Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Without question, every believer, regardless of age or gender, is a priest and has something to offer in service to our Lord.

F.F. Bruce says it this way...“Christianity is sacrificial through and through; it is founded on the one self-offering of Christ, and the offering of His people’s praise and property, of their service and their lives, and all are caught up into the perfection of His acceptable sacrifice, and are accepted in Him.” 

So no one has any reason to doubt that they have been called to a ministry in the body of Christ. To every believer grace has been given for service to the Lord. The scripture says it this way, “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” (Eph. 4:7)

In Christ, every Christian is a son or daughter of God, clothed in Christ’s righteousness, and all Christians come to God the Father directly. As a royal priesthood, we then serve God in gratitude for our salvation all of our life. We are anointed by the Holy Spirit and we are to function in the body under Christ as our Prophet, Priest and King. 

This means that all Christians are free from any tyranny or bondage of any mediating priest, minister, pastor, reverend, bishop, or spouse.  We are to recognize Jesus Christ alone as our Mediator and High Priest whose sacrifice alone has ushered us into God’s presence. 

Sacrificial service to God then comes from an enlightenment we get from a studied Scripture and we all are empowered by the Holy Spirit to minister within and for the good of the whole of Christ’s Church. Such is the great ministry of every believer within the Church.

I think it may be time that we admit as Baptists that the ministry of the church is not a "one-man ministry" or even a "man" ministry. Everyone is a priest. Everyone is graced. Everyone is gifted. And  everyone is to serve out of that gifting and grace. 

A New Testament congregation may be like the orchestras Mary and I saw this past year in the Edmond Culture Center that made such beautiful music. Each orchestra was made up of many instruments and in the warmups when each was warming up with little or no regard for the others and it was a cacophony of confusion and disorder. But let the Conductor step to the podium and raise his baton and begin his leading and what beautiful music was heard.

Similarly, a local congregation can be one characterized by confusion and disorder when left to each one with no regard for the others. Our mistake, however, is in thinking order comes by elevating one man [a pastor] or one group [deacons or men only] into the conducting of affairs of the church with no real regard for all the others. 

The resulting tragedy is that the typical congregation finds itself robbed of "each one ministering" as they are gifted to help build up the body and the majority of the members wind up being spectators. Or...they are consigned to working in an organization with little or no ability to impact anyone other than an assigned small group based on age and gender. 

Don't hear me knocking present day Christianity with a negative spirit or condescending attitude. You would be mistaken on both counts. I love and appreciate people where they are and I also minister among those people that I love and appreciate multiple times a year in conferences and meetings as well as in my own local fellowship.

My words here are not the ravings of an angry and frustrated preacher or Christian. They are the honest words of evaluation about us all and a stated longing for what could be in the Body of Christ if we were willing and able to yield to the Holy Spirit in fresh ways with a greater desire for something that cannot be explained in terms of human control, manipulation, or methods born out of pragmatism. 

Think about what would happen if the Holy Spirit were really free to raise His baton and make music through any person He chose to in harmony with all the others in a congregation. 

I think the resulting spiritual music would likely be far from the institutional and organizational chaos and deadness that we wind up with generally because of our fear of being "out of control" of where things might go if no one person or group is in charge. 

It is this loss of the reality of the Spirit's life and direction that plagues us in the modern day church IMHO. The ultimate result is the loss of the giftedness of men and women from whom the whole body would benefit. 

As a royal priesthood, then, it is my fervent prayer that we will learn to live and serve together with no regard to age or gender under the true leadership of the Spirit. What music we could make together

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


Your words had me metaphorically jumping up and down with joy.

I am overjoyed to read words as you, have written, coming from a brother of similar vintage to myself, and with a similar background of denominational ministry.

I don't read the words of an angry, or negative attitude.

Your words reveal one who has understood the New Testament vision of a fully functioning family, with a heart yearning to see, what is without doubt, the religious club formalism and habitualness which is practiced by the church of today (there are very few exceptions), replaced by followers of Christ functioning in the way a New Covenant priesthood should, as a living, loving organism, not an organization.

We would then see something like the church which Jesus said He would build, with He, Prophet, Priest and King, being the ONLY true Senior Pastor.

Christiane said...

" ... a stated longing for what could be in the Body of Christ if we were willing and able to yield to the Holy Spirit in fresh ways with a greater desire for something that cannot be explained in terms of human control, manipulation, or methods born out of pragmatism."

wonderful words, Paul

I think of St. Ambrose, who wrote of 'a different kind' of ministry, graced with the Holy Spirit's gift of Christ-like humility, for the service of the 'lost and confused' who, lacking trust in all others, can willingly come to the hands of a humble shepherd for care:

" . . For he who endeavours to amend the faults of human weakness ought to bear this very weakness on his own shoulders,
let it weigh upon himself, not cast it off.
For we read that the Shepherd in the Gospel (Luke 15:5) carried the weary sheep,
and did not cast it off.
And Solomon says: “Be not overmuch righteous;” (Ecclesiastes 7:17) for restraint should temper righteousness.
For how shall he offer himself to you for healing whom you despise, who thinks that he will be an object of contempt, not of compassion, to his physician?

Therefore had the Lord Jesus compassion upon us in order to call us to Himself, not frighten us away.
He came in meekness, He came in humility, and so He said:
“Come unto Me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.” (Matthew 11:28)
So, then, the Lord Jesus refreshes, and does not shut out nor cast off, and fitly chose such disciples as should be interpreters of the Lord’s will, as should gather together and not drive away the people of God.
Whence it is clear that they are not to be counted among the disciples of Christ, who think that harsh and proud opinions should be followed rather than such as are gentle and meek; persons who, while they themselves seek God’s mercy, deny it to others "

St. Ambrose

traveller said...

Paul, this is a well reasoned, thoughtful post, which I agree with completely.

Your imagery of the orchestra reminded me of the story of Leonard Bernstein, the accomplished US composer and conductor of the 20th century. Near his death he was interviewed by a reporter for the New York Times. He was asked what he thought was the most important person/position in an orchestra. The reporter thought he might respond the conductor or the concert master. But Bernstein answered second fiddle. He went on to explain if no one plays second fiddle there is no harmony. He obviously intended to convey more than the limited musical application.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J, Christiane, Traveller,

I appreciate your comments. I've been tied up and not commenting for a bit but it's good to get back and see what you guys have to say. Thanks.