BUILT UP AND COORDINATED
The Greek word rendered priesthood is rather hard to translate. But according to the spiritual reality, the priesthood is the building up of the priests, the coordination, the cooperation of all the priests. Not one of the priests serves individually, but all serve in coordination.
While I am ministering, my whole body is serving in a coordination. My mouth does not speak without any expression in my eyes or without any gestures with my hands. The mouth even needs the feet with the legs and the whole body to support it. The mouth needs the hands and feet, and the hands and feet need the mouth and the eyes. This is the whole body in coordination, and this is the basic principle of the Christian service.
Many of us are concerned about the gospel preaching. If we are going to preach the gospel, we need to be built up together. We need the coordination first. When we are built up together as a spiritual house and have the coordination of the priests, then we can preach the gospel.
The first gospel preaching was on the day of Pentecost, when one hundred twenty people were built up together, coordinated. Those one hundred twenty people were one hundred twenty priests, just as one body acting in coordination. I believe that on that day, when Peter stood up, it was not only Peter himself, nor even Peter with the other eleven, but actually Peter with the one hundred twenty. When Peter told the Jewish people, “You people put this Jesus on the cross,” I believe all the one hundred twenty said, “Amen!” When he said, “You put Him to death, but the God of our fathers raised Him up,” again they said, “Amen!” It was not merely a single member of the Body, not merely the mouth of Peter speaking, with all the others sleeping or talking, leaving poor Peter to speak in a poor way by himself. This is not the way the gospel was preached on that day. Rather, they preached the gospel in a prevailing way, in a coordination of all the saints, all coordinated as one. Therefore, their preaching was powerful and prevailing.
To have the gospel preached in a prevailing way, spiritual giants or powerful evangelists are not so much needed as the Body, a built-up Body under a coordination. Groups of people will be brought to the Lord through the built-up church. If we would all be joined together in the Body and stand together, even the weakest one among us would be stronger in the coordination than any individual strong one.
Some may be concerned that they do not have a special gift or do not know how to serve the Lord. Those things do not matter. As long as we are in the reality of the Body, that is wonderful. We all need to be built up in the Body. If we become a built-up house, then we will be a serving priesthood, a serving priestly coordination. This is what we need, a coordination by building up.
HOLY PRIESTS AND ROYAL PRIESTS
We are the holy priesthood on the one hand, and the royal priesthood on the other hand. In the Old Testament types there are two different orders of priests, the order of Aaron and the order of Melchisedec. The order of Aaron is the holy order. To be holy is to be separated from the common things, the worldly things, unto the Lord. The holy order is an order separated from the world, from the common things, unto the use of the Lord. To have the church service, all of us need to be built together, and we should be separated people, separated from the world, from the common things, from the ordinary way. To be separated unto God is to be holy unto God. To be holy simply means to be sanctified, and to be sanctified simply means to be separated from the common things unto the divine things. This is the holy order, the holy priesthood.
The order of Melchisedec is the royal order. Melchisedec was a king, and he was a kingly priest. On one hand, we are the sons of Aaron, the holy priests separated from the world unto the Lord. On the other hand, we are Melchisedecs, the kingly priests.
Let me illustrate in this way. Suppose the church here is going to preach the gospel. First of all, we need to be built up together as one Body; we must be formed together as an army. Then we all should be separated from the world unto the Lord. We all need to go to the Lord and pray for a period of time, like those one hundred twenty in Acts who prayed for ten days. They separated themselves from the worldly things unto the Lord, and they stayed with the Lord for ten days. As a result, they were all filled with the Lord. At that moment they were the holy priests. After those ten days, when they came out to the people to tell them that Jesus is the Lord, the Savior, they did this in a royal way. When they went to the Lord, they were holy. When they came out from the presence of the Lord with the heavenly authority, they were kings; they were royal.
When we are built up together, separated from the world unto the Lord, and we pray before the Lord, we will be the holy priests. After much prayer, we all will be filled with the Lord, even filled with the Lord of authority. Then we come out to tell the people something about the Lord as royal priests, kingly priests, with the heavenly authority. When we as the Body go to the Lord and remain in His presence, we are the holy priests, the holy, separated ones before God. After we pray and are burdened by the Lord and equipped with the heavenly authority, we come out of the presence of the Lord to the people, serving them, even ministering the Lord to them. At that time we are the kingly priests, the royal priests, the heavenly ones with the heavenly authority as heavenly kings to minister the Lord to others. What comes out is not merely preaching of the word, of the gospel, but preaching the gospel with the kingly, heavenly authority.
The priests of the order of Aaron always bring the need of the people to God. They are holy. But a priest of the order of Melchisedec brings something from God to supply others, to meet the need of others. This is the kingly priesthood.
When we give up the whole world and go to the Lord to pray for sinners, “Lord, be merciful, remember them, save them, deliver them,” we are the holy priests. But when we come out of the presence of the Lord after much prayer to minister something of the Lord as life in a powerful way, in a way of heavenly authority, we are royal priests.
(Basic Principles for the Service in the Church Life, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)