q24

Q24: How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?

A: Christ executeth the office of a prophet (Jn. 1:18), in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit (1 Cor. 2:13), the will of God for our salvation (2 Tim. 3:15).

 


I. What the office of a prophet entails.

A. A prophet is one who speaks for another (Ex. 7:1; cf. 4:16).

1. God communicates and the prophet announces the message that he received (Jer. 1:9).

Relevant quote from Georg von Ewald:
It is precisely this that brings us to what we call prophecy. The primary idea of a prophet is not of one who is a prophet to himself, but of one who is a prophet to other men: he has seen or heard something which does not concern himself, or not himself alone, which will not let him rest, for which he must work by his words. He is at first overpowered by a divine truth and conception which he sees as a distinct form, like a vision, floating before his spirit. It wholly absorbs him, so that his own personality disappears before it, so that he thinks he sees only the bright divine form of the matter, and hears only the word which is appropriate to it; he no longer hears and is conscious of himself, but of the loud and clear voice of another who is higher than himself. Perceiving thus the mighty voice of the higher One speaking upon some matter of public import, and that voice alone, so that he is unable any longer to escape from it and its call, he is compelled to proclaim in the right quarter what presses so irresistibly upon his heart, and he finds no rest until this duty has been performed. He has exactly the feeling of having received a special trust, a mission, and errand from his God distinctly to declare, in spite of all hindrances, at the right place the higher voice which he cannot any longer hide and suppress within him. He acts and speaks not of his own accord; a higher One impels him, to resist whom is sin; it is his God, who is also the God of those to whom he must speak. And those to whom he speaks often come by his proclamation to feel their God as alive within them; they hear what they sought for but did not find; they surmise and recognize in him who declares to them what they had long sought the preacher and interpreter of his own and their God, the mediator between them and God. In this irresistible somewhat that impels both the prophet and his hearers, in the extreme force with which the divine truth and conception springs forth from the one as its active instrument and then works upon the others as passive recipients, lies the genuine prophetic element.

Georg Heinrich August von Ewald, Commentary on the Prophets of the Old Testament, trans. J. Frederick Smith, vol. 1 (London; Edinburgh: Williams and Norgate, 1875), 7–8.

a. Part of a prophet’s message was prediction, but it is not the primary element.

 

II. Christ: the last Prophet (Deut. 18:18-19; cf. Acts 3:19-23; Lk. 24:19; Heb. 1:1-3).

A. When Jesus came into the world, the revelation of God’s Word came to its completion: in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3).

1. There were some prophets in the Apostolic age to fill the “gap” (i.e., Agabus [Acts 11:27-28]) until the NT was written.

 

III. How Christ executes the office of a prophet.

A. Christ, as the second person of the Trinity reveals the person of God (Jn. 1:1, 14, 18 [“declared,” Gk., exegeomai, “to unfold, reveal, make known, as a teacher, to declare thoroughly and particularly”]; 14:9; Heb. 1:3).

1. Christ is the light of the world (Jn. 8:12), and the truth (Jn. 14:6).

2. Christ reveals God through His creative powers in raising the dead (Jn. 11:43-44), in healing, and as the Sustainer (Heb. 1:3), and Ruler (Col. 1:15ff).

B. Christ discloses the will of God (Isa. 61:1-2; cf. Lk. 4:18; Matt. 4:17; Jn. 8:26-28; 12:49-50; 14:24).

1. The will of God that Christ as a Prophet reveals is for the salvation of sinners, and that whole will of God in all things concerning edification (Acts 20:32).

2. This may be reduced to two heads.

a. Faith. Man was broken off from God and His favor and fellowship. It was the will of God that man should be reunited to Him through believing in a slain Redeemer. This Christ has revealed in the gospel.

b. Obedience: Man, as he could not, so he knew not how to serve acceptably. Christ has also fully discovered that point.

C. Christ predicted the future (Matt. 24); received prophecy from God (Rev. 1:1-3).

D. Christ’s teaching while on earth was most excellent.

1. He taught plainly and perspicuously. He used parables and similitudes, clothing sublime and spiritual mysteries with earthly metaphors, adapting them to the capacity of His hearers.

a. His ministers should likewise teach (2 Cor. 3:12; 4:2).

2. He taught fully (Ps. 40:9-10; Jn. 15:15; Acts 20:27; 2 Tim. 3:15), completely discovering unto us our duty (Tit. 2:11-12).

3. He teaches the will of God purely (2 Cor. 2:17; 4:2; Rev. 1:5).

4. He teaches the mind of God in a most sweet and affectionate manner (Isa. 50:4; Matt. 11:28; Lk. 24:32).

5. He teaches the will of God powerfully (Matt. 7:29; 2 Cor. 10:4; Heb. 4:12).

6. He teaches the will of God infallibly (Jn. 16:13).

7. His teachings are abiding teachings (Ps. 119:93; Jer. 31:33).

8. He teaches men the will of God in a saving manner (Jn. 8:12; 17:3; 2 Tim. 3:15-16).

 

IV. Christ continues to execute the office of a prophet from heaven (Acts 7:55; Eph. 1:20-23; Rev. 2:1).

A. With the death and resurrection of Christ we move from the era of the prophetical Word (OT, the promise) into the Apostolic Word (NT, the fulfillment).

1. Christ reveals by His Word (Jn. 16:12-15) and Spirit (1 Cor. 2:9-13) the will of God for salvation (2 Tim. 3:15; 1 Cor. 2:13; Ja. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23) and edification (Eph. 4:11-13; 1 Thess. 2:13).

2. Christ revealed the gospel to the apostles and inspired them as teachers (Jn. 16:12-16; Ga. 1:11-12).

a. Teachers still called into office through the Spirit (Acts 20:28; Heb. 5:4).

3. Christ spoke in times past by His Spirit through the prophets (1 Pet. 1:10-11), but now we have the Word as foundational (Eph. 2:20).

a. A mark of the finished prophetical work of Christ is that there are no apostles or prophets in the church today.

 

V. The supremacy of the Word in the church.

A. The Word of God is complete (Ga. 1:8-9; Rev. 22:18-19).

1. New revelation is no longer being imparted.

a. The minister of God is to study the Word (2 Tim. 2:15).

(1). This Word is “more sure” (2 Pet. 1:19) than even the voice from heaven (vv. 16-18), because it is written, complete, self interpreting, and illuminated by the Spirit.

2. The Word is the only foundation of true knowledge for faith and practice (2 Tim. 3:15-17).

a. Creeds, confessions, and catechisms are valuable; but only so far as they are true to Scripture.

3. The Word of God being added to is a mark of false religions or churches.

a. The Roman Catholic Church adds the infallibility of the pope and the supremacy of tradition.

(1). When the pope speaks ex cathedra (i.e., from Peter’s chair, or in his official capacity) he claims to speak infallibly.

b. The Mormons add the The Doctrine of Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price, and The Book of Mormon.

c. The Jehovah’s Witnesses add the Watchtower experts to their corrupt translation.

d. The Christian Scientists add The Key to the Scriptures and Health.

e. The Muslims add the Koran to the Pentateuch, the Psalms of David, and the Gospels.

B. God’s angst against denial of Word’s sufficiency (Jer. 23:21-40).

 

VI. Summary of Christ’s prophetical work and the Christian’s duty.

A. Christ spoke through His servants the prophets; He came as a prophet “like Moses” and in His person spoke forth God; He passed on the prophetic ministry to His apostles, commissioning them (Matt. 28:18-20); He continues to communicate His message through His church (2 Cor. 5:20).

B. The Christian’s duty.

1. Test all things to the Word (Isa. 8:20; Acts 17:11; 1 Jn. 4:1).

2. Evangelize. Marcus Brownson, pastor of Philadelphia’s Tenth Presbyterian Church (1897-1924), wrote: “Our Lord has no eyes, no feet, nor hands to use now but those of His people in His Church which is His body. Each member has a function and an obligation…. As it was in the Church of the early days of Christianity, when men, women and even children went everywhere talking of the Saviour and of redeeming love, so should it be today. Evangelism is the office of all believers. Every believer in Christ holds an office in the Church, the office of witnessing for Christ, and it is the highest, most honorable, most useful office in the world, ‘the office of all believers.’”

 

VII. Application.

A. Use, of knowledge.

1. The Word has a mighty power and efficacy upon the hearts of men only in the hand of the Spirit (Isa. 59:21; Lk. 24:45; Jn. 16:13-14).

2. The light of nature is not sufficient to teach us the way of salvation (cf. Rom. 1:23; Eph. 4:17-18), as it cannot acquaint us with: the true and adequate object of our religious worship, namely a Trinity of persons in the glorious Godhead (but the gospel sets this mystery in a clear light [Matt. 3:17-18; 2 Cor. 13:14]); the plan of our salvation in Christ, namely our inability and the necessity of faith in Christ

B. Use, of testing.

1. See here the heresy of the Quakers and all others who separate the Spirit from the Word by building doctrine or binding consciences based upon dreams, visions, voices, and impressions—essentially their own fancies in opposition to Christ’s prophetical office.

a. The Spirit of Christ and the Word of Christ will never disagree (Jn. 14:26).

2. See here also the futility of the legalist, who contents himself with the Word without the Spirit.

3. Would you know if you are taught by God (Jn. 6:45)? Consider, Christ’s teachings: are very humbling to the soul (Job 42:5-6; Isa. 6:5); deeply affect and impress the heart (Hos. 2:14); are sanctifying (Eph. 4:21-23).

C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints.

1. Sinners. By “hear” (Acts 3:22) we are to understand obedience, universally (“all things”) and under the penalty of great judgment (“I will require it of him” [cf. also Acts 13:40-41]). Flee from the wrath to come.

2. Saints.

a. Be not strangers to your Bibles; but read them as Christ’s Word to you, with reverence, faith, and love.

b. The weakest Christians need not be discouraged at the dullness and incapacity which they find in themselves, for Christ can easily reveal that to babes which is hidden from the wise and prudent (1 Cor. 1:26-27).

c. From this doctrine we may infer the continual necessity of a standing ministry. Christ is gone into heaven until the time of the restitution of all things, and by His ministers will daily instruct us until the end of the world (Matt. 28:16, 20).

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