THE

SHORTER CATECHISM

EXPLAINED


QUESTION 25. How does Christ execute the office of a Priest?

ANSWER: Christ executes the office of a Priest, in his once offering up himself a sacrifice, to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God; and in making continual intercession for us.


Q. 1. What do you understand by a Priest?

A. A priest is a public person, who in the name of the guilty deals with an offended God, for reconciliation, by sacrifice, which he offers to God upon an altar, being thereto called of God, that he may be accepted, Heb. 5:1, 4.

Q. 2. What was the great event which the priesthood under the law, especially the office of high priest, typified and pointed at?

A. It was Christ's becoming a high priest, to appear before God, in the name of sinners, to make atonement and reconciliation for them, Heb. 8:1-3.

Q. 3. Of whom was the high priest a representative, when bearing the names of the children of Israel upon his shoulders, and in the breast plate? Ex. 28:12, 29.

A. He was the representative of all Israel; and so an illustrious type of Christ, as the representative of a whole elect world, Isa. 49:3.

Q. 4. Were not the ordinary priests, as well as the high priest, types of Christ?

A. Yes; because though the high priest was a more eminent type of him, yet the apostle, Heb. 10:11, 12, compares every priest, who offered sacrifices, with Christ, as a type with the antitype.

Q. 5. In what respect did Christ excel the priests after the order of Aaron?

A. In his person, manner of instalment, and in the efficacy and perfection of his sacrifice.

Q. 6. How does he excel them in his person?

A. They were only mere men, He, "the true God, and eternal life," 1 John 5:20; they were sinful men, He "is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners," Heb. 7:26.

Q. 7. How did he excel them in the manner of his instalment?

A. "Those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath, by him that said unto him, The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek," Heb. 7:21.

Q. 8. Why was Christ made a Priest with the solemnity of an oath?

A. Because, as the weight of the salvation of sinners lay upon his call to this office, so his Father's solemn investing of him in it by an oath, gave him access to offer himself effectually, even in such sort, as to fulfil the condition of the covenant, and thus to purchase eternal life for them, Heb. 9:12.

Q. 9. In what respect did Christ excel the Aaronical priests in the efficacy and perfection of his sacrifice?

A. "It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins: -- But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God," Heb. 10:4, 12.

Q. 10. After what order was Christ a priest?

A. After the order of Melchizedek, Psalm 110:4.

Q. 11. What was the order of Melchizedek?

A. That being "made like unto the Son of God, he abideth a priest continually," Heb. 7:3.

Q. 12. How could Melchizedek abide a priest continually, when he certainly died like other men?

A. The meaning is, he came not to his office by succession to any who went before him, and none succeeded him after his death.

Q. 13. Why then is Christ called a priest after the order of Melchizedek?

A. Because not succeeding to, or being succeeded by any other in his office, but "continuing ever, he hath an unchangeable priesthood;" being made a priest, "not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life," Heb. 7:16, 24.

Q. 14. What are the parts of Christ's priestly office?

A. His satisfaction on earth, Heb. 13:12, and his intercession in heaven, 1 John 2:1.

Q. 15. Why behoved his satisfaction to be made upon earth?

A. Because this earth being the theatre of rebellion, where God's law was violated, and his authority trampled upon, it was meet that satisfaction should be made, where the offence was committed; hence, says Christ, John 17:4 -- "I have glorified thee on the earth."

Q. 16. How did Christ make satisfaction on the earth?

A. By sacrifice, 1 Cor. 5:7 -- "Even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us."

Q. 17. What was the sacrifice which he offered?

A. It was Himself Heb. 9:26 -- "He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."

Q. 18. What was essentially necessary to every sacrifice?

A. The shedding of blood unto death, Heb. 9:22 -- "Without shedding of blood is no remission."

Q. 19. Which of the two natures was the sacrifice?

A. The human nature, soul and body, Isa. 53:10, Heb. 10:10, which were actually separated by death, John 19:30.

Q. 20. What was necessary to the acceptance of every slain sacrifice?

A. That it be offered on such an altar as should sanctify the gift to its necessary value, and designed effect, Matt. 23:19 -- "Whether is greater the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?"

Q. 21. What was the altar on which the sacrifice of the human nature was offered?

A. It was the divine nature.

Q. 22. How did this altar sanctify the gift?

A. It gave to it an infinite value and efficacy, because of the personal union, Heb. 9:14.

Q. 23. Was Christ a sacrifice only while on the cross?

A. In the first moment of his incarnation, the sacrifice was laid on the altar, Heb. 10:5; continued thereon through the whole of his life, Isa. 53:3; and was completed on the cross, and in the grave, John 19:30; Isa. 53:9.

Q. 24. Was there a necessity for a priest to offer this sacrifice?

A. Yes, surely; because a priest and sacrifice being inseparable, without a priest there could be no sacrifice at all to be accepted, and consequently no removal of sin, Heb. 8:3.

Q. 25. Who was the priest?

A. As Christ himself was both the sacrifice and the altar, none else but himself could be the priest, Heb. 5:5.

Q. 26. Did Christ truly and properly offer himself a sacrifice, not for our good only, but in our room and stead?

A. Yes; as is evident from all those scriptures where Christ is said to have borne our sins, 1 Pet. 2:24, to have died for us, Rom. 5:6, and to have redeemed us by his blood, Rev. 5:9.

Q. 27. How often did Christ offer up himself sacrifice?

A. Once only, Heb. 9:28, "Christ was ONCE offered to bear the sins of many."

Q. 28. Why could not this sacrifice be repeated?

A. Because as once dying was the penalty of the law, so once suffering unto death was the complete payment of it, in regard of the infinite dignity of the sufferer, Heb. 9:27, 28.

Q. 29. For what end did Christ once offer up himself a sacrifice?

A. To satisfy divine justice, 1 Pet. 3:18.

Q. 30. Was satisfaction to justice absolutely necessary?

A. Yes; since God freely purposed to save some of mankind, it was absolutely necessary that it should be done consistently with the honour of justice, Exod. 34:7.

Q. 31. What did the honour of justice require as a satisfaction?

A. That the curse of the broken law be fully executed, either upon the sinners themselves, Ezek. 18:4, or upon a sufficient substitute, Psalm 89:19.

Q. 32. What would have been the effect of executing the curse upon the sinners themselves?

A. The fire of divine wrath would have burned continually upon them, and yet there would be no satisfaction to avenging justice, Isa. 33:14.

Q. 33. Why could not avenging justice be ever satisfied?

A. Because they were not only finite creatures, whose most exquisite sufferings could never be a sufficient compensation for the injured honour of an infinite God; but they were sinful creatures likewise, who would still have remained sinful, even under their eternal sufferings, Rev. 14:11.

Q. 34. How could satisfaction be demanded from Christ, who was perfectly holy and innocent?

A. He voluntarily substituted himself in the room of sinners, Psalm 40:7; their sins were imputed to him, Isa. 53:5, 6; he had full power to dispose of his own life, John 10:18; and therefore it was most just to exact the full payment of him.

Q. 35. Has Christ fully and perfectly satisfied divine justice?

A. Yes; his "offering and sacrifice to God was for a sweet-smelling savour," Eph. 5:2; or a savour of rest, as it is said of Noah's typical sacrifice, Gen. 8:21 margin.

Q. 36. Why is his sacrifice said to be for a sweet-smelling savour, or savour of rest?

A. Because it quite overcame the abominable savour arising from sin, and gave the avenging justice and wrath of God the calmest and profoundest rest.

Q. 37. How do you prove that Christ has perfectly satisfied the justice of God?

A. He said, "It is finished," John 19:30; and evidenced that it was really so, by his resurrection from the dead, Rom. 1:4.

Q. 38. For whom did Christ satisfy justice?

A. For the elect only, John 10:15; and not for all mankind, Eph. 5:25.

Q. 39. How is it evident that Christ satisfied for the elect only, and not for all mankind?

A. From the satisfaction and intercession of Christ being of equal extent, so that the one reaches no further than the other; and he expressly affirms, that he intercedes for the elect only, and not for the whole world of mankind, John 17:9 -- "I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me."

Q. 40. What is the blessed effect and consequence of Christ's perfectly satisfying the justice of God?

A. It is the reconciling us to God, Rom. 5:10.

Q. 41. How does the satisfaction of Christ reconcile us to God?

A. It discovers the love of God, in providing such a ransom for us; and this love, apprehended by faith, slays the natural enmity against God, 1 John 4:10, 19.

Q. 42. When is it that the elect are actually reconciled to God?

A. When, in a day of power, they are determined to come to "Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling," Heb. 12:24.

Q. 43. Why is the blood of Jesus called the blood of sprinkling?

A. To distinguish between the shedding and the application of his blood, Exod. 24:8; and also to point out the necessity of the one, as well as the other, for reconciliation and pardon, Ezek. 36:25.

Q. 44. How may we know if we are reconciled to God?

A. If we are dead to the law as a covenant, Rom. 7:4; and are content to be eternal debtors to rich and sovereign grace, Psalm 115:1.

Q. 45. What may we learn from the first part of Christ's priestly office, his satisfaction for sin?

A. The exceeding sinfulness of sin, Rom. 7:13; the infinite love of God, John 3:16; and the necessity of an interest in this satisfaction, Heb. 10:29.

Q. 46. What is the SECOND PART Of Christ's priestly office?

A. It is his making continual intercession for us, Heb. 7:25.

Q. 47. Had Christ's intercession any place in the making of a new covenant?

A. No; the love and grace of God made the motion for a new covenant freely, Psalm 89:3, 20.

Q. 48. Could the breach between God and sinners be made up by a simple intercession?

A. No; justice could not be satisfied with pleading, but by paying a ransom, Heb. 9:22.

Q. 49. To what part of the covenant then does Christ's intercession belong?

A. As his sacrificing natively took its place in the making, and fulfilling the condition of, the covenant, so his intercession belongs to the administration of the covenant, and fulfilling the promises of it, Rom. 8:34.

Q. 50. What occasion was there for an intercessor, or advocate with the Father, when the Father himself loveth us? John 16:27.

A. That through Christ's obedience unto death, as the honourable channel, his spiritual seed might have the blessed fruits and effects of the Father's everlasting love, flowing into their souls, in every time of need, Heb. 4:14, 16.

Q. 51. What is the nature of Christ's intercession?

A. It is his WILLING, that the merit of his sacrifice be plied to all those in whose room and stead he died, according to the method laid down in the covenant in their favour, John 17:24 -- "Father, I WILL that they whom thou hast given me, be with me, where I am," &c.

Q. 52. Who then are the objects of his intercession?

A. Those only whom he, as the second Adam, represented in the eternal transaction, John 17:9.

Q. 53. Is his intercession always prevalent on their behalf?

A. Yes, surely: for so he himself testifies, saying unto his Father, John 11:42 -- "I know that thou hearest me always."

Q. 54. What is the first fruit of Christ's intercession with respect to the elect?

A. His effectually procuring the actual in-bringing of them into a covenant state of peace and favour with God at the time appointed, John 17:20, 21.

Q. 55. Whence is it that the intercession of Christ obtains peace between heaven and earth?

A. Because he purchased it for them by the blood of his sacrifice, Col. 1:20; and it was promised to him on that ground, Isa. 54:13.

Q. 56. What does he by his intercession, in consequence of their being brought into a covenant state?

A. He appears for them; and, in their name, takes possession of heaven, and all the other blessings they have a right to, in virtue of that covenant state, Eph. 2:6, Heb. 6:20.

Q. 57. Having brought the elect into a state of peace, does he leave it to themselves to maintain it?

A. No; if that were the case it would soon be at an end; but, by his intercession, he always prevents a rupture between heaven and them, Luke 22:32 -- "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not."

Q. 58. How does he maintain the peace between heaven and them?

A. Upon the ground of his satisfaction for them, he answers all accusations against them, and takes up all emerging differences between them and their covenanted God, 1 John 2:1, 2.

Q. 59. Are not the saints on earth, being sinful, unfit to come into the presence of the King?

A. Yes; but the glorious Advocate introduces them, procuring them access by his interest in the court; "For through him we have an access, by one Spirit, unto the Father," Eph. 2:18.

Q. 60. How are their prayers acceptable to God, when attended with so many blemishes?

A. Their prayers made in faith, though infected with the remains of corruption, yet being perfumed with the incense of his merit, are accepted in heaven, and have gracious returns made them, Rev. 8:3.

Q. 61. What is the last fruit of Christ's intercession, on behalf of his elect, brought into a state of grace on this earth?

A. The obtaining their admittance into heaven, in due time; and continuing their state of perfect happiness there, for ever and ever, John 17:24.

Q. 62. Is not Christ a Priest for ever, according to Psalm 110:4?

A. He is not a sacrificing priest for ever, "having, by one offering, perfected for ever them that are sanctified," Heb. 10:14; but he is, and ever will be, an interceding priest, Heb. 7:27 -- "He ever liveth to make intercession."

Q. 63. What will be the subject of his intercession for ever, in behalf of the saints in heaven?

A. The everlasting continuance of their happy state, John 17:21, 22.

Q. 64. What is the ground of his eternally willing the everlasting continuance of their happy state?

A. He does it on the ground of the eternal redemption obtained for them, by the sacrificing of himself on this earth, Heb. 9:12.

Q. 65. What then is the everlasting security that the saints in heaven have, for the uninterrupted continuance of their happiness?

A. That the infinite merit of Christ's sacrifice will be eternally presented before God in heaven itself, where, in their nature, he continually appears in the presence of God for them, Heb. 9:24.

Q. 66. How will the happiness, issuing from the merit of Christ's sacrifice, be communicated by him, to the saints in heaven?

A. It will be communicated to them, by him, as their Prophet and their King.

Q. 67. Will not these offices be laid aside in heaven?

A. No; for as he is "a Priest for ever," Psalm 110:4, so "of his kingdom there shall be no end," Luke 1:33; and the Lamb will be the light of the heavenly city, Rev. 21:23.

Q. 68. How will the saints' communion with God in heaven be for ever maintained?

A. It will be still in and through the Mediator, in a manner agreeable to their state of perfection, Rev. 7:17 -- "The Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them to living fountains of water."

Q. 69. What is the difference between the intercession of Christ, and the intercession of the Spirit, mentioned Rom. 8:26?

A. CHRIST intercedes without us, by presenting the merit of his oblation for us, Heb. 12:24; but the SPIRIT intercedes within us, by bringing the promise to our remembrance, John 14:26, and enabling us to importune a faithful God, to do as he has said, and not to let him go, except he bless us, Gen. 32:26.

Q. 70. Are there any other intercessors for us in heaven besides Christ?

A. None at all: for there is only "one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," 1 Tim. 2:5. He who is the only "Advocate with the Father, is Jesus Christ, the righteous," 1 John 2:1.

Q. 71. May we not apply to saints or angels to intercede for us, as the Papists do?

A. By no means; this would be gross idolatry: besides, they have no merit to plead, Rev. 22:9; nor do they know our cases and wants, Isa. 63:16.

Q. 72. What may we learn from Christ's intercession?

A. That though the believer has nothing to pay for managing his cause at the court of heaven, yet it is impossible it can miscarry, seeing the Advocate is faithfulness itself, Rev. 3:14; and pleads for nothing but what he has merited by his blood, John 17:4.


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