Last week we looked at the Epistles, the New Testament letters, penned by the apostles to early believers following Christ’s resurrection. The apostles were concerned that the early church fulfill their calling to be set apart – a kingdom of priests (Ex. 19; 1 Pet 2). Today, we no longer function as a priest under the Old Covenant (offering sacrifices and representing unholy people to a holy God). Christ is our Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14-16 & 9). But he is also our perfect, eternal sacrifice. That means he forever represents us to the Father. There is no longer any need for a human intermediary between God’s people and God. Christ is theeternal mediator on our behalf.
So, why are we called priests? What is there left for us to do? What is God’s purpose in calling us a holy nation, a royal priesthood? First Pet. 2:9 says: “…that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” We are called to a redeemed lifestyle, just like the nation Israel. We are to demonstrate to a watching world what it looks like to be God’s kingdom in Christ – God’s People in God’s Place under God’s Rule and Blessing. We are called to live a redeemed life.
As priests, we are to draw others to Christ. We no longer do this by being their representative to the Father (because Christ does that for us eternally), but by serving and ministering in other ways – by praying for one another, by doing good works, and by encouraging one another in living holy lives. I like how Paul puts it in Rom. 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” As priests, we are to present our lives as a living sacrifice (a spiritual sacrifice) mirroring the selfless sacrifice of Christ on the cross (cf. Phil. 4:18). The way we live matters.
Yet the matter of being a priest of the King matters not just in the present, but in eternity as well. Christ promises his priests great rewards if they endure till the end.
- Eternal life (Titus 3:4-7.)
- The Kingdom (Matt. 25:34).
Through Christ, we are called the heirs of God’s Kingdom. All those that place their trust in Christ are called “co-heirs” with Christ. In Romans 8:14-17, the Apostle explains how you and I can be named co-heirs. He says: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
Inheritance is passed from Father to Son, and in this passage Paul is clear. We can become co-heirs with the Son, because God considers you and me his sons & daughters as well. This is what it means to be a Daughter of the King. The Father adopts you and esteems you as His heir, along with the Son. So, as a priest, we are entitled (through Christ and not by our own means) to receive and co-rule the Kingdom with Christ. Do you see how God’s pattern for life continues even today? Adam and Eve were meant to be sub-regents over the earth under God’s rule. But today, you and I (if we trust in Christ) are the King’s Daughters and are named priests and co-rulers with Christ over his new kingdom. WOW!
But as amazing as this sounds, we know that the kingdom is still not perfect.
- Even as we are claimed by God as his people, still we are not perfect. We still sin, we still see sin around us, and are impacted by the sins of others.
- Even as we are given the Holy Spirit as a helper, we still are not totally restored to the immediate presence of God. Rather, the Holy Spirit in our lives is meant as a “foretaste” of what our lives will be like as we dwell directly in the presence of the Creator himself.
- Even as we are living under the King’s rule and experiencing the blessings wrought by Christ today, we are promised an “eternal inheritance” in the near future – an inheritance that involves co-rulership with Christ himself!
Our introduction into the covenant community of Christ is not the end of God’s story. Our role as priests in this age is not the end. An even greater kingdom and priesthood is coming – one perfectly restored to its original goodness.
Next week, we’ll finally reach the conclusion of our story of the King and His Kingdom. We will crack open the prophecies of the future that explain the events yet to unfold in our own life stories. And you will be amazed at what we will find. I hope you have goosebumps, because I do.