Trusting in the Means of Grace in the Offices of Christ
One of the things that believers ought to consider about their faith is that it is meant to be triumphant. We may not always feel that way, but it does not change the reality of what is truly happening in the world. Our walking through the valley of the shadow of death is done in the context of fearing no evil for the LORD our God is with us. We stand tall in the face of our enemies precisely because we see their weakness in comparison to the strength of Jehovah. The tenor of Holy Scripture from Genesis 3:15 to Revelation 19:21 is one of seeing the Mighty One of Israel destroying the kingdoms of the world, and all those who refuse to bow the knee receiving the same. In our Q/A’s we get a sneak peak into how God goes about accomplishing these things through His Son, as the Apostle Paul exclaims, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let’s look at the Larger Catechism for this week:
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.
In each of the explanations above concerning the offices of Christ we hear specifics about how our Lord is going about fulfilling Romans 8:21, “… because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” The oversight of our Redeemer is going to be one of success. These questions provide a battle plan of how that is taking place. It is in the proclamation of the free offer of the gospel that men are washed in the blood of the lamb, and as more and more come to faith in Jesus the more the world itself is being transformed by the spread of God’s truth from nation to nation, people to people, to every hill and vale on earth.
Now, some folks don’t care for the word “transform” or its cognate “transformational”, and for good reason. The church is not called to change anything. That’s not her job, nor does she have the power to do so. The work of the congregation of Christ is to follow the call of Deuteronomy 12:32 and let the means of grace achieve all that the Lord will do through it. In that we see the wisdom of God in His manner of accomplishing the purposes He has for His kingdom. The change we seek in culture, even in our nation, can only come from the personal. Even when we see national repentance and the ascendency of the Christian faith in a land it is because the man in charge (whether the king of Assyria or Constantine) has their heart strangely warmed by the Holy Spirit working in and through the revelation of God’s truth. No amount of bait-and-switch marketing will change that. It’s one of the many reasons why the Church must trust in the weapons she has received from above. The means, the message, and the mission should all be aligned towards the same goal, glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.
In Christ’s work as prophet we see our Lord providing the men of old with the very words of Holy Scripture so much so that along with the catechism we can say that when Moses speaks to the Israelites at Sinai Jesus speaks, and when Paul testifies to the Galatians it’s as if Christ Himself was writing on the parchment that the scribe of the apostle used to warn and comfort. Speaking of Galatians that’s why our fellow brother is so insistent that they not fall into the trap of listening to the false teachers and Judaizers, to do so would be to effectively deny the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, to take His priestly work and spit in its face. Not to be forgotten the same could be said of the way the correcting discipline of the Church is to be honored as we see in the call of God’s people to confront and rectify the situation when someone among the body is falling away in sin. Jesus’s sovereign kingship is lovingly applied by the elders spiritually shepherding the flock toward the righteousness purchased by faith.
I noted in the sermon (well, maybe a little after) that every Lord’s Day morning and evening worship service is to be understood in some sense as both a prep rally and as preparation for the battle that is before us. The Church can only win that victory if Christ is our prophet, that is He is the source and content of our truth, our priest in our resting in His salvation provided in His sacrifice alone, and finally in knowing the certainty of the King of Kings victory in the way that we live and move and have our being. Living in light of our own wisdom, and constantly placing the world and its purposes before our Lord’s will lead us only to be crushed under the weight of the flesh and its expectations. See the three-fold office of Christ as a great and perfect comfort and gift both this day and forevermore.
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church