The prophet of God knows God and serves Him with his mind and mouth.
God’s priest loves Him, is dedicated unto Him with all his life, talents and possessions and serves Him with his heart.
But you understand, of course, that there is no man who is merely a prophet of God; and there is no man who can serve as priest who is not likewise the prophet of God. How can a man dedicate himself with all his life and talents and possessions unto God unless he knows that God? And how shall the prophet serve God with his mind and mouth unless he has first dedicated these unto God as His priest? In the office of every believer we are prophet, priest and king of God and not one or the other. Surely it is impossible to be a priest of God and a prophet of the devil. The Christian, for his very name declares that, serves in the threefold office of Christ as prophet, priest and king. And in the new Jerusalem there will not be prophets, priests and kings but a royal priesthood that praises God forever. Each and every saint walking the street of gold shall be both prophet, priest and king.
Indeed, you cannot point to the moment that you became a prophet or priest or king. Although these are distinct areas of our life and phases of our calling and service before God, it is impossible to distinguish the moment when we first knew God and had not yet dedicated ourselves unto Him. We need not, therefore, ask the question either as to which of these is first. The whole tree is in the acorn; and the whole man of God in his three-fold office is in the seed of regeneration.
And this applies also to our office of being kings.
That man who is a prophet of God and a priest of God will most assuredly also be His king. While it is impossible to be king without being prophet and priest, it is likewise impossible to be prophet and priest and not be His king. We have those three faculties in our lives: mind, will and strength. These comprise the whole man. And the whole man is a child of God. That is, the new man in Christ employs all three of these faculties, and we become God’s royal priesthood that praises Him everlastingly in the glory of His kingdom. As His kings we rule in God’s name and serve Him with our strength. We have a kingdom, a realm over which we exercise rule. We also have a kingdom which we fight. We have subjects whom we rule. And we have subjects of an enemy-kingdom against which we wage continual warfare.
We are indebted to that great creed of the Church, the Heidelberg Catechism, for an explanation of this office of king. As far as Christ in His kingly office is concerned the Catechism declares that He “governs, defends and preserves” His Church in the enjoyment of the salvation which He has prepared for them. Here already you have clearly the idea of strength. Indeed, one must have knowledge to rule and govern. One must be dedicated to a cause to defend it and to preserve others for the enjoyment of the benefits of that cause. And a king is not a man with nothing more than strength. He has wisdom and needs much wisdom to rule. (Solomon prayed for wisdom to be able to rule.) He has a will and is always dedicated to some principle or cause. But he works in the sphere of power. And Christ as our eternal king governs us according to the truth which He knows as our chief Prophet and in whole-hearted dedication to the cause of the glory of God’s name as our only High Priest. And even as the prophet needs strength to confess and teach, to praise and to magnify God; and even as the priest likewise needs strength in order to present Himself, his body, his talents and possessions as a sacrifice unto God; so the king with a mind that knows God and a heart that is filled with love to Him serves Him with his strength in governing, defending and preserving.
A king that does not know God and does not love Him does not serve Him consciously and willingly. He rules. He even rules in God’s name, that is, as appointed by God, but he will not govern according to the principles of God’s law. He will not seek to lead his people in a life of love and devotion to God. These are quite impossible. But Christ as our chief Prophet and only High Priest does exactly govern us in the way of love to God. He defends and preserves that Church that is precious in God’s sight, because He loves God. He knows God. He loves God. He serves God.
And there is our whole life as God’s royal priesthood likewise. We know God. We love God. We serve God. Or, if you will, we know Him in love and therefore consciously and willingly serve Him in love. We love Him because of what we know about Him: that He is God. We serve Him as the God Whom we love. It is not a service under a heavy yoke of law that is over us. It is not serving Him out of external compulsion. It is serving Him because the law is written in our hearts; and there is an inner power that impels us to serve Him. That inner power is love, the law of God written in our hearts.
Of this the Heidelberg Catechism also speaks and declares that our three-fold office manifests itself in fighting against sin and Satan in this life, and afterward in reigning with Christ over all creatures everlastingly in the world to come. For us it is chiefly a matter now of fighting. We are kings that are on the battlefield. We are in the church militant. But this, of course, implies soldiers wherewith we as kings fight. It implies a kingdom to which we belong and over which we even rule. It speaks of that which we must defend. And even as Christ defends His Church, we as kings under Him have that which we must defend.
First of all, we may say that we as kings are to preserve that which we as prophets have received and as priests love: the Word of God. The truth is constantly being attacked from every angle and by various subtle means and in many wicked ways. As kings we do not idly sit by, shake our heads and say, It is too bad. No, we take up the sword of the spirit whichis the Word of God and fight the lie in every form and shape. If we do not do so, we may not call ourselves kings of God; and most assuredly it means that we care not either for our office of prophet. It means that we are not wholly dedicated to God as His priests and do not love Him. In the measure that we fail to fight false doctrines, in the measure that we have no interest in the truth and in preserving the truth, we are not God’s royal priesthood but Satan’s shameful priesthood. We are in his service. And rather than to be called Christians, we must be called anti-Christians. Nothing less than that will do. It is either . . . or. He that is not with Christ is against Him. Jesus said so Himself in Matthew 12:30.
In this life God’s royal priesthood wears the uniform of a soldier. In the kingly aspect of his one three-fold office he has a warfare to wage that demands of him constant vigilance. He is admonished in Scripture to be sober and vigilant, because his adversary, the devil, goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I Peter 5:8. He is exhorted to put on the whole armor of God that he may withstand the wiles of the devil. And he is reminded of the fact that he wrestles not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world; against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 5:11, 12. Yea, from the very beginning he was taught that there are two seeds in the world, the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. Between them there is an enmity that does not fade away. Generations do not outgrow that hatred. Time does not heal it. The memory does not fail and thus lessen the tension and animosity. Rather does the battle become fiercer and fiercer. The one generation hands down, to the next a deeper loathing and hatred of the one for the other. As time marches on, the one seed sees the other seed more clearly and distinctly as its mortal enemy. And may God’s royal priesthood only see that and fight against sin and Satan in this life!
For, although it is absolutely true that the seed of the woman becomes more and more bitter toward that wicked seed of the serpent, and although the seed of the serpent becomes more desperate in its hatred of the Church, we must never lose sight of the fact that by nature those who are the seed of the woman are also seed of the serpent. This warfare begins with an innerconflict within the soldier of the cross himself. There is the continual, unrelenting struggle between his old man of sin and his new man in Christ.
The Catechism says that we must fight “sin and Satan.” And that sin assumes so many, many different forms because Satan is such a subtle enemy. Make no mistake about it: he is tremendously resourceful! If one method of attack does not produce the desired result, he has many other ways of capturing your mind and heart and strength. That sin, therefore, that God’s royal priesthood must fight is not, in the first place, to be found in society round about him. It is not even in the local church or congregation to which he belongs. It is right in his own soul. It is in his own body. Stretch out before you your two hands! Stand before your mirror and look yourself square in the face! You see ten fingers, two eyes, two ears, one mouth, and now open that mouth a moment and you see one uncontrollable tongue. These are your citizens together with the rest of your whole body and soul. These are the subjects over which you are enthroned as king. Here the battle against sin and Satan begins and not in Tom, Dick and Harry who belong to your congregation or place a cruel yoke on you at the shop or office where you work. Forget all this social improvement and betterment of society! Start at the beginning and concern yourself with this kingdom over which God has made you king!
Your fingers, do they serve God? Your eyes, do they turn away from or unto sin? Your ears, are they itching for filth and the lie, for sin and whisperings of darkness and evil? Your mouth, does it speak God’s praises, does it confess Him or curse and blaspheme His name, insult Him with false doctrines and deny Him His glory? Well, you have your hands full as His king! First cast the mote out of your own eye, then you shall see clearly to cast the beam out of thy brother’s eye. The evidence that you are God’s prophet and priest will be manifest in the control you exercise over this kingdom of your own body and soul. You must be a royalpriesthood or you are not a priesthood of God. You must be king under Christ by His Spirit or you are not God’s royal priesthood.