Priesthood

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The Two New Testament Priesthoods

Posted by on 28 Jul 2011 | Tagged as: John Stott, Priesthood

Ministerial and Believers

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

1 Peter 2:9-10 NKJV

From living lives of hostility and enmity towards God, Christians have been transformed by the Holy Spirit into ministers who bring the healing and grace of Christ to the least, lost, and the lonely of our world.

The ministerial priesthood is called to serve, nourish, sustain, and guide the priesthood of all believers. The believer’s priesthood is a call to be Christ in the secular workplaces of the world. Men are not ordained into the ministerial priesthood in order to remove the priesthood away from the people of God, but to encourage, empower, and equip the priestly people of God for their work in the world.

This doctrine of the priesthood of all believers is not the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer. In other words, every believer has a ministry, but that ministry is to be conducted in community while being accountable to church leadership and submitted to the Tradition of the historic church. This personal ministry of me and my Bible with God telling me, and me alone, the only correct interpretation of the meaning of Scripture is not the priesthood of all believers. Two priesthoods, ministerial and believers, serve the one Christ for the purpose of reaching the world for Christ.

The New Testament concept of the pastor is not of a person who jealously guards all ministry in his own hands, and successfully squashes all lay initiatives, but of one who helps and encourages all God’s people to discover, develop and exercise their gifts. His teaching and training are directed to this end, to enable the people of God to be a servant people, ministering actively but humbly according to their gifts in a world of alienation and pain. Thus, instead of monopolizing all ministry himself, he actually multiplies ministries.

John Stott, The Message of Ephesians: The Bible Speaks Today series (Leicester: InterVarsity Press, 1979), 167.

HT: John Stott passed away yesterday at the age of ninety. A memorial page has been provided by his ministry, Langham Partnership. Thank you, Lord, for John Stott whose love of the Word and careful study of it blessed the Church for many years.

The Ministry of the Priest

Posted by on 11 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: Lesslie Newbigin, Pastoral Ministry, Priesthood

Bringing God and People Together

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

Eph. 4:11-12

The ministerial priesthood is called to serve, nourish, sustain, and guide the priesthood of all believers. The believer’s priesthood is a call to be Christ in the secular workplaces of the world. Men are not ordained into the ministerial priesthood in order to remove the priesthood away from the people of God, but to encourage, empower, and equip the priestly people of God for their work in the world.

This doctrine of the priesthood of “all” believers is not the doctrine of the priesthood of “the” believer. In other words, every believer has a ministry, but that ministry is to be conducted in community while being accountable to church leadership. This personal ministry of me and my Bible with God telling me, and me alone, the only correct interpretation of the meaning of Scripture is not the priesthood of all believers.

From living lives of hostility and enmity towards God, Christians have been transformed by the Holy Spirit into ministers who bring the healing and grace of Christ to the least, lost, and the lonely of our world. The two priesthoods, ministerial and believers, serve the one Christ for the purpose of reaching the world.

The ministerial priesthood is called to stand in between the people of God and God. This mediation is not to be “an obstacle, but a necessary helper.” The ministry of mediation is not a substitute for Christ, but a needed help in getting people to Christ. At times, we struggle and a priest comes and leads us by the hand into the presence of God. A good priest does not magnify himself, but with pastoral sensitivity and gentleness, he leads the priestly people of God into the presence of God.

A priest is indeed someone who stands between man and God. Perhaps because he does so, he can become an obstacle impeding man’s communion with God. But it need not be so. The priest may stand between man and God not as an obstacle but as a necessary helper.

If we know our own selves at all, we know that there are times when we need someone to stand between us and God. There are times when God seems very far away, and we need someone to take us by the hand and lead us into the presence of God. Every one of us, surely, looks back with gratitude to the times when someone has done just that for us, brought us into God’s presence, made God real to us, brought us to peace with God . . . .

But to say this is not to deprive the ordinary ministry of its priestly character. That would be a complete reversal of the truth. The fact that the whole Church is called to a priestly ministry necessitates the priestly character of the ordained ministry.

We who are ordained to the holy ministry are called to be priests in order that the whole body of believers may obtained to its true priestly character. We do not have an ordained ministry in the Church so that the other members may not be priests, but so that they may be priests.

Lesslie Newbigin, The Good Shepherd (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1977), 43.

Priests/Pastors After God’s Heart

Posted by on 27 May 2010 | Tagged as: Pope Benedict XVI, Priesthood

As Jesus Was Dependent on the Father, the Priest is Dependent on the Son

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

John 5:19

Pastoral ministry is the overflow of the Life of God in us. We spend time with Christ, Christ reveals himself afresh to us, that illumination is brings insight, conviction, and transformation. The overflow of the Spirit’s illumination into Christ is Life and that Life encourages others to trust God and forsake sin (2 Cor. 4:7-12).

Life is walking with God in unending communion, enjoying his unlimited blessing, unconditional love,  and undeserved grace (John 10:10). Life is eternal, it is living in the realm where God lives. Life is salvation of the whole being including new birth, conversion, and sanctification. Ministry is can be lay or clerical if that ministry is grounded in Christ as its source of Life.

For the priest/pastor, ministry is not a profession, but the dynamic service of Life to others. A priest spends time with Christ, he receives from him the blessings, gifts, and anointing of the Holy Spirit (John 3:34). The priest then relies on the Holy Spirit in communicating and releasing the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the congregation. The priest is completely dependent on Jesus to bless him with the Holy Spirit for the encouragement of others. In the same manner that Jesus was dependent on the Father, the Priest is dependent on the Son (John 5:19, 15:4-5). Our pastoral ministry is effective in as much as it is dependent on Jesus.

In order to be pastors after God’s heart, we need to be profoundly rooted in a living friendship with Christ (not only of our minds, but also of our freedom and will), clearly aware of the identity we received at priestly ordination, and unconditionally ready to lead our flock where the Lord wills, not in the direction which seems most convenient and easy.

This requires, first and foremost, a continuous and progressive willingness to allow Christ Himself to govern the priestly lives of clergy. No-one, in fact, is truly capable of feeding the flock if they do not live in profound and authentic obedience to Christ and the Church; and the docility of the people towards their priests depends on the docility of priests towards Christ.

Pope Benedict XVI, “The Priest’s Mission as Guide” May 26, 2010.

The Two Priesthoods: Believer and Ministerial

Posted by on 25 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: Evangelical, John Stott, Priesthood

Evangelical Essentials (Part Ten)

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

1 Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV)

From living lives of hostility and enmity towards God, Christians have been transformed by the Holy Spirit into ministers who bring the healing and grace of Christ to the least, lost, and the lonely of our world.

The ministerial priesthood is called to serve, nourish, sustain, and guide the priesthood of all believers. The believer’s priesthood is a call to be Christ in the secular workplaces of the world. Men are not ordained into the ministerial priesthood in order to remove the priesthood away from the people of God, but to encourage, empower, and equip the priestly people of God for their work in the world.

This doctrine of the priesthood of “all” believers is not the doctrine of the priesthood of “the” believer. In other words, every believer has a ministry, but that ministry is to be conducted in community while being accountable to church leadership and submitted to the direction and tradition of the historic church. This personal ministry of me and my Bible with God telling me, and me alone, the only correct interpretation of the meaning of Scripture is not the priesthood of all believers. Two priesthoods, ministerial and believers, serve the one Christ for the purpose of reaching the world for Christ.

The New Testament concept of the pastor is not of a person who jealously guards all ministry in his own hands, and successfully squashes all lay initiatives, but of one who helps and encourages all God’s people to discover, develop and exercise their gifts. His teaching and training are directed to this end, to enable the people of God to be a servant people, ministering actively but humbly according to their gifts in a world of alienation and pain. Thus, instead of monopolizing all ministry himself, he actually multiplies ministries.

John Stott, The Message of Ephesians (The Bible Speaks Today series: Leicester: IVP, 1979), 167.