Our annual church family meeting coming up this Sunday, February 19th at 9am is a wonderful opportunity to glorify God together and share in the fellowship of the Spirit. When we gather to affirm our elders, deacons, and annual budget each year, we are carrying out our God-given responsibility and authority as a congregation in the unity of the Spirit.
The Baptist distinctive of autonomous local churches with congregational authority makes for a beautiful display of the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. By that I mean, when the congregation is called to come together in spiritual unity and authority for making decisions, we manifest the truth that all believers equally possess the Holy Spirit and the ability to know the mind of Christ in and through the Word of God. We are not ruled by a “Moses” type leader nor are we controlled by any outside denominational hierarchy. Wellspring is governed by the members of Wellspring, who being regenerated and baptized, are equally priests to our God in this organization.
This doctrine of the priesthood of all believers comes from the Apostle Peter’s words in 1 Peter 2:5,9 “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ….You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Under the Old Covenant, priests were appointed by God to serve in the Temple by offering up sacrifices and mediating between God and His people. But now that Jesus Christ has made the once for all sacrifice for sins (Heb 10:12), there is no longer a need for a physical temple nor a priesthood. Jesus tore the veil and made a way for all to enter into the Holy of Holies without a human mediator since Christ Himself is our Great High Priest who gives us all access to the Father by grace (Heb 4:14-16). So every Christian is now a royal priest in the sense that we all:
1) Are equally justified by faith (Gal 3:28).
2) Have equal and direct access to God through Christ (Heb 7:25-28; Eph 2:18)
3) Receive forgiveness for sins directly from God without any human mediator (1 Jn 1:9; 1 Tim 2:5)
4) Are free and responsible for reading the Scriptures and trusting the Holy Spirit to provide guidance and interpretation (John 16:13; 1 Jn 2:20)
5) Bring our praise, thanksgiving, intercession, and entire lives as spiritual sacrifices to God acceptable through Jesus Christ (Heb 13:14; Rom 12:1-2).
These realities are best expressed in a church government where the entire body of believers, being equally priests to our God, make decisions together regarding the direction of our church and its God-appointed, biblical qualified leaders. And make no mistake, our leadership and annual budget are vital factors in determining the direction and priorities of our church. This is a weighty responsibility for the whole congregation which we ought to approach with much prayer, reverence, joy, and diligent searching of the Scriptures.
So instead of viewing this coming Sunday as a necessary burden or mere formality, remember just how marvelous it is that so many people from such different backgrounds are all one family in Christ and supernaturally like-minded because of the Word of God and the Spirit of God.
See you Sunday at 9am!
In the unity of the Spirit,