Thesis: God wants a kingdom of priests, not just priests in the kingdom.
1. Tonight we want to return to a text we looked at this AM--Exodus 19.
a. God is at Sinai ready to make Israel his covenant people.
b. God's intent was for Israel to be "a kingdom of priests."
c. Did God get what he wanted? (Not right away!) Instead of a "kingdom of priests," he got "priests in the kingdom."
2. That was the lesson this AM as we explored OT priests.
a. Could only be Levites descended from Aaron.
b. Had strict physical requirements.
c. Had plenty to keep them busy:
1) Take care of the tabernacle/temple.
2) Offer daily sacrifices.
3) Tend the fire on the altar.
4) Teach the people.
5) Bless the people (Num. 6:22-27).
3. What really gets stressed in the OT is not the STATUS of being a priest, but rather the FUNCTION of being a priest.
I. PRIESTHOOD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
A. The Book of Hebrews.
1. Written to Christians in danger of giving up.
a. Replete with warning passages, rebuke of laziness, even an exhortation to go to church!
b. Approach of the writer of Hebrews takes is to show readers that Christianity is superior to anything else they know.
2. Large part of his argument focuses on priesthood.
a. Jesus is presented as our High Priest (2:17; 4:14-16).
b. PROBLEM: Jesus not qualified for priesthood (7:13-14)!
c. SOLUTION: Yes he is! Qualified for Melchizedek priesthood!
1) Melchizedek greater than Abraham (cf. Gen. 14).
2) How did Mel become priest? (2 ways to become one)
a) Be qualified according to rules of Levitical system.
b) Have God declare you priest!
d. Since Jesus is our High Priest, and we are in Jesus, what does that make us? (Priests!!!)
B. NT Texts which reflect this notion of Christians as Priests:
3. Ephesians 3:19-22. 6. In the New Covenant, everyone is a priest!
II. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SAY ALL CHRISTIANS ARE PRIESTS?
A. What the Priesthood of All Believers DOES NOT Mean:
1. We no longer need a mediator (not "clergy" but Jesus--1 Tim. 2:5).
2. Everyone in the church is the same.
a. All have equal standing/value before God (Gal. 3:28).
b. But, NT clearly teaches different ROLES or FUNCTIONS.
c. Not talking raw unbridled egalitarianism here!
B. What the Priesthood of All Believers DOES Mean:
1. Everyone is a priest with a task to perform and a mission to fulfill!
2. Force of the Biblical teaching of our being God's priests is not the STATUS we possess, but the TASK we perform! (God wants us to DO something!)
III. HOW MAY WE ENCOURAGE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS?
A. Preach/teach the truth on the subject! (Not obscure NT doctrine)
B. Stop de-valuing the "clergy."
1. Restoration Movement has always wanted to abolish "clergy."
2. Don't abolish "clergy"--abolish "laity"--we're all clergy!
C. Emphasize the equipping task of leaders, rather than expect leaders to do most of the work (Eph. 4:11-13).
D. Encourage each member to view themselves as priests and remind them they have a ministry to perform.
1. Emphasize spiritual gifts of Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4.
2. Create opportunities for ministry.
1. God doesn't want "priests in the kingdom;" he wants a "kingdom of priests!"
2. Are you a priest? Do you see yourself that way?
3. May God help us to PRACTICE the priesthood of all believers!