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Pondering the Creed with William Perkins (7)

by Matthew Hartline on May 01, 2021

Pondering the Creed with William Perkins (7)

Continuing with our study of William Perkins’s commentary on The Apostle’s Creed, we arrive at the second section: “I believe in Jesus Christ, [God’s] only Son our Lord.”

Having considered the first title, “Jesus,” Perkins turns his attention to the second: “Christ.” He begins by explaining that the term “Christ” (or “Messiah” in the Old Testament) means “anointed,” and describes the promised Redeemer. In the OT, three “estates (or orders) of men” were anointed with oil; namely, prophets, priests, and kings. Perkins makes it clear that each of these anointings was “a type and figure of the anointing of Christ, which was not with bodily oil but by the Spirit.” He adds, “Neither king, priest, nor prophet was ever anointed in the same manner as [Christ] was.”[1]

For Perkins, the anointing of Christ with the Holy Spirit sets Him apart to fulfill His mediatorial role between God and men. As Mediator, Christ is called to the office(s) of prophet, priest, and king. As prophet, He teaches His people the will of God; as priest, He makes “satisfaction and intercession” for their sins; and, as king, He gathers and governs them.[2] Christ’s anointing consists in the “pouring out of the fullness of the Spirit of grace” into His manhood. (1) God is the author. “The most excellent and unspeakable graces of Christ’s manhood have their beginning from the Godhead of Christ.” (2) Christ is the vessel. His manhood is a “storehouse” of the “spiritual oil of grace” that contained “created gifts and qualities placed in His human nature.”

Just as the holy oil in the anointing of the OT prophet, priest, and king was a “sweet savor,” Christ’s perfect obedience takes away “the noisome scent of our loathsome sins from the nostrils of God,” and makes our “persons and actions” acceptable as a sweet fragrance.[3]

Perkins explains that God’s people reap “great benefit and comfort” from Christ’s anointing. The comfort includes gladness of heart which, in turn, leads to the peace of God which passes all understanding. By way of benefit, they are set apart and made spiritual prophets, priests, and kings. They receive the same Spirit who was poured out upon Christ.[4]

“Now then,” exhorts Perkins, “let us all lay these things to our hearts and extol the unspeakable goodness of God that has advanced us to the dignity of kings, priests, and prophets before Him and has given His Spirit unto us to enable us to be so indeed.”[5]

 

[1] William Perkins, An Exposition of the Symbol (or Creed) of the Apostles, in The Works of William Perkins, vol 5, ed. Ryan Hurd (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2017), 103.

[2] Perkins, Symbol, 103.

[3] Perkins, Symbol, 104.

[4] Perkins, Symbol, 104–05.

[5] Perkins, Symbol, 105.

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