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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Preached At:Providence Canadian Reformed Church
 Hamilton, Ontario
 
Title:Christ is our chief prophet and we share in his anointing
Text:LD 12 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God The Son
 
Preached:2011
Added:2011-12-27
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Note:  all songs from the 2010 Book of Praise

Hymn 66
Psalm 40:1-4
Hymn 84
Hymn 1
Psalm 48

Reading:  Deuteronomy 18:14-22
Text:  Lord's Day 12
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,

When most people hear the word “office,” they immediately think of a room with a desk where someone works.  But when we talk about the word “office” in the church we mean something different.  Here the word “office” refers to a calling or responsibility.  If we follow the dictionary definition, we’re speaking of a “a position of authority or service.” 

There are several different kinds of offices.  For instance, political leaders hold an office.  They have a responsibility and calling to serve the people of our province.  Parents have an office.  They have a responsibility and calling to raise their children in a godly way.  Pastors, elders, and deacons have an office in the church.  They have a responsibility and calling to serve the Lord and his people in special ways.  Those are all special offices that only some people hold.  Not everyone holds political office.  Many of us have the office of parent, but not all.  Only some of us are special office bearers in the church.

However, according to the Bible, all of us do have some kind of office.  Since all of us are Christians, we are all prophets, priests, and kings.  We share in the anointing of Christ who also is a prophet, priest, and king.  Today and over the next two Sundays, we will take a closer look at these three offices that believers share with Christ.  We’ll begin this afternoon with the office of prophet.  We’ll see that Christ is our chief Prophet and we share in his anointing

We’ll consider:

1.      What Christ’s office of prophet involves

2.      What our office of prophet involves

The Catechism says that Christ was given the office of a prophet.  But where does the Bible say this?  There are many places and I’ll just mention a couple.  A few moments ago we read from Deuteronomy 18 and that passage speaks of how God will send a prophet like Moses.  This prophet will have God’s words in his mouth.  In Acts 3:22, Peter explicitly says that Moses was speaking of Christ.  Our Lord Jesus is the prophet like Moses. 

Just as an aside here, some Muslims say that Deuteronomy 18 is a prophecy about Muhammad.  Islam says that Muhammad is the great and last prophet, the prophet like Moses.  There are two problems with that position.  First and most obvious is what the New Testament says in Acts 3:22.  However, Muslims will then say that the New Testament has been corrupted by Christians.  Peter never really applied Deuteronomy 18 to Jesus.  Christians later on invented Peter’s words.  To that we must reply:  where is the proof?  Where is the evidence of corruption in Acts 3:22?  There is none.  A second problem with the Islamic view of Deuteronomy 18 is that the prophet spoken of there is said to be one who would be raised up from among the people of Israel.  In other words, a Jew.  Not to belabour the obvious, but Muhammad was not a Jew.  Moses was not speaking about Muhammad, but about someone else.

Now back to what the Bible says.  Not only do the apostles say that Christ was a prophet.  Christ himself said it too.  In Luke 13:33 he was speaking about his ministry and the need to keep going to Jerusalem.  What was his reason?  “...for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem.” 

So let’s grant that the Bible teaches that Christ has been given the office of prophet.  But what does that mean?   We sometimes think of prophets like baptized fortune tellers.  Prophets tell what’s going to happen in the future.  God has shown them the future and then they let others know.  And it’s true that this is sometimes the case with prophets in the Bible.  Sometimes the prophets of the Old Testament did predict what would come.  Deuteronomy 18 even made it a way to discern a true prophet.  If what he speaks comes to pass, then he is a true prophet.  But there is more to say about what a prophet is and what he does.

The real central aspect of the prophetic office in the Old Testament is revelation.  God reveals not only future events, but also his will for people’s lives through the prophets.  Through the prophets, God revealed the changes that needed to be made in the lives of his people and also of the nations surrounding his people.  God revealed his threats against those who ignored his demands through the prophets.  If people would not obey God, the prophets spoke of the consequences.  Finally, God also revealed his promises through the prophets.  We think of the many passages in Isaiah and the other prophets where God promises redemption.  But what holds all these things together is the notion of revelation.  The prophets were God’s instruments to reveal things, to communicate.  They were God’s mouth.  You could say that they were mediators of God’s revelation. 

Christ has been ordained by the Father and anointed with the Spirit to be the Mediator par excellence of God’s revelation.  He was sent into this world to communicate God’s Word.  What had formerly been secret, he came to bring into the open for one and all to hear.  Not just for Jews, but also for every nation on the face of the earth.  Christ came to be God’s mouth for everyone, revealing what God has to say. 

And what is it that God has to say?  Our Catechism places all the focus on our redemption.  That makes sense, given that the Apostles’ Creed is all about everything that has been promised us in the gospel.  That makes sense in the context of the Catechism where we’re looking at our deliverance from sin and misery.  As a prophet, Christ has revealed God’s will for our salvation.  

As the Mediator of God’s revelation, he has come and spoken of our sinfulness.  In the Sermon on the Mount, he spoke of how the Law of God has not been cancelled by his coming, but rather confirmed and intensified.  He showed its true depth and meaning and by doing that, he creates in us the sense that we just can’t do it.  We can’t measure up to God’s demand for perfection. 

But as the Mediator of God’s revelation, our chief prophet and teacher doesn’t leave us there.  He comes with grace and mercy.  He says, “You can’t do it.  You fail all the time.  But here’s good news for you:  I am your Saviour.  I have kept God’s law perfectly for you.  And with my sacrifice on the cross I’ve paid for all your failures.  You can be at rest because of me.  You can have peace because you are mine, and I am yours.”

Does the Mediator of God’s revelation have more to say?  Well, the Catechism doesn’t go any further than our redemption.  And as I said, that fits with the purposes of the Catechism.  There’s nothing wrong or inappropriate about that.  However, Scripture does go further.  We can say more about Christ as prophet.  Just like the prophets of the Old Testament, our chief prophet and teacher has also given warnings and threats.  We might not like to think about these things, but this is the reality of God’s Word through Christ.  As a prophet he warns of the judgment that he will bring at the last day.  Think of his (his!) Revelation to the apostle John.  He reveals in that book that judgment will come to the unbelieving.  To those who don’t turn from their sin, he will come with a sword of justice. 

This is true for all, but he reveals a special measure of God’s wrath for the covenant people who do not believe.  Think of what it says in Matthew 10.  Christ sent out his disciples, not to the Romans or the Greeks or the Egyptians, but to the “lost sheep of Israel.”  To the covenant people.  And he says that if they will not receive his ambassadors, “it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”  There the chief prophet is speaking words of judgment that threaten and warn.  Sodom and Gomorrah were notoriously terrible places.  Sodom has even given its name to homosexual behaviour, we speak of “sodomy.”  But Christ says the covenant people who reject the gospel are worse than Sodom and Gomorrah.  Those who have been brought into covenant with God and yet slap him in the face, they will receive a harsher punishment.  As a prophet, this too is part of what Christ reveals. 

If you think about it, this also pertains to our redemption.  Why?  Because it is God’s will that we turn from our sins and live.  The words of the Prophet Jesus are given so that people will wake up and flee their sins and turn in faith to him.

Now how does our chief Prophet speak to us?  It’s through his Word and Spirit.  The Bible is Christ’s Word to us.  In 1 Peter 1, Peter reminds us that the prophets of the Old Testament were filled with the Spirit of Christ as they were writing of the “sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”  So if we want to know what our chief prophet says to us, we must go to the Word alone.  And as we do that, we have his promise that his Spirit will open our understanding.  The Holy Spirit, he will lead us to hear and understand and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd.  The voice of the chief prophet is heard in his Word given in Scripture and by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Our chief prophet also speaks to us through the preaching of his Word.  When the minister faithfully preaches what the Bible says, it is no longer just the minister speaking.  It is the voice of Christ himself that we hear.  Our prophet himself teaches us this in his Word.  As an example, think of what we read in Ephesians 2:17.  It says there that Christ came and preached peace to the Ephesians.  But Jesus never went in person to Ephesus.  So what does this mean?  It means that when Paul and Timothy and other ministers preached the gospel in Ephesus, Christ was preaching through them.  So it is today too.  The faithful preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God.  Through that preaching too we hear the voice of our chief prophet speaking to us of the “secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption.”  Then, of course, if it is Christ speaking to us, we have a calling to hear his voice and to obey and follow his will.

His will for us ties in to our office as prophets.  We are Christians.  That means that we have a part in Christ.  Being Christians means that we belong to the body of Christ – when the Catechism uses the word “member,” as in “I am a member of Christ by faith,” it’s evoking the biblical image of the body.  Just like your body has members or parts, so also Christ’s body has members or parts, and you are one of them.  Through faith, that is: through trusting and resting in Christ, we are joined to him, we are united to him.  So we also share in his Spirit.  His Spirit lives in us and has anointed us to the same office of prophet.  What does that involve? 

It involves “confessing his name.”  Three words, but there’s a lot packed into these three words.  Let’s unpack it. 

To confess means to communicate.  It means to speak out loud, explicitly and clearly.  But it’s more than that.  It means to speak faithfully and to follow the standard for speaking.  The standard for our communication here is God’s Word.  In our confession we have to say the same as what God’s Word says.  That doesn’t mean that we have to only use the literal words of Scripture, but it does mean faithfulness.  It means being conscientious that our words fit with what Scripture teaches. 

We are to confess Christ’s Name.  What does that mean?  His Name refers to everything about him, but we are especially thinking of the fact that he is the Saviour.  Confessing Christ’s Name means holding forth the fact that he is the God-given means of rescue from sin and its terrible consequences.

How do we confess Christ’s Name?  How do we carry out this office of prophet?  It’s simple:  it is by speaking.  With a couple of exceptions, the prophets of the Old Testament always carried out their office through words, through speaking.  The idea of a silent prophet was highly unusual.  If we take our cue from Christ himself, our chief prophet, can you imagine him as a mime?  He did not execute his prophetic office like a mime.  We sang Psalm 40 before the sermon and the book of Hebrews says that the Psalm speaks of Christ.  In that Psalm and in the gospels we see a prophet who speaks with his words.  He uses his mouth, he communicates truth through ordinary human language.

Sometimes Reformed Christians have tried to rationalize their silence and their inability or unwillingness to speak about their Saviour.  We’ve all heard things like “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.”  They’ll see that we are different by our actions.  Yes, they will and that might arouse their curiosity, and that’s good, but they are not going to get the full story from your actions and the way you behave.  They won’t hear about the gospel just by watching you.  They’ll see that the gospel has changed your life, they’ll see its effects, but they won’t hear the gospel message itself.  You still need to speak with unbelievers and use words and language, just as your chief prophet Jesus did.  If you can’t imagine him as a mime, what are you doing imagining yourself as a Christian mime?

Yes, it can be difficult to speak, to confess Christ’s Name.  It can be challenging when no one in your life has really modelled it for you.  It can be intimidating.  You worry about what the other person might think and whether speaking like this might destroy your relationship with this person.  But brothers and sisters, don’t get stuck on these things.  This is all snake-think, this is what the devil wants you to think.  He wants you to get so worried and intimidated that you will never speak and then he gets to keep his hold on this unbeliever.  Don’t let him get any pleasure from you and your silence!  More importantly, think about your neighbour.  Think about his or her eternal destiny.  Do you really love this person?  If you do, then as a prophet confess the Name of Christ to this person when the opportunity presents itself!  And remember also to pray for the opportunities.  And pray for the strength and courage you need.  God will give you the words, even if your voice is quivering and your knees are knocking.  He’ll help you. 

Last of all, let’s reflect for a moment on to whom we confess the name of Jesus.  Obviously, we’ve just been speaking about doing that to the world, doing that among unbelievers at our work, or school, or neighbourhoods.  But there’s more.  We also ought to confess the name of Jesus in our homes.  And here I’m especially thinking of the responsibilities of parents.  Moms and dads, please listen.  I want to remind you of something.  You have promised to confess the name of Jesus to your children.  You have promised to be prophets in your homes.  When did you make that promise?  At the baptism of your children.  You promised “to instruct your child in this doctrine as soon as he or she is able to understand, and to have him or her instructed in that doctrine to the utmost of your power.”  Do you see it?  You are a prophet in your own home with regard to your children.  To them you must confess the name of Christ.  Again, that means not taking anything for granted.  It’s not enough to say, “Our children will see that we’re Christians by the way we live.”  Yes, they will see that and that’s good as far as it goes.  But it doesn’t go far enough.  There has to be more.  There has to be speaking.  With words.  You have to instruct them and tell them about the only Saviour Jesus – not just once, but over and over.  Don’t begin to think that that’s the church’s responsibility or that’s the school’s responsibility.  No, brothers and sisters, it’s first and foremost your responsibility and calling.  You parents are the front-line youth pastors.  And if you really love your children, if you truly treasure them as gifts from God, you’ll take this responsibility seriously to be prophets in your home with your children.

So, Christ is our chief prophet and we are prophets with him.  We can be thankful for our Saviour and what he does as our Mediator.  We’re not left in the dark.  And we also need to see our own responsibility and calling as those who are united to him.  Our calling is to shine as lights in this dark world.  Our responsibility is to be the mouth of Christ in the lives of people around us.  With Christ for us, and Christ with us and in us, the gospel will continue to advance for the glory of God.  AMEN.          

Prayer:

Christ in heaven, our Saviour and Lord,

We thank you for all you have done and all you do as the Mediator of the covenant of grace.  We especially thank you this afternoon for being our chief Prophet and Teacher.  Thank you for revealing to us everything we need to know our salvation.  We’re grateful that we have your Word and we pray that your Spirit would continue to give us understanding.  We pray that he would also help us in our office as prophets.  Help us O Lord to confess your name.  Please help us with your Spirit to be filled with love so that we would speak where we need to.  Please give us eyes to see the lost around us and to be broken in our hearts for them.  Please compel us to speak of the gospel with them.  We pray for the opportunities and for the courage.  O Lord, we also pray for the parents in our congregation.  Give them the love you have for their children.  Help them to confess your name to their children, to teach them and instruct them as they’ve promised to do.  We pray that you would give the gift of your Holy Spirit to all our children, so that they would all embrace the benefits of Christ promised to them in their baptism. 

O God, Father, Son and Spirit, we thank you that we could sit under your Word again.  Please let your Word continue to shape our lives in the coming week.  Please give your blessing on all our endeavours.  Help us in our daily callings to work diligently, knowing that it is you we’re working for.  Father, please help us so that you name is never blasphemed because of us, but only honoured more and more. 

                  

                     




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

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