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 17, 2018

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q25

The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q25-26)is The Offices of the Mediator: The Priestly and the Kingly.(see Harmony Index)
Our study continues as the catechism explains how Christ accomplishes the work of redemption for his people. 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. The second office, which we look at below, is that of a Priest. Again, we pray for hungry hearts (Matt. 5:6), eager to hear and ready to receive the truth that sanctifies the followers of Christ; may God bless our study to that end.
***********
WSC Q25. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice[a], and reconcile us to God[b], and in making continual intercession for us[c].
[a] Is. 53; Acts 8:32-35; Heb. 9:14, 9:26-28, 10:12; Rom. 3:26, 10:4
[b] Rom. 5:10-11; II Cor. 5:18; Col. 1:21-22; Heb. 2:17
[c] Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24
Question 25 asks how Christ performs the office of a priest, and answers that as a priest, Christ offered himself up once as a sacrifice for us to satisfy divine justice and to reconcile us to God, and he continually intercedes for us.
Comments and considerations:
Our previous study ended with these words: “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.” As Christ the Prophet reveals the will of God, his Word commands us, and his Spirit convicts us. Our response should flow from a broken and contrite heart, as we say with Isaiah and Paul, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Is. 6:5). “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24).  
Notice in Paul's desperate cry for deliverance he does not ask "what" but who will deliver me from this body of death. He needs another to do what he is unable to do, to stand in his place in his hopeless condition. Thus we go from hearing the prophet to seeking a priest, the one and only Priest who offered up of himself once for all a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, who alone can reconcile us to God, and who ever lives to make intercession for his own precious redeemed. With Paul, we rejoice: “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 7:25-8:1). Whereas the prophet spoke from and represented God to man, the priest bridges the gap in the opposite direction, speaking for and representing man before God.
We as mere mortals will never fully grasp the things of our God! “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11:33). As we enter into this avenue of thought, we see a myriad of roads leading in different, fascinating directions: the office, function, and various facets of the priesthood alone could be a source for unending consideration, as could the process of sacrificial offering, divine justice, reconciliation, and the intercessory ministry of Christ. But let us consider just one item not readily apparent in this catechism question, but an aspect of Christ’s mediatorial work that is discussed in the Westminster Confession of Faith.
At the end of each shorter catechism study, I have added a section of the Westminster Confession and Larger Catechism that parallels or harmonizes with the question under study, useful for further study. This time, under the Confession’s heading “Of Christ the Mediator” (Chapter 8), we have a clear and concise exposition of the person and work of the Lord Jesus. Under paragraph 5 we find this statement: “The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience, and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.” Notice that the sacrificial offering satisfied divine justice and bought not only reconciliation, but also an everlasting inheritance ... for all those whom the Father hath given unto him! We who were once “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world, ... now in Christ Jesus ... have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:12-13). “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance” (Eph. 1:11a), “ ...an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven” (1Pet. 1:4).
This is no abstract doctrine, but is fraught with deep meaning for those who were aliens, lost without hope, without eternal life. This is a true and sure hope, a blood-bought secure expectation of an eternal inheritance in Christ that does not fade away, an “everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him” WCF VIII.V. This is what our great high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, gives to us; to him be eternal praise, honor, and glory.
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.    People often struggle over the reality of Israel’s Old Testament worship with its bloody animal sacrifices. Commentators have noted that what is presented in these violent offerings are visible lessons of the terrible consequences of sin. God’s people are taught the seriousness of sin. A priest, and the office of the priesthood, further advanced the gravity of sin and the need for reconciliation. Read Heb. 5:1-4. List the various functions of the OT priests. How were they chosen for that office?
2.    The priests of the Old Testament were human, not sinless, offering sacrifices for their own sins before they could offer sacrifices for others. How is Jesus different as a priest making sacrifice to God for others? See Heb. 7:26-28.
3.    The offerings and sacrifices were repeated time and time again, over many generations, and were a picture of the perfect sacrifice that would one day bring an end to the cycle of animal sacrifices. How does Heb. 9:11-14 explain this?
4.    God is perfect in holiness and justice. He is also a God of love. How did God demonstrate (or satisfy) both his justice (requiring the penalty of death for sin) and his love through Jesus Christ? See Rom. 5:1, 8-10.
5.    Once Jesus solved the “sin problem” in offering himself for our sins (Heb. 10:11-14), was his work as a priest over and finished? See Heb. 7:23-25.
Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q# 25, WLC Q# 44, and WFC VIII.V
WSC Q25. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
A.  Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice[a], and reconcile us to God[b], and in making continual intercession for us[c].
[a] Isa. 53; Acts 8:32-35; Heb. 9:14, 9:26-28, 10:12; Rom. 3:26, 10:4.
[b] Rom. 5:10-11; II Cor. 5:18; Col. 1:21-22; Heb. 2:17.
[c] Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24
WLC Q44. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
A.  Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering himself a sacrifice without spot to God[a], to be reconciliation for the sins of his people[b]; and in making continual intercession for them[c].
[a] Heb. 9:14, 28.
[b] Heb. 2:17.
[c] Heb. 7:25.
THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH
CHAPTER. VIII.
Of Christ the Mediator.
V.  The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father[a]; and purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.[b]
[a] Rom. 5:19; Heb. 9:14; Heb. 10:14; Eph. 5:2; Rom. 3:25- 26.
[b] Dan. 9:24; II Cor. 5:18; Col. 1:20; Eph. 1:11, 14; Heb. 9:12, 15; John 17:2; Rom. 5:10.
Questions for further study:
We would note again how the Larger Catechism asks the same question as the Shorter, but the answers though substantive alike, appear to differ in scope and focus.  How might that difference be describe?  Does the WCF add to our scope of understanding?

No comments:

Post a Comment