The Royal Priesthood – Part One

This lengthy post is part one of a two-part teaching. It is an excerpt of my portion of a soon to be released book  which I am co-authoring with Don Atkin and Greg Austin — Royal Priesthood: The Pathway to Kingdom Authority. Part two will soon follow.

Exodus 19:6 And you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.
1 Peter 2:9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.

The unsearchable riches of grace that accrue to believers can obscure God’s eternal purpose for His children, and the planet. If we’re not careful, we can preach and teach a human-centered gospel: a gospel that emphasizes the benefits of salvation to us, and neglects what Father desires to accomplish in and through us, for Himself, and the benefit of others. Not only do we have an inheritance in Christ and in the heavenlies, but Father also has an inheritance in the saints.[1]

It can be hard for us to grasp that His plan of salvation for humanity fulfills something in His plan for the cosmos, not just our eternal benefit. That is, there’s something that accrues to Him, for His delight, purposes, and satisfaction, as well as an inheritance that accrues to us. The plan of God is not just to “save us and get us to heaven.” God had, and has, a redemptive plan for this planet: to fill it with a quality of life that images Himself—that the very life of Jesus would be found in mortal flesh,[2] on planet earth, filling the earth with the glory of sonship, as the waters cover the sea.

Yes, Father has always had a dream. Jesus is the firstfruit/seed fulfillment of that dream. And yet, there still remains a fulfillment in scope and scale that involves all of us as believers. The Seed that was sown in death and resurrection is to bear fruit and multiply in us and through us. As He was sent (apostolically seeded) into the world, so are we.

What is that dream?

That the world will be populated/filled with a caring, serving, kingdom of priests who are prophetically empowered by His death and resurrection life.

As the Scriptures in the opening of this chapter plainly indicate, this was God’s dream from the beginning of His calling a people (a nation) unto Himself at Sinai. The dream finds its realization in the glorious new covenant. There will literally be on earth, a new “nation”—a new people group, a new race, a new creation, a new citizenry whose nature is regal, whose service is priesthood, and whose empowerment is His resurrection life.

They will be governed by the Holy Spirit, serving One King, under His rule, representing His interests to humanity, and representing humanity’s needs to the King: a royal priesthood of new creation beings, a never-before-seen race of humanity, testifying to the world by the quality of their life and existence that He is risen, and the new age has dawned. The end has begun. The kingdom is here: partial, but present.[3] God’s dream is no longer a future hope, but a present reality. That dream is you and I, in Christ.

How does this royal priesthood come about? How does it “work”? How is it realized in humanity? In Part One, we will  look at the issue of a kingly priest in the Seed, Jesus, and then in Part Two, we will  see how that quality of royal priesthood is realized in and through you and I. It’s my conviction that there are fewer topics as vital to God’s eternal purpose, and the accurate, practical manifestation of His life on earth, than this.

Jesus – The King-Priest

The first generation apostles faced many interesting challenges. Before facing the issues of legalism and Gnosticism, they had the formidable task of trying to explain (to themselves and others) . . . “What just happened?”  A resurrected God-Man, Lord of glory who walked among us, requires . . . uh, “a little explanation!”  They also had the difficult task of trying to figure out just how new the “new” covenant is from all that they had understood up to that point.

Imagine being a Levite who has believed in Jesus, seen Him alive from the dead. The week before resurrection, you were serving God by sacrificing animals, and now in one weekend’s time, your career, your devotion to God, everything you have believed and practiced, is blasphemous, and an insult to the God you profess to love. That is a bit of a difficult “change” to process.  Sometimes change in God’s way of doing things is very unsympathetic to the “human complications” associated with aligning with the change He brings. Throw in (“God forbid”) the Gentiles getting in on things, and it’s quite a stew.

I trust we can have some respect and sympathy for the daunting nature of the task facing the first generation apostles.

Of course, the apostles had the Torah, Psalms, and prophets at hand. From that Scripture base, they tried to explain this crucified and resurrected Lord, and to explain the new “arrangement” (covenant) of God’s dealings with humanity. How the apostles handled the Torah, how they interpreted and applied it, is the “scriptural” basis for the legitimacy of Christianity. The first century squabbles with the Jews were all hermeneutical[4] fights. The apostles had the unenviable task of trying to claim continuity with the old order and differentiation from it at the same time. It wasn’t easy then, it’s not easy now.

The Jews took strong objection to how the apostles went about this with nonliteral interpretations and applications. The apostles attempted to explain Jesus from a Torah-base of two primary passages of Scripture: Psalm 2 and Psalm 110. 

It’s an understatement to say that these two passages, as the apostles applied them, are the foundation for everything we believe in the new covenant era. There are more references to Psalm 110 in the New Testament than any other Old Testament passage. The apostolic exegesis and application of these two Psalms is the scriptural foundation for all other subsequent New Testament doctrine, including Paul’s.

These Psalms were written by and for David. However, the spirit of revelation in the apostles applied them to Christ in resurrection. Apostolic revelation takes precedence over biblical literalism. The Scriptures mean what the apostles say they mean. If we do not believe this, we need to rethink the implications of our belief systems. Much is at stake.

These two Psalms deal with kingship and priesthood as they relate to Messiah. Since as He is, so we are in this world, we cannot bypass the importance of these two Psalms.  I trust you can refer to common translations for reference throughout this chapter, but for fullness effect, I have provided some amplified (and fairly literal) renderings from Ed Corley’s Maschil[5] publications. Please pay special attention to the speakers in Psalm 2.


The Rulers of the Nations Speak

1. What is the reason for this tumultuous assembly of the nations, even the peoples who connive this impoverished device?
2. The kings of the earth assume their stations, and the chief ones of them gather in private conclave against Yahweh and against his Messiah resolving:
3. “Let us tear off the binding restraints they have placed on us, even let us cast off the cords with which they have restricted us.”

Yahweh Speaks

4. The One who remains enthroned in the heavens derides such a resolution with laughter. Yea, even Yahweh scorns them.
5. At that time He makes a declaration to them in His wrath. He even dismays them in His burning anger by saying:
6. “ I have already established my king upon Zion, the mountain of my holiness.”

The Son Speaks

7. I will recount the decree of the appointment. Yahweh said to me: “You are my son: I have begotten you for the day.
8. Ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance and the extremities of the earth for your possession.
9. You will govern them with an inflexible scepter of iron. You will break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

The Prophet Speaks

10. This is the time of opportunity, O kings. Diligently consider this. Be admonished, you who rule as judges in the earth.
11. Serve Yahweh with fear and rejoice with trembling. Submit to the Son with a kiss, lest He become angry and you and all your way perish, for His wrath will soon be kindled.
12. O, the blessings of all those who flee to Him for refuge.

Psalm 110

1. Yahweh declared to my Lord (Adoni): “Sit at my right hand until I set your enemies as a stool for your feet.”
2. Yahweh will send the staff of your strength out of Zion. Have dominion in the midst of your enemies.
3. Your people are willing offerings in the day that you wage warfare in the majestic array of holiness-from the womb of the dawning day.
4. Yahweh has sworn and He will not repent: You are a priest forever according to Melchizedek.

5. Yahweh at your right hand will shatter kings in the day of His anger.
6. He will judge among the nations He has amassed bodies. He has shattered the head over the earth. Much!
7. He will drink from the flowing river that runs by the pathway; therefore He will exalt the Head.

These two Psalms are the personal oath/decree of the Father, to the Son, concerning the Son’s inheritance. The lofty sacredness and far reaching implications of a covenantal oath made by the Almighty, by, for, and in Himself, is so exceedingly precious as to occasion awe. It becomes even more wonderful when we understand that this same divinely determinate decree and oath of the Godhead, applies to you and me . . . more on that later!  For now, let’s see how broadly and deeply these two passages permeate the new covenant Scriptures  at the apostles’ hands as they relate to Jesus as king and priest.

Psalm 2 – Apostolically interpreted and applied

  1. Acts 2:30 – Christ in resurrection
  2. Acts 2:36 – crucified and resurrected Lord and Messiah.
  3. Acts 13:32-33 – Christ in resurrection, the first begotten from the dead
  4. Hebrews 5:5 – Christ in resurrection, begotten unto priesthood
  5. Acts 4:25 – refers to the person of Christ, not David
  6. Rev. 2:26 – the scepter of iron promise made to the Messiah is made to the overcomers
  7. Hebrews 1:5 – Christ’s identity, superior to angels
  8. Revelation 1:5; Luke 4:5-7 – implied reference to Psalm 2 as apostolically understood.

We could go verse by verse through this wonderful Psalm, but it would be too much of an excursion for this brief work. I just want to highlight a couple of portions as they relate to Jesus’s kingship.

Psalm 2 deals with God preemptively “setting” His King on Mt. Zion in the face of the rebellion in the nations. The raving mad[6] rebellious leaders of the nations cannot get past the eternal covenantal decree that has gone forth in eternity past in the Godhead! In a modern way, it is like saying: “It’s too late boys, go ahead, scheme all you want!” “I beat you to it!” I have already set in My king!

Christ in resurrection is the king over the nations. The English word “set” in verse six is a Hebrew word nāsak (yasak), meaning to “pour forth.” It is a reference to the anointing a king would receive from a prophet’s horn as he would receive investiture to the throne of the kingdom. The “setting in” of a king (as well as a priest and prophet) including a “pouring forth” (please keep this phrase in mind for later . . . it is going to be significant) of the anointing oil.

The apostles refer to Jesus’s resurrection as the fulfillment of His “setting in” as the King upon Mt. Zion. The apostles also interpreted and applied Mt. Zion to you and me, the people of God. We are the Zion of God.[7] Jesus, by His resurrection from the dead is the Davidic king promised in Psalm 2 and the new creation nation is His “nation/s.” This is going to be very important for you and me, in what is to follow in the section regarding Pentecost. We’ll get there.  For now, catch this:

Jesus is king by resurrection.

Psalm 110 – Apostolically interpreted and applied

  1. Matthew 22:41-46 – baffled the Pharisees
  2. Matthew 26:63-65 – enraged the high priest
  3. Mark. 12:35-37 – gladdened the common people
  4. Mark. 16:19-20 – released the power of God
  5. Acts 2:27 – accompanied the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
  6. 1 Corinthians 15:24-26 – is effective until death is conquered
  7. Eph. 1:1-23 – obtained a complete triumph for His body
  8. Hebrews – 1:3, 1:13, 8:1; 10:12-13; 12:2 . . . wow!

As in Psalm 2, we could go verse by verse into a detailed examination of the priesthood of Melchizedek. Again, it would be too large an excursion for this brief chapter. Suffice it here to make a few significant points.

Psalm 110 is the covenantal oath/promise made in the Godhead concerning Christ in resurrection as king and priest. The author of Hebrews (see the verses above) ties in Messianic kingship (Hebrews 5:5-6) with priesthood associated with resurrection. Jesus is the new high priest.

The language in Hebrews 5:5 is interesting. The English reads  “begotten.”  The Greek is from the word ginomai, meaning “to come into being.” The apostles did not apply this to Jesus’s natural generation from Mary, but His being the firstborn from the dead in resurrection, as a king and priest!  His “begotten-ness” is as a resurrected king-priest, the first of a nation that is to follow!

Melchizedek is the only character of the old economy that we know functioned as both priest and king, something the Mosaic order strictly prohibited. The two offices were not to be found in a single individual,[8] yet in Melchizedek, they were. The apostolic authors applied Psalm 110 to Jesus in resurrection as a fulfillment of a unique priesthood, not according to Aaron and the Levitical order, but according to Melchizedek.

So, we see Jesus: declared to be king by a covenantal oath/decree/promise of the Godhead in Psalm 2 and declared to be priest by a covenantal oath/decree/promise of the Godhead, fulfilled, by the resurrection from the dead.

 Jesus is high priest by resurrection.

 As glorious as this is, as marvelous and praiseworthy as this all is, there is yet more glorious good news.  The apostles did not stop in their application of these glorious verses to Jesus. The apostles linked them to us in Him, the body, the nation–the people of God

Copyright 2012 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact

[1] Eph. 1:18.
[2] 2 Cor. 4:11.
[3] A present reality with a future consummation.
[4] The science and art of biblical interpretation.
[5] Maschil Numbers 1 and 3. Pinecrest Bible Training Center, Salisbury Center, New York. 13454. No date. I have taken editorial liberty in changing Ed’s references to Jehovah to Yahweh.
[6] That’s the sense in Hebrew. Some believe, with good reason, that in Daniel 7:25, the phrase referring to the “little horn” desiring to “change times and laws” would be better rendered “decree” than “laws” as the word in Hebrew is singular. I am easily persuaded that the animus of the “little horn” of Daniel is directly aimed at the decree of Psalm 2 concerning the kingship of the Son. This is the raving mad ambition of the little horn and the kings of the earth: undo the eternal decree concerning the Son, sealed forever by His resurrection. He who sits in the heavens, laughs at them. Do you feel like shouting praises? I do.
[7] Hebrews 12:22
[8] In an interim sort of way, Samuel somewhat functioned in an “executive” as well as priestly and prophetic capacity, but he was never “anointed” as king.

Hebrews 7:25 – Jesus IS the Heavenly Intercession

There is a common understanding of Hebrews 7:25 that gives the impression that Jesus is not at rest, seated on the throne on high after His resurrection, but rather is engaged in eternal intercession, praying to the Father, more or less pleading for humanity, in the eternal state, forever and ever. This is very unfortunate.

This understanding also gives rise to the idea that God is still looking for someone in the earth to intercede and “make up the hedge, and stand in the gap:” to plead with God along with Jesus who is pleading in heaven, to . . . basically . . .  not wipe us all out in one way or the other. This too, is very unfortunate.

In the KJV the verse reads:

Wherefore he is able also to save to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

We have to remember the historical context and grid of understanding that the KJV translators brought with them in regard to “Christian practices” such as prayer. Think Church of Rome minus the Pope. Think: strong performance, works, duty orientation.

The phrase “to make” is added by the English translators, and is most unfortunate, as it gives the impression of something yet undone, as if some sort of prayer is going on by Jesus, interceding as if His finished-work sacrifice really wasn’t enough to realize all of God’s longing in and for humanity.

Some very literal readings could go like this:

He is able, the ones coming through Him, to God, always living for the purpose of pleading for them.


He is able the ones coming, to and through him to God, always living for the appeal on behalf of them.

The significant point (without getting bogged down in a bunch of Greek technical stuff) is, His eternal life, His resurrection life, is what is doing the appealing, pleading, etc., not his prayer. Christ in resurrection IS the intercession.

Only God has eternal life. It’s a quality of His existence, His Deity. It is His to share and give, and His to withhold. There is now, not only at the center of the universe, but in union in the Godhead, at the right hand of the Father, a resurrected God-Man. There’s a representative man, present not only “before God” in some petitionary mode. But “in God” in perfect union. He is there as a representative man, vivified by God’s very own eternal life.

The intercession of Hebrews 7:25 is not something we do, you do, I do, or Jesus does. No, the intercession is God’s own life in a man. He has found His rest in the Man he was looking for in Isa. 66:2.  That is the intercession. That is the “pleading.”  That is the rest. God need look no further than Himself in Christ-Jesus. The Sabbath of Genesis 1-3, has come full circle. God took humanity out of the question when he made a covenant with Abraham (he was asleep). He made a covenant with Himself (Heb. 6), and that covenant has come full circle . . . His own rest . . . in a man.

This gives substance and meaning to all the so-called  “positional” truths (in Him/in us, united with Him, seated with Him, etc. )  of the New Testament. They are not “positional” at all. They are ultimate reality truths. Too often, teachers and theologians throw the term “positional truths” around and it is code for: not real, doesn’t work, and you are not good enough yet.

Because of our union with Him (John 14:3 – that where I am you may be also, is not talking about heaven. It is talking about oneness in the bosom of Father on the throne in the universe) you and I are in that place, also. United with Him by the indwelling Spirit of sonship. We are not “absorbed into deity,” changed into “God” or “gods.” However, they that are joined to the Lord are one Spirit. Our union with a resurrected God-Man, by the Spirit, has profound implications.

You and I, and every other believer, are the Sabbath of God in Him. He finds His rest in us, in Christ.  You and I and every other believer are the intercession of God.  The church, the bride, you and I, are the living sacrifice of Romans 12:1 (literally: the worship, the “liturgy” – meaning “the work done on behalf of the people,” the intercession) for the world. My literal presence and being in the world, in Christ, is the intercession.  My “prayer life” is simply the expression of the realities of what I am in Him.  I can’t get any closer to God than: “seated with Him in heavenly places.”  Our prayer and intercession is praying out from heaven to earth, not from earth to heaven. We are the executors of the last will and testament of a resurrected God-Man who is seated at the throne of the universe. He is seated, we do the praying. However, New Testament intercession is more than the disciplines of my prayer time. It is my very life.

This is New Testament priesthood.

I believe this is linked directly with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. In my opinion this has very little to do with speaking in tongues, but rather, is the outpouring of Jesus’ ascension and glorification enthronement/anointing of His investiture as King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek (it would take too long to unpack the significance of Psalm 2/Psalm 110 being the foundation of New Testament doctrine and the foundation of New Testament priesthood). The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the realization of Moses’ dream in Exodus 20 of a nation of king-priests: first realized at Pentecost, and in every bona fide, Spirit-regenerated believer since.

If we don’t get this stuff right when we teach prayer and intercession,  we will inevitably energize striving and Old Covenant mentalities, intentionally, or not.

My hope is not that Jesus might be praying for me, that somehow, I am on the eternal prayer list of the Son of God.

My hope is that He is alive forever after the order of Melchizedek. Priesthood is the energizing power of government and kingship: a priesthood based on the quality of God’s own life,  His own eternal life in the resurrected God-Man, in human beings . . . the new creation race. That is the intercession.

That Spirit of priesthood has united with my spirit. I am a new creation. A member of a royal priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. I am (along with others in the family of God) a living sacrifice, a living intercession for the world. My being is the intercession, of which my prayer life is but a fragment.


Copyright 2012 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact

For a deeper examination of the topic of prayer and intercession from a New Covenant perspective, please refer to our book with Don Atkin, New Creation Prayer, available at


Are you “Burned Out?”

Few things are as exhausting as doing something you are not suited for by gift (Christ-endowment), temperament, and calling. Regrettably, that is the norm for many believers based out of well-meaning but misguided understanding of faithfulness, love, and service to and for “the church.” We live like we are pack mules for ministry instead of sons and daughters of the Most High. We function out of religious obligation and moralistic duty, rather than from Spirit-empowerment. We either do not know how, or are not given permission to say: “No.”

A passive, indifferent, or ignorant attitude toward the gifts of the Spirit is not humility and submission to the providence of God. It’s the willful neglect of someone in need. When we fail to acknowledge who we are in Him, and what we have in Him, and don’t pass around our spiritual gifts, we are defrauding other members of the Body. The deposit of Christ in me has been given with the sole intent of spreading it around! It’s designed to meet the needs of others in the church and world. The gifts of the Spirit are not designed to provide weekly thrills for you and me in a church service.[i] However, if I have no sense of personhood and place (context, belonging), I can’t pass around what I am unaware of. Attempting to “be a Christian” by doing acts of love and service that are inconsistent with my identity (the unique image of God in me) will inevitably result in something called burnout.

Though usually regarded as the result of trying to give too much, burn out is the ultimate in giving too little. Burnout is indeed a state of emptiness, but it doesn’t result from giving all I have. It results from giving out of the nothingness from which I was trying to give in the first place.[ii] When the gift I give to another is integral to my identity in Christ, when it comes from a place of organic reality within me, it will renew itself—and me—even as I give it away. Only when I give something away that doesn’t flow within me do I deplete myself, and harm the other as well, for only harm can come from a gift that is forced, inorganic, or unreal.[iii] When I give something I don’t possess, I give a false and dangerous gift that looks like love but is, in reality, loveless.  It’s a gift given more from my need to prove myself and to be validated in other’s opinions of me, than from someone’s need to be cared for.[iv]

To honor our new creation nature means to acknowledge our limits as well as our potentials.  Caring for ourselves is not inherently selfish in a carnal way. Caring for ourselves fulfills 1Peter 4:10 by acting as a good steward of the only gift I have. I can’t offer to others what I have destroyed or neglected in myself. Limitations and liabilities are the flip side of our gifts. We are designed to live in a creative tension between our limits and our potentials.[v]

Limitations are transformed into serviceable instruments for kingdom advance the moment we get serious about them. We must honor our limitations in ways that do not distort our nature, and we must trust and use our gifts in ways that fulfill the potentials that God gave us.[vi] Our talents and limitations make up the total package of who we are. There is really no chance of integrated human personality or fruitful kingdom expression, until we come to a place of self-acceptance. I am not endorsing egocentric self-love, or being soft on sin. I’m talking about agreeing with what God has determined about me: my strengths and weaknesses. Mental and physiological health begins here. The powerful verse in Philemon 6 says that effective Christian living and transference of that life begins by acknowledging (experientially entering into) every good thing that is in me, in Christ Jesus.

This means it is “ok” to say “no” to demands and requests for which I am not suited. Saying no actually honors God. In small church environments where leaders are looking for any warm body to fill a need, there can be tremendous pressure to say “yes” to every request from leadership. Insecure leaders that don’t correctly understand their own identities and callings, can interpret “no” from a subordinate as being uncommitted to the vision, unsubmissive, or unwilling to serve. In reality, the person saying “no” just might be completely committed to the identity God has given him or her and has learned to honor Christ by saying no to things he or she is not suited for.

It has been my experience that the Lord will honor the “any-warm-body-will do” methodology for a season. However, ultimately His grace follows His endowment. If from a flawed definition of loyalty and service we expect people to do things they’re not endowed to do, we must not act surprised when we get the logical results of failing the grace of God.  Painful problems are imminent if systems and expectations don’t adapt and develop into a transformational-grace endowment and Christ awareness ethos instead of an any-warm-body, loyalty, and service ethos.

Satisfying fruitfulness is the birthright of every child of God. Burnout is a ripoff and if we find ourselves there, we need to get help, as something in the foundation of our faith, and our understanding of the Christian life is very askew.

Copyright 2012 This blog is an excerpt from our book: HEALING: HOPE OR HYPE? by Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, Eloquent Books, New York. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact

[i] I recently saw a billboard advertisement of a church that promoted itself as: “The Church of Excitement.”  If that doesn’t say it all about how broken our value systems are, I don’t know what will. Since when is the essence of Christianity excitement?  Only in an over-stimulated and cathartically addicted culture like ours.

[ii] Parker Palmer. Let Your Life Speak. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 2000. 49.

[iii] Ibid., 49-50.

[iv] Ibid., 48

[v] Ibid., 52.

[vi] Ibid., 55.

Sons and Miracle-Bullies

There’s much hubbub these days about miracles, signs,  and wonders. I’m as pro-supernatural as anyone on the planet can be. I’ve experienced many exciting supernatural phenomena in my life. I just refuse to make merchandise or a reputation out of them.

Would you consider something with me? If Jesus’ life span was approximately thirty-three years, and if His ministry was approximately three years, that means He spent thirty years in sonship and three doing miracles. A ten to one ratio: thirty years of “non supernatural” sonship, and three years of “stuff.”

There are voices, personalities, and teachings saturating Christian consciousness these days that would have you believe that if we are not pumping out miracles three times a week (Wednesday night and twice on Sunday) fifty-two weeks a year, that we are somehow failing to realize the kingdom of God.

Young people are being especially affected. Young people are being enticed to “greatness” and “realizing their destiny,” and being “world changers” by performing “signs and wonders.” Kingdom greatness is defined by being the servant of all, not by being the most prolific wonder-worker. The fabric of the kingdom of God is sonship, not the working of miracles.

God has spoken to us in these last days, in, through, and by the Son . . . literally, in a sonly way (Heb. 1:1). Sonliness is the final word of God to humanity. Sonliness is the seedbed from which every other facet of kingdom expression must derive (including signs and wonders) or that expression, whatever it is, is an illegitimate expression, and perhaps even an anti-Christ one. By making a legitimate subordinate value an ultimate value, many individuals and ministries who promote the signs and wonders paradigm have lost their way in Him. Their words, spirits, values, theologies, and methods frequently betray them as manifested by what I call a “bullying spirit.”

Many of the individuals who are deeply vested in the so-called signs and wonders movement, will use intimidation of various sorts (spiritual, psychological, theological) to bully you into agreeing with them or demeaning you by making you feel inadequate, inferior, or incomplete because you do not share the same enthusiasm as they do for the alleged “pursuit of the supernatural.” This childish bullying spirit is frequently accompanied by a form of elitism that is condescendingly dismissive of others.

Dear ones, lift up your heads. Do not let the immature or the ignorant bully you and rob you of the joys of your inheritance-your sonship. Paul said the world is waiting for the manifestation of sons  (sons and daughters) not wonder workers. All sons may work wonders, but not all wonder workers will be sons.

Pray that the Lord of all mercies will have mercy on us all and save us from our own blind pursuits—even those done in His Name with a Bible under our arm and a worship chorus on our lips.


Copyright 2011 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact I am indebted to my friend Marc Metz for seed thought in this regard.

Giftedness and Identity

Anyone who has ever seriously pondered the human condition for any length of time normally ends up at a universal set of basic questions:  “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” and “Where do I belong?”

Our secular culture does a pitiably poor job of addressing these questions,[i] and sometimes the Church doesn’t do much better. Faith in Jesus Christ provides the only rational and deeply satisfying context/answers to these questions. However, we often do a poor job of communicating them to the world. We so easily obsess about questions that no one is asking except perhaps in our own Christian subculture.

For example, we engage in end-time speculations, predestination/free-will questions, baptismal formulas, Eucharistic issues, etc. These discussions and debates are more like “in-house family chatter.” They’re not unimportant, but they do not address the primal needs or questions of human existence. If the Church does not adequately provide answers for these inquiries, other philosophies and worldviews will, and have done so.

In our secular culture we answer the, “Who am I?” question (if it makes its way into our consciousness at all) with what we do: I’m a carpenter, I’m a lawyer, I’m a farmer, etc. Without a moment’s thought we answer a state of being question with an activity answer. We want to jump right to function—the what and how of things, and ignore the state of being issues. This is one of the many reasons why our culture is in trouble. We make time, make friends, make love, make money, and make a living. Our existence is defined by production—what we do. We have lost our sense of being and our sense of place.  Even after we are converted we often do not recover either of these.

My wife and I were once in church-search mode due to a geographic relocation. In more than one church we visited, the first thing out of the greeter’s mouth after “Hello my name is____,” was: “We have lots of opportunity to serve here!” This kind of greeting is put forth as something commendable. These dear people actually think others want to join the slaves on the Christian plantation. Nowhere in their approach was there a personal aspect like: “Hi, we’d like to get to know you.” The interior mental sound track was running like this:  “We have live ones on the hook. How can we put them to work?” This is such a clear representation of how deeply broken our Church culture is. There is simply no consciousness of any other way to process life. “Saved to serve” can be the unfortunate slogan that greets anyone who tenuously dares to engage us in our religious universe. This is not the way the kingdom of God works and it’s not the foundation for the ministry of spiritual gifts.

If you asked first-century believers who they were, they would not have answered by what they did, but by their relationships. They identified themselves from a perspective of personhood and inter-relatedness within a community. We identify ourselves individually and by what we do. Our last names betray us: Wolcott=wool cutter; Carpenter (self-evident); Fischer=fisherman; Crosby=dweller by the town cross; Fleischmann=butcher (flesh man); Smith=blacksmith; Bauer=farmer; Brewer (self evident).

Some have the remnant of something healthier from their cultural heritages that derived from areas that had a tribal or clan ethos (even in the West), rather than an individualistic one: O’Hara=son of Hara; Thomason=son of Thomas; Neilson=son of Neil; Larson=son of Lars; Ericsson=son of Eric, and so forth. Because it’s so second nature to us, we don’t realize that individualism is a relatively new phenomenon on the stage of human development. It was virtually unheard of on the planet as self-evident truth or the foundations of civil order, until the 18th century. To this day around the world, it’s a minority perspective of self-awareness.

Descartes’, “I think, therefore I am,” seems self-evident to us, but the people of the Bible would not have known what he was taking about. Their answer to the “Who am I?” question would be: “I have a place therefore, I am.” The place could be “in/from my father,” or my clan, tribe, village, or ethnic group. All these things contributed to an ancient person’s sense of identity. Some social scientists have coined the phrase the “Three G’s:” gender, genealogy, and geography to summarize how ancients got their sense of self-identity. It’s vastly different than ours and has profound impact on interpretation and application of Scripture.

While it’s important to separate eternal and universal kingdom values from the human cultural settings of the Bible, it’s also important to not unconsciously read our culture into it. The kingdom of God cannot be reconfigured to a Western 21st century framework of psychological presuppositions. Windows Vista won’t run on a software platform designed for Windows 3.1. God’s kingdom life and power won’t work using Western value system architecture. Attempting to do so will cause a spiritual systems crash. When spiritual systems crash, we are left to deal with devastated lives and human suffering, not just a frozen computer and a weeks worth of aggravation.

Since Jesus is the kingdom norm for all time, we can rest assured that the cultural values He manifested are also kingdom values. By taking on human nature there are certain elements of human life and function that Christ elevated to a universal kingdom dimension by the place and timing of His incarnation. We don’t need to become more Semitic/Jewish in a cultural sense, but we do need to pay attention to those Semitic values that have been promoted to universal status in the incarnation of Christ. It’s not always an easy job to sort out.[ii]

Before Christ did any ministry, act of service, or miracle for His Father, He had His identity confirmed. He heard an audible voice from Heaven saying: “This is my beloved Son.”[iii] At critical junctures in His life, the Father didn’t give Him more power, but reaffirmed His identity.[iv] Christ’s identity as the Son, and His relationship to the Father, was the place the devil relentlessly assaulted Him all the days of His ministry: “If you’re the Son of God . . .”  (Matthew 4:3);  “We know your father, you’re a bastard . . .” (John 8:41), etc.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that from the manger to the tomb, Christ’s identity was under nonstop attack. This is especially true in John’s gospel. Why? Because the devil knows that identity, not the anointing, is the basis of kingdom manifestation. If he could get Christ to waver in His sense of identity, then His mission would be undone. Since the disciple is not above his master, we should expect no less. If we want to see healing gifts and physical healings flow in our midst in greater power and frequency, then we must move off an anointing paradigm of ministry, and onto a healed identity paradigm of ministry.

Our identity can be damaged in different ways. Sin mars our perception of God’s image from the day we are born. People who promised to accept us or validate us if we would just be more like them, distort the image. That can include authority figures, parents, leaders, and peer groups.  Even the routine bumps and bruises of life experienced in this sin-stained world tend to mold us into an image other than God’s image for us. Thankfully, in our redemption Christ not only assures us of heaven, but He also renews the image of God in us.

The most beneficial and long-term effect of spiritual gifts will occur when they are in the hands of folks who’ve had their identity healed. Their doctrine doesn’t have to be perfect, and their behavior doesn’t have to be flawless. Yet knowing who Christ is, who He is in us, and who we are in Him, is the proper foundation for fruitful ministry. It’s the sure foundation.[v] The Scriptures are overflowing with references to our new identity.[vi] How utterly important it is to know:

  • Who am I?   Our creation (natural birth) and re-creation identity – personhood.
  • What am I?  What am I supposed to do? – Our talents and supernatural endowments.
  • Where do I belong? What is the context for my identity and expression? Community, Body placement, and activation.

These are like the necessary minimum three legs of a stool. Miss any one, and the stool tips over.  The sooner we sort these things out in our lives, the better off we will be. Young people could avoid numerous unnecessary sidetracks if these issues were addressed early in their faith. Paul understood the importance. The first three chapters of Ephesians are all about our new identity in Christ (what Christ has done for us, who we are in Him, etc.).  No behavioral requirement is mentioned until the pivot verse of Ephesians 4:1: “Now, therefore . . .” It’s a mistake to push people for discipleship or spiritual gift functionality before they understand their new identity incarnationally, not just intellectually. The greatest favor a would-be discipler can do for a new convert or disciple, is reveal the greatness of Christ and the disciple’s place in Him.

Since I’m mortal, my identity and empowerment must have a context for expression on this side of eternity.  My “in Him-ness” needs to find expression in space and time. We have a place in the heart of the Father and we have a place on earth. Identity cannot be expressed in a vacuum. It requires a context, a canvas, or a template upon which to operate. Identity’s context is community: family (natural), family (spiritual-the Body of Christ), and the world universal (we are ambassadors).  He not only restored us individually to Himself and His Father, but He also restores us to others: family, community, the Body, and the world. We are recreated for community and our message to the unbelieving world should be, join us in this fellowship (1 John 1:3 – koinonia, more on this later.).

The believer’s placement is multidimensional. All three essentials are in Him:

  • my personhood is new in Him (my new name).
  • my strength is from Him (what am I, what I can do).
  • my place is in His bosom, and in the Body.

The promise given to the overcomers in Revelation 2:17 and 3:12 is that a new name, literally a new identity, would be written upon them. Not only do believers get a new name, but the name of the city of God is also written upon them. These are two of the three legs of the stool: identity and a place of belonging.  The implication is that these are the context for gift expression and operation and they need to be firmly established early on.

[i] Our education system is based on apprehension of correct technical information, not life-functionality skills.

[ii] The challenge of all Bible interpretation is sorting out which values are transcultural and universal, and which are not. It’s an honest job, and beyond the scope of this writing to delve into.

[iii] Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22.

[iv] John 12:29.

[v] 1 Corinthians 3:11.

[vi] Please refer to Appendix D for a list.

Copyright 2011. This article is excerpted from our book: Healing: Hope or Hype? by  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, Eloquent Books, New York, New York. All rights Reserved. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact

Christianity Without Religion

Hello Friends,

If you are interested, here is a podcast link to an interview done last June with our friend, Greg Albrecht, of Plain Truth Ministries dealing with “Christianity Without Religion.”