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: Pre-approving a New Priesthood

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pre-approving a New Priesthood

17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. 20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. 21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. 23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come” (I Corinthians 11:17-34).

The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of remembrance that looks backward to the Cross-work of Jesus Christ and to a “finished” work of redemption. We see this emphasis of remembrance in I Corinthians 11:24-25 by the repeated words “in remembrance of me.” The Lord’s Supper is intent upon bringing the believer-priest back to Calvary to remind him of the cost of his redemption and to remind him to be thankful for the overwhelming, unsearchable, and unspeakable work of grace in the death, burial, and resurrection/glorification of Jesus Christ that was necessary to secure the salvation of the believer’s soul for all eternity and to make him a priest before God.

The Lord’s Supper is ONLY for believers. We can go even beyond that basic restriction. The Lord’s Supper is ONLY for believer priests who seek to be completely consecrated to the LORD (Rom. 12:1-2) and who pursue being morally pure and sanctified as they stand before Him to minister His message of reconciliation (II Cor. 5:18) and to make disciples for Jesus Christ to the glory of God. Therefore, it is ordinance of remembrance ONLY for those who remember their purpose of approval before God and are determined to fulfill that purpose by the grace of God’s indwelling power through the filling of the Spirit of God (Eph. 5:18). The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of remembrance ONLY for believer priests who remember, are grateful, and who are obedient (are “doers of the Word, and not hearers only;” James 1:22) in all that they know of the Word of God.

In light of all of this, we can also go so far as to say that the Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of consecration for God’s New Covenant believer priests intent upon a commitment to have a sanctified local church through which the Holy Spirit might manifest the Christ-life, bring forth the fruit of souls to salvation, and supernaturally and progressive transfigure their lives through the discipleship process. Therefore, the Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of remembrance and an ordinance of consecration to achieve the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3) within the formal membership of a local church so that God might be glorified/magnified through the “work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:12) of the members of a local church.

To help understand God’s expectations in the consecration of His New Covenant believer priests, we must apply a complimentary hermeneutic; i.e., looking at the Mosaic Covenant type in the consecration of those Priests and the elements and areas of emphasis in those types that define consecration and sanctification. The consecration of a priest typically involved four areas of his life to be qualified to serve/minister before the LORD.

I must emphasize that in transitioning these qualifications for ministry from the Mosaic Covenant type to the New Covenant reality, we must be careful that we do not convey an idea that all God was concerned about in the Levitical priesthood was externals. That was certainly not the case.

Although the Levitical priests under the Mosaic Covenant quickly slipped into this deadly externalism, it is clear from many Scriptures that God intended for them to understand these types and translate them into spiritual realities. That is what we need to do in order to understand how these types apply to New Covenant believers and what is required of us to be qualified to serve the LORD that defines the perfection of the saints necessary to doing “the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:12). Each of the areas listed below were intricately connected one to the other. There was no such nonsense as allowing a priest to serve that was disqualified by failure in any one of these four areas.

1. His election by birthright as God’s “firstborn” and peculiar possession with unique privileges and model moral responsibilities. Therefore, the priest’s election was vocational. They had no part in the land distribution of Israel and were totally separated from temporal promises of God, being connected to God’s provision for them and to serve before God and to men. In this vocational calling/election, each priest was to be totally devoted to serving the LORD through teaching and explaining God’s Word, administrating the Law and making judgments regarding the Law, and involving himself in the sacred duties of the Tabernacle/Temple of God.

For the New Covenant priesthood, this qualification type is basically salvation. The New Covenant priest MUST be “born again.” All “born again” believers are called/elected to be priests before God. However, the next three areas of qualifications will determine when, if, and how often God will be able to bless what they seek to do for Him.

2. Holiness was the indispensible condition before any priest dare stand before God, the Holy One of Israel. The priest could not have a physical defect or disease of any kind to typify spiritual blamelessness and moral purity. Holiness extended into defining factors of his daily life such as who he could marry or could not marry, the foods he ate, and the things he drank. Almost every detail of his life was defined and had specific moral boundaries that he could not cross lest he be disqualified/disapproved. His life and relationships were under the constant scrutiny of the High Priest, his fellow priests, and by the congregation of Israel. In every aspect of his life, he lived in a glass house.

We must be careful here to distinguish between the believer’s positional sanctification “in Christ” and his practical sanctification through confession of sin, forgiveness and cleansing by Christ (I John 1:7-9), and the filling of the Spirit of God for spiritual empowerment, discernment, and illumination. The acceptability of a New Covenant believer’s priestly service as an Ambassador for Christ is conditioned BOTH upon his positional sanctification “in Christ” (this is salvation) and his practical sanctification through separation from worldliness and through spiritual cleansing.

3. Consecration was typified by how the priests approached God. Consecration involves the presentation of what we are to God to be used by God for his purposes. Therefore, consecration involves a commitment to God to serve Him by actually DOING the work He has called us to do.

Under the Mosaic Covenant, consecration involved ceremonial washings, times of purification, and offering of the right sacrifices for himself. When all of these areas of sanctification were in order, the priest would receive his ceremonial clothing that he wore only for service in the Tabernacle/Temple and was anointed with oil (typical of the Holy Spirit) before he began to actually do the work he was ordained to do. To go before the LORD without considerations of meeting the qualifications of both holiness and consecration was a rank manifestation of unbelief. The ceremony of sanctification and consecration was elaborately detailed involving seven days of purification and separation. It is detailed in Exodus 29:1-37.

4. The clothing of the priest as he ministered before the LORD was an outward manifestation of both holiness in the clean white linen garments and consecration in that these garments were never to be worn for any other purpose than to serve the LORD in His Temple or by anyone that was not both a priest or by a priest who had not been sanctified and consecrated. Therefore, the Mosaic Covenant priest’s garments distinguished him as uniquely peculiar. He literally looked different than anyone else merely by his dress. No one but a consecrated and sanctified priest could wear the priestly garb. Secondly, the priest never wore shoes/sandals when ministering before the LORD in that he walked upon holy ground sanctified by the presence of Jehovah.

The New Covenant priest is equally limited in his/her requirements to be both sanctified and consecrated before he/she can be clothed for ministry. However, the New Covenant priest’s clothing is not physical. The New Covenant priest’s clothing is Jesus Christ (the Christ-life).

11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:11-14).

In Ephesians 4:17-32, the Apostle Paul defines what is meant by his statements in Romans 13:12 & 14 respectively in the phrases “put on the armour of light” and “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:17-32).

We do not merely “put on” Christ over “the old man.” The “old man” must be “put off” first. That is what Paul defines in Ephesians 4:25-32. Paul reiterates this same concept in Colossians chapter 3. We cannot, and should not, separate this instruction from the context of the sanctification and consecration of the believer priest of the New Covenant before God. Colossians chapter 1 lays the foundation for what Paul will say later in Colossians chapter 3.

21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; 24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: 25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Colossians 1:21-29).

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Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist.
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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