In the New Testament the kingship of believers is demonstrated in simple, practical ways. It is more than a vague, mystical truth. The Israelites of old entered the Promised Land with no king. They had prophets, judges and other rulers but an absolute king with the power to control them completely was never God’s plan. He wanted the Israelites to look to him as their king.
When the Lord brought the church into existence he had exactly the same intention. Although there would be leadership in the church the people would look first to God rather than to a man. The royal house would answer to Jesus Christ.
To be a believer is to be a king and kingship is not awarded on merit. It comes because your father was a king.
The first Apostles knew this and they respected the Lord’s people as a result. They knew the Lord’s people had authority. Take the appointment of the seven men usually called deacons. A crisis arose in the church and all the believers rushed to the Apostles to sort it out. The Apostles suggested the solution but then placed the problem back in the hands of the whole church. What are the criteria for those men? They must be men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom and they must be chosen by the church.
The Apostles knew they were dealing with kings and they were prepared to trust the royal family to make the right decision. This is just one example. The book of Acts is full of statements of the church acting with authority.
They sent for Peter, Acts 9 v 38
Did you ever notice that the first people to take the gospel to Gentiles were not apostles or mighty evangelists? The first people to take the gospel to the Gentiles were ordinary believers. Acts 11 v 20
The church sent Barnabas to Antioch, Acts 11 v 22
The church determined to send aid, Acts 11 v 29
Gathered around those under attack, Acts 14 v 20
The determined who to send, Acts 15 v 2
The Church received visitors, Acts 15 v 4
The church confirmed the decision of the Apostles and elders, Acts 15 v 22
When Paul wrote to the churches of the New Testament he did not address his letters to a pastor or a small leadership team. He wrote to entire churches.
Galatians – to the churches in Galatia
I Thessalonians – to the church of the Thessalonians
II Thessalonians – to the church of the Thessalonians
I Corinthians – to the church of God that is at Corinth
II Corinthians – to the church of God that is at Corinth
Romans – To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be holy ones (saints)
Colossians – To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colossae
Ephesians – To the saints who are in Ephesus and faithful in Christ Jesus
Philippians – to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi with the overseers and deacons
When the Galatians fell into legalism Paul asked the churches to deal with the problem. When the Thessalonians spent their days arguing about doubtful doctrines and waiting for the lord’s return Paul wrote to the whole church asking them to address the issue. In Corinth where the church had more problems than it had members Paul asked and trusted the whole church to deal with the crises. He trusted the Lord’s people and he believed that they had the authority and ability to solve the problems they faced. Nowhere did Paul suggest that a man or a few men should be given the responsibility that belongs with the whole church. This is the kingship of all believers and there is nothing else on earth like it.
And this wasn’t just limited to the apostles. Other early Christian letters follow this pattern. The letter called first Clement written around 95 AD is from a church (in Rome) to a church (in Corinth). The letters of early Christian figures like Polycarp and Ignatius are written to churches and not to a leader or leadership team. The body of Christ had responsibility and much as she might respect some men and women in the midst the church itself had responsibility and authority. Believers truly were kings and kingship comes only from being a believer. It has nothing to do with any temporary, earthly calling.