III. THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
First Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for a possession, so that you may tell out the virtues of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.’’ The royal priesthood is typified by the priesthood according to the order of Melchisedec. According to Genesis 14:18-20, Melchisedec came from God to bless Abraham with bread and wine. He came from God to bless man with the Lord’s table. After we go to God as a holy priest, separated unto God, we become saturated with Him. Then we need to go to God’s people to bless them with God as the bread and wine. The Lord’s table signifies Christ’s death and resurrection for man’s salvation and enjoyment. This is the gospel, the good news, for fallen, sinful man. In addition, this is what we share in the church meetings to build up the church.
IV. THE GOSPEL PRIESTHOOD
Romans 15:16 says, “That I should be a minister of Christ Jesus to the nations, a laboring priest of the gospel of God, that the offering of the nations might be acceptable, having been sanctified in the Holy Spirit.’’ The gospel priesthood mentioned here is not different from the holy and royal priesthoods. These three terms apply to three different aspects of the same priesthood in the New Testament. We are priests, and we are being built up as a priesthood, having Christ as the high priest.
The main function of the gospel priesthood is to preach the gospel to save sinners, so that they may be offered to God as acceptable sacrifices. Romans 15:16 talks about a minister of Christ Jesus laboring to offer the nations. 1 Peter 2:9 talks about telling out the virtues of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. And 1 Peter 2:5 talks about offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. The functions of these three priesthoods are absolutely one. Actually, the gospel priesthood includes the holy and royal priesthoods. As a gospel priest we need to come forward to God to be saturated with Him first. Then the Lord burdens us to pray for a certain friend. We bring God to that friend as a royal priest. How do we bring God to him? We do it by telling him the virtues of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. “Virtues of Him’’ means His excellence, His power, His energy, the strength of life received through the gospel that delivered us out of darkness. As you tell your friend about His virtues, the word you speak brings faith into him (Rom. 10:17). This word has the power to deliver him from darkness. Then he will pray with you to receive the Spirit (Gal. 3:5); eventually, he will be baptized into the Triune God. This gospel experience explains how we, as a holy priest, offer someone as a spiritual sacrifice to God.
We need to be the holy priesthood, the royal priesthood, and the gospel priesthood. We should always come to God to be filled with Him, bring God to people by telling out His virtues, and offer the repented sinners as spiritual sacrifices to God. We do this not in an individual way but with others. We are built up as we perform our priestly duties. As we are being built up, more priests become saved and are added to the priesthood to be built up together with us. This is God’s way to build up the church.
(Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 19, by Witness Lee)