THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS

The priesthood of all believers is based on the clear teaching of Scripture. The Old Testament anticipated this teaching when God said to his people at Sinai, “You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”Isaiah says that a time will come when “You shall be called the priests of the Lord, they shall speak to you as the ministers of our God.”

The New Testament points to the reality accomplished. In 1 Peter 2:5, it says to believers that “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” The passage goes on to say, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” In Revelation, it says, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and has made us a kingdom, priest to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” Revelation echoes the reality prophesied in Exodus 19:6 “Thou hast made them a kingdom and priest to our God and they shall reign on earth.”

The priesthood of all believers has been the most neglected central teaching of the Reformation. It is one thing to say that we are a “chosen race,” a “holy nation,” a “royal priesthood,” and an “ambassador of Christ.” Yet it is another thing altogether to have our identities shaped by these truths so that we act accordingly. If we recover the notion of the “priesthood of all believers” we will pray more boldly, offer up spiritual sacrifices regularly, and realize our unique privilege in Christ.

If we recover our identities as full-time followers of Christ, regardless of where we work, we will be willing to prophetically confront the problems in the Church and in the world. We will be able to live our faith both through our direct participation in the Church, through our professions, and through our engagement in work and society. We will be agents of conciliation, ambassadors, and mediators; in other words, we will be “priests” in our society. We should see that “priest” becomes as common a self-designation as “Christian” may never be realized unless Christians work to appropriate this truth so that it becomes part of their lives and identity. 

Can we see our work in the world as a priestly act, as part of a royal priesthood? Can Christians use their professions to serve those around them? The notion that all believers are priests can revolutionize the Christian’s work in the Church and in the world, encouraging believers to serve the Lord in whatever capacity or profession they find themselves. With this ministry-oriented mindset toward all areas of life, God’s followers can come boldly into his presence, praying for fruitfulness in their own professions, being prophetic about things they see that are unjust, and acting as agents of reconciliation in their offices, schools, and community.

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