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The Offices of Christ

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
December 18, 2020 12:01 am

The Offices of Christ

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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December 18, 2020 12:01 am

In the Old Testament, there were prophets like Isaiah, priests like Aaron, and kings like David. But only Jesus Christ holds all three of these offices. Today, R.C. Sproul considers the ways that Christ serves as our perfect Mediator.

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When people met Jesus, they didn't always understand who He was. Like the woman at the well at first says, sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

That was quite an accolade. That was quite an honor to say, you are a prophet of God. But she still hadn't reached the zenith of her confession, which she arrived at when she recognized that He was the Messiah. Because Jesus is not simply a prophet, He is the prophet extraordinaire. But Jesus is also Priest and King.

But what does that mean, and how can He hold three offices at the same time? Today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. R.C. Sproul continues his look at the person and work of Christ. This is from his series, Foundations, an overview of systematic theology. Let's join R.C.

now. So far in our study of Christology, we've looked briefly at the states of Christ and then at the names that have been given to Christ. And today we're going to look at the offices of Christ. And when we look at the offices of Christ, one of the key concepts that we encounter is the idea that Christ is called our mediator. Just as Moses was called the mediator of the Old Covenant, so Christ is called the mediator of the New Covenant. And what does a mediator do? A mediator is a go-between, an intermediary, somebody who stands between two or more parties, usually mediating a dispute, but not necessarily. Now when we see that which is being mediated here, we see that up here is God, and down here is man. And in between God and man, we have the mediator. Now when we think of mediators in the Old Testament or go-betweens or agents that function in some relationship between God and man, we see three major kinds of mediators, not the only ones because you have Moses in a special category, but the three types of mediators that we meet in the Old Testament are those whom are selected by God for a specific task and then are enabled to perform their task by virtue of their being anointed by the Holy Spirit. And the three basic roles that we find there are that of the prophet, that of the priest, and that of the king. And so with respect to Jesus, when we look at the offices held by Christ in the drama of redemption, we say that Jesus has or is involved in what is called technically the munis triplex or the three-fold office, that Christ fulfills all three of these Old Testament offices in one person, that Christ is our prophet, He is our priest, and He is our king.

Now what's the difference among these different offices? In the Old Testament, we look at the prophet and the prophet and the prophet for the most part is a spokesman, and he is an agent of revelation by which God, instead of speaking directly, audibly from heaven to the congregation of Israel, He gives His Word, He puts His Word in the mouth of His prophets as they are filled with the Holy Ghost, then they deliver the Word of God to the people. And so we can say this, that the prophet stands facing the people, God stands behind him, so that what the prophet says, he is speaking in behalf of God. And so his messages are prefaced by the language, thus saith the Lord. Now, we also notice in the Old Testament that there's an enormous struggle between the true prophets of God and the false prophets, and the people go after the false prophets.

They're far more popular. The true prophets are killed and hated and despised. We think of Jeremiah and others and the complaints and the problems and suffering and afflictions that they had to endure because the people didn't want to hear the true Word of God. And we remember that when Jeremiah complained to God about the popularity of the false prophets, who were just giving the people what they wanted to hear, healing the wound of the daughter of Zion slightly, and telling their own dreams, God said to Jeremiah, let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the man of God proclaim the Word of God faithfully. He said, Jeremiah, quit worrying about what the false prophets do.

Your task, your vocation is to be my spokesman, and you are called to be faithful in speaking whatever it is I tell you to say. Now, through the prophets, God gives His Word. But when we look at Christ in the New Testament, we see that He is the prophet par excellence.

I want to spend a couple moments on this because we have a tendency to underestimate this. We're so excited about His deity and His kingship and these other aspects of His ministry, we tend to think that being a prophet is kind of a lesser office and not something that's very important. In fact, we see a progressive understanding of those who meet Jesus in the New Testament, like the woman at the well at first says, sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

That was quite an accolade. That was quite an honor to say, you are a prophet of God. But she still hadn't reached the zenith of her confession, which she arrived at when she recognized that He was the Messiah. Because Jesus is not simply a prophet, He is the prophet extraordinaire. He not only proclaims the Word of God, He is the Word of God. The author of Hebrews begins his book by saying in former times, in divers way, God has spoken to us through the prophets and so on. But now in these latter days, He has spoken to us through His Son, who is the very incarnation of the Word of God, who manifests fully that which the Father gives Him.

Notice that Jesus said, I speak nothing on my own authority, but all that the Father tells me I speak. And so He is the faithful prophet of the New Testament. One other point, and that is this, that Jesus is not just the subject of prophecy, but in the Scriptures, He is the chief object of prophecy. He doesn't just teach about the future or declare the Word of God. He is the Word of God, and He is the focal point of all of the prophetic teaching of the Old Testament prophecies. All right, so He is our prophet extraordinaire.

Second of all, He is a priest. Now one of the questions I ask my students in the seminary and sometimes try to trick them, I'll ask them, what Old Testament passage is the most frequently quoted or alluded to passage in the New Testament? That is, of all of the statements in the Old Testament, what Old Testament verse is most frequently quoted by the New Testament writers? And the answer to that question is Psalm 110. And there's a reason for that, because in this Psalm, we have an extraordinary statement about the character of the Messiah. Let me just read the first few verses of Psalm 110 and see if you recognize it.

1. The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of your enemies. Your people shall be volunteers in the day of your power. In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, you have the dew of your youth. The Lord has sworn and will not relent.

You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek. Now again, we go to the book of Hebrews, and we see how much attention is given in the book of Hebrews to the perfect priesthood of Christ. Now, as a mediator in the Old Testament, instead of the priests facing the people and being the spokesmen for God, rather the basic posture of the priest was that the priest faced God with their back to the people, because just like the prophet, the priest was a spokesman, but he spoke for the people. He was the one who came to make intercession in behalf of the people. He prayed for the people. And not only that, but he ministered in the temple, he ministered at the altar, he ministered in the Holy of Holies when he offered sacrifices to God for the people.

And so then we notice that the people in the main did not bring their own sacrifices, although there were occasions where they did, but the chief sacrifices were offered on the Day of Atonement by the high priest. Now, we've seen that the author of Hebrews sees in Jesus a priest who is unique. We notice that in this Psalm 110, two things are ascribed to the one who is being addressed. The Lord says to My Lord, sit thou at My right hand.

He will make the earth your footstool. Here is a promise of kingship that the Father gives to the Son. But in just a couple of lines later, he says, and thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

So that in this messianic Psalm in the Old Testament, the Messiah is promised both that he would be king and that he would be priest. And again, we see that the author of Hebrews labors the point that the priesthood of Christ of Christ is a higher priesthood than the priesthood that was the ordinary priesthood established with Aaron and the tribe of the Levites, because his priesthood goes back before Aaron and Levi to that of this mysterious character, Melchizedek. And we notice again how the author of Hebrews proves his case of the superiority of the Melchizedekian priesthood, because Abraham subordinated himself to Melchizedek and Abraham is superior to Levi.

And if Abraham is superior to Levi and Levi is subordinate to Abraham and Abraham is subordinate to Melchizedek, then QED Levi is subordinate to Melchizedek. Now this whole argument here in Hebrews is made necessary because of the lineage of Jesus. To be king and to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy of the kingdom of God, the king had to come from the tribe of Judah. And David, of course, was from the tribe of Judah, and Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, being of the house and the family and the line and the lineage of David.

So there was no question about his tribal qualifications and credentials to be king. But again, in the regular priesthood, the priesthood was restricted to the tribe of Levi, and Jesus obviously could not be both from the tribe of Judah and from the tribe of Levi. And so the author of Hebrews tells us that his priesthood fulfills this text.

You can see why Psalm 110 is so important, because in this Psalm it declares that the Messiah would be a priest and that He would not be a Levitical priest, that He would be a priest of a different order, indeed of a higher order, namely of the order of Melchizedek. And that higher priesthood is manifested in not only the moral perfection of Jesus, who doesn't have to make any sacrifices for His own sin before He enters into the temple. In the Old Testament, as we've seen on the Day of Atonement, the high priest had to make sacrifices for his own sin before he could render the sacrifice on behalf of the people. Plus, his sacrifice had to be repeated annually.

Plus, when the high priest died, he would be succeeded by another one. And what the author of Hebrews tells us with respect to the superiority of the priesthood of Christ is that, first of all, he doesn't have to make sacrifices of his own sin because he's sinless. Second of all, he doesn't have to repeat his sacrifice. The sacrifice that he offers is offered once and for all. Thirdly, the sacrifice that he offers is not that of sheep and goats.

As the Scriptures tell us, the blood of sheep and bulls and goats will not take away sins. The sacrifice that Christ offers is the sacrifice of Himself. And he doesn't die to be replaced by a successor, but he is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, continuing his mediatorial work even to this moment, not by continually offering sacrifices to satisfy the justice of God, but by interceding for His people every day in the heavenly temple, in the heavenly holy of holies. And just as we saw a moment ago that in the case of the role of the prophet, that Christ is both the subject and object of prophecy, so with respect to the role of the priest, He is the subject and the object of the priesthood, because not only He as a priest offers the sacrifice subjectively, but the sacrifice that He offers objectively is His own person.

So He is the perfect priest and perfect intermediary now and forever. So finally, the third office that we encounter here, which is also indicated in Psalm 110 at the beginning where He says, the Lord said to My Lord, sit at My right hand is the office of King. Now, you may have a difficult time thinking of the office of King biblically as being that of a mediator, but if we go back to the roots of the Old Testament, it is very important for us to understand that if we ever see a manifestation of the divine right of kings, we see it in the Old Testament, because the King of Israel is not autonomous. He does not have absolute authority invested in Himself, but rather He receives His office from God, and He is called to exercise a vistrancy, that is a vice regency, that He is to manifest the justice and the rule of God Himself.

Now, of course, the history of the kings in the Old Testament is a history of unspeakable corruption and the failure of those kings to carry out the responsibility that they had been given initially. But the King of Israel is subject to the King's law, so that the King Himself is a mediator. He's under the law of God, and yet He helps to maintain and establish the law of God to the people. Again, there's no independence of the King from God in the Bible. The King is God's agent, God's minister to rule. And that's the same principle in the New Testament with respect to civil magistrates. The Bible may allow for two different spheres of operation between the church and the state, and in that regard speak of separation of church and state, because they have different duties to perform. But never do you find in Scripture the idea of the separation of the state from God, because the rulers of this world are ordained and appointed by God.

And they are ordained to the vocation of upholding righteousness and establishing justice, and they are accountable to God for how they exercise their reign. A few years ago, I was invited to speak at the governor's inaugural breakfast in Tallahassee here in Florida. And on that occasion, when I gave that address, I solemnly reminded the governor of the state, I said to him, sir, today is your ordination day.

I remember my ordination day when I had to go before the presbytery, and they separated me to the gospel ministry and so on, and I had to take vows and oaths. But today you are going to be ordained into the ministry, because to be a governor is to be a minister of God. And only God can make you governor, and God will hold you accountable for how you govern.

That's true of any ruler in any nation in any situation. Now, what God sees in this world is a world that is ruled by kings who are corrupt, kings who do not obey the king's law and deviate from bringing forth righteousness and justice. And the closest model that we find in the Old Testament to the ideal king was himself a corrupt one, and that was David. But David introduced the royal golden age in Israel, and after he died, the people longed to see the restoration of the Davidic kingdom. In Amos' prophecy, he talked about the day when God would restore the fallen booth of David.

And so at the heart of Messianic expectancy throughout the pages of the Old Testament was the longing and eager desire of the people to have one like David come again. And the Messiah, as He predicts here in Psalm 110, promises that His Son would reign forever and ever. And so when Christ comes, He is heralded as the newborn King. In fact, He is crucified because of the claims to kingship.

And that's what Pilate was so exercised about, you know, what about this kingdom business? And Jesus said, my kingdom is not of this world, but that doesn't mean He didn't have a kingdom. In fact, God makes Him His King, and we see the culmination of Jesus' earthly ministry as we looked at the states of Christ's life, not in His resurrection, but in the ascension. Again, where God then elevates Him to His right hand, takes Him to His coronation, installs Him there at His right hand as the ruler of the whole universe, as the King of the kings and as the Lord of the lords, whose reign shall go on forever and ever, as the King who is the shepherd King. Isn't that an interesting idea in the Old Testament?

Like David learned how to be a good king by the care that he bestowed and the protection he gave to the sheep that were put into his care. And so the Messiah King would be a shepherd King, and He would be a priestly King, not to mention a prophetic King, again, who did not have to be succeeded by another generation, but His kingdom has no end, and the extent of His reign will be for eternity. The only difference between the kingdom today and the kingdom that we will know in the future is in its visibility in the final analysis, because the reality is, right now, Jesus is King. He holds the highest political office in the universe, because He's been installed into that position by God. That's at the heart of the Apostles' Creed, when we say, several hundred points of Pilate, crucified, dead in the berry, third-rate, rose of the dead, ascended at hand, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

To be at the right hand of God is to be in the position of power, to be in the position of authority by which He rules, not just the church, but He rules the world. I love to sing the Hallelujah Chorus, because its words are taken directly from Scripture in such a magnificent musical setting. And you know how it goes at the end, and He shall reign forever, and ever, and ever, and ever what?

Hallelujah. That's why the church cries, Hallelujah, because our Messiah is not only a prophet, not only a priest, but He is our King. It's astonishing, isn't it, to realize that Jesus is the ultimate authority, the ultimate Word, the ultimate minister of the Word. Thank you for listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Friday. I'm Lee Webb, and this week we have made our way through the Christology portion of Dr. R.C. Sproul's overview of systematic theology.

It's called Foundations. It's a series that covers the essentials of the Christian faith in 60 lessons. We'd be happy to send you the eight DVD special edition set when you request it today with a donation of any amount.

You can make your request at, or you can call us at 800-435-4343. This is perfect for a Sunday school class or a small group meeting in your home. We're including a bonus disc that contains the study guide for the series. It provides you with an outline of each session, sample study questions, and further reading suggestions. So request, with your donation of any amount, Foundations, an overview of systematic theology.

Our number again is 800-435-4343, and our web address is We have heard from so many of our listeners over the years about how R.C. has helped them understand and appreciate how Scripture fits together.

That was certainly the case for me, and his message today is a prime example of that, how Jesus fulfills all three offices that we read about in the Old Testament. So I do hope you'll request this series. Christmas and the New Year are just around the corner, and as you consider Year-End Giving, I hope you'll keep Ligonier in mind. Christians around the world are hungry for this kind of teaching, and your generosity allows us to continue producing teaching series like this. It also allows us to publish books and host conferences around the world. So on behalf of all of my colleagues here at Ligonier, thank you. Well, next week we'll focus on the amazing gift the world received 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. R.C. will take us through the account of Jesus' birth from the Gospel of Luke, and I hope you'll join us here on Redoing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-14 02:54:45 / 2024-01-14 03:03:33 / 9

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