VIII. Christ’s Work In Salvation-Christ As Prophet, Priest, And King: Q & A 23-28.
Q. 23 What offices does Christ execute as our Redeemer?
A. 23 Christ, as our Redeemer, executes the offices of a Prophet, of a Priest, and of a King, both in His estate of humiliation and exaltation.
Up to this point we learned that God willed to save some from a just condemnation, through a mediator, a Redeemer. We further learned that this Redeemer is none other than the second person of the Trinity incarnate-two natures but one person, both body and soul, born of the virgin Mary, and yet without sin. We now are to learn how the Redeemer of God’s elect effected this redemption. Throughout the old testament we read of three offices which served a mediatorial function between God and the people-prophets, priests, and kings. We also know that no man ever occupied all three of these offices in their one person, except the Son-this would be a sure sign of the Messiah’s authenticity, that He would occupy all three in His one person. His is a kingly reign which flows first from the prophetic word, and also through a priestly ministry.
Lawson writes, “by discharging the duties of a prophet, a priest, and a king,” He delivers us “from our threefold misery of ignorance, guilt, and bondage” (p. 20). He not only performed the duties of these offices while on earth, but He continues to perform these duties in heaven. Moses predicted the coming of this Prophet (Dt. 18:15, 18-19; Acts 3:22). The prophet, King David, predicted His priesthood (Ps. 110:4; Heb. 5:6; 6:20; 7:17, 21). David also predicted Messiah’s kingship (Ps. 2:6). It is also not coincidental that just prior to Jesus public earthly ministry, that the Devil would tempt Jesus with regard to all three of these offices. First he tested Him in regard to the prophetic word (Mt. 4:1-4), then the priestly ministry (vv. 5-7), then His kingly rule (vv. 8-11). It is important to note, as when Satan tempted Eve in the garden, he first challenges God’s word.
We should also learn that even as the prophetic office took precedence for our Lord, even so this must be our first axiom of all thought and existence. This is yet another reason why they began the catechism with the introductory axiom of the word. We can readily see therefore, that the Westminster divines did not come up with their questions in some arbitrary fashion. These questions and answers focus directly on the truths of scripture as they have been revealed to us. In fact, the addition in this answer, along with the threefold office of our Mediator, of His estates of humiliation and exaltation, come together wonderfully in the first two chapters of the epistle to the Hebrews. The Son as Prophet (Heb. 1:1-3a), Priest (v. 3b), and King (vv. 3c-4), was anointed to these offices which He exercised in both His estates of exaltation and humiliation (1:5-2:18).
Q. 24 How does Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A. 24 Christ executes the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by His word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.
The catechism acknowledges that there are two things we need if we are to know “the will of God for our salvation.” The first is we need the word. There is no true knowledge apart from God’s revelation, and this revelation has been perfected or made complete, in Christ (Cf. Heb. 1:1-4; Jn. 1:18; 20:21). The second thing we need, and which all true believers possess, is the work of the Holy Spirit to make the word effectual for us. The Roman church-state continues to teach that we need a papal mediator to understand the word, but the word itself teaches us that if we have the Spirit, that He will guide us into all truth (Cf. Jn. 14:26; 16:13).
Q. 25 How does Christ execute the office of a priest?
A. 25 Christ executes the office of a priest, in His once offering up Himself a sacrifice to satisfy Divine justice, and reconcile us to God; and in making continual intercession for us.
Christ only had to offer Himself up once (Heb. 9:28). Again, this is a direct repudiation of the Roman doctrine of the mass, whereby Christ is said to be offered up continually. We are further taught as to why He thus offered up Himself, that He might satisfy Divine justice. God set forth Christ as a propitiation (Cf. Rom. 3:25), that is, a sacrifice to satisfy His just wrath and condemnation of sin. “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17* Cf. I Jn. 2:2). He did this even while we had no love for Him (Cf. I Jn. 4:10; Rom. 5:10).
The satisfaction of divine wrath was also necessary to achieve the second goal of His sacrifice, that we should be thus reconciled to God through Him. God’s wrath must first be satisfied before we could draw near to him. Peace had to be established first. “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of the cross” (Col. 1:20). This is akin to the enmity which has been removed between Jew and Gentile by Christ, that reconciliation would also take place within the body of His church (Cf. Eph. 2:14-16).
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession” (Heb. 4:14). Having provided the satisfaction for Divine wrath, and reconciling us to God, Jesus remains in a position of making continual intercession for His people. “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). To this end, He also opens up the way for us to come to the throne of grace to make intercession in our time of need (Cf. Heb. 4:15-16). It is good to remember that Jesus continually makes intercession for us.
* One should note the mistranslation of the KJV on Hebrews 2:17, where it uses ‘reconciliation’. It is the same Greek word which it translates as ‘propitiation’ in the other places where it occurs (Rom. 3:25; I Jn. 2:2; 4:10). Reconciliation and propitiation are not synonymous terms-the latter is necessary for the former to occur.
Q. 26 How does Christ execute the office of a king?
A. 26 Christ executes the office of a king, in subduing us to Himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all His and our enemies.
The catechism notes three things which fall under the office of Christ as King. First in order is that we as His enemies are subdued to Himself. This is in fulfillment of prophetic promise (Cf. Ps. 110:3). He also rules us. Our part is to bring every thought captive to Christ (II Cor. 10:5). His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Mt. 11:29). Finally, He defends us and defeats our enemies. “For the LORD is our Judge, the LORD is our Lawgiver, the LORD is our King; He will save us” (Is. 33:22 Cf. II Tim. 4:18). “For He must reign, till He has put all enemies under His feet” (I Cor. 15:25).