Christ our Prophet, Priest, King: Hebrews 1:3

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, Feb 6, 2010.

  1. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    Christ our Prophet, Priest, King
    Hebrews 1:3

    It is a shame that this gem of a book is so often neglected by many Christians. They don't know what they are missing. I can't speak for others, but the reason why I had earlier read sparingly from it for a long time is because I thought it was mainly "Jewish stuff", written for those who came to Christ from a Jewish background. Well, yes and no. It is that - and much more. Hebrews not only leads Jews to Christ, it also makes the Old Testament come alive. It Christianizes much of the Old Testament.

    Hebrews is the epitome of the Old Testament focused through Gospel lens.

    Here again are the first three verses of Hebrews, with a closer look at the third verse:

    "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the ages (aeons); who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,"

    Did you notice that that last verse demonstrates, not only Christ's deity, but all three of Christ's offices?
    He is our God: Christ is "the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person". He who sees Christ has seen the Father.
    He is our Prophet: "upholding all things by the word of His power". He has the words of eternal life (John 6:63), and we live by every word that comes out of His mouth (John 6).
    He is our Priest: "when He had by Himself purged our sins". "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
    He is our King: He "sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,"

    One of the best, concise explanations of Christ in His three offices is given by Louis Berkhof (Systematic Theology. p.357, ):

    "As Prophet He represents God with man; as priest He represents man in the presence of God, and as King He exercises dominion and restores the original dominion of man."

    Do we believe in this strong, this powerful of a Savior? He not only is our Lord and Savior, but He has spoken to us (perfect tense, once for all, verse 1) as our Prophet, the very one promised in Deut. 18. He has cleansed us at Calvary, yet still intercedes as our Priest in heaven - Did you know that? (If you doubt this look at Heb. 7:24-25). And He is our King, overcoming our sin by His day-by-day grace. Our daily Bread of Life, the hidden Manna.

    Because the only ones being anointed in the Old Testament were prophets, priests, and kings it stands to reason - and is verified by Scripture - that the Messiah ("Anointed One") would perfectly assume all three offices. That is exactly what He did. At the public revelation of His Messianic ministry, Luke 4:18-19, Christ reveals His mission, showing aspects of all three offices.

    Yet the Jews rejected Him - in all three offices!
    They rejected Him as Prophet, John 6:60. "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"
    They rejected Him as Priest, Heb. 10:29.
    They rejected Him as King, John 19:14-15 and Luke 19:14. "We have no king but Caesar!", "We will not have this man to rule over us."

    But before we are too hard on them, and on the unbelief of many of them, we need to add that many, very many, in Christendom have done -and are doing - the very same thing. Many, while professing belief in Christ as Savior, reject Him as Prophet, Priest, and King. All the unhealthy and dangerous doctrine in Christendom through the ages has come about because of rejection of one, two, or all three of these aspects of Christ's lordship.

    Many reject Him as Prophet.
    Christ was specifically promised to His people as the Prophet of Deut. 18. Some blatantly reject His prophethood by calling His veracity to account, and by denying Christianity in general. But others, while not denying that Jesus is prophet, believe also in prophets after New Testament times, after the close of inspired Scripture.

    But they do this by ignoring certain safeguards in the Word itself. Rev. 22:18-19 warns against either adding to, or taking away from, the Word of God. To have a "word from the Lord" is to add to the other words from the Lord which were written down for all of us - the Bible. Or do we believe that God gives out His word in varying qualities: Inspired and semi-inspired? No, the Bible says that in Him there is no untruth and "all the promises of God are Yes and Amen in Christ Jesus".

    Preachers who turn babes in Christ from the simple Word with "God also said this..." cheapen the revelation of God and interrupt the growth of Christians who, instead of growing by the "sincere milk of the Word", 1 Pet.2:2, are being taught to listen to this "word from the Lord" and that "annointed message". Its no wonder so many do not grow up in Christ, and do not have their senses matured to discern good from evil, Heb 5:14!

    All of this comes from not honoring Christ as our Prophet. Though we have Christ's words written, He still speaks those words to us everyday. The Spirit of Christ brings to mind, comforts and strengthens us with our daily Bread according to each day's peculiar need.

    Many reject Him as Priest.
    They either reject His priestly ministry at Calvary or in heaven, Heb.7:24-25; 8:1-2.
    Those who reject - or find insufficient - His sacrifice at the cross try to add to their salvation by having some good works (just in case). The formal name for this in some denominations is "merit" or "supererogation", but the idea is the same: What if the hymn is not true? What if Calvary did not cover it all?

    I have met a number of these restless, sad, jittery people (some, probably, true Christians) who seem to have "God-haunted" personalities. They talk much about sacrifice, hardships, judgment - but very little about joy and peace. They are often the ones who are judgmental against others who maybe, just maybe, have found a sweet, private fulfillment in the promise of Matt. 11:29, "and you will find rest for your souls."

    One of the most powerful encouragements for me was to understand how Christ both ministered at Calvary for me and continues to minister in heaven for me. What an awesome savior we have.

    Another way that many reject Christ as Priest is when they erect a whole system - as the Roman Catholics do - of priesthoods that the Bible does not require. There is one priestly mediator between man and God, but they have fatally convoluted this. The eternal Melchizedekan priesthood of Christ (Heb.6:20-7:21) leaves absolutely no room for any other priesthoods, priests, or sacrifices. It is all taken up, thoroughly and once for all, in Christ.

    Many reject Him as King.
    Some do it out of sheer disbelief and unrepentant carnal addiction. They see no need for Christ or salvation or any of that "God stuff".

    But there are others who are more subtle, trying to hold on to both a carnal life and godly hope. Very often they say things like "I have a problem in this area.", or "I'm still struggling with (fill in the blank)". While this is true of most Christians - who doesn't have struggles at different times? - there comes a time when that comment becomes disingenuous. Elisabeth Elliot confronted one person who said this, answering him,

    "You aren't struggling with sin. You are putting off obedience."

    I like that. That is strong, bitter medicine. But it has the ring of truth.

    Think of this. Christ conquered sin. He conquered the world. If we are in Christ we can do all things through the one who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). The "all things" certainly includes walking in the Spirit, loving God, loving our neighbors as ourselves, growing in grace. We work out our salvation in fear and trembling. He also makes us overcomers.

    Christ is our King. He is stronger than Satan, or our sins, or the world.
    If we sin, it is not Satan's doing, it is our doing. Mea culpa.
    At that point we are denying that Christ is King. We are denying that Christ has come into this world, saving His own. This is not the faith of a Christian; it is a different spirit altogether. See John 4:1-4.
     
    #1 asterisktom, Feb 6, 2010
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  2. OldRegular

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    Excellent article Tom. Hebrews has long been one of my favorite books in the Bible. I always looked at Hebrews as essentially a concise summary of Scripture. You say it well: "Hebrews is the epitome of the Old Testament focused through Gospel lens."
     
  3. asterisktom

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    Thank you, OR. I led a Bible study through this book. It lasted about a year. I certainly did not teach all that could be taught - that goes without saying. The first verses, especially, are really rich in doctrinal comfort and instruction.
     
  4. Deacon

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    Wish I could read it, the font's too tiny!

    Rob


    Thanks for enlarging the font, Hebrews is my favorite book to study, so rich with imagery. :thumbsup:

     
    #4 Deacon, Feb 6, 2010
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  5. asterisktom

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    Ooops. Sorry about that.

    How did that happen? It looks the same size as other posts on this page.

    [Rolling up sleeves. Deftly torquing the font-adjustment wrench]

    OK. Is that better?
     
    #5 asterisktom, Feb 6, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2010
  6. OldRegular

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    I have taught from the Book of Hebrews more than once. The last time I taught I just used the Bible and occasionally a commentary. Don't remember how long it took but I can say without doubt that Hebrews is so rich I don't believe we could ever mine all that is contained in it.

    I would also note that the literature provided by the Southern Baptist for SS is useless. I never really used it other than the Scripture passage under discussion but the last several years I taught the class and I would just pick a book and take as long as necessary.

    I had a retired pastor in my class, Arminian and dispensational and one of the most gentle people I have ever known. He and I would often note that the more one learned from Scripture the more there was to learn.
     
  7. asterisktom

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    I believe that is the real key. Certainly it is something that the Lord has been convicting me about: receiving with meekness the implanted Word which is able to save our souls. My abrasiveness not only hinders my witnessing, but my own channel of grace and knowledge in Christ.

    About your first paragraph: It sounds very familiar. I was asked to fill in once for the regular teacher. It was understood I was use those wretched SB (Gospel-lite) quarterlies. Like you, I used it to read the text. When I started to, well, "improvise" (exegete and apply according to context, and not according to the little fluff pieces I was provided) the man next to me pointed quietly to the place in the quarterly I had strayed from.

    I wasn't asked to teach again.
     
  8. sag38

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    Sunday School literature isn't designed for in depth study. It's designed for the person who has little or no knowledge of the Bible. After all, the primary purpose of Sunday School is to reach the lost and wayward. In depth Bible study defeats the whole purpose of an evangelistic Sunday School. The Biblically illiterate would have trouble in a class where the literature and teacher go too in depth.
     
  9. asterisktom

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    With all due respect, I disagree on that. I believe that our churches today have lowered the bar too far. I know that some teachers get needlessly technical. However in depth Bible study, that is, teaching Scripture in context with illustrative clarity, is just what is needed in our SS. As the Word is presented those who have ears to hear will be drawn in.

    Perhaps the material you use is better, but what I dealt with was rife with "springboard" application (no application at all, in many cases). The "rabbit trail" I was going down, in that SS session, was actually explaining Paul's use of terms in that passage of Ephesians 4. What I was supposed to be teaching was (if I remember correctly) some lame story about a family going on a vacation.
     
  10. Amy.G

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    I totally agree Tom. I believe SS should be teaching meat not milk. I was close to giving up SS in my church because there were no teachers that would go beneath the surface. Then someone stepped up to teach the deep things of scripture and I have been learning from him for almost a year. It makes a huge difference in our walk and discipleship. There's only so much that can be taught by the pastor in a 30 min. sermon. Although our pastor also teaches Sunday night and Wednesday night bible studies in which he goes in depth.
    My church doesn't use quarterlies, but the last church I was a member of did and I hated them. They were basically for people who do NOT read their bible regularly and cannot handle the meat of the word. SS is a big part of my church life because I have a genuine hunger for God's word and I am thankful for teachers who put their heart into teaching it.
     
  11. Robert Snow

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    Yes, Hebrews is on the top shelf alright. If I had to choose three books, and only three, one would be Romans, two would be Hebrews and three would probably be John or maybe Luke.

    Along with OR let me say thanks Tom, great insight.
     
  12. Robert Snow

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    I would say that books don't always have to be very deep to get a blessing out of them. I have a commentary on Hebrews written by Oliver B. Green which is a blessing, not the deepest theology in the world, but practical and enjoyable to read.
     
  13. sag38

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    Some totally miss the main point of Sunday School. Anyone of any level should be able to attend. If it is too deep then the good old boy down the street wouldn't stand a chance. But, who cares about his soul. Let's just dig deeper and deeper for our own personal benefit and forget about him.
     
  14. asterisktom

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    Thank you, Robert, Marcia, and Sag. The good thing about well-prepared Bible lessons is that we can be assured that God's Word will always do what it is sent out for. Of course, that particular promise is active to the degree that the Bible is actually used.

    Sag, I think you overstate what I am saying for rhetorical effect.
     
  15. Grasshopper

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    And what would that be?
     
  16. sag38

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    To reach the lost and unchurched. Most Sunday School classes exist, as their main purpose, for fellowship and Bible Study. Few exisit, as thier number on priority, to reach the lost. Look around. How many in your Sunday School class today were new to the faith or in need of Christ? How many Sunday School classes have an active plan in place to actually begin to reach out? When you start to hear, "I'm not being fed," you can be assured that Sunday School class (or at least a portion of its members) have lost focus. The focus has become inward as opposed to outward. Mature and growing Christians learn to feed themselves. They give of themselves. Selfish Chrisitans on the other hand cry out, "I need to be fed more," or "it doesn't go deep enough." Study for your self. Start a class and start teaching. In doing so you will grow, you will go deeper, and in the process help someone else along the way.
     
  17. Grasshopper

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    Says who?


    Is that a bad thing?


    So when should believers engage in Bible Study?

    None, rarely to the lost show up for sunday school.

    Hogwash! It's called spiritual growth. You can do both.


    You've just contradicted yourself. Now you want me to start a class where we try to go deeper in the Word. I thought we were suppose to dumb it down for the lost.
     
  18. sag38

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    So Grasshopper. Tell me about your Sunday School class. How many people, as a result of the ministry of your Sunday School Class have come into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? How many new classes were started as a result of the ministry of your Sunday School class? How many new teachers and workers has your class produced? I hope I'm wrong but I would bet, from your attitude, that's its very low, if not zero. In fact, you just said so. "None, rarely to the lost show up for Sunday school." Your class has grown so deep in Bible study and fellowship that it has become a closed group. So, you have your deep Bible study and fellowship but why are their few lost people attending your Sunday School? Now that's a question worth exploring.

    You've just contradicted yourself. Now you want me to start a class where we try to go deeper in the Word. I thought we were suppose to dumb it down for the lost.

    No I have not. It's not up to your Sunday School teacher to go deeper for you. If you are growing in your faith you can learn do that for yourself. And, no it's not about dumbing anything down. When I taught SS I had several in my class who did not know Jesus. I had others who were not very adept in the Word (baby Christians). And, I had those who were mature in their faith. It was a challenge to keep it all on an even keel and interesting for all three groups. And, I didn't rely on SS material, nor criticize it. I used the tools given to me and developed lessons that hopefully were meaningful to each level of understanding. In doing so I saw some of these members come to know Christ and grow. Some left the class to teach other classes. You see? By teaching and leading my class I personally grew deeper in my understanding of God's Word and in my relationship with Him. I didn't rely on a teacher, literature, etc. to feed me. I, by God's grace, was learning to feed myself through serving others.
     
  19. Robert Snow

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    Sag38, I disagree. I believe that Sunday School should be for teaching the saved, although it would not hurt to mention the plan of salvation. At our church, my wife and I attended a mixed class. The teacher was good, but to me it seemed very shallow. I started attending a men's only class and now have found my home. Our class deals with somewhat deeper things, and I am happy. My wife loves her teacher and she is happy.
     
  20. sag38

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    So, your class has no concern for the lost so long as you have your deep fellowship and Bible study. You have just told the lost they are not welcome nor sought after by your class.
     

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