Knowing Whom We Believe: Christ

December 5, 2004 / No. 3231

Dear radio friends,

     If you listened to our radio program last week you will remember that we began a Christmas series under the theme “Knowing Whom We Believe.”  We are borrowing the words of the apostle Paul in II Timothy 1:12, where he says, “For I know whom I have believed.”  Knowing whom he believed, the apostle Paul stood in assurance and in confidence even in the most difficult of times.

     Following that idea of “knowing Him,” we are looking at the names of Jesus because those names reveal to us who He is and what He has done for us.  Last week we looked at the precious name of “Jesus,” which means He is the Salvation of Jehovah.  It is a salvation that He did for us; it is a salvation that He does in us; and it is a salvation that He works through us.  If you are interested in that message, be sure you listen to the announcer and he will tell you exactly how to get a hold of these messages.  They could be very valuable for you, perhaps in handing to a loved one who does not know the gospel, or a neighbor who does not understand the gospel, or someone who is a babe in Christ and needs help and instruction in understanding who Jesus is.

     Today we want to continue in the names of Jesus, knowing whom we believe.  The name we are going to look at today is:  Christ.  The name “Christ” means “Anointed.”  It tells us that Jesus, the Christ, was the One whom God selected to do a work, and that He gave to Jesus the office of being the Redeemer, to reveal the Father to us, to sacrifice Himself for our sins, and to preserve us in salvation.

     The question that confronts us, then, is this:  Do you know Him as Christ, do you confess that Jesus is the Christ?

     This was the crucial question during the Lord’s ministry.  Who is Jesus?  Was He the Christ?  May He claim to be the Christ?  Recall that, at the time of His trial, when at last He was condemned by the Sanhedrin, this question was put to Him by the high priest:  “I adjure thee (that is, I put you under an oath), Tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.”  This was the important question that the disciples were called to answer when Jesus said to them in Matthew 16:   “Whom do you say that I am?”  Others, they reported to Jesus, had said that He is a prophet or, perhaps, the resurrected Elijah.  Jesus said, “Who do you say that I am?”  And Peter, by the grace of God, responded:  “Thou art the Christ” (Matt. 16:16).

     Do you call Jesus the Christ?  Do you know Him as Christ?  You ask me, “What do you mean exactly by that question?”  I mean, is it in your heart, that you know that the weight of your salvation hangs only on His work?  Do you know Him as the One who reveals, as a prophet, the Father to you through the Scriptures?  Do you know that, as a priest, He has sacrificed Himself for your sins and now lives at God’s right hand to intercede for you and bring all of your needs to the Father?  Do you, further, confess that this Jesus, the Christ, is your King, so that He rules over you and He preserves you by His power and grace and will bring you at last to your Father in heaven?

     It means even more.  To say that Jesus is the Christ, by a true faith, means that you now confess that you are a Christian.  For the name “Christ,” of all the names of Jesus, is unique in that we share this name.  We are called Christians because we share in that anointing of Christ.  We, then, are to speak His word.  If you say that Jesus is the Christ, my Christ, it means that you, as a Christian, will speak His word.  You will dedicate your life to Him.  And you will fight your sin.

     The name “Christ” means “Anointed One.”  It refers to the fact that He was anointed with the Holy Spirit in order that He could perform the work given of the Father.  Isaiah 61:1 says, “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me.”  The name Christ, I said, means anointed.  It is the same as the Old Testament word Messiah.  There is the word Messiah in the Old Testament; there is the name Christ in the New Testament.  It is the same word.  It means Anointed One.

     Anointing in the Old Testament was a ceremony.  A sweet-smelling oil was poured out on the head of a man as a sign that God had made him His servant — to be His prophet, to be His priest, or to be His king.  For instance:  Aaron — when he was anointed to be the high priest over Israel.  We read in Psalm 133 that it was the precious ointment upon the head that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, that went down to the skirts of his garments.  Aaron was anointed with this anointing oil, a great amount of anointing oil, as a sign that God had set him aside for this work of serving as a high priest.  Maybe you remember how David was selected to be king in the stead of Saul and how Samuel was sent to the house of Jesse, David’s father, and of how Samuel went through all the sons of Jesse until at last David stood before him and the Lord said, “This is the one that I have chosen.”  David was anointed, at that point, by Samuel.  Samuel poured oil upon his head to be a sign that David was the one whom God appointed and would qualify to be the king.

     Jesus is the Christ.  He is the One who has been anointed by God and given this task, to perform the work of God.  That anointing really represented two things.  It represented the idea of qualification.  We read in Isaiah 61, “The spirit of the Lord … hath anointed me.”  And then he goes on to say, “Therefore I have the ability to preach the gospel, to bind up the broken hearted,” and so on.  So it was ability and it was also right.  When one was anointed, one was authorized by God to perform this work in the stead of God.  Now, Jesus is the Christ, meaning that God selected Him, God qualified Him, and God authorized Him by the Holy Spirit to do the work that is necessary to save His people from their sins.

     You ask, “When was Jesus anointed?”  We answer,  first of all, that He was anointed eternally.  In Psalm 2 we are told that this ceremony took place in God’s eternal counsel, that God declared a decree from the beginning “Thou art my Son.”  From eternity God willed and authorized that His Son would come into our flesh, to be the Christ, in order to perform the work of salvation.  But Christ was also given the Holy Spirit.  You remember that when He was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, the sign of this was that the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove and rested upon Him.

     Jesus, then, is the Christ.  He is the One sent, authorized, and qualified by God to perform God’s work — the work of salvation.  He did that work in three aspects:  as our prophet, our priest, and our king.  Those who are familiar with the Bible will recognize that those were the three offices in the Old Testament to which men were appointed.  Those three offices referred to or represented the threefold work that Christ was given to do.  Christ was sent to be our Prophet, to be our Priest, and to be our King.

     Let us remember, as we look at these three, that Jesus was not given this bare title.  It was not like, perhaps, in your corporation, just before you are fired, that you are given a new position and you have a desk and your name on the door but, in reality, you are being pigeon-holed, there is no work, you are being moved out.  No, Jesus has the title “Christ” not in vain.  He bares this title because He alone can perform the work.  He is our Prophet, our chief Prophet.

     That means He was sent of God to reveal the heart of the heavenly Father.  In Jesus the Christ, we learn what God thinks of us.  We learn of God’s heart toward His people and toward His church.  If you want to know the heart of God toward you as a child of God and toward the church of God, you must look at Christ.  Behold the Christ!  He reveals the heart of God to you.  He reveals all the eternal love and mercy of God.  He tells you that salvation is of God and of God’s grace.  He reveals, He illumines, He makes known to us the God of our salvation.  He is the only One who can do that.  In Matthew 11, the Lord said that it is the Son who alone can reveal the Father to us.  As the Prophet, He reveals, through the Scriptures, the Father to us as the God of our salvation.

     But He is more.  He is also a Priest.  You will remember that priests were those who would bring an offering for sin.  But Christ is the perfect Priest.  He brings an offering (one offering) for our sins upon the cross — an offering that hides our sins from the view of God, which satisfies the justice of God.

     And He is also our King.  He fights the battle against our sins.  He conquers our stubborn will by His Spirit and grace.  He defends and preserves us.  He rules over us by His Word.

     This is what it means that Jesus is the Christ.  It means that He is sent, or anointed, of God to perform all the work that is necessary for salvation.  And He does this as a Prophet to reveal the Father.  He does this as a Priest to make a sacrifice for our sins.  And He does this as God’s eternal King, to rule over us and to preserve us in this glorious salvation.

     Do you believe in this Christ?

     Then you will live as a Christian.

     The Bible tells us that we partake of the anointing of Christ.  That is why we are called Christians.  I John 2:20, 28, Ye have an unction (or an anointing) from the Holy One…and the anointing ye have received of Him abideth upon you.  This is something very sacred.  It means that the Holy Spirit gives us to partake in the anointing of Christ and makes us to be prophets, priests, and kings after Christ.  We are anointed as prophets, priests, and kings in Christ.

     That means that we look to Christ as the only One who has performed all that is necessary for our salvation.  But then, as Christians in His kingdom, we have work to do.  Not a work to earn salvation.  Not a work to add to salvation.  But a work to live in that salvation and to show forth the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

     That name “Christian” is also not a figurehead title.  It must not be that way with us either.  It is not simply an honorary title.  It tells us that God, by the Holy Spirit, has called us to be a prophet, a priest, and a king unto Christ.  I say again, that work is not the same as Christ’s.  He alone can illumine us, that is, open our hearts to understand.  He alone can redeem, save us.  He alone can protect us by His grace.  But that work is that we live now as the servants of God to the honor of God, as prophets, as priests, and as kings.

     As prophets we are called to confess the name of Jesus — to confess the name of God.  That means that the Word of God will be our treasure.  A Christian who has been saved by Christ is now illumined by Christ so that he comes to the Scriptures and says, “This is the Word of truth.  This is the only truth.”  That work begins, according to the Bible, with the preaching of the Word.  Christ is functioning as the Prophet through the preaching of the Word.  He has called the church to preach the gospel, which I Corinthians 1 tells us is the power of God unto salvation.  As we come under and as we hear the preaching of the Holy Scriptures, the Prophet (Christ) speaks to us and we become equipped and strengthened to confess His name.  Now that Word burns in our souls and we want to know more of the Scriptures and search all of those things out.  We begin to speak the Word of God.

     Perhaps your neighbor comes over to borrow a tool on Saturday.  And you want to speak to him about the Christ of the Scriptures.  Perhaps a store clerk is before you and you notice (you have gotten to know this store clerk) that he has a broken arm.  You talk to him about the truth of Jesus Christ.  Or we begin to speak to each other as Christians, and in the church we begin to confess and speak that Word of God and we experience peace and we experience the joy of praying together and bringing our needs before God together and edifying one another.  We live as the prophets of God confessing His name.

     But we are also priests.  Romans 12:1, 2 tells us that this means that we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God.  We do not sacrifice ourselves for sin.  But we sacrifice ourselves, that is, we willingly give of ourselves in humble service for each other and for all men as we have opportunity.  We do not think first of ourselves.  We are the priests who give of ourselves for others and intercede, pray, one for another.

     That applies to marriage.  As a Christian (do you call yourself a Christian as a husband?) you are anointed to be a priest.  That is, you do not think of yourself, but you must think of your wife and her needs.  Or as a wife, you must think of your husband and his needs.  As parents, you must think of your children, not your own relaxation, not your own ease, but your children and their souls, and you give yourself, give your whole life, for those children.  Are you a church member?  Then you must not enter into the church saying, What can they do for me?  What have they shown me lately?  No, no, no.  You, as a Christian, are a priest.  You are there to serve, to serve others, to seek their spiritual good.

     It means more.  It means that as a priest you are going to devote yourself to holiness.  Your body will not be given over to fornication, your eye not to lust, your mind not to envy.  But your body, your mind, your will, everything — you will want to serve Him.  You will begin to understand as a young person that your body is a temple of God — Christ is dwelling in your temple, in you, in your body.  You must not place that body under the power of alcohol.  That is not an innocent fad.  That is not cool.  It is a terrible sin.  Your body belongs to Christ, so you might use that body as a sacred instrument.  You must not give your body to nicotine (smoking) or caffeine (coffee) or drugs or addictions of the flesh (sexual addictions), whatever that addiction may be.  You must not put up idols in the temple of God.  Your body is the temple of God.  Do not put an idol there.  But you must serve Him in all of your thoughts.  And you must live to Him in prayer.

     But still more.  As Christians we are kings.  And as kings in Christ we will be fighting our sin.  As we fight, we fight in the confidence and in the assurance that the victory is in Him.  So we fight against our lusts.  We fight against a besetting sin.  We rely upon the Spirit and the Word of God.  We begin to rule over that unruly member — our own tongue.  We begin to subdue those sinful passions and that horrible pride.  We no longer live for possessions or out of materialism, envy, or jealousy.

     When we live this way as a king we find out that the Christian life is indeed a struggle.  It is tough!  It is a tough war.  The tough war now is not in Iraq.  The tough war is not outside of our home.  It is right in our own hearts.  That is hand-to-hand combat.  That is day-by-day.  But Christ has made us Christians.  We are under His banner as the King of kings.  He says to us that sin shall not have dominion over us.  We are to use the weapons of His Word and prayer.  We are to fight on against our sins and we are to reign with Christ.

     This is what it means that He is the Christ.  And this is what it means that we know Him as the Christ.  He is my Prophet, my Priest, and my King.  He simply is the One who has performed all that is necessary for my salvation.  He paid the price, He opened my heart, and He rules over me and keeps me in my salvation.

     But more.  As the Christ He anoints me to be a Christian, so that I may live as a prophet, a priest, and a king under God.

     Is that your confession?  Do you know the Christ?  Then, again, by grace, let us hear Jesus’ response.  “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona:  for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”  Let us praise Him as the Christ.  Let us depend entirely upon Him as the Prophet, Priest, and King.  And, by His grace, let us live the Christian life — prophet, priest, and king.

     Let us pray.

      Father, we do thank Thee for the Word.  We pray that we may not only know whom we have believed as the Christ, but that we might also live out of Him as Christians.  We thank Thee that He bears His names not in vain, that He truly is Jesus and He truly is the Christ.  Now, bless this word to our hearts.  Watch over us on this day and in the days that are ahead.  Cause, O Lord, that our lives might be a fit testimony of Him.  We pray in the name of Jesus the Christ, Amen