Hebrews 9:1-15 | "1 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. 2 For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, 4 having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. 5 Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. 6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. 11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. 15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant."
DREW: While Jesus is our high priest, we are, nonetheless, all priests to God. First Peter 2:5, “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood” -- this is all believers, all believes -- “to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” What Peter is saying there is you’re a spiritual house. The temple in which priests used to offer sacrifices were made with stones that didn’t move. We’re living stones in which God dwells. Do you see the difference? God would dwell in the old covenant temple, but that was a temple made with non-living or immovable stones. Now, God dwells in us and we’re living and moving stones, always being added to as the temple in which God dwells grows as He brings people to himself. Very important. So we’re all priests. Listen to this -- and we offer spiritual sacrifices. Again, Christ offered himself once and for all. He abolished in His flesh the whole sacrificial system. No more sacrifice for sin is needed, but Peter is saying here but you still offer spiritual sacrifices. What does that look like? Listen to Hebrews 13 in verse 16, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” So we’re not offering a sacrifice or sacrifices for a sin, Jesus has done that once and for all. The sacrifices we offer are spiritual sacrifices: Doing good, sharing what we have with others, that’s a sacrifice that’s pleasing to God, not because through that we’re seeking to affect a right relationship with God. We can’t do that. Only Jesus’s sacrifice and our trust in Him can do that. Okay. Very important. So do good and share what you have. There you have spiritual sacrifices that are deeds.
First Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood” -- you’re a royal priesthood -- “a holy nation, a people for his” -- for God’s -- “own possession, that” -- in order that -- “you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” So what we do, according to First Peter 2:9, as His priests we proclaim the excellencies of him “who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.” So that is what it means to be a priesthood or priest in word. We proclaim the excellencies of God, who in Christ took us from the darkness into the light, from death to life, from ignorance to the knowledge of the truth. So that’s a spiritual sacrifice of word. Of course, words of encouragement and edification are included as well. It’s not comprehensive, just suggestive.
Deuteronomy 33:10 -- don’t turn there, there’s no reason to -- talks about the priests in the Old Testament, what they did. I’m not going to read it -- well, let me read it. You know, you can’t help it. 33:10 of Deuteronomy -- a wonderful book -- says this, Levi, the priest, “They shall teach Jacob your rules and Israel your law and they shall put incense before you and whole burnt offerings on your altar.” So what do they do? They teach the people of God. They also “put incense before you,” that’s to pray, and they put “whole burnt offerings on the altar.” They point the way to the sacrifice that takes away sin. Well, we’ve seen Jesus’s sacrifice once and for all takes away sin. So how are we according to Peter -- if we understand Peter through Deuteronomy or Deuteronomy through Peter better put, what should priests do today? Well, we’ve seen you do good, you share what you have, and you also speak to others about who God is and what Christ has done, but we pray, we teach the word of God as we have opportunity, and we point people now to the sacrifice that takes away our sin and it’s not the burnt offering any longer; it’s Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And Paul said that “I boast or I glory in the cross of Christ,” that means the death of Christ. Paul does not say anywhere in scripture that he boasts or glories in anything other than the death of Christ and that’s really good for us as priests. And we’ll open this up for discussion, because it’s easy for Christians, regardless of background or interests or denomination, to begin to place things in a central location, where things become more central for us than they should. What should be central? Christ and Him crucified. So if other issues begin to become more central, which they inevitably do or invariably do, in denominational Christianity, beware, because it’s Jesus Christ and Him crucified. That’s what we should all be boasting in and all be glorying in. So you’re all priests. You don’t need a human priest. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and human kind.
Now, we’re all priests. Remember we pray, we teach, we point people, spiritual sacrifices we offer. What prevents us from living like we are priests?
LOLLIS: Is that a loaded question?
DREW: No. Lollis?
LOLLIS: For me, when I hear that and especially the passage from Deuteronomy, it makes me reflect back to what our commission is from God, what our great commission is from God, to go be involved in evangelism, to be involved in teaching, to be involved in discipleship. And the pressures of this world will tell us, well, especially right now, ‘you know, you really shouldn’t be sharing your faith, because, you know, people will think you’re some Jesus nut’ or ‘hey, you know, I’m not worthy enough to disciple someone else or to mentor somebody else,’ if you like that term better. ‘I’m not -- it’s a lot better if I just keep my head down and don’t really bring that up, show up at church on Sunday, listen to what the pastor says, nod at all the right times, kneel at the right times,’ but I don’t think that’s what priests really do. I think priests are really called to be active, to be going out to their people around them. You know, the priest was probably constantly going, ‘hey, don’t you think we need to make a sacrifice here?’
DREW: Always receiving the people as they came.
LOLLIS: Yeah. Yeah.
DREW: Good. That’s great.
PENNY: I was just going to say one of the things when Drew was specifically talking about the stones that we’re building and we should keep adding, I mean, we obviously need to be a sent people. Just like Lollis said, we’re always going out, but I think it’s very opposite and I think a paradigm shift needs to happen in the west for sure. I mean, Europe has already been hit by it and it’s coming our way and it’s already here and so if we don’t start being a sent people and going out we’re going to lose our understanding of the Gospel and what Jesus really came into the world to do for us and what the apostles were doing. I mean, read the Book of Acts. It’s just phenomenal. So that’s something I see when you say priest. I love that picture, because we all are priests and, like you said, we all can disciple, we all can be mentored and mentor. I mean, it goes both ways. We should always be learning and growing and then wanting to pass that one, so there’s humility and a teachability, but I think we get stuck. I think we get stuck in looking at the bigger picture of what’s going on and we feel somehow stifled or stimmed by the way, unfortunately, the church is being run today and it’s just preventing people from going out. It’s just making us stay and that’s exactly the opposite of what we should be doing as believers. In fact, I don’t think the New Testament church did that at all. In fact, Paul is all over the place, but it’s just an interesting thing to think about and where we need to go as the west if we really want to be missionaries, which is what we’re called to be.
DREW: I do think it’s clear, too, from the scripture that when Peter is talking about the priesthood of believers, the holy priesthood, he’s communicating that with a Biblical and comprehensive understanding. You know, teaching people the truth, praying, and pointing the way so people can find or be introduced to the Lord Jesus. It’s clear that he’s saying if you’re a priest, you’re a priest 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the rest of your life you’re in Christ. And so I think, again, we’re taken back to the scriptures. Let’s rethink what we’ve been taught, even by the church, and come back to the scriptures. Have your minds washed and renewed and your faith buttressed and strengthened. And it’s a battle to do that, but if we want to live in light of these truths more effectively, we have to do it. Don?
DON: I think too often people have the idea that, okay, if I’m a priest then I need to be pointing the way. Well, how are you pointing the way? And I like what John always says that Christianity is not so much a religion as it is a way of life, so that’s how most of us are going to point the way -- it’s the way we live. It’s when the cashier gives you too much change and you give it back to her or him. It’s helping your neighbor, who may not be a believer, but you help him and you’re showing him compassion and you’re being helpful help in spite of who he may be or what they may be. It’s each one of us living our lives based on what we understand in scripture of who Jesus is and how He lived and all we have to do is look at the Gospels to see how He lived his daily life. I mean, He was always helping people, He was always praying for people, He was always healing people.
DREW: Good. Absolutely. And that’s true. You know, again, Hebrews 13:16, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” And one of the best verses or two verses in the Bible that deals with this kind of thing are Galatians, chapter 6, verses 9 and 10, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially those who are of the household of faith.” “Do good to everyone, but especially those who are of the household.” Everyone. But now, he does prioritize Christians, because if you’re in Christ -- that’s where Paul is going there -- you’re in the family of God, you’ve been adopted as His children, but do good to everyone. Helping a neighbor any way you can, shine the light.
DON: And when you do that, that’s a prime opportunity for Satan to step in and say, ‘you know, what you did wasn’t real,’ start, you know, whispering in your ear that, ‘oh, well, look at you, aren’t you the one.’ And that’s when you really need to go to prayer. I mean, you really have to call on the Holy Spirit to help fight against that.
DREW: Thanks, Don. Anyone else? Well, let’s close in prayer. Thank you so much for coming and participating.
Father, we thank you for the high priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ. We thank you that He intercedes for us, He takes all that we do down here, it passes through Him, He presents it to the Father and it’s thereby perfected. We thank you that He prays for us. We thank you that He is merciful, He’s faithful, He’s sympathetic, and He’s helpful. And, Lord, we pray that we would glory in Him and in His cross alone. Help us to continue to understand all that we have discussed today, to have our minds transformed, and to live as priests in the world. In Jesus’s name. Amen.