In the building of God, the goal of God’s work and His heart’s desire, the living stones are the priests, and the building is the priesthood; for us to be the priesthood in reality, we need to be built up in God and with one another for God’s building.
If we read the Old Testament to see the matter of the tabernacle we will realize that the tabernacle and the priesthood are closely related, and where the tabernacle is, there were the priests.
The building of God, the tabernacle, is actually the priesthood; God told His people to make a tabernacle for Him to dwell in their midst. The building is for God’s dwelling, and the priesthood is the assembly of priests built up together to serve God; in order for us to have a genuine priesthood, we must have the building.
We see this same thing in 1 Pet. 2:5, 9, where we are told that we are living stones built up together as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood.
As believers in Christ we are not only members of the Body of Christ and children of God but also living stones built up together to be God’s spiritual house, His dwelling place; as such a building, we are a priesthood, a “hood” of priests being built together in their service to God.
We love the Lord, desire to serve Him, and we seek to FIRST be built up with other priests into the priesthood; the primary thing and the most basic condition for serving as a priest is not our skill, ability, zeal, or power, but being built up.
There’s no such thing as an individual priest – we all are priests and together we form the priesthood, which priesthood is the building of God, the church, the house of God.
However, if we serve God in a non-built-up way, that is, without being built up with other priests into God’s spiritual house, there’s an inherent danger in our service, for it may become an individualistic work, independent in nature. Oh Lord Jesus!
There are such things as different ministries or functions, but when it comes to serving God, there’s no such thing as an individual service; we all are priests, we need to be built up as the priesthood, and together we are God’s spiritual house, the church as the Body of Christ.
We need to be Built up to be God’s Dwelling Place to Serve Him as the Priesthood
The fact that in the record in Exodus the tabernacle is mentioned before the priesthood shows us that there’s a need for us, the believers in Christ, to be built up to be God’s dwelling place so that we may serve God as a corporate, coordinated priesthood (see Exo. 25:8; 26:1-30; 27:20-28:2).
The emphasis in God’s eyes is the building, and we need to realize our great need to be built up together with the saints in God to become a tabernacle, God’s house, so that we may serve God as a coordinated priesthood.
The priesthood is a body of priests who are built together to live and serve as one entity, and apart from the building it is impossible to have the priesthood (see 1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6, 5:10). We shouldn’t focus on serving God first but rather focus on being built up first.
There may be a lot of priests running around doing many things with no “hood”, with no built-up priesthood in coordination; this is not God’s way for us to practice the church life. No matter how capable, gifted, or spiritual we think we may be, we are part of God’s building and we need to be built up with the other priests, the other living stones.
We all were regenerated to be living stones: we have a new nature within – the divine nature, and we have our name changed into Peter, living stones for God’s building. However, are we merely a pile of living stones, or are we built up together into God’s building? It is possible for the church life to be full of stones piled together, but with no building; this is not the service that God wants to have from us.
As priests to God, we should eat with the saints, meet from house to house, coordinate together, and serve together, never individualistically but always in a builded manner.
The service of the priesthood is a body service in coordination, and such a corporate service is what the Lord is seeking today (see Exo. 19:6; Rev. 1:6). Without the building up of the saints in Christ, the priesthood will collapse; we can’t have the priesthood without the building.
Looking at the priests themselves, they were “wearing the building”, their uniform was the building of God. First we need to “put on the building”, that is, be built up with the saints in the Body, and then we can serve God. If we take away the building, the priesthood collapses. We need to first be built up so that we may serve up to God.
Lord Jesus, show us our need to first and foremost be built up to be God’s dwelling place so that we may serve You as the priesthood. Save us from serving God in an individualistic or independent way. We want to pay the price to be built up together with the saints into God’s building so that together we may serve as a priesthood, rendering God the service that He desires. Amen, Lord, gain Your building! Gain a group of built-up priests who serve in oneness with You and coordination with one another for Your building!
Our Priestly Service is a Work of being Built up and of Building up the Church
If we realize that what is on God’s heart is the building of God, His house, and that for this He needs us as priests to be built up as the priesthood, we will do a twofold work: be built up and help others be built up into God’s building.
One aspect of our work is to be built up, and another aspect is to build the house of God. We are God’s house, His dwelling place, in our spirit (Eph. 2:21-22), and we need to take heed how we build, so that our work may build up and not damage the church (1 Cor. 3:10-11).
One of the best ways to build up the church is to prophesy, that is, to speak forth Christ and speak Christ into others for the building up of the church (1 Cor. 14:26).
Merely doing the work of God and living for God is not serving God; serving God as a priest is building the house of God (the tabernacle, the temple of God), and such a work can be carried out only by priests who are built up together.
If we serve God apart from the priesthood, we have an improper service; our service should be in the house of God, in a built-up way in coordination with the saints. For us to serve as priests is for us to build.
First Peter 2:5 says that the proper service cannot be apart from the building. When we are built up as a spiritual house, we become a priesthood. To offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God refers to our work. When we are built up into a priesthood, we can have work that is acceptable to God. For centuries those who love God have known that they should serve God. But few believers have seen that the basic matter of serving God depends on being built up. If we are not built up as the spiritual house of God, there will be no priesthood. The priesthood is based on the building. When God’s children begin to love God, they are very willing to serve God. However, they neglect the matter of being built up. Once a person becomes zealous, he wants to serve, but God speaks of being built up into a spiritual house as the basic condition for service. We cannot serve if we are not built up. (The Blueprint and the Ground for the Building Up of the Church, pp. 28-29, by W. Lee)
How do we build up the church? It is by being built up in the church and by helping others be built up in the Body of Christ. We build by being built up, and this is to genuinely serve God as priests. To serve God as priests is to build the dwelling place of God, which is also to be built up.
Our service to God is to build up the Body of Christ, the church; all the gifts and functions in the church are for this, to build up the Lord’s church. May we realize that we are proper priests carrying out the genuine building work only when we are built up.
Being built up into a spiritual house is the basic condition for service; we cannot serve if we are not built up, but when we are built up into a priesthood, we can have work that is acceptable to God. Is our work and service to God acceptable to Him? It all depends if we offer up sacrifices as a built up priesthood or not.
Lord Jesus, open our eyes to see that our priesthood must be the building and for the building. We want our service to be acceptable to God by offering sacrifices to Him as a built up priesthood. We give ourselves to You, Lord to be built up in spirit with the saints into the spiritual house of God, so that we may become the priesthood for the building up of the church, the dwelling place of God. We want to be built up in the church and do the work of building others up into God’s house, God’s building.
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Minoru C. for this week, and The Blueprint and the Ground for the Building Up of the Church, ch. 2; (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Exodus (part 4, 2016 Summer Training), week 41 / msg. 5, The Tabernacle and the Priesthood.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Build us up, build us up, as with one another sup’. / Hallelujah—the riches of Christ! / Build us up, build us up, as with You we all rise up. / Hallelujah—the living Body! (song on being built up)
# Thus we must be built together, / In position minister; / For the basis of our service / Is the body character. (Hymns #913)
# Now the building spiritual / And the priesthood all are one; / Now the building of the house / By the priestly work is done. (Hymns #849)
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