The Royal Priesthood
“Every born-again son of God has at once begun to be a priest-intercessor from the moment the Spirit has made his body His temple,” writes Norman Grubb in this excerpt from “To All Believers: It’s as Simple as This.“ The following article is perhaps Norman’s most complete teaching on our highest calling as sons of God: “the total fulfillment in present-day world living” to present “every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Col. 1:28).
The priesthood is the summit. He [Jesus Christ] is “the Great High Priest.” This is marvelously the final expression of the Being of God, and therefore of us as His re-expression. Marvelous that the nature of the One in the universe, the Eternal Being, is purely other-love. He for His universe, not the universe for Him. The Lamb on the throne. Fantastic! The Lamb slain, ever fulfilling the eternal law of the cross: life issues from death. The One whose total nature is that He died that others may live. The highest position through eternity given, as Paul revealed, not to a conquering monarch, in the usual sense in which we think of a conquest, but to the One who has conquered His universe and won all to Himself by becoming their servant to the final point that “He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Then God’s verdict is pronounced in the presence of all peoples, ‘Wherefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name above every name” that all should bow the knee to Him and confess Him as Lord! (Phil. 2:5-11). What? A king crowned with many crowns—yes. In fact, the King, but crowned with a crown of thorns that we all might become co-kings with Him!
The Spirit’s Drive in Us
So it is now with us as with Him. Freed from our own self-problems, a permanent drive “eats us up,” that all the world, and that means for us all within our guided reach, must share this life’s secret which belongs to them if they but knew it: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God and it doth not yet appear what we shall be.” And so a priest is a commissioned person. He can’t help it. He doesn’t seek out the commission, it seeks him out. It’s a divine “must.” What “must”? Whatever confronts us as the area within our reach where we can bring Christ to others. I had to be a witness to Christ to my fellow soldiers in World War I. I had to knock on doors of the men’s rooms in Trinity College, Cambridge, when I went from the army to the university, and invite them to come to our Christian Fellowship and find Christ, out of which came the birth of the now worldwide InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. And, always seeing that the front line is the place for a soldier in a war, when I heard C.T. Studd, who had sold all (being England’s great cricketer and a wealthy man) to take the gospel to tribes in Africa who had never heard of him, I had to go and join him. And now after years of taking Christ to the unreached peoples of the world, in my “old age” at 94, I have to take this final total reality of Christ reliving His life in our forms and going into saving action by us, to all who will give me a hearing. This life is a glorious “have-to.” Therefore, in actuality every born-again son of God has at once begun to be a priest-intercessor from the moment the Spirit has made his body His temple. We are a commissioned people!
The way of the intercessor-priest is by whatever form of involvement the Spirit indicates to us that we can be in action in bringing our light to others. Obviously there can be no limits to what special way that is. But it will be in the form of self-giving, in no way engineered by us, but by which we take the place of those we are intercessor for, that they might take their places as redeemed sons of God. It is thus vicarious. It just will cost and will be a death for us—not sought for by us, but in some forms our heart and mind and body involvement for these others will bring a death: to our reputation in being called “fanatics,” to our material and physical expenditure, to who knows what in what way. For death, as Jesus said in John 12:24, presses out His life for others (1 Peter 2:20-25). Paul again said, “We which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you” (2 Cor. 4:12).
That’s the cost of intercession following on to the commission. Often we may not realize we are in an intercessory “death” until we find we are! But then knowing that this is the intercessor’s way, we anticipate the glory in the suffering. He “poured out His soul unto death and…made intercession for the transgressors” (Is. 53:11-12). “For the joy set before Him, [He] endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2).
The Gaining of Specific Intercessory Objectives
But, it makes such a difference if we have come to know this intercessory way of the priest and are not just going blindly along it (which we probably all do in our early “little children, young men” days). We then know that the ultimate of an intercession is the gaining of it. Prayer may, intercession must! But this means we cannot rest or lay down our arms of faith until it has been gained. This may be part of our “death,” for we are taking no “no” in the commission. When we haven’t understood this, then we may speak of our calling or ministry as “called to be faithful, but not necessarily successful.” But no! We hear God’s word to Joshua picking up Moses’ commission, “then thou shalt have good success.” I have personally walked this way since the Spirit revealed that to me even in my college days. I couldn’t take it when I heard an annual report of some ministry described as faithful but not successful.
This is also where the declaration of faith that God is bringing something to pass, not yet visible, is a form of the death. Rees Howells had this “commission,” in the early days of World War II when confronted with all the might of Hitler and Mussolini, to see and say God would destroy those dictators and open the world to the gospel. In the power and spirit confirmation of the word of faith given them and declared by them, they held the celebration of the end of the war just at the time when Hitler’s panzers broke through into Holland and Belgium, seized France and threatened Britain!! No wonder the public papers called him a false prophet, and the majority of God’s people, ignorant of the fundamental principle of intercession, said the same, and some to this day. But read Doris Ruscoe’s little book The Intercession of Rees Howells (Zerubbabel Press), and trace that warfare of faith through to its amazing, almost unbelievable open doors and vast worldwide response to the gospel today, far “more exceeding abundantly above” what Rees Howells himself “asked or thought.”
Intercession is the Intercessor Himself, The Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:27), operating in us/as us, in His whole divine process of Commission, Cost, Completion. It will so often appear to us in our appearance-humanity that it is we caught up in the commission, we who are torn apart by some forms of dying–certainly usually through our reputation as fanatics and sometimes physically and materially. But, the Spirit then reminds us, “These are the sufferings of Christ by you” (1 Pet. 4:13). This is He manifesting His resurrection life by you (2 Cor. 4:11).” For “we” are really He; there is no separated “we.”
Children, Young Men and Fathers
So do I make the point clear? The priest-intercessor is the Bible description of all of us born of the Intercessory-Spirit. The intercession is the driving of the Spirit in us/as us which simply immerses us in the necessity of others having the Christ we have in salvation and fullness.
In our earlier “little children” stage, there is the drive, and we respond to it with a mixture of much “fleshly” energy, which is God using our soul-body energies en route to our learning the ways of operations by Spirit-leadership. This is like Moses starting off his rescue of his enslaved brethren by killing the Egyptian mistreating an Israelite, a vast contrast to Moses 40 years later overcoming Pharaoh by the word-of-faith activities which produced the plagues and the release of the nation from its captivity. We then go through the process of our own inner settling into the “young man” stage of Galatians 2:20, where we become “established, strengthened, settled” (1 Pet. 5:10). And now we are consciously in our “father’” stage, where we have, like Paul, “won Christ,” and thus the highest privilege of being leveled with Him as co-saviors (1 Cor. 9:22), co-commissioned, co-laborers, co-sufferers, co-diers, co-risers in co-resurrection, which with us brings “many sons to glory.”
A Missionary Mother’s Intercession
This priesthood-intercession may take a multitude of different forms in the originality of the Intercessor-Spirit in us and by us. But it now means a commission no longer in ignorance of the fact that I am an intercessor. I am grabbed by some involvement in God’s saving purpose, maybe starting in one life and on to many. There it is. I can’t help it. I am “in it to win it,” to use my friend Roy Putnam’s phrase. This is my Spirit-given commission, small or great, which may last long or short until it has been gained. It may be as “simple” as one mother of a missionary I knew, Mrs. Scholes, both a widow and blind, who so gladly gave her only child, her son Jack, to be a pioneer missionary in the Congo. When she became blind (in the days before state support in Britain of such a condition) and her friends said her son must come home to care for her, this was her reply: “His homecoming is just what would kill me! My life is in Jack taking Jesus to the Africans.” And he never did come home except for furlough visit. “Mother Scholes” was an intercessor.
The cost is the battle of faith and works. I am a soldier in my front line. The heat of the battle is what Paul called “fighting the good fight of faith.” All the lives of the great men of faith in the Bible illustrate that battle. Do I confront some apparent impossibility and have to move into some word of faith on the basis of Mark 11:20-24, which must be maintained, persisted in and confirmed by the inner confirmation of the Spirit? Watch that often swaying battle of faith in those faith-victors of Hebrews 11. That is the heartbeat of intercession. There is then the further cost of whatever form of activity-involvement the Spirit takes us into. I am a “missionary in action” in some field of action.
The final is the gaining of the intercession, the persistence in the commission until we see the completion: Jesus’ “I have a baptism to be baptized with and how am I straitened until it be accomplished” (Luke 12:50) and Paul’s “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course.” Prayer may… intercession must! Commission, Cost, Completion.
To Sum Up
Here is the outpouring in a kind of resume form of what I daringly call (to me) Total Truth. I gave it in more detail in my previous book, Yes, I Am.
The heart of revelation is that there is only One Person in the universe manifesting Himself in an infinite variety of visible forms. Therefore the human self, His highest form of manifesting Himself created in His own image, is basically nothing but a vessel, branch, temple, body-member, slave, with its perfection of created being and potential (Acts 17:28), but with no nature of its own by which it expresses itself. Much like our modern day computer with its great potential but only reproducing the input of its programmer, our only reason for existence, glorious as that is, is to express God in His nature and reproduce Him in all His forms of sacrificial love-activity so that we are He in our forms.
But because nothing in the universe, from God Himself through all His creation, can operate except by interaction with its opposite, the one utilizing the other for its manifestation, so we, in ourselves as His highest form of creation, can only know ourselves and operate as selves by being confronted with the opposite. Created to manifest God in His nature of self-giving love, we were confronted with and caught up by that false “god” of self-loving self and were then deceived to the point of thinking it was ourselves operating ourselves, instead of the true fact that it was that evil one expressing his nature by us. It is a ridiculous and total impossibility for humans to be self-operating selves. There is no such thing in the universe.
Our Last Adam then, our Lord Jesus Christ, representing us, voluntarily accepted His Calvary death in our place and as us. Thus “made sin” as us, by His death He “died to sin,” that sin-spirit which occupied us, and by His resurrection His Spirit of self-giving love replaced that false spirit of error. This then is the fact in us when in our freedom as persons, by the grace operation on us first by the law and then of the Spirit, we come to recognize who we now are: formerly Satan-I, now Christ-I, as in Galatians 2:20.
We are liberated to recognize that there never was anything basically evil in our human selves, any more than there was anything basically good (Rom. 7:18). But as formerly sin-expressers through Satan in his sin form indwelling us, now we are God-expressers through Christ in His holiness nature indwelling us. So we boldly now accept ourselves and be ourselves with no condemnation, with no change necessary in our human selves created in His image, for the radical change is in the one expressing himself in his nature as us. There is no change of our human self (which had no nature) but of the deity owner and indweller expressing his nature by us. We are free to be—now kept by our Keeper.
Living in this present Satan-infected world, as lights in a dark place, we are continually assaulted by every kind of enticement to respond to that tempter around us. But we have learned not to take condemnation for temptation, but instead to recognize and accept it as living always within range, even as Jesus was tempted in all points like as we are, yet. without sin. Thus recognizing the subtle temptation to respond to the lie of the independent self and taking no condemnation for the pulls of Satan by temptation, we are equally free to recognize who we really are, the Spirit of holiness in us/as us, and we expressing Him in whatever replacement meets the temptation: hate by love, fear by faith, lust by self-giving love, and so on.
Finally, free from pressures concerning our human selves, we are captured by the pressures of self-giving love, God in His Lamb nature, and lay down our lives as intercessors that, others may find their secret, of life, “death in us, and life in you.” This is finally total fulfillment in present-day world living”—Paul’s Colossians 1:28, “presenting every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
Amen and Amen.