Summary: This lessons examines the nature of the worship of the New Testament priesthood.
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 2:4-10
Today, we are continuing the series of lessons I began two weeks ago titled “Pleasing Our King”, with specific applications to our worship. In our previous lesson, we discussed who is our King and authority in all things, how He communicates His will to us, what to do when He is “silent” on a matter, and what our motivation should be in pleasing Him. You can review that lesson and the notes for it on the website.
These things we discussed last week are important foundational principles we need to remember as we seek God’s will so we can know we are being pleasing to Him. Today, I would like to continue to build on these principles for part of the lesson and then make some specific applications to the music that we offer to God in our worship. I would like to examine
1. The nature of our worship and service as the Royal Priesthood
2. Where we must go for our instructions for worship (which covenant)
❶ THE NATURE OF THE KINGDOM AND OUR SERVICE
In our scripture reading, Peter tells us that we as Christians are a Royal Priesthood under our Great King and High Priest. He tells us about the worship and work of priests under the New Covenant, especially about the nature of the kingdom and of our service and worship to God as priests. I would like make two points from this passage.
WE ARE A SPIRITUAL KINGDOM AND PRIESTHOOD
We are the Spiritual Nation of God; a Spiritual Israel, the descendants of Abraham. And we are a spiritual kingdom of Priests:
"you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood" (1 Peter 2:5)
"To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever." (Revelation 1:5-6)
Though we are in the world, we are not a kingdom that is of this world. Many teach that Jesus is going to establish a physical Kingdom, but this is not what scripture teaches. He also tells us that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). He reigns now has our King and High Priest now. We are told by Paul that our citizenship is in Heaven. This world is not our home. We are united with Christ in the spiritual realm. We are in a spiritual relationship with Him. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2 that when we became Christians, we were raised up with Christ and “seated” with Him “in the heavenly places”. There is a lot in there that is beyond my comprehension. I don’t know how all that works, but let it suffice to say that we are reigning alongside Christ right now, being Royal Priests to our God in Heaven in the spiritual realm.
WE GIVE SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES IN OUR WORSHIP AND SERVICE TO GOD
“you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)
First, all work and worship within the kingdom begins with full self-sacrifice to God. In a sense, we not only give sacrifices, but we are sacrifices. This is foreshadowed in the Old Testament with the burnt offering. This sacrifice was brought to the temple by the one offering it. It was killed and then it was prepared by the Levitical priest to be taken to the altar where it was fully consumed on the altar as a sacrifice to God.
As New Testament Priest, Jesus gives us the prime example of what it means to give yourself as a “burnt offering” to God. He fully consumed Himself with doing the will of God, even to the point of His death on the cross, where He completely emptied Himself of life itself as an offering to God on our behalf. Paul uses burnt offering terminology when He talks about the offering that Jesus gave to God for us in Ephesians 5:2:
"and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."
Paul teaches us that we need to follow in Jesus' steps in giving ourselves to God as a sacrifice in Romans 12:1.
"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship."
Unlike the Levitical burnt offering and our Lord's offering for us, we are called living sacrifices in this passage. We put our lives fully on the altar to be sacrificed to God for His worship and work. We are "fully consumed" in His work and service. If we want our worship and work to be pleasing to God, this is where we must begin. It begins with us giving our whole being to the Lord.