Who leads Christ’s Church? One of the greatest treasures of the Protestant Reformation is a recovery of the “Priesthood of all believers.” This teaching proclaims that every Christian has access to God the Father because the Holy Spirit has united us with Christ. Because of our standing before God, every Christian is a priest (or minister) in our world.
Today I want to emphasize two things: first, where does the Bible teach “Priesthood of all believers,” and second, what the Priesthood of All Believers actually means for the Christian’s daily life.
Where Does the Bible Teach the “Priesthood of all Believers
In a sentence, it means this: Every Christian has access to God, and lives with the ministry of reconciliation between sinful humanity and God. Before the Reformation, the Catholic Church taught that it was necessary to go to a priest to hear confession of sin and for the priest to offer the eucharist for sins to be forgiven. Just like in the Old Testament, it was the priest who could speak the word of grace and reconciliation between God and man.
But the Reformers discovered Scripture that had long been neglected:
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” Matthew 27:50-51
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” 1 Corinthians 6:19
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5
“…you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6
One frequent confusion is worth clarifying, the Priesthood of all Believers does not mean there should be no priests or pastors – clearly the New Testament affirms the election of Elders and Deacons to be set apart for ministry. But these leaders in the Church are not the only ones with a holy ministry… every Christian has received the Great Commission and serves as a priest in our world who needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.
What Does the “Priesthood of All Believers” Mean
When people go to a priest, there can be a variety of reasons: to ask for prayer, to confess their sin, for godly counsel and advice, seeking tangible help for a need. As Christians, we have the authority as the children of God to meet every one of those above needs.
- Is a friend struggling and in need of prayer? You pray for them – with full confidence that God will hear your prayer.
- Has someone come under conviction of sin and want to look to Christ for grace and salvation? Speak the word of grace that comes through the gospel of Jesus Christ. When sin is confessed and repented of, we can confidently and boldly proclaim, “Because of your faith in Jesus Christ, your sin has been forgiven.”
- When the struggles of life seem to much to bear alone, is a friend in need of wisdom? Open the Holy Scriptures with them, and seek the wisdom of God together.
- Perhaps a neighbor has a need they cannot meet and doesn’t know where else to turn? Love your neighbor as yourself by giving sacrificially and with compassion.
Rather than looking to the priests and pastors of our churches for every act of spiritual ministry, the Reformation affirms every Christian as a member of the “Body of Christ.” In the midst of your daily work, regardless of your vocation (education, medicine, science, entertainment, construction, etc.) you work with a holy calling as a minister in this world. Your work has become an act of worship, and you pray for opportunities to make Christ known. Whether at work or home, every Christian is called to live as a priest/minister in this world.
For more you can read the following articles,