Tuesday, 27 September 2016 10:45

Glorying In The One Mediator

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The gospel message is incomparably amazing every which way the Bible proclaims it. Whatever you and I might think just unbelievably amazing in regards to people’s skills and talents and accomplishments in this life, the gospel of Christ is about a matter of historical fact infinitely more amazing, multiplied by an infinite number of times!  “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable [meaning inexpressible, infinitely tremendous] gift” of sending His Son to serve as Saviour of sinners!  That is Paul’s exclamation in 2 Corinthians 9:15.  Is this your and my testimony too, by God’s grace?

Continuing with our series in the light of the Bible doctrine taught in the faithful Scripture-based Heidelberg Catechism, coming now to Lord’s Day 5, we begin the section of man’s deliverance that points us to Jesus, the one and only Saviour of sinners. 

Today we learn this especially with I Timothy 2:5&6 before us. There the apostle Paul declares, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”  Looking at this Scripture, and keeping in view the summary Bible-based teaching as given in Lords Day 5, our theme is: Glorying in the one Mediator between God and man! We will consider three main points under this theme. Jesus is this Mediator so desperately needed by us, so supernaturally provided by God, and so infinitely wonderful for us. 

Every true Christian identifies with the gospel truth that a Mediator between God and us is so desperately needed.  Over and over we have learned in the last weeks from Scripture that there is no hope of ourselves ever to be saved from our sins and sinfulness.  Almost disappointingly when you get to Lord’s Day 5 of the Catechism too, finally getting into the ‘deliverance section’, yet the first questions drive home still more that there is only one human outcome for us on our own, and that is everlasting condemnation in hell.  Left to myself, as a guilty fallen sinning sinner, God in His righteous judgment must send me to hell. There is no escaping from that! Unless there would be another whom God could and would approve of on my behalf to make full satisfaction or payment for my sins and sinfulness, and who could offer up to God instead, even in my place, a perfect sinless life before God.  Without such another one being found for me, eternal hell is inevitable for myself and all people born as fallen corrupted sinners since Adam and Eve rebelled against God.

Admittedly this teaching of the certainty of hell for all sinners unsaved by another, even by Jesus Christ, the one and only Mediator between God and man, is not popular today. Not just in the world, but also not in the visible Christian church either. But God hasn’t changed over time and His righteous wrath for sin and upon sinners as we are of ourselves remains. The Christian gospel message is all about being saved from the wrath of God for our sins by a Saviour given by God who saves His people from their sins. But this gospel only becomes and remains most precious to us when we always realize and remember of ourselves that we are hopelessly sinful and condemned forever to eternal hell. Hell is the place where all who come there justly suffer in soul and body God’s everlasting punishment for all their sins and sinfulness. In telling of the believers in Thessalonica, Paul writes about them in the last verses of 1 Thessalonians 1 [vs.9-10]. He tells how they “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; [and that they were now a Christian people waiting for God’s Son from heaven], whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” Escape from the holy and everlasting wrath of God against us for our sins and sinfulness must come by another or we will have to suffer it for ourselves.

This is basic Christian teaching, but it bears repeating often because, time and again, this truth is forgotten and blurred or hardly mentioned and even just negated altogether.  Very subtly, even in the Christian church at large, the focus and main message can become sidetracked, speaking more about saving the world with this program and that mission, all good in itself too. But it is not true Christianity if there is not focus especially on Jesus coming to save sinners like us  from our sins and from eternal hell. How serious is Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:21-23 where the Saviour speaks of church people never seeing this point, the heart of the gospel message. We can get caught up in all kinds of so-called Christian programs and efforts to help others in their needs in this world. And that is not to be discouraged either, but let us never forget the root problem and greatest need is to be saved from our sins and have a God-approved escape from hell, and a God-approved entrance into heaven.  Jesus says in Matthew 7:22, “Many will say to me in that day [speaking of the last judgment day], Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” The earnest all important point is that we, you and I and all people, need a Saviour to save us from our sins and sinfulness. Yes, because as the Catechism puts it, God will have his justice satisfied, and therefore we must make this full satisfaction, either by ourselves, or by another

True Christians take this most seriously. Do you? Do you acknowledge personally as well what is taught in the next question and answer of the Catechism? Namely, that of ourselves never can we make any satisfaction or God-satisfying payment for our sins and sinfulness, but on the contrary we daily increase our debt? You and I sin and fall short of God’s glory in everything we do, even in our best of thoughts, words, and deeds.  Nothing of ourselves isn’t stained with the guilt of sin, and everything of ourselves as fallen sinners only adds mountains of more debt in sin every day again.  You and I are the kind of people who on our own can cover for a lie by telling another lie. How many try to pay for their debts by going to another credit card company and getting more into debt still? For sure, spiritually speaking, you and I add to our ruin of ourselves with every remedy from ourselves that we try in order to escape our just condemnation before God and eternal punishment on our own.

This is painful to confess, no doubt. But God’s people, when truly born again and converted to God, know this is so true, as humbling and convicting as it is surely.  Then you know also that any other one who could possibly save us can’t be from the animal world, or from the realm of angels, or from any human being born in sin like us all. Though God had animal sacrifices in the Old Testament in substitution for sinners, it is not the blood of bulls and goats that saves sinners. Those sacrifices pointed to the only Saviour, the one Mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus. Angels can’t save us either because, being angels, they can’t truly represent us and their power and strength are always limited, far from enough to save us from our sins and to pay the full equivalent of the eternal punishment for sin. Other believers can’t save us either, or people we supposedly make saints, for whoever we perceive to be saints are still sinners in themselves needing God’s grace to be saved.  This is what also exposes the gross error of the Roman Catholic church which falsely declares people to have special saint status from which others may even draw somehow in reaching out to God and gaining a hearing from Him. Such teaching and practice is abomination before God and a direct denial of the gospel of Jesus Christ as the one Mediator between God and men. 

How foolish and fatal to look for saving help and remedy from any of these sources just mentioned, for none of them can ever save wretched, guilty, vile sinners like us, you and me. None, but Jesus! No, if there would be another truly to save us, the qualities required of such a deliverer would be just out of this world, so to speak.  Q&A 15 of Lord’s Day 5 also brings this out when asking: What sort of mediator and deliverer then must we ask for? [with the faithful Scripture-based answer as follows]: For one, who is very man, and perfectly righteous, and yet more powerful than all creatures; that is, one who is also very God.

But where in the whole vast universe can such a mediator and deliverer be found for us, we do well to ask.  And the answer, of course, is in the gospel message of God as found in the Bible, including in our text, 1 Timothy 2:5&6. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Praise God Triune! There is divinely provided remedy for us guilty defiled, hopeless, helpless, hell-bound sinners on our own, and that remedy is found for us in Christ Jesus and Him alone as God-sent Saviour of sinners like us, you and me. Before going to our second point about this Mediator and Saviour so supernaturally provided by God, let me underline what every true Christian learns to confess, by God’s grace and Spirit. Namely, that we are, each one of us, so grievous, guilty, depraved sinners in ourselves before God that nothing and no one, short of a divinely provided Saviour, is needed to save a wretch like you and me.

How important to get this gospel teaching that every true Christian comes to learn and realize initially and more and more in the Christian life. It is the genuine Christian who confesses before God and others: I’m so bad, I need Jesus to be my Saviour, and Jesus Christ alone, as Mediator sent from God above, can save the likes of me. How I depend on Him for all my salvation and how I love Him and repent of my sins and sinfulness and want only always to be joined to Christ and devoted to Him.  Without Jesus I perish in my sin, and only through Jesus can I, and am I, and will I be reconciled to God and saved from hell and become heir of heaven. Sin has ruined me through and through, but I look to Jesus to redeem me and make me whole nevertheless, yes, through His shed blood on sinner’s behalf. Jesus the Christ is my all in all, Hallelujah, what a Saviour of sinners, that even He can and will save such as me.

Is this Christian testimony something you identify with, dear friends, in your mind and heart? To further promote exactly this spiritual frame and outlook, under the Spirit’s blessing, let us consider our second main point now: the Saviour so supernaturally provided by God.  “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” This Mediator whom God provided for us has all the qualities required to save sinners like us. Jesus is God come in the flesh. He is born of the virgin Mary as true human being. Jesus never sinned in thought, word, or deed.  He was the perfectly righteous Man. Hebrews 7:26 reads thus speaking of Jesus, “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless [sinless], undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” Jesus is true God and man at one and the same time and perfectly righteous in one Person. Jesus is all that by the miraculous conception of the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary as recorded for us in Luke 1:35. So Paul also exclaims in 1 Timothy 3:16, “And without controversy [in other words, beyond all question and dispute] great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.”

In Job 9:33 we find Job crying out and reaching for some Mediator who is both God and man, “that might lay his hand upon us both” but where can such be found? God has most graciously and supernaturally provided such a Mediator exactly as you and I need. The wonder of Jesus’ person as Mediator and the glory of His work as Saviour can never be fully fathomed by us. But in so far as we can understand it by God’s grace and Spirit, and the more we grasp it, there is only reason to say over and over: It is just amazing, most amazing, indeed, eternally amazing, the Saviour God has supernaturally provided for us! In the book by Dr. Mark Jones entitled, Knowing Christ, he says at one point so truthfully: Without God’s disclosure of his plan to redeem sinners, angels and men could have spent an eternity planning redemption, but ultimately would have come up short with any remedy to satisfy God’s requirements. But what we could never even have conceived in our minds, the all-wise God purposed in eternity past, and God almighty provided in the fullness of time, a Mediator so perfectly equipped to serve as Saviour, and most able and willing even to save the worst of sinners. 

We need an almighty, perfect, willing, everlasting, God-approved Saviour and this all Jesus Christ is, and more, as the one Mediator between God and man. Jesus is the go-between Mediator and Saviour in view of the greatest problem and deepest divide and chasm ever in all the world, that is, the Mediator between the infinitely holy God and the totally depraved sinner like you and me.  Jesus is the Mediator come to provide salvation and reconciliation between God and man. God Himself provides the exact Mediator we need. Jesus Christ is that Lamb of God, as Peter says in 1 Peter 1:19ff, that “lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you…” speaking to all who repent of sin and believe on Him. So also in Hebrews 2:16-17 we read God’s word saying to us about Jesus the Saviour, “...Verily, he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things, it behooved him [that is, it was the desire of Jesus’ heart], to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”

 Yes, this is the blessed gospel of Jesus Christ. God has provided the Saviour we exactly need. There isn’t a sin problem or sinner in need, that Christ Jesus, the God-given God-equipped Mediator between God and man, can’t and won’t fully address and totally overcome freely and completely for all who come to Him in faith and repentance.  When God created this world, He thought of every detail for all the world He created and it was all perfect and good, to the finest detail, everything that He made.  Even much more so, however, we have to say when God ordained and planned for the Redeemer to save His people from their sins, what a perfectly precise and precisely perfect Saviour the LORD provided! Jesus Christ truly is our Emmanuel, God with us! Jesus being fully human like us in every way, sin excepted, can truly represent us. Jesus being God almighty too can bear in His human nature even the everlasting punishment for sin otherwise impossible to bear. Jesus being God eternal too, come in the flesh, His work as Mediator and Saviour, even to the death of the cross, has everlasting merit and never-ending value. Jesus being the God-sent, God-approved, and God-equipped Saviour in every detail, there is no question of the full and forever guaranteed salvation found for us in and through Him! 

Glorying in the one Mediator between God and man takes place when, by the Spirit with mind and heart, we confess this Saviour as being so desperately needed by us and so supernaturally provided by God.  He did not have to promise and provide this one Mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus, to save sinners.  But God sovereignly chose to do so and gladly did so, and Jesus most willingly came to serve in this role as one Mediator between God and man for sinners like us. The Bible teaches clearly there is no other Saviour possible to save us from our sins either. As Jesus Himself said in John 14:6, “I [He] am the way, the truth, and the life and no man cometh to the Father but by me.”  Doesn’t the Spirit-filled Peter say the same in Acts 4:12? He proclaims there, “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

And again, isn’t this what all true Christians believe and confess?  Doesn’t this gospel teaching also make God’s people so look to Christ and ever depend on Him alone?  What are we told in Leviticus 1:4 and multiple other texts in Leviticus? When an Israelite would bring an animal for sacrifice, the one bringing the offering was instructed to put his hand on or lay his hand on the animal’s head that was about to be sacrificed as a burnt offering. Very interestingly, in the Hebrew the word for laying your hand upon means literally to press down upon heavily or to lean on with heavy pressure.  In other words, we are called to lean wholly on the substitute offering for sin as ultimately revealed for us in Christ, that one Mediator between God and man.  1 Timothy 2:6 tells us how Jesus as Mediator would give His life a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, that is, to be declared and made known in this gospel New Testament age. Through His life and once for all sacrifice, even to the death of the cross, Jesus made perfect atonement for sin. So John writes too in 1 John 1:7, “the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” In Song of Solomon 8:5 the believing bride of Christ, God’s true people in all ages, is described in this way with this question, “Who is this that comes up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?”  Can it be said of you and me that, by God’s grace, you and I lean heavily on Christ alone as our only hope of salvation and the sole Mediator and Redeemer for us? This is what defines the true Christian. 

To promote further so glorying in the one Mediator between God and man, in your life and mine, by God’s grace, consider with me our third main point yet, how this one Mediator between God and man is so infinitely wonderful. Jesus is infinitely wonderful as only Saviour of sinners for more reasons than we can tell. But just from the context of 1 Timothy 2 notice with me how this Saviour is most freely offered to all sinners.  Over against an all too common idea that the gospel was just for a limited number of people, like the Jews, Paul, the God-sent missionary to the Gentiles, emphasized the truth that God will have the gospel brought to all peoples. The one only Mediator between God and man and only Saviour of sinners in the world isn’t to be withheld from anyone but proclaimed and offered to all. So Paul speaks in our text passage to pray for all men, and God will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth, for Christ gave himself a ransom for all.

With this repeated “all” the point is not, but won’t there be and are there not those that remain unsaved, and doesn’t God have an elect people, and only those ordained to eternal life shall be saved. No, but let us, urges the apostle Paul here, not withhold the gospel from any person thinking it can’t be for someone or just isn’t for them somehow.  Rather, the well-meant sincere gospel preaching and offer must go to all people, and never may we withhold the proclamation of the good news to any from our side. The faithful church in the name of Jesus reaches out to all with the only good news of the one only most wonderful Mediator and Saviour God for sinners like us. There is only one God and always only one Saviour and Mediator between God and man, so let the whole world know of this only Saviour. Doesn’t Paul say this very clearly in 1 Timothy 1:15 proclaiming there in God’s Name, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”

Paul adds that last part, “of whom I am chief” to say, as it were, if God can save a sinner like me, a former persecutor of Christians, there is no sinner beyond reach and hope and salvation in and through Him.  Let sinners come to Jesus then and find salvation rich and free in and through Him, that perfect Mediator and Saviour for otherwise hopeless, guilty, lost sinners like us all on our own.

The infinitely wonderful Saviour not only will have His gospel message genuinely and graciously declared to all, but in addition it comes with the rich promise of what a blessed and tremendous Saviour Jesus Christ will be for all who trust and follow Him! The Lord Jesus as only Mediator and Saviour of sinners ministers to His people for good for now and forevermore! Think here of Paul’s jubilant exclamation in Romans 8:32 where he says, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” When you belong to Christ by grace through faith, you will find the Saviour out ever to draw you closer to Him and to make you more and more like Him. And He is out to give you peace and joy already here on earth still, but then also so much more expectation and hope for the world to come.

In no way or instance does the Saviour and only Mediator for us sinners, the man Christ Jesus, ever fail His people. But truly and always He serves in a way so infinitely wonderful, exceeding abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think possible.  In 1 Timothy 4:10b Paul writes in line with our text, “…We trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially [specifically] of those that believe.” Does that and will that include you, by God’s grace?   Do you trust and follow Him as your only Saviour and Lord?

Glorying in the one Mediator between God and man? Glorying in that only Saviour so desperately needed by us, so supernaturally provided by God, and so infinitely wonderful for all His people. Not glorying in Christ Jesus is inexcusable and means you are steadily heading down to the pit of hell. But glorying by God’s grace and Spirit in the one Mediator Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Saviour of sinners, means salvation rich and free and steadfastly heading towards the eternal home, and being truly blessed and such a blessing in the meantime too. Thus says the LORD.  Amen.

Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor  

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