Monday, June 04, 2007

CHRIST - OUR GREAT PROPHET

We have been studying the mediatorial offices of Christ, especially the offices that relate to His priesthood. His office in general is that of Mediator, the one Mediator between God and men. There are three main branches of His mediatorial office -- PROPHET, PRIEST, and KING. All of His offices and titles fall under these three. The case and condition of the people whom the Father had given Him to redeem required all three. He had to be our Prophet because by nature we are ignorant of the knowledge of God required for salvation. Christ our Prophet is the incarnate Wisdom and Word of God to reveal the knowledge of God as both a just God and a Savior.


Remember, the exercise of all His offices is founded upon His accomplishing His priestly office and duties to establish a righteousness that demands the salvation of God's elect. As our Prophet, the main thing of which He prophesies is the fact that He has accomplished the ground of salvation for all whom the Father had given Him. The preaching of the Gospel, God's promise of salvation conditioned on Christ is the good news of how our Great High Priest has met and fulfilled all the conditions of salvation for us. Christ's main duty as our Prophet is to reveal the glory of God in this salvation to everyone of His sheep.


I. THE QUALIFICATIONS OF CHRIST AS OUR PROPHET - A prophet was one sent of God and anointed with the word of God. The prophets of the OT were all men who had limited understanding and knowledge, but the Prophet of our salvation had to have full understanding of the mind and will of God and know the full counsel of God. Our Mediator has this. He was given the Spirit without measure thereby qualifying Him to know and reveal the mind of God. This language is suitable only to His humanity because as God He already had the Spirit without measure. But it is attributed to His entire Person as our Savior. It is necessary that the Prophet of our salvation effectually apply the revelation of salvation to those under His care.

Matthew 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.


In all of His offices Christ had to be both God and man. He had to be man in that it was mankind who was to be redeemed through God's elect. He had to identify with His sheep in name and in nature to be a successful Mediator. God the Father equipped Him in His humanity to be our Prophet.

Luke 2:40
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him...

Luke 2:52
And Jesus [increased] in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.


How can it be said that God the Son, who is eternal and omniscient, who is wisdom Himself, could increase in wisdom?

As God absolutely considered He could not increase or grow in wisdom, but as Godman/Mediator, He did. Learning here is an act that is suitable only to His humanity, but we can attribute it to His entire Person as Godman without humanizing God. This was part of the Father's work in equipping Christ with a full measure of the Spirit and knowledge for Him to be our Prophet. He is our Prophet in official subordination to the Father for the purpose of our salvation. He spoke what He received from His Father.

John 3:34
For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure.

John 7:16
My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me.

John 12:49-50
For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

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.

John 17:8
For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received , and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.


This means what He had to say is to be believed and followed as the Father directed His disciples to do -- "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him" (Matthew 17:5). Yet, He had to be more than man. He had to be God. He could not be our PROPHET unless He is God. It was necessary that the Savior be the prophet of all the elect of God throughout the ages. In fact the first office He exercised in time was His prophetic office in the Old Testament before His incarnation. His operation of this office before His incarnation was performed on the basis of His fulfilling His priestly office in time. The entire election of grace, Old Testament and New Testament, had to be instructed by Him as to salvation. Christ from the beginning took on Himself the care of the family of God. He was appointed and sent to do this work even before His incarnation (Proverbs 8:22-30; John 1:1-3,14).

Micah 5:2
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, thou be little among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall He come forth unto me to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth from of old, from everlasting.


He carried on this work in the Old Testament by personal, pre-incarnate appearances in the likeness of human nature such as when He appeared to Abraham before the destruction of Sodom, and when He appeared in the fiery furnace with the Hebrew children. These are called theophanies, and they looked forward to His incarnation. He carried on this work by the ministry of angels who were committed into His hands to minister to the elect. He carried on this work by the Holy Spirit who guided the prophets to reveal God's promise of salvation conditioned on Christ, and who even then performed the work of regeneration and conversion.


The main message of the OT is the same as the New Testament -- SALVATION AND FINAL GLORY IN HEAVEN BASED ON THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST FREELY IMPUTED AND RECEIVED BY FAITH. The Messiah, our Prophet, Priest, and King, was set up and appointed to fulfill all the conditions of our salvation. He was always revealed as the One who would come in time as the Representative and Surety of God's elect to establish a righteousness for them that would enable God to be both a just God and a Savior.


II. THE EVIDENCES OF CHRIST AS OUR PROPHET


A. It was foretold in the OT through prophecy and type that Christ would appear as a Prophet. As Moses himself was a prophet to Israel, he was a type of Christ our Prophet. Moses himself foretold of the Messiah as our Prophet.


Deuteronomy 18:15
The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; ...

Deuteronomy 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.


When comparing Him to Moses the Apostle Paul exhorts us to consider Him as the "Apostle and High Priest of our profession" (Hebrews 3:1-3). Christ as our Prophet was greater than Moses. He is to be preferred above Moses. Moses was not to be worshipped, but Christ our Prophet is to be worshipped. The law came by Moses, but "grace and truth" came by Jesus Christ (John 1:14,17).

We are to apply our minds to consider the Person, Christ Jesus, the offices vested in Him, and His accomplishments as our Mediator. This relates directly to our salvation conditioned on Him alone by God's Divine appointment. We consider Him as our Prophet, our Apostle, which is a witness sent of God to deliver God's word. God the Father sent Christ to declare His will and purpose in the salvation of sinners. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. It is Christ's mission and responsibility to reveal to His sheep all things necessary for their salvation by His Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. Christ Himself was sent to preach the Gospel of redemption. This is why He identified Himself as "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).

Luke 4:18-19
The Spirit of the Lord upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

John 6:63
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, are spirit, and are life ...

Luke 6:68
Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.


His qualifications as Prophet were also foretold as they lie in the gifts and graces of the Spirit He received without measure. What He preached as recorded in Luke 4:18-19 was foretold in Isaiah 61:1. There are also several names by which He is called in the Old Testament referring to His prophetic office. He is called a "messenger" or the "messenger of the covenant" whose work it is to declare and explain the terms of the covenant (Malachi 3:1). Sometimes He is referred to as an "angel," meaning a messenger sent of God, an angel by office (Prophet) not by nature. He is called "an interpreter, one among a thousand" (Job 33:23), an interpreter of the mind and will of God. He is one who preached righteousness (Psalm 40:7-10). He goes by the name of Wisdom, who cries and calls to the sons of men and gives instruction (Proverbs 8:1,2). He is called Counsellor (Isaiah 9:6), and He is also called a Light to lighten the Gentiles as well as the Jews (Isaiah 42:6). He is called a Witness of the people (Isaiah 55:4).


B. The evidence and proof of Jesus being that Prophet that was to come are the miracles which He did. The reason these miracles were performed were to give authority to His word. In John 6:14, after they saw His miracles, they said, "This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world," meaning the one that was prophesied of by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15,18; Acts 3:22; 7:37; Luke 17:6). Upon raising the widow's son from the dead, they said, "A great Prophet is risen up among us" (Luke 7:16). Nicodemus was convinced that Jesus was a "teacher from God" because of the miracles (John 3:2). When John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to inquire of Jesus whether He was the Messiah or whether they should look for another, Jesus told them to tell John what they had seen, meaning the miracles, and what they had heard, meaning the Gospel (Matthew 11:2-5).


III. THE WORK OF CHRIST AS OUR PROPHET


A. He exercised His prophetic office in His earthly ministry by foretelling the future. He foretold of many future events during His earthly ministry, but mainly He foretold of His own sufferings and death. This was His mission as our High Priest, and as our Prophet He testified of it. He foretold of the disciples's behavior during this time. He foretold of His own resurrection. He foretold how the disciples would be persecuted after their conversion when they would preach the Gospel without compromise. He also predicted the destruction of Jerusalem, and He foretold of His own return. Although it was after His earthly ministry, the Book of Revelation is a prophecy delivered by Christ to John.


B. Mainly, He exercised His prophetic office as He preached the Gospel. He began immediately in the Sermon on the Mount to preach salvation conditioned on Him and based on the righteousness that He Himself would establish by His obedience and death for His sheep. He directed sinners to faith in Him and repentance from dead works (Mark 1:15). He told His hearers how there is none righteous and that except their righteousness exceed that of the most dedicated and religious men, they could not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:21). He told Nicodemus that sinners must be born again (John 3:5-7). He preached the light of truth that exposes how men and women by nature are guilty, defiled, and condemned, and that their deeds are evil (John 3:18-21). He preached this without respect of persons (Matthew 22:16).


So Christ has always been our Great Prophet. He Himself has spoke throughout the Old Testament when He appeared in human form and in dreams and visions. He Himself spoke in His earthly ministry. He Himself spoke as He appeared to Saul of Tarsus and to John in His glorified state. He spoke through the prophets in the OT, through the apostles in the New Testament, and now through His written Word. He continues to speak through His preachers who are ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).


His prophetic office involved not only the external ministry of the word but in a powerful and internal illumination of the minds of sinners in opening their understanding to the Scriptures and to the redemptive glory of God (Luke 24:45). This is what He has done as our Prophet from the beginning, Old Testament and New Testament. He sends His Holy Spirit to open our minds and understanding, to bring us to faith and repentance (1 Thessalonians 1:5). He puts the law of God in our hearts by showing us how His righteousness demands our salvation and final glory.


Hebrews 12:25 -- It may seem that Paul is referring to two different speakers, one on earth and on from heaven. But here we have the same speaker in different circumstances. The speaker is God the son. "On earth" refers to the Mosaic Law. "From Heaven" refers to the Gospel Economy, the New Testament Church state. "Take heed that you refuse not Him that speaketh." We are commanded to believe God's gospel. Christ speaks in the gospel and He speaks of salvation conditioned on Him alone.

"How shall we escape" if we refuse salvation conditioned on Christ?

There is no other way of escape.

God has recorded the fact that those who rebelled against Him in the Old Covenant could not escape His Divine wrath and vengeance. Those today who refuse His Gospel by unbelief, or who neglect it in indifference, or who compromise it in the name of love, or who pervert it through covetousness and self-righteousness, will not escape. It will be impossible for any sinner to escape Divine wrath if judged according to law based on his character and conduct. If we refuse to be judged based on the righteousness of Christ freely imputed revealed in the Gospel, we cannot escape God's righteous and just wrath.


Some of you may wonder why I did not reference Hebrews 1:1-2 in teaching on Christ's office as Prophet.

Doesn't it say that "God has spoken by His Son"?

Yes, but the main point of this language does not lie in the exercise of Christ's office as Prophet as much as it lies in the exercise of His office of Priest. The force of this truth does not lie in the preaching and teaching of Christ. Christ did preach the Gospel while He was here on earth, but the fact is, He had always preached and taught the Gospel, through His preachers and prophets, even before His incarnation. And His actual words carried no more weight that Moses's, Isaiah's, Jeremiah's, or any other Old Testament preacher. In fact, their words were actually His words, because they spoke, not on their own, but as they were moved by the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ.


The force of the phrase that "God has spoken by His Son," has to do with Christ actually coming in time to fulfill all of His Mediatorial duties in establishing the very "righteousness of God." It is the accomplishment of His work as Mediator. God had foretold it, foreshadowed it, and promised through the prophets and the various institutions. Now, it has been fulfilled in time. This is how God the Father has spoken in these last days by His Son. Read Romans 3:21 - "NOW THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD" is revealed. This righteousness was the constant theme of all the Old Testament prophets, especially David in the Psalms and the prophet Isaiah. All of the Old Testament saints received this righteousness by faith as the only ground of their salvation. They were all saved based on this righteousness imputed without any consideration of their obedience to the law. But NOW this righteousness is revealed as it has been actually established by the incarnation, obedience and substitutionary death of Christ!

Bill Parker

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