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The Privilege of Being Priests

Hebrews  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  30:37
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At the moment I have my study in my house. My office is in the basement of the parsonage. My children are most of the time at home and they know that daddy needs his time alone to get his work done. In order to keep out the noise of a house full of six boys I usually study with my door closed. Every once in a while one of my kids will come downstairs because they need something from daddy. Most of the time they sneak down stairs as quietly as possible and all of a sudden I will see their fingers stick out underneath my door and hear them whispering on the other side. And then I will usually say, “What do you need.” Then they will start talking to me through the closed door and of course I can’t hear a word they are saying, so I will say, “Come in.” And I try to always give my kids access, even if I am busy and in the middle of prepping a sermon I will allow them to come in. Some don’t know any better, like my 2 year old, he will wonder downstairs and just open the door (he has figured out how to do that now), and with a big smile on his face he will look at me and cry out, “Daddy” and he will come and make himself comfortable in my lap. He has direct access to his daddy.
Hebrews 10:19-25 teaches us a wonderful truth. If you are a believer in Christ, if you have been fully forgiven, fully sanctified, fully perfected (positionally), then you have direct access to God. In fact you can come boldly into the very presence of God the Father. In this sense, all believers are themselves priests before God, because every believer has direct access to God. Any believer can come into His very presence and perform the duties and functions of priests. We call this the priesthood of the believer.
What the author of Hebrews is explaining in chapter 10:19-25 are the privileges/responsibilities that every believer has because of his or her direct access, because of their function as priests before God.
What are the believer’s responsibilities as a priest before God?

I. As priests believers must draw near to God (vv. 19-22)

A. Every believer should experience great confidence in entering God’s presence (vv. 19-21)

Hebrews 10:19–21 KJV 1900
19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God;
Here the author of Hebrews draws upon the imagery from the OT temple and he states that believers have the most remarkable privilege. We can boldly enter the holiest of holies. This is the place in the OT temple where God’s glory dwelt. In the OT this was a privilege reserved only for the high priest, and only once per year on the Day of Atonement. Every year the high priest had to offer sacrifices first for his own sins and then for the sins of the people. And his entrance was anything but bold. Knowing that mere animal blood could never forgive him of his sins, it was with great fear that the high priest would enter.
Hebrews 9:13 KJV 1900
13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
All animal blood could do was purify the external, the flesh. It could not purify or perfect the heart. Imagine entering in through the veil of the temple, into the place where the glory of God dwelt, having only been sanctified to the purifying of the flesh. How much confidence would you have?
But you believer, enter into the very presence of God, not on the basis of an imperfect sacrifice, you may enter boldly because of the blood of Jesus Christ! Christ has purified our very hearts fully and completely by becoming our perfect sacrifice!
Hebrews 10:10–14 KJV 1900
10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
Through the perfect sacrifice of the Jesus Christ, those that place their faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, those that have been wonderfully saved- those ones have been fully sanctified, fully forgiven, fully perfected forever. In his perfect sacrifice Jesus Christ has once and for all perfectly satisfied the wrath of God- he is our propitiation, and he has wiped away all the guilt of our sin- he expiated our sin. No charge or accusation can ever be levied against us, because all of our guilt all or our sin debt was nailed to his cross and He took all of the guilt of our sin and wiped it away!
Jesus Christ was not only our perfect sacrifice, he is also our perfect priest.
Hebrews 10:20–21 KJV 1900
20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God;
Christ, acting as priest, has through His flesh opened a way through the veil into the very presence of the very glory of God.
Therefore, believers, you have boldness to enter into the holiest! Every believer, because of the sacrificial and priestly role of Jesus has great confidence to enter into God’s presence.
The implication is that each believer now exercises the highest privileges of priesthood, having been granted access to the very presence of God!
Every believer is a priest before God, and even the most ordinary believer, has been grated the highest possible privilege of priesthood. Because of Christ’s work on your behalf every single believer has access to the very presence of God! That is incredible!

B. Every believer should experience great intimacy in entering God’s presence (v. 22)

Hebrews 10:22 KJV 1900
22 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.
If you are a believer in Christ, you have direct access to God. And since you have the right of entry into the very presence of God, you are expected to use it! Brethren, you have boldness to enter into the holiest, therefore DRAW NEAR! As you enter God’s presence and draw near you do so with true hearts in full assurance of faith, grounding your your confidence upon the cleansing you have received in Jesus Christ.
In Christ you have had your hearts sprinkled from and evil conscience, and your bodies washed with pure water. Again, the author of Hebrews is drawing on the OT concept of the Day of Atonement. Before the High Priest could enter the holiest he had to wash his body and sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice.
Leviticus 16:2–4 KJV 1900
2 And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. 3 Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.
Leviticus 16:14 KJV 1900
14 And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.
Leviticus 16:16 KJV 1900
16 And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
And all this could ever do was purify the flesh, the external. Mere water and mere animal blood could never true forgive sins. That is why this was such serious business.
Leviticus 16:2 KJV 1900
2 And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.
Leviticus 16:13 KJV 1900
13 And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:
Do you think there was much confidence on Aaron’s part? Do you think there was a genuine intimacy / drawing near?
But any believer can draw near, with a true heart in full assurance of faith- because their confidence is grounded in the true cleansing they received from the blood of Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 10:14 KJV 1900
14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
And not only can you enter inside the holiest, you can draw near unto God. “The greatest imaginable intimacy with God is given as a gift to the most ordinary believer.” Bauder
There is a great truth carefully taught here in Hebrews 10. One the one hand we need no other priest than Jesus Christ our Lord with reference to offerings for our sins and trespasses. Any religion or system that creates the office of a priest other than Christ for the forgiveness of sins is a denial of the faith.
In just a moment we are going to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Some systems of religion believe that the elements of the Lord’s Supper in some way bestow saving grace upon the recipients. This is a great error! We do not need the Lord’s Supper to provide any kind of saving grace for our sins whatsoever. Jesus Christ is all we need! His completed sacrifice has provided the satisfaction of God’s justice and the removal of sins for all believers for all time. In this sense, no other person can ever act as a priest, and those who claim that they can are denying the gospel itself.
One the other hand, because every believer has the right of direct access to God, made possible only because of the sacrificial and priestly work of Jesus Christ, every single believer is qualified to function as a priest. Every believer, even the most ordinary Christian, has the privilege of standing face-to-face with God for worship, for thanksgiving, for petition and intercession. Every believer can draw near to God, theirs is a relationship of personal, close, intimate fellowship with God Himself.
In just a moment we will observe the Lord’s Supper. Many people assume that the pastor of the church has the be the one to officiate the Lord’s Supper. In fact in many non-Baptist churches, the Lord’s Supper is served from an altar that stands behind the minister. The minister acts as a mediator between the congregation and the altar, which represents the presence of God. In our church the table is out front, and the entire congregation gathers around the table. Usually the pastor will administer the elements, but in principle the church could appoint any brother to perform the task. Why? Because we are all of us priests before God. Pastors are priests only in the same sense that all Christians are priests, no more no less. It should be a man in the church because women are not permitted to teach or exert spiritual authority over adult men in the church setting. But any man in the church who is a member and is appointed by the church could do so because he has just as much access to God as any other believer has. And the administration does not exercise any spiritual authority, but merely distributes the elements so that the ordinance is conducted decently and in order.
In fact I have asked one of our deacons if he would be willing to administer the Lord’s Supper this morning as an illustration of the priesthood of all believers. This morning as we partake of the elements, the bread and the juice. I want you to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ how his body and blood and his ministry as priest has made it possible for anyone who repents of their sins and puts their faith in Jesus’ blood can be fully forgiven and have access to God. Our ability to draw near is only possible because His death, burial, and resurrection have made it possible for us to be perfected in God’s sight. Only those who have been forgiven can draw near to God.
Lord’s Supper Slide

II. As priests believers must be faithful to God (v. 23)

Hebrews 10:23 KJV 1900
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

III. As priests believers must encourage one another (vv. 24-25)

Hebrews 10:24–25 KJV 1900
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

A. You are a local body of believer priests

The idea of considering one another, of provoking one another unto love and good works, or assembling of ourselves together, and exhorting one another is all connected to the concept of being priests.
These verses are grammatically tied to v. 19
Hebrews 10:19 KJV 1900
19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
Because we have boldness to enter into the holiest, because we have as priests direct access to God, we must encourage one another, as a local church, to love and good works, and we must regularly assemble together and exhort one another. The privilege of access to God’s presence carries with it the responsibility to stir up other believers to love and good works. In other words, the privilege of priesthood demands the duty of exhortation. And this is not an individual concept nor is it supposed to be an occasional activity. This should be the regular function of our local church! This means that this gathering of believers in this local body is itself a gathering of priests, and each one of us must exercise his or her priestly function on behalf of others.
One of the reasons you were given direct access to God by the blood of Christ is to encourage and exhort other Christians in your local church. If you are to live as God wants you to, then membership in a local church is essential. Every believer needs to be a priest for others and every believer needs the priesthood of others.
How can we act as priests for other believers?

B. The ministry of believer priests

One of the key ways you can function as a priest for the other believers in your church is by means of intercessory prayer. You are to stir one another up to love and good works by means of your priesthood. Because each believer can draw near to God, each believer can pray effectively for other believers- and for unbelievers for that matter. Whenever you intercede for someone else, you are representing that person before God- you are acting as a priest. Intercession is a vital part of functioning as priests for one another.
How else can we act as priests for other believers?
Part of the purpose for regularly assembling as a body is to encourage or to provoke or to stir up one another for love and good works. What kind of good works? Specifically what kind of priestly functions should we be encouraging each other in?
What is one of the functions of a priest? To offer sacrifices. So if we really are priests and we really do enter into God’s presence, then shouldn’t we bring with us sacrifices and offerings to God? Now we don’t have to bring sacrifices for our sins- Christ’s sacrifices has once and for all satisfied God’s justice and wiped away our sins. But there are other kinds of sacrifices that we can offer, and if we are going to fulfill our role as priests then we bear a responsibility to offer some kind of sacrifices to God.
Can you think of any kind of sacrifice that the NT speaks about that believers have a responsibility to offer God?
Believers can offer sacrifices by:
Offering their bodies as living sacrifices to God
Romans 12:1 KJV 1900
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2. Spend themselves on behalf of those to whom they minister
Philippians 2:17 KJV 1900
17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.

But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.

Paul was prepared to be martyred if his death would help to increase the faith of the Philippian believers. He compared the prospect of his death to a drink offering that would be poured out as sacrifice in worship to God. To spend one’s self for the good of one’s fellow believers is a rich sacrifice of worship we can offer to God as believer priests.
3. Sharing the gospel is a priestly service
Romans 15:16 KJV 1900
16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
Paul’s goal in preaching the gospel to the Gentiles was to present them as an acceptable offering to God. When you share the gospel with the lost, those that receive Christ become an offering in which God delights. This is a way for you to give God an offering as a believer priest.
4. Giving material gifts to aid in the ministries of God’s servants
Philippians 4:15–19 KJV 1900
15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. 19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
5. Doing good deeds and sharing their possessions
Hebrews 13:16 KJV 1900
16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Communicate is the idea of fellowship or sharing with one another.
6. The sacrifice of praise
Hebrews 13:15 KJV 1900
15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
There are many sacrifices that we as believer priests in the NT local church can offer to God. We have been given the gift of coming boldly into the holiest and of drawing near to God. But we do not have to come empty handed. Jesus Christ has given us the ability and opportunity to offer sacrifices that bring delight to God.
It is these sacrifices that represent the “love and good works” of Hebrews 10:24-25
Hebrews 10:24–25 KJV 1900
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
This is what we should be encouraging each other to be doing when we assemble as a church. Every time you come together as a body of believers you all should serving one another as priests before God by stirring up each other to offer acceptable sacrifices to God as you come into His presence. This should not be a rare activity, but a constant one- and so much more as you see the day approaching.
How are you going to do this? How are you going to put this into practice?
Determine in your mind to change your conversations with each other. Instead of small talk, or merely talking about the news, or games, or your job, or sports- starting purposely coming up with questions to stir each other up to love and good works- to offering sacrifices to God.
Did you get a chance to minister to anyone this week?
Did you have an opportunity to share the gospel?
What can you praise God for this week?
Imagine if we all did this kind of thing and actually encouraged each other to fulfill our duties as priests before God!
And how many of us actually spend time in intercession for each other in prayer?
If we are to be the church that God intends for us to be, then we must give careful consideration to our role as priests.
What are the believer’s responsibilities as a priest before God?
As priests believers must draw near to God
As priests believers must be faithful to God
As priests believers must encourage one another
Let us draw near to God
Let us hold fast our profession
Let us consider one another
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