Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2012 1:00 pm
The Messenger, January 26, 2012
Prophet, Priest and King!
By WALLY BUMPAS
Special to The Messenger
If Christianity is true, then contradictory belief systems cannot also be true at the same time. As we said last week, two plus two cannot be three, four, five and seven. It can only be four. You won’t get far trying to convince your banker that two plus two is seven just because you think it’s fair and you need the money. In the same way, if Christianity says one thing about Jesus (that He is God) and Islam another (that He is not), then they can’t both be right.
Last week, the Heidelberg Catechism stated that “salvation cannot be found in anyone else” besides Jesus Christ. Now we have to ask “Why?” The answer is simple: Christ, the God-man, is the only one qualified. Now comes the bigger question: “Qualified to do what?” What is Christianity for? Why does anyone need it? In our culture, to say “Jesus saves” is meaningless, maybe even dangerous. Those pregnant words must be defined! Who is Jesus, and what does He save a person from?
Question 31 of the Catechism asks: Why is He (Jesus) called “Christ”, meaning “anointed”? Answer: Because He has been ordained by God the Father and has been anointed by the Holy Spirit to be our chief prophet and teacher, who perfectly reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance; our only high priest who has set us free by the one sacrifice of His body, and who continually pleads our cause with the Father; and our eternal king who governs us by His word and Spirit, and who guards us and keeps us in the freedom He has won for us.
This is a rather long job description, but the key words are prophet, priest and king. No one verse in the Bible says, “Jesus is a prophet, priest and king,” but His fulfillment of those three roles is on virtually every page of the New Testament. It is a handy way of remembering what Jesus did at His first coming and continues to do today.
If Jesus is a prophet, priest, and king, what does that say about us? It says that in order for fallen humanity to be reconciled to God the Creator, this is what we need. Jesus - and only Jesus - addresses what we need. What He came to fix lines up perfectly with what’s broken in each one of us.
Think of it like this: our three big problems are ignorance, guilt, and a wayward heart with a mind of its own. Left to ourselves, we know there’s a God, but we can’t figure out much about Him. We’re ignorant. So we need a prophet to tell us what we must know to be restored to fellowship with God.
Our sin makes us guilty before God. Usually when people feel guilty, it’s because they are guilty. We can come up with a million ways to get rid of our guilt, but none of them works. Left to ourselves, we can’t do anything about our guilt before God. In the Old Testament, the priest offered a sacrifice to take away the guilt of the worshiper. So that’s what we need, someone to offer a sacrifice to pay for sin and thus take away our guilt.
And we have a wayward heart that needs to be restrained and trained to choose the right paths. That means we need a king who will graciously and gently rule over us and protect us, not only from evil in the world, but from ourselves.
We are ignorant, guilty, and “out of control.” We need a prophet, a priest, and king! As a prophet, Jesus explained God to us. “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). As a priest, Jesus offered Himself in our place to bear the penalty for sin and take away our guilt (the theme of the book of Hebrews). As a king, Jesus “governs us by His word and Spirit” and “guards us and keeps us.”
A Christian is a person who has embraced Christ as prophet, priest, and king. Question 32 asks: But why are you called a Christian? Answer: Because by faith I am a member of Christ and so I share in His anointing. I am anointed to confess His name, to present myself to Him as a living sacrifice of thanks, to strive with a good conscience against sin and the devil in this life, and afterward to reign with Christ over all creation for all eternity.
Notice how this definition of a Christian lines up with the concepts of prophet, priest, and king. We tell the truth about God. We offer ourselves as a “sacrifice” that He might somehow use us all our days. Then one day we will reign with Christ forever.
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Editor’s note: Wally Bumpas serves as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Dyersburg.
Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone