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The Threefold Work of Christ

Introduction

In the time of the Old Testament there were three classes of mediators between God and His people: prophets,[1] priests[2] and kings.[3] Each of them was anointed, to indicate holiness or separation unto God. As the perfect Mediator,[4] Christ embodies in Himself all three offices: As prophet He represents God to man; as priest He represents man in the presence of God; as king He exercises dominion over all. At His baptism, He was anointed as the promised deliverer of Israel,[5] and thus confirmed in all three offices.

1. Christ the Prophet

A prophet is one who receives divine revelations and passes them on to the people.[6] Prophecy is based upon the principle that God is in control of history and "does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets."[7] The ultimate fulfillment of Moses' prophecy concerning the prophet like him whom God would raise up,[8] was found in Christ.[9] However, in Christ we have more than a prophet; we Have the Son to whom the Spirit is not given by measure,[10] and we have One who not only speaks the words of God, but is Himself the Word made flesh.[11]

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His prophetic ministry was characterized by authority,[12] as He replaced "Thus says the Lord" with "I say to you;"[13] teaching through parables (illustrations of divine truth); the announcement of the imminence of God's kingdom [14] and teaching about its nature, membership and future;[15] His self-revelation as the Son of man through whose sufferings and exaltation the kingdom would come.[16]

He confirmed His prophetic ministry by performing miracles, was recognized by the people as a prophet [17] and referred to Himself as one.[18] Christ inspired the Old Testament prophets,[19] appoints prophets in the churches,[20] sends them,[21] and continues His prophetic ministry through the operation of the gifts of the Spirit.[22]

2. Christ the Priest

A priest is a person divinely consecrated to represent man before God, and to offer sacrifices to secure man's pardon and acceptance.[23] The Old Testament high priest was a type of saviour in that he made atonement for Israel once a year by sprinkling blood in the Holy of Holies. Jesus became the ultimate Saviour and High Priest by ascending into heaven and entering "the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, having obtained redemption."[24]

The author of Hebrews stresses the perfection of Christ'a priesthood: It is an appointment by God;[25] it is based on God's oath, and thus "the guarantee of a better covenant;"[26] it is permanent, "because Jesus lives forever;[27] it is perfect, because it is based upon His perfection and sinlessness;[28] its sacrifice needs no repeating, but was rendered "once for all;"[29] its offering was Jesus' own blood, and not the blood of bulls and goats;[30] its service is in heaven, in the true and perfect tabernacle;[31] its result is regular access to God for all Christians;[32] its full forgiveness provides the highest motivation for works of "love and good deeds;""[33] its effectiveness in the lives of God's people is guaranteed by Christ's constant intercession.[34]

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Although Christ offered a perfect sacrifice once and for all, His priestly work still continues. He ever lives to apply the merits and power of His atoning work before God on behalf of the elect. He claims all spiritual blessings for His people; defends them against the charges of Satan,the law and conscience; and sanctifies their worship and service through the operation of the Holy Spirit.

3. Christ the King

That the office of priest and king be held by one person was God's plan for the perfect ruler. Thus Melchizedek,as king of Salem and priest of the most high God, was a type of God's perfect King, the Messiah.[35] In distinction from the kingship Christ shares with the Father as His Son, the kingship conferred on Him as Mediator is twofold: His spiritual kingship over the church and His kingship over the universe.

3.1 His spiritual kingship. His kingship over the church is spiritual, because it relates to a spiritual realm (the hearts and lives of believers), has a spiritual end in view (the salvation of sinners), and is administered by spiritual means (the Word and the Spirit). This kingship, as well as the realm over which it extends, is "the kingdom of God," which is a present spiritual reality [36] as well as a future hope. The future rule of Christ will be realized at His return [37] when it will be a visible and eternal kingship.[38]

3.2 His universal kingship. His kingship over the universe pertains to His providential and judicial administration of all things in the interest of His church. He guides the destinies of individuals, of social groups and of nations to promote the growth and perfecting of His church. He protects His own against the dangers in the world and will finally subject and destroy all His enemies.

When He returns He will reward His servants, punish the wicked, and assert His sovereignty over the world. For a 1000 years He will rule the nations with a rod of iron. When He has put all His enemies under His feet, He will hand over the kingdom to God the Father,[39] because He will have accomplished His purposes.

References:

1. 1 Kings 19:16
2. Exodus 28:41
3. 1 Samuel 16:1
4. 1 Timothy 2:5
5. Isaiah 11:2; 42:1; 61:1
6. Isaiah 6
7. Amos 3:7
8. Deuteronomy 18:15ff
9. Acts 3:22-26
10. John 3:34
11. John 1:1-14
12. Matthew 7:29
13. Matthew 5:43-44
14. Matthew 4:17
15. Matthew 13
16. Matthew 24-25
17. Matthew 21:11
18. Luke 13:33
19. 1 Peter 1:11
20. Ephesians 4:11
21. Matthew 23:34
22. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11
23. Hebrews 5:1,3
24. Hebrews 9:12
25. 5:10
26. 7:22
27. 7:24
28. 7:26-28
29. 7:27
30. 9:12
31. 8:2;9:11
32. 10:14-17
33. 10:19-24
34. 7:25
35. Gen 14:18-19; Hebrews 7:1-3
36. Colossians 1:13
37. 1 Corinthians 15:50
38. Luke 1:33
39. 1 Corinthians 15:24-25

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Berkhof, L. A Summary of Christian Doctrine, London, England: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1938.

2. Douglas, J.D. (ed.) New Bible Dictionary, Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1962.

3. Hammond, T.C. In Understanding be Men, Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1968.

4. McDowell, J. Evidence that demands a Verdict, U.S.A.: Campus Crusade for Christ, 1972.

5. Pearlman, M. Knowing the Doctrines of the Bible Part 2, Roodepoort, R.S.A.: Gospel Publishing House, 1937.

6. Thompson, F.C. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible (N.I.V.), Michigan, U.S.A.: Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1983.

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Posted in: Bible by on July 23, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

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