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June 10, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Eric Newton continues a series entitled “Truth Triumphs,” with a message titled “The Priesthood of Every Believer,” from Hebrews 4:12-16.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.
The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones Senior's intent was to make a school where Christ would be the center of everything, so he established daily chapel services today. That tradition continues with fervent little preaching from the University travel platform just over 500 years ago in October 15 17, Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses, which is considered to be the beginning of the Reformation for the next several days on The Daily Platform will be studying some of these doctrines in a series called truth tryouts.
Let's listen to today's message preached by Dr. Eric Newton, a seminary professor. The title of his message is the priesthood of every believer. We invite you to turn your Bibles with me to Hebrews chapter 4, and will look at see passages today. Starting with that one here in just a moment. We are continuing our Reformation series choose triumphs why the Reformation matters and we work through the soul is so we have a couple more topics left our theme this morning is the priesthood of all believers.
Now you've probably heard of Scripture alone and faith alone and grace alone, and have a decent idea of a better idea even now of what that is mean the priesthood of all believers is a doctrine that most of us have heard of but it's a little more unfamiliar. In fact, I've asked a few of you what you think this means, and I've gotten a few good answers. One person suggested that maybe we change the dress codes will start wearing clothes like priests. I told him it was a bad idea what this mean well I see this as a context it's got historical context in the Reformation.
It's an uncommon phrase for us. We think of ourselves in terms of congregations in the body of Christ. We think of our leaders in terms of shepherds and teachers and pastors, but priests not so much, but we don't live in the 16th century with remind ourselves that most of these reformers were themselves priests before coming to a more scriptural understanding Luther, Zwingli, Hugh Latimer, John Knox, Martin Luther, their religious world was filled with priests and particularly priests role in the mass. It lay at the heart of the religious world in the 16th century that Calvin wrote this Roman Catholic Church calls priests those who are authorized to sacrifice Christ's body and blood on the altar to say prayers and the bless the gifts of God in their hands are anointed to demonstrate that they have the power to concentrate.
In fact, this idea of the mass and transubstantiation was one of the pivotal moments that goaded Luther to a more scriptural reformed understanding of of faith because he participated in this. After joining the monastery for about that a couple of times this semester. He was asked to officiate in his first mass would've been 1507. It was a momentous occasion.
It always is for a priest to actually hold up that hosted to say these words to have the power through these words to translate what are mere material elements into the body and blood of Jesus Christ and so he recited these words we offer unto you, the living, the true, the eternal God is the other than he writes later that the terror struck his soul who in mind. He says that I should lift up mine eyes are raise my hands to the divine majesty that he barely made it through the rest of that service because he was terrified by the infinite holiness of God and the audacity of him to participate in that somehow the mass and so with this personal historical background in mind, this context, Luther introduced this doctrine a series of tracks in 1520, not talking tracks like the bifold that you leave for your waitress were talking about long treatises here and one of them called on the freedom of a Christian, which is actually addressed to Pope Leo the 10th himself. Luther writes this, nor are we only kings in the freest of all men but also priests forever, a dignity far higher than kingship because by that priesthood. We are worthy to appear before God to pray for others to teach one another mutually, the things which are of God. For these of the duty of priests, and they cannot possibly be permitted to any unbeliever.
Christ is obtained for us.
This favor, if we believe in him that, just as we are his brethren, and co-heirs and fellow kings with him so we should also be also a fellow priest with him and venture with confidence to the spirit of faith to come into the presence of God and cry, Abba, father, and pray for one another and to do all things which we see done and figure in the visible and corporeal office of priesthood.
Now before we get to the heart of what this all means, and still may be a little confusing.
Let's talk about a couple of applications since the Reformation and during the time the Reformation itself. Actually, that have confuse this doctrine.
This is one of the one of the challenges of this doctrine is it's often interpreted in an errant way as well. Point out to these. The first one is anarchy.
Some have overemphasized the leveling effect of this document were all priests and and actually have concluded that we don't need leaders, we don't need religious leaders. We don't need political leaders. In fact, this democratizing instinct the supreme democracy was the first significant historical historical application of the doctrine, the priests of the believers is one of the doctrines of the peasants used as justification for their revolt in 1524, where they were overthrowing political and religious leaders, and the consequences of this application right there.
Luther's lifetime were so staggering that Luther actually drew back a little bit from the doctrine after 15, 25, he doesn't talk about it nearly as much because he realized the people were ready for it. They weren't ready for the for the true implications of it.
Religious liberty in Christ. Yes anarchy no the other confusion about this doctrine often is is why medical privacy, a privatized version of Christianity, you know, a lot of us are Americans and were all sitting or standing in America right now and we in America love our freedom okay were all about freedom and we can be grateful for the freedoms we have. We can be grateful for freedom of religion. We've enjoyed since the inception of our country, but in the name of of something called soul liberty. Some have concluded that they have the right to interpret and apply the Bible completely on their own without any interaction with other people without any help from other Christians it's viewed as an inalienable right to do Christianity on our own. You might say in our vernacular, but when Luther speaks of things like private interpretation in relation to this doctrine. He doesn't mean solitude really and he doesn't mean privacy he doesn't mean going it alone. He doesn't mean I'm a priest and Anna talk to God and I want to shut everyone else out.
I got this what he means is is actually brother with brother sister was sister informal personal kind of ministry to one another.
I'm personally responsible to meditate on and apply God's words, yes, but I don't do so in a vacuum priesthood is not private. It's not self focused. It doesn't mean spiritual autonomy right.
So that's the context those of the confusions we say are right. But what is it what is the priesthood of all believers will the priesthood of all believers captures our joint blessings and privileges in Jesus Christ you say why we would have to talk about this, just stick with the soulless was something about the priesthood of all believers that that actually brings to bear and brings in front of us the amazing privileges as well as responsibilities that we all have in Christ. It's a very important doctrine. So what's the core of this doctrine for points number one. Our priesthood means that all of us have access to God in Christ alone. You get a remembering of transport yourself back into these medieval times so so devout medieval Roman Catholics had access to God but but it was a material access to through these these images like in that the stained-glass windows of their Cathedral. Okay, that those those images are saints that that point to God that somehow carry them up to God that there is access but but but it's it's a material access to images and sacraments and it's a distant access because they had to get to God through the Latin language and in none of them knew that that the priests often didn't know it, they just recited what they heard laity. In other words, were non-clergy non-priests non-monks non-nuns couldn't drink the wine of of of the Eucharist of Seesmic communion. They only ate the bread once a year.
The lady had to confess their sins to a fellow sinner, a human priest, a merely human priest, the lady could see the saints to whom they prayed that they they didn't have a personal relationship with God that we've Artie talked about this in the series this semester. That was a foreign concept and and just think of a Gothic cathedral. Take a look at that cathedral. It does bear testimony to a transcendent God is big. He's majestic he's up there. He's great. He should be worshiped.
They got that but it's as if they they they couldn't figure out a way to climb that very steep wall to get to him.
They needed lots and lots of help and lots and lots of effort.
How could a poor peasant which most of us would have been ever climb up walls to reach a God like that not had you opened the Hebrews 4 were finally going to turn to it. Would you look at verse 12 of Hebrews 4 for the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, peach, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight, but all things are naked and opened in the eyes of him with whom we have to do that they would not have known much about the word of God. They didn't that they didn't have it, they, they couldn't read it. They had to depend on the priests for for whatever bits of the word they could get.
But they would have instinctively understood verse 13 that that that there is no creature on earth who is not naked and open and let in his soul is not laid bare before God for his Almighty God who scrutinizes what we do and it's with him. We have to do. It's with him. We have to reckon they would've understood that.
So what you do about that. What you do about that.
What you do when you come under conviction of sin will you do when you really stop for a moment and you're very busy crazy life and realize I'm a sinner before God. I wouldn't want. I would want my roommates to know all that's going on in my soul, much less God, but he but he does what we do others that there's a connection here, there seems in this very chapter into the next section, but I think it's so instructive how the very next verse begins look at the beginning of verse 14 seeing then that we have a great high priest. Therefore, since we have a great high priest that is passing the heavens Jesus the son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 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 those of us whose hearts are laid bare before a holy God.
Let us therefore come boldly into the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
What do you do when you realize that you are guilty before God. What do you do when you realize that you cannot do this in your own strength.
You don't turn and run. You don't go to the outskirts of his presence.
You don't you don't rely on somebody else.
You actually walk into this throne of grace, through Jesus Christ, and find help in your time of need. We have direct access into the presence of God the father through Christ alone in his name we pray on his merit. We depend by his faithfulness we appeal. We are priest because we are in Christ, which leads to a second emphasis our priesthood not only means that we all have access to God through Christ alone. It means that we all have the same needs and privileges, all of us in our jargon would say were on the same boat. The Roman Catholic Church taught that clergy carried out its special spiritual vocation, whereas other members of the church. These these laity they they merely participated in temporal pursuits. They are completely dependent for the spiritual lives on these other fellow sinful human beings.
The priestly clergy cradled their spiritual lives in their own sinful hands, but Luther realized that we are all equal.
As we kneel at the foot of the cross. He said all Christians are truly the spiritual state and there is no difference among them, save office alone. As Paul says we are all one body, though each member does its own work to serve the others. This is because we have one baptism, one gospel, one faith and are all Christians alike. He's drawing up passages like the being Ephesians 4 and verse transients 12 that says were of one body were members of one body were baptized into one body is doesn't mean that we don't need leaders can do some clearly teaches that, pastor, teacher, Shepherd, elders should lead their congregations equip the saints for the work of the ministry so we can grow in our likeness of the likeness of our head, Jesus Christ.
It's a noble calling, Paul tells Timothy were to obey and to submit ourselves to our rulers as the writer of Hebrews, but we all need the same grace, regardless of our vocation, regardless of our point in the pathway in this pilgrim journey. All of us need the same grace we can all live spiritually profitable lives. Whatever: God is given us, which leads us to 1/3 emphasis our priesthood. The priesthood of all believers means that we can all come to God through Jesus Christ alone. It means that we all have the same needs but also the same privileges, and more specifically, it means that we all minister to one another priests minister. Priests are not priests for their own advantage. The Old Testament has some very condemning things to say about priests who went their own way, who offered sacrifices there according to their own design, who used the people for their own selfish ends. Priesthood is about ministry. In other words, one theologian puts it, it's not that the church has a priesthood it's at the church is a priesthood.
We are made priests for accountability and for intercession notice. Again these words from Luther by that priesthood. We are worthy to appear before God to pray for others and teach one another mutually, the things which are of God. It's not an individualist kind of outlook. It's a congregational kind of outlook being a priest is not looking out for my own concerns. It means going before God and interceding for others. Just last night when my pastors mentioned to me. Ephesians 619 where Paul, one of the spiritually minded people in the history of the church. I think we could safely conclude Paul told the Ephesians, many of whom are very young believers pray also for me.
You can minister to me by praying to God on my behalf priesthood is not merely a status it's a commission it's a commission to minister to those people around us.
Do you pray for one another.
I've had people tell me this week.
I'm praying for you that significant not just because it's encouragingly okay somebody is thinking about me not just about themselves because they are going to the father through Jesus Christ on my behalf and he's the one who has grace and mercy for my time of need. I do student writing a couple of days ago as I was praying for the sermon say I'm praying for you as you preach Wednesday you preach this week that that is a significant ministry. That's why we are priests, it's not so that we have this privatized relationship with God that shuts everyone else out and says I can do it on my own it so that we can bring the needs of one another before the Lord and actually see him do what we cannot do for ourselves, or even for one another on a merely horizontal level and this leads us to 1/4 consideration and actually to the verse that spurred Luther's thinking this was the verse more than any other that led to his formulating this teaching the priesthood of all believers. In its first Peter 29 would you turn with me to first Peter two first Peter 29 familiar words to many of us, but ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood and holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. Peter is is obviously employing language from the Old Testament here to summarize our our fourth consideration for the aspect of of this doctrine, which is that our priesthood means that we all all of us offer spiritual sacrifices for God's glory.
All of us are called were commissioned as priests, to offer spiritual sacrifices for God's glory the Lord had called out the entire nation of Israel from among the world to be priests and they in the Old Testament had failed and that calling but that didn't stop the history of redemption and so God calls out the church by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
According to Scripture alone to live for his glory alone to get to go out everywhere through our vocations in it and soon to be a mediator of God's grace to proclaim his glories to give him honor and to point people to the only hope that there is. That's not the calling of a few people with a certain major in a certain school at BJ you that's all of us. We are all priests so that we can offer spiritual sacrifices for God's glory. What is a priest and a priest was that person set apart to worship God and represent sinful people by offering prayers and sacrifices.
Hebrews 83 says every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifice.
And so we awfully sacrifices Dr. Pettit preach on this a little bit yesterday. He mentioned verse five. If you look up at verse five. You also is little lively stones are built up a spiritual house and holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ again were coming through Jesus Christ.
So what are the sacrifices well. We looked at a few of these yesterday. We put a few of them in front of you. So by financial giving. We offer a sacrifice, acceptable, well pleasing to God.
Dr. Pettit challenged us about ties and offerings last week. Paul says to the Philippians that there was no other congregation like you that that ministered not just to me, but ministered for the gospel's sake you participated in the gospel in part by giving money sacrificially. That's a spiritual sacrifice.
As Dr. Pettit said yesterday. Hebrews 1315 by Thanksgiving through Jesus Christ. We offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually batch your priestly work.
You get to to to take a break next week to be a priest to offer the sacrifice of Thanksgiving. The next verse in Hebrews 13 says by doing good and sharing. We offer sacrifices with which God is well pleased by doing good by ministering the people around us by sharing what we have if we do it with a heart toward the Lord. If we do it in the name of Jesus Christ we actually are doing it as his priests because it's not that the church has a priesthood it's of the church is a priesthood and we minister to one another. In these ways to God's glory. In response to the mercies of God. Think of Romans 12 one. You know, this verse I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies on account of the mercies of God, in view of the mercies of God that Paul is charted 11 chapters, I beseech you to present your bodies a living sacrifice wholly acceptable in the God. This is your reasonable this is your priestly. This is the only thing that makes sense kind of service to God as a royal priesthood, we show forth we proclaim through our worship and through our evangelism the excellencies the praises of him was called us out of darkness into his marvelous light received all of these spiritual sacrifices are responses to the gospel in the Old Testament they were anticipating the gospel that the sacrifices were all about and that was that was good but it was temporal in the Roman Catholic Church there sacrifices that perpetuate the gospel.
They think the atonement and that's completely wrong. What are these spiritual sacrifices their responses to the gospel. They don't merit righteousness. They don't put us in a specialized category, but as a kingdom of priests, we been consecrated to respond to the gospel of the lives that tell God's fame and bring him glory.
And by doing this we act as emissaries to a lost and dying world. We bring them to God. So we all of us who know Jesus Christ as our Savior.
We are a priesthood so let us come boldly to our father's throne of grace, through Christ to intercede for one another and then let us go boldly from that throne of grace to worship God and evangelize a world that desperately needs to see his glory. That's our calling.
That's our privilege. All of us are priests. Let's pray Lord God, we thank you that you have called us out of darkness into your marvelous light and that we are weak, and there we are busy and though we feel incapable. We ask that you would enable us to meditate on your truth and be transformed so that we might truly live as a holy priesthood. We pray this in Jesus name, amen. You been listening to a sermon preached by seminary professor Dr. Eric Newton, which is part of the series about the Reformation called truth tryouts. I'm Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. I'd like to invite you to attend one of our summer camps for both middle and high schoolers. BJ you has over 50 camps to choose from. So there is one for you. Here's just a few aviation astronomy cinema computers, culinary criminal justice media music nursing theater robotics soccer, basketball, volleyball, golf, and there's many more come explore your future.
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Thanks for listening and join us again tomorrow as we study God's word together on The Daily Platform