Christian Priesthood Defined
The Altar Must Be Made of Whole Stones
Lesson 4 of 11
In the Bible we learn that the stones of the altar had to be whole in order for the altar to be accepted of God. This important teaching comes from the Old Testament where God commanded the children of Israel saying, “Thou shalt build the altar of the Lord thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings thereon unto the Lord thy God,” Deuteronomu.27:6.
And also Joshua 8:31, “As Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.”
Why had God emphasized that His altar be built with whole stones, untouched by man’s man tools? When God commanded that no iron tool be lifted upon the stones of His altar, He was restricting the imagination of man from faith. Stones that are taken and chiseled or cut speaks of the introduction of man’s philosophies and traditions into faith, which pollutes faith. On the other hand, whole stones speaks of the purity of faith. This was also emphasized in the book of Exodus.
“And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.” (Exodus 20:25)
The Jews were not to build an altar with stones they had labored over. They were to demonstrate faith by following the prescribed ordered knowledge God gave through Moses, who was the knowledge steward of the First Covenant. This order and purity of faith was reflected in the whole stone. What God provided for their faith sanctified their faith.
We are under a New Covenant. God no longer requires us to build His altar with the stones of the earth. Christ is now our altar of faith, and we build this altar with the stones of His knowledge. Each of the 12 Element of the Gospel (grace, faith, righteousness, justification, sanctification, holiness, peace, rest, charity, truth, regeneration, and the renewing of the mind) is a whole stone.
The knowledge of Christ must be placed in order by God. God again restricts the imagination of man from faith by providing truth through apostles, who are the knowledge stewards of the Second Covenant. These stewards deliver the prescribed, ordered knowledge of Christ so each believer can build the altar of Christ in their hearts with whole stones.
As we can see, God demanded purity of faith in the Old Covenant and God still demands purity of faith in the New Covenant. Nothing of man is added to truth, and nothing of Christ is taken away.
That may be seen as a tall order to the church today who has suffered under the false stewardship of the 6th Week. Perfect faith was possible under the First Covenant, which the blueprint God gave to Moses made possible. Perfect faith was again made possible when the covenant transitioned from Moses to Jesus and a new blueprint was given to Jesus’ apostles.
The Author of Our Faith
We are now going to turn our attention to the design of Christ in the stone (Element). A design is a representation of the author. Just as one could look at a painting and identify if it is a Vangoue or Mone, one can look upon the 12 Elements of the Gospel to observe the design for Christ in each Element and identify God as the author.
Faith in God represents either man or Jesus Christ. If man has tampered with the design, then faith will represent man, but if the design retains the original intent, purpose, and goal of the expression of Christ, then faith will represent Christ. That represents the authorship of God. For Jesus to be the author and finisher of your faith, your faith must be built with these living stones of Christ (Hebrews 12:2).
How do we see the design of Christ in the elements? Let’s use the element of grace as an example. God provided the element of grace for our faith. The illumination of grace allows us to see Christ, the enlightenment of grace allows us to understand Christ, and the strength of grace allows us to remain rooted in Him. We see Christ as the design of this stone, which is provided for our faith and is approved of God. We see God’s intent, purpose, and goal of Christ in the Element.
We see the design of Christ in the Element faith. He is the pattern and record of our faith. We observe and do those things of His record. This is why faith is expressed with His spiritual tools, and why His Law of Grace and Truth is in them. The design of faith excludes the flesh from taking ownership by excluding the record of man from the design. God needs nothing of man to complete his redemption. Our participation is to co-labor with the knowledge, priesthood, and tools God provided through Jesus Christ.
We see the design of Christ in the Element of Righteousness. Jesus is the true measure of our faith. This means that when we labor with His knowledge and tools in our priesthood that God metes back to us the things of Christ: His love, joy, peace, longsuffering, and temperance.
As you study the Elements of the Gospel is becomes clear that God is the author of your salvation, the author of this work. God’s desire is that we be share His mind, that we believe what He has provided through Jesus Christ in each Element.
The purpose of the New Testament church building the altar is to come into one mind with God. Here is where our fellowship with God takes place and our fellowship with each other takes place. The fellowship of the gospel is to share this one mind with Christ and with one another.
When we talk about the whole stones of the altar of Christ, we are talking about wholesome doctrine (1 Timothy 6:3). All the necessary ingredients of truth must be present in order to represent Jesus Christ perfectly, with nothing of Christ missing and nothing of man added. As a hospital needs all necessary physical parts in order to function, so also, truth needs each Element of the Gospel (each stone of the altar of Christ) in order for our faith to properly function and please God.
Let’s emphasize a few things concerning the cut stones so that we can learn what to avoid. A cut stone is not a whole stone, is it? Through private interpretation of scripture, man develops a faith after his own image, which is why we see the philosophy and traditions of man presented as truth in place of Jesus Christ, and why we also see the things of Moses in the house of Jesus Christ; the stones of the altar are cut and engraved with those images.
When the stones are reshaped and given a different form, the knowledge of Christ is given a different meaning: the knowledge of Christ is no longer pure, it is defiled, polluting both the altar and the sacrifices laid upon it. If you build a form of faith with these defiled stones, the Spirit of God won’t enter into it because the Spirit of God only confirms Jesus Christ. Remember the teaching concerning the record and the witness. The Spirit of God takes ownership of the knowledge of Christ as He took ownership of Jesus at His baptism. It is the Spirit that makes your faith living.
God is returning the church to the purity of faith, and through living apostles, instructing the body in how to build the altar of Christ with the whole stones of Christ, that our faith will be made living as we behold Christ in purity in each of the elements of the gospel. Our willingness to reflect on the ordered knowledge, in its original design, shows that we have faith in God, and the Spirit will then inhabit the knowledge and live in us through observance and expression of Christ in the whole stones.