Monday, March 27, 2017

Lay Ministers: Royal Priesthood

1 Peter 1:1 "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."
1 Peter 2:5 "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light..."
Peter wrote this letter to the elect Gentiles: Those who had received the grace of Jesus Christ (i.e., Christians). Jesus is the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:7), and these Christians are the lively stones. Figuratively, this is Jesus at the corner of the Church and alive Christians which is the Church.

The alive stones, the members of the Church, build up the spiritual house, and those members are an holy priesthood. Peter refers to them as the royal priesthood. These kingly priests - Christians job assignment is clear: (1) offer up spiritual sacrifices, and (2) profess to everyone praises of Jesus. Essentially, as royal priests we too are assigned the Great Commission:
Matthew 28:19 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost..."
The holy nation is to teach all nations.  We are bring the message of Christ to those who are not of Christ. As priests we not only present the word, but offer up spiritual sacrifices. Doing that the royal priesthood are both preachers and ministers.

Evangelical churches make a fuss about being called to preach. I submit that that is extraneous, because all Christians are called to preach and minister... and throw into that, to teach:
2 Timothy 2:2 "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."
Is the call that we be ministers not yet clear enough? Read on:
 1 Timothy 4:6 "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained."
We are all called to be good ministers of Jesus Christ. Note that this is all the elect - all Christians, not just those who feel the pull, for we all should. When we desire to share the word, and do so, we are ministering to others, as royal priests. Well, what then is a bishop? They are those appointed by the church. In other words, there is no call to be bishop, he is selected from among the elect -  those in the royal priesthood. In other words, bishops or ordained ministers are not called beyond what anyone Christian is, but appointed.

They (bishops) devote their lives to Christ, but we all are called to do that. Modern preachers have selected their vocation to be what we all are called to be. They now get paid for what we all should be doing for free!

Now to be pragmatic, because the early Baptist church originally did not pay preachers, they must make a living. Somebody has to feed my gray mare, said Elder Elijah Barnes to the Baptist Association in the infant church of Kentucky. Hence, what we are all called to do became a paid vocation as it was in the Catholic Church since early times.

Since we're all minsters, any Christian can preach. Lay preachers are any Christian who has not been ordained by the church. Ordination are for those Christians who are set apart to preach in the local church. That becomes their job, but it's everyone's call to preach. Lay ministers are of the royal priesthood, and make the Church alive.

Just to preach does not require a uniform. Indeed we are to carry only the staff of Jesus: the empty cross with his blood on it. John the Baptist was more effective in camel hair than preachers in their fancy robes or even pristine suits. I actually believe that preacher garb distracts, as it discourages those with less. The Church is not about wealth, but meekness.

Any person can preach. Any can present the elements at communion. It doesn't take ordination to serve because service is for all. My how far away we have come from service to the Lord!

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