KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
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THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
PARTAKERS OF THE HEAVENLY CALLING
"WHEREFORE, holy brethren, PARTAKERS OF THE HEAVENLY CALLING, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus" (Heb. 3:1)
It has been said that when, in the Scriptures, you read a "wherefore" or a "therefore" you ought to know what it is THERE FOR! Though that statement contains a bit of humor, it embodies an obvious and important truth. With this verse the third chapter of Hebrews begins, and that "wherefore" hinges what the writer now says upon all that has been established in the previous two chapters. Wherefore means "for what or which cause or reason" - that is, seeing that the facts before presented are true, for that cause, for that reason, because of that - let this action now be taken.
The book of Hebrews begins in chapters one and two with a glorious declaration as to how God speaks or reveals Himself to us. Once He spoke through prophets. But now He speaks or reveals Himself to us in Sonship. Moffatt's and Phillips' translations and the Amplified New Testament are especially beautiful and revealing in this portion of Scripture: "Many were the forms and fashions in which God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these days at the end He has spoken to us by a Son - a Son whom He has appointed heir of the universe" (Moffatt). "God, who gave to our forefathers many different glimpses of the truth in the words of the prophets, has now, at the end of the present age, given us the truth in the Son" (Phillips). "In many separate revelations - each of which set forth a portion of the truth - and in different ways God spoke of old to our forefathers in and by the prophets. But in the last of these days He has spoken to us in the person of a Son, whom He appointed Heir and lawful Owner of all things" (Amplified).
In the first chapter the angelic order is contrasted with the realm of Sonship and we are made to know how much better Sonship is than the angelic realm. "Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they" (Heb. 1:4). Being made so much better! A better nature, a better name, a better authority, a better inheritance, a better relationship with the Father. Verse seven tells us that angels are created beings, and are made winds (spirits), and His ministers (servants) a flame of fire. But verse eight goes on to tell us that the SON has a throne which is forever and ever (Gr: to the age of the age). Sonship is a relationship to Diety that angels cannot know. Heb. 1:10 shows that the first-born Son was the creator of heaven and earth. God Himself became human substance brought into this world of sin. When the first-born came into the world of men the angels were told to worship Him. "When He bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He saith, Let all the angels of God worship Him" (Heb. 1:6). Why? Why did they have to be told to worship Him? Because He was so much in the likeness of man. Mortal man was lower than the angels and angels would not worship man. They had to be told that this man was more than a man, that He was more than angels, He was Deity veiled in humanity. I am sure that many of my readers would tremble in awe in the presence of a mighty angel. Yet, the realm of Sonship is HIGHER FAR THAN THE ANGELS WILL EVER ATTAIN TO. This is the place Jesus walked and overcame every enemy.
Chapter two shows how that Jesus identifies with sinful humanity in a way that He never did with angels. He never left the realm of omnipotent and omnipresent Diety to take on the nature of angels. He descended much lower than that. "For a little while" He was made lower than angels. The term in verse nine "made a little lower than the angels," is a time phrase, and means that He was "made, for a little while, lower than angels." When He took upon Him the seed of Abraham and was in all things made like unto to His brethren, He descended far, far beneath the dignity of the great Archangel. But only for a little while. All this was necessary that He might become through association with our needs, a merciful and faithful High Priest, to make reconciliation for the people.
Taking upon Him the seed of Abraham, means that He laid hold of their needs for the purpose of helping them. Gal. 3:16 & 29 show clearly that we who are the called of God are the seed of Abraham. We are his brethren. Heb. 2:16 in the Amplified reads, "For, as we all know, He (Christ) did not take hold of angels - to give them a helping and delivering hand; but He did take hold of the fallen descendants of Abraham - to reach them a helping and delivering hand." The Clementson translation says: "For verily, not of angels cloth He take hold, but He taketh hold of the seed of Abraham." In the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament it is worded: "For not indeed of angels takes He hold, but of the seed of Abraham He takes hold." The old song "When He Reached Down His Hand For Me" is so meaningful here. He came down to LAY HOLD OF US. He APPREHENDED US. He CHOSE AND ORDAINED US.
And how does He take hold? There is no way in which God can take hold of a creature other than by entering into him with His life and spirit, so imparting His own goodness and power, and bringing him into union with Himself. So did Jesus take hold of man. He entered into humanity and became one with it. And so He takes hold of individual souls by entering with each into personal union and fellowship. Notice the closing verses of this beautiful chapter: "Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted" (Heb. 2:17-18).
The laying hold implied His identifying Himself with them, and this again was impossible without being made like them in all things. So only could He save them. It was indeed needful, that so He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest. Here we have for the first time, the word High Priest - a worm which is used in no other book of the New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ, but in this Epistle is its central thought. The message is clear - Christ became man, not merely to die and atone, but that in doing this, He might be a faithful and merciful High Priest. His relation to us was to be a personal one. He must Himself minister to us the salvation He worked out. Everything would depend upon His winning our confidence, getting possession of our heart and love, and as a living Leader guiding us into the path to God. It is this which makes His human life on earth so precious to us. It proved Him faithful: we dare fully trust Him. It found Him merciful: we need not fear coming to Him. He was made in all things like unto His brethren, that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest.
PARTAKERS OF THE HEAVENLY CALLING
WHEREFORE! "WHEREFORE, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus." Wherefore - seeing how true it is that the Christ came into man's world and fully shared his weaknesses and sorrow; seeing how true it is that the Christ is now exalted as High Priest to the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens - as PARTAKERS IN THIS HEAVENLY CALLING let us CONSIDER JESUS, the APOSTLE and HIGH PRIEST of OUR PROFESSION. An apostle is the first advocate and initiator of a new order. A High Priest is an intercessor between God and man. Jesus is the Apostle of our profession. He is the sign Son, the first begotten Son, the pattern Son. He is the Apostle and High Priest of an entirely neworder of Priesthood. All who are to come to Sonship and Priesthood through the ages shall come into that same wonderful image of Jesus Christ. It is time now, above all times, for us to mightily stress these truths. I see no possibility of any long delay until the hour of the MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD becomes a reality. We do not attain the realities of Sonship by thumb twiddling or presumption. They appear as a great vision before our understanding and we attain them through surmounting faith, patience, endurance, testing, and eternal vigilance.
As our APOSTLE Jesus Christ proclaims and opens up the way before us, and as our HIGH PRIEST He reconciles us fully to God that we may walk in the calling ordained for us. And what is that calling? TO BE PARTAKERS WITH HIM IN HIS OWN HEAVENLY CALLING! Here are indeed great words! "Calling" here, as always in the epistles, has reference not to an invitation to go to some far-off heaven somewhere, but to a PRESENT heavenly state of being. For New Creation men, according to Col.1:12, have already been made "meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light," and our "citizenship IS in heaven" (Phil. 3:20), and God nath "raised us up together, and made us sit together IN THE HEAVENLIES in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6).
The heavenly calling is the calling unto the Priesthood of 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, an 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). Hear it! O ye Sons of God Christ is the great High Priest OF THE HEAVENS and we are called to be PARTAKERS WITH HIM IN THAT HEAVENLY CALLING.
The notion, held by the vast majority of evangelical Christians, that the Priesthood of the Christ is an INDIVIDUAL, SINGULAR PRIESTHOOD exercised by Himself alone in some far-away heaven, is an absurdity. The term "High Priest" is a relative term, "high" being translated from the Greek word ARCHIEREUS, meaning "chief" in order or rank. It is the same word translated "chief priest" or "chief priests" in numerous passages. It is a title denoting the CHIEF OR HEAD OF AN ORDER such as the terms "Chairman of the Board," "Archangel," "Chief of Police," "Speaker of the House," "King of Kings," etc. It should be clear to every thinking mind that you cannot have a High Priest without a Priesthood any more than you can have a Chairman of the Board without a board for the Chairman of the Board to be chairman over. You cannot have a High Priest without a Priesthood any more than you can have an Arch-angel without an order of angels for the Arch-angel to be leader of. You cannot have a High Priest without a Priesthood any more than you can have a Chief of Police without a police force for the Chief of Police to be chief of. You cannot have a High Priest without a Priesthood any more than you can have a Speaker of the House of Representatives without a House of Representatives for the Speaker of the House to be speaker for. You cannot have a High Priest without a Priesthood any more than you can have Jesus as King of Kings with no kings for Him to be the King over. High Priest! The High Priest in heaven! Ah, yes, and we are holy brethren, PARTAKERS OF THE HEAVENLY CALLING, having Received the vision of becoming ONE IN HIM, to share in this heavenly Priesthood, and as we follow on to know HIM in all His glorious fullness we shall see a ministry unfold before us which leads to deliverance and restoration for all God's creation. Our task will not be left undone, for we shall have the ages before us to carry it through to victory, and to HIS praise!
In the Old Testament, although there was a work for the whole priesthood to do, there was one specific work to be done by the High Priest, that no other priest could perform. This work of ATONEMENT that the High Priest performed once each year, could be done only by himself, but the whole priesthood would manifest that work through the whole year. We read in Heb. 8:1-2, "Now we have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens: A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man." Paul makes the definite statement in this passage that we NOW possess such a High Priest
.Now Peter tells us that WE ARE A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD. Under the law the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies once a year and made atonement for the people. THEN HIS WORK WAS DONE until another Day of Atonement came around, at which time he would go through it again. But for the year, THE PRIESTHOOD ministered to the people. The priesthood ministered to the people THAT WHICH THE HIGH PRIEST HAD DONE BEFORE GOD IN THE HOLIEST. The sinner would bring his offering for the sin he had committed and turn it over to the priest. Then the priest would offer it and there was nothing the priest could do but go to the sinner and say, "YOUR SIN IS FORGIVEN." Now all that the priest had done WAS TO MINISTER THAT WHICH THE HIGH PRIEST HAD ACCOMPLISHED IN THE HOLIEST. With great earnestness I pray that God will open your understanding, for that, precious friend of mine, is precisely what the Royal Priesthood is commissioned to do to minister to a lost and dying world that which our great High Priest has accomplished through the power of His precious blood in the heavens! The entire body of Priests under the great High Priest is the extension and projection and fulfillment of His own High Priestly ministry.The Lord Jesus lived here on earth under a deep consciousness of having a mission from His Father to fulfill. He continually used the expression, "The Father hath sent Me." He knew what this mission was. He knew the Father had chosen Him, and sent Him into the world with the one purpose of fulfilling that mission, and He knew the Father would give Him all that He needed for it. Faith in the Father having sent Him was the motivation and power for all that He did. In earthly things it is a great help if an ambassador knows clearly what his mission is; that he has nothing to do but to care for its accomplishment; and that he has given himself undividedly to do this one thing For the members of the Royal Priesthood it is of no less consequence that they should know that they have a mission, what its nature is, and how they are to accomplish it.
Our heavenly mission is one of the most glorious parts of our conformity to our Lord. He says it plainly in the most solemn moments of His life: "As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you" (Jn. 20:21). After the Lord had fulfilled His mission on earth He ascended into heaven, and became to the world the Unseen One. And now He has given over His heavenly mission to HIS ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, having entered into them in mighty spirit power to perform it. They must so represent Him, the Invisible One, that from seeing them men can judge what He is. Every Priest must so be the image of Jesus must so exhibit in his person and conduct the same love, grace, and power, as animated the Christ, that from them the world may know what Christ is like, and be touched by Him. Oh, my soul! take time to realize these heavenly thoughts: The purpose of the Royal Priesthood is to reveal glory and minister the work of the great High Priest of the heavens.
His seed has come into us, we have been born of the Spirit of God, God is having a people in whom is the Spirit of His Son, so that there is a relationship with the Father and a forming and a revelation and an outflow of the Father's character, mind, and will. For what reason? So that God can appear IN THE MIDST of His apprehended ones and so that God can appear THROUGH His people at any time He wants and in any form He needs to appear. "When He shall come to be glorified IN HIS SAINTS, and to be ADMIRED IN ALL THEM THAT BELIEVE in that day" (II Thes. 1:10). Long centuries ago the prophet Malachi asked the burning question, "Who may abide the day of HIS COMING? and who shall STAND when HE APPEARETH? for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi (the priesthood), and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness" (Mat. 3:2-3).Jesus Christ wants to reveal Himself, not only as Saviour. You know the old story: "Jesus is my Saviour, Healer, Baptizer, Sanctifier, and thank God - I rejoice over this more than anything else - He is my coming King." Is it not because we have not been sure whether we wanted this Man to RULE over us? We do not mind Him ruling over Castro and the devil and the millenium, but we have not wanted to be totally conquered and ruled by Him. That is why we have kept Him coming. The Lord wants to be King NOW. But He wants to be more than that. You first have to know Him as King. We have sung through the years a little chorus that goes like this: "Oh King of glory, We bow before Thee Take Thy throne and reign within our hearts." We first have to know Him in His Kingship, in His authority, in His government. We have to first know Him as King. But why does He desire us to know Him as King? Why does He desire to set up the throne of His Kingdom in our hearts? So that He can make US to become kings!
But that is not the end. He is not setting up His throne in us, just to make us kings. But He is establishing His throne in us - "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and bath made us kings and priests unto God" - He is making us kings in order that He shall now be able to appear and manifest Himself in the midst of the kings as THE KING OF ALL THE KINGS. The world will never know Him as the King of Kings until there are kings among whom He can stand and reveal Himself as King of Kings. Do not think you will be puffed up in pride or use the power for your self-interest when you become a king. "Oh, when I become a king I will..." When you become a king, that is just the beginning. It is just the beginning of the opportunity for the REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST AS KING OF KINGS. I want to tell you that that is a life-changing concept, yet, some of you have never even begun to touch the hem of its garment. Our Captain, our King, has WON the victory! He has conquered death! He has conquered hell! He has conquered US! And now, we partake of His victory. We need to know that we can never conquer with Christ until we have been conquered by Him. We will never reign with Christ until we are REIGNED OVER by Him.
"Well," you say, "why does He not appear as King of Kings?" Because most of us are beggars. "Oh, God, please bless us; Lord, do this, do that; give us this, give us that." And if He appeared as King of beggars, we would be ashamed before Him. In all our poverty, in all our need, in all our self-pity, in all our limitation, foolishness and carnality, should suddenly the Majesty of the heavens, the blessed and only Potentate appear, why right away we would fall with our faces in the dust in shame before Him. But if we are standing as kings in the presence of God, reigning in life, undefeated and victorious, overcomers and conquerors in all things, rejoicing because His throne is in our hearts, then we welcome the King of Kings n the midst of the kings.
"Who shall stand when He appeareth?" I tell you in truth that it is those who have been MADE ONE IN HIM in that in which He is appearing. Those are able to stand with Him when HE appears. God is teaching us the way of overcoming, the reality of His authority and Lordship. Why is He establishing that authority and that Lordship in the hearts of His people? Because He is the Lord and the Head of the body, the Church. Of course you will never know His Lordship, except by the Holy Spirit: "No man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." The Lordship of Jesus Christ must be set up in our hearts, where His will becomes our delight. Why does He want us to come into lordship and authority? So He can appear in the midst as the LORD OF LORDS! If we are not lords, He cannot come as Lord of Lords. He is not Lord of Slaves. He is Lord of Lords. Why is God bringing Sons to glory? That in the midst of all Jesus Christ might appear as the pre-eminent One, THE SON among the Sons!
Do we love His appearing? Do we want God to make us a people for Himself, so that in whatever form He desires to appear, He can appear in the midst? The inspired apostle John has taught us that when HE APPEARS, WE MUST BE LIKE HIM. It says, "We shall be like Him," but it also means, "We must be like Him." Can we not see that if we are not like Him in the way He wishes to appear, He cannot appear in that form? We are the body, the vehicle, the expression and manifestation of the Christ. Because we are HIS BODY, whenever He manifests Himself, He will manifest Himself in the form of that body, in what ever form the body is. Among the saved He appears as Saviour. Have you not noticed that the only manifestation of the Christ through saved people is salvation? Go to any Church on any corner where all the people have experienced of Christ is the gift of salvation, the forgiveness of sins, and what will they be preaching and ministering? Why, salvation, of course! He appears there as the Saviour. But go among people who have found Him in healing power, and in what form does He appear in the midst? Why, as the Healer! Among those baptized in the Spirit, He appears as the Anointed and the Anointer, the Christ, and His anointings are manifest in power and glory.
But there is one form in which He will and must appear in these last days and throughout the ages to come. If He must appear as Saviour, He must appear among Saviours. If He must appear as Deliverer, He must appear among Deliverers. If He appears as the Chief Cornerstone, He must appear among living stones. If He appears as the Son of God, He must appear among many brethren conformed to His image. If He comes as Lord, He must be Lord among other lords. If He comes as King, He must be King among other kings. If He is going to be revealed as God, He must be revealed among the gods (Ps. 82:2,6). And if ever creation is to see and know Him as the great High Priest of the heavens, HE MUST BE REVEALED AMONG THE PRIESTS!
"Who shall stand when He appeareth?" When He appears as King, only the kings can stand with Him, everybody else has to fall before Him. When He appears as Lord, only the lords are able to stand with Him, the rest will bow before His appearing. When He appears as Judge, only the judges (I Cor. 6:2; Dan. 7:22) can stand with Him, all the rest will cringe before Him. And when He appears as High Priest, only the priests, those elect saints born of a priestly heart, possessed of the priestly nature, are able to stand with Him! But because His priests are polluted, corrupted, undeveloped, and immature, He comes first to "SIT as a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness" (Mal. 3:2-3). Ah - He sits among those being purified and prepared as His Royal Priesthood, He appears among those being refined as the great Refiner, But in due time, praise His name, He appears among them as the High Priest and they stand with Him unto the blessing of all the ends of the earth!
THE HIGH PRIEST AND THE PRIESTSThe priesthood of Aaron foreshadows Christ in a very striking way. The honour of being High Priest is not open to man's ambition. No man can take it to himself (Heb. 5:4). The High Priest ministers in such holy matters that only God can appoint him. Thus it was that Aaron was called of God to this task. He did not take it to himself; nor did Moses make him High Priest. God called him to do this work, and no one else could have done so. In the same way, "Christ glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest"(Heb. 5:5). He was a High Priest because God made Him so. He was "called of God" (Heb. 5:10) to this office.
It is inspiring to meditate upon the thought given us in Ex. 28:1: "And take thou unto thee AARON THY BROTHER, AND HIS SON'; with him from among the children of Israel, that HE may minister unto Me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons." God chose five men, Aaron and his four sons, and then referred to them in the singular pronoun "that HE may minister." The ministries of these five men were inseparably wrapped up in each other, so that God saw them as one. Aaron did not minister without the priests (except on the Day of Atonement), and the priests could not minister without the High Priest. This is all very wonderful, for Christ does not minister alone. God has called us to be priests that we might share in the ministry of reconciliation. We, too, like the priests of old, cannot minister apart from our great High Priest upon whom we depend at all times. The Father has called us unto Sonship that we might stand with Him and cry, "OUR VERY OWN Father!" He is apprehending many for the authority of Kingship that He might be "the King of Kings." He is making many to be Priests after the order of Melchizedek that He and they may stand in ONE MINISTRY unto the Father - satisfying the heart of the Father for the fellowship of Sons through whom He may reveal His person unto the whole creation. And even now, all creation is standing on tiptoe to behold the glorious sight of God's Sons coming into their own. And because of the wise and gracious councils of God from eternity, Christ now has no identity APART FROM US, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. The Father looks at His Son AND His Sons, His High Priest AND His Priests, and says, "that HE may minister unto Me!"
In my meditations upon the Order of Melchizedek, I find it impossible to separate between the High Priest and the Priests. Under the Aaronic Order the HIGH PRIEST was the one who went into the Holy of Holies. He passed through the veil and entered into the place unseen by all others. The PRIESTHOOD did not do this. But, precious friend of mine, if you think that Jesus is keeping all the glory of that realm to Himself, then you just haven't read Heb. 6:19-20. "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the FORERUNNER is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High Priest for ever after the Order of Melchizedek." Let me repeat - the only person permitted an entrance BEYOND THE VEIL was the High Priest.
While manifested on this earth plane, Jesus Christ left us His personal example that we might follow in His footsteps. It is a way that leads BEYOND THE VEIL into the glories of the Father. It was necessary that He tread all the course that we might be able to follow all the way into divine fullness. HE IS THE WAY unto the Father, and by our union with Him we find it i& first a way of humiliation before it becomes a way of exaltation. Thus we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, assured that in due time HE will lift us up, and we shall live in His sight.
A FORERUNNER is one who goes ahead of others. He goes ahead as a sample of those who are to follow. Jesus is our FORERUNNER, which clearly indicates that others are expected to follow on into the same realms of glory. Christ, a Priest forever after the Order of Melchizedek, is our FORERUNNER, He went first, and where He went, we are to go. The Forerunner blazed the trail all the way, and we rejoice in this fact, but then He also came back, by HIS SPIRIT, to escort us all the way into the glory beyond the veil, the glory of a PRIESTHOOD AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK. Full well He knows the route, for He has travailed it all the way through to victory, and now is able to guide us down the same path into the glorious victory which He obtained. It is HIS daily enabling that gives us strength to carry on until the consummation is reached.
WE HAVE A HOPE. That hope is the anchor of the soul. Our hope in the Christ is the anchor of that life both sure and firm, and it has entered into the veil, taken there by our FORERUNNER, even Jesus. He is the Forerunner. He ran ahead of, or before us. This being true, it is evident that WE ARE GOING TO RUN ALSO. What He entered into we also will come into. He simply has opened the way for us and He is the ANCHOR or the HOPE of that LIFE which is behind the veil. This is all an accomplished fact.
Let us remember, however, that in the Old Testament order it was only the High Priest who could enter into the Holy of Holies. None else could enter, and even the High Priest would enter in with fear and trembling and only after much preparation and vested with special garments. But how glorious the word! "And having an High Priest over the house of God, LET US draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb. 10:21-22). In verse nineteen of this same chapter we read, "Having therefore brethren, BOLDNESS TO ENTER INTO THE HOLIEST by the blood of Jesus." We, the Royal Priesthood, DO HAVE BOLDNESS TO ENTER IN. We need not wait, and we do not have to go to some far-off heaven somewhere. This thing is taking place WITHIN US right at this time, blessed be HIS wonderful name! For us it is a glorious privilege to enter in because Jesus Christ, our High Priest and Forerunner, has opened the way and bids us enter. Multitudes know Jesus Christ as their Saviour, Baptizer, Healer, Sanctifier and Blesser, but do you know Jesus as your Forerunner? Do you know Him as the Forerunner of the MELCHIZEDEKIAN PRIESTHOOD? Now we hear the word to us and it is that we are to come in with BOLDNESS. Come right into the Holy of Holies. Come right into the presence of God. Come right into the glory of God. Come right into that high and holy realm that only HIGH PRIESTS enter! We need not be afraid, for we have a High Priest who is NOW appearing in the presence of God FOR US, not IN OUR PLACE, but ON OUR BEHALF, for that is the true sense of the words "for us." This wonderful High Priest ABIDES in the presence of God and we are to come right in.
Yet many stand without. Some dwell in the Outer Court while others tarry in the Holy Place. The High Priest continues to invite us to come in. We have been standing outside and we have said to one another, "Isn't that wonderful and glorious and mighty - that place within the veil!" Multitudes do not dare because of fear to even look into the place. But the word is to come right in, even into the Holy of Holies. Sit down in the presence of the living God. Sit down with the Christ as a Priest upon His throne. For the great High Priest is there ministering, and we are to minister with Him, the Royal Priesthood, those who are made PARTAKERS OF THE HEAVENLY CALLING. If we can ever see this, if we somehow by God's grace and the quickening of the Holy Ghost can get ahold of it, we will not hesitate to yield ourselves unto the call of God to the PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST.
God has a people in the earth today who are not ordinary people. They are not people of this earth, but people of the Celestial Kingdom. They are God's dwelling place and they dwell in God. The High Priest, the One after the Order of Melchizedek, HAS ENTERED THE HOLY PLACE NOT MADE WITH HANDS. He is there appearing in the presence of God for us, on our behalf. The great invitation to God's elect now is, "COME IN." After such an awesome revelation as this we find it impossible to RETURN to the old way. The old religious systems, the old preaching of manmade doctrines and creeds and petty religious traditions has become an abomination, it holds nothing for us. We can have nothing to do with such things. The ways of babylon are the ways of death to us. WE HAVE A HIGH PRIEST OVER THE HOUSE OF GOD. The High Priest is NOW ministering over the house of God, WHOSE HOUSE WE ARE. You will find the High Priest ministering in His temple, and know ye not that YE ARE THE TEMPLE OF THE LIVING GOD? He is appearing in the presence of God for us, and IT IS ALL GOING ON WITHIN US, in our experiencing of God.
I must emphasize with all solemnity, beloved, that when God chooses men to be Priests He means for them to BE PRIESTS. Priesthood is not an honorary title, a gift, a reward, or some emotional blessing to be worn like a merit badge for show. Priesthood is real. Priesthood is ministry, to God and to men. Priesthood is work. Priesthood is caring, loving, touching, interceding, forgiving, healing, changing, transforming, teaching, and doing all necessary to bring lost and dying, sick and sorrowing, tormented and hostile men back to God. Priesthood is praise and worship and consecration and holiness unto the Lord. The priesthood of Aaron was set apart, sanctified unto the Lord, that they might serve in holy things. There was to be no life of luxurious IDLENESS, of worldly EASE and COMFORT. They were, it is true, to lack nothing, for we find that full provision was made for all their needs; but their life was to be A LIFE OF SERVICE, and that service in the very presence of God.I am convinced that great numbers of people today think that Sonship is a matter of the head; that it is believing theoretically and intellectually certain "end time truths." These kind of folk want a constant diet of exotic "revelations," but no inworking or outworking of His life. "What is your latest revelation, Eby?" "Give us something rich," is their cry., But they are not the least bit interested in BECOMING THE REVELATION. You can believe all the "Kingdom Message", and be on the highway of the devil, just as in the Churches today a man can be a first-class theologian and be the bondslave of a first-class devil. You can know all the points of Calvinism and never know God. You can know all the answers in the Catechism and never touch God. And you can know intellectually all the "deeper teaching" of this hour and be spiritually bankrupt. You can understand theoretically the whole thing and never possess anything. You are like a man who has a beautiful picture of a magnificent estate, and all the title deeds to that estate, but they are not in his name. He has no rights of property there at all. There are multitudes of people today who describe, and truth@ fully describe, many great and wonderful things connected with the Kingdom of God, but they do not possess any of them. What is the use of talking about a thing unless you possess at least something of it? What is the use of talking about a religion that does not possess you? Why talk about a God and a realm that is afar off, and does not possess you? What is the use of talking about a calling and a ministry that is mere theological theories? That may do something for a moment, but a theory never did anything until it was put into some practical form. You may have a very fine theory, and it may, if properly applied, become a very powerful thing; but as long as it remains a mere theorem, what is it? Of no use at all.
I know men who are theoretical engineers, and practical fools. I know men who are theoretical educationalists, and do not know how to teach anybody anything. I know men who are theoretical financiers, and they have not a dollar to bless themselves with. I know men who are theoretical politicians, and could tell President Reagan and his Cabinet how to manage the nation, and they cannot manage their own families. What is the use of a theory that is not embodied in practice? What is the use of a revelation that cannot be demonstrated in a tangible shape? That is the question.
I am very glad that I am living in a practical age. The world understands practical things quite well, thoroughly well. It is far better up than the Church -is. Jesus said, "The sons of this world are for their own generation wiser than the sons of light." They are wiser, far wiser for their own generation. They do notitalk theo-ries. They do not take any stock in the man who does not reduce the thing to practice. Has any man down town time to waste on a fellow who comes into his office, gassing and talking? They say, "Have you anything practical to tell us? If not, get!" If they were to say that on Sunday morning to their ministers, how many ministers would have to get!
I do not hesitate to tell you that there ate no arm-chair Priests in the Kingdom of God! There are no Country-Club elite Priests. There are no playboy Priests. There are no honorary Priests. There are no theoretical, self-styled Priests. Ifyou have received the call to the Royal Priesthood then God is very practically inworking into your life something of the priestly nature and life. It is real. It works. It works right here and now, and in the nitty-gritty of everyday living. Priesthood is mercy. Priesthood is compassion. Priesthood is forgiveness. Priesthood is blessing.
Priesthood is love, divine love. Priesthood is reconciliation. Priesthood is healing. Priesthood is tenderness and sympathy and the power of HIS LIFE to change things. Ah, your dog will know it, if you are a Priest! I do not need to ask God, my brother, my sister, whether you are a Priest; I need only to ask your wife, your husband, your children, your neighbor whose dog killed your cat, your boss, your associates, yes, and your enemies!
Priesthood is the spirit of the High Priest. Jesus lives, and Jesus has loved us, and has Himself cleansed us in His blood. He bestows upon us the disposition of priesthood by His indwelling. His indwelling is but the first step, then follows the INWORKING by which we BECOME that which has first entered into us as an embryonic life. The spirit of Priesthood is love. Love is the queen of all the graces of the Christ life. Love is the passion of self-giving. It never stops to ask what it can afford, or what it may expect to receive in return; but it is ever shedding its heart's blood. It will pine to death if it cannot give. The love of Christ, which went out so tenderly to those who walked and talked with Him when He was upon earth, is no less far-reaching and eternal to usward. It is this fathomless love of Christ that conquers; and His all-conquering, boundless love, is the banner unfurled in the lives of His Kingdom of Priests. O precious love divine, higher than the heavens, deeper than the abyss, broader than all the ages of time! O mighty love that reached through countless ages and brought Christ down from the bosom of the Father to redeem creation; which brought Him to the tomb; which brought Him back to the right hand of God, as the High Priest of the heavens who ever liveth to make intercession for us; which is now shed abroad in OUR HEARTS by the Holy Ghost!
"Love your enemies," said Jesus. Can you not love even your enemies with the love of God which is perfected in you? Not with your own love, but with God's love. God loves the world - and gave His Son to die for it. He loves the world, notwithstanding its vileness and sin and hostility. It is easy enough to love that which is amiable, pleasing, and lovely; but true Love - the Love of God - surpasses that, and loves the unlovely and the loveless, and if you are a Son of the Highest, possessing His Love, you will love like Him and thus demonstrate your divine lineage. You shall be a fitting representative of your Father which is in heaven, for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust and is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.
Love is bound to triumph in the end and all humanity, however rough and coarse now, is but the raw material out of which the great Master Workman makes beings higher than the angels. Blessed is the man who has come near enough to the heart of God in His plans and works to see in the rudest and most unsightly block of unfinished humanity "the Perfect Man" - and to love and serve that ideal - God's finished man regardless of his present stage of development. Viewing all humanity thus, out of the heart of God, and out of the heart of God's great High Priest, you, as a child of God, and a member of the Royal Priesthood, can afford to treat all mankind, irrespective of their attitude toward you, or God, with the most magnificent and lavish generosity, for you have the infinite resources of your Father to draw upon. It is no wonder that the natural man cannot love his enemies, since he has a very slim stock of love anyway, even for his friends, and what he has is a very inferior article, the blemished love of an unregenerated heart. It is not likely that he is going to bestow any of this stuff upon those who hate and curse and abuse and persecute him. Nor is it any great loss to them either! But you - a child of God ~ a Priest of the Most High - with the same nature as His who is Love - with an unlimited supply of perfect love to draw upon - you can afford to love everybody. You can be a perfect spendthrift in love and never fear of exhausting the store. Love your enemies? Why, of course you can! God your Father loved YOU when YOU were HIS ENEMY!
I love the story of Leonardo da Vinci. According to the legend, some lads were visiting the famous artist. One of them knocked over a can of paint. It upset the artist because he was working very quietly and sensitively. He became angry, threw his brush, and hurled some harsh words to the helpless little fellow who ran crying from the studio. The artist was now alone again. He tried to continue his work. He was trying to paint the face of Jesus, to portray in that face the strength of His character, but he couldn't do it. His creativity had stopped. Leonardo da Vinci put down his brush. He went out and walked the streets and the alleys until he found the little boy. He said, "I'm sorry, son. I shouldn't have spoken so harshly. Forgive me even as Christ forgives. I have done something worse than you. You only spilled the paint. But I, by my anger, blocked the flow of God in my life. Will you come back with me?" He took the boy who sat in the studio with him. They smiled as the face of Jesus came quite naturally from the Master's brush.
"Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a MERCIFUL and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people" (Heb. 2:17). As Jesus is a faithful and merciful High Priest in things pertaining to God, so His body must be the same. A merciful Priesthood! How this world needs mercy, and how little of it there is! So He is raising up a new creation Man who is merciful. Many are concerned about the qualifications necessary to be a part of this new creation Man. Some seem to think that you must have great revelation, or gifts, or abilities. Not so! But you must have mercy. The unmerciful man shall not be a part of this Priesthood.
"Blessed are the MERCIFUL: for they shall obtain mercy," is one of the principles of the Kingdom of God. It is the property of God to always have mercy. His mercy is above the heavens. It is from everlasting to everlasting. He has provided a way that the banished may always return. There can be no limits to God's mercy. Men have limits to their mercy, but our God has none. The mercy of God is not only mercy, but it is tender mercy. It is mercy of the utmost tenderness and love. It is mercy which reaches to all. Christ Himself manifested that mercy. It is mercy without any alloy, pure, and without any holding back. It is mercy without any remembrance of the transgression. It is the blotting of it out. It is the casting of it into the deep sea of eternal forgetfulness. Those who would be Priests of God and of Christ must exercise that mercy. When you exercise mercy it must be in great tenderness; not grudgingly, not by force, but because you desire to do it.
"The quality of mercy is not strained." Gentle and heavenly mercy is of God. When God speaks of mercy, He uses a figure which is of the sublimes" character. He says not only that His mercy endures forever, but that His mercy is above the heavens, as if it were the dome of Infinite Love over all.
"I say to thee, do thou repeat, To the first man thou mayest meet, In lone highway or open street, That he and we and all men move Under a canopy of love, Broader than the blue sky above."
Mercy is a jewel. It shines brightest in the fair crown of God Himself. It seems as if it were the central diamond in the diadem of heaven. On the brows of all who are God's children there is no brighter gem. He sets a crown of forgiveness and tender mercies upon our brows. When we are merciful and kind and compassionate, we are most like God. This mercy must extend in all directions and in connection with all things. It must extend to the lower creation, which is a subject we do not, perhaps, sufficiently touch. Man is placed in a position of great power and can exercise great kindness or great cruelty. God says the merciful man is merciful even to his beast.
When mercy is given and kindness is shown to the lower creation, how they respond to it! How oftentimes a kindness shown to a dog, for instance, has been the means for saving a life! A child is kind to a dog and cares for it. How many lives have been saved by grateful and faithful dogs! Ah - that is why I say your dog will be among the first to know when your heart is embued with the priestly nature. All about you will know. If men were merciful how different the world would be! Wars would cease, strikes would cease, crime would stop, the divorce rate would drop to zero, greed and envy of men would disappear, and none would speak ill of another. It is the man without mercy; it is the unkindness and cruelty of the unregenerated nature which has made this world so sad. Thank God! through the Christ sin shall pass away and the earth shall be filled with the glory of God. The Royal Priesthood is but the firstfruits of this wonderful redemption, the harbinger of glorious things to come as that which is first wrought out in them is in turn ministered unto the creation until all things are made new in the Christ. Praise HIS name!To be continued...
. J. PRESTON EBY
P O BOX 371240
El Paso Texas 79937
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