For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full (II Cor. 10:3-6).

Captive Thoughts” is dedicated to bringing every thought captive to Christ through the study of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, with primary focus on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. This effort is a compilation of several years of catechetical study conducted at Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Westminster, California, by its Christian Education Committee and the author of this site.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q23

The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q23-24)is The Offices of the Mediator: The Prophetic. (see Harmony Index)
We come to that portion of the catechism where we study how Christ meets and fulfills the work of redemption for his people. There is a parallel between the three offices of Christ and God’s instructions for his people. We are often told in the Bible of God’s claim upon all that we think, speak, and do (e.g., Ex. 13:9). Christ perfectly fulfills every part of God’s requirement for His people. As a prophet Christ brings the mindof God to his people; as a priest he makes expressionin sacrifice and intercession towards God for his people; and as a king he rulesas a servant-shepherd king, caring for and conquering all opposition, even conquering death for his own. There is much to ponder in this next section. For truly, in Christ, we posses “all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (II Pet. 1:3).
Oh, what a perfect Savior is he who lived and died and ever lives for his own. He is the Alpha and Omega, Prophet, Priest, and King forever, amen!
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WSC Q23. What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer?
A. Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet[a], of a priest[b], and of a king[c], both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.
[a] Deut. 18:18; Acts 2:33; 3:22-23; Heb. 1:1-2; Luke 4:18, 21
[b] Heb. 4:14-15; 5:5-6
[c] Isa. 9:6-7; Luke 1:32-33; John 18:37; I Cor. 15:25; Rev. 19:16; Ps. 2:6
Question 23 asks what tasks Christ performs as our redeemer, and answers that as our redeemer Christ is a prophet, priest, and king in both his humiliation and his exaltation.
Comments and considerations:
This simple statement is the foundation of many aspects of our Christian faith. Consider what we have already learned, that man was created in the image of God, originally whole in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness (Q10). Thus one could say that Adam was in effect established as a prophet, priest, and king prior to the fall, only to become ignorant, guilty, and sinful. From that point on, the narrative of Scripture is about the work of redemption in recovering God’s elect from their lost estate of sin and misery (Q17-20).
The Old Testament prepares for the day of the Redeemer’s arrival; it is a narrative filled with prophets, priests, and kings, chosen by God to fill necessary offices and functions, but demonstrating their imperfections, and creating a burning desire for the long awaited Savior-Messiah who would succeed where others failed. Through faithful prophets God gave his true word. Through faithful priests God showed how there could be no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood. Through faithful kings God revealed how his people were to obey him in all things; some were called to multiple offices, some did well while others were unfaithful, stumbling, and ineffective. Paul wrote to the New Testament Galatians that, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son;” men were in despair, longing for the real thing, and the time was right. John the Baptist’s disciples sought the “Coming One” (Luke 7:20), and Philip rejoiced, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45).
Jesus came at last not only to fulfill but also to unite each of the three offices under his authority in his great work of redemption. His authority as a king was so undeniable that even watching skeptics could not keep from confessing the truth (John 19:19-22); his sacrifice was evident in life and death. He spoke like no one else. Even the most hardened Roman guard publicly acknowledged Christ as the Son of God as he hung on the cross in his estate of humiliation (Matt 27:54).
People today don’t consider their need for a redeemer, prophet, priest, or king. Like the Jews of our Lord’s day, many today view themselves as slaves to no man, not needing a Redeemer. Yet they need to hear the convicting words of a true prophetspeaking from the God on high. They need a priestto effectively and permanently remove the heart blinding sin that keeps them from communion with God on high. And they need a holy and righteous kingto subdue their rebellious hearts in justice and love, to redeem them from the slave market of sin, and to renew in them the image lost from ages past. This is Christ our Redeemer, who executes the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation, in perfect unity and harmony, fulfilling and providing for his own a great salvation— “allthings that pertain to life and godliness” forever (II Pet. 1:3).
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.       In what ways or through what forms of authority did God communicate to his people in the OT before the earthly coming of our Lord? (WSC Q23 suggests the answer).
2.       Read Hebrews 2:9. How was Christ humiliated, and how is he exalted now, especially in the role of prophet, priest, and king?
3.       A prophet is one who takes the Word of God to the people. He speaks for God to the people. What promise did Christ fulfill, found in Deut. 18:15-18? (Also see Heb. 1:1-3.)
4.       A priest represented the people before God, offering sacrifices and making intercession (prayers and offerings) to God for the people. How does Christ fulfill this office as our priest? See Heb. 7:24-27.
5.       A king rules and has authority to command and be obeyed. How does Mark 1:23-27 and 4:35-41 demonstrate Christ’s authority? How far does his authority extend? See Eph. 1: 20-23.

Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q# 23 and WLC Q# 41&42, WCF VIII.I
WSC Q23. What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer?
A.  Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet[a], of a priest[b], and of a king[c], both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.
[a] Deut. 18:18; Acts 2:33; 3:22-23; Heb. 1:1-2; Luke 4:18, 21
[b] Heb. 4:14-15; 5:5-6
[c] Isa9:6-7; Luke 1:32-33; John 18:37; I Cor. 15:25; Rev. 19:16; Psa. 2:6
WLC Q41. Why was our Mediator called Jesus?
A.  Our Mediator was called Jesus, because he saveth his people from their sins[a].
[a]  Mat. 1:21
WLC Q42. Why was our Mediator called Christ?
A.  Our Mediator was called Christ, because he was anointed with the Holy Ghost above measure[a], and so set apart, and fully furnished with all authority and ability[b], to execute the offices of prophet[c], priest[d], and king of his church[e], in the estate both of his humiliation and exaltation.
[a] Luke 4:18-21; John 3:34; Ps. 45:7
[b] Luke 4:14; Heb. 9:14; John 6:27; Matt. 28:18-20
[c] Acts 3:21-22; Luke 4:18, 21
[d] Heb. 5:5-7; 4:14-15
[e] Rev. 19:6; Ps. 2:6; Matt. 21:5; Isa. 9:6, 7; Phil. 2:8-11
THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH
CHAPTER. VIII.
Of Christ the Mediator.
I.    It pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man[a], the Prophet[b], Priest[c], and King[d] the Head and Saviour of his church[e] the Heir of all things[f], and Judge of the world[g]: unto whom he did from all eternity give a people, to be his seed[h], and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified[i].
[a]  Isa. 42:1; I Pet. 1:19-20, John 3:16; I Tim. 2:5
[b]  Acts 3:20, 22; see Deut. 18:15
[c]  Heb. 5:5-6
[d]  Ps. 2:6; Luke 1:33; see Isa. 9:5-6; Acts 2:29-36; Col. 1:13
[e]  Eph. 5:23
[f]  Heb. 1:2
[g]  Acts 17:31
[h]John 17:6; Ps. 22:30; Isa. 53:10; Eph. 1:4
[i]  I Tim. 2:6; Isa. 55:4-5; I Cor. 1:30; Rom. 8:30
Questions for further study:

The Scriptures often refer to our Lord as our Kinsman-Redeemer.  How does this series for confessional statement bear this out?

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