The Gospel Makes Every Christian a Priest Unto God
Sept 9, 2018 AM
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Introduction (Nehemiah 4:1,2)
A. Back to Nehemiah
1. I sure enjoyed last month’s long emphasis on the Gospel and Mission’s work
2. But I also enjoy the rich truths I find in every chapter of the Book of Nehemiah! Which is what we have been studying through all this year!
B. A HUGE Building Project was going on
1. Rebuilding broken down walls and gates of Jerusalem
2. The rebuilding was VERY needed – and is STILL needed today – not in Jerusalem, but in people’s lives!
3. You will see that in a few minutes!
C. It is amazing that EACH STONE that the people gathered from the rubble, was a picture of US! They were NOT just rocks, or bricks, or stones, but little pictures of Christians!!!
1. Where did the stones come from that the people used?
a. They were not NEW stones…
b. They were the broken stones, burnt stones, cast down, trampled on, dusty, long unused stones just littering the ground from when the city was destroyed by the Babylon
c. From the heaps and piles of rubbish everywhere throughout the city streets of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 4:2)
d. It was from all the rubble, that Nehemiah rebuilt a wall that would endure nearly 500 more years, until 70 A.D.!
2. What was the purpose of those stones?
a. Not for decoration
b. But for defence - To become WALLS, supports, towers
c. Even though the stones were sometimes small, when placed together with so many other stones, they became part of something very big and very important!
d. Fitting together as one massive 21 foot thick wall encircling 3km around the city of Jerusalem
e. That’s a lot of rocks!
3. How were they fit together?
a. The builders did not have one size of stones – there were an infinite number of shapes and sizes to work with
b. All were different shapes and sizes
c. Some smooth, some jagged
d. Yet the builders carefully chose each stone and fit it together with other stones to forge this great city wall!
e. EXAMPLE of an Irish stone worker building a stone wall…
f. Sometimes, they matched each other perfectly
g. Others had to be cut, broken further, shaped to fit together
h. Because they were not admiring the rocks – they were building a WALL!
D. All that stone work was an example of how God wants to work with US, and build us upon Jesus Christ, and make something that lasts and is usable – as a TEMPLE!
1. Where do people come from that God uses in HIS kingdom?
a. Not NEW people…
b. But the broken ones, burnt ones, cast down, trampled on, dusty, sometimes long unused people just stumbling through life
c. It is only From the heaps and piles of rubbish everywhere throughout the city streets of Jerusalem (Mark 2:15-17) And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
d. It is from all OUR rubble, that Jesus rebuilds broken lives that will last FOREVER!
2. What is OUR Purpose?
a. Not for decoration – or for admiration – not for great wealth
b. But to become part of something very big and very important that will LAST!
c. The kingdom of God
d. And Jesus builds a lot of people into it!
3. How do we fit together?
a. Just like the builders did not have one size of stones…
b. Jesus does not have one kind of person either to use
c. We come in all different shapes and sizes
d. Some smooth, some jagged
e. Sometimes, people match each other perfectly
f. Others have to be cut, broken further, shaped to fit together
g. Yet as we are about to see, each of us are carefully chosen to fit together with other people to forge something marvellous – a Temple! The greatest Temple of all time
E. Listen to it described in Ephesians 2:19-22. That’s Christ’s Temple today, and it is us
A. God is Holy - we are NOT (Isaiah 6:1-3)
1. There is absolutely NO WAY any of us could approach unto the Almighty God of Heaven
2. When you settle that, you will go a long way in your Christian growth!
3. Most every person, saved AND unsaved really think they are not that bad! Shame
4. That is just pure ignorant pride!
5. We are far worse than bad – we are at our core, wicked! And we all know it. We just won’t admit it!
B. Mankind has always needed Mediation – a priesthood
1. A cast of people that interceded for sinners
2. A group of people that mediated for sinful people – represented them before a holy and righteous and perfect Judge
3. Mankind needed a priesthood that could make atonement for the people, and adequately pay off their sin-debts before God by exchanging the life of an innocent lamb in the place of sinful and wicked men and women so that they could be forgiven!
C. God designed the Jewish Priesthood, but it was flawed on purpose
1. Everybody throughout history, from Adam on, has figured out that there is no way to access God except through a substitutionary exchange (Remember in the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve coats of skin to wear. Where do you think those coats came from? Substitutionary lambs, so they could be foregiven).
2. The handling of the substitution was done by Old Testament Jewish priests – had to be done right
3. The entire Priesthood was built around a man named Aaron, the older brother of Moses, and on his descendants
4. The priests had a great life!
a. Got to go very close to the presence of God
b. Got to constantly see answered prayers and all the goodness’s of God
c. Got to worship and praise God for His goodness and forgiveness
d. Were taken well taken cared of – didn’t have to work at anything except helping other people get right with God
5. But the priests were only people – they were not perfect!
a. Sinners, imperfect, selfish, self-centred, sometimes uncaring, and disinterested in the problems of the people they were supposed to be caring for
b. Heb 9:7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself (FIRST), and for the errors (SINS) of the people
6. The sacrifices were never enough… had to repeat them constantly!
7. And the priests themselves died, and had to be replaced – constantly as well!
8. It was NOT a perfect set-up. But it was DESIGNED that way, so that a BETTER one would one day come in, and replace it!
D. In the end, God replaced the priesthood with a better one! (Heb 7:11,12)
1. With ONE Perfect High Priest – a Perfect Mediator, eternally standing for all sinful people (1Tim 2:5; LISTEN TO Hebrews 7:19,22-27)
a. The law (as perfect as it is) made nothing perfect
b. But what it did was bring in a better hope; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
c. Jesus was a surety (a guarantor) of a better testament (the New Testament).
d. But this man, (JESUS) because he continueth forever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. WILL NEVER BE EEPLACED
e. Wherefore he (JESUS) is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
f. For such an high priest became us (fit our needs perfectly), who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests (in the Old Testament), to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's:
g. For this he did once, when he offered up himself.
2. Hebrews 10:4-14!!!
3. And God did one other marvelous thing… He replaced ALL the Jewish Priests with every believer in Jesus Christ (1Peter 2:5), all are now actually IN the priesthood!
a. Let that sink in!
b. Salvation moved us UP! Replacing all priests
4. So, there is absolutely NO need for a religious priesthood today!
a. No need for Roman Catholic priests
b. No need for Protestant Church of Ireland priests
c. No need for Bishops, Canons, Monsignors, arch-bishops, cardinals, nor POPES
5. Not when EVERY SINGLE BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN, young or old, smart or dumb already IS a priest and has access to God through their Saviour and perfect High Priest, Jesus Christ
6. So, ALL priests in any religion are FRAUDS, IMPOSTERS, and HUSTLERS
7. And ALL of them ought to be FIRED on the spot!
E. Let’s take a Look at this BETTER Priesthood, so WE can BE Better At It!
A. Jesus is the Living Stone, Our Great High Priest, upon which everyone can trust! (1Peter 2:4-8)
1. Peter describes a foundation stone
a. A massive stone – a ROCK
b. Perfect stone work – ready to build anything on
1) Look at Isa 9:6,7 – the entire government of the entire world can safely rest on HIM even as a CHILD!
2) That is how GREAT Jesus, the Son of God is
3) You can lay on Jesus ALL your anxieties and ALL your cares!
4) You can build your entire LIFE on Him – better than the SAND of our world!
c. Look at what Jesus is…
1) The Chief corner stone
a) Jesus is THE head of the corner, marking perfect 90 degree angles
b) The precise size and shape to build everything good and lasting!
2) The Elect stone – precisely chosen by God
3) Precious to God – one of a kind – no other Saviour
4) He is THE Rock – NOT Peter, not Dwayne Johnson, but Jesus!
a) Did you know that… From a ROCK, God made water flow for 2 million people in the wilderness desert? (Exo 17:6) Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
b) That in a crevice of a ROCK, Moses and all believers find refuge? (Exo 33:21,32) And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by
c) God formed the nation of Israel FROM the ROCK of Himself? (Deu 32:18) Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee [ISRAEL].
d) God is a ROCK, like a solid fortress and wall of defence! (2Sa 22:2,3) And [DAVID] said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.
d. He and He alone is THE great High Priest for all people (Heb 4:14)
e. Thankfully, he that believeth on him shall not be confounded (shamed or disappointed)
2. To the Believer Jesus is precious as well!
a. We love His name – THE most precious name ever!
b. We love to spend time with Him in prayer – it is precious to us
c. We gladly bow in reverence at the mention of His very name
d. We gladly give up an entire DAY of the week just to worship JESUS!
e. Jesus is PRECIOUS to us
3. But to the DISOBEDIENT, He is:
a. Disallowed – rejected of men – never will be popular – but only for mocking
b. And a stone of stumbling
c. And a rock of offence (very offensive). The cause for people to stumble at the word of God, being disobedient in heart
d. Whereunto also they were appointed. THEY WILL GET WHAT THEY DESERVE
e. It’s funny that the same person is seen two very different ways
4. How do YOU see Jesus?
5. You had better think through how you see Jesus and how You treat HIM!
C. Believers are Lively Stones (1Peter 2:5) built on top of Christ
1. Little stones – not big rocks, but stones, pebbles
2. Lively stones = Brisk; vigorous; vivacious; active
3. Normally stones are… are you ready for this? dead.
4. But we believers are now supposed to be LIKE Jesus the LIVING stone – very ALIVE
5. What are YOU like?
a. DEAD? Apathetic? Numb? Bored? Not interested? Distracted?
b. Barely alive? Up and down from day to day and hour to hour?
c. HEY! Come on Christian! Check your spiritual pulse!
d. If you are SAVED from your sins… SAVED from the wrath to come… if the love of Jesus Christ has reached YOU, then you ought to be excited, passionate, fervent, thrilled to be alive! Excited to be able to serve the Lord Jesus! To be going to a place called HEAVEN!
6. Anybody can TELL who are lively stones, and who are the dead ones! Can’t you?
D. We are a Spiritual Building-Project “in the works” (Philp 1:6)
1. God is building something. And it is ‘NOT’ Three Things…
2. It is NOT of this world – not part of the kingdom of this world
a. Just as real as a physical structure is
b. Just invisible, and in the kingdom of God
3. Not finished yet – but we WILL be one day!
4. Not to be neglected – it is THE most important building project going on in history! Your are either being BUILT, or torn apart! No in between!
E. And best of all, We are an Holy Priesthood now! (1Peter 2:5,9) This Is The Message
1. Specially Chosen by God
a. Not chosen to be saved
b. But chosen since we ARE saved, to be priests
c. ALL believers are chosen to be priests
d. Just like Aaron and his sons were specially chosen to enter into the Temple and into the presence of God
2. Royalty before God
a. What a thought
b. We are ROYALTY
1) Rev 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Rev 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
c. We are NOT rubbish like the devil wants us to think – now that we are born again
d. We are in the very family of THE King of kings
3. New Nationality
a. We are no longer Jews or Gentiles (Gal 3:28)
b. We have an entirely new nationality – CHRISTIAN
c. You may be Irish, or German, or Nigerian, or Iranian, or American or whatever
d. But our eternal citizenship is the New Jerusalem
4. Peculiar – out of step with the entire world (what a wonderful world)
F. For What Purpose are we Priests now? Three great purposes to fulfil…
1. It allows US to draw nigh to God (Heb 10:19-22) through Jesus Christ
a. No need for some middle man or middle woman – no need for some infinitely complex religious system of priests and pilgrimages and religious duties and good works
b. I can go at anytime, anywhere before the throne of Almighty God and get what I need (Heb 4:16) just by asking in JESUS’ name!
c. I can spend all day with Him if I want to
d. And I can sense and ENJOY His presence with me always – because he PROMISED he would go with us always, AND would never leave us or forsake us!
e. Draw nigh to God folks! This is THE first great purpose of being a priest now!
2. It invites us to offer gifts and sacrifices to God (Heb 8:3) For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.
a. NOT sacrifices for SINS, but sacrifices of SELF
b. Offering priceless gifts back to God as part of our worship that is due to Him alone!
c. The sacrifice of Praise (Heb 13:15,16)
d. The living sacrifice of our lives – to God’s will
e. The sacrifice of our time, and talents
f. And the sacrifice of our love, wasted on people who may never appreciate it – BECAUSE we do it as unto God!
3. It COMPELLS us to mediate between the stubborn and rebellious and lost, and the God they one day WILL face – (2Co 5:20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
A. Mankind has always needed Mediation – a priesthood to stand FOR us before God!
1. All of us need someone to mediate between US and GOD!
2. God designed the Jewish priesthood, but it was flawed on purpose…
3. In the end, God replaced the priesthood with a better one! (Hebrews 7:11,12)
B. Jesus is the Living Stone, Our Great High Priest, upon which everyone can trust!
1. To most he is offensive
2. But to some, to ME, he is precious
3. How do YOU see Him?
C. Believers are Lively Stones Built on Christ
D. We are a Spiritual Building Project in the works
E. Better than that… We are an Holy Priesthood now! (1Peter 2:5)
F. For What Purpose?
1. To Draw near to God
2. To offer spiritual gifts and spiritual sacrifices in worship of God
3. And to mediate between the lost and their only hope!
G. Christian… Are you living up to what you are? Priests in the presence of God
1. You can’t if there is sin in your heart – bitterness, lust
2. You can’t if you are trying to do things your own way
3. You never will enjoy the presence of God until your own heart has been transformed by the great High Priest Himself – conversion – new birth!
V. Next Week – Cleaning Out the Christian Temple!