The Qualifications of the Priesthood

According to our realization, to preach the gospel is an easy thing, but we need to see that the gospel preachers are New Testament priests who should bear the four particular characteristics in God’s creation of man. As priests, we must also be persons very close to God. We must be persons who are one with God, who know God’s will, God’s heart, and who receive God’s oracle to speak for God. Then we must be those who bring God to man to impart God into man and who bring man back to God to make man one with God. All these items are our qualifications for the priesthood.

In the New Testament more items were added to the priesthood. A New Testament priest should be a person who lives Christ in His death, in His resurrection, and in His ascension. In the Old Testament there were items typifying Christ, but they were not Christ in actuality in His death, resurrection, and ascension. Paul was a pattern of the New Testament priests of the gospel of God. He was a person bearing God’s image, expressing God, and having God’s authority, representing God. Paul was a person who always exercised his spirit. In the New Testament he taught much concerning our human spirit, and he used his spirit to contact God, to receive God. He enjoyed Christ as the life-giving Spirit in his spirit, and he enjoyed Christ as his life. In Philippians 3:10 he expressed his desire to know Christ and the power of His resurrection that he might be conformed to the death of Christ. This shows us that a New Testament priest should be a person in the experience of Christ’s death and in the enjoyment of Christ’s resurrection power. If we do not have all these items, we are not qualified to preach the gospel because every gospel preacher must be a priest. We all have to see this revelation.

Offering Up Spiritual Sacrifices

We are the New Testament priests, and this priesthood is not composed of a minority of the saints as a clergy that becomes a hierarchy. The very priesthood that the New Testament reveals to us is a universal priesthood. This means that every saint, every believer, is a priest. We may know that we are priests, yet do we know what we should offer to God? A priest of God, a serving one of God, serves God with something that touches God’s heart. In the Old Testament all the priests offered bulls and goats typifying Christ. They offered these as a satisfying fragrance to God. This was what God’s heart desired in the Old Testament. Nothing pleased God’s heart as much as the types of Christ, pointing to the coming Christ. Today in the New Testament, as the New Testament priests, what shall we do that can please God’s heart?

I have told the saints that we need to come to the meetings with Christ, with the surplus of Christ, with the riches of Christ, to offer Christ to God. In this way, we can exhibit Christ. I even wrote a hymn that says, “Let us exhibit Christ” (Hymns, #864). First Peter 2:5 tells us that we are being built up “into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” In the past we pointed out that the sacrifices we offer to God are Christ as the reality of all the sacrifices of the Old Testament types, our praises, and the things we do for God (Heb. 13:15-16; Phil. 4:18). This is according to a footnote on spiritual sacrifices in 1 Peter 2:5 in the Recovery Version of the New Testament. My initial footnote on this verse, however, was not complete. We needed to add something further to the footnote on this verse. We needed to see something further in the advance of the Lord’s recovery. Today the Lord has given us further light concerning the spiritual sacrifices we should offer to God. This further light is in Romans 15:16. Paul told us in Romans 15:16 that he was a priest of the gospel who offered the Gentiles saved through his preaching as sacrifices to God. These are not the material sacrifices but the spiritual sacrifices.

In order to see what the spiritual sacrifices are in 1 Peter 2:5, we also need to read verse 9: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people acquired 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 priesthood mentioned here is the priestly body, the group of priests. To be called out of darkness into His marvelous light is God’s salvation. God’s mercy, God’s grace, God’s love, God’s patience, God’s forgiveness, God’s kindness, etc., are God’s virtues. In His many virtues God called us out of darkness and brought us into His marvelous light. To tell out God’s virtues is the preaching of the gospel of God’s salvation in His virtues according to our experiences. The spiritual sacrifices mentioned in 1 Peter 2:5 are the results of our telling out, the results of our preaching. The results of our preaching are the saved sinners. Verse 9 tells us that we, the priesthood, should tell out the very salvation we have experienced. That means we have to tell people how God has saved us. Then this telling out will result in sinners being saved. By this telling out, we make sinners sacrifices and offer them to God as spiritual sacrifices for His acceptance. There are spiritual sacrifices to offer to God because there is the telling out, the preaching, of God’s wonderful salvation in all His virtues. Now we can see that the spiritual sacrifices are the persons saved by God’s wonderful salvation through His virtues.

The main sacrifices of the Old Testament priesthood were bulls and goats as types of Christ. Now in the New Testament the main sacrifices are not only Christ but also Christ with the saved sinners. The main offerings of the Old Testament priests were types of Christ, but the main offering of the New Testament priests is Christ experienced by the sinners. The sinners are offered to God in Christ, with Christ, and one with Christ as the very enlargement of Christ. In the New Testament Christ is still offered to God, not in typology but in experience. Today we do not have a Christ in typology. The Christ we have is in our experience. We are saved not only in Christ but also into Christ, so we all have been made good sacrifices. The New Testament priesthood offers sinners saved into Christ as the main sacrifices.

The New Testament priesthood is not merely a few individual saints but a universal priesthood, a priestly body, telling out the virtues of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. This telling out is the preaching of the gospel of God’s salvation in all His virtues, to make the saved sinners spiritual sacrifices offered to God for His acceptance. We have to offer these sacrifices every day. This means that the preaching of the gospel of God is the daily life of a priest of the gospel in the New Testament.

As believers in Christ, we are priests of the gospel of God. According to Romans 15:16, such a priest is a laboring priest, a working priest, an energizing priest. We can also say that such a priest is a priest of the preaching of the gospel. We may admit that we are priests of the gospel, but do we preach the gospel? The work of the priesthood is a daily work. The Old Testament priests offered the offerings every day, morning and evening. They also offered many offerings during special times such as the festivals. This shows us that we need to offer spiritual sacrifices to God at all times and on all occasions. We need to be priests of the gospel of God in our daily life.