The New Testament service ordained by God is that all His believers are priests to God to serve God with the offerings that He desires (Rev. 1:5-6; 5:9-10; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9). Today God does not desire physical sacrifices (such as lambs, bulls, pigeons, etc); He is delighted and satisfied with Christ, and we need to offer Christ to God.
Christ is the reality of all the offerings in the Old Testament and He replaces them; also, Christ is being enlarged to be the Body of Christ, and we can offer to God as sacrifices pleasing to Him the members of the Body of Christ that we help to grow in life and arrive unto maturity.
In Paul’s writings we see that the offering of the believers to God is in three steps: first, after we preach the gospel to people we can offer the newly saved ones to God as spiritual sacrifices (Rom. 15:16); second, as the new believers grow and begin to understand what it is to be a believer in Christ, we encourage them to offer themselves to God as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1); and third, as the believers continue to grow unto maturity, as those who labor on them we can present them full-grown in Christ (Col. 1:28-29).
This is what the Apostle Paul did, and this is our priesthood of the gospel. This is not merely something individual, as in: each believer has to do it individually and without any fellowship or connection to other believers; this is a priesthood of the gospel, a corporate matter in the Body of Christ, and our joy, fruit-bearing, and offering of sacrifices to God are made full and more enjoyable as we do this with the saints.
Wherever we are and whatever we do we can simply overflow with the enjoyment of Christ to minister Him in all His unsearchable riches to others, and as they repent, believe, and receive the Lord, we can offer the newly saved believers to God as a spiritual sacrifice.
The focus of our service in the gospel to God is to save sinners and offer them to God, and the goal of our service is the building up of the Body of Christ.
Functioning as Priests of the Gospel according to the entire Gospel of God (Romans)
Preaching the gospel does not merely mean announcing Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world and of every man but it includes saving sinners to make them sons of God and members of the Body of Christ, and helping them to grow in life so that they may be active members in the practice of the Body life in the local churches (see Rom. 1:16-17; 3:24; 5:10; 8:16; 12:2, 4-5).
As laboring priests of the gospel we need to first be filled and saturated with Christ and then go to announce the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel so that sinners may be saved; the ones that receive the gospel become “our sacrifices” acceptable to God, and we need to bring them before the Lord in prayer for their growth in life, enjoyment of Christ, and experience of God.
We need to enjoy Christ as life to be much more saved in His life and be freshly constituted and filled with Christ, and then we need to minister this Christ to others so that the believers may be saved in Christ’s life and offer themselves to God as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1).
The goal of our gospel preaching shouldn’t merely be to “win souls”, “save sinners”, or even for us to “bear fruit for God”; the goal of our preaching the gospel is to have our hands full of sacrifices to offer to God for His satisfaction.
God is satisfied with Christ being preached, ministered, dispensed, increased, and multiplied, and as laboring priests of the gospel we preach Christ, minister Him, dispense Him, and have Him increased in man for God to be satisfied with His Christ.
After someone is saved as a result of our gospel preaching we need to remember to offer this person again and again to God in our prayers; if we do this, we will be joyful persons, and the Lord’s joy will fill us. Our function as priests of the gospel doesn’t stop with preaching the gospel but continues with much prayer for the new ones, ministering Christ, helping them enjoy the Lord and eat Him, and encouraging them to offer themselves to God as a living sacrifice.
Furthermore, as laboring priests of the gospel we need to bring the newly saved believers into the church life, help them be built up in the Body of Christ, and encourage them to function as a member in the Body to become materials for the building up of the Body. May the Lord recover the proper functioning of the priests of the gospel according to the complete gospel of God as seen in Romans!
Lord Jesus, keep us enjoying You as our life, our life supply, and our everything, and fill us, saturate us, and permeate us with Yourself until we overflow with the riches of Christ as the gospel to others. Oh Lord, recover the proper gospel preaching for the sinners to be saved and be offered to God as spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Him! May we be those who preach the gospel, save sinners for God, and then shepherd them, pray for them, nourish them, and help them love the Lord and grow in life so that they would offer themselves to God as living sacrifices! Lord, we want to function in a normal way as laboring priests of the gospel!
The Service of the Priesthood of the Gospel is the Service of the Church as the Body of Christ
The Lord never intended to have some super-spiritual giant evangelists, apostles, and teacher, some who would “function as priests” in a very strong way while the rest listen, appreciate them, and pray for them – yet not doing much as priests.
Today we live in the age of the Body of Christ, and the service of the church as the Body of CHrist is the service of the New Testament priesthood of the gospel (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). All believers are priests to God, and as such it is our privilege and responsibility to both spend time with God to be filled with God and function as priests of the gospel.
Our service to God must be carried out not in an individualistic way but as a priesthood (just as a ball game is played in a team and not by one “star” player). As the church we need to fellowship, pray, enjoy the Lord, be filled with Him, and go out to preach the gospel; our saving sinners is corporate, our bearing fruit is corporate as we abide in Christ, and our offering up sacrifices to God for His satisfaction is also corporate.
Our God daily anticipates our offering to Him; He wants Christ to be offered to Him every morning and every evening, and this can be done only in the Body and by the Body (not by any individual spiritual Christian).
The goal of the gospel is not our success or even saving sinners; the Lord doesn’t want some outstanding evangelists but many little embodiments of the good news preaching the gospel, saving sinners, and ministering Christ to the saved believers.
Oh, the joy to bring someone to know Christ and love Him! We rejoice very much when someone is saved and pursues the Lord to enjoy Him, and we should pray for the new believers that they may be saved in life, be built up together with the saints, and practice the church life as the life of the Body of Christ.
The focus of our service as the New Testament priests of the gospel is bringing saved sinners to God as sacrifices for His satisfaction, and the goal of our service is the building up of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-12). Every time the priesthood of the gospel is in the context of God’s building, every time we preach the gospel, shepherd the saints, and perfect them to function in their measure, our joy is intensified.
As priest of the gospel we are exercising our priesthood to function by saving sinners, teach them the Bible, edify the saints, set up churches as local representations of the Body of Christ, and perfect the saints to function in the Body in their measure with their portion.
This is our responsibility according to God’s economy, and we do this in the Body, in much prayer and fellowship in oneness with the fellow members of the Body of Christ.
Lord Jesus, thank You for making us a part of the holy and royal priesthood so that we together may function as priests of the gospel to save sinners, help them grow in life, minister Christ to them, perfect them to function as members of the Body, teach them, and present every man full-grown in Christ. Lord, recover the proper functioning of all the believers as priests of the gospel so that we all may be little walking embodiments of good news and ministers of Christ! Amen! Oh Lord, recover the preaching of the gospel, the proper teaching of the new ones, and the perfecting of the saints in the Body for God’s satisfaction!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my Christian experience, bro. Dick Taylor’s sharing in the message for this week, and portions from, A Thorough View of the Body of Christ, ch. 4, by Witness Lee, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Recovery of the Priesthood or God’s Building, week 6 / msg 6, Being Laboring Priests of the Gospel of God by Serving God in our Spirit in the Gospel of His Son.
- All Bible verses are taken from, Holy Bible Recovery Version.
- Hymns on this topic to strengthen this burden:
# Outreach of the glorious gospel / Is the flow of life within; / It is by our testimony / That lost sinners we may win. / Grant us, Lord, the living outflow, / May Thy life through us be seen; / Through us as Thy living vessels / Quicken people from within. (Hymns #925)
# We must ever preach the gospel, / Cherishing and nourishing; / Loving them as our dear children, / As our priestly offering. / We must ever preach the gospel / By perfecting in the homes / Through the word and prayer and singing, / Never laboring alone. / We must ever preach the gospel, / Learning how to prophesy / For the building of the Body, / Thus the Lord to glorify. (Song on preaching the gospel in the Body)
# Living stones, we’re built together / And a house for God must be, / As the holy priesthood serving, / In a blessed harmony. / Thus we must be built together, / In position minister; / For the basis of our service / Is the body character. (Hymns #913)
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