“The Triple Anointing” was delivered as a speech at a recent Rally of the combined Young People’s Societies of central British Columbia.
There is a proverb, a Spanish proverb, I believe, which reads: “Out of ideas, actions are born; out of actions, habits are born; and out of habits, destinies are born.” We Christians know that our destiny is a matter of life or death, eternal life or eternal death; hence it follows that also our habits are a matter of life or death; and hence our actions and, finally, our ideas are a matter of life or death.
Ideas, I said, determine our destinies. But not every idea that constitutes a part of your thinking will determine your destiny. You know very well that most of the ideas to which you give shelter stand on the side, while a few are in control of your actions. That is natural; that is as it should be. Certain ideas must dominate and other ideas must occupy ringside scats and serve as supporters. Certain ideas must be buoyantly alive, have instant emotional force, and blossom swiftly into actions. And other ideas must be content to lend their weight to the ones in front.
The big question for each of us is: What are to be the governing ideas in my life? We know that some ideas, if given the reins, will lead to life; and others, if given a chance, will produce death. We know also that if a life-giving idea has the lead, all other ideas will arrange themselves behind it and be also a savor of life unto life. But if a death-bringing idea should be in charge, the remaining ideas will help bring us to our deaths.
Now we can have either life-giving ideas or death-bringing ideas about three things: about God, about man, and about the world. Of these three I wish to talk about man. On the subject of man I would convey to you life-giving ideas.
There are many ways of looking at man. You can, for instance, look a what he is by himself, and you can look at what he is with respect to other existent things. If you look at him by himself, you see a Single, unified organism composed of body and soul. This organism is supported by matter and energy, has feelings, is capable of reasoning, uses language, and is concerned with beauty, justice, love, and faith. From his faith he gets his directions. When I spoke a while ago of the ideas that determine our destinies, I meant the ideas which our faith has put in control.
The Great Task of the Sons of God
We have now some inkling of what man is by himself. Let us, further, look at his position in the universe. We know that man is an active organism. But he cannot act in a vacuum; he must have a definite task. Since man is a creature of God, and since the born-again man is the property of Jesus Christ, this man may not, as if he were self-owned, decide on a task himself. He must fulfill the task given him by his Sovereign. So the question boils down to this: What is the task which God assigns to his sons?
The answer, in brief, is that the sons of God must, as office-bearers of the Most High, guide the world and all of life about them toward the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ. Christ, who is our chief Prophet, our only High Priest, and our eternal King, seated on his throne in heaven as Director of world history, in his infinite wisdom and power guides the process of history toward the Day of days. He who has sown and planted and fertilized, since he yearns for the harvest, is preparing the threshing-floor of Judgment for his great and notable day (Joel 2:31; 3:11–13; Hag. 2:6, 7; Acts 2:20). We Christians who share the anointing of Christ (I John 2:27) share therefore in his world-embracing task.
Our Task as Prophets
For that task we have been appointed and equipped, first of all, as prophets. From the very beginning, man was an interpreter of the divine will. In paradise, when every leaf on every tree rustled with the praise of God, and every bird warbled to the delight of its Maker, man, too, knew only how to speak God’s revelation after him. Then came the revelation of Satan, and man, though he did not cease to prophesy, became an interpreter of Satan’s will.
From that time on, some men have been messengers of God and others have been messengers of Satan. At first the process of becoming one or the other moved slowly: the Spirit of God came, as it were, in drops. But at Pentecost, when God poured forth his Spirit, he accelerated this movement. For the strength of Satan’s prophetic opposition is directly proportionate to the strength of the Christian witness.
To understand our prophetic task, we must understand Pentecost and its relation to the Day of Judgment. At Pentecost when Peter preached his first sermon—a sermon charged with eternal meaning—men learned the unity of things. For Peter speaks again the words of Joel: “And it shall be in the last days, saith God, I will pour forth of my Spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”
All this, says Peter, is fulfilled at Pentecost. He continues: “And I will show wonders in the heavens above, and signs on the earth beneath: blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.” Pentecost and Judgment Day are parts of one great event. The peacemakers of Pentecost declare war, because the warriors of God in the skies of Bethlehem have announced peace. The object of Christian warfare is peace; the end of this war is to end war, and the warriors are the peacemakers. Pentecost issues into Judgment Day.
Joel and Peter are saying the same things-and thus exhibit the unity of prophecy. The locusts of Joel’s day and the blood, fire, and smoke of Peter’s day proclaim the same judgment and thus exhibit the unity of history. The wonders in the heavens above (God doing something new) and the signs on the earth beneath (God saying something new) announce the same Day of the Lord-and thus exhibit the unity of creation. Peter preaches on: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord come, that great and notable day” (Joel 2:28–32; Acts 2:17–20). Pentecost, we conclude, is full of the Judgment Day.
In the period of history which falls between Pentecost and the Lord’s return, it is up to us Christians, therefore, to exercise our prophetic function. Amid the blood of martyrs, the fire of burning churches, and the pillars of smoke rising from flaming towns-go to Korea if you wish to see it—we must proclaim the full counsel of God. This task, though it rests on preachers in particular, is not theirs alone; it belongs to all who have received the Spirit. Sons 2nd daughters shall prophesy, says Peter, and young men shall see visions. Your societies are to become nurseries of prophecy. There you must learn to handle the torch of truth. Armed with the sword of the Spirit, you may, as junior prophets, work for the return of Christ!
Our Task as Priests
But we are not only to labor for the Day of Christ as prophets. We are also to labor as priests. Being a priest implies consecration. How well Adam understood this consecration! Daily he consecrated himself afresh to the service of the Creator. “With him began, with him shall end the day,” he must have said, in effect, to himself and to his wife when they finished their work each day. Literally, Adam did not know any better.
But then came Satan with his subversive questions: Did you think God was the end of all things? Didn’t you know that you yourself may be in that position? Consecration became desecration. From that moment on, Adam profaned everything his hand touched.
Gradually, as the process of desecration continues in this world (we call this process secularization), every remaining bit of holiness is rooted up.You know what the world has done and is doing to the Lord’s Day, the one day set aside for worship. You know what the world is doing with God’s holy Name, though if anything is holy it is precisely God’s Name. You know what this world is doing with marriage, though from the beginning the marriage bond was declared sacred. Instead of consecrating life and lifting it up to the Throne of God, this world is pushing it down, down, down into hell.
As Christians and as priests we must work in an opposite direction from this secularizing force. We must sanctify ourselves, present our bodies a living sacrifice to God. Sacrifice may hurt, but sacrifice we must if we would follow the Lamb. Pluck out that eye and cut off that hand if you would be a priest of the Most High! Sanctify your days, sanctify your speech, sanctify your work, sanctify your courtship, sanctify your life—and make it serve the second coming of our Lord!
As priests, too, we must pray—pray for the coming of the Kingdom and the coming of the King, pray for our friends and pray for our enemies. We need not be discouraged, for at the right hand of God is Christ who intercedes continually on our behalf. In our prayer life it is especially evident that our priestly task is rooted in our prophetic task. We cannot pray properly if we have not first been prophetically at work in the Scriptures. We must always ask first, “Lord, what is thy will?” before we can pray “Thy will be done.”
We are first of all prophets, and then priests. Let us develop a love for holiness.
Our Task as Kings
Finally, we are to move our lives and the world about us toward the Day of Judgment as kings. In the beginning, God made man his deputy on earth in order to subdue the primitive world of nature and make it serviceable to the uses of man. Not that man is the end of culture (to exercise our kingship, as you know, is to produce culture), but man is enriched by culture, and thus he is the more able to glorify his Maker.
Adam, in Eden, was a gardener-king. Daily he rejoiced in the progress he was making in cultivating and beautifying the few acres at his feet. But then came Satan with his subversive questions, and the gardener· king became a robber-king. His hand reached into forbidden territory. Since that time all of God’s original deputies have become robber-kings. How they have gorged themselves on the produce of the garden of God’s creation!
If you survey the world scene today, you realize afresh the tremendous impulse there is in man to exercise his powers as king. Communistic countries arc bent on selfish domination, and Democratic countries, too, are not exempt from the lust for power. Christians, all of whom are caught up in this world struggle, know that their kingship is not of this world. Hence their warfare is a different warfare, and the weapons they must use arc different weapons from those used by the world.
We are acting completely out of key if we do not conceive our kingship in terms of the Kingdom that was, and the Kingdom that is, and the Kingdom that is to come. Christian kingship is not of the world, for it is the kingship of the subject of Christ. Christian warfare is not of the world, for it is a warfare against the dominion of sin wherever it reveals itself. And Christian weapons are not of the world, for these weapons are the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and the breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:10–17).
The difference between Christian culture and non-Christian culture is not primarily a matter of movies or no movies, dancing or no dancing, squandering money or not squandering money, destroying the home by pure neglect or not destroying the home -though all of these things are involved. They arc only the outward manifestations of an underlying difference. Rather, Christian culture is Christian because two things went before it: prophetic concern with the Word of God and priestly dedication to the service of God. Christian kingship rests on Christian priesthood, and Christian priesthood rests on Christian prophethood. That is the divine order, just as we find it in Christ who first taught the people, then suffered for the people, and finally rules over the people.
Not Three Tasks, But One
We have now come to the full circle. This is quite natural, for the Christian has not three tasks, but one. That one task has three aspects, the aspect of truth, the aspect of holiness. and the aspect of righteousness.
The connection between man as image· bearer of God and man as office-bearer of God is now also apparent. The image points to, exists for, and supports the office, in order that God. not man, may be all in all. The Reformed view in these matters is a strong safeguard against one-sidedness and heresy.
Not everything you do in the world is part of the great task you have in purifying this life and preparing it for the return of Christ. You do not always work in your official capacities. You may eat an orange, or strike a match, or write a diary; and doing these things is not part of your mandate. But I do say that in every thought, word, and deed that makes up your li fe, there should be a hidden compass needle pointing in the direction of your task. Everything you do must be in support of your life as office bearer of the Almighty.
The Christian has one task. And whether he will fulfill that task or not depends not first of all on the condition of his head, nor on the condition of his emotional life, nor on the condition of his hands. Don’t let anyone tell you that the three offices of the Christian proceed from head, heart (as emotional center), and hand. For all three proceed from his heart as the center of his life. When man turns his heart from God, his life produces threefold corruption; when man turns his heart to God, his life produces three-fold goodness. Let us, therefore, turn our hearts to God and do all we can to lead human life toward the Judgment Throne of the Lord Jesus Christ.