The following lesson was presented at Christ Presbyterian Church.
Deacon JP introduced to us the three-fold office of Christ the Redeemer. The three-fold office of Christ is not some arbitrary curiosity that the divines just threw in at this point. This Munus Triplex (threefold office), as it is called in Latin, is being expounded upon here to help us structure and understand how Christ is working out our salvation as the Redeemer. Salvation is needed in light of the disaster that took place in the Garden.
The office of Christ is nothing else than a mediation between God and men, to discharge which he was sent by the Father into the world and anointed by the Holy Spirit. It embraces all that Christ ought to do from his mission and calling towards an offended God and offending men, reconciling and again uniting them to each other.” – Francis Turretin
The Munus Triplex was first articulated by Eusebius, but it was brought to prominence by John Calvin. Calvin used this structure to shape his overall understanding of Christ. Later, Francis Turretin expanded upon it by introducing the Munus Triplex as a threefold answer to a threefold problem caused by sin:
The threefold misery of men introduced by sin—(1) ignorance, (2) guilt and (3) the tyranny and bondage by sin—required this conjunction of a threefold office.” – Francis Turretin
It is for this reason that the Munus Triplex has also become known as the Triple Cure. With this in mind, we now look at Question 24 of the Shorter Catechism, which begins to unpack the Munus Triplex by looking at the first office:
Q. 24. 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.
Because of sin, our foolish hearts are darkened (Rom. 1:21). Because of sin our thoughts are continually evil (Ge. 6:5). Because of sin we have become ignorant of the things of God (Eph. 4:17-18). And according to Romans 1, even that which we know inwardly (that is, a sense of the divine), we exchange for a lie. We are blind, dumb, foolish, and HATE truth. Because there can be no knowledge of the things of the Spirit of God without a revelation of them (1 Cor. 2:14) and because there can be no revelation of these things but through Christ (John 1:18), it is of absolute necessity that Christ fulfill this office.
First, that Christ is a Prophet, Scripture states explicitly.
In Deut. 18, Moses says, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” In Acts 3, Peter quotes this very section and states that it spoke of Christ. Therefore, there is no doubt that Christ is a Prophet.
Secondly, notice in our catechism answer that there are primarily two means by which Christ reveals the will of God to us: by His word and the Spirit.
The Word of God was revealed outwardly by Christ both in the Old and New Testaments. The Spirit of Christ was in the OT prophets (1 Pe. 1:11) and he spoke with Moses on Mt Sinai according to Acts 7. He revealed himself by voices, visions, dreams, and various other manners under the OT.
While on earth, Jesus personally spoke with us. One of the first things out of his mouth was what? “The kingdom is at hand. Repent.” Christ preached the Gospel. Early on we see the “Sermon on the Mount,” in which he explained the true meaning and application of the Law. Then later, we see Christ speak of things to come; particuarly the destruction of the Temple and His second coming.
When He left the earth, he did not take with him this prophetic ministry. He inspired the Apostles to further instruct His church. And if you haven’t guessed by now in light of all this, the whole Scripture is considered the “words of Christ,” not just the red letters.
To make this outward ministry of the Word effectual, Christ also teaches us inwardly by the Spirit in conjunction with the Word.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” – Jesus, John 14
It is the Spirit of God who opens our understanding and makes the soul ready to not only hear, outwardly, the Word but to actually understand, receive, and embrace it as the Word of God. In fact, it is the inward illumination of the Spirit of God that is necessary for the saving understanding of such revelation.
Our confession states that “our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the word in our hearts.” WCF 1.5
Lastly, consider that the Catechism speaks of Christ’s Prophetic Office as not something that was excecuted in time past only, but that Christ executes this office now.
But this raises an interesting question: if there are no visions, dreams, and prophets walking around and if Christ, with respect to his human nature, is absent from us so that we are not able to drive over to a church and actually hear Christ teach, how is Christ teaching us today? Obviously there is the written Word. We can sit down in the comfort of our home and read the Scriptures. And the Spirit of God can use that to illuminate us. But is that it? Or is that even the primary means?
He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry,” – Ephesians 4
Beloved, do not let this profound truth escape you. Christ is excercising his prophetic office by commissioning ordinary pastors to teach the whole counsel of God! Do you understand the signifigance of this? When a lawfully ordained minister is standing in that pulpit and faithfully expositing the Word of God, it is to be received as if Jesus Christ himself were standing there and preaching! That is the execution of his prophetic office!
How important then should it be to you to regularly attend church and sit under of the preaching of the Word of God by a lawfully ordained minister? Let me tell you how important it should be to you: remember when I quoted Deut. to prove that Christ is called a Prophet? I purposefully left something out. I will now read that Scripture again with that part included:
The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.” – Moses, Deuteronomy 18
To neglect the ministry of the church and it’s officers, specifically the preaching ministry of those lawfully called, is to neglect your own soul and invite God’s judgment upon you!
Do you spurn the prophetic ministry of Christ or do you embrace it? Your attitude towards church and the preaching of the Word by ordinary men called of God goes a long way in revealing that answer.