A threefold cord is not easily broken. Such we have in the Bible description of the work and ministrations of Jesus Christ.
Many Scriptures set forth this threefold vision of Christ. We might mention but two or three of these passages.
In Hebrews 9:26, 24 and 28 we read concerning Christ: "He hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself;" that He "doth now appear at the right hand of God for us;" and that "Unto those who look for Him, shall He appear apart from sin unto salvation."
In I Thessalonians 1:9, 10 we have the result of this threefold work of Christ in the lives of the Thessalonian saints: "They turned to God from idols" (this was the work of the Cross); "to serve the Living and True God" (this was the work of the Ascended Lord); "to wait for His Son from Heaven," (this was the work of the Coming Christ).
The Word of God everywhere speaks of Christ and glorifies Christ. However, the Word of God divides its testimony concerning Christ, between this threefold vision of Christ. It is either Christ Crucified, or Christ Risen, Ascended and Seated, or Christ Coming Again.
Every faithful preacher and every New Testament church should group the testimony of their faith around these three great mountain peaks of Scripture.
He who speaks exclusively of Christ on the Cross, may be absolutely orthodox as far as he goes, but he does not go far enough. A full Bible testimony with a full-rounded faith, presented in its Scriptural proportion, must be given.
"By Whom we have now received the atonement" (Rom. 5:11).
"We have an Advocate with the Father" (I John 2:1).
"Looking for that blessed hope" (Titus 2:13).
We have before us three great words all beginning with the letter "A." When we say "Atonement," your minds go at once to the Cross; when we say "Advocacy," your minds are led toward the risen, ascended and seated Lord; when we say "Advent," you at once think of Christ coming in the clouds of Heaven.
The "Atonement" was the work of Christ suffering for us, "the Just for the unjust that He might bring us to God" (I Peter 3:18).
The "Advocacy" is the work of Christ interceding for us at the Father's right hand.
The "Advent" begins the work of Christ among us, after He comes again to this inhabited world and sets up His Kingdom.
The "Atonement" of Christ presents the basis upon which we, as sinful men, can approach unto God.
The "Advocacy" of Christ presents the ground upon which we have our daily approach, as saints, unto the Father.
The "Advent" of Christ presents the blessed hour when Christ comes to dwell with us and we shall be "forever with the Lord."
The "Atonement" speaks of Christ suffering for us, the "Advocacy," of Christ interceding for us, and the "Advent," of Christ reigning with us.
The "Atonement" settles the sin question and considers us accepted of the Father; the "Advocacy" settles the "sinning of saints" question, and "saves us unto the uttermost;" the "Advent" forever places raptured saints beyond the dominion and power of satan and of sin, and grants us our eternal inheritance with saints in light.
"The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep" (John 10:11).
"The God of peace, Who brought again from the dead that Great Shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ" (Heb. 13:20).
"And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (I Peter 5:4).
1. Jesus Christ, dying, is the Good Shepherd. On Calvary He gives His life for the sheep. The hireling who is not the shepherd seeth the wolves coming and fleeth; but Christ Who loved His sheep, dies in their behalf—Christ, in dying, is more than the Shepherd; He is the door to the sheepfold.
When any seek to enter into the sheepfold by any other door, the same are "thieves and robbers."
2. Jesus Christ our risen and ascended Lord, is the Great Shepherd of the sheep. He loved the Church, and He bought it with His Blood; certainly, He has a right to pastor His own flock.
The Church has no other "head," than the Great Shepherd of the sheep. Among the sheep themselves there are no lords: "All ye are brethren." Pastors, teachers, and evangelists, elders and deacons, are no more than servants of the flock. They are not to "lord it over God's heritage," but, they are to be an ensample of the flock, and to serve the flock, taking the oversight, not for the love of money, but with a ready mind.
The risen and seated Christ is the Great Shepherd of His flock. He tells the "undershepherds" how to lead His flock and to feed His flock and to seek out the sick of His flock, and how to bring the wandering sheep back to the fold.
3. Jesus Christ, coming again, is the Chief Shepherd of the flock. When He comes, He will lead His flock to everlasting pastures. Even now we can anticipate His coming and hear Him saying: "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom."
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).
1. The name "Jesus" takes us to the Cross. "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins."
The name "Jesus" carries with it, "God manifest in the flesh." It is the name that leads us from the manger and to Calvary's Cross, where the atonement was made.
It is no marvel that saints delight to sing about "Jesus," but saints should remember that "Jesus" means far more than Mary's son, and the "Son of Man." Jesus was begotten of the Holy Ghost; He was that Holy One, the sinless One, the One Who knew no sin, Who did no sin, and in Whom is no sin.
The name "Jesus," links us to the earth-life of our Lord, and to the sufferings of His Cross. It is the name of Calvary and of Golgotha.
2. We have the name "Lord." This name is particularly used in reference to Christ, ascended and seated at the Father's right hand. It is the name that suggests "authority" and "power," Christ as Lord, sits far above all principality and powers, and far above the world rulers of this darkness.
No man can call Jesus, "Lord," but by the Holy Ghost. After Jesus had suffered and died; after He had been raised from the dead; after He had ascended up on high; after He had been seated at the right hand of power—there was given Him the name, "Lord." God proclaimed Him, both Lord and Christ.
Those of us, who are saved, should delight in speaking of Him as Lord.
3. Christ. This is His Messianic name. He is Christ because He is the anointed. He is Christ because He is to come again.
No wonder then that Paul told the jailer to believe on Him as Jesus and as Lord and as Christ. This we all should do. It is not enough to see Him crucified and risen—we must see Him the Anointed of God.
"Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" (I Cor. 5:7, l. c.).
"When the Day of Pentecost had fully come" (Acts 2:1).
"Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men" (Rev. 21:3).
The Feasts of the Passover, of Pentecost and of Tabernacles were great annual convocations filled with typical meanings.
1. The Feast of the Passover. You are at once carried back to the night in which the angel of the Lord passed over Egypt. The blood of the slain lamb was sprinkled upon the side posts, and upon the upper door post. Then the angel "passed over." Then the firstborn was spared.
All of this was a type of Christ and His shed Blood. When John the Baptist saw Christ coming, he said: "Behold, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."
In the Book of Revelation, Jesus is pre-eminently the "Lamb of God." Thus, the Feast of the Passover was God's Old Testament reminder of the Cross of Christ.
2. There was the Feast of Pentecost. This feast with its "sheaf offering," and "new meat offering," and with its "two wave loaves," was a type of saints worshiping the risen, ascended and seated Lord. It was on the Day of Pentecost that the Holy Ghost was poured forth.
The Feast of Pentecost was exactly fifty days after the Feast of the Passover; and the Risen Lord poured forth the Holy Spirit exactly fifty days after the death of Christ upon the Cross. No wonder we read: "And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come."
3. The Feast of the Tabernacles covered seven days. The number of perfect rest. This feast was a picture of the Second Coming of the Lord and of His dwelling among His people.
So it is that the Book of Revelation says: "He will tabernacle among them." During the Feast of Tabernacles, the people dwelt in booths. There is a time coming when, every year, the nations of this earth will send representatives to Jerusalem to worship the Lord of Hosts. The Lord will tabernacle among them. "They will be His people and He will be their God."
"Justified by faith" (Rev. 5:1).
"Seated with Christ in the Heavenlies" (Eph. 2:6).
"The Lord shall descend with a shout" (I Thess. 4:16).
When one beholds the great prominence given to the threefold vision of Christ in the Bible, it will not seem strange that there are three of Paul's Epistles which are given particularly to the discussion of these three themes.
1. Romans is pre-eminently the Epistle of the Cross. It is there that the great basic doctrines of the atonement and of justification are set forth with unparalleled clearness.
Romans, to be sure, has a message about Christ risen and Christ coming again, but the burden of its word is concerning the work of justification by faith, apart from the deeds of the Law.
Romans clears up every muted question concerning grace and works, and the atonement, and forgiveness, and justification, and substitution, and all the great messages and words that cluster around the Cross of Christ.
2. Ephesians is particularly the Epistle of the risen and ascended Christ. It describes the things which God wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead. It describes the believer, quickened, and raised, and made to sit with Christ in the Heavenlies.
Ephesians tells us of all the spiritual blessing which we, as believers, have in the risen, ascended, and seated Lord. The 1st chapter gives us seven of these blessings; all ours, in Christ. The 2d chapter describes the grace by which we are saved and raised and made to sit with Christ. The 3d chapter presents a prayer that saints may know the marvelous height and depth and length and breadth of the love of Christ. The rest of the Epistle is a call to daily walk and to a victorious life, based upon the risen Christ.
3. Thessalonians is God's message concerning the Second Coming of Christ. There we have the blessed hope, and the signs of Christ's return set forth in clear and chosen sentences. The Coming of Christ is the comfort of saints concerning those "asleep in Christ."
"No prophet is accepted in his own country" (Luke 4:24).
"A priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec" (Heb. 7:17).
"He hath * * a name written; King of kings and Lord of lords" (Rev. 19:16).
There is one verse in Revelation that discloses this same threefold official character of Christ. It is chapter 1, verse 5: "Jesus Christ Who is the Faithful Witness, and the First Begotten from the Dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth."
1. Jesus Christ on earth was "Prophet" and "Faithful Witness." He spoke as no man ever spoke. He spoke with authority and not as the scribes. He spoke and His words were spirit and they were life. He stood among men with a message from God. His very words were the words which the Father had given Him. Every sentence He ever uttered was Truth, unerring Truth, carrying the weight of Deity behind it.
2. Jesus Christ in Heaven is Priest. He is this as the first begotten from the dead. He is in Heaven, to manage our affairs for us. We have in the Heavens, One Who is representing us at the court of God; One, to Whom God has committed all judgment. Thus, our risen Lord is both Judge and Lawyer. He, certainly, can save us to the uttermost—to the completion—since He ever liveth to intercede for us.
3. Jesus Christ is to become the King of kings. To Him every knee must eventually bow. We shall one day crown Him Lord of all. Jesus Christ must reign from shore to shore. To Him will the Gentiles come for judgment. He will take the Davidic throne; He will reign over the house of Jacob, and the whole world will crown Him King.
"They talked of His decease" (Luke 9:31).
"He is not here, but is risen" (Luke 24:6).
"This same Jesus * * shall so come in like manner" (Acts 1:11).
We have before us three scenes—one of them took place on the Mount of Transfiguration; one of them occurred at the empty tomb and the third was enacted at the Mount of Olives.
In each of these scenes two men, or "shining ones" appeared. In the Transfiguration, the Scriptures bear witness that the two were Moses and Elias; at the empty tomb and at Olivet the Scriptures merely state two men.
1. The two men, Moses and Elijah, who appeared with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration, talked of Christ's decease, which He should accomplish at Jerusalem.
This is one of the striking scenes of the Bible. Christ was transfigured; Christ was standing on the very brink of Glory, with but a step into the other world; yet, Christ was discussing His decease with two men, who, in olden days, had been His faithful witnesses.
Surely they must have talked not merely of the fact of His death but also of the meaning of His death; of the far-reaching results of the atonement. In that discussion all the redeemed, of all ages had a share; for all saints were the objective, of the coming death on Calvary.
2. The two men at the empty tomb spoke the memorable words: "He is not here, but is risen indeed." Thus witness was born to the resurrection of Christ. Two men had spoken of His death at the transfiguration; now two men speak of His resurrection. Apart from resurrection, the death had meant nothing. Had Christ not been raised from the dead, our faith would have been vain, and our witnessing false, and we would have been of all men the most miserable.
3. Two men at the Mount of Olives talked of His coming again. "Ye men of Galilee this same Jesus shall so come again in like manner." The ones who have gone beyond, and those who are over there, proclaim a threefold Gospel. Should not men and ministers down here do the same?
"The Stone which the builders have rejected, has become the head of the corner" (I Peter 2:7).
"The Head, even Christ, from Whom the whole Body fitly framed" (Eph. 4:15, 16).
"For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak of Christ and the Church" (Eph. 5:31, 32).
The Church of Jesus Christ is likened unto three things. First, It is a building, builded upon Jesus Christ. Second, It is a body, with Christ Jesus the Head. Third, It is a bride, anticipating the coming of the Bridegroom.
1. The Church is a Building. The Word of God says: "Upon this Rock, I will build My Church." Of course, Jesus Christ is the rock. "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
The Church, however, is not builded upon Jesus Christ, ascended; or, upon Jesus Christ, coming again. It is builded upon Jesus Christ crucified, the Riven Rock.
2. The Church is a Body. As a body the Church is in touch with its risen, ascended and seated Lord. Christ Jesus at the right hand of God is the Head of the Church. All believers as members of the Church, are members of the Body. All have not the same office, but all have vital connection with the risen Head.
3. The Church is a Bride. As a bride the Church is anticipating the coming of the Bridegroom. The second coming of Christ is to the Church its "blessed hope." The coming of Chris�