Christians Need Priests?
WHOM THIS PAMPHLET CONCERNS
People generally have very vague ideas concerning what it is that constitutes a Christian. The word was first used in Antioch as a slur rather than as an expression of approval. (Acts 11:26) However, it came into general use later but appears to be used in that sense throughout the New Testament record, where it has but three occurrences. See Acts 26:28 and 1st Peter 4:16 for the remaining two.
This slur arose because people intensely disliked this new religious sect. They also failed to recognise in the community of Christ, the noble characteristics associated with their strong allegiance to God. But today, almost anyone who has a strong community spirit of good will is said to be a Christian, regardless of any relationship to God being claimed at all. These loose definitions of the term Christian, do not fit the reality of the Christian profession, so this pamphlet does not concern anyone, unless he or she has a personal relationship with God in the saving grace of Christ Jesus the Lord, through the Truth of Godís Word.
Even within this group of those who so claim, there are some that do not wear the name of Christ in the full dimension of the faith. We can only appeal to them to study the Word of Truth, and so broaden their understanding of the work of our Lord Jesus, who now appears in the presence of God for us. (Hebrews 9:24) It is imperative that all appreciate the privilege given by God, to access the Throne of grace though His only begotten Son PERSONALLY.
ONE GOD AND ONE MEDIATOR
There is no necessity to go through another mediator, for Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." The clear meaning of this verse is that we are to free to come right up to, and remain alongside of the throne of grace in our petitions. We come right there in spirit. We do not need the help of someone else to do so. We only need the intercession of Jesus, because like all men everywhere, we sin, and need Godís forgiveness through Him.
The Bible says, "there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" ONE GOD - NOT MANY. ONE MEDIATOR - NOT MANY. Godís word also says, "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous." (1st John 2:1) Writing through inspiration, the Apostle John shows that we do not need a priest to intercede for us, when Jesus Christ the righteous is in the presence of God for that very purpose. How can anyone substitute or deputise for Jesus our Lord?
THE OLD COVENANT
Under the Law of God to Israel, the old covenant was based on a priesthood officiating on behalf of the people. The sinner would bring a sin offering to the priest who would make an atonement for him so that his sin could be forgiven. The sinner was not permitted to enter the Holy Place of the tabernacle, let alone the Most Holy Place where Godís presence in Israel was focussed. So a priestly order distinct from the rest of the people was essential under that covenant. But not so under the new, where an approach can be made directly to the throne of grace by the sinner
THE NEW COVENANT IN JESUS CHRIST
This direct approach is confirmed in Hebrews 10:19-22, where it is taught that we can stand in the very entrance of the Most Holy place, by the blood of Jesus our Lord. That is, when stated in plain language, we can approach God through the sacrifice of Jesus and his mediation, to have our sins forgiven. We need not go through any other person or priest. Here is the quotation in full, Hebrews 10:19 Ė22,
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
Verse 22 refers to baptism into Christ following a good confession of belief in the Gospel of Truth, and faith in our Lord Jesus. Verse 19 indicates that all with their conscience thus cleansed, can now approach Godís throne of grace themselves, provided they acknowledge Jesus, their one and only mediator. Verse 20 indicates that this has been made possible through a way not previously available, recently slain, yet living. For Jesus has passed through the veil of his flesh to ascend to Godís right hand, there to make intercession for all who come to God through him. There is no room here for priests in the house of God for verse 21 indicates there is one High Priest over His house. Therefore all in this house must be priests in their own right, as Peter indicates in the following verses.
THE NEW ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
1 Peter 2:5 "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."
1 Peter 2:9 "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." So in contrast to the priests under the old covenant, who offered up animal sacrifices to God, the priesthood of believers under the new covenant, offer up spiritual bloodless sacrifices to God--they offer themselves, (Romans 12-1/2).
We note that this spiritual priesthood is called the house of God. Let Peter tell us who constitutes this house. 1
Peter:22 and 23 introduce the theme under discussion. ĎSeeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."
The word of God has precedence over any man made tradition. So if we have been truly born again by hearing and heeding the Word of God, we not only constitute part of that great house, but are priests of God in our own right. Therefore we do not require any other priest except our High priest, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hebrews 4:15-16 "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Why then should we accept another, for he alone can give us grace?