(Spiritual Food For Hungry Christians)
Three prominent offices in the Old Testament were prophet, priest, and king. They were called and anointed by God. When God had a message for His people, He called prophets as His messengers. The priests were ministers, communicating spiritually between God and man. The kings were monarchs to lead God’s people in political and civil issues among the nations.
What is the priesthood? Is it functioning today? Does Christendom practice a Biblical priesthood? The clergy system in Christendom is looked upon as the priesthood, but is this Biblical? This practice is found in the Old Testament, but not in the New Testament church. The practice was borrowed from Judaism or pagan religions, and the earliest record of this creeping into the Church is in the last part of the first century. By the second and third century, it was an accepted practice.
Dr. C. I. Schofield, a Bible expositor, considers the “Nicolaitans” in Revelation 2:6,15 as the introduction of the clergy system into the Church. There is no historical record of a sect or group of people called Nicolaitans. A study of the Greek word suggests it’s meaning is “conqueror or over-comer of the people.” In the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:6) the “deeds” of the Nicolaitans are hated by both the Christians and the Lord. Two hundred years later, in the church at Pergamos during the Constantine period, this belief system degenerated into a “doctrine” (Revelation 2:15), and was hated by the Lord, but not by the church. The church was “getting used to the dark.”
I. The History Of The Priesthood
The first indication of a Biblical priesthood in the Old Testament can be called the patriarchal priesthood. This system was in place before the Law, when the head of a family functioned as priest on behalf of his family and descendents. Examples of this are Noah (Genesis 8:20), when he built an altar and offered a burnt offering unto the Lord; Abram (Genesis 13:4) at Bethel, when he built an altar and called on the name of the Lord; and Job (Job 1:5), when he offered burnt offerings on behalf of his children.
The next is the national priesthood. God called the nation of Israel to be a “Kingdom of Priests”(Exodus 19:5-8).As a kingdom, they were to be leaders among the nations of the world; as priests, they were to represent Jehovah before the heathen. The condition for this honor was to “obey the voice of the Lord” and keep God’s covenants. They disobeyed, and thus forfeited the opportunity to minister as priests. This ministry of priesthood will be restored during the Tribulation, when 144,000 witnesses will represent God to the nations.
Because Israel failed, God introduced the Levitical priesthood. From the tribe of Levi, He chose the family of Aaron to temporarily fill the gap. Death and infirmity made this a frail and failing priesthood.
Now God has provided an unfailing priesthood, the Great High Priesthood of Christ “after the order of Melchisedec.”(Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:6,10).This qualifies Jesus to be both King and Priest, and places Him beyond the limitations and failures of the Aaronic priesthood. He is “a priest forever.”
Today, under the authority of our great High Priest, the believer functions as a royal and holy priest(1Peter. 2:5,9)
II. The Qualifications For The Priesthood
Five words to study relating to the priesthood are as follows: Child, Called, Cleansed, Clothed, and Consecrated (Exodus. 28:1,2,40,41).In Leviticus 8, we read about the consecration ceremony, which sanctified the priests and set them apart exclusively for God’s service. Although referring specifically to the Levitical priesthood, these truths have application for the believer, as well. In verse six the, priests were washed in water by Moses. This seems to reflect the New Testament doctrine of regeneration (“He saved us by the washing of regeneration.” Titus 3:5). In verse 24, the blood from the altar was sprinkled on the right ear, thumb, and great toe. Blood suggests redemption and an application would be to be careful what you hear, do, and where you go. In verse 30, the blood was sprinkled on the body and clothes of the priest. The whole body is to be presented as a living sacrifice.” (Romans 12:1)The clothes represent the way we appear to our fellow man, who, must observe that we are not “conformed to this world... but transformed...” (Romans 12:2)Whether the priests entered the Tabernacle for worship, or returned to the courtyard for service, they had to pass by the Laver in the courtyard, where they washed their hands and feet.(Exodus 30:17-21)Daily cleansing (confession) is essential, whether we enter God’s presence for worship or go out to serve. (1John 1:9)
The priests had to avoid any type of strong drink. (Leviticus 10:9)Their minds had to be clear to focus entirely on the things of God. They were not to be controlled by carnal or worldly influences.
They were not to touch or be defiled by a dead body. (Leviticus 21:1)We live on the resurrection side of Calvary, and as Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live.”(Gal. 2:20)
The priests were not to have had any physical blemishes.(Lev. 21:16-24)The Old Testament physical qualifications apply spiritually to the New Testament priesthood.
III. The New Testament Priesthood
(Consider, two aspects of the priesthood - Holy and Royal - I Peter 2:5,9)
The holy priesthood is Godward and requires us to live a holy and sacrificial life for God. It is to “offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God.” This is accomplished only through the Person and in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is worshipping in the holiest. It involves a dedication of our person. (“Present your bodies a living sacrifice.” Romans 12:1). (An offering of our praises) - “The fruit of our lips giving thanks.” Hebrews. 13:15).(A stewardship of our possessions)(Paul considered the gift sent to him from the church at Philippi “a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.” Philippians.4:18)
The royal priesthood is manward and requires us to honor God in a hostile world. (1Peter 2:9-12).
Positive: It displays God’s Excellencies in a dark, sinful world, by our deeds, maintaining good conduct before the Gentiles.
Negative: It is abstaining from fleshly desires and maintaining a sanctified life.
IV. A Commentary On The Priesthood (Hebrews 10:11,12,19-22).
The participants in the New Testament are “brethren” which include women. The attitude and response for this ministry are “...boldness to enter.” The sanctuary is “the holiest.” The title deed for entering is “blood of Jesus... a new and living way.” The authority for entering is “having a high priest over the house of God.” The spiritual condition and preparation are “a true heart in full assurance of faith.” The inward preparation is “hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience” by blood.(1John 1:7,9), The outward conduct is “bodies washed with pure water” of the Word. The “rent veil” abolished the clergy / laity system of Judaism. This is the message of the book of Hebrews.
Conclusion / Comments
The Old Testament priests stood ministering daily because their work was never finished. Christ, our great High Priest, is seated because He finished the work of redemption on Calvary. Now the believer, as a holy priest, is seated with Christ, resting in His finished work, and worshipping the One on the throne. The believer, as a royal priest, is standing because there is an on-going work and service to be accomplished. The Old Testament high priest was over the other priest, so our great High Priest is over and controlling the believer priests.
The Old Testament priesthood was a function for males only. Now under grace, the priesthood is for all believers, male and female alike.
The priesthood is not a spiritual gift, a matter of maturity, or academic achievement. It is a function that springs from a committed heart, expressed either silently or audibly.
What about the clergy system, which is prevalent in Christendom today? First, it is unbiblical because it is not to be found in the New Testament church. Second, it divides God’s people into clergy and laity. Third, it draws attention to a man instead of to the true Head, who is Christ. Fourth, it gives honor and titles to man, which belong only to God. Fifth, it hinders the development of spiritual gifts. Sixth, it restricts the function of the priesthood of all believers.
Israel’s calling and function as a kingdom of priests will one day be restored when 144,000 witnesses will be leaders and ministers to the nations.
We, as believers, will one day reign with Christ as kings and priests. (Rev. 6:9,10)
**2Peter 3:9 - The Lord’s will is for all sinners to be saved.
**1Thessalonians 4:3 - God’s will is for all believers to be sanctified.
1. We are sure of God’s will in some areas; others need prayer.
2. Biblical sanctification means “set apart.” A saint is holy, set apart.
(1) Items in the temple were sanctified, set apart, holy for God.
(2) Jesus was sanctified by the Father and sanctified Himself. (Joh. 10:36; 17:19)
3. A carnal person resists sanctification; it disturbs his comfort zone.
4. Four aspects of sanctification are Pre-conversion / Positional / Practical / Final.
I. Practical Sanctification - Key To Happiness. (Php 2:1, 5, 15, 16)
1. It is a divine and holy process in a surrendered believer.
(1) Fellowship of the Spirit. V1 (2) be blameless in a corrupt world. V15
(3) Shine as lights…holding forth the word of life. V15, 16a
2. Christ likeness is the goal and evidence of being sanctified.
(1) Paul said, “Let this mind be in you...” (Philippians 2:5)
“Until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19)
(2) John - abiding means to “walk... as He walked.”(1 John 2:6)
3. Obedience is a factor in sanctification. v. 12
4. Fear is a compelling influence.” Fear and trembling” v12c
(1) Fear is “reverential respect” - which influences our actions.
(2) Not fear of doom, but of grieving or dishonoring our Lord.
(3) Fear of moral breakdown. (None are exempt)
(4) Fear of being disqualified in the race. “A castaway” (1Cor. 9:27)
(5) Fear of tarnishing our testimony in an unbelieving world.
(6) Fear of the chastening hand of the Lord.
(7) Fear of suffering loss at the Bema.
(8) We need a contrite spirit that trembles at God’s word.(Isaiah 66:2)
II. Two Extremes - Unbiblical Attitudes About Achieving Sanctification.
1. Passive - “let go and let God”(It’s all God’s responsibility).
2. Aggressive - “do it yourself”
(1) New Years resolutions/ self-reformation/ build your self-esteem.
(2) Legalism - expressed in lifestyle, clothing, etc. (Cults and Monasteries)
III. The Biblical Balance(Philippians 2:12,13)
1. The believer works out what God worked in. v12, 13
2. Salvation & sanctification are God’s gifts; we are to receive and display them.
(1) Salvation requires the sinner to repent and believe.
(2) Sanctification leads the saint to confess and worship. (1John 1:9)
V. Five Factors In Sanctification(Philippians 2:13)
1. His Person -”it is God...” - v13
(1) He saves, keeps, and empowers.
(2) He calls, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies. (Romans 8:28-30)
(3) Paul says”...our sufficiency is of God...”(2 Corinthians 3:5).
(4) God will finish the work He began.(Philippians 1:6).
2. His Power - it is God who is working in the believer’s life.V.13
(1) Worketh - (Greek (energeo) is the word for, energy in English.
(2) Omnipotence - divine energy at work in the believer’s life.
(3) It inspires us to desire holiness, hate sin, and surrender to the Spirit.
3. His Presence - God is working “...in you...” V13
(1) In the OT, they worshipped in a temple.In the NT, we are the temples.
4. His Purpose- “...to will and to work...” v13
(1) God gives us the desire and ability to do His will and work.
5. His Pleasure -”...to do His good pleasure...” V13
(1) The goal of sanctification is to please and honor Him.
1. Practical sanctification is progressive holiness. (Heb. 12:14)
(1) Holiness is essential to “see the Lord.”
(2) Sometimes chastened to be partakers of His holiness.(Hebrews 12:10)
(3) Sin grieves the Spirit and hinders the process of sanctification.
2. Jesus / Peter - “He that is washed needeth not, save to wash his feet”(John 13:10)
(1) Moses washed Aaron and his sons once = regeneration(Leviticus 8:6)
(2) The priests washed daily at the laver = sanctification(Exodus 30:19,20)
3. “...This is the will of God, [even] your sanctification”(1Thessalonians 4:3)
(1) Its ultimate end - God’s glory and our glorification.
4. Four aspects of sanctification: Pre-conversion / Positional / Practical / Final.
**Matthew 5:1-16 - the Sermon on the Mount. (Mountaintop experience)
1. Beautiful / Instructive / Challenging / Convicting / Life-altering.
2. The multitude was not present; this was exclusive truth for disciples only. V1, 2
(1) The multitudes saw the parables, but they were explained to the disciples.
3. Beatitudes and “fruit of the Spirit” are virtues of Jesus and believers.
Beatitude is a beautiful announcement.
I. Theme: The King And His Kingdom. (Sermon on the Mount)
1. The “Magna Carta” of the great King. (A binding decree or edict)
2. Dispensational teaching, with abiding principles.
3. Jews expected a King on a throne, not a Savior on a cross.
4. He was rejected, but now reigns in exile and in the believer’s life.
5. He is anointed Prophet, Priest, King, Head of the church, and Lord of all.
6. After the rapture and tribulation, He will reign in the Millennium & eternity.
II. The Believer Is Portrayed As Blessed (happy / privileged)
1. Real joy isn’t affected by circumstances. Paul in prison. (Acts 16:25-33)
(1) These are virtues that stimulate happiness and a fulfilled life.
(2). The world’s fun depends on wealth, ease, fame, and pleasure.
III. The Virtues Of Jesus are to be reproduced in the believer’s life.
(First a statement, followed by a promise)
1. “Blessed [are] the poor in spirit...” - humility.V3
(1) Jesus “humbled Himself” - “Let this mind be in you.”(Philippians 2:5-11)
(2) “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven” - Jesus points to little children -
2. “Blessed [are] they that mourn.” v 4(Are we too proud to shed tears?)
(1) Tears of compassion are not weakness. (Joseph / Nehemiah / Jeremiah)
(2) Jesus - our sins made Him the “Man of sorrows”(Isaiah 53:3)
(a) He “...beheld the city and wept.”(Luke 19:41)
(b) He wept with Mary and Martha.(John 11:35)
(3) “...They shall be comforted.”
(a) “He shall see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied.”(Isaiah 53:11)
(b) “God shall wipe away all tears.” (Revelation 21:4)
3. “Blessed [are] the meek...” - a gentle and mild temperament. v. 5
(1) Jesus was meek, but not weak; cf. Moses.
(2) “They shall inherit the earth” - the new, redeemed earth.
4. “Blessed [are] they that hunger and thirst after righteousness...” 6
(1) Hunger / thirst - a desperate longing for survival. (Rich man in hell)
(a) Compromising Christianity has lost this passion.
(b) Hollywood in the living room restricts a hunger for righteousness.(2) “...they shall be filled” (with the Spirit, the Fruit of the Spirit, and a fulfilled life)
5. “Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” v7
(1) Jesus -”...moved with compassion...”(Mark 6:34)
(2) Debbie and Nancy - “I sat on her mother’s lap and we cried together.”
(3) Mercy is a spiritual gift that is marked by cheerfulness.(Romans 12:8)
6. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God...” v8
(1) Jesus “...in Him is no sin...” (Communion broke at Calvary)(1John 3:3,5).
(2) “Pure in heart” - the condition for communion, now and in heaven.
(3) Without holiness, no one can see the Lord.(Hebrews 12:14)
7. “Blessed are the peacemaker- called the children of God...” v9
(1) Jesus was our “Peacemaker” - peace with/and of God.
(2) As ambassadors we have the “word of reconciliation.”(2 Cor.5: 18-21)
(3) Peace-making is a mark of being “children of God.”
8/9. “Blessed are the persecuted / reviled...” v10-12
(1) Jesus”...when he suffered, he threatened not”(1Peter 2:23)
(2) “If ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy [are ye]” (1Peter 3:14)
(a) Disciples rejoiced to suffer shame for His name.(Acts 5:41)
(3) They will rejoice and be rewarded in heaven. V12
IV. Applied Beatitudes - Ye are the salt / light- v13-16
Salt preserves the virtues and makes them palatable.
Light reflects the virtues and makes them desirable.
1. Christ is presented as the King of kings in Mathew.
Chap. 1. - His birth and genealogy(none in Mark or John)
Chap. 2. - His dignity - the star / wise men / gifts. (Worshipped)
Chap. 3. – His Messiah-ship – baptism, a voice from heaven. (Honored)
Chap. 4. - His impeccable nature - proven in the Temptation.
Chap. 5. - His “Magna Carta” binding decree - of the great King.
Seed Thoughts & Sermon Starters
Have A Good Day
**Esther 8:17 - “the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day”
1. “Have a good day” (a familiar saying)
2. For the Jews it was when,
(1) Their enemy, Haman, was hanged.
(2) Their mediator, Mordecai, was honored.
3. For Christians it’s when
(1) The enemy is defeated. (Hebrews 2:14)
(2) Our Redeemer / Mediator is exalted. (Philippians 2:9-11)
4. The Man whom God delights to honor. (His Son)
Notes & Quotes
Partnership (Colossians 4:5-18)
1. Paul considered Philemon a partner.(Philemon 1:17)
2. Christian relationship is a partnership and fellowship.
3. Corporation partnership is for legal and tax purposes, not fellowship.
4. We have partners who are both like us and unlike us; a blessing.
5. The early Christians had different backgrounds.
(1) Greeks and Jews(2) Slaves and free(3) Masters and servants
(4) Male and female
6. The early church had different gifts.
(1) Public and private(2) Equal in importance(3) All are needed.
7. The early church had different duties.
(1) Communicating truth. (2) Encouraging and comforting one another.
(2) Praying for one another.
8. The early church had one purpose and goal.
(1) Glorify God in their hearts and lives.
(2) Minister to the needs of the family of Christ.
(3) Serve the Lord as true disciples.
(4) We need Christ, but we also need each other.
(a) We prefer to be on the top of the ladder, but the man at the bottom, holding it, is essential.
(b) The organist and the bellows boy;*
*An accomplished organist was playing before a large audience in a music hall. She finished her first number and got a long- standing ovation. She said to the bellows boy, “I did a good job on that number” – She placed her fingers on the keys for the second number, but there was no air for the pipe organ. A bit frustrated, she reprimanded the bellows boy and told him to pump the bellows. The boy stuck his head around the corner and said, “Who did a good job? She, a bit perturbed, was forced to say, “All right
we did a good job:” – We need each other. The behind -the - scene gifts and talents are just as important as public ones.
Remember The Poor
“...We should remember the poor.”(Galatians 2:10)
The leaders of the church in Jerusalem suggested that Paul remember the poor, which he was already doing. The question is asked why does God allow poverty? He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He could feed the poor with manna and quails like He did for Israel in the wilderness. Is it because He wants to give us the opportunity to share in love with those whom He loves? A cup of cold water given in His name is the same as giving to Him. Also, it moves the recipient to give thanks for Christian generosity, which brings glory to the Lord. He must love the poor, because there are so many in the world. They need to be loved.
I gave my life for thee. My precious blood I shed,
That thou might’s ransomed be, and quickened from the dead;
I gave, I gave my life for thee, and what hast thou given for me?
Be Ye Holy
“...Be ye holy...” (1Peter 1:16).
A holy life is not optional, but a command. God is holy, and it is impossible for Him to have fellowship with unholy creatures. Calvary is God’s provision to make sinners into saints, but also, to make saints saintly. A distinguishing feature of “saintly saints” is they are sensitive to sin; they hate it and turn from it.
Isaiah, reflecting the holiness of God, cried, “Woe is me... I am a man of unclean lips.” - and again, David, “...purge me... wash me... Create in me a clean heart... Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.” One day the ultimate goal of saintliness will be reached, and we will join in the chorus, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain...”
Once far from God and dead in sin, No light my heart could see,
But in God’s Word the light I found, now Christ liveth in me.
Christ liveth in me, Christ liveth in me, Oh! What a salvation this,
That Christ liveth in me.
Manna / Old Corn
“They did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.”(Joshua 5:12)
Poor Israel struggled for forty years inhaling the dust of the desert because of unbelief and disobedience. In spite of their failure, in God’s mercy, He fed them with angel’s food and bore them on eagle’s wings. (Exodus 19:4)Then the day came when the fiery serpents, fierce Amalekites, and howling wilderness were past, as they arrived at the land flowing with milk and honey. Unbelief still staggered as they crossed the Jordan and faced the enemies in the land, which needed to be overcome by faith, moving forward in the name and power of God. “We who have believed do enter into rest.” (Hebrews 4:3)By faith in God’s grace and promise, the desert was replaced with a garden flowing with milk and honey. May we also trust and enjoy.
Far Off / Made Nigh
“But now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”(Ephesians 2:13)
The sin in Eden is the cause of all the problems in the world, because man forfeited his communion-relationship with his Creator. Sometimes sin is an indirect cause and sometimes direct; but sin is always the cause for problems. Better news the gospel brings; “ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Now there is a changed allegiance - it means to abandon the ways, ruler, and desires of the world. A changed position - we are now raised and seated with Christ, near to God. A changed condition - our enemies are now friends and united; aliens become citizens of heaven and children of the household of God.
Nothing between my soul and the Savior, Naught of this world’s delusive dreams;
Nothing between my soul and the Savior, So that His blessed face may be seen;
“... Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”(1Corinthians 11:1)
“...Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.” (Ephesians 5:1)
“...Walk in the Spirit.”(Galatians 5:16,25)
A child is usually motivated to learn to walk by observing and imitating Someone. The Christian moves through the helpless stage; first creeping, then walking, followed by running the race. The key for this motivation and power is to “walk in the Spirit.” This involves “walk in love as Christ...loved us.” His perfect walk culminated by walking up the slippery slopes of Calvary, where He sacrificed His life for us. Then to “Walk as children of light” - that delivers us from the darkness of the world we once walked in, and enables us to produce the “fruit of the Spirit.” And finally, we will “walk circumspectly” (carefully/discreetly)
We will be wise in our use of time, in our conduct, in knowing the will of God, and in worship.
He walks beside me in the way, what a wonderful Savior!
He keeps me faithful day by day, what a wonderful Savior!
What a wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Jesus!
What a wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Lord!
Come / Follow / Abide
“Come unto Me”(Matthew 11:28)
“Follow Me”(Matthew 16:24)
“Abide in Me”(John 15:4).
The meaningful, loving invitations of our Lord have spiritual progression. First He said, “Come unto Me” and we found eternal rest. Next He said, “Follow Me.” We learned that discipleship has a stringent condition.” Take up your cross” means, death to self and all the things that are cherished by the old, flesh nature. Again, He said, “Abide in Me.” This is a necessary condition, if we are to bear “much fruit.” Abiding gives us a conscious awareness of His presence. It positions us to be in unbroken communion and communication with Him. Finally, it gives us the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy His Person. - There’s a story ever new, it is wonderful and true, and the best thing you can do, is believe it:
“If thou count me, therefore, a partner, receive him as myself.”(Philemon 1:17)
Christian partnership is a divinely provided fellowship, which needs careful and prayerful nurturing. The world incorporates for monetary advantages, sometimes with strained fellowship. Because the believers are “in Christ”, they are bound together by Calvary’s love. There will be mutual respect and consideration, with cooperation, in assembly fellowship, service, and worship. The church works together with different backgrounds: ethnic, social, male and female, etc. Believers have different spiritual gifts and natural talents, some public, some private, but all needed and important. They have different duties, communicating truth, encouraging and comforting one another, but all praying for each other. They have one ultimate goal, to glorify God in their hearts and lives, minister to the needs of the family of Christ, and serve a loving Master.
Questions & Answers
Question: When I was first saved, I couldn’t get enough of the Bible. I looked forward to my Quiet Time, personal Bible reading, and assembly Bible Study. Now it seems I have to force myself to do this. How can I regain that hunger for the Word?
Answer: The problem may be spiritual. One needs wholesome food to grow physically, and the same is true in the spiritual. It is possible to become distant and out of communication with the Author of the Bible. When we are near, like Mary at His feet, John on His bosom, or the obedient sheep near the Shepherd, we will be able to hear and obey His commands. In the physical and the spiritual it is a fact that “junk food” hinders the appetite and doesn’t provide proper nourishment for growth. Priorities in choosing “first things first”, are important in the Christian life. This includes what we read or how we spend our leisure time. The world’s fun is out of bounds for the committed and growing Christian. We are as committed as we choose to be. Joshua said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.”(Joshua 24:15) - We must choose to be near Him to hear His “still small voice.” Sin that needs to be confessed will hinder this intimate communication fellowship with our Lord.” If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9) So, confess to the Lord, surrender to the Spirit, and with the will, determine by the grace and power of God, to get back into full fellowship with the Author of the Bible. That, too, will make fellowship with God’s people a genuine delight.