Summary: God calls all Christians to be ministers or priests to others in order to bring lost people to Jesus Christ.
The Priesthood of All Believers
God calls all Christians to be ministers of Jesus Christ, and this has been His plan for His people throughout the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Not all Christians are called to preach or pastor a Church, but we are all called into ministry for Jesus Christ and His Kingdom through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. We as clergy and laity are partners together in ministry, and any local congregation in which the laity are not continually involved in ministry will soon close its doors unless they experience a true Holy Ghost Revival.
Our primary text for today’s message is found in our Epistle Lesson I Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Peter is speaking to all Christians, not just “professionally trained” clergy persons. He begins with this salutation, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” His readers are Christians that live throughout various regions of Modern Turkey or the Eastern Portion of the Roman Empire.
All of these disciples are “a royal priesthood,” commissioned by the Holy Spirit to “proclaim the mighty acts of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Peter is straightforward in defining your calling and mine: “Everyone who is a Christian is to proclaim the mighty acts of Jesus, Who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
God’s Spirit quickly directed my attention in preparation of this sermon to two important teachings of Jesus, Who tells us in John 8:12, “I AM the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus reminds us, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
When we were born again, Jesus “brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light,” and our ministry from that point on became and remains to “let our light shine for Him, so that others may see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven.”
This was God’s original calling to the entire Nation of Israel as we read in our text from Exodus 19:5-6, “Indeed, the whole earth is Mine, but you shall be for Me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.” The calling of the entire Nation of Israel was to be priests to the rest of the world to lead them to faith, repentance, worship and service to the One True, Living God. They were to be God’s light to bring the Gentiles to salvation.
Israel failed to fulfill their divine calling as missionaries to the rest of the world. Now Peter is picking up the same message for us as the Church of Jesus Christ. You and I are now His chosen priests whom He calls to “proclaim the mighty acts of Jesus” and lead those who are lost in sin, dying, and on their way to eternal hell to receive Him as their Lord and Saviour.
In the New Testament Church every believer was naturally a minister for Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. Laity never depended on clergy to do the work of ministry alone. Acts 4:20 was a motto by which they all lived, “we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
When Stephen was stoned, a great persecution began against the Jerusalem Church. We read in Acts 8:1, “That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria.” The story continues in Acts 8:4, “Now those who were scattered went from place to place, proclaiming the word.”
Now Church, get the point. “Everyone except the Apostles was scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria.” If we were to call any of the New Testament Church “trained clergy,” it would be the Apostles, those who had spent three years being taught by Jesus. They remained in Jerusalem. The rest of the “scattered Church” went “from place to place, proclaiming the word.” These were just common, ordinary, everyday lay people like every one of you. These laity “went from place to place, proclaiming the word.”