Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Holiness: A Sanctified Priesthood

Monday, September 24, 2007

Holiness: A Sanctified Priesthood

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. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 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” (I Peter 2:5-9).

When I look at modern day Christianity, I see it like a massive army of Saints who all seem to be fighting to see who can get as far back from the front as possible. At the front are a handful of faithful Christians ready for the battle charge, trying to persuade the other quasi and pseudo-warriors to join them in the ranks. A large percentage of the army is unprepared for battle and is apathetic to the cause. That means they are not only unprepared, they really do not care to get prepared.

Understanding this scenario helps each of us understand the historic struggle of Christianity. Often the spiritual struggle is the struggle with the sin natures of individual believers and the majority of the work of the ministry is trying to get the Priesthood of the Believers to do the work they are saved to do. Christians want the position Christ gives them but they do not want the responsibilities of that position. They do not understand the very basic truth of their position in Christ. They are not their own. They have been bought with a price.

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

Often Christians are willing to serve the Lord and do the work of the ministry only if the cost to them is minimal and there is little or no risk to their reputation or position in the world. The sad truth is that this kind of Christian does not even realize that the reason he thinks this way is because he is in love with the world. That is why he is unwilling to get involved in a active soul winning program. That is why he is unwilling to become a vocal witness for Christ at his workplace and among his neighbors and peers. He is like the little boy walking on a street curb. He lives on the edge of the gutter and frequently falls in. He may not live in open sin, but the “pride of life” keeps him from being the Believer Priest God called him to be. He loves the world.

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I John 2:15-16).

A Believer Priest will never be prepared to live for Christ until he has committed himself to be willing to die for Christ. That is the truth Paul communicated about himself in Galatians 2:20. His great successes in ministry under enormous resistance and persecution were due to the fact of the power of God upon a life that had already committed himself to do whatever was necessary at whatever the cost. He sanctified himself to God’s service.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

The basic truth of redemption is that every believer belongs to God. That is essentially what the word sanctified means. Every believer becomes a holy vessel of God separated from the world and dedicated to His use. The “work of the ministry” is sacred work demanding a sacred person to do it.

The purpose for personal holiness is to prepare a vehicle of a human being for God to work His sacred work through. The Biblical pattern for personal holiness involves whatever steps are necessary to maintain a lifestyle distinctively separated from worldliness and dedication to doing the “work of the ministry.” Holiness is defined by both what we are and what we do. It cannot exist apart from the steps necessary to separate ourselves from worldliness and to doing the “work of the ministry.” The holiness of what we are is for the purpose of what we do.

The Priesthood of which all believers are Priests is not the Aaronic Priesthood of the Old Covenant. Jesus established a new Priesthood called the Melchisedecian Priesthood of which He is High Priest and the believer is a Servant Priest. The “work of the ministry” (soul winning and discipleship) is the work of all Servant Priests.

1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: 2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. 3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. 4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. 6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 5:1-6).

Melchisedec was a Gentile King\Priest (Gen. 14:18). Therefore, the Priesthood of all believers is a Royal Priesthood that will rule and reign with Jesus Christ during the Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 1:6; 2:26-28; 5:10; 20:6). The Believer Priest ministers from a completed sacrifice and a completed salvation and, therefore, there is no more sacrifice for sin offered any longer.

10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:10-18).

The Bible teaches that all Believer Priests are to offer three sacrifices. None of these sacrifices are sacrifices for sin. Each of the three sacrifices mentioned in the New Testament are sacrifices of praise and involve various aspects of giving of ourselves to the Lord.

1. The sacrifice of their persons; the Believer Priest is to give His body to the Lord for His use. This giving of his life to the Lord involves both time and abilities.

11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:11-13).

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). (The service gifts are to be used as the outgrowth of the sacrifice of our “bodies.” If those service gifts are not used in God‘s service, this sacrifice has never been made.)

2. The sacrifice of their lips; the Believer Priest is to give testimony to what God has done in his salvation and what God is doing in his life.

12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:12-16).

3. The sacrifice of their substance; the “work of the ministry” is financially supported by the tithes and offerings of Believer Priests.

15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God” (Philippians 4:15-18).

The words “communicate” and “communicated” in the above two portions of Scripture are both derivatives of the Greek word koinonia (koy-nohn-ee'-ah) and refer to sharing in the burden of the “work of ministry” through the partnership of giving.

The “lukewarm” Christians of the last days before the rapture are those Christians who have taken the Name of Christ in vain. They have little or no zeal for the things of God and they are unwilling to give any more than a token of themselves to the “work of the Ministry.” The “lukewarm” Christian describes the Believer Priest who lives for himself. He is too busy with his own ambitions and pleasures in life to have any time for God’s business.

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