We have been looking at the emphasis in the Church that Jesus is building – what the Holy Spirit is focusing on right now and well into this decade as Jesus builds His Church – the one that will take the Gospel of the Kingdom to every corner of every nation; the Church that is taking seriously the mandate the Head of the Church, Jesus, left us before ascending into Heaven.
Today – let’s briefly look at an often forgotten biblical teaching – the priesthood of all believers. This priesthood is not for some selected small number of men who will go to seminary and who will be ordained by church officials and thus be “qualified” to lead a congregation or local church. The whole concept of two separate classes of believers – clergy and laity – is non-biblical and foreign to the Bible understanding of the life of the local church. It is part of the church that man has built.
Martin Luther (1483-1546) rediscovered two truths that had been lost to the Church by the mid-1400’s. The first was “salvation by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8-9) and the second was the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:5). The first was re-established during his life – the second one almost forgotten and, most certainly, not welcomed by the leaders and hierarchy of the Church of his day (or today).
Today God is reintroducing the theology and practice of the people of God being priests unto Him. And, because of apostles and prophets being restored to the Church (see Part Three of this series) the priesthood will be prophetic and apostolic.
In the time of Israel’s exodus from Egypt God called His people to come to His mountain and worship Him – coming into His presence and hearing His voice. Out of fear, they refused to go to the mountain top and into God’s presence but instead sent Moses to be their representative and tell God what was on their heart (priest) and to listen to God and come and tell them what was on His heart (prophet). God never intended either of these tasks to be delegated to an individual. He always wanted a prophetic priesthood. A people who would know His voice and what is on His heart (prophetic) and who would minister out of His presence and with His power (priesthood) in they moved about their every day world (apostolic) so that many non-believers would hear the voice of their Father and be seriously touched by His supernatural power and come into the Kingdom as new believers.
So, the Holy Spirit is currently reintroducing and restoring the priesthood of all believers to His Church. This will mean that Sunday teachings will need to move from being pastoral and personal to a time of “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). This will mean the call on the leader is not to lead without rocking the boat – but to make sure that everyone gets out of the boat and begins to be challenged to minister powerfully in the Name of the Lord. Every member of the Church that Jesus is building is a minister. Every member is to be prophetic hearing the voice of God regularly and accurately and every member is to be apostolic – being sent out as priests of God into the world to reveal the Father’s heart to non-believers and thus fulfill the call upon every disciple’s life.
The priesthood of all believers who are a prophetic and apostolic people – the fourth focus for the Church that Jesus is building.