KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
studies in end-time revelation
THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
PRIESTS DISPLAYING HIS GLORY
"Now, therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: FOR ALL THE EARTH IS MINE: and ye shall be unto Me A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, and an holy nation" (Ex. 19:5-6).
I have often characterized our text as the GREAT DIVINE SANDWICH. A sandwich is two slices of bread between which is placed meat, fish, cheese, or the like. Three items are necessary to make a sandwich, the two outer items - two identical slices of bread - and in between another, and different, item. Such is the structure of our text. There are two statements of like nature surrounding and enclosing another and different kind of statement. Notice the two outer statements: (1) Ye shall be a PECULIAR TREASURE unto Me above all people (2) Ye shall be unto Me a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, and an holy nation. Then, "sandwiched" in between these two wonderful promises is this remarkable word: FOR ALL THE EARTH IS MINE.
Can we not see by this that the purpose of God to establish in the earth a Royal Priesthood is rooted in the great fact that ALL THE EARTH IS HIS? That all the earth is His answers the WHY of priesthood. Long milleniums ago at Sinai the cry went ringing forth: "Ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: FOR ALL THE EARTH IS MINE," and the words that follow may correctly be stated thus: "BECAUSE ALL THE EARTH IS MINE ... ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of Priests."
In the light of this Scripture I would like to reaffirm something which the world at large, and many Christians, seem to have forgotten: THIS IS GOD'S WORLD! There is an understanding that is developing in the consciousness of the "called out ones," those who are going beyond the static creeds and empty traditions of the Church systems and pressing on into the purposes of God, to know that ALL the earth is the Lord's. Not just a tree or two, not just a mountain or two, not just the Church, but all of it, the very fullness thereof. We are His whether we know it or not, we are His whether we like it or not, whether we desire to serve Him, or whether we are presently in rebellion against His will. It is both heartening and assuring to read such Scriptures as these: "The EARTH is the Lord's, and the FULLNESS THEREOF; the WORLD and THEY THAT DWELL THEREIN" (Ps. 24:1). God has everything in the palm of His almighty hand. He is sovereign. Jesus is King! Jesus is Lord! Job said, "In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of ALL MANKIND" (Job 12:10). The current population of planet earth is more than four and a half billion. For 1990, it is projected there will be six billion, and by the year 2000, it is estimated there will be six and a half billion residents on our planet. GOD GIVES BREATH AND LIFE TO THEM ALL AND THE EARTH IS THE LORD'S AND THE FULLNESS THEREOF.
I will be the first to admit that this world doesn't look very much like something that is owned by the great and good God. But I earnestly pray that God will give a spirit of true humility to all who read these lines, for revelation and understanding are given only to those who humbly confess their ignorance before God. I am persuaded that the professing Church which so glibly speaks of "the priesthood of all believers" actually knows and understands practically nothing about God's ROYAL PRIESTHOOD. God's express purpose for forming the Royal Priesthood in the earth during this present age is because ALL THE EARTH IS HIS. "Ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: FOR ALL THE EARTH IS MINE: and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests." God is preparing a priesthood because He owns the earth, the whole world, and all they that dwell therein.
Of what value is a priest, anyhow? Well, he does something that no other ministry can do. Speaking not of the valueless priesthood of a pagan god, but the typical priesthood of the Old Testament, the priesthood of Aaron the Levite, Heb. 5:1-3 says: "For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act in behalf of men in things relating to God, to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to exercise gentleness and forbearance toward the ignorant and erring, since he himself also is liable to moral weakness and physical infirmity. And because of this he is obliged to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people" (Amplified). If there were no sin against God, and no estrangement from God, there would be no need of a priesthood, particularly a High Priest. Adam in the beginning, in the image and likeness of God, needed no priest. Jesus Christ, the last Adam, was born into a race of sinners, but He needed no priest, for He had a virgin birth through Mary and His life was the life of God. He was born sinless and grew up sinless and remained sinless down to His sacrificial death (I Cor. 15:45-47; Heb. 7:26; 1 Pet. 2:21-24). Because of His sinlessness, He could become a High Priest and offer a perfect sacrifice for all.
While the High Priest of the typical order of Aaron was the representative of the people before God, he was at the same time the representative of God to the people; he blessed them in the name of God; counsel came to them from God by means of the Urim and Thummim which were in his breastplate, and he and his successors taught the people as the immediate representatives of God. He filled a double capacity; he was for the people toward God, and for God toward the people: he laid one hand upon God, and the other upon the people, uniting the two as it were within himself.
The ministry of the High Priest, together with the entire priesthood, was first carried out in the tabernacle God commanded Moses to build in the wilderness. It is called the "tabernacle of witness" in Numbers 17. In Rev. 15:5 it is called the "tabernacle of testimony." It was the one and only place where God witnessed and testified to Israel their duty and responsibility to Him. In Ex. 33:7 we have the expression, "tabernacle of the congregation." This was not the tabernacle we are discussing, but a temporary tent used by Israel while awaiting the construction of the real tabernacle. But the phrase, "tabernacle of the congregation," expresses perfectly the nature of this building. A congregation is a meeting of individuals for fellowship and counsel, and thus, the tabernacle itself was called "the tent of meeting." It was the place where man met God, and God met man. It was the meeting place of God and man , and note well, it was the only place where man could approach God, and where God would meet with man, upon the basis of the sacrifice of the blood. There was no other place of meeting designated in Israel, except the place of sacrifice and shedding of blood in the tabernacle, the place of the ministering of the priesthood unto God and man.
The Lord would not accept any sacrifice, no matter how perfect, which was not brought upon the altar in this one and only tabernacle. In Lev. 17:3-4 we read: "What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat ... and bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord ... that man shall be cut off from among his people." There was only one place of sacrifice permitted, and that was at the altar in the gate of the tabernacle. It was the sin of Israel in repeatedly sacrificing in other places, in groves and upon high hills, which provoked the displeasure of the Lord and brought judgment upon them, and caused them finally to be dispersed among the nations. There is today still only one way to God, only one place where God will meet with the sinner. This is prefigured by the tabernacle in the wilderness with its priesthood, the ministry of that tabernacle. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the High Priest of this "Meeting Place" as we read in Heb. 4:14-16: "Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest who has ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession of faith in Him, for we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a fellow feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace the throne of God's favor; that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in good time for every need - appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it" (Amplified).
The channel through which this ministry flows to the world is the body of Christ, for the entire body of priests under the High Priest is the extension and projection of His own High Priestly ministry. And so we read: "So then, brethren, consecrated and set apart for God, who SHARE IN THE HEAVENLY CALLING, thoughtfully and attentively consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest Whom we confessed as ours" (Heb. 3:1, Amplified). The Authorized Version reads, "Wherefore, holy brethren, PARTAKERS OF THE HEAVENLY CALLING, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus." Holy brethren! In the previous chapter the word "brethren" had been used twice. "He is not ashamed to call them BRETHREN." "It behooved Him to be made like unto His BRETHREN." The sacred name is now applied personally: Christ's brethren are brethren in Christ, brethren in His high calling of sonship, brethren in His holy calling of priesthood.
Holy brethren - PARTAKERS OF THE HEAVENLY CALLING! What is elsewhere spoken of as a holy calling is here named a heavenly calling. The calling is that of priesthood. "Seeing then that we have a great HIGH PRIEST, that is passed INTO THE HEAVENS" (Heb. 4:14). "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, but into HEAVEN ITSELF, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Heb. 9:24). How awesome the words: "Holy brethren - PARTAKERS OF THE HEAVENLY CALLING!" Co-sharers with Him in His heavenly priesthood! That does not mean a calling from some far-off heaven, or a calling to the heaven, whence the call proceeds. No, there is much more in it. Heaven is not a place, but a state, a mode of existence, a dimension of reality, the life in which the presence and glory of God are revealed and experienced in their unhindered power. And the heavenly calling is that in which the power of the heavenly life works within to make our life heavenly. When Jesus was upon the earth the Kingdom of Heaven was nigh at hand; after He had ascended and received the Kingdom from the Father, the Kingdom of Heaven came to this earth in power, through the advent of the Holy Spirit. The disciples, at Pentecost, were people who by the quickening of the Holy Spirit entered into the Heavenly Kingdom or state of life. And the Kingdom entered into them. And they became PARTAKERS OF A HEAVENLY CALLING, because the spirit and the life and the power of heaven was within them.
The heavenly calling is the calling unto the priesthood of the Christ. Hebrews is very clear about this. "Now the main point of what we have to say is this: We have such a HIGH PRIEST, One Who is seated at the right hand of the majestic God IN HEAVEN, as officiating PRIEST, a MINISTER in the holy places and in the true tabernacle which is erected not by man but by the Lord" (Heb. 8:1-2, Amplified). The message is clear - Christ is the great High Priest of the heavens and we are called to be PARTAKERS WITH HIM in that heavenly calling. It is here - in the spiritual ministry of spiritual priests - that God comes to meet with man in the power of the blood of His Son. It is true, "There is one God, and ONE MEDIATOR between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Tim. 2:5), but it is also true that "God hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath GIVEN UNTO US the MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION. Now then WE are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: WE PRAY YOU IN CHRIST'S STEAD, be ye reconciled to God" (II Cor. 5:18-20). Ah, yes, we are holy brethren, PARTAKERS OF THE HEAVENLY CALLING!
The priesthood of Christ! Is that a dead doctrine? Is that merely something that Christ is and does in heaven apart from us? No, indeed. As Sons of God we are partakers of His heavenly calling. The priesthood has its roots in sonship, for "He that said unto Him, THOU ART MY SON, today have I begotten Thee...saith also in another place, THOU ART A PRIEST forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 5:5-6). Again, "The law maketh men High Priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh THE SON, Who is consecrated for evermore" (Heb. 7:28). The divine life of THE SON is what gives His priesthood its power to bring us into His life, and His life into us. It means that all the love and holiness of God dwells in the Son. Sonship means that when our spirits are quickened by His Spirit and we are made partakers with Christ, we not only get a blessing that is outside but we get the Spirit of the Son within us. Jesus, the High Priest, does His work WITHIN US. He imparts of His own life, power, and ministry. We cannot have the priesthood in full power except as the power of HIS LIFE is fully inworked within us. If we begin to understand that, then we shall see what is meant by the fact that we are called to be priests, because we have the very life of the HIGH PRIEST in us - not only imputed, but the High Priest Himself dwelling powerfully within us and working effectually through us, praise His wonderful name!
What does priesthood mean? Self-sacrifice to death (of self) for God and man. That was the spirit of Jesus, and that is the spirit that Jesus wants to breathe into every priestly heart that is willing to yield itself to Him. Oh, precious friend of mine, He, through the eternal Spirit, gave Himself up to God, a sacrifice without a spot. And when I receive of that eternal Spirit into me, the priesthood of Jesus becomes a reality and the double work that Jesus does becomes my work too. Praise God! it becomes your work. And what is that work, that double work? To take hold of God with one hand, and the creation with the other, bringing the two together into oneness! I said in a previous article that with the priest in Israel there were two thoughts: "He shall stand before My face to minister" and "He shall go out to bless the people." And that is the double work every priest has to do: to live in the presence of God and then go out and dispense HIM to the people.
I know it is the prayer of all who truly receive the call to priesthood: "God, help us that sonship may not be a thing of spiritual self-indulgence. God, help us that sonship may not be to us some kind of elite, exclusive, country-club, holier than-thou-super-duper position. God, help us that we may not be feasting upon the deep revelation of truth while our hearts do not beat for our fellow creatures." God has a firstfruits company who are becoming the LINE OF HOPE FOR CREATION, because they themselves have an anchor of hope that reaches beyond the veil to find its reality in the all-sufficiency of Christ. So one are we to become in Him, that we shall stand betwixt God and man, the connecting link, the hope of all creation which now groans in travail. While the Sons are reaching forth to the fullness of "the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Tit. 2:13), the "earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the Sons of God" (Rom. 8:19). How unspeakably meaningful and precious, then, becomes the wonderful promise: "Because all the earth is Mine: YE shall be unto Me A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS!."
A PRIESTHOOD ... TO SHOW FORTH HIS VIRTUES!
A Christian magazine reported the graduation speech of Stephanie Mills given at Mills College, Oakland, California. The title of her address was "The Future Is A Hoax." She said that she saw ahead only an overpopulated world doomed to cannibalism, a horribly disfigured planet with humankind continuing to spread "like an unfeeling, unthinking cancer across the earth." Can you imagine how meaningless life really is to those who are without Christ and without God and without hope in this world? I am reminded of the ephemerid, a small fly-like insect sometimes called the May Fly or the Day Fly. It is a peculiar little insect with four wings but lacks something that most of us like to have - a mouth! Having no mouth, it, therefore, does not eat; and in not eating, lives for only a few hours or a few days. Therefore, it gets its name from the word "ephemeral" which means "passing away." How insignificant their lives must be! What difference does it make what they do? Who knows? Who cares? They are forgotten. They come and they go. They are gone by the millions, day after day, after day, and nobody cares.
On a cosmic scale is it not the same with man? If we are simply the creatures of this life, and this world comes and goes, the day will come when this whole solar system will have fallen into the dark hole of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics will have brought everything to a heat death and the world, as we know it, will be no more. There will be no significance to our lives; there will have been no significance. Significance points to a sign and the sign must be seen. But there will be nobody to see or even read the history. Therefore, our lives will have been nothing but sound and fury, meaning nothing, purposeless. Ah, but Jesus Christ, who opens a portal on eternity, gives meaning and significance to our lives, and to the lives of all mankind, indeed, to the whole cosmic creation of God!
Many, even saints, are worried about this problem-filled world in which we live. We see nations which seem to be on collision courses; it seems inevitable that this world is going up in one great nuclear holocaust. One day the button will be pushed and there will be a great exchange of missiles flying over the whole world. There will be nothing then but the withering wastes of the once verdant land. Ah, but my friend, may I say that Jesus Christ, the King of glory, has come forth from the grave and is riding on His white horse of righteousness and power, going forth conquering and to conquer! All the rulers of this world rule according to His command. He raises up nations and casts them down. He places the wickedest of men upon the thrones of men and they do according to His will, and His will will inexorably come to pass. What peace calms the troubled soul when we know that we know that we know that all is in HIS MIGHTY HAND. I do not hesitate to tell you that His Kingdom shall triumph in all realms, every knee shall bow before Him owning Him as King, every tongue shall glorify God by calling Jesus Lord and serving and obeying Him with a willing heart, because Christ is the sovereign Lord of this world, and His will shall be done.
"Now, therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: FOR ALL THE EARTH IS MINE: and ye shall be unto Me A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS." This is indeed a wonderful word of hope because it comes from Him who is, unquestionably, the hope of the world. He is its ONLY hope! Because all the earth belongs to Christ our Lord He is preparing THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD to restore all into Him again. There is coming a day - glorious day! - when there shall rise up from the throats of the billions of men and women of every race and tongue and out of all generations and ages the chorus of hallelujah and praise which shall forever be the celestial song of all creation. Glory!
I am reminded of a story of a parson down in the South Seas, a Church of England parson, who was half drunk. When the vessel on which he was sailing ran upon a reef on one of the Fiji Islands, there was great danger that they would all be drowned. The parson had been dining and wining, and as the Captain passed by he said with slurred words, "This vessel has stopped, Captain." "Yes," the Captain said, "it has; stopped on the top of a reef." "Well, Captain Granger," the parson asked through a thick tongue, "is there any danger?" "Yes," replied the Captain very indignantly, "there is a great deal of danger. Our only hope is in God." "My God," the parson said, "HAS IT COME TO THAT?" That is the way with a great many people! When you tell them that their only hope is in God, they say, "My God, has it come to that?" Is it not best to start with God first? That is what we do. God Himself has initiated the whole process of creation and redemption, and it is HE who has declared, "Because all the earth is Mine: ye shall be unto Me A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS." Ever it must be clear - ALL IS OF GOD. If I did not believe in the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God; if I did not believe that God has yet a great purpose to be wrought out through His saints on behalf of the world; if I did not believe that there is a ministry coming beyond the limitations of this present age; if I believed that this world was to continue to be misruled and misgoverned as it is; that the vile and abominable and wicked and immoral would continue forever to curse this earth, I should despair of humanity. It is my conviction that it would not be very long before humanity would absolutely destroy itself. But God has a plan! God has never given up. God reigns! Righteousness and Purity, Peace and Power are in God.
With the progressive unfolding of divine revelation the knowledge that God is not producing a remnant of weak-kneed escapists begins to gird up the mind, and childish notions of "flying away to heaven" are happily cast aside for a more pure word of truth. We know that this earth lies under the pollution of its inhabitants, and even this earth shall be cleansed and set to right by His Kingdom. Because ALL THE EARTH IS HIS, we are being constituted a Kingdom of Priests. The covenant is reiterated by the apostle Peter in these words: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (I Pet. 2:9). The Amplified Bible beautifully renders, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, God's own purchased, special people, that you may SET FORTH THE WONDERFUL DEEDS AND DISPLAY THE VIRTUES AND PERFECTIONS OF HIM Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."
As THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD we shall go forth among our fellow-men, in all the nitty-gritty of everyday life, to show forth the virtues, the graces, the Perfections, the lovely character of the Christ. Every movement of a royal priest should emit of the fragrance of Christ. Nothing else becomes a member of the Royal Priesthood. To be occupied with myself, to be taking counsel for my own ease, my own interest, my own enjoyment, to be seeking my own ends, to be caring about my own things, and using the gifts and callings of God for my own advantage, is not the act of a royal priest at all. Christ never did so; and I am told to SHOW FORTH HIS VIRTUES.
As one has so aptly written: "There is to be a declaration, a telling out, a showing forth. It is interesting that the Greek word given for 'show' in our text Scripture has only been used once in the New Testament, it is EK-AGGELLO. EK means OUT OF, and AGGELLO means angel, or literally MESSENGER. Because the message and the messenger become one, all that proceeds from the messenger, be it a message in words, or a life expressed, it is to declare the Perfections of HIM who hath wrought in them so great a salvation. We are to become HIS DISPLAY messengers, living manifestations of His Perfections, of His excellencies, of His virtues, etc. It is not only a telling forth, giving voice, but it is a living manifestation, and the Amplified translation gives, 'that you may SET FORTH the wonderful deeds and DISPLAY the virtues and Perfections of Him...' The producing of His firstfruits is for the specific purpose that they might become the demonstrators of His grace in the ages to come. DISPLAY VESSELS to reveal what God can do, as well as becoming instruments through which the same grace flows out to others. Thus the process shall continue until all have been brought to a saving knowledge of Christ, delivered from the thralldom of sin and decay, and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God" -end quote.
What a high, holy, heavenly calling! And how reminiscent of Paul's statement in Eph. 2:4-7: "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
that in the ' ages to come He might SHOW the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Jesus Christ." So vast, so marvelous are the wonders of His grace, it will require the ages to come to continue to unfold these wonders, and He has purposed that there should be A PEOPLE through whom He would give this demonstration. ,, That in the ages to come He might SHOW..." "Show" is from a Greek word meaning "to exhibit, to put on display like a work of art, to demonstrate." The Amplified Bible reads, "He did this that He might CLEARLY DEMONSTRATE through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace in kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus." Kenneth Wuest translates, "In order that He might EXHIBIT ... in the ages that pile themselves upon one another in continuous succession the surpassing wealth of His grace in kindness to us in Christ Jesus." Show... demonstrate ... exhibit the riches, of His grace - unto whom? Not to those who already know it - that would be useless nonsense. But to those who do not know it! And not as an expression of God's scorn, ridicule, or cynicism, saying to the multitudes of hopelessly lost men and women, "Just LOOK at what you missed!" That would be no demonstration of the RICHES OF GRACE nor would it be an exhibit of His UNSURPASSED KINDNESS!
Ah, God is preparing a divine show for all the earth, indeed for the entire universe. The mighty Barnum, in describing his circus, said it was THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH. True, Mr. Barnum was a great showman and, for its kind, he had a great show, but God is the Master Showman and is preparing to give the world THE GREATEST SHOW IT HAS EVER SEEN. It is a theatrical of MERCY and GRACE in a world of wrath and violence. This will be God's master stroke as the curtain rises on the world's greatest drama God's Great Show - THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD! Praise His name, once the finishing touch is put on the last stone of His living temple of Kings and Priests, the firstfruits of His redemption, in ages yet to come He shall put His grace and kindness inwrought in us ON DISPLAY so that the entire creation may walk across the stage of His cosmic theatre and behold and see and finally come to understand and appreciate WHAT GOD HAS PROVIDED FOR ALL MEN IN CHRIST.
ALL WHO HAVE EARS TO HEAR MUST HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING UNTO THE CHURCHES. Across the land and around the world the Spirit is saying today that He is preparing a people, He is preparing a body, He is preparing Sons who shall be conformed to the image of His Son, who shall be partakers of the divine nature, who shall have the mind of Christ, who shall be brought to glory and who then shall become the very express image of the Father, the very brightness of the Father's glory and the outraying of the Father's person. Even as the first Son, who went into the ground and died as a corn of wheat to produce other Sons in His likeness, bearing His image - He was the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of the Father's person - and God sent Him to be the Saviour of the world. God is now preparing Sons, God is now preparing a body for that first Son, we are the body of the first Son, the body of the Christ, the body of the King of glory, the body of the great High Priest in the heavens after the order of Melchizedek. We are the body of the Christ and in and through these Sons, when all have been brought to His fullness, His salvation shall be manifested, exhibited, and demonstrated unto the ends of the earth. The Lord is saying to His people in this day: "For this cause have I raised thee up and sent thee to be a light unto the nations and thou shalt be MY SALVATION to the ends of the earth" (Isa. 49:6; Acts 13:47).
While the Royal Priesthood has a mighty ministry manward, even unto "all the ends of the earth" which "is the Lord's," yet, how meaningful these words: "Because all the earth is Mine: ye shall be U-N-T-0 M-E a Kingdom of Priests." UNTO ME! God is raising up a people today, Sons who no longer are self-conscious. The secret of Jesus' sonship was, that He paid no attention whatsoever to Himself. "Whatsoever I see the Father do, that is what I am doing; whatsoever I hear the Father speak, that is what I say." The Father said "You are the way, the truth, and the life," so Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." He was not saying it with His eyes turned inwardly, thinking how important He was, thinking how vital He was to the situation. He was saying it because His heart was set on the Father, on doing His will, on speaking His words. He said, "The Father has given Me the words I should say." "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." God is raising up Sons in these days, whose eyes are set upon the Father, who will declare, "We are the light of the world," not because of any self-consciousness, but because of a God-consciousness, Who is saying to us, "Arise and shine, for thy light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee" (Isa. 60:1). The Lord said to Paul: "They will not accept thy word; turn to the Gentiles, for I have set thee to be a light to the Gentiles, thou shalt be My salvation to the ends of the earth." If Paul were diplomatic, if Paul were religious, if Paul belonged to the Ministerial Association ' if Paul were self-seeking, if Paul were self-saving, he would have kept the revelation to himself and just walked out of town calmly and said, "Well, they do not understand, but really, I have a deeper and greater calling, I will just go off and fulfill it." The Father said to Paul, "I have set thee to be a light to the Gentiles. Thou shalt be My salvation to the ends of the earth." So he said to the people, "For thus hath the Lord said unto us: I have set thee for a light to the Gentiles, thou shalt be My salvation to the ends of the earth!"
When those who treasure the beautiful hope of sonship speak the words the Spirit is speaking to the Churches in this hour, people demand, "Who do you think you are?" When we declare that we are called to be the manifested Sons of God, to grow up into the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ, to partake of a greater ministry than that of the Church-age, to set all creation free and reconcile all things in heaven and in earth back into God, people ask, "Just who do you think you are?" It really makes no difference who WE think we are, but it makes a great deal of difference that we know WHO AND WHAT WE ARE APPREHENDED TO BE IN HIM. Our ears have heard the sound of the trumpet, we cannot - dare not- settle for anything less, we must follow on to know HIM in all His glorious and eternal reality, to become His kings and priests in the earth, a new people prepared for the new day! HE THAT HATH AN EAR LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH.
Are you willing today, in the presence of God, to hear the word of God: "As the Father hath sent Me, so send I @u. " Someone says, "How can you declare such things?" Because they did not originate with us, it is the Father who is saying them in us. We are not commissioning ourselves. We are not a group of people who of our own selves have a burden for the lost creation, we have the burden of the Lord in our hearts. And what His burden is, that is what matters. If we were a people with our own burden for the lost, to try and help people, we would say, "We have tried everything else; we have had apostles, we have had prophets, we have had evangelists, pastors, and teachers, we have had gifts of healing, working of miracles, we have had money and missionary programs, we have had everything and it did not get the job done, so let us now try this sonship message."
We are not such a people. God has not put on us the problems of the world - God has called us unto HIMSELF - that we may live unto HIM, that we may be totally committed unto HIM, that He may send us out to bring salvation to humanity. If this thing began with OUR BURDEN, I would be suspicious of it. If we were wondering whether Russia is going to take over the world, and what about Castro down in Cuba, and what about the heathen in Africa, and we must hurry and reach the whole world before the rapture takes place; if we were speaking in that sentimental, religious, humanistic vein, I would be suspicious. But our vision is not turned that way, we are not "need" conscious, or "problem" conscious, or "world" conscious, or "self" conscious - our eyes are turned toward the Father. "Ye shall be UNTO ME a Kingdom of Priests." Jesus never went around looking for that which He could do. Jesus went around looking to see what the Father was doing. God wants Sons today, a Kingdom of Priests, who are
not caught in world events, and prophecies of doom and gloom, worried about the antichrist, the tribulation, what kind of food to hoard for survival, who are not occupied with the problems out there, but who are occupied with the Father's work and the Father's words. God is raising up Sons in these days who do not have to explain anything, defend anything, protect anything. God is merciful to us in saying to us, that the reason we can declare this, the reason this commission is coming, is because the burden is not of ourselves, but the Father is sending us. He is saying to us: "I am setting you to be lights. I an setting you to be salvation. I am setting you to be living stones. I am sending you as kings to reign in light. I am sending you as priests even to minister the salvation of God. I am sending you forth as bread to be broken and fed to the hungry multitudes. I am sending you out as a flowing, surging, bounteous river of life.
Let us not sell creation short in these days. Let us not deny the Lord who purchased us to be a Kingdom of Priests. While we seek no glory of our own, there is, nevertheless, great wealth and heavenly glory for all who fulfill all the will of God. You never lose with God. There is an interesting fact relative to the life of the great missionary, Hudson Taylor. Hudson Taylor's brother desired above all things to be famous and so he scorned the Christian life and scoffed at his brother's zeal to pour out his life as a missionary among the impoverished and ignorant heathen. He went into business and politics to become famous. Over a century has now passed and throughout the whole world the name of Hudson Taylor is well known, and in writings, when it does appear, his brother is referred to as "Hudson Taylor's brother" - Mr. Anonymous - who gave up all to become famous!
The compelling passion of my life is to be filled with all the fullness of God and come into the image of Jesus Christ. The deep cry of my heart is for the satisfaction of knowing that my life counts for God. As God knows my heart, it is not a selfish desire. The reason I want to be like Jesus is because I love Him so, but also because it is the ONLY WAY I can ever be used in the restoration of fallen creation. I see the needs of the world around me, and realize that I am practically powerless to do anything about it. Oh yes, I can pray, believe God, and see occasional conversions, healings, deliverances, and blessings. But anyone who says that they have reached the place where their ministry is meeting the needs of the world is either blind to the needs of man, or a proud hypocrite.
You will never be able to do anything with this old world until you do what the Scottish Highlander did with his gun. He looked at it and said, "She needs a new lock." He looked at it again and said, "She needs a new stock." And he looked at it again and said, "She needs a new barren." Lock, stock and barren - you will have to change the whole thing! And how can it be done? "Now, therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine: and YE shall be UNTO ME A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS."
Ah, dear ones, here is the key to God's priesthood: You will never change your mate, you will never charge your children, you will never change your friends, you will never change your neighbors, you will never change the problems and circumstances which surround you, you will never be able to change THE WORLD until, first of all, YOU HAVE BEEN THOROUGHLY CHANGED! "He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked." "Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you" (I in. 2:6,8). When Paul wrote to the Ephesians Church, he spoke about "The truth as it is in Jesus" (Eph. 4:21). Initially, the truth was in God, because He is a God of truth. The truth became embodied, personified in Jesus Christ, who said, "I am the way, the truth ' and the life" (Jn. 14:6). The truth was recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures: "Thy Word is truth" (Jn. 17:17). The truth comes to us by the Holy Spirit: "When He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth" (Jn. 16:13). Finally, the truth must find its embodiment and expression, its manifestation and revelation, in the body of Christ and through the body of Christ. "Which thing is true," says John, not only in God, in the Scriptures, in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, but also "IN YOU." This is the whole principle of God's Kingdom economy: If you say you love God, but you do not love your brother, there must be something wrong. The truth of love must find expression not only in that God loved the world and that His love is revealed in the Scriptures, and in Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, but this love of God must find its dwelling place, its home, its manifestation IN US. Whatever is true in Jesus Christ must be true in us. THIS IS THE MARK OF SONSHIP.
Why tell people things that are only true in Jesus Christ, but which do not work in us? A preacher can do that, but a SON never can. If it is operating in His life, it must come to be operating in our lives. If it is true in Him, it must be true in us, for He is the head of the body, the High Priest of our priesthood. He is come, not only to be our Saviour, but our Lord and our Life. "Be ye holy, as He which has called you is holy." If holiness is true in Him, then holiness must be true in us. "Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Jn. 5:48). If perfection is true in Jesus Christ, then perfection must be true in us. Jesus prayed in His prayer in the 17th chapter of John: "That the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be IN THEM, and I IN THEM" (Jn. 17:26). If the love of God is truly expressed in Jesus Christ, then it must be truly expressed in us. "God is spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (Jn. 4:24). Jesus Christ worshipped the Father, Jesus Christ loved the Father, Jesus Christ did the Father's will. Thank God that He did find a man in whom His will, His love, His grace, His truth, His holiness, His power, His life could find a dwelling place and expression. But would it not be sad if there were not a people today, the body of Christ, saved by His blood, cleansed by the washing of the water by the Word, indwelt by His Spirit, transformed into His image, in whom that same thing is true that is true in Him? If He loves and we do not love, if He is light and we are in darkness, if He is expressing the grace and mercy of God and we are expressing malice, envy, and strife, then He has not become our life and we have not yet become HIS PRIESTHOOD.
God is forming a people, a priesthood, who, when they stand up and say, "God is love," are not talking about God's love in heaven. No! They will be expressing the God of love in their own person. "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son." Everyone likes a verse like that. But how many would like a verse like this: "God still loves the world so much that He would like to give His Sons, RIGHT NOW." We do not like that. We like to be Sons if God will keep us, bless us, if He will take us to His bosom and never let us go. But what does God do with His Sons? Ah, He GIVES THEM! Jesus said, "As the Father has sent Me, even so send I you." What did Jesus also say? "This is My flesh, My body, which I give for the life of the world." If the Sons are His body, then will He not GIVE US for the life of the world one of these days? "Oh," someone says, "I do not like the kind of religion where I do not get something." Well, that is how it starts, by receiving, but it must not end there. We must come to the place where God can give us! Whatever is true in Him, may God make it true in all of His Sons. Not just for our sakes, but for other's sakes, that they may open their hearts and let God do something in them. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify God." They will sense the working of the life of Christ in you, and glorify God. If you have been trying to prove something to somebody out of the Bible, LET IT BE PROVED BY YOUR LIFE INSTEAD! That is sonship. That is priesthood.
Do you know what the temple of God is? It is not a temple built with human, sinful hands; it is not a temple built too often by money from the poor, and sometimes from the harlot and the drunkard; but it is the temple that God builds, the temple of which Jesus spoke to the poor, sinful woman at the well of Sychar. She was quibbling, and He said, "Neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father. Ye worship that which ye know not: we worship that which we know: for salvation is from the Jews." And He said, "The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit (in their own spirits) and in truth."
There is the true temple. And the purification of the temple begins in the spirit. Would you worship God?
Oh, not in circling depth, nor height, But in the conscious breast, Present by faith, though veiled from sight,
There doth His Spirit rest: Oh, come, thou Presence infinite! And make Thy creature blest.
If you are to worship God in a holy temple, let Him cleanse your spirit, let Him cleanse your soul, let Him cleanse your body, and worship God in the temple of your own Being. God wants that. Therefore it is that God sent His Son, not merely to cleanse the outer court, but through His death, through His resurrection, through His life, and in the power of His Spirit, to cleanse man FROM THE CENTER TO THE CIRCUMFERENCE. Hence it is that the purification of the Temple of Humanity must begin in your spirit and in mine. "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of THE FLESH AND SPIRIT, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (II Cor. 7:1).
I know no definition of God more sublime, outside of the Scripture, than this definition of a philosopher of France, who said, "I conceive God to be Him whose CENTER IS EVERYWHERE, and whose CIRCUMFERENCE IS NOWHERE." The spirit, soul, and body of a purified being is a center of omnipotent God. That God in whom we live, and move, and have our being, and who by His mercy sustains our being, I want you to know, my brother, my sister, no matter how sinful you may have been, He desires to make your spirit a center which shall have no circumference. He wants to make your spirit pure, to make your soul pure, to make your body pure, and to cause the River of all Purity to flow out to all around you, and into the unborn generations before you, and unto the vast multitudes of hopeless men and women who came before you; so that you shall be a CENTER for an omnipotent and omnipresent and a holy God; that is the object of the purification of the temple.
What does it mean to be a CENTER WITH NO CIRCUMFERENCE? Let us use Martin Luther as an illustration. ONLY Martin Luther received the revelation of justification by faith in his day. Yet it was not for him to take that unto himself and use it as his own, a private revelation, a personal experience, but God gave it to him for the enlightenment of the whole Church. Today we all profit, because of God's revelation to Martin Luther. The truth became embodied, personified in Martin Luther's life; then there was a declaration, a telling out, a showing forth. The impact of Luther's life and message has been like the ever broadening ripples flowing out from the center where one small stone was cast into the water. He became a center for the operation of God, and today he has no circumference as the word he proclaimed continues to flow out, affecting creation in greater and greater measures, resounding from the highest heaven unto the lowest hell.
And that is how it is, God must work mightily WITHIN US before He can work effectually THROUGH US. We must become a center before we can have a circumference. The message and the messenger must become one, all that proceeds from the messenger, be it a message in words, or a life expressed, it is to declare the Perfections of HIM who has wrought in us so great a salvation. We are to become HIS DISPLAY messengers, living manifestations of His excellencies, virtues, and glories, not bearing a word about Him, but becoming the living expression of HIMSELF. Oh, beloved, take time to believe this! Take time to worship until your heart is filled. Come now, let us open our hearts wide unto Him. "O my High Priest, breathe Thy Spirit into me! Breathe Thy Priestly Spirit into me! I am a member of Thy body; I have Thy life in me. Like Thee, I am called to be a priest. Lord Jesus, breathe Thy Spirit into me until I am like Thee in all of Thy ways that Thou mayest be glorified and all creation blessed. Make me a center of omnipotent God. May the river of Thy love and grace and power flow, and flow, and flow until the outflow of Thyself from my center knows no circumference, enveloping all creation in Thy life and light and love. May my priestly heart be a center which is everywhere, whose circumference is nowhere!"
God will make the reality ours.
To be continued...
J. Preston Eby
P O BOX 371240
El Paso Texas 79937
If you would like any of these messages or would like to be on J Preston Eby's mail list you may write him at the above address or e-mail me at Gary@Sigler.org and I will forward your request to Preston. He has nothing to sell, all his writings are free to all. You may contribute to his ministry to help spread this message to the world, but gifts are not tax deductible.