The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers is based on texts such as 1 Peter 2:9–10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Which is quote from Exodus 19.
The church is a priesthood because it is the body of Jesus Christ, the high priest Hebrews 3:1Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.
The high priesthood of Christ may be defined as his complete dedication and obedience to God, his Father, and His unlimited compassion for his fellow human beings.
We are priests who bring the word of God, prayer and thanksgiving together, lifting up God’s gifts and offering them to Him in glad service as we receive them with joy.
And when we do this, we set the gift apart as holy unto the Lord.
Biblical teaching about priesthood fills out the picture, because in the Bible priests are always embedded in liturgical communities and attached to a liturgical center.
What they did in Israel for the whole of the people of God, Christians are to do now.
On this basis and in union with Christ, the priesthood of Christians involves spiritual worship and love of God and compassionate activity and prayer for their fellow human beings.
Its full meaning is negated if it is seen only in individualist terms—my access to God, my right to interpret the Bible, and my ability to discern God’s will.
Priesthood is an activity and function which is best viewed in a collective sense as belonging to the whole body of Christians, though including obviously the individual Christian life of service.
The distinct features of the Levitical priesthood may be applied to the church in the following way.
Direct access to God. By faith all Christians approach God directly and personally through Christ, as we read in Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Offering sacrifices to God. The whole life of the Christian is to be a service of love— “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God” (Phil 4:18).
All of our good works, activity, prayer, and praise is to be offered to God.
Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.sacrifices like generosity and hospitality as we find in Hebrews 13:15–16 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. 1 Corinthians 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
By lifting up the communion elements we declare the once for all sacrifice of Christ.
Declaring the word of God. By word and deed Christians are to reveal the love of God in Christ.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Worship. 1 Timothy 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, Hebrews 10:24–25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Priests are called to be Holy as God is Holy. 1 Peter 1:14–16 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Be Holy as I am holy is a directive from God directly to the priests, that Peter applies to all believers.
Priests cannot profane themselves with unclean or unholy things. So, every lawful gift of God is to be set apart for our use as priests just as the priests of the Tabernacle did in accordance to the Holiness Code in Leviticus 17-26. Holy means set apart.
Christians are set apart through the anointing of baptism, to be a holy priesthood, which through the great commission and cultural mandate are to minister, teach and mediate Christ to the world.
As a priesthood, everything we use in our ministry – which should be everything –
must be set apart as Holy.
But how is that accomplished?
1 Timothy 4:4-5 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
God created the world as a means of communion and worship. As an expression of His grace, which when received with gratitude and thanks, becomes a way of knowing and enjoying God. God is sacramental.
He says here is my body broken for you, eat. Here is my blood of the covenant spilt for you, drink.
Jesus is the shepherd, the door and the bread of heaven. Jesus heals eyes so they can see Him. He opens tongues to praise Him. He turns water into wine that we might drink together, with Him.
John Piper wrote that “Smelling toast and bacon early in the morning is not worship but may become worship. Feeling fall breezes on the skin, and fall sunshine on the face, and fall colors in the eyes, and fall fragrances in the nose, are not worship, but they may become worship. Tasting and enjoying the pleasures of this world are not worshiping or honoring or loving or supremely treasuring God but they may become that.”
Whatever is gratefully received is consecrated, it becomes ‘holy’ to the user in contrast to the demonic taboos of the false teachers.
The theologian Robert Letham writes, “Even our daily food marks the interface between the humdrum material world and the beneficence of the God who provides for us. Our daily bread should be the occasion for thanksgiving, praise and communion.”
Therefore, the Apostle Paul says everything is sanctified through thanksgiving. For Paul, thanksgiving has a performative effect on the things received.
Receiving God’s gifts with thanks does not merely identify them as gifts but also sanctifies them, sanctifies them, consecrates them as holy things. The world is sanctified, made holy, through thanks.
To say that created things are “made Holy,” by thanks is to say that crated things, already God’s by virtue of creation, become specifically his possession by the prayers of the people of God.
Given Paul’s regular identification of believers s “holy ones,” or “saints,” – the logic seems to be this:
“Christians are holy ones, indwelt and anointed by the sanctifying Spirit of Jesus, priests to God and to Christ. As Such, they ought only to touch, eat, and use holy things. If they receive anything that is impure, their priesthood will be defiled by it Purity and Holiness taboos continue to operate in the New Testament. Holy people must have holy things. But for Paul no elaborate rite of sanctification is required: only the giving of thanks. Once consecrated by thanks, a thing may be used only for God’s purposes. Holy food could be eaten only by priests in the Old testament, holy implements could be used only in the sanctuary, holy incense could be used only on the altar. If Christians consecrate whatever they receive by thanks, they are not only claiming it as God’s now but also obligating themselves to use it in a particular way, to use it with thanks. Thanksgiving is thus the liturgy of Christian living; it is the continuous sacrifice that Christians offer. Gratitude to God is the continuous sanctification of the world.”
You are not common. You are Holy people. Set apart for God’s work.
Repent of defiling your priesthood by using profane things. Things not consecrated to God. Things not made holy.
We go through our days with little thought about the goodness of God.
We separate God from the “mundane,” instead of sanctifying everything through thanks; through the word and prayer.
G. K. Chesterton said, “you say free before meals. All right. But I say grace before the play and the opera, and grace before the concert and the pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before dip the pen into the ink.”
We are the priesthood of believers, called to make the world holy with Thanksgiving. Let us set the example then.