How are you pure enough to be a priest of the living God? – Jesus Christ purified you!
How are you clean enough to qualify for the priesthood? – Jesus Christ cleansed you!
Why do you not need to make more sacrifices to appease the father? – Jesus Christ made the final sacrifice!
Why do you not have to live in constant fear of screwing up? – Jesus Christ succeeded for you!
Christ alone has made you clean and holy, a perfect vessel able to stand in the throne room of almighty God confident of our welcome. We are all priests because that is what God himself has wanted from the very beginning. He wanted a people who could all come before him to minister to him. In Christ he found a people who fulfilled his desire. He found a people who could approach him boldly and could minister to him not through a small number of representatives but as a whole people. His entire nation could approach.
What a difference this made to the first Christians. Instead of relying on a priesthood to worship God for them they had a role in the church. The church moved and acted as a people. The book of Acts is sometimes called the Acts of the apostles and it is filled with the stories of Peter and Paul but it is also filled with the stories of the church. They acted together, responded together and found the Lord together. The book of acts describes a church which functions.
All who believed were together, Acts 2 v 44
The church heard the report of Peter and John and with one accord raised up their voice to God, Acts 4 v 24
All spoke the word of God with boldness, Acts 4 v 31
They went everywhere preaching the gospel, Acts 8 v 4
They heard and glorified God, Acts 1v 18
They offered constant prayer, Acts 12 v 5
These are just a few examples of the functioning of the church in Acts. Once the story moves on to Paul and his epistles the picture becomes even clearer. Paul may have ministered to churches but he expected those churches to be able to function when he wasn’t present.
‘When you come together every one hath a psalm, a teaching, a tongue, a revelation or an interpretation.’ In the First letter to the Corinthians Paul described a Christian meeting. The church functioned. It ministered. It spoke. The church was filled with priests able and willing to minister before the Lord. This is the normal Christian meeting of the early church.
So strong was Paul’s vision of the Lord in his people that none of the nightmares that afflicted the early churches shook that vision. Even when men and women he had risked his life for betrayed him and turned against him he did not try to take over and put in leaders who would serve him. He pointed them back to Christ and the high calling with which they were called.
When the church came together and it was chaos Paul didn’t close them down, put a man at the front and place the church in the hands of the elders. He suggested they speak one at a time and left them with meetings where every one was still free to speak, to start songs and to function.
When the church had a crisis Paul didn’t hand them over to the elders and the ministry team. He wrote to the church. He asked the church to take action. He trusted the church.
What a contrast with most modern churches. One man speaks. Another leads the music. If you wish to share in a meeting you need permission.
The modern church has no voice. She is silent. The body of Christ is comatose, fed intravenously with the drip, drip of sermons and kept just barely alive.
Just look at the restrictions on modern believers by comparison.
They cannot start songs – we have music leaders for that.
They cannot preach – we have pastors for that.
They cannot lead – we have appointed elders, priests and pastors for that.
They cannot share in response to a message or from what the lord has given them – that must be vetted by a leader and there are only a couple of minutes available anyway.