Catechetical Sermon: How Does Christ Execute The Office Of A Prophet?, Baptist Catechism 27

Baptist Catechism 27

Q. 27. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?

A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his Word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation. (John 1:18; 14:26; 15:15)

Scripture Reading: John 15:12-17

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” (John 15:12–17, ESV)

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Introduction

We are entering into a wornderfuld section of our catechism wherein the work of Christ is considered through the lens of his threefold office. An office is a work to be done. And with the help of Baptist Catechism 26 we learned that Christ fulfilled three offices: the offices of a prophet, preist, and king. Here in Baptist catechim 27 we turn our attention to the prophetic office of Christ.

Consider four things about the prophetic work of Christ the Redeemer:

First, Jesus Christ was not the first prophet of God.

Hebrews 1:1 says, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets…”  So, before the birth of Jesus Christ God appointed many prophets.  Moses is to be regarded as very great.  Deuteronomy 34:10 says, “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face…”  God spoke to Moses face to face, as it were. And Moses was faithful to communicate the word of God to the people.

John the Baptist, the relative of Jesus, and his forerunner, was also a prophet.  In fact, he is to be regarded as the greatest of the prophets of old.  Why?  Because he had the distinct privilege of announcing the arrival of the kingdom of God.  He preached, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2, ESV).  He was blessed to point at Jesus and to say, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, ESV).  In a sense, this is what all of the prophets did.  In different ways, they pointed forward to Christ and his kingdom.  But John the Baptist was blessed to announce his arrival and to prepare the way for his ministry. 

What was the job of these prophets of old?  What work did they do?  In brief, they declared the word of God to the people.  Most often, they preached the law and the gospel.  They would apply the law of Moses to the people and urge them to turn from their sins and to God.  So then, the prophets were preachers.  Sometimes, they would foretell the future.  Being inspired by God, the prophets would sometimes warn of impending judgment.  And as I have just said, the prophets would also point forward to the Messiah, the arrival of his kingdom, and to the New Covenant that he would mediate.

The second thing I would like you to consider is that long ago it was promised a great prophet would one day arise from within Israel.

Deuteronomy 18:15 is important.  Here we find the words of Moses.  He spoke to the people of Israel, saying, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers — it is to him you shall listen —” (Deuteronomy 18:15, ESV).  As I have just said, many prophets would arise within Israel from Moses’ day onward.  But in this passage, Moses speaks of “a prophet” and says, “it is to him you shall listen.”  From that day forward the people of Israel were to live with a sense of expectation and wonder as they awaited the arrival of this great prophet.  

This leads to our third consideration concerning Christ’s prophetic office.  Though Jesus Christ was not the first prophet, he is by far the greatest of the prophets.

I’ll start by reminding you of the story found in Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36 about Jesus being transfigured up on the mountain in front of Peter, James, and John.  These three disciples of Jesus saw him glorified in front of them.  And who appeared with Jesus?  It was none other than the great prophets of old, Moses and Elijah.  And do not forget what God said.  In Matthew 17:5 we read, “Behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him’” (Matthew 17:5–7, ESV).  So, over a thousand years earlier Moses spoke to Israel, saying, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers — it is to him you shall listen —” (Deuteronomy 18:15, ESV), and up on the mountain, Jesus was glorified with Moses and Elijah at his side and God said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”  The message could not be more clear.  Jesus Christ is the great prophet of whom Moses spoke (see Acts 3:22–26).  Jesus is like Moses in that he is a prophet and a mediator of a covenant — Moses of the Old and Jesus of the New.  Jesus is not like Moses in that Moses was a servant in God’s house whereas Christ is the Son of God.  Moses was a great prophet of God, but Jesus Christ is a much greater prophet. 

Listen to Hebrews 1:1-2:  “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:1–2, ESV).

Hebrews 3:5-6 says, “Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son.  And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope” (Hebrews 3:5–6, ESV).

Prophets speak to God’s people on behalf of God.  In other words, prophets reveal God and God’s will for our salvation.  Many faithful prophets lived during and before the time of Christ, but Jesus Christ is a prophet of a different kind.  He is not a servant in God’s house; he is God’s Son.  In other words, God did not merely give Christ the words to speak to his people; Christ is the eternal Word of God incarnate.  

Listen to John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1–3, ESV).  John 1:14 then says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, ESV).  And John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:18, ESV).

Can you see why I have said that Jesus Christ is a prophet of a different kind?  He is no mere man speaking the words of God to the people of God.  No, he is the eternal Son or Word of God incarnate.  One of the key purposes of his mission was to reveal the Father to us and to make known the way of our salvation.  This he has done supremely and most perfectly.   

Listen to the Word of Christ in John 15:15:  “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15, ESV).  Listen to the words of Christ in John 17:6-8.  He prayed to God, saying, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world.  Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.  For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me” (John 17:6–8, ESV). 

The prophets of old spoke the word of God to the people of God as servants.  Jesus Christ is a prophet of a different order or kind. He speaks the word of God to us as the eternal Son who came down from the Father.  His word is the supreme word.  His word is the final word.  All prophecies uttered before and after his incarnation are from him (through inspiration) and have reference to him (he is the fulfillment).  

The fourth and final thing I would like you to consider about Christ’s prophetic work is that in this office, Christ the Redeemer meets our need.

If we are to know God truly, God must reveal himself to us.  How much more do we stand in need of God’s revelation now that we have fallen into sin?  Adam was created with true knowledge, remember?  But now that we have fallen, our minds are darkened because of sin (see Ephesians 4:18).  We need God’s word if we are to know God and the way of salvation.  Jesus Christ is the Word of God.  He reveals to us, by His Word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation, our catechism says. 

The little phrase, “by His Word and Spirit”, is interesting.  By it we are reminded of another way in which Christ is greater than any other prophet.  The prophets of old were empowered by God to speak the word of God.  But they did not have the power to enable men and women to understand or believe the words they spoke. But Christ reveals to us, by His Word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.  Not only does he have the power to deliver the message, he also has the power to open the minds and change the hearts of God’s elect to make them willing and able to believe his word. This he does by sending his Word and Spirit.  The little phrase, “by His Word and Spirit”, prepares us for what we will learn in Baptist Catechism 33 and 34 regarding effectual calling. 

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Conclusion

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"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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