Biblical Principles for Christian Maturity

John H. Stoll, Th.M., Ph.D

Copyright 1996, John H. Stoll

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Chapter 9 - The Threefold Ministry of Christ

In Revelation 19:10 we read, "For the testimony borne to Jesus is the spirit of prophecy". This thought is probably the most all encompassing verse of the Bible. It underlies all of the revelation of God to mankind, as seen in His Word.

The word "Prophecy" has as its primary meaning, "To tell forth", and a secondary meaning of "Foretelling". The Prophets of old told forth the revelation of God to Israel, and a portion of their prophecies were futuristic, but primarily they were the mouthpieces of God to Israel, to reveal Himself and His commandments.

Prophecy, as a predictive element has but one objective, that is to give testimony concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, if we look at Prophecy in this manner throughout the Bible, we are able to say that in the Old Testament He is coming, in the Gospels He is here, and in the Epistles He is coming again.

Genesis 3:15 is the seed of all Messianic prophecy. The seed of the woman (i.e. Christ - Gal. 4:4) culminated in Jesus Christ, who in His death and resurrection forever crushed the power of Satan. All history is the story of two men (I Cor. 15:47): 1) Adam - from him issued forth ruined mankind, the rejection of Jesus Christ, and the eventual acceptance of the anti-christ. 2) Jesus Christ - from Him issued forth salvation to Adam's race, and ultimate dominion over all the world. Adam's fall centered the hope of restoration upon Jesus Christ, the second man. It is important to study these two men by way of contrast.

I. Concerning the Creation and Position of Adam. The Bible tells us four things about him. He was the first man(I Cor.15:45)

and there was no one before him. Second, he was the father of all mankind (Acts 17:26). Third, he was the federal man (Rom. 5:12), in that he held the governmental headship for all the peoples of the world. When he sinned he placed all of mankind in the realm of sin. Finally, he was a type of the second man, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:14), in that Christ became man (Jesus) and partook of human flesh in a time/space world. He came into the world of sin to undo what Adam had done in placing all of us in sin ( I John 3:8; I Cor. 15:22).

II. Concerning the Privileges and Failures of Adam. He enjoyed a standing before God in his sinless estate, as a Prophet, a Priest, and a King. As a Prophet, he knew the will of God by direct revelation. Adam and God walked together and enjoyed sweet fellowship, and God continued to reveal Himself to Adam, who in turn was to convey his understanding to his family. As Priest, Adam had a right standing before God, since he was sinless. As King God placed him over all the creation. He told Adam that the animals were subservient to him, that the ground was his to work, and it would produce abundantly. All this Adam and his family was to enjoy. Furthermore, he was to fill the earth with his progeny, and all this would continue eternally, with no death.

When Adam sinned he ceased to be a Prophet, because now there came a separation between God and him due to his sin. He needed to be taught the mind and will of God, since he no longer had it by direct revelation. He couldn't tell forth the revelation of God, because of the separation. He also ceased to be a Priest, for now he needed a mediator in his behalf before God. Thirdly, he ceased to be a King over the creation. Now the animals became wild, the ground brought forth weeds, etc., and by the sweat of his brow he would eke out a living. Adam was cast out of the garden of Eden. These were the consequences of his sin, which essentially was his turning from being God centered to becoming self centered. All this was due to the deception of Satan, as embodied in the serpent, who deceived both Adam and Eve. All of the world's problems from this time to the present are seen in the self centeredness of mankind. Thus the need for a successor to Adam.

III. Concerning Adam's Successor. This brings us to the point of Genesis 3:15.

In this verse the seed of the woman was now promised. The first man, Adam, left to posterity alienation from God. But, in the promised Messiah (Christ), the "Last Adam" (I Cor. 15:45), complete triumph over Satan is promised. Satan, through the serpent, bruised the "heel" of the woman, in that the deception of Adam/Eve has carried down through the ages to every person in our sin nature. But, the promised seed of the woman, "He" (Christ), would crush the power of Satan forever (I John 3:8). This was guaranteed to all mankind in the resurrection of Christ from the dead (I Cor. 15:20-26).

At this point of the story God used three methods to prepare for the advent of the seed of the woman. He raised up a succession of Prophets, who were God's mouthpiece to Israel. Then, He raised up a family of Priests, from the tribe of Levi, who were men of special sanctification to mediate between Israel and God. Finally, He raised up a race of Kings, from the tribe of Judah, who were a special choice of God to rule over Israel. The Old Testament is a record of how these three classes fulfilled their function.

Yet, in all the Old Testament, not one Prophet/Priest/King, was found upon whom the Spirit of God could rest and remain as Savior for Israel. The reason? The "Seed of the woman" had not yet appeared (Gal. 4:4). The Old Testament concludes with all these longings as yet unfulfilled.

The point of the text in Revelation 19:10 shows that in the Old Testament the Spirit of prophecy was bearing witness to the fact that one would come, who: 1) As Prophet - would fulfill in His life and work all the prophecies of the Old Testament, and 2) As Priest - would explain in His death and propitiation, all the ceremonies of the Levitical priesthood, and 3) As King - would satisfy in His resurrection and coming again, all the human longings.

We now turn to the New Testament to see the record or testimony borne to Jesus Christ, as Prophet/Priest/King.

1) As Prophet - Moses, who was the great Prophet of the Old Testament, and a type of Christ, gave the promise in Deuteronomy 18:15 when he spoke of another Prophet, like unto him, when he said, "Unto Him you shall listen", referring to the coming Christ. In Acts 3:22, the Apostle Peter was preaching, when he quoted from Deut. 18:15, and likened what Moses prophesied to the Lord Jesus Christ. Stephen in Acts 7:37 did likewise in his defense of Jesus Christ.

Moses was the lesser Prophet, and gave only fragmentary prophecies, whereas Christ the greater Prophet, fulfilled them all. In Hebrews 1:1,2 we note the contrast between the Old Testament Prophets (v.1) and Jesus Christ, God's Son, who brought God's final and last prophecies (v.2). Christ is God's completed revelation to mankind (II Cor. 4:6).

2) As Priest - Under the old covenant, Aaron was the High Priest, who was a type of Christ. This is seen from Heb.5:1-10, where it states that Aaron was chosen from among men, and appointed of God. So was Christ. The difference between them was that Aaron could not put away sin (Heb. 7:26-28), whereas Christ could and did (Heb. 10:14). Furthermore, Aaron's priesthood was carried on on earth, but Christ's is carried on in heaven (Heb. 8:1-5).

Aaron entered into the holiest place in the Tabernacle, and no one dared follow. Christ entered into heaven itself, not only to carry on intercession for us, but has left the way open for all to follow, and bids us enter (Heb. 6:20; 4:14-16). Therefore, Christ was and is the perfect priest of God, for us.

3) As King - When God spoke in times past, there were many implications that He was preparing for the great and coming king. The many kings of the Old Testament foreshadowed the King of kings. In Hebrews 7:1ff the king who is mentioned as a type of Christ is not David/Solomon/Hezekiah, etc., but Melchizedec, King of Salem. When he is described it states that he was "Priest of the most high God" (Heb. 7:1).

Melchizedec is a type of Christ, and in Hebrews 7 there is a play upon words, both in his name and his title. In Hebrews 7:1,2 it points out that Melchisedec is compound from two Hebrew words. The first part "Mel" means "king" in Hebrew language; the last part "Chizedec" is a transliteration of a word that means "Righteousness". The word "Salem" means "Peace". In verse two the interpretation is explained. The reason for all this is that Christ is both "King of righteousness" as well as "King of peace".

In Zechariah 6:12,13 it prophetically states that the "BRANCH", who is Christ, will be both a king and priest on His throne. When Christ comes to rule the world, He will institute everlasting righteousness, and then, and only then, will the world enjoy the peace it so sorely desires (Jeremiah 23:4-6).

Hebrews 7:11-17 it points out a fact that all Jewish people understood; that a king dared not enter the Priesthood or vice versa. The two offices were separate, as commanded by God. But the Hebrew passage points out that the Levitical Priesthood could not bring in perfection, so the law was changed by God. Therefore, Christ came both as King and Priest since He came to rule, as well as to care for sins and effect perfection.

For Christ is the true King of Righteousness and after that King of Peace. Throughout His Millenial reign He will fulfill God's divine order, first righteousness then peace.

Return to the text of Revelation 19:10. The testimony to Jesus in this passage is of a prophetic character and a threefold nature: Prophet/Priest/King. In the book of Revelation there are no less than three indicators of this: Revelation 1:4 states, "From Him which is (i.e. Christ as Priest), and which was (Christ as Prophet), and which is to come (Christ as King)". Then Revelation 1:5 says, "From Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness (as true Prophet), and the firstborn of the dead (as the true Priest), and the Prince of the kings of the earth (as Lord omnipotent, King of kings)".

Finally, in Revelation 19:1-16 the four "Alleluias" (v.1,3,4,6) denote Christ as: Prophet (v.11 - "Faithful and true"), Priest (v.13 - Garment sprinkled with blood"), and coming King (v.16 - "King of kings and Lord of lords"). Revelation 19 depicts the battle of Armageddon, where Christ will return to the earth to rule and reign over the nations. In the context of this chapter, the Apostle John is so overcome with emotion in the vision he is witnessing, that he falls at the feet of the escorting Angel, who says, "John don't worship me, I'm just a fellow servant; worship God: for the testimony borne to Jesus is the essence of all Biblical prophecy". This speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God's final and last Prophet to mankind, the only Priest who could put away the sins of world, and the coming King over all the earth; worship Him.

I hear the Savior say,
Thy strength indeed is small,
Child of weakness watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.

Jesus Paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

Lord, now indeed I find,
Thy power and thine alone,
Can change the leper's spots,
And melt the heart of stone.

For nothing good have I,
Whereby thy grace to claim,
I'll wash my garments white,
In the blood of Calvary's lamb.

And, when before the throne,
I stand in Him complete,
"Jesus died my soul to save",
My lips shall still repeat,

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

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