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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2007Printer-Friendly
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No Priestly Caste in Christ’s Church
AUDIO BROADCAST: No Priestly Caste in Christ's Church
Let the Bible Speak Radio
Dr. Alan Cairns

The Protestant Reformation was a movement of glorious liberation. It led to the liberation of entire nations and peoples. But first and foremost it was a vehicle for spiritual liberation. Until then, the Church of Rome had held the people in the vice-like grip of priestcraft. She made everyone dependent on her priests for every spiritual benefit from the cradle to the grave. Indeed, she even placed entire nations under interdict, her chosen weapon to bring rebellious kings and princes to heel, by which, to use a modern phrase, her priests went on strike and refused to baptize the newborn, hear confessions, confer absolution, or bury the dead. Given that she had taught the people that without these ministrations they were damned you can see how powerful a weapon interdict was. It certainly underlined the people's dependence on the Pope's army of priests.

One of the central doctrines of the Reformation was the priesthood of all believers. That is, every Christian has the right of direct access to God through the sole merits and mediation of Christ and without any human priest. The New Testament is emphatic on this point. The Lord has made His people a "kingdom of priests." He has constituted us "a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:5). The saints in glory celebrate the same truth, singing, "Thou ... hast redeemed us to God by thy blood ... and hast made us unto our God kings and priests" (Revelation 5:9, 10). If all God's people are priests then it is obvious that there is no priestly caste or order in the church.

To make the matter even more certain, the New Testament sets forth the ministerial offices that Christ instituted in His church. It mentions, apostles, pastors and teachers and evangelists etc but it makes absolutely no mention of priests (See Ephesians 4:4-8). Again, it lists the gifts and functions of ministry in the church (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12-14) but again makes no mention of any priestly class performing any priestly function. Finally, we may note that in the Pastoral Epistles where Paul deals with various aspects of the life and work of a minister of Christ he makes no reference whatsoever to the existence of a priestly class. Priests are an invention and an imposition on Christ's church. They are imposters and cannot perform the functions they tell their people they fulfill.

When you add the fact that Rome claims that her priests are sacrificing priests, men who have the power to convert a wafer into the God-man and then to immolate Him in an actual sacrifice of atonement, you will see that there is not even a passing connection between the gospel ministry described in the New Testament and the Roman Catholic priesthood.

The office and work of a minister are precious provisions of Christ for the good of His church. Minister means "servant" and that is the basic function of a minister-he serves God and His people. He is a pastor who shepherds the flock. What he most certainly is not is a sacrificing priest, a man who makes himself indispensable to a sinner for his salvation and who stands between the believer and his Saviour for the reception of needed grace.

In the final analysis, priests usurp the place of Christ. The church that promotes them may be a successful religious institution but it is not the Church of Christ.

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