“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5,6)
Jesus not only washed us from our sins in His own blood, but He has also lifted us up to two very important offices. The believer has the potential to operate as BOTH a king and a priest to God. One of the fundamental revelations of the Reformation was ‘the priesthood of all believers’ but I believe the Reformers themselves had a very limited idea of what this means. They remained influenced by Roman Catholicism, because it was all they had known.
All to often the church has compromised or watered down these explosive truths, by crafting theologies which limit the meaning of these verses. Some teach that only certain men with “Holy Orders” are truly priests. They may talk of common priesthood to theologians but it means very little. Others teach you could be a king or a priest, but not both. To some, the idea of the believer having any kind of kingly power or authority is very foreign and suspect. Clearly, Satan has had an interest in keeping these things shrouded in mystery – LEST a people rise up that have an understanding of what God has ordained, and go out and destroy Satan’s kingdom as they operate in these callings.
Jesus Christ has provided for a lot of things, and the Bible usually speaks in terms of the past tense to indicate just what God’s intention is. The Bible says that we were healed (1 Peter 2:24), that we were delivered from the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13), that we are complete (perfect) in Him (Colossians 2:10) and many other amazing things. These statements show what God has provided through the cross, not necessarily what we are enjoying or experiencing. Ignorance and disharmony with God’s plan can rob us of these things individually and collectively. So it has been with the ministry of Kings and Priests.
To function as kings and priests before God it helps to know what these things mean.
A king is someone who exercises authority by his spoken word. He rules over a domain. Jesus Christ is the ruler over the kings of the earth – both natural and spiritual kings (Revelation 1:5). God does not appoint people as kings with unlimited authority to do as they please. When we do as we please, we in fact end up submitting to another king – Satan. Yes, Satan also has a kingdom which is operating illegally in this world. But wherever men, women, boys and girls sin, there Satan is given authority once again to do his evil works of domination and destruction. We must not yield to Satan. We are not called to be Satan’s servants, but kings under God. We are called as kings to have dominion over the affairs of this world, and root out Satan’s works. We are also called to be junior priests of the order of Melchidezek – who was not only a priest, but also a king (Hebrews 7:1). We can be this because Jesus Christ, the High Priest of the Order of Melchizedek, and the King of Kings, dwells within us and wants to operate through us in this world.
Priests are those who offer sacrifices to God, and seek to bring God and people together. We all have the ministry of reconciliation according to 2 Corinthians 5:18. We are all supposed to intercede before God’s throne, offering praise, breaking spiritual bondages and leading men into the New Covenant. Every believer is called to be a soul-winner. Every child of God that is blessed should be a spiritual parent. Every child of God is called to walk closely with God.
Historically the people of God in the church age have been very content to accept the false teachings of church leaders which have diminished the extent of their high calling. We have been content to do this because it is easier to pay a class of “special priests” to “do the ministry”, and it is easier to be weak and defeated than it is to exercise the kingly authority of Christ in every kind of circumstance.
We have a lot of emphasis today on church buildings and tithing. While I believe we should tithe, and it is also desirable for the local churches to control sufficient real estate for their needs, I would still have to say that a lot of this is done with an Old Covenant mentality based on something like the Levitical priesthood. We are trained to pay tithes to a special class of ministers – usually only local church pastors who occupy themselves with the spiritual side of things while we attend the church building once or twice a week to sing the songs chosen for us by the worship leaders, put money in the bag and listen to a sermon. Apart from that, most people feel free to seek their own pleasure.
We need to see that we are all involved in a life and death struggle for eternal souls, and not even our own souls are secure if we fail to listen to the Lord on an ongoing basis. It is not enough to make money in business and give some to the church and other ministries. We need to be in the ministry of a priest ourselves! WE are called to pray without ceasing, to abide in Christ and His word. There is not class of Christian “kings” that are exempted from priestly duty, and a lot of those who consider themselves “special priests” – full time Christian workers – should first go and see if they are capable of living as effective believers in the workplace or in business BEFORE they take it upon themselves to teach and supposedly equip those that do!
Jesus Christ is against the clergy/laity distinction. As we grow towards spiritual maturity, we are all supposed to be royal priests (1 Peter 2:9), soulwinners (Matthew 4:19; 28:18-20), teachers (small ‘t’) (Hebrews 5:12) and brothers under One Master or Teacher (the Lord Jesus Christ) (Matthew 23:10). But the clergy/laity distinction is an invention of religious leaders who wish to rule over ‘the laity’ and stop them from doing any ministry which they don’t personally initiate. This tendency could be seen even in early post apostolic writings such as those by Ignatius who wrote “Do nothing without the bishop”. It is here falsely assumed that the Holy Spirit needs the bishop to hear first of all what the “kings and priests” ought to be doing in their ministries out in the world.
You can read something about how the whole clergy/laity distinction came into being here . I may not agree with all that is taught on this website, but some valid points are made.
In fact, I am not against leadership in the church. God is in favor of it, which is why elders and deacons are to be appointed. Leadership is essential for God’s work. But leaders must not usurp the place of the Holy Spirit. Leaders must be able to teach, and should produce leaders and teachers themselves. And they must never be unchallengeable. A leader who creates a culture in which no one can challenge him sets himself up for a fall. This can all be done in the name of efficiency. But sometimes it is more important to be sure that the direction we are going in is correct, rather than simply that we are moving fast.
It is so important that the people in the Body of Christ be encouraged to fully develop. God does not desire the multiplication of spiritual pygmies who are easily swayed by charismatic leaders who fail to preach the whole counsel of God. For the whole body to grow to maturity, there must be more thought about what it means for us to be both Kings and Priests. And we need to get into it.