GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
From the week ending 8/22/04
The Doctrine of Election. Part 5.
The Universal Priesthood. 1 Peter 2:5-9
Point 10: The Equal Privilege of Election Manifested by the Universal Priesthood of Every Church-age Believer. All Church-age believers are priests in the plan of God, GAL 3:28. Under your royal priesthood, God's plan for you in the Church-age is totally unique. Never before the Church-age and never after the Rapture is there another universal priesthood. Therefore, this is the dispensation of personal responsibility.
A priest is one who represents people before God, and in the Church-age, every believer represents himself before God, establishing privacy, ROM 14:4-5. It is not our business to interfere in the lives of others. God can correct His children without our help. Each individual is free to follow the convictions of his own conscience, ROM 14:6-10,22.
This means you are responsible for every thought you think, every motive you have, every good or bad decision you make. God is holding you responsible for your own decisions because He made you a priest so that you could represent yourself before Him. In order to properly represent yourself before God, it is vital to understand what you have been elected to receive. What gives God pleasure is being able to give to you the fantastic blessings He has elected you to receive (Acts 20:35).
The Apostle Peter describes the royal priesthood of the believer in 1PE 2:5, "You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." You are to present yourself as a building stone for the construction of a sanctuary filled with life, in which you will serve as a holy priest. You are the ones chosen by God, elected for the high calling of the royal priesthood-elected to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for Him, 1PE 2:6-9. Every Church-age believer has a direct line to God, which means he represents himself before God, he evaluates himself, and he offers prayer for himself.
The privacy of your priesthood is based on the perception, metabolization, and application of Bible doctrine. You have privacy so that you can learn Bible doctrine for yourself. However, you can never learn anything if you are not objective, or if you reject authority, or if you are controlled by arrogance. To learn Bible doctrine requires objectivity. This is why the local church should be an environment where believers can gather together and their privacy is respected. This means both your sins and your strengths should be kept private. The pastor-teacher, as the final authority in the local church, must protect the privacy of all believer-priests in his congregation by disciplining or removing those who violate others' privacy. You were formed for God's family, and your personal sense of destiny under the principle of election is to identify with His family.
The Lord Jesus Christ said JOH 15:5, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing." The Lord Jesus Christ makes us one body, connected to each other, ROM 12:5. God is the One who made all things, and all things are for His glory, and His will is to have many children share His glory. The entire Bible is based upon the principle of God building a family who will love Him, honor Him, and reign with Him forever. Because God is love, He treasures relationships. This is why He identifies Himself in family terms-Father, Son, and Spirit. The Trinity is in fact God's relationship to Himself. God did not need another family; He desired one, therefore He devised a plan to create us, bring us into His family, and share with us all that He has.
Your spiritual family is far more important than your physical family, because it will last forever. Our families on earth are gifts from God, but they are temporary and fragile, often broken by divorce, distance, and inevitably death. On the other hand, our spiritual family, our relationship with other believers, will continue throughout eternity. It is an unbreakable union and a permanent bond. The moment you were spiritually born into God's family, you were given some astounding birthday gifts, GAL 4:7. As children of God we share in the family fortune; we are given the riches of his grace, kindness, patience, glory, wisdom, power, and mercy. In eternity we will inherit even more, EPH 1:18.
God does not want you to depend on someone else for counsel; He wants you to become spiritually self-sustained. The royal priest's "self improvement" is based on perception of doctrine, not upon the advice and counsel of others. The royal priesthood is designed by God to function in one's own system of thinking, and no believer can think, apply doctrine, or solve problems through the mind or the personality of another Christian. Under the privacy of your priesthood, you have the right to assemble with other believers in a group, where your privacy is respected, to learn Bible doctrine. The only human dependence of the royal priesthood is the divine provision of your very own pastor teacher.
You have to motivate yourself; you cannot depend on someone else's leadership. If you depend on them, then you are "borrowing" their inspiration, which will only stifle your own motivation. When you are under adversity, you will need your own motivation to keep driving forward. Your pastor is neither a counselor nor a crutch to lean on. Your priesthood demands that you live your own life as unto the Lord and take the responsibility for your own decisions,1CO 4:5. This is your equal privilege under election. Do not bully other believers, bring up their failures, or criticize their faults (unless, of course, you want the same treatment). The critical spirit has a tendency to "boomerang" on us, MAT 7:1-3.
The pastor-teacher should communicate and teach doctrine faithfully, and his role is described in EPH 4:11-12, "And He gave some apostles, some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastor-teachers for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ."
The three-fold purpose of the pastor-teacher is to (1) equip and train the Royal Family for combat, (2) equip them for the work of service (preparing believers to function in their spiritual gift), and (3) the edification of the body, which means to study, teach, discipline (in public), reprimand (in private), and encourage by steadfastness in doctrine. What God provides is perfect, and one of His gifts is your very own pastor-teacher. The gift is perfect, but the man who possesses it is not, and in warning us not to elevate the man, Paul tells us in 1CO 1:26-27, "Not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish ones of the world to shame the wise."
ACT 20:28 teaches that the Holy Spirit assigns a certain pastor to a certain congregation: "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." The phrase "has made" is the Greek verb tithemi, meaning to place, appoint, or assign a certain man over a certain flock of believers. The words "flock" and "church" are both nouns in the singular, illustrating that there is one pastor for one congregation. This verse teaches (1) one flock and one shepherd over that flock, (2) one church and one overseer over that church, and (3) one pastor assigned or appointed by the Holy Spirit.
1PE 5:3 teaches that there are certain believers who are allotted or assigned to a certain pastor: "Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, or being driven and forced from pressure, but voluntarily [willingly], according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; not lording it over those allotted to your charge [pastors who violate the royal priesthood of the believer, the bullies behind the pulpits], but proving to be examples to the flock." The phrase "allotted to your charge" is the Greek word kleros, and it refers to (1) those assigned to the charge of a certain pastor, (2) those allotted or distributed to a certain pastor, or (3) "those whose care and oversight has been assigned to one Presbyter," or pastor-teacher (The New Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, page 349). "Examples" is the Greek noun tupos, meaning a mark, impression, or pattern. Through his teaching, a faithful pastor leaves a pattern and example for his flock to follow.
Faithful teaching from your pastor demands your faith perception, metabolization, and application of that teaching to your own life as a royal priest. You cannot advance to maturity on your own; someone must train you. Life in the predesigned plan of God is spiritual freedom under the filling of the Spirit, as well as spiritual independence in the framework of your royal priesthood. Major functions of the royal priesthood include:
1. Rebound as the basic technique for the recovery of fellowship.
2. A consistent prayer life.
3. Perception, metabolization, and application of doctrine to your own experience.
5. The sacrifices of life, which is your doctrinal momentum leading to spiritual adulthood and the manner of operating in virtue-love.
6. Divine viewpoint mental attitude from metabolized doctrine.
7. Self motivation from metabolized doctrine.
When our Lord comes back, He will expose and place in evidence all our inner motives and purposes. Only then will any one of us hear "Well done, good and faithful servant!" God will not permit anyone to take His place in judging or evaluating other believers. In ROM 8:33, we read, "Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" Who has the audacity and stupidity to tangle with God by hurting those who are called the "apple of His eye" (ZEC 2:8)? Who dares to attack God by attacking those who are called His "jewels" (MAL 3:17) and His "crown of glory" (ISA 62:3)?
In ROM 8:33, the word "elect" is the noun eklektos, which refers to those elected to privilege. Since we have been elected to privilege and are members of the Royal Family of God, we are responsible to God. We are to live our life as unto the Lord, in the privacy of our royal priesthood. God is the one who will do the judging, no one else. Our salvation and election do not depend upon human opinion or human observation.
Point 11: The Equal Opportunity under Election: the Royal Ambassadorship and the Divine Provision of Logistical Grace Support and Blessing. Two aspects of logistical grace are transferred from the justice of God to His indwelling righteousness in you: (1) logistical support to sustain you and (2) logistical blessing, which is additional blessing beyond the bare necessity of support. Logistical support and blessing are provided for winners and losers alike, because all believers possess the perfect righteousness of God. This gives all believers equal opportunity. The righteousness of God demands that the justice of God sustain your life, even throughout every stupid mistake you ever make. The righteousness of God requires that the justice of God keep you alive to fulfill your personal destiny, to which you have been elected. All of us are alive by the grace of God. The justice of God is the initiator of grace, and sends undeserved blessings to all believers, winners and losers alike. This is one of many reasons why the wicked prosper, due to their equal privilege in God's plan. We are not blessed because we perform Christian service, or because of anything we can do, or anything we are. Our Lord instructs us in MAT 6:25, "For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?" There is far more to your life than the food you eat and the clothes wear. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and do not get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will deal with whatever difficult times are ahead.
Point 12: Conclusion. The equal privilege and equal opportunity of election means there never has been and never will be a Church-age believer who did not have exactly the same privilege and same opportunity to fulfill God's plan, to reach spiritual maturity, and to receive the fantastic escrow blessings provided for him by God the Father in eternity past.
In REV 14:13, John writes, "And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, 'Write, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!"' 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.'"When the believer dies, what follows him are his deeds and works. This will determine whether he lived in his election or rejected his election and his predestination, which enables us to fulfill our election. Predestination is the provision of a plan, a personal destiny from the sovereign will of God for the Royal Family. Predestination provides equal privilege (union with Christ) and equal opportunity (logistical blessings) to execute the predesigned plan of God.
1. Election means that God wills the highest and the best for you as a believer, which was deposited for you in escrow in eternity past.
2. Every believer has a tremendous escrow account in heaven, 1Pe 1:4, but the very fact that most believers will not receive the transfer of their escrow blessings does not cancel out these blessings. They remain on deposit forever as a memorial to the justice of God.
3. People often ask, "What is God's will for my life?" God's will is for you to withdraw as much as you can from your escrow account. He has the greatest blessings-blessings we cannot even imagine.
4. The next question is usually "How can I get these fantastic blessings?" It is our choices toward Bible doctrine and God's plan that determine whether or not we receive our escrow. All the instructions are laid out for us in the Word of God.
5. Election does not mean a violation of human volition; it means that the highest and best was previously deposited in escrow for every believer in eternity past. God not only wills the highest and best for each believer but, at the same time, He provides equal privilege and equal opportunity to attain these blessings. Equal privilege means that you are in union with Christ and His church. Equal opportunity means that you have logistical grace support. There is no excuse for any believer in all the Church-age for not receiving phenomenal blessings.
6. You have been elected to privilege. Every believer has the same privileges and opportunities.
7. Never before and never again in human history has every believer been made a priest. You are a priest so that you can capitalize on all that God has prepared for those who love Him.
8. Never before in history has any believer received the enabling and indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. And why do you have enabling and indwelling power from the Spirit? So that you can advance spiritually and capitalize on the blessings reserved for you. The only way you can withdraw from your escrow account is to advance to maturity.
9. The fact that you have been elected to special privilege and opportunity is the greatest "motivational challenge" you will ever face. With election comes a very important responsibility. You must now exercise the daily use of your volition to advance to maturity. Otherwise, you will never get beyond the lesser blessings of time and eternity.
10. There is no excuse for any believer to fail to receive these fantastic blessings. You have been given the greatest opportunity and privileges of any individual in the human race. You are the soul that God has made, ISA 57:16. God Himself, in His perfect sovereign decision, has given you life.
The very fact that God breathed life into your soul reveals His approval in selecting you to come into the world at the exact time and place that you were born. God has a plan just for you. He selected you at physical birth and elected you at regeneration (your second birth). He ordained you to be a believer with equal privilege and equal opportunity to receive blessings that stagger the imagination.
For a more detailed study, order tapes 0190-1197 to 0190-1200.