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 10, 2018

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q24


The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q23-24)is The Offices of the Mediator: The Prophetic. (see Harmony Index)

Questions 24-26 explain how the offices of Christ—prophet, priest, and king—fulfill the work of redemption. The first of Christ’s three offices is that of a Prophet, one who reveals the word and will of God, particularly for our salvation. 
May the Lord grant us an eager ear for hearing, with a heart ready to receive refreshment, as we meditate upon this precious truth concerning our Savior.
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WSC Q24. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his Word[a] and Spirit[b], the will of God for our salvation[c].
[a] Luke 4:18-19, 21; Acts 1:1-2; Heb. 2:3
[b] John 15:26-27; Acts 1:8; I Pet. 1:11
[c] John 4:41-42; 20:30-31
Question 24 asks how Christ is a prophet, and answers that as a prophet Christ reveals the will of God to us for our salvation, by his Word and Spirit.
Comments and considerations:
Christ carries out—or executes—the office of a prophet. The word “executes” is significant, and we’ve looked at it before. It means to carry out unto completion; to effect, to perform, to finish a task. It can also be used in a legal sense as in executing a law, judgment, or legal commitment. The idea here is that of leaving nothing undone in a legal contract, an obligation, or a responsibility. We speak today of “crossing every t,or “dotting every i”the equivalent of what Jesus said when he spoke of fulfilling every “jot and tittle” of the law (Matt. 5:18). Our Lord came to this earth with something to do; and he left nothing undone that needed doing. When he cried out on the cross, “It is finished,” he had perfectly executed, or completed, all his Father’s will for the salvation of his people; the effects of his work continue by the living Word and Spirit.
The term “prophet” literally means one who speaks on behalf of another. God spoke to men through prophets; and those prophets came with God’s authority, representing him. Kings and other human rulers spoke to their people by way of messengers or prophets like these. Without the benefits of modern communication systems, there was no easy way for these prophets to double-check a message or get the ruler’s permission to make a change to the message. The prophets spoke with authority, and their decrees could not be changed (Esther 1:19). Although they could not proclaim a message which was at odds with that of the ruler, the prophets did have the responsibility to interpret the ruler’s will in the situations they encountered. They were empowered with the authority of their office to speak for the one they represented as if it were that ruler speaking.
The word “prophet” means not only one who speaks for another, but also to speak beforehand: “before” plus “to say.” Thus, if the king were present to observe a situation, he would make a certain decree. But in his absence, the prophet speaks on his behalf, based on his own observations and his full knowledge of the ruler’s decrees, and even of his thoughts. A prophet might foretell events based on knowledge known only to him, and in the case of a prophet of God, based on inspired knowledge of what was to come. But the greater emphasis is given in Scripture not to hidden prophecies about future events, but rather to the prophet’s wise and reasoned forth telling of events to come as an interpreter and observer of circumstances and heart attitudes. For example, Jesus once said, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.’” (Mark 7:6). Knowing the mind of the authority he represents, the prophet can “read” the situation and interpret the outcome if conditions and behaviors do not change. Here he serves to instruct those under authority, to warn or encourage the king’s subjects. This is what the prophets of God did when they proclaimed, “Thus saith the Lord,” either by inspiration or by reasoning from revealed written Word of God: “If you persist in doing such, the outcome will be thus.”
How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet? Our catechism answers rightly, “in revealing to us by his Word and Spirit, the will of God." The list of Scriptures provided gives witness to the written and living Word used in tandem with the ministry of the Holy Spirit to communicate the mind and will of God.
I Cor. 2:13, II Tim. 3:15-17, and Eph. 4:11-12 might be added to our study to show how Christ continues to execute the office of prophet in giving gifts to the Church, in speaking to God’s people for their edification, faith, and obedience, and in calling them out of the darkness and into the light of salvation.
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.    As created beings, and because of the sin-affected nature of fallen man, there are limits to what we can know. If we are to understand the things of God, we need another to speak forth the mind of God to us, a prophet ordained to the task of revealing God’s will to God’s people. Read Acts 3:18-24. In verses 18-21 & 24, who are referred to as prophets in the Old Testament? In verses 22-23, who is being referred to as the one who will be “a Prophet like me [Moses] from your brethren?” Also see Heb. 1:1-2.
2.    When Jesus spoke during his earthly ministry, it was noticeably different from the  “what” and the “way” people were used to being taught. Read Matt. 7:28-29, John 3:31-32, and John 12:49-50. How was it different?
3.    In addition to the “what” and the “way” that Jesus taught, what else was different concerning His words and earthly ministry? See John 1:14-18.
4.    Teachers tend not to teach primarily about themselves; they present information and instruction about something or someone else. OT prophets spoke for God, about the things and will of God. But again, Jesus’ approach to this office of prophet differed from the norm. How did it differ? See John 14:6 and 6:28-29.
5.    Now that Jesus is ascended to the right hand of the Father, has his office of prophet ceased, and if not, how is it now being performed? See John 14:26; 16:13-14, 16-17 cf. I Cor. 2:12.
Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q# 24 and WLC Q# 43
WSC Q24. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A.  Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us[a], by his Word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation[b].
[a] John 1:1,4
[b] John 15:15; John 20:31; II Peter 1:21; John 14:26
WLC Q43. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A.  Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in his revealing to the church in all ages[a], by his Spirit and Word[b], in divers ways of administration, the whole will of God, in all things concerning their edification and salvation[c].
[a] John 1:1, 4
[b] II Peter 1:21; II Corinthians 2:9,10
[c] Ephesians 4:11, 12, 13; John 20:31
Questions for further study:

We would note how the Larger Catechism asks the same question as the Shorter, but with a more expansive answer and set of scripture references.  What is different in the lengthier answer?

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