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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 12.



Before you begin: Read Matthew 16:13-20

31. Why is He called “Christ,” that is, Anointed?
Because He is ordained of God the Father and anointed with the Holy Ghost(1) to be our chief Prophet and Teacher,(2) who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption;(3) and our only High Priest,(4) who by the one sacrifice of His body, has redeemed us, and ever lives to make intercession for us with the Father;(5) and our eternal King, who governs us by His Word and Spirit, and defends and preserves us in the redemption obtained for us.(6)
(1)Heb. 1:9. (2)Deut. 18:15; Acts 3:22. (3)Jn. 1:18; 15:15. (4)Ps. 110:4; Heb. 7:21.(5)Rom. 5:9-10. (6)Ps. 2:6; Lk. 1:33; Mt. 28:18; Isa. 61:1-2; I Pet. 2:24; Rev. 19:16.

Jesus Christ. We use the two names together so often – but ‘Christ’ is not a surname! The word ‘Christ’ is a translation of the Hebrew word Messiah, and it means ‘the Anointed One’. That is how the catechist opens this section of the catechism. We call Jesus ‘Christ’ because he is ordained of God and anointed, with the Holy Ghost. We then ask:-

What is anointing?
Anointing in the Old Testament. In OT, anointing was most frequently seen as the function of the prophet, when that prophet anointed someone or something with oil, for service.

  • In the tabernacle in the wilderness. Exodus 30:25-29 And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil. With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the basin and its stand. You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy.
  • In preparation for marriage. Ruth 3:3 Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.
  • In preparation for service/kingship. 1 Samuel 16:13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. 1 Chronicles 29:20. And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and they anointed him as prince for the LORD, and Zadok as priest. 
  • Anointing in the New Testament. Jesus was anointed with oil by a sinful woman at a Pharisee’s house; the women wanted to anoint his body in death. Always, anointing was about doing God’s service. Jesus quoted from Isaiah and applied it to himself when he said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”

Anointing symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Like oil, the Holy Spirit is said to be ‘poured out’ upon God’s people. Isaiah 59:21: “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

What is HE anointed for? Hebrews 1:8-9 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Since anointing was usually an act of consecration anointing someone for service, and since Jesus is said to have been anointed by the Holy Spirit, what was he being anointed to do? The catechist here describes for us the threefold office of Christ:

  • Prophet. Acts 3: 22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. The main task of a prophet, in the Old Testament, was to declare the will of God. Of course, in doing so he may well make a statement which will have future consequences, or where the complete fulfilment is away out in the future, but that was not his main role. In Jesus, God’s will is completely declared and revealed, and no further revelation is necessary. So the Hebrew writer could say in chapter 1:1-2, God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds. The catechist reminds us that as our prophet, Christ is:
    • Our CHIEF prophet. There are of course other prophets, as the Hebrew writer has said, Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah etc, – right up to John the Baptiser. All of these men were great prophets, all of them anointed and used by God, but none of them has revealed God’s will as perfectly as Christ. In him, God’s salvific purpose reaches its pinnacle, as he fully reveals God to mankind, and redeems us by his atoning death.
    • Our teacher. We are to hear all things that he says to us. We are to listen to his word and to obey him, for only he has the words of eternal life. John 6:67-68 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And of course, that teaching has been preserved for us in the words of holy scripture. So the catechist adds, ‘who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption.’
  • Priest. He is our priest. A priest has two functions:
    • To offer sacrifice. In Israel, many priests stood daily, offering bloody sacrifices at the altar for sin. None of these could achieve a permanent solution to man’s sinful nature and its consequences, for they were animals, unable to be more than a symbol of the atonement that would be required. Jesus, our Great High Priest, offed a more permanent sacrifice – a sacrifice for sin that would forever render all other sacrifices unnecessary. He would offer himself, as a sinless sacrifice on the cross.
    • To intercede for his people. This is well illustrated on the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest would enter into the most holy place, the Holy of Holies, and approach the Ark of god and make a sacrifice on behalf of the people. Hebrews 9:6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. 7But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: He would take the slain lamb and go through the heavy curtain and sprinkle the shed blood on the mercy seat. When Jesus died at Calvary, the curtain was torn in two, and the holy place was opened for all to enter into God’s presence! Now we can directly approach the throne of God, through Christ – he is our Intercessor, who presents outer prayers and praises before God. Hebrews 7:19-28. Christ’s intercession is effective for us because he is alive, for ever and ever, and his intercession will never cease and never fail.
  • King. A king has two primary functions:-
    • He governs us. We need rules, and parameters set for us, so that we can function and live as we ought, and enjoy continuing fellowship with God and with other people. We need a government, otherwise we would live in a state of anarchy. So for our own good, our heavenly king rules over us, in a kingdom of peace, that shall endure. All the mother kingdoms will eventually pass away, even the very strongest of regimes will eventually crumble. His kingdom is eternal. Notice though, HOW he governs us. Most monarchs keep their subjects in order by some element of force. The modern fad of calling the police a ‘service’ is ridiculous. We need a police FORCE, invested with the authority to enforce the laws made by parliament. But Jesus rules his Kingdom by means of the Word and the Holy Spirit. The Word to teach us how we must order our lives, in order to please God, and the Spirit to sanctify us and predispose us to want to live God-pleasing lives 
    • He defends us. The second function of a king is to provide a defence for his subjects, so that, living in peace and security they are able to live productive lives. Jesus gives us security, for having brought us into his heavenly kingdom, through his saving work, he also keeps us safely within it. Luke 1:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

What does it mean to be anointed? _____________________________________________________

What are the three offices fulfilled by Christ? _______________________________________________


32. But why are you called a Christian?
Because by faith I am a member of Christ(1) and thus a partaker of His anointing,(2) in order that I also may confess His Name,(3) may present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to Him,(4) and with a free conscience may fight against sin and the devil in this life,(5) and hereafter in eternity reign with Him over all creatures.(6)
(1)Acts 11:26; I Jn. 2:27; I Jn. 2:20. (2)Acts 2:17. (3)Mk. 8:38. (4)Rom. 12:1; Rev. 5:8, 10; I Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6. (5)I Tim. 1:18-19. (6)II Tim. 2:12; Eph. 6:12; Rev. 3:21.

No father forgets his daughter’s wedding. It’s a day of really mixed emotions; we watch as a loved child leaves home permanently, and declares her love for her new husband. There are great highlights of that day, and one of the most memorable things about my daughter’s wedding was the sermon given by her husband’s minister at our church. He was from Co. Antrim, where people have a kind of Scottish accent, and his explanation of the word ‘Christian’ was unforgettable. A Christian, he said, is one of Christ’s yins! Ulster-Scots speakers would know what that means. We are HIS! We identify with him.

Now when that name was first given to believers it was in the earliest days of the infant church, at the town of Antioch, and it was probably a slogan of ridicule. Acts 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. It was a term of derision. A Christian? One of Christ’s ones? What a great laugh that was. It still can be so today, in our new world of aggressive atheism, secular humanism and diversity and political correctness. To be a Christian, to own the name of Jesus Christ, is to invite ridicule, especially of one stand for Biblical principles and beliefs. The catechist tells us that if we have faith in him, we are ‘members of Christ’ – we are, after all part of his body, the church, and therefore, he argues, we Christians are ‘partakers of His anointing! Just as that ‘Christian anointing’ set apart Christ from the world for service unto God, so it does for us also. Let us then ask the same questions as we did in respect of Q/A 31:-

What is OUR anointing?
Read 1 John 2:27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything. One commentator, writing on this passage, refers to it as ‘The Unction Function’. That’s actually a very good description. Unction is simply a word that is synonymous with ‘anointing’ and here John refers to it, and tells us what it is for. Anointing is a strange concept to the modern man, so when we think about it was seem to get its meaning wrong. People speak of ‘the anointing.’ If you watch some of the televangelists on these religious TV channels, you will see people who claim to be ‘under the anointing’ and they act strangely to say the least. Others will offer YOU ‘the anointing’ – in return for a donation, of course. One televangelist will blow a shofar, (a ram’s horn) over your problems, in the belief that it’s sound carries a ‘mighty anointing’ – again, though, you will have to make a donation, before the ‘anointing’ can be dispatched to you. Others will tell you about the anointing that they have. A woman at a church one night told me that we must not ‘touch the Lord’s anointed.’ The quotation was out of context of course, but she compounded the error, when she added, ‘and that means ME’ (her). That is UTTER BLASPHEMY. Christ is The Lord’s Anointed and every believer is anointed in him, we are partakers in his anointing:-

  • When does it happen? Consider the text carefully. The anointing that John is speaking of here is past tense. He is not telling the people, that antichrist is coming, so they must receive the anointing, or that they need a second experience to have this anointing. He is saying that this anointing has already happened! THE ANOINTING THAT YOU RECEIVED. 
  • Who has it? Further, notice here that he does not say that the anointing is limited to just a handful of people or even the majority of people in the church. There is no limitation, for THEY ALL HAVE RECEIVED THIS ANOINTING. It is common to all Christians.
  • Where is it? It is ABIDING IN YOU. It is something that is internal, – not something that comes down upon you or that you work up, the anointing is already indwelling every single Christian. 

So, ‘anointing’ is nothing more mysterious that the work of the Holy Spirit within the believer. It is the Holy Spirit who awakens us to our lost condition, who draws us to The Lord, who reveals Christ to us, who effects the work of Calvary in our soul who regenerates our dead spirits, who continues the work of sanctification, making us fit for Heaven, preparing us to meet our Saviour in glory, as we crucify the old man, and live to Christ, helping us to receive the Word, recognise it and apply it. May that blessed work be effective in our hearts.

What are WE anointed for?

  • To confess his name. We, like Christ, are to proclaim God’s declared will, declared in his word, to all mankind. The purpose of prophecy is our day is to preach the word of God. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why our Christian beliefs and practices must influence and affect our public lives as well as what we do in private. The world would like Christians to practice their faith only in private, to leave it behind when they enter the door of the workplace, but for a Christian, that won’t do. Our whole lives must declare the living will of god as expressed in the Bible. Jesus said, in Mark 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
  • To present our bodies as a living sacrifice unto him. As Christ is anointed to be our Great High Priest, so we are to be priests unto God, through Christ. 1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Revelation 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
    • To sacrifice. Like as Christ sacrificed His body on the tree for us, we are to present our bodies, as a living sacrifice to God. Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
    • To intercede. As Christ intercedes for us, we are to intercede for others. Revelation 5:8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
  • To reign with Christ throughout eternity. As Christ reigns, so shall we! A charismatic word-faith heretic called Joseph Prince, who claims to receive extra-biblical revelation, writes in his book ‘Destined to Reign’ that all of the benefits of Christ’s eternal reign are available for us now; implying that health and prosperity and success are ours as part of the atonement. This is so near to the truth that it is a really dangerous heresy indeed. (Contrast the ‘health and wealth as part of the atoning work of Christ theology of Prince with the ‘confess and possess’ beliefs of the more classic word/faith heretics, like Copeland and Osteen). All of the blessings to which he refers certainly are ours as part of the atonement, but not in this life! In fact this life is a life of taking up one’s cross, and following Jesus. This is a life of persecution and suffering, and so avail reminded Timothy that our reigning with Christ is inextricably linked with the suffering we shall endure in this world. 2 Tim 2:11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us. Paul certainly knew nothing of the success and prosperity of the ‘super-apostles’ in 2nd Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12So then death worketh in us, but life in you. In this life we war against the evil that is within us – that our conscience convicts us of, every single day, as did Paul, in Romans 7. So the catechist adds an important phrase: and to wage war on the devil and all evil. We struggle daily with sin, we wage war on it, and we do so knowing that one day, in glory, we will he free from that sin, and reign with Christ for ever. 1 Timothy 1:18-19 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; 19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.

So, as we can see, because our anointing is part of Christ’s anointing, the works for which we are so anointed are a reflection (albeit a pale, imperfect reflection) of the anointed work of Christ.

Why are you called a Christian? ____________________________________________________

How many Christians, whom you know, are anointed of God? _______________________________

We are going to reign with Christ! Does that mean we shall be living in royal palaces here and now? _____________
Pray About It. Pray that our Christian calling, our anointing, is worked out in your life, that our lives will reflect God’s will, that we will present our whole person as a living sacrifice, and that we will patiently endure suffering, knowing that one day we will reign with Christ.

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