HC 32 asks;
Question 32: But why art thou called a Christian?
Answer: Because I am a member of Christ by faith,7 and thus am partaker of His anointing;8 that so I may confess His name,9 and present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to Him;10 and also that with a free and good conscience I may fight against sin and Satan in this life,11 and afterwards reign with Him eternally, over all creatures.12
The HC moves us from examining why it is that Jesus has the title “Christ” in question 31 to asking why we are called “Christian” (i.e. — Little Christ one). You will notice as we move through this question that the HC authors use the same methodology that finds them concentrating on the three offices of Prophet, Priest, and King that we looked at in HC 31. This is important because it places our standing in Christ upon judicial categories and not merely on the basis of “a personal relationship with Jesus.”
The HC begins by establishing the necessity of faith alone in order to have a
interest in Christ. We are Christians because we are regenerated unto having a faith alone that embraces Christ and all His benefits.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…. (Eph. 2:1)
And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. (Luke 7:50)
If men will not have a faith that is comprised of a ever growing knowledge and assent then they can not presume to be a member of Christ. This ever growing knowledge and assent embraces all that the Scripture’s reveal concerning the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
HC 32 goes on from the teaching that faith alone makes us a member of Christ;
7 1 Cor. 6:15, Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
Christ is the head of the Church and the Church, in all its variedness is the body (members of Christ).
Note the anti-Gnostic thrust of this passage above.
Because we are members of the body of Christ, who is the head, we partake in His anointing to the office of Prophet, Priest, and King. This means that all believers are prophet, priests, and kings under sovereign God. We have all been invested to mighty offices because of our union with the Lord Jesus Christ. We understand here that our investiture to these offices is derivative only of Christ’s investiture to these offices but that investiture remains very real.
First HC 32 teaches that the Church and the members thereof are anointed
8 1 John 2:27, But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.
Joel 2:28, And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.
As we noted in HC 31 this anointing is a setting apart to particular offices to the end of being agents of God’s Kingdom work. As Christians we are anointed to the office of Prophet under sovereign God;
and thus am partaker of His anointing;8 that so I may confess His name,
9 Matt. 10:32, Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven.
As Biblical Christians we have the duty and privilege to practice the office of prophet in this life by confessing Christ. This prophetic confessing of Christ is not only in terms of verbal words but our whole lives are characterized by confessing the Lordship of Jesus Christ. As we confess Christ we echo the work of Jesus Christ in His office of our great High Prophet. As we confess Christ as prophet we speak and live forth the word of God from God to people around us. Our words and our lives in their totality should be a confessing of His name.
This confessing of His name will mean that many people will hate us since if they hated Jesus as God’s prophet they will also hate us (John 15:8). This confessing of His name also will mean that many people will love us given how great is the company of fellow prophets.
Note what HC 32 does not mean when it comes to being prophets under sovereign God. It does not mean Pentecostal silliness of prophesying the unknown future. This role of prophet is speaking forth the revealed Christ in Scripture before men who refuse the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Not only are we invested unto the office of Prophet, but the HC 32 teaches that we are invested unto the office of Priest also. HC 32 teaches that we are to;
present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to Him
10 Rom. 12:1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Here we learn that our whole lives, including our bodies are to be “living sacrifices” unto God. All of our lives are lived in light of the reality of who God is. The implication of this is that we die daily to sin, and self. HC 32 characterizes this living sacrifice as one that breathes of thankfulness. Note, unlike the OT sacrifices that were left lifeless that our sacrifice is characterized as “living.” Our whole lives as Priests go from sacrifice of thankfulness to God unto sacrifice of thankfulness to God. This idea anticipates the third section of the HC that teaches on our gratitude. All of our living as priests before God is anchored in our thankfulness of His sacrifice in our stead — on our behalf. We render our lives as glad sacrifices for all that He sacrificed for us as dead and lost sinners. Our sacrifice is akin to the thanks offering rendered up in the OT sacrificial system (Lev. 3:1). We bring of our best to the Master and offer it up unto Him in praise for all that He has given to us.
We have a third office we are invested into as Christians and that is the office of king under sovereign God.
and also that with a free and good conscience I may fight against sin and Satan in this life…
11 Eph. 6:11–12, Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
1 Tim. 1:18–19, This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.
First, note that we are described as having a “free and good conscience.” We have a free and good conscience to fight because our consciences can no longer condemn us because Christ us paid for our sin and so the accuser of the Brethren’s accusations fall harmless. We are indeed, great sinners but we have a greater savior, who, because of the salvation He has provided, frees and cleans our conscience so as to fight.
Next, as Christians we are anointed and so invested into the office of King and as Kings under sovereign God are orders are to fight.
My orders are to fight;
Then if I bleed, or fail,
Or strongly win, what matters it?
God only doth prevail.
The servant craveth naught
Except to serve with might.
I was not told to win or lose,–
My orders are to fight.
Our fight HC 32 teaches is against sin and Satan in this life. We must be careful not to be too pietistic in this interpretation. Our fight against sin and Satan in this life is not only internal. Our fight is not only against our wicked dispositions that still haunt all believers in this life but also against external expressions of sin that we find around us in our broader world. As Christian Fathers, Citizens, Elders, and Magistrates we are obligated as Kings under sovereign God to fight against sin and Satan. So, this fighting has both an internal and external dimension. We must fight sin and Satan as we find greed or sloth or pride, etc. in our lives but we must also fight sin and Satan as we find it and him in wicked Magistrates, wicked Corporations, or wicked Churches. Christ has indeed bid us, as Bonhoeffer noted, to come and die, but Christ has also bid us to come and fight the good fight with Him as anointed Kings under sovereign God.
Too often Christians in the 21st century refuse to fight against wickedness where it is found in this life. Too often Christians abandon their calling as Kings under sovereign God and so refuse to fight reasoning that “this world is not my home, I’m only a passing through,” as if their great High King is not King of this world. They listen to forked tongue theologians who keep pounding into them that “in this world we have no continuing city” as if that means we are just to roll over and surrender to those who are plying their trade as kings in Satan’s service. R2K for example is guilty of taking the stuffing out of our calling as Kings under sovereign God with their retreat and surrender in the name of a specious “holiness,” that finds them making every effort to retreat from the latest advance of the legions of the enemy. As Christians who are devotees of HC 32 we should hate R2K theology with the white hot hatred of a thousand suns because it either spiritualizes or divests us from our callings of kings under sovereign God.
And then once our course of fighting again sin and Satan — both internally and externally — is finished in this life then we take up the mantle of King in the life to come and reign with our Great High Liege Lord — the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven.
and afterwards reign with Him eternally, over all creatures.12
12 2 Tim. 2:12, If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us.
Our anointing to the office of kings under sovereign God continues into the life to come. We are to be co-regents under His regency. We will rule forever and ever. In this life our battle is ongoing but in the life to come there will be no resistance to our reign with our great Captain, the Lord Jesus Christ.
All of these offices of prophet, priest, and king that we are invested in are realities because of the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Because we have been anointed to these offices and so invested into them as God’s people we have a judicial standing unto the work of prophet, priest, and king, just as our fathers were invested into these offices. All of this bespeaks judicial categories. We fulfill these munus triplex (three in one) offices because of the juridical categories that we are invested in by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Our authority under Christ is judicial before it is relational but because it is judicial it is also relational.
We should end by asking ourselves if this is our self-understanding? Do we see ourselves as God’s men? Do we see ourselves as Christ’s warriors in the fight against sin, Satan and self? Do we see this life as a contest to expand the already present glorious Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ as good soldiers employed in His service?
I pray God that we might for too much of the church today from our leadership to our rank and file are fleeing the battle.
Never has there been a greater need for prophets, priests, and kings, under sovereign God.