How Jesus’s Being the Prophet, Priest, and King Inform the Church
Seems like it is a good time of the year to count our blessings and consider again where they come from. The Larger Catechism questions for today are a great benefit to accomplishing that. For the believer there is always a need to be comforted in the reminder that everything we have, everything we need, both now and in the future, has their yeah and amen in the ongoing ministry of our Savior. In these Q/A’s we get to hear exactly how He goes about making sure in real time and through His providence His sheep are provided for in His glory. The fact that our Lord fulfills all of the roles registered below each in their own way deliver a particular peace and help in understanding how He is continuing in His ascension to be God to His covenant people.
The three offices of Christ are called that for a few reasons. First, when we use the word “office” we mean it in the same way we do when we say the “office of the President of the United States of America” or the “principal’s office”. Both in their own way describe authority, the former a position held by an individual with particular duties and responsibilities, and the second a location where that person performs most of those functions. There is a sense of awe that should come with their mention, especially for those of us who spent time in the latter. That is part of the purpose in our Catechism questions using the title Christ rather than the personal name Jesus. The Anointed One in His grant of authority given by the Father in His raising from the dead continues to actively be engaged in the world. How He does that is listed in each of the Q/A’s:
Q. 43. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A. Christ executes the office of a prophet, in His revealing to the church, in all ages, by His Spirit and word, in divers ways of administration, the whole will of God, in all things concerning their edification and salvation.
Q. 44. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
A. Christ executes the office of a priest, in his once offering himself a sacrifice without spot to God, to be a reconciliation for the sins of his people; and in making continual intercession for them.
Q. 45. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?
A. Christ executes the office of a king, in calling out of the world a people to Himself and giving them officers, laws, and censures, by which He visibly governs them; in bestowing saving grace upon his elect, rewarding their obedience, and correcting them for their sins, preserving and supporting them under all their temptations and sufferings, restraining and overcoming all their enemies, and powerfully ordering all things for His own glory, and their good; and also in taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel.
One of the key words we need to pay attention to here is Church. In Colossians 1 the Apostle Paul says:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
His Prophethood, Priesthood, and Kingship are all for the purpose of reconciling sinners to Himself, and bringing them into His eternal kingdom, which has its local expression the body of Christ. We see it conveyed in a number of ways in the ordinary life of the Church. Whether that be in the proclamation of the gospel from the pulpit by His ministers grounded in what He has revealed in His blessed Scriptures, the application of His shed blood for sinners in the way the preaching of truth shows us our sin and moves us to repentance and thereby persuades us to make use of the means of His intercession, or in the usage of the keys of the kingdom by the officers of His Church in the works of accepting confessed believers into the number of the militant faith, or in performing the lamentable labor of disciplining wayward members in the life of the body of Christ expressed in the institutional Church respectively are an expression of each of the offices of prophet, priest, and king.
Let’s expand on the one we see the most a little bit next.
As Q. 43 makes clear there were times in the days of ancient Israel where the revelation of the truth of God was made directly through men like Moses, Isaiah, or Malachi. When we talk about pastors having a similar calling due to this office of Christ we are not saying they are able to receive new words from the Lord. While the Second Helvetic Confession notes that the “preaching of the word of God is the word of God” it is making that argument because of the rule of Jehovah God in His Son when the Church speaks, He speaks, yet just like in Deuteronomy 18 and Acts 17 if the prophet does not model his communication on what is spoken of by Jesus in His Bible the man is to be ignored, for the preacher in this case has violated the sacred trust he has been given by Christ Himself. It’s part of the work of the Bereans within the Church to see to it that they are being fed with the divine bread from Heaven, which gets us into a little bit of Q. 45. If your minister is not giving the life-giving gospel engage your elders to enforce the laws and censures provided by your King in the auspices of the Presbytery.
On that note here’s a word more:
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church