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The Church - A Community of Priests

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The Church: A Community of Priests
1 Peter 2:5, 9

As we continue our series on community … our topic this morning is “The Church: A Community of Priests.”

I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of the fact that my last name is “Priest.” … Especially living in a such a heavy Catholic area as St. Louis.

Some people have told me they wouldn’t come to our church because they’re Catholic. … I tell them “I’m a Priest.”

So there really is no reason for people to tell you they won’t come visit our church. … If they want a pastor … I’m a pastor. … If they want a priest … I’m a Priest too. J

But seriously … my family and I are not the only priests in the church.

The church is a community of priests.

This will be a new paradigm for some of you.

A new paradigm is a new way of thinking about something. … And it always takes a new way of thinking … before it translates into a new way of living. … [PAUSE] … That’s why Paul says … {PP} (Romans 12:2) “Be transformed … (in other words … have your life changed) … by the renewing of your mind.” … Translation … “A new way of thinking … will lead to a new way of living.” {PP} (Blank)

Think of new paradigms in history: …
The earth is round.” … This was a major paradigm shift.

“The sun is the center of the solar system.”

Nicolaus Copernicus is credited with starting modern astronomy with his views of the sun being at the center of the solar system. … The Copernican Revolution made people live different … because they thought different.

There have been lots of revolutions … (or paradigm shifts) in people’s thinking. And once people change the way they think … the way they live changes too!

How about this one … “All of God’s people are priests.”

That’s revolutionary. … That’s a new paradigm.

1 Peter 2:5 says … {PP} (1 Peter 2:5) “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy … priesthood … offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 2:9 says {PP} (1 Peter 2:9) “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Look at the start of that verse. … You … are a chosen people … a royal priesthood. … You are a “royal priesthood.” {PP} (Blank)

You have probably never thought of yourself as a priest before … (certainly not a priest in the biblical sense of the word.)

The implications of this are profound. … If you start thinking of yourself as a priest … your life will never again be the same. … This is more revolutionary than anything Copernicus thought up.

I think many of us have read passages like these before … but we haven’t understood the significance of being a “priest.” … But if you’re a follower of Christ … you … are a priest. [PAUSE]

To understand what this means … we’re going to take a look at the concept of priesthood in the OT.

In the OT … God set apart a group of people and called them “priests.” … Their job … to serve. They served God … … they served in the temple (God’s house of worship) {SHOW}… and they served God’s people.

Among other things … the priests would

·                   Care for the needs of families

·                   Guard theological truth

·                   Offer incense

·                   Offer sacrifices for sin

·                   Prepare burnt offerings

·                   Teach God’s Word

·                   Minister in God’s house … and

·                   Priests were just God’s servants … to help in carrying out God’s work whatever that entailed.

In studying about the priesthood this week … I came across a very helpful way of understanding the many duties of a priest. The duties of an OT priest can be categorized in terms of three functions. In the OT … a priest functioned as … a minister … a mediator … and a messenger. … [PAUSE] …

A minister … a mediator … and a messenger.

By looking at these three functions … and understanding the role an OT priest played … we’ll also see our role as priests today.

First … OT Priests Were Ministers.

A minister is simply … “one who serves.

In the Bible assistants were ministers. … Samuel was a minister to Eli. … Joshua was a minister to Moses. … John Mark was a minister to Paul and Barnabas.

In the OT … those who served at the altar were called ministers.

A minister is someone who serves. … They don’t need the spot light. … They don’t want the spotlight. … They just serve.

They serve God. They serve God’s people. In the NT … Onesimus was a minister when he cared for Paul in prison. … Those who were selected to serve tables in Acts 6 were ministers.

And the term minister even has application beyond the spiritual. Think about our government. We have a Minister of Defense … whose job it is to serve … (ministers serve … right?) … to serve the country in the area of defense.

A priest in the OT was a minister of God. … And because they were ministers of God … they needed to live holy lives.

To be holy means to be set apart. … Set apart from sin … and set apart for God.

In the OT … God set the nation of Israel apart from the rest of the world to be a holy nation.

In Leviticus God says … {PP} (Leviticus 22:31-33) … “Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord. Do not profane my holy name. I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the Lord, who makes you holy … and who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. … I am the Lord.” … {PP} (Blank)

Israel was God’s chosen people. … Of all the people of the earth … God chose them. He didn’t choose them because they were better than any other nations. He chose them to demonstrate His love, power, and holiness to the world. … And He wanted them to live as people who were set apart.

The priests were to live as examples of holiness for the people … so that the people could live as examples of holiness for the world. … That’s how they ministered.

OT priests were ministers.


Second … OT Priests Were Mediators.

A mediator is a person who acts as a go-between. … A mediator makes arrangements with two sides.

An OT priest would act as a go-between with God … and the people.

He would speak to God on behalf of the people … and speak to the people on behalf of God.

Through Christ … we can now go directly to God. … But in the OT … people could not approach God directly. … They needed a go-between. … That was the priest.

As a mediator … the priest would take offerings to God on behalf of the people.

There were five main offerings in the OT. We could spend a lot of time on each one of these … but I’m just going to run through them to give you an overview. … Five offerings. {PP} (5 Offerings- #1)

# 1. The burnt offering (Leviticus 1).

The burnt offering was a form of sacrifice in which a choice animal was sacrificed to make atonement for sin and the animal was completely consumed by fire.

The purpose of the burnt offering was to make a general payment for sins.

{PP} (5 Offerings- #1-2)

#2. The grain offering (Leviticus 2).

The grain offering was an offering from the harvest of the land. It was fine flour combined with oil, frankincense, and salt.

The purpose of the grain offering was to show honor and respect to God as an act of worship. … It was a way to acknowledge that all we have belongs to God.

{PP} (5 Offerings- #1-3)

#3. The fellowship offering (Leviticus 3).

The fellowship offering was an offering of certain parts of the animal. … The purpose of this offering was to show gratitude toward God. … It symbolized peace in one’s relationship with God.

 

 

 

 

 

{PP} (5 Offerings- #1-4)

#4. The sin offering (Leviticus 4).

 

The sin offering was an animal sacrifice made to God. The purpose of the sin offering was to atone for sin that was committed unintentionally. … Sometimes you don’t even know that you’ve sinned. … Well … those sins need to be atoned for too. … (Sin is really, really bad … which we learn through all these offerings.)

 

 

{PP} (5 Offerings- #1-5)

#5. The guilt offering (Leviticus 5).

In the guilt offering … the animal was sacrificed and the High Priest sprinkled the animal’s blood several times.

The purpose of the guilt offering was to make payment for sins against God and against other people. Restitution was made.
Injured persons were compensated. … The idea was that sin required payment.

So the priest would mediate on behalf of the people by going to God and offering sacrifices.

{PP} (Blank)

So priests were ministers (serving God and serving the people) … and priests were mediators (standing between a holy God and sinful people … and we begin to understand the significance through all the sacrifices that were required.)

Priests were ministers.

Priests were mediators.


Third … OT Priests Were Messengers.

One of the main functions of the priest was to teach God’s Word to people. People needed to hear the voice of God. … The priests were the ones who taught them.

God’s Word is the key component in helping people understand … and live for God. … The Bible is the very words of God … and they demand our complete obedience. The priest was God’s messenger … giving God’s Word to the people.

One of the most important passages in the OT is Deuteronomy 6:4-9 which says … {PP} (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) “Hear, O Israel: … The Lord our God … the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. {PP} (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home … and when you walk along the road … when you lie down … and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” {PP} (Blank)

God’s Word is so important that it needs to be deeply impressed upon people.

The priests were the primary messengers for impressing God’s Word on the people.

So … in the OT … the priest was a minister … a mediator … and a messenger.

OK … that was a lot of OT history. … But it’s important to understand what an OT priest does.

Because … do you know what a New Testament priest is? … A Minister
A Mediator … And A Messenger.

What I want you to see is that God intentionally takes the OT role of a priest and He calls us priests.

Your role for God is to be a priest. … Someone who ministers by serving God and people … who mediates with people who don’t yet know Him … and who serves as a messenger of His Word.

Let’s look at these three … now from a NT perspective.


As a Priest … you are a Minister.

Gary Smalley tells a story about a wife who was desperately trying to wake up her husband for church. She kept pushing and shoving him, trying to get him out of bed. ‘Get up! George!’ she said repeatedly. ‘We’ll be late for church again!’ Finally, he rolled over in frustration and said, ‘I told you last night, I am not going to church, and that’s final. Now let me go back to sleep.’ ‘But George,’ she pleaded, ‘it’s important for you to be there.’

Finally, she decided to use another approach. ‘Okay George. Give me two good reasons why you shouldn’t go to church.’

‘Fine,’ he said, ‘I’ll give you two reasons. Number one, I don’t like those people. … And number two, they don’t like me either.

That’s why I’m not going.’

The wife paused for a long time, thinking over his answer. Finally he spoke, “If you feel church is so important for me, why don’t you give me two reasons why I should go?’

‘George,’ she said, ‘First, you know the Bible talk about the importance of attending church … and second, you’re the pastor!’ … J

That’s a funny story because it’s ridiculous to think of a pastor sleeping in on Sunday morning and just not going to church. … But that’s only funny to us because we don’t really understand that we are allpriests. … We are all ministers.

{Jason Wescoat’s testimony here}

 

I’m so excited to hear stories like this … because it means that many of you are getting it.

You know that you’re a minister. … You’re a servant of God … and His people.

You’ve probably never heard me use the term “lay person.” … That’s because I don’t believe in lay people.

The idea of “lay people” developed when a distinction was made between “professional clergy” … and what were called “lay people.”

“Professional clergy” were seen as super Christians … professional saints. … Only the “clergy” were allowed to read the Word of God on their own. … Only the “clergy” could be trusted to tell people about God.

But … the Bible makes no distinction between professional clergy and lay people. … I’m a pastor … but I’m no more important … and no more valuable to the kingdom of God than any of you. You are as much of a minister as I am.

If Jason and Jenny would have been dependent on me doing all the ministering to them … they would have been incredibly let down. … I spent about an hour with them at the hospital and maybe sent a card. That’s it.

Fortunately there were lots of other ministers.

The job of ministering will never work if you are counting on the pastors to do it all.

We’re all ministers.

A priest is simply a minister … someone who serves God … and serves people.

You are a minister.

As a priest …  you are also a Mediator.

You are a mediator … just like the priests of the OT. … Your role as mediators is to help bring people who are apart from God … and even at war with God … into a relationship with God … to help them to be reconciled to God.

God is full of mercy … love … power … goodness … wisdom … and forgiveness. Those of us who have experienced His mercy and reconciliation … and know firsthand how wonderful it is … must act as mediators on behalf of our Lord … and the people who still need Him.

Paul explains our role as mediators by  saying … {PP} (2 Corinthians 5:20) “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors … as though God were making his appeal through us. … We implore you … on Christ’s behalf: … Be reconciled to God.” {PP} (Blank)

An ambassador acts as a representative.

It is a great honor to be an ambassador representing America to the world. … But it’s an even greater honor to represent God to the world. What a privilege it is to be an ambassador of a Great King.

If you were the US ambassador to China … do you think that job would be a major part of your identity? … If you were flying to China several times a year … and representing the US government in negotiations … is there any chance you’d ever forget that you’re an ambassador?

Not a chance. … It would be a major part of your identity.

I told you this is revolutionary. … I told you it’s a paradigm shift.

I don’t think many of you immediately think of yourselves as ambassadors. … But you are. … And your job as an ambassador is so much more important than the ambassador to China. … You’re representing a much greater kingdom … and a much greater king.

We are priests. … We are ambassadors. We are mediators who help reconcile people to Christ.

We don’t offer OT sacrifices. … they are no longer needed. … One great sacrifice has taken the place of all of them.

Sinful people can be forgiven and reconciled to a holy God. … And we are priests … serving as mediators to bring people to God.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 says …
{PP} (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ … and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” … This couldn’t be more plain. … God reconciles people. … In the OT the priest serves as the mediator. … Now “He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” {PP} (Blank)

 

You are a Mediator.
Finally … As a Priest … you are a Messenger.

A messenger teaches the Word of God.

Just like the OT priests … we have a high view of the Bible. We know the Bible is the living and breathing Word of God.

As messengers … we do just like they did in Deuteronomy. We teach our children about God. We teach the truths of the Scriptures. Part of our role as priests is to teach the Bible with our lips … and our lives.

Think of all the teachers of God’s Word in our church. Small group leaders. SS teachers. Youth leaders. Parents. Friends.

If you are not serving as a messenger of God’s Word … some people will never hear it.

You are a minister … a mediator … and a messenger.

That’s what a priest does.
The OT priest brought many offerings to God. What offerings … or sacrifices does God want us to bring? … Because Jesus died … the sin and guilt offering has been provided … but there are still offerings that you must make to God if you are a priest.

Romans says We Are To Offer Our Bodies as living sacrifices. {Here’s my body}.

Hebrews says we are to offer God a sacrifice of praise. {In all things …}

Ephesians says We Are To Offer our very lives as sacrifices to God. {You’re no longer your own … }

Paul said his life was being poured out like a drink offering. … Poured out in the service of God and others.

If you are a priest of God almighty … your life should be given as a holy sacrifice to your king.

Let’s pray.

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