This week we’ve examined some theological truths that we believe are Biblical, and therefore non-negotiable. We believe that God’s Word is inspired and authoritative. We believe in the Deity and Lordship of Jesus. We believe that the Holy Spirit is powerful present in the life of every born-again follower of Christ. We believe in the absolute necessity of the new birth and an eternally secure salvation by grace through faith. We believe in the church, the bride and body of Christ. We believe that God ordained marriage and family as sacred relationships which are the foundational institutions of human society.
That’s six. Today we’ll consider a seventh. There are plenty of doctrines that deserve our consideration. For instance, we believe in heaven and hell, the final destination of every eternal soul. We could also consider the biblical truth that Jesus has promised to return to rapture His church.
I have chosen, rather to write about the doctrine of the priesthood of every believer. This may seem a small matter, one undeserving of our consideration. But I contend that this rarely-talked-about doctrine is fundamental and foundational.
This doctrine refutes the notion that the church is made up of two classes of people: clergy and laity. While it is true that God has gifted certain people with abilities to be used for leadership within the church, it is also true that God ordained all believers as priests.
We know about the Levitical priesthood. The Mosaic law established priests to represent God before the people and to represent the people before God. These were their duties: interpretation and intercession.
We also know about Jesus’ High Priesthood. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens — Jesus the Son of God — let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16, CSB).
But the Bible also has something to say about the Priesthood of all believers.
God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, saying that His chosen and beloved people would be a nation of priests. It was the nation’s calling and purpose to represent God before the watching world, and to represent the world’s needs before a listening God.
“Moses went up the mountain to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain: ‘This is what you must say to the house of Jacob and explain to the Israelites: “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.” These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites’ ” (Exodus 19:3-6, CSB).
Isaiah also foresaw the day when God’s repentant children would “be called the LORD’s priests; they will speak of you as ministers of our God” (Isaiah 61:6, CSB).
Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote, “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... 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” (1 Peter 2:5-9, ESV).
One of the duties of the Levitical Priest was to offer sacrifices. In the New Testament, we, the priests, offer sacrifices of our person (Romans 12:1-2), our praise, and our possessions (Hebrews 13:15-16).
Here’s the final point. Preachers are called and equipped to preach. Pastors are called and equipped to pastor. All of God’s people, not just the professionals, are called and equipped to represent God before the watching world and to represent the world’s desperate needs before the throne of a just and loving God.
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor