by Tad Lindley
Although a number of religions use the title of priest to describe the leaders in the church, the Christian church in the Bible never referred to its leaders as priests. There were deacons, overseers, bishops, evangelists, teachers, and pastors, but never priests. Those whom people refer to as priests today, are not really priests. They are actually pastors. What happened to the priesthood?
Jesus knocked out the priesthood
In Bible history, the priest was appointed as the one who stood between man and God. In Christianity, the need for priests is eliminated: …there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (I Timothy 2:5). No longer do we have to go to the Jewish high priest for the year to get in touch with God, no longer do we have to have assistance in our worship of God from the Levitical priests of the Old Testament, Christ has become the high priest (Hebrews 9:11). In fact, the Bible goes so far as to say that the born again Christian is a part of the royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6). This means that because of Jesus’ death at Calvary, we no longer need a human being to mediate between us and God; we can approach the Lord ourselves, we have become like priests.
We are the priesthood
If we are serving the Lord and obedient to his word, then we have the same privilege to come into his presence as the priests in the Old Testament did. If you have received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, then you have the same power as the Jewish high priests did to enter into the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9:6-8).
Born into, or born again into?
In the Old Testament, the priesthood was something that you were born into. If Levi was your many times great grandfather, you were a Levitical priest. If you happened to be a Levite who also had Moses brother, Aaron, as a grandfather many generations ago, then you were eligible to become the High Priest. In the New Testament, the priesthood is something that you are born again into. Your family background does not matter. This is why a meth addict can become a man of God. A prostitute can become a royal priestess in the eyes of Him. A suicidal psychotic can become a son of God. Regardless of how deep a pit we have dug ourselves into, the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ is great enough to reach in and pull us out, and to lift us to higher heights than we ever deserved or imagined. And all of this is possible, not because of who we are, but because of who Jesus is.
So you think you’re big, just because you’re a priest
Being a child of God is truly the most special thing that a person can ever experience. Having access to go straight to him with our needs, our worship, and even our repentance places us into the category of the royal priesthood. It would be tempting to think that this means that we do not need to have anybody in authority over us. That is a lie straight out of hell.
You might be a priest in the eyes of God, but you still need a pastor. When we study the great men of God in scripture, we see that they were subject to somebody who was their spiritual mentor. King David, a man after God’s own heart had a pastor named Nathan. When the apostle, Peter, baptized the first Gentiles in the name of the Lord (Acts 10:48), we see that he had church members to whom he was accountable (Acts 11). When the apostle, Paul, returned from his missionary journey, he met with his mentors, Peter and James (Galatians 1:18-19, 2:1-3). Just because these men had been mightily used of God did not place them in positions of isolation. They still had somebody who was watching for their souls, making sure that they were serving God.
Do you have a pastor?
The Bible says to obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they might do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you (Hebrews 13:17). What a great description of a pastor: a leader who is like a coach whose goal is to train and teach that you might make it to live forever with Jesus. Without sitting under the preaching of a pastor, we will not be saved. Don’t get mad at me for saying it, get mad at God. For…it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (I Corinthians 1:21). If you do not have somebody who is your pastor find one. If your village does not have a man of God as a pastor, pray that the Lord will raise up a man to serve the village.
It is a great thing to enjoy the fellowship of knowing God in the capacity of a priest, but we still need a man over us to watch for our souls and to preach to us the unchanging word of God.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.