When we become Christians, we become a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!
Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision [or any other religious rule or supposed qualification]: what counts is the new creation. That comes through the new birth which Jesus taught clearly, explaining to Nicodemus, a Scripture-literate and observant man, “You must be born again”, John 3:7.
Read John 3:1:21
This is being born again, this time into God’s family. One way this id described, as that we become “children of God”:
So in Christ Jesus you are all CHILDREN OF GOD through faith.
The apostle John explains it like this.
1 John 3:1
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called CHILDREN OF GOD! And that is what we are!
The apostle Peter explained the believers’ new identity as “living stones… being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
People who have received God’s mercy, who know they are forgiven and made new again, are very special people in the viewpoint of heaven! WE are described as “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession”.
Every regenerate believer is part of the ‘new priesthood’ under the Great High Priest, Jesus – not just church leaders with ‘priest’ as a title. It has to be said, having a church position and a title is not necessarily a mark of spirituality or of being born again – it is simply whether we have humbly asked Jesus into our heart and allowed His Spirit to indwell and renew us.
For this new priesthood there is no temple, no further sacrifice after the perfect and final sacrifice of Jesus and no titles or ritual. But there is spiritual service, both to God and to people and there is the need to represent God to ordinary people, and ordinary people to God as we pray for them.
This ‘priestly service’ is the shared responsibility of every born-again believer. The new ‘tribe’ chosen and set apart for this, as the Levites were originally set apart, is the fellowship of all Christian believers – all who rejoice in a personal, submitted relationship with God, through Jesus Christ as Saviour and as Lord.
Do you have this relationship? Or need to restore it? Here is a prayer to receive Jesus personally as Saviour and Lord.
Verses and commentary from 1 Peter 2
2-3 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4-6 As you come to him, the Living Stone — rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him — you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious Cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.
“The Living Stone… you also, like living stones” – Peter describes the church as the new temple inhabited by the Holy Spirit of God. Every believer is a living stone aligned with Christ as Cornerstone – a picture of dependence and connection, like Paul’s teaching on parts of the body connected to the Head, 1 Cor. 12:12-27.
“A holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices through Jesus Christ” – in the OT, access to God was restricted to priests born into the tribe of Levi. In the NT, there is a shift under the New Covenant in Jesus in which believers are reborn into God’s family to become a new kind of priesthood. This is shared by each and every believer who has invited Jesus into their hearts and lives, who has ‘priestly’ access through their relationship with Him, and their spiritual sacrifices are now Spirit-led worship and service.
7-8 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message — which is also what they were destined for.
“This stone… the cornerstone… a stone to stumble” – three quotations about Christ as the authentic, irreplaceable foundation stone of the new temple, rejected by those closely aligned with the old temple and a barrier for those unwilling to submit to Jesus as Lord. God foreknew that not everyone would receive His Son; however everyone has the choice not to stumble but to step up on the rock.
• For further study: the three OT quotations used by Peter and as quoted by Jesus, and Paul — Psalm 118; Matt. 21:42; Isaiah 8:14, Isaiah 28:16; Romans 9:33.
9-10 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
“Chosen people, royal priesthood” – Peter redefines familiar OT labels. The people of Israel were the former “chosen people”, now in the NT they are the ‘tribe’ of born-again believers.
“God’s special possession” – all Christians are to be holy and set apart for service to the Lord, as the OT priests were. Christians, through new birth, form a new ‘nation’ in a special, personal relationship with God.
• For further study, read Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 4:20, 7:6, 14:2; Isaiah 43:10, 20-21; Malachi 3:17.
From TLW18A, May 10, 2020
The priesthood of all believers is clear in Scripture but muddled in church practice, an understanding regained in the Reformation after the new process of printing made the Bible widely available to people who could learn Scriptural principles for themselves.
The Roman love of hierarchy, titles and dress code, and celebrating festivals and traditions in pagan temples, soon began to influence Christians. Newly liberated to worship openly in buildings from the 4th century onward, it was not long before a priestly caste separate from other believers arose, the only ones authorised to break bread and offer worship, sometimes with the (mis)understanding of re-presenting Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice.
This unbiblical separation was emphasised and established in the centuries of monastic tradition that built and regulated church buildings. In today’s traditions, which uphold tradition and reason as terms of reference equal with Scripture, the separation and use of the language of priesthood remains controversial.
Following the Reformation, over the centuries there have been repeated moves of the Spirit leading to less institutional and more organic expressions of church seeking to recapture the essential simplicity of the Early Church in its relationships and worship and evangelistic impact. All of these have brought a new emphasis on the priesthood of all believers – the name of the doctrine we have been discussing.
The Book of Hebrews, especially chapter 8 deals with the Old Covenant and the Levitical priesthood being obsolete (temple ritual still continued at the time it was written, shortly before the destruction of the Temple when it ceased for ever). Read esp. Hebrews 8:8-13.
v.13 states: By calling this covenant ‘new’, he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. The Old Covenant, and the order of priesthood that went with it, had finished. We should not recreate it in any way because there are no priests or lay people in the post-resurrection era. The separation was dramatically shown to have ended on that first Good Friday.
The three narrative gospels all record the signs that took place at Jesus’ death on the Cross – a darkness, an earthquake and the most remarkable sign, the destruction of the heavy woven separating curtain inside the temple which was torn from top to bottom. No longer was entrance into God’s presence to be restricted to priests – every believer in Jesus could know and approach God for themselves with no need of an intermediary.
For further study: Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45.