The Threefold Office of Christ

“The Most Tender and Comforting Section in All of the Reformed Catechisms and Confessions” (Belgic Confession Article 26)


Article 26 of the Belgic Confession is about Christ as our only Mediator, and His intercession on our behalf. This is easily one of the longest articles found in the entire Confession, and much of it consists of an extended polemic against the Roman Catholic doctrine and practice of the veneration of saints.

In Roman Catholicism the saints and even the virgin Mary are viewed as additional mediators (or co-mediators). Worse yet, Mary is even taught to be the mediator (or mediatrix) between believers and Christ Himself! S. Lewis Johnson Jr. writes,

“Since the practice of praying to the saints increased during the Middle Ages, it is not surprising that Mary became especially popular. Jesus came to stand for the stern, forbidding, and unapproachable judge. The faithful were pointed to Mary, the compassionate mother who would act as mediator for them.” (Roman Catholicism, p.126)

And yet the Scriptures clearly teach that it is the Lord Jesus Christ alone who is our only true Mediator. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (ESV).

That the Confession deals with these things at such length might not sound all that noteworthy or relevant to some (especially to those who are not from a Roman Catholic background), but there is abundant assurance and comfort to be found for believers in the great truth of Christ as our only Mediator and His work of intercession on our behalf, as detailed here in this particular article. Daniel Hyde writes,

“Here we find the most tender and comforting section in all of the Reformed catechisms and Confessions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.” (With Heart and Mouth, p.353)

What is it about Article 26 that makes it so “tender and comforting”? It is, quite simply, its treatment of the love of Christ for believers. The opening paragraph of this article goes on to assure us of the infinite love and all-sufficiency of Christ our Mediator toward us:

“For there is no creature, either in heaven or on earth, who loves us more than Jesus Christ; who, though existing in the form of God, yet emptied himself, being made in the likeness of men and of a servant for us, and in all things was made like unto his brethren. If, then, we should seek for another mediator who would be favorably inclined towards us, whom could we find who loved us more than He who laid down His life for us, even while we were His enemies? And if we seek for one who has power and majesty, who is there that has so much of both as He who sits at the right hand of God and to whom hath been given all authority in heaven and on earth? And who will sooner be heard than the own well beloved Son of God?”

Here we are given three (3) reasons for confidence in Christ as our only Mediator. The very first of these reasons is the love of Christ. Who could possibly be said to love us “more than Jesus Christ,” who emptied Himself, was made in our likeness, and even “laid down his life for us, even while we were His enemies” (Romans 5:8). If you are a believer, there is no one who loves you more than the Lord Jesus Christ! No one.

And if no one loves you more than the Lord Jesus Christ, why would you ever even dream of seeking out other mediators (i.e. the saints, the Virgin Mary, etc.)? What a comfort it is to know that our Mediator is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:2)!

The second reason given is the power and majesty of Christ. Not only does Christ love us more than anyone else could possibly do, but He is even now seated at the right hand of God, having all power and authority. Who could possibly be better-able to help us in our time of need than the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Mediator, and who ever lives to intercede for us at God’s right hand (Hebrews 7:25)?

The third and final reason given is the love of God the Father for His Beloved Son. Whose prayers for us will be sooner heard and answered by the Father than those of Christ, His own well-beloved Son? The saints? Mary herself? By no means! The Lord Jesus Christ Himself prays for us! What could be better than that?

How great a source of assurance and comfort these great truths of Scripture should be to the heart of every believer! No wonder the Confession spends so much time teaching us to believe and confess these things!


R.C. Sproul on Jesus As the Supreme Prophet


In his book, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, R.C. Sproul gives us a very helpful and succinct explanation of the prophetic ministry of Jesus Christ:

“As the prophet of God par excellence, Jesus was both the object and subject of prophecy. His person and His work are the focal point of Old Testament prophecy, yet He Himself was a prophet. In Jesus’ own prophetic statements, the kingdom of God and His role within the coming kingdom are major themes. A principal activity of a prophet was to declare the Word of God. Jesus not only declared the Word of God, He is Himself the Word of God. Jesus was the supreme Prophet of God, being God’s Word in the flesh.” (p.101)

That is what the writer of the book of Hebrews is telling us in the opening verses of that great epistle:

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)

Jesus didn’t just speak the Word of God (like the prophets of the Old Testament and John the Baptist), but is the Word of God – God’s last Word to sinful mankind for our salvation! (See also Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.24.)

By the way, if you are looking for a clear and concise 1-volume systematic theology with which to start your reading (as well as your collection!), the above book would be a great place to start! It is less than 300 pages long, and he deals with most of the topics in the space of only a page or two.  (All you have to do is click on the link above and it will take you directly to the Ligonier website, where you can order the book online.)  🙂

Jesus Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King

Prophet Priest King 2

What is the “three-fold office” of Jesus Christ, and why does it matter?

The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks and answers the first part of that question:

Q. 23. What offices does Christ execute as our Redeemer? A. Christ, as our Redeemer, executes the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.

Charles Hodge explains why Christ’s three-fold office is so important to every believer:

We as fallen men, ignorant, guilty, polluted, and helpless, need a Saviour who is a prophet to instruct us; a priest to atone and to make intercession for us; and a king to rule over and protect us. And the salvation which we receive at his hands includes all that a prophet, priest, and king in the highest sense of these terms can do. We are enlightened in the knowledge of the truth; we are reconciled unto God by the sacrificial death of his Son; and we are delivered from the power of Satan and introduced into the kingdom of God; all of which supposes that our Redeemer is to us at once prophet, priest, and king. (Systematic Theology, Vol. II, p.461)

Another way of saying that is to say that the Lord Jesus Christ has done, is doing, and always will completely do everything that is necessary for our salvation from sin.

Left to ourselves we are ignorant of God, but Jesus Christ is our ultimate Prophet who was to come (Deuteronomy 18:15-18).  He is “the Word” (John 1:1), God’s fullest and final revelation of Himself to sinful mankind.  Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us,

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. (ESV)

Left to ourselves we are sinful, rebellious against God and cut off from Him because of the guilt, uncleanness, and corruption of our sin, but Jesus Christ is our “great high priest” (Hebrews 4:14).  He represents us before the Father, offering the once-for-all sacrifice of His own shed blood (Hebrews 9:24-28) to pay for our sins, and ever lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25).  1 Peter 1:18-19 says,

 . . .you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Left to ourselves, we are weak and helpless, but Jesus Christ is our all-powerful King.  He is the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16), the One to whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been given (Matthew 28:18).   And He rules over and defends His people from all of their enemies.  In Philippians 2:9-11 Paul writes,

 . . .God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

In fact, to use the words of the Heidelberg Catechism, part of our “only comfort in life and death” is that the exalted Christ watches over us “in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation” (Q.1)!

The “three-fold office” of Christ, may sound like a dusty old theological term, but it really is anything but that.  It helps us to understand the glory of Christ in the gospel and the greatness of the salvation that God has blessed us with through faith in Him!