Heidelberg Catechism: Lord's Day #12


Welcome to the Cornerstone Baptist church podcast. My name is Justin Wheeler, I am the preaching pastor for Cornerstone and today we are in week 12 of our journey through the Heidelberg Catechism and I will be talking to you today about questions 31 & 32.


Last week we began the section on Jesus and this is one of the largest sections in the catechism. Questions 29-52 all deal with who Jesus is and what He has done. This section and all the questions in it are taking cues from the Apostles Creed and the aim is to go through all the detailed phrases within the creed. So let’s refresh our memories as to what the AC said about Jesus.

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary. He Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

Last week, in questions 29 & 30, we looked at what it means that the Son of God is called Jesus. This week the question has to do not with his name but with His title, Christ.

Lord’s Day Focus...

Question 31: Why is He called “Christ,” meaning “Anointed?”

Answer: Because He has been ordained by God the Father and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit to be our chief prophet and teacher who perfectly reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance; our only high priest who has set us free by the one sacrifice of His body, and who continually pleads our cause with the Father; and our eternal king who governs us by His Word and Spirit, and who guards us and keeps us in the freedom He has won for us.

While there is much packed into this answer it is easy to spot the way, this statement is organized. It is ordered to show how Jesus fulfilled the office of Christ by fulfilling the 3 specific offices of prophet, priest and king.

In the OT, prophets, priest and king were three separate offices that God established, and these served as mediators between God and the people of God. The prophets spoke the Word of God to the people, the priest offered sacrifices, prayers and even praises to God for the people, and the king ruled over the people as a representative of God.

At times there were faithful prophets, priests, and kings; and as we know there were also wicked ones who failed in their office. But each of these offices foreshadowed the One who was to come. The One who would execute these offices with finality; that’s where Jesus comes into this discussion.

In Christ, these three offices come together and are fulfilled. As our Prophet, Jesus speaks the Word of God to us and He also reveals God to us. As our Priest, Jesus offers Himself as a sacrifice to God for us that ends all sacrifices. As our King, Jesus rules over the church and all of creation.

It was John Calvin who brought the three-fold office of Christ into prominence during the reformation. He wasn’t the first to write on it, the early church fathers and Catholic theologians referred to the work of Christ in these three distinct ways (prophet, priest and king). But Calvin set out to show how Christ not only served in these roles but did so as a means to completely satisfy our need of salvation, where the Catholic teachers left that need unfulfilled.

Calvin understood that Jesus’s fulfillment of the three-fold office was tied to His title as the Messiah or the Anointed One of God. “Under the law, prophets as well as priests and kings were anointed with holy oil. Hence, the illustrious name of “Messiah” was bestowed upon the one promised mediator,” who fulfilled all three anointed offices of the Old Testament.[1]

But another Reformed theologian, named Francis Turretin, introduced the threefold office of Christ as the divinely revealed cure to man’s threefold disease of ignorance, guilt, and pollution. Three offices to counteract man’s threefold need. Turretin taught that Christ serving in the triple office, as prophet, priest, and king, was necessary to accomplish the Triple Cure to our fatal three-fold disease.”

So let’s think for a few minutes about those three offices and how Jesus fulfilled them.

Of course, Jesus is a prophet of God, but the catechism points out that He is not simply a prophet, but the chief prophet. Jesus is the greatest of the prophets and He was also more than a prophet. He is the One prophet that all the other prophets were pointing to. He is the One prophet who fulfills all the promises and prophecies that God ever gave to His people. He is the One prophet who not only speaks the Word of God but who is the Word of God.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Jesus was not only a messenger bringing revelation from God, He was the source of revelation from God (Grudem 626). In His role as the final prophet of God, Jesus came to reveal His plan to us but in His role as the Savior of the world He also came to accomplish salvation for us. As our prophet, He not only announced an end to our sin, but He made an end to our sin.

He does more than prophecy about these good things, He has come to give us these good things. He not only preaches Good News but He makes that news Good.

Jesus is also our great and only high priest. The responsibilities of the priests included making the sacrifices and performing the ritual of the sanctuary, burning the incense along with their intercession in the Holy Place, and teaching the people the laws and the ritual (Deut. 33:9,10; Mal. 2:7). We tend to simplify their office into two categories: making sacrifices and offering intercession.

Jesus fulfills both of these. In his death on the cross, Jesus offered to God the final sacrifice for the sins of all those who believe.

Heb 10:12 When Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 

He is the great high priest who was divinely appointed to offer the once-for-all sacrifice to atone for our sin.

But in his death, Jesus role as our only priest does not end. He rose from the dead. He is alive forever and He is with the Father in Heaven interceding on behalf of his people. He is at God’s right hand and will remain there for eternity whispering prayers in the Father’s ear on our behalf.

Jesus is also our eternal king who governs and guards us by His Spirit and His Word. As our eternal king He guards the freedom purchased for us by His sacrificial death. The king we needed was not the king we deserved. He came to die and by his death he bought our freedom. In Heaven, they sing a song about Jesus,

Rev 5:9…“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” 

Today, Christ rules as our king from Heaven and His rule is a spiritual one. His rule is grounded in his work of redemption and all who believe in Christ are citizens of His kingdom. He rules over the church as our Savior, He reigns in the hearts of His people by the Holy Spirit, He governs His people by His Word, and the day is coming when our king will return to rule over all the earth in glory.

Which brings us to our final question for this week?

Question 32: Why are you called a Christian?

Answer: Because by faith I am a member of Christ and so I share in His anointing. I am anointed to confess His name, to present myself to Him as a living sacrifice of thanks, to strive with a good conscience against sin and the devil in this life, and afterward to reign with Christ over all creation for all eternity.

Because by faith… that phrase is crucial. A Christian is first and foremost a person who believes in Jesus and affirms all that He accomplished. We accept by faith that He is the Son of God, the promised Christ, the final prophet, priest and king from God. We trust that by His death we are freed from our sin, united to God forever and set to receive the grace-filled blessings that He has promised His people.

A Christian is also one who follows Jesus. We follow His sacrifices by giving our own lives as a living sacrifice. We follow His battle against the evil one by striving against sin and the devil ourselves. We follow our king with the promise that one day we will reign at His side. A Christian is a believer in Christ, a follower of Christ, a little Christ, if you will, and all our hope is in Him.

Thanks for joining me today as I discuss the Heidelberg Catechism. I hope you’ll join me again next week as we look at Lord’s Day 13 together and discuss questions 33 & 34.


If you want to learn more about Cornerstone Baptist church, you can find us online at Cornerstonewylie.org. You can follow us on Twitter or Instagram @cbcwylie. You can find us on Facebook at facebook.com/cornerstonewylie. You can also subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or google play to stay up to date on all the new content.

Thanks for listening.

[1] Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1, Book 2 (pg. 495-6)

Justin Wheeler

Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Wylie, TX.