Lesson 3

Participants in Witnessing

(1 Peter 2, Ephesians 4, Acts 20, 2 Corinthians 5, Exodus 19)
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Introduction: Assume I called and told you I had a task for you. In doing this task you could choose to be paid for it or do it for nothing. Which would you choose? Is there moral superiority in volunteering to share the gospel? Are you better at your task if you get paid for it? Is there a reason why we have paid professionals lead our churches? Should the paid professionals shoulder a heavier burden in the work of the church? Let's dive into our lesson and see if we can discover the Biblical answers to these questions!

  1. The Priests


    1. Read 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9. Which of the believers are "royal priests?" Does that make you a priest?


    2. Let's now read Ephesians 4:11-12. Both Peter and Paul make an analogy between the church and building something in these texts. However, Paul tells us in Ephesians that only "some" are given certain leadership tasks. (Compare Romans 12:5-8.) Peter, however, tells us we are all priests. Who is right?


      1. Can they both be right? If so, how? (Even within the priesthood there were different duties. If you look at Nave's Topical Bible (under "Priests (Duties of)" you will find: Offer sacrifices; Pronounce benedictions; Teach the law; Light the lamps in the tabernacle; Keep the sacred fire burning; Furnish wood for the sanctuary; Act as scribes; Examine lepers; and, Purify the unclean. (See also, Numbers 16:9 which mentions broad categories of diverse activities.) We can conclude that as priests we can have different duties within the "structure" of the church.)


    3. Let's go back to 1 Peter 2:9 again. What is the job description for being a priest? (Declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness to light.)


      1. We have learned you are all priests. How do you intend to fulfill your job? What should priests be doing to meet the job description? Let's list your ideas on the blackboard. (Praise songs immediately come to mind as one way. (And to think some people are against praise songs!) Working a praise for God into our daily talk.)


        1. Do you think it is important that we are called to declare the praises of God as opposed to declare the faults of others?


        2. How do you understand and apply the phrase about being "called ... out of darkness?" Does that mean you should explain how you were rescued from evil? Is that the best way to call others out of darkness?


        3. Have you noticed that people are most alert to their own area of weakness? The people who attack others in a certain area are themselves guilty of those sins. Think how much better it would be to say "God helped me out of this sin in this way and He can help you too" instead of attacking the individual.


    4. Read Acts 20:24. What does Paul suggest was his task as a priest? (Testifying to the gospel of God's grace.)


      1. Is that also your task?


        1. What does that mean?


        2. How would you do that?


    5. Consider that Peter and Paul tell us our task is to declare the praises of God and testify about His gospel of grace. Would you like to do that?


    6. Let's look at another text on this before we shift gears a bit. Read 2 Corinthians 5:15-20.


      1. What does an ambassador do?


        1. What kind of ambassador does this text say you are?


        2. What is your official ambassador's message?


      2. Does this ambassador job change your life? (Yes. It changes your life outlook. Verse 15 tells us we no longer live for ourselves. We now live for Jesus. Verse 16 tells us that we should no longer look at people the way we once did.)


  2. Volunteers vs. Professional Priests


    1. Why do you think God set up a system of priests in the Old Testament?


    2. Our lesson says (Sunday) that the distinction between "lay people" and "clergy" is not Biblical. I have read or heard that elsewhere. A substantial problem with that statement is that it overlooks the Old Testament system of designated priests who were professionals (i.e, were paid a tithe ( Numbers 18:21)).


    3. Read Exodus 19:5-6. Does this sound familiar? (Yes, Peter is reciting this in 1 Peter 2:9!)


      1. Does this mean that God originally intended all of his people to be priests? (Yes.)


      2. Then what made God change to the system of the Aaron/Levitical priesthood? (There is some evidence that the people wanted this because they did not want to draw near to God. They were afraid. Compare Exodus 19:22-23 with Deuteronomy 18:16-17. If you would like to contemplate a bit more this idea of certain people being set apart to come near the Lord, read the story in Numbers 16 of a group of Levite rebels who claimed the distinctions made between those who come near are artificial.)


    4. If God's original plan was that all should be priests, and Peter announced that we are back to the original plan, does that mean that all the leaders and workers in the church should be volunteers and not professionals?


      1. What would then happen to the tithe?


    5. Let's explore this further. Read 1 Timothy 5:17-18. What is meant by giving elders "double honor?"


      1. What does v.18 mean when it refers to "wages?" Does that mean that we should pay the church leaders in honor instead of real money?


      2. Read Matthew 10:9-10; Luke 10:7; 1 Corinthians 9:9-12a. What do you conclude from reading these texts about whether we should have paid clergy? (These texts clearly support paying those who minister to us.)


      3. Did you know that the priests did not have to pay taxes? (Yes! Ezra 7:24)


    6. What do you conclude then: we all have a role in the church! Should we all get paid?


      1. If not, how do you decide who should get paid and who should not?


      2. I spend a lot of my time teaching and preaching, yet I do not get paid a cent to do it. Should I be paid? (I think payment is a practical issue. Since I do not need to get paid (since I have another job) it is not necessary to pay me. However, if someone devotes most of their time to the work of the church, then they should be paid.)


    7. If you agree with me that payment for those who minister is a matter of need, then should there be any difference in the nature of the work between volunteers and professionals (those who are paid)?


      1. Should there be any differences of any kind? (It follows that there is no need to make any distinction in the nature of the work, but the volume of the work would naturally be greater for the professionals for they have more time to devote to the work.)


    8. Did you notice the note in Wednesday's lesson about the statistics on pastor/member growth ratios? The greater the number of members per pastor, the faster the church grows!


      1. What should you conclude from that statistic? That we should get rid of our pastors? That our members should have a different view of their responsibilities in the church?


    9. Friend, we need a new view, a view that each one of us is a priest charged with sharing the gospel and declaring the praises of our Lord. Will you take up your rightful place and responsibilities?




  3. Next Week: The Recipients of Witnessing.

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Lessons on Witnessing

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