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The Crux

5 Ways The Priesthood of Believers Is a Present Reality In the Church Today

And how tit flies in the face of church hierarchies

Most Christians are familiar with 1 Peter 2:9 even though the concept has yet to be realized to its fullest in the modern church. Virtually every theologian from the first century through today has taught the priesthood of believers in some fashion, yet almost every Christian denomination is organized with professional clergy and a hierarchy of leadership, which flies in the face of the royal priesthood.

I've identified five ways every Christian throughout church history is a priest in function even if not in office. I'd go so far as to say that religious offices are out of step with how Christ initially set up His church.

Without going down that rabbit trail, here are five ways every Christian today can serve as a priest in God's holy nation.

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5 Ways Every Christian is a Priest After the Order of Melchizadek

Christians must realize that the priesthood of believers is derived from the High Priest function of Jesus Christ Himself. In Hebrews 5:10, the author of this epistle declares that Christ was designated by God to serve in the role of high priest. This declaration follows from the fact that He was "made perfect" and became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.

The Greek word used in that context is hupakouĆ³, which means "attend to" or "listen". As Jesus said, His sheep listen to His voice and follow Him. The word "obey" is not meant in a legalistic sense. Rather, it is a call to action to all those who believe in Jesus as Messiah and who want to honor Him with their lives. Such persons obey Him to the point that they listen to His voice and follow that voice wherever it leads. To that end, the following five points are exhortations to God's priests to pursue their priestly functions today.

  1. All members of the church have access to God through the High Priest Jesus Christ - All members of Christ's church have direct access to God through the High Priest, who is Jesus Christ Himself. We need no other mediator. The idea that your priest or pastor is an "undershepherd" or "co-mediator" is simply unbiblical and untenable. For there is only one mediator, Jesus Christ, in whom all salvation lies. If you believe in Jesus Christ, you have direct access to God through the Savior without the need for any other mediator. That includes wives who can reach God directly through their Lord and Savior rather than through their husbands. That includes children and every member of every church denomination even if you have priests, pastors, deacons, and professional clergy serving "above" you.

  2. All members of the church can minister to each other directly - The only mediator you need is Jesus Christ. If you know a fellow believer who is hurting, struggling, or in need of assistance, you have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to directly minister to that individual in Jesus' name. That doesn't mean the other Christian may not need professional help. For instance, they may need to seek counseling or therapy for a mental illness. They may need medical, legal, or other professional assistance. However, if there is a spiritual need accompanying other needs, and there usually is, as a fellow believer, you have the power, responsibility, and duty to provide that spiritual assistance to your brother or sister in Christ as long as you do so in a way that honors the Lord. You don't have to refer them to your priest or pastor, although, if you do not feel confident in the power you possess, you may do so, or you may call in the assistance of a more mature believer. If you do ask for assistance, ask the person you referred your friend to how you can better serve your fellow priest in the future. That's a great opportunity for discipleship.

  3. All members of the church are equally responsible for learning, speaking, and adhering to sound doctrine - It is fashionable in our day to say that doctrine isn't necessary as long as we "love" our neighbors. Certainly, we must love our neighbors. However, true Christian love is gated by sound doctrine. That doesn't mean we should be such doctrinaires that we put heady concepts above loving care. As a member of God's church, you are responsible for learning, speaking, and adhering to sound Christian doctrine. That requires being in the presence of others who can teach sound doctrine and listening to them when they teach, then following up by putting into practice what you have learned. If you know sound doctrine, you'll be able to discern when false doctrines are taught.

  4. All members of the church are capable of and bear responsibility for modeling Christian behavior and serving as ambassadors to friends and neighbors who are not Christian while serving within our communities - Every Christian does not have the gift of evangelism, however, we are all called to be witnesses. As priests in God's kingdom, we must model good Christian behavior and bring the peace of Christ to our neighbors without placing stumbling blocks in front of them. Many Christians today are more interested in voting for the "right" political candidate than being an ambassador for Christ. Until we can model good Christian character and love our neighbors as we love ourselves, who we vote for should be a secondary consideration.

  5. All members of the church can offer forgiveness of sins to others by pointing to Christ as the sole sacrifice for such sins - All of us are sinners. To point out that someone has sinned and should repent does not mean we think we are better than they are. It means that we take sin, repentance, and salvation seriously. However, before we run around and begin telling everyone else how sinful they are, we must ensure we are on sure spiritual footing ourselves. The purpose of pointing out sin is to demonstrate the forgiveness of God. Sadly, many Christians are eager to point out sin but fail to minister forgiveness. As priests in God's kingdom, we are not here to offer a sacrifice for sins. Christ has already done that, and continually intercedes on our behalf. Our function as priests in God's kingdom is to pass this peace on.

To be a priest in God's kingdom is not something to boast about as a personal achievement. It is a gift to be honored by living our lives as a holy sacrifice. Here's to your continued peace as a priest in God's royal nation. May you experience His peace today.

Allen Taylor is the author of I Am Not the King.

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