that, let's live in this reality. Let's encourage all our brothers and sisters in Christ to grab hold of this wondrous gift. Not only are we saved from hell, but we are saved to a life of direct communication and experience with God Himself.


Eric H said...

"Now, the happy reality is that if we are Christians we are priests. There is no choice in the matter. It is fact."

I think we Americans have a real roadblock with this because of how we think about and use the word "priest". It is a different kind of roadblock for Catholics vs. Protestants too.

I am glad you quoted Exodus 19. I encourage anyone to study that chapter and explain how there are people God calls priests before the Levitical priesthood is even defined. God defined (at least partially) these pre-Aaron priests later in that same chapter in verse 22 as those "which come near to the Lord". There's no ark of testimony yet - no tabernacle - no holy of holies. Consider that with the foreshadows of what the Levitical priest has to do to come near to the Lord in the Tabernacle (God's dwelling place).

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James 4:7-10

He wants us to draw near - to be the dwelling place (tabernacle), for us to be his people and Him to be our God.

Eric said...

Eric H.,

Great word brother. I agree that we probably struggle somewhat with the word priest because of all the baggage we tend to bring to the term.

You make a great point about the Lev. 19 passage. I'm going to remember that.

A concern I have is that while almost all Christians agree with the priesthood of all believers, few in fact choose to live it out. Instead, they look to men (such as some pastors) to fill the role of priest for them. What a shame.

Eric H said...

But that is exactly what the Israelites did in the following chapter (Exodus 20). They refused to deal with God at the provocation in the wilderness and want Moses to speak to God instead.

We are reminded about this in Hebrews 12:17-26.

See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh. We won't escape by turning away.

Eric said...

Eric H.,

How sad it is that the Israelites wasted such a tremendous opportunity. How sad it is that many Christians today look to "clergy" to be their pseudo-priests.

Eric H said...

I just read what scripture Aussie John had quoted at Alan's blog:

Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2Cor. 3:12-18

Aussie John said...


The long and the short of it is simply this: There is no "spiritual house" (church) without the priesthood of all believers.

Eric said...

Eric H.,

Well said. No veils needed any longer.

Eric said...


How sad it is that many Christians seem to want to go back to the shadows described in the book of Hebrews.