31 Q. Why is he called “Christ,”
A. Because he has been ordained by God the Father
and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit^1
our chief prophet and teacher^2
who fully reveals to us
the secret counsel and will of God concerning our deliverance;^3
our only high priest^4
who has delivered us by the one sacrifice of his body,
and who continually pleads our cause with the Father;^5
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.^6
^1 Ps. 45:; Heb. 1:9
^2 Deut. 18:15; Acts 3:22
^3 John 1:18; 15:15
^4Ps. 110; Heb. 7:21; 10:12
^5 Rom. 8:34;5:9-10
^6 Ps. 2:6; Luke 1:33;Matt. 28:18;John 10:28
32 Q. But why are you called a Christian?
A. Because by faith I am a member of Christ^1
and so I share in his anointing.^2
I am anointed
to confess his name,^3
to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks,^4
to strive with a free conscience against sin and the devil
in this life,^5
and afterward to reign with Christ
over all creation
^1 Acts 11:26, 1 Cor. 6:15
^2 1John 2:27;Isa. 59:21;Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28;Mark 8:[34-]38
^3 Rom. 12:1;Rev. 5:8[-14];1 Pet. 2:9
^4 Rom. 6:12;Rev. 1:6
^5 1 Tim. 1:19
^6 2 Tim. 2:12
Lord’s Day 12 (Q/A 31-32)
Mike Ditka, the former head football coach of the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints, observed that, “Success is not permanent and failure is not fatal.”
The Reformed theological tradition’s important emphasis on God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. The relationship between the two, while not equal as God’s sovereignty initiates, governs, originates and fulfills, still human responsibility is serious business because we are created in the image of God and are responsible for our choices and our actions.
While I don’t know if Ditka is Reformed in his theological orientation, his insight speaks wisdom to our human tendency to equate our success primarily or exclusively to ourselves, or delude ourselves in thinking that our strategies have some sort of enduring permanence; or on the opposite side, thinking that any failures, limitations, defeats somehow permanently delete any hope we have of recovering and starting all over again. On one side, our souls are tempted to arrogance, pride, and grandiosity akin to the builders of Babel; on the other side, our hearts can be enticed to wallow in self-pity and despair. In both instances, it is a functional atheism that forgets who God is, or takes for granted who God is and how God has elected to be with us, for us, and in us.
Elections are sacred acts because through it choices are weighed, and those choices are then expressed through votes.
God has conducted an election. His election is a decisive one – we are always on the “winning” side, there are no “losers” – and the guarantee of the election, the process of the election itself, and the outcome of the election are predicated on God through Christ in the Holy Spirit.
Q/A 31-32 is a healthy dose of God’s sovereignty-human responsibility — a theological reality that sometimes gets consigned to a daily Post-It note, when in point and in fact, what we do Sunday through Saturday, in our lives as followers of Jesus Christ, in our work places, in our families, in our schools, at the grocery line, in our retirement homes, in hospitals, in hotel rooms, on airplanes, in the playground, on sporting fields, in our churches — all of these places we live, and move and have our being – are the arenas in which God’s sovereignty and human responsibility interact.
Q/A 31 tells us as that Christ is the anointed one, the elected one, chosen by God, to take on the three offices – the so-called “munum triplex” (three offices) – of prophet/teacher, high priest, and king. The Reformed theological tradition speaks extensively about this triple office exercised by our Lord Jesus Christ. His holistic ministry, both when he was on earth with the early disciples and upon his ascension to heaven, involves:
-Instructing us in the ways of God, the work of God in salvation, leading us to righteousness and holiness|
-Interceding for us – that even when we cannot pray or are unable to pray, even when you are asleep! – our High Priest Jesus Christ prays for you, prays with you, and by His Spirit – gives us the words to pray
-Guarding and keeping us – King Jesus doesn’t leave the citizens of His kingdom to fend for themselves. We are his precious ones, purchased not with silver or gold, but by His own precious blood. Why would He leave us, therefore? We are never outside of His protection.
In other words, Jesus Christ has your back and mine, through and through.
Q/A 32 doesn’t let us off the hook. As Q/A 31 asserts that Christ as prophet, priest and king is for us, is with us and in us…we are responsible to live lives worthy of the calling…worthy of the election. As Jesus is God’s elected One, the exclusive One chosen to save, redeem, deliver, and reconcile, we are the elected ones in Him. When God elects in Jesus, the elected One, no hanging chads are used, no appeals process is in order, no contesting of the election can ever occur. You and I are elected in Christ, the elected One. What this means is that every moment of everyday of our lives, we are to live out that election.
What do you elect to do, therefore, as a Christian? What do you elect to do, Sunday through Saturday, 365 days a year, as one who has been given the name of follower of Jesus Christ, a “Christian”?
Notice the language of Q/A 32. As Christians, our lives derive from the life of Jesus Christ. That means that as Jesus Christ lives out His calling/election as prophet, high priest, and king – we, too, have a calling that is prophetic, that is priestly, and that is “kingly” in some way – all of which derive and find their basis in Christ’s own election/calling, and Christ’s own life.
Prophetic: As Christ has the exclusive calling /election to proclaim and teach the counsels, wisdom, and ways of our heavenly Father….you and I have a prophetic calling that is joined to that of our brother and our Lord…we, too, are to teach all that Christ has taught us, to teach one another what we have seen and heard, the ways of Jesus, to proclaim the salvation of God. But again, it’s not by our strength or by our will, nor by our success, nor by our failure. Christ speaks, and Christ calls us to proclaim in His name, to do that which He did in obedience to our heavenly Father.
Priestly: As Christ has the exclusive calling/election to intercede for us, to present us and our prayers to our heavenly Father..you and I have a priestly calling to daily present ourselves to God, to make a choice to follow God, to pray to God and for one another, to daily elect that we will live out our calling. But again, this priestly calling is impossible to do consistently and constantly. Thanks be to God that Christ who is our High Priest intercedes for us and with us, to live out our calling.
Kingly: As Christ has the exclusive calling/election to rule and reign over us, to call us to obedient life, to sustain us, to protect us, and to govern us so we are never away from Him,…you and I have a “kingly” calling to strive with our freedom, to take the reins of our wills, our choices, our decisions, our actions, our emotions – as we seek to live faithfully and fully into our calling/election as followers of Jesus Christ. But again, it’s not by our own wills alone, nor is it finally about striving or an onerous burden heaped upon us. Thanks be to God that Christ is and forever will be king, and that means, even as brokenness and hurt are deeply seen and experienced in the world around us, both near and far, we pray and serve and live not in vain, but as citizens of Christ’s kingdom who have been called and elected.