Sunday, March 15, 2015 am                                    Perfection Index


What It Means to Be a Christian (7)
The Christian is…A Priest


As we continue our study of what it means to be a Christian, today we notice how the Christian is a priest.

 I.                    We are called Priests

a.        What is a priest?  A priest is a servant assigned to approach God usually on behalf of others.  

b.       Priest of the Most High God – Melchizedek – while we know little about him, Melchizedek was a priest that Abraham met after delivering his nephew Lot from captivity and to whom he gave a tithe.  He is mentioned only twice in the Old Testament - in Genesis 14:18-20 and again in Psalm 110:4 which says, “The Lord has sworn And will not relent, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”

c.        The Levitical priesthood – also known as the Aaronic priesthood was the priest system of the Law of Moses.   It was instituted at Mt. Sinai as Aaron and his sons were appointed to serve as priests for Israel (Exodus 28:1-3, Num. 3:10).  
- The priests (along with the Levites) were responsible for offering the sacrifices for Israel and maintaining the tabernacle where God would meet with them.
- They also enforced the purity of the people with various laws and through their sacrifices.  Exodus and Leviticus describe their responsibilities and qualifications to serve. 
- Lev. 10:8-11 also notes that they were to be sober so that they could teach the Law (cf. Neh. 8:1-8)
God gave a very specific pattern for the tabernacle, their garments, who could serve (they had to be without blemish) and their varying works.  We learn from Hebrews that this was a pattern and God had a purpose with the details (Hebrews 8:5).  They were fulfilled in Christ and His kingdom/church.

d.       The High Priesthood of Jesus - is patterned after both the order of Melchizedek and the Levitical priesthood.  The Hebrew writer addresses the priesthood of Jesus beginning in Hebrews 2:17, “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. He explains how Jesus can be our priest and discusses His work and how He became the sacrifice for our sins (Heb. 5, 7-10).  He is OUR High Priest and we serve God through Him. 

e.       False priesthoods –

                                                   i.      In the Old Testament, many gods had their priesthoods and priests.  Time will not permit a discussion of these.

                                                  ii.      Catholicism - makes a distinction between the priest and other believers (the clergy/laity system).  He has special functions assigned by the Catholic church – he offers the sacraments (baptism, communion, penance, confirmation, marriage, holy orders and anointing) and absolution (providing instruction for forgiveness of sins)
The errors of this are many – 1) The New Testament makes no clergy/laity distinction.  We answer directly to God (through Jesus our High Priest); 2) Matt. 23:5-10 forbids the use of titles which tend to elevate one class above others; 3) The so-called “sacraments” while some are Biblically based – do not require a special class of people to administer.  There is no hint of priests being necessary to serve the Lord’s Supper or to baptize.  4) We receive forgiveness of sins directly through Jesus (1 John 1:9).

                                                iii.      Mormonism has a dual priesthood – the Aaronic priesthood (which is designed for young men and new converts – a priesthood of training), and the Melchizedek priesthood (the more common priesthood for more experienced members).  Time will not permit an explanation, but according to LDS sources every Mormon elder is part of the Melchizedek priesthood.    It is authorized by a manipulation of the book of Hebrews as well as their own creed books (BoM, D&D, etc.).  It is NOT in the Bible.

                                                iv.      Many other religions have their priesthoods as well.

f.         The Christian is a Priest -– Rev. 1:5-6, “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.  Also Rev. 5:10, 20:6.  (Note: The NAS family says, “Made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.”)

1 Peter 2:4-5, Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9–10)
In these texts we find that now we are ALL priests of God.  The Aaronic priesthood has been completed and replaced with the priesthood of Jesus (Heb. 7:11-19).  We all serve under Him and appeal directly to Him. 


  II.                  Our Duties as a Priest

a.        Enter into our duty – be washed.  Heb. 10:19-22, “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 
Under the Levitical priesthood, before they could serve they had to wash to enter the tabernacle – Exodus 30:20, Lev. 8:6-7.  A study of types shows that the tabernacle of Israel was a type of the church (Acts 15:16, Heb. 8:2, 5; temple – 1 Cor. 3:16-17, Eph. 2:21-22, 1 Peter 2:5 – a spiritual house, etc.).  When we obey the gospel we are added to His church (Acts 2:47, 22:16, etc.).    Thus we enter into our priesthood.

b.       Provide a dwelling place for God – He is to dwell within us.
Just as the Levites maintained the tabernacle/temple, so we are to provide a place for God to dwell.  It is WITHIN US!  1 Cor. 6:18-20 – our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. 
1 Pet. 2:4 being built up a spiritual house. 
In this we are reminded to keep ourselves pure. 
A study of the Levitical priesthood demanded purity.  In fact one who was deformed or defiled could not serve as priest (Lev. 21:16-23, 22:3-9, etc.).  Before entering to serve they had to wash themselves, etc.  While we compared this to baptism.
We are to be pure – again 1 Cor. 6:19-20, 1 John 3:3, 1 Peter 1:22. 
James 1:27 speaks of pure and undefiled religion involves, “keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
Romans 8 describes how the spirit of God dwells within us (8:9).  This is in a passage where Paul is calling for us to live according to the Spirit rather than according to the flesh (8:1, 5-8).
- Purity helps us ensure that our prayers are not hindered. 
- Purity helps us serve God with a clear conscience. 
- Purity makes our worship and service acceptable to God!
Note: 1 Cor. 3:16 & Ephesians 2:19-22 describes how the church is also the temple of the Lord and a dwelling place for God.  We (Christians) are the church!  We serve as priests within this “temple”.

c.        Offer Spiritual Sacrifices acceptable to God – 1 Peter 2:5. 
One of the primary functions of the priests was to offer sacrifices.  There were at least 5 different types of sacrifices to be offered  (Burnt offering, grain offering, peace offering, sin offering and trespass offering – Lev. 1-7). 
Similarly in scripture we have different sacrifices.

                                                   i.      Praising God – Heb. 13:15 – when we worship Him properly, it is a sacrifice of praise. 

                                                  ii.      Good works – Hebrews 13:16 calls for us to do good and to share.  We need to be thinking about others.  James 1:27 describes “pure and undefiled religion” in terms of helping others and living a pure life.
Titus 2:14 “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

                                                iii.      Supporting the preaching of the gospel – Phil. 4:18, Paul commends the church at Philippi for helping him to preach the gospel.  He describes it in terms of fellowship (Phil. 4:15, 1:5).  In this verse we read, “Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:18)   God is pleased with such sacrifices.

                                                iv.      Our living bodies – Rom. 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. We give ourselves to God.   Galatians 2:20, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:12–14)

                                                  v.      Even our lives – Phil. 2:17, “Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Paul was willing to die for his Lord (cf. Acts 21:23).  Toward the end of his life he says he says, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.” (2 Timothy 4:6)  but he’s ready.
We are encouraged in Rev. 2:10 to be faithful until death (both until we die and unto the point of death) so that we can receive the crown of life.

d.       We are to proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness. 
Again, 1 Peter 2:9 describes as belong to God being His own special people – so that we can proclaim His praises.   A necessity of serving as a priest was knowledge of the Law.  We too need that knowledge.  We have also seen how the priest helped the people understand the Law – we too help others understand God’s will – 1 Pet. 3:15.

In Romans 15:15-16 we find Paul writing and explaining how he is a minister of Jesus Christ, ministering the gospel to the Gentiles, “that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified in the Holy Spirit.”    Paul taught so that others too could share in his blessings as a priest.


And thus we can our lives as priests.  Are you faithfully serving God in His priesthood?