HC 32 — Christians as Prophets, Priests, and Kings Under Sovereign God

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.

Ethelwyn Wetherald

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.


Mark Van Der Molen Exposes R. Scott Clark as Operating Outside the Bounds of the BCF

The below piece by my good friend Mark Van Der Molen, an Elder in the URC, simply but convincingly demonstrates that Dr. R. Scott Clark as one of the chief R2K proponents is openly operating outside the confession he has sworn to uphold.

Contradicting the Canons

HC 31 — Munus Triplex

Question 31: Why is He called Christ, that is, anointed?

Answer: Because He is ordained of God the Father, and anointed with the Holy Ghost,1 to be our chief Prophet and Teacher,2 who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption; and to be our only High Priest, who by the one sacrifice of His body, has redeemed us,3 and makes continual intercession with the Father for us;4 and also to be our eternal King,5 who governs us by His word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us6 in the enjoyment of that salvation He has purchased for us.

As the HC continues breaks down the meaning of the Apostle’s Creed (AC) so as to teach us what it means to be delivered from our Sin & Misery we first looked at the name, “Jesus.” Now we, take up His title, “Christ.” The most obvious thing to say here first it that “Christ” is a title and not a name. Jesus is the name. Christ is the title. Christos is the Greek word  used as a synonym for Old Testament word “Messiah.” Both of these words carry the meaning of “the anointed one.” The Greek word “Christos” is from a root word that means to smear or rub with oil and is usually associated with a sacred setting aside of the one anointed. John’s Gospel demonstrates that Messiah and Christ are used synonymously.

John 1:41 (NASB) He [Andrew] found first his own brother Simon and *said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ).

It should be added here that though we associate Christ and Messiah with deity there were many anointed ones prior to the coming of the Christ. However, with the coming of Christ and His fulfillment of all the OT Messianic types certainly deity is properly tied in our thinking of the word “Christ” in our present context.

The above thus takes us to the idea of anointing itself. The HC, following Scripture, teaches that Jesus was ordained of God the Father be the Christ (the anointed one).

1Heb. 1:9, Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Jesus Himself at the beginning of His public ministry quotes from Isaiah;

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed..

This ordaining of the Father of the Son to be the Christ was an eternal ordination. From the foundations of the world the Son is set apart to be the anointed one. As the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8) the eternal Son was eternally ordained by the eternal Father to be the Christ.

In the Old Testament those entrusted with certain offices were set apart to their office of Prophet, Priest, or King, by means of being anointed with oil. Oil would be poured over them as an assignation to the office that they were being invested unto.

1 Samuel 16:13 (NASB) Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

 When David was anointed with oil the Bible says that the Holy Spirit came upon him. Therefore, we find the anointing with oil symbolizing the work of the Holy Spirit setting apart a person to a particular office.

Now the question arises where do we find this anointing of Jesus to His work of prophet, priest, and King? The answer to that is found in Jesus Baptism account. However, instead of being anointing with the type (oil) Jesus is anointed with the one whom the type pointed — the Spirit of God.

Matt 3:16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and [b]He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.

So, Jesus is set apart by His anointing — an anointing ordained by the Father and occurring just prior to entering into His public ministry. The HC then teaches us that the offices that Jesus is anointed unto are Prophet, Priest, and King. In theological jargon this is called the “Munus Triplex.” Jesus the God/Man is anointed to these three offices. No other person in OT history ever filled these three offices at the same time. However, Jesus being the fulfillment of all the shadows of the OT fulfills all three. Jesus fills all three offices because fallen man needs the anointed one to represent him as a Prophet, Priest, and King.

The HC teaches that Jesus is our chief Prophet. This necessity and coming of a chief prophet was prophesied early in Israel’s existence;

2Deut. 18:18, I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put My words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

And in Acts 3 Peter explicitly says of Jesus Christ that He was that Prophet long ago promised by God;

Acts 3:22, For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you.

We learn then that Jesus the Christ is set apart;

to be our chief Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption

A Prophet’s role is speak for God the mind of God to the people. 

John 1:18, No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.

John 15:15, Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you.

Matt. 11:27, All things are delivered unto Me of My Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.

This idea of Jesus being anointed to be our chief prophet teaches us that there is no knowing of the Father or the mind of the Father apart from the work of the Prophet. Put bluntly, God cannot be known apart from the revelation of Jesus as Prophet. This means that all other God’s who claim to be God who have not Jesus as the anointed prophet are not God. By extension it means those who will not submit to the Christian Bible can not have God as their God since Jesus’ work as our Great High Prophet is found only in Scripture.

That which our Great High Prophet speaks to us is concerning our Redemption. Redemption bespeaks the idea that we, as ruined and lost rebels are reclaimed by God by means of the Cross work of Jesus Christ. Our Redemption speaks of everything from our renewal to our glorification.

Jesus not only speak to us as Prophet the mind of God but as our Great High Priest He speaks for us to God. He is our representative. He is our mediator. He is our surety — the one who is responsible for His people. 

3Ps. 110:4, The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

Heb. 7:21, (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.)

Heb. 10:14, For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

Jesus is our Great High Priest spoke of in the passages above. The function of a Priest in the OT was to offer up the sacrifices for the sins of the people that their sin might be removed and to intercede for the people. Jesus fulfills this office by offering up Himself as our sacrifice. Jesus then is both the Priest who offers up the sacrifice and the sacrifice itself. Jesus also continue to fulfill the office of Priest by continually praying for His people. The Scripture teaches that Christ ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). So, as He prayed for us on earth as our Great High Priest (John 17) so He continues to pray for us at the right hand of the Father just by His presence.

4Rom. 8:34, Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

All of this bespeaks again of the centrality of Jesus Christ should one desire to have peace with God the Father. There is no safety from God apart from coming under the priestly work of the revealed Jesus of the Bible and not any other Jesus. If one desires to be rescued/saved they must have a Priest who will save them. Jesus is our great High Priest ordained by the Father and anointed by the Spirit to that end.

Just as the work of Jesus the Christ as Prophet centered on teaching us all things concerning our redemption so the work of Jesus the Christ as Priest centers us His redeeming us as well as interceding for us. Understanding the Christian faith is impossible apart from understanding the tie between Jesus and redemption. Flee from any teacher who would teach you Christianity and put redemption on the back burner.

The third office that Jesus has been anointed to is the office of King.

5Ps. 2:6, Yet have I set My king upon My holy hill of Zion.

Luke 1:33, And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

The prophet speaks the mind of God to the people. The Priest represents the people before God. As we know a King leads His people. This is what the HC teaches;

Jesus governs us by His word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us6 in the enjoyment of that salvation He has purchased for us.

As God’s people we have the King’s word. Once redeemed by Christ, Christ comes to us via Word and Spirit to answer the question; “How shall we now live?” We as His redeemed people live the redeemed life as governed by His Word and Spirit.

Don’t miss again the centrality of the Word. We, as the Kings people, are to be governed by His Word under the afflatus of the Holy Spirit. Christians are a Word centered people.

This question hints at the idea of the perseverance of the saints. The Lord Christ, having purchased salvation for His people, will not allow, as our King, for His people to be stripped of the salvation He purchased for them. He defends and preserves us from all enemies.

John 10:28, And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.

Like Pilgrim in “Pilgrim’s Progress” we will all arrive to the Celestial City because of His defending and preserving work as our Liege-Lord. We only persevere because the King preserves us. The anointed Jesus can do this because;

Matt. 28:18, And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.

As a King not only does our majestic Lord Christ govern us but as King He takes it upon Himself to defend and preserve us in the enjoyment of that salvation He purchased for us.

Upon learning such truths how can the Christian not be lost in wonder, love and praise. To think that God us provided us a Christ who has done it all and who continues to shepherd until we arrive at the gates of the Celestial city where we will hear the “Well Done,” of the one who gave us grace to be “good and faithful servants.”

A Advent Confession

While shepherds kept their watch by night
God sent His only Begotten Son into the World
Very God of Very God and
Very Man of Very Man

He is the Image of the Invisible God
The Firstborn over all creation
The Revelation of God proclaimed “He is the Light of the World”
The Angels spoke of Him in terms of “good tidings of Great Joy.”

He is before all things and
In Him all things consist
With the Promised coming
The Nations shall make their way to pay Him homage
And the families of the earth will be blessed

The Great King has come
And He has Saved His people from their sins
And so far does His Triumph extend
That all things are reconciled in Him

Let now the Praise of God be on our Lips
And a double-edged sword be in our hand
For the service of His Kingdom
and the Praise of His Name

Remember, Believe, and Act upon
During this Advent Rejoicing
“God Gave the Word
Let us be the great company who proclaims Him.”

HC Question 29 — Jesus as Jehovah’s Salvation

Question 29: Why is the Son of God called Jesus, that is, a Savior?

Answer: Because He saveth us, and delivereth us from our sins;1 and likewise, because we ought not to seek, neither can find salvation in any other.2

Remember the Heidelberg Catechism (HC) is in Section II (our Deliverance) as a significant portion explaining the meaning of Apostle’s Creed (AC). We have looked at the first strophe of the AC and now we turn to the second strophe that confesses the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Keep in mind before we press on that the meaning of the AC that we have confessed as mere Christianity has already left much of the Christian Church in the West as strangers to the true meaning of Biblical Christianity. The high view of God’s Sovereignty set forth already in the HC has separated us from Arminians (All Pentecostals, Wesleyans, Nazarenes, Church of God, Methodists, Free Methodists, etc.)  and Roman Catholics. We may all mouth the same words when confessing the AC but we are each clearly filling those words with different meaning. Nobody, among the various expressions of Christianity has the high view of God that the Reformed have as has been set forth in the HC. This means that the Reformed vis-a-vis the other expressions of Christianity have a very different feel about them. The upshot of that is that we Reformed are not only strangers to the world but we don’t exactly fit in with the non-Reformed crowd either.

As we come to HC Q. 29 the catechizers turn to consider the magnificent Lord Jesus Christ as the bringer and provider of our salvation. The Catechizers point out here the essence of the name and title of our Deliverer.

Jesus has the name He has because He saves us from our sins.

1Matt. 1:21, And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.

The name “Jesus” literally means “Jehovah is Salvation.”  Jesus’ name in English comes from the Latin Isus, which is a transliteration of the Greek Iesous, which is a transliteration of the Aramaic name Yeshua, which comes from the Hebrew Yehoshua, or Joshua. The name comes from the Hebrew verb yasha, which means “he saves,” and the proper name “Ya,” which is short for the name Yahweh.

Paying close attention here we understand that the Joshua of the OT in his work then is a prefiguring of the Jesus which was to come. Just as Joshua was faithful in bringing God’s people into the Promised land so Jesus brings God’s people into God’s Kingdom. Joshua as God’s warrior for God’s people is a preview of Jesus being God’s warrior for God’s people. Joshua fights the enemies of God and Jesus does the same, triumphing over them as Joshua did. Jesus is thus the greater Joshua in the deliverance/salvation He provides. Joshua provided only a temporal deliverance. Jesus provides an eternal deliverance from our sins.

The sins which Jesus saves us from are those acts whereby we seek to de-God, God while seeking to en-God ourselves as God. The sins which Jesus saves us from are our acts of treason and rebellion against the rightful ruler of the cosmos. The sins which Jesus saves us from includes our sin nature as from our Father Adam, our own lack of conformity to God’s law standard and any violation of the same. Jesus as savior saves us from sin, self, and Satan’s hegemony over us as his vassals, and most importantly from the just wrath of God. When we think of Jesus the first reality that we should think of is that Jesus is our salvation.

All men who refuse this salvation live their whole lives seeking to find some kind of salvation precisely because they refuse to be saved with the only salvation that can save them. It is only in the Christ of the Bible wherein men can cease their pursuits of pseudo-salvations and know the peace that deliverance from danger brings. The people you know or meet who are not saved by this Jesus are people who are twisted by their rebellion, and their instinctual understanding that God’s wrath remains upon them. That twistedness that comes from a lack of being saved will demonstrate itself in a host of possible permutations.

The unsaved refuse to learn that we ought not to seek, neither can find salvation in any other.2

This teaches the hard exclusivity that is characteristic of Biblical Christianity. Christianity teaches that there is no way to salvation (to be right and so have peace with God by our sins being extinguished) except through He who was provided by God the Father Almighty as the lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.

 2Acts 4:12, Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

If we will not be saved from our sins by He who is named “Jehovah is salvation,” then we will not be saved. This of course means that all those who put their hope in religions other than Biblical Christianity remain dead in their sins and so remain unsaved. Our compassion on unsaved men compels us to tell Muslims, Mormons, Jews, Hindus, Roman Catholics (see HC Q. & A. 30) Eastern Orthodox, etc. that it is only the Jesus of the Bible that can save.

Out of love for God and for those unsaved we placard and herald Jesus Christ as the only way for lost, wearied, and sad men to have salvation and so find peace with God.