Christian Priesthood Defined
Why Faith Needs An Altar
Lesson 1 of 11
Years of false indoctrination has resulted in much confusion in the church concerning what makes a believer’s faith acceptable to God, and how and where that faith is to be practiced. In addition, Christians are confused about how to listen to God, how to discern God's voice and hear from God. To learn to practice faith acceptably and learn to hear the voice of God, the first step is to build the altar of Christ in your heart.
The idea of an altar has been limited to the picture of the modern day altar call, where believers are encouraged to come and repent and ask forgiveness for their sins, and offer prayers for deliverance and healing.
For faith to be acceptable to God it must be practiced at the altar of Christ.When a person’s faith is not made complete at the altar of Christ they have to take up their faith in another way that does not make their faith complete. This is why there are over 30,000 different Christian denominations in the world today. God was never a denomination God, He was always a God of covenant, and the covenant requires an altar. It is at the altar where a person experiences a true and lasting relationship with God.
When faith is not made complete in Christ in covenant with Him at His altar, the soul continues to live the reality of sin. The wounds, marks, and remembrances of sin does not bring the soul rest, but constant frustration and weariness, struggling against sin. This is the battle of the mind. Instead of allowing Christ to do a work in them through their Christian priesthood at His altar, believers try to confront their problems at this false altar of tears and repentance. By this we can see that when the altar of Christ is abandoned the battle of the mind is lost again and again.
This is why we often hear people say, “God knows my heart,” claiming that as long as the heart is in a state of repentance God will accept it. We can clearly see how the cognition of faith is missing. There is a total lack of understanding the connection between faith and the work of regeneration (new life in the soul) that takes place at the altar of Christ.
It is the heart of faith that God desires, not the uncircumcised heart. It is Christ that God is looking for and accepts, not sin. The uncircumcised heart is not experiencing Christ and therefore it is always in a state of repentance instead of growth, and remains vulnerable to the attacks and influences of Satan.
The false altar is where sin is battled out in the mind. The true altar is where Christ is reflected in the knowledge of spiritual sacrifices. It is always shocking when someone cannot give a direct answer of confidence to the questions, “How do you remain in contact with God? how do you experience the reality of God in your life?” they cannot give you a direct answer with confidence.
The problem is that God will not give you strength to function in the flesh, and when there is no sanctified altar, there is nothing to fall back on but the flesh.
For the Holy Spirit to transform us from within, for new life to take place in the soul, faith needs the altar of Christ. The altar of Christ is essential to our spiritual growth—so essential that lasting spiritual maturity is not possible without it.
Renewing the Altar of Christ
The church today is in the same condition as Israel in the days of King Asa. The altar is broken down. We read in 2 Chronicles 15:3-6, “Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law. But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found of them. And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries. And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity.”
It was Asa who renewed the altar of the Lord, which had been abandoned: “And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the Lord, that was before the porch of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 15:8).
From these verses of scripture the Spirit of the Lord first lifts out to us that the children of Israel abandoned the altar as the result of the absence of a teaching priest who instructed them in the purpose of God’s law and how to worship Him at an altar with sacrifice.
In Bible times, the people were in a state of constant war and destruction because they abandoned the altar of God and did not worship God as He asked them to. They did not know that God preserved their faith at the altar. As a result they could no longer taste the goodness of God. From these scriptures we are also to understand that God sent His prophet Oded to bring the people back to proper worship. It was not that God did not want them to read the law for themselves, or that God expected them to become faith robots. God wants us to know that He instructs the church through human vessels, and by that instruction His people know how to separate their faith to His altar.
From these verses of scripture the Spirit of the Lord also lifts out to us that the first step to renewing the altar of Jesus Christ is to put away the idols one collected while in the False Religious System (the House of Baal). These are the traditions of man that gained acceptance into faith in the absence of true apostles.
The Altar is Designed for Contact
The church today reflects the condition as Israel in the days of King Asa in that the church has been for a long time without teaching apostles. This left believers ignorant of the altar of Christ. Why an altar? God designed an altar for contact. A person’s desire to please God and to experience freedom from sin takes place when faith makes contact with God. If faith does not make contact with God at the altar of Christ we cannot please God and change does not take place.
We must understand that the church has been for a long time without the true altar of Christ and so it is natural to defend ignorance. Someone might argue that we can’t know everything there is to know about God so it is ok that we don’t know everything God wants us to know about faith. It is true that there is much that we don’t know about God, but God does not want us to be ignorant about our faith. Unfortunately, when the gospel of Jesus Christ is not taught in truth, it leaves a lot of unanswered questions about faith.
Others might argue that this is the covenant of grace so we can worship God anywhere and anyway we like. They believe grace means being “free spirited” and that means we don’t need an altar. It is tragic when a new Christian never grows in his or her faith. Jesus warned us against accepting the word of God and then disallowing it to grow by giving us the example of the fig tree that He cursed because it bear no fruit (Matthew 21:19-21).
The reason why growth does not take place is because Satan gave the church this free spirited mindset: “It does matter to God where and how we worship Him.” As you will learn, the altar of Christ is a spiritual altar you can take with you anywhere you go, but it is not constructed of our imagination so we cannot build the altar anyway we want.
How to Build an Altar
It is important to remember that this idea of an altar might be foreign to the Gentile mind, as they did not practice faith as the Jews did. Before we build the altar of Christ, let us take a moment for a quick comparison between the Old Testament altar to the New Testament altar. That will help us understand what we are building.
The altar under Moses was a physical altar in a physical temple. That altar was to provide a visual illustration for us to understand the altar of Christ and our Christian priesthood today. As the priests in the Old Testament served the altar so we, the New Testament church, serve Christ.
animal sacrifice in the Bible was done at an altar. Jesus shed His blood for the sins of the world on the cross, purchasing a Second Covenant where Jesus Himself is the altar of ourfaith, set within the temple of our bodies. This altar is spiritual.
Jesus, when speaking to the Samaritan woman, pointed towards a new place of worship and told her that the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. He said, “God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Jesus was pointing to Himself as the new spiritual altar for our contact with God.
This lets us know about the construction of the new altar. The New Covenant altar is constructed of knowledge (truth). As Jesus was pointing to Himself as the new altar, the new place of worship, He was describing the stones of the altar—His truth.
This is why Jesus said, “I am truth,” (John 14:6) and why the Bible says He is our new altar, “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle,” (Hebrews 13:10). Jesus Christ is the tether of our faith and therefore He is our altar. The true worshippers shall worship the Farther in Spirit and with His truth at His altar.
What does an altar of truth look like? The altar of Christ is made up of the 12 Elements of the Gospel:
1. GRACE 7. PEACE
2. FAITH 8. REST
3. RIGHTEOUSNESS 9. CHARITY
4. JUSTIFICATION 10. TRUTH
5. SANCTIFICATION 11. REGENERATION
6. HOLINESS 12. RENEWING OF THE MIND
Each element is a stone in the altar of Christ. What do these stones mean? How are we to understand them? Here is the reason for the restoration of the apostles’ office. They are the teaching priests of the Second Covenant. Because they are again functioning in church government, each Christian can again begin to be renewed in knowledge and begin to build the altar of Christ in their heart. The knowledge that is placed in your heart as an altar will reflect the altar (Christ) who is in heaven.
The altar stones begin with grace, then faith, then righteousness, and so on. As you study the 12 Elements of the Gospel in the courses offered by Second 8th Week Ministries you will come to recognize the design of Christ in each stone and the purpose of the altar, to offer this knowledge back to God as spiritual sacrifices.
As you identify with Christ with this His new knowledge, you will then experience the new life He promised and continue to reference Him for righteousness. This new experience sets a new path for your spirit man. The mind reflects what is in the soul. We see this in our thoughts as knowledge is weighed in the mind in order to make choices. God wants our minds to reflect this altar. Without this knowledge we cannot properly value Christ.
Why an altar of knowledge? The Word of God is the language of the Spirit by which we commune with Him. The altar joins us to God in fellowship of His knowledge.
Why an altar of knowledge? Your practice identifies your religion. We practice Christ. He is our tradition. Jesus is the frame of our thoughts. The altar is necessary for God to direct our thoughts in Christ.
Why an altar of knowledge? The face of Christ is identified in His knowledge. The testimony of His likeness in us comes forth as each stone is prepared by grace and set in our understanding.