Learn About the Christian Priesthood and Doxology of the New Testament Church
What the Bible Says About the Christian Priesthood
Lesson 1 of 8
It is clear from the Bible that God designed the faith of individual believers around a priestly service to Him. From the scriptures, we are to understand that believers are called “priests” and that as priests we are to offer to God “spiritual sacrifices”. Priests in the Old Testament served God at an altar made of stones of the earth. New Testament priests worship God at the altar of Christ made of the stones of His knowledge.
In your mind, I want you to already be making mental connections between the priesthood and altar of knowledge. Let’s read from the Bible about the New Testament priesthood:
“You also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
Let us also consider what God reveals to us in Revelation 1:6: “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
We could repeat what we read in the Bible and say that believers are called priests and we are to offer to God spiritual sacrifices, but that does not mean we have the ability to put the right action to fulfill God’s will. In other words, how do believers function as priests? What are “acceptable” sacrifices? How are spiritual sacrifices to be offered, and why does God value them?
Over the years much time and money has been spent trying different worship styles to find something that satisfies and is acceptable to God. From the grand choirs and pageantries to the simple bended knee, every believer strives to make worship meaningful. Worship for most also involves the pouring out of one’s heart to God, reciting to Him all one’s innermost secrets, hopes, and fears. This unburdening of the heart is often referred to as a “personal” relationship with God. Why? Because it satisfies the passions of man. But, the priesthood is sadly lacking. God does not want us defining the priesthood by the passion of man.
The Apostles Lay the Groundwork for the Priesthood
The early church did not experience this same difficulty of deciding which track worship must follow. The apostles were present to give order to doctrine, and the function of the church naturally followed that due order. For we read in Acts 2:42, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
Remember, apostles were not merely missionaries, nor did they simply start churches and write epistles. Apostles set in order the function of the church and the duties of faith. This is why the apostle Peter made critical connections between the priesthood of the believer and spiritual sacrifices of praise that are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. As an apostle, Peter was setting before believers the knowledge of the priesthood they were to follow.
God’s Will is that we Worship Him in Spirit and in Truth
What makes worship meaningful? God’s will is that we worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 14:6). What this means is that God determined that we should worship Him with nothing less than Himself. That is meaningful worship!
This can be understood by again looking at 1 Peter 2:5, which states that God has already declared that our worship must be by Jesus Christ to be acceptable to Him. What does that mean? Does that mean that we sing “about” Jesus? No. It means that the gift we give back to God is equal to the gift He gave us. This is the starting point of this teaching. I’m going to lay this open to you, how we worship God with the same gift He gave us, how this is accomplished through truth (knowledge), which the Holy Spirit makes living in us and through us, just as Jesus promised.
We’ll also talk about the connection between saving knowledge, worship, and prophecy; what it means to glorify God, what it means to build the kingdom of God, and what it means to fellowship with God and other believers. All of these things describe the priesthood of each believer.
The Restoration of the Priesthood
I want you to understand what God is accomplishing by restoring the priesthood to your faith. For years the priesthood was ignored. Believers did not know how to offer spiritual sacrifices to God, so they didn’t. Is it any wonder that their prayers and relationship with God centered on themselves?
Many hearts were taken captive by Satan, many were spoiled, and the altar of Christ lay in ruins. Worship followed the imaginations of one’s own heart and none restored faith to the priesthood. Our heavenly Father speaks to us of these things from Isaiah and Amos.
“But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.” (Isaiah 42:12)
“And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.” (Amos 9:14)
As God spoke to the nation of Israel in the time of their captivity, He is also speaking of the season of dryness the church endured when faith was taken captive by the tradition of man. But now, we are in a new season. God has restored the government to the church, restored truth, and restored the priesthood. Now is the time for building again the waste places (the priesthood), to again plant the vine of Christ’s covenant knowledge in the heart and drink of the wine therefore (to drink of the Spirit).
Your Christian Growth is Tied to the Priesthood
Everything concerning your Christian growth is tied to the priesthood. Your relationship and fellowship with God is tied to your priesthood. Your increase in the grace of God, the assisted ability of the Holy Spirit to overcome yourself, the world, and the devil is tied to your priesthood. Spiritual warfare is tied to your priesthood. Your daily experience of the powers of the world to come is tied to your priesthood. Stay in your priesthood and the tap of grace never turns off!
How many times have you heard it said that a person is experiencing a “bubbling up of new life” as if they are in a “brand new place” with the Lord, as if the refreshing experienced is something strange and new? When I hear this, this tells me that, that person is not in her priesthood. Experience in your priesthood is your experience with grace and grace by nature is as God is—perceptual, unending, ever increasing. This is not a “new place”. This is the normal experience of the priesthood of each believer that God wants you to have, dear friend. This is the experience God meant for you to have every day.
Let me be clear. It is a contradiction to say that one is in a season of “fresh growth, restoration, and revival” while at the same time lack the consistent experience of the priesthood. What I often see happening when ministers promise this “bubbling up” in this “brand new place” is that believers ask, “How can I keep the experience living? How can I stay in that place?” The answer is the priesthood. Are you praying in tongues every day? Are you offering spiritual sacrifices of prophecy throughout the day? We’re going to get into this some more and explain to you what God intended for you to have and keep in Christ daily.
God’s Gift to us Must be Reciprocated
We had asked what it means to give a gift to God that is acceptable by Jesus Christ. We asked, Does that mean that we sing “about” Jesus? No. It means that the gift we give back to God is equal to the gift He gave us. We need to start here in order for your priesthood to make sense to you.
I am sure that most of you are familiar with John 3:16, “For God so loved the word that He gave His only begotten Son.” I would like you to underline the word “gave” in that verse. God loved us by giving us His Son, Jesus Christ. The focus of the priesthood of each believer follows the same pattern; we love God, worship God, and serve God by giving back to God His Son. This is what the Bible says, “We love Him, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
It is clear from scripture that we are to love God in the same manner in which He loved us and then love one another by that same token. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (1 John 4:11) This is reciprocation “in kind”. God demonstrated to us His love by giving us His Son and we return His love by doing the same. We give back to God His Son. This is meaningful worship. God determined that we should worship Him with nothing less than Himself. If you are getting this simple truth, let me hear you say, Amen!
This is My Beloved Son in Whom I am Well Pleased
Now that we know what it means to reciprocate in kind, let’s talk about the spiritual sacrifices God expects us to Him. We need to first establish who the sacrifice is. The sacrifice is either us or it is Jesus. We did establish that the sacrifice is Jesus. God further plainly declared, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17).
This means that Jesus Christ is the only measure for faith and the only acceptable sacrifice that will please God. Jesus Christ pleases God. He is the gift of God to us. We need not look within ourselves to give a gift to God, we need only reciprocate and return to God the same gift He gave us.
You might be asking, “This is so simple! How did our worship get so messed up?” The answer is that the Enemy turned this around and asked believers to “do” what Jesus did. To them that meant to sacrifice self.
Did you know: The minute you call upon “self” to do anything for faith you have lost the battle. The Enemy knows that “self” would be crucified through your daily growth cycles as Christ is put on. God already has that covered for you. The Enemy knows that we put off “self” through the effectual working power of the Holy Spirit. Cutting out the due process, which involves reciprocating Christ in our priesthood, means that we are drawing from self to please God, trying to crucify self to please God.
For example, when faced with people and situations that anger you, you may ask, “How does God want me to respond?” And instead of turning to your priesthood to reciprocate Jesus Christ, you make a moral decision to forgive. The moral decision is good, but not righteousness. It is not the fruit of the Spirit. God wants you to honor Him by making that distinction. He wants you to experience how He forms His fruit in you by His own work.
How does God want you to respond? Think internally about the priesthood and ask, “How can I express Christ?” Pray in the Spirit and begin offering spiritual sacrifices of prophecy. Your deliverance is at hand. You’ll find that the power of grace in the prophecy has a profound effect upon you. You’ll be walking in all 9 fruits of the Spirit. You put away bitterness by the power of the Spirit without having to hash anything out in your mind or weigh anything by the moral code.
The Deceiver also manipulates with the word “sacrifice” to mean the giving of your time and talents, gifts, and signature skills to God. I want you to see that this is still the giving of “self”. Yes, I know, God gave your signature gifts. But take notice that you are not Jesus Christ. God’s gift to us for salvation is Jesus Christ. Nothing less, nothing more than Jesus will save your soul.
If we turn around and give our signature gifts to God, do you see how that would not be reciprocation “in kind”? You are reciprocating a gift to God that He gave you, but not the gift of salvation. If salvation was in our signature we could save ourselves and such is not the case.
To our way of thinking, we can worship God any way we want, and draw close to Him with our problems in hand or express our desire to sacrifice and give all to Him and draw from the gifts of the signature and all seems right in our world.
But to God’s way of thinking, He will not accept any gift other than Jesus Christ. I want to spend more time with this because I know the Deceiver spent a lot of time grooming your signature for faith and God says it is now time to set it aside.
Push Away From the Table of the Flesh
Let’s look at a scripture that is often used to support the sacrifice of self and time. We need to spot how the Deceiver works a counterfeit message of Jesus for you to believe. The verse reads, “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.” (Romans 12:1)
This scripture is often used to point out that we can use our signature gifts for the good of others. You might have even heard it said, “It’s not me. It’s God!” But it is you! As stated, God did give you your signature gifts to function in the flesh. But, God gave Jesus Christ as the gift for salvation. Jesus needs you to value Him above yourself and you do that by making this distinction. Honor Him, not yourself.
Does that mean that we neglect to do good to others? No. Whenever you would like to do good to others, do so. God is also pleased with that choice of will, but don’t make that your priesthood. Don’t use your signature as a gift to God.
You’ll see that taught in every course on this site. God is identifying the “flesh” and “self” to help you push away from the table of the flesh. For a long time it was thought to be normal to build a personal relationship with God based on the flesh and so its normal to now try to defend that personal relationship you may have built with God.
I get asked all the time, “Why did it seem so real?” Because it satisfied your passions you thought it was “real”. You were taught that this is what God wants, but you can’t see the flesh is still ruling you. You’ll get this as you commit your faith to the priesthood, begin praying in tongues, and God begins to reciprocate the power of His grace to you.
Romans 12:1 simply means that your participation is required in the assembly. If you are to love your brethren in the same way God loves you, it means that you’ll need to be (bodily) present in the assembly to steward the grace of God and offer spiritual sacrifices of prophecy.
I might be getting ahead of the teaching here, and this is something you’ll understand later in this lesson, but prophecy is drawn from the anointing of truth, that foundation of truth that is set in your heart as an altar, and is uttered by your lips. In this way you are presenting your body as a living sacrifice because you are expressing Christ from the foundation of truth for the edification, exhortation, and comfort of others. You need to do that. You need to get in on the assembly where you can offer spiritual sacrifices.
Remember, you have to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and praying in tongues for to function in your priesthood. The Holy Spirit has to be in you, for you to benefit from His work. If you are not sure if you are baptized with the Holy Spirit, it’s time to find out. Get busy with our free course “What is Covenant”: http://www.s8wministries.org/general.php?id=15
We provide video teaching to take you through a 4 Step-process to receive the Holy Spirit. Other resources include a complete Guide called “The Seal of the Spirit”. Download your free copy here: http://www.s8wministries.org/general.php?id=21
Can you imagine the wonderful times you will have with God every day, praying in tongues for yourself, your loved ones, the church, and the lost, and then offering spiritual sacrifices? Let’s now reflect on what we have learned thus far and offer to God spiritual sacrifices of prophecy. I’m going to give you are few examples.
The flesh calls us to reciprocate that which is natural to us, but God calls us to reciprocate His Son, that as good stewards of His grace we may offer to God the virtue of His praise.
The Deceiver would have us sacrifice self, but God has already selected Jesus Christ as the perfect sacrifice. The righteous reciprocate Him, thus fulfilling God’s desires that we worship Him with the token of Himself.
Through the effectual working power of the Holy Spirit God circumcises the heart and prepares us for glory.
Use these lines to review the lesson and scriptures to offer your own spiritual sacrifices to God:
The Saving Knowledge of Jesus Christ
We’re going to push ahead now and talk about the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, which is the spiritual knowledge of His covenant whereby we are brought into God’s family upon repentance. The saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is further the foundation of truth found in each of the 12 Foundation Stones: (1) Grace, (2) Faith, (3) Righteousness, (4) Justification, (5) Sanctification, (6) Holiness, (7) Peace, (8) Rest, (9) Charity, (10) Truth, (11) Regeneration, and (12) Renewing of the Mind.
Each stones expresses Jesus Christ perfectly. Jesus Christ has made Himself these things to us. When these stones of spiritual knowledge are laid in your heart, you are prepared to use this knowledge to build faith in the image of Jesus Christ, to reflect His virtue. Faith, like a mirror, would reflect Him.
The Holy Spirit will inhabit this house of faith which is built in your soul. The Holy Spirit will empower the knowledge when you draw from it and He s will quicken it. Upon this witness you will tangibly experience grace multiplied, faith multiplied, and peace multiplied.
The stones of Christ’s knowledge are also referred to as His altar because we use His knowledge to offer spiritual sacrifices to God. This is the New Testament Prophecy, whereas God says that we may ALL prophecy one by one in the assembly. (1 Corinthians 14:31)
What are we prophesying of? Jesus Christ. We are called to worship God by testifying of Jesus Christ. That’s what the Bible says, “. . .the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). As also says Psalm 9:1, “I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvelous works.”
Are You Testifying of Jesus or Testifying of Yourself?
How many times have you seen one believer try to prophecy “over” another believer? It happens all the time, whether in private home Bible study groups or in public conference halls, the Enemy has defiled prophecy by directing it to “self”. The “prophetic word” addresses the defiled state of the conscience, the fears of the individual, their current situation, the unknown situations that lay ahead, and make promises of resolve.
Can you see that this testimony is “self”? Yet, God calls us to testify of Jesus Christ. The Enemy has done this. The Enemy has turned prophecy away from the testimony of Jesus Christ and turned it towards us. The Enemy made prophecy “personal”, easily applicable to the flesh. This prophecy speaks to the fleshly heart, but not the heart of faith and is therefore called “The Priesthood of the Flesh”.
The distinctions God is making today is between personal prophecy and priesthood prophecy. To really get this distinction and to understand God’s focus on priesthood prophecy we need to look at 1 Corinthians 14:31 more closely. God speaks to us saying, “For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.” I’d like you to circle, or underline the word “all” in that verse. God’s will is that all believers prophesy.
This kind of prophecy is priesthood prophecy, which is different than the gift of prophecy we find in 1 Corinthians 12:10, which is not through all, but only those whom the Spirit selects (verse 11).
Priesthood prophesy is for all, while the gift of prophecy is to some. Just like the tongues of our prayer language is for all, while the gift of tongues is to some. This is why praying in tongues is part of your priesthood (1 Corinthians 14:2,4,14; Romans 8:26-28). These two tools of your priesthood, tongues and prophesy prepare you to express Christ by the power of the Spirit.
We are Saved by Knowledge
Understanding that Jesus is the gift of God to mankind to save man from sin, we can understand that the knowledge of Christ is also the gift of God to save man from sin. We are saved by our continual cleansing by the knowledge of Christ. Salvation also means healing and deliverance. God wants to heal the scars Satan inflicted upon you while in his kingdom. God wants to deliver you from Satan’s snares. In this way the knowledge of Jesus Christ continues to save the soul.
God wants you to know that Jesus’ knowledge is saving because
it is the knowledge God accepts and the Spirit makes living,
it is the knowledge that circumcises from the heart the cares of the world,
it is the knowledge that reflects Christ,
it is the knowledge we prophesy to testify of Jesus.
Can you see a relationship forming with knowledge? For any relationship to exist and flourish there has to be common ground. God made the knowledge of Jesus Christ the holy bread we all partake of and share. The following scriptures brings to our attention the importance God places upon the knowledge of Christ being accepted to build faith upon, to be shared:
“That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge.” (1 Corinthians 1:5)
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” (2 Corinthians 4:2)
“Rejoice in the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6)
“By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,” (2 Corinthians 6:5)
“Therefore, as ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.” (2 Corinthians 8:7)
“For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)
“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.” (Philippians 1:9)
“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” (Colossians 3:10)
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13)
Take a moment and think again about the home “fellowships” or conferences you may have attended. While seeking to promote Jesus Christ, in reality, the common ground is the signature or circumstance of each individual. You are encouraged to be open, vulnerable, transparent, and to share the burdens of your heart; to feel that no matter what you say or who you are, you will not be judged, but accepted.
But, God did not call us to make the signature of man common ground. The signatures are diverse. Each person’s experiences with the moral code is unique. We don’t all speak from the same moral center. Do you now see why the knowledge of Jesus Christ is the only common ground for faith and fellowship?
The Saving Knowledge of Jesus is the Door to God’s Kingdom
Jesus said, “I AM the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9) Jesus also said that He is truth (John 14:6). We understand that Jesus is pointing to His truth as the door. I AM truth. By My truth, if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
Jesus is saying, This is My mind. These are My thoughts. This is My will. Fellowship with Me. This speaks of our priesthood, that we are to have the spiritual sacrifices of His knowledge upon our lips, always ready to worship God and fellowship with Him, always ready to glorify His name through His knowledge.
Let’s now reflect on what we have learned thus far and offer to God spiritual sacrifices of prophecy. I’m going to give you are few examples.
The stones of Christ’s knowledge reflect Him perfectly and are given to the church to build faith in His image.
Prophecy of self binds the soul to the testimony of the flesh, but the prophecy of Jesus Christ liberates the soul to live in His presence.
Those who rejoice in truth offer to God the knowledge of Christ for sacrifice, that God, receiving the gift, reciprocates the pure conscience by the Holy Ghost.
Fellowship is by the bonds of charity forged by the Spirit.
Use these lines to review the lesson and scriptures to offer your own spiritual sacrifices to God:
Sharing Christ is Called Charity
It stands to reason that if God identified His love as Jesus Christ that we do the same. Jesus Christ is the God kind of love and when you offer spiritual sacrifices of prophecy that express Him, you are expressing charity. Sharing Christ is called the charity of the New Testament.
I’d like to share a few spiritual sacrifices that really bring this home. As you read the sacrifices, think about how the love of God is being expressed. This prophecy was offered by Apostle Estelle and drew much faith from my heart: “The righteous find refuge under the wings of His mercy, partaking of His parenting care and comfort that surpass the remedies or fortunes of this world.”
I am going to share something else from Apostle Estelle. She wrote, “Thank you saints for your charity and faithful encouragement (she is referring to the edification she receives from sacrifices offered via group text messaging on cell phone). Had such a strong presence of the Lord in my dream last night. Dreamt how I said to the old man: I have a charge from God and it is to die (to the flesh). I would rather die and live unto Him in eternity then live everyday (in the flesh) and be dead unto Him for eternity. Praise God.
Apostle Estelle’s dream is regenerational. It speaks of the old man dying as the new man in Christ is made living by the Spirit. I want you to see the additional benefit to the priesthood of all believers. Not only do you experience the power of God daily, but understand your dreams in relations to covenant faith and our growth in Him.
I’m going to share more spiritual sacrifices with you in the next lesson. The International Prayer Assembly (IPA) is the last Saturday of every month. You are invited. As we join in prayer together and spiritual sacrifices are being offered to God from the four corners of the earth, I want you to envision each sacrifice as a light of God’s grace that is announcing the advent of the Lord.
Not only is the church preparing for the coming of the Lord, Jesus, but the light of Christ announces His presence in our faith. You are welcome to post your sacrifices on our Face Book Team Page here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/secon8thweekteam/