June 2, 2020

A Moment of Refreshment and Exaltation: Jesus is Our Mediator

jesus_cross.jpgI Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…

It is the simplest of verses, but its truth creates worship, rejoicing and exaltation in me every time I think about it.

There is one, one and only one, that stands between God and human beings. That one is our Great High Priest. Perfect God, with all the requirements of righteousness and holiness within himself.

At the same time, he is one of us. Fully and completely human. A man with a nature like our own, yet without sin. He will be, on the cross, in the place of the sins and sinners of world, bearing freely undeserved judgement in love for us.

This one, the God-man, the one mediator, ever lives to save to the uttermost all who come to God through him. He ever lives to reconcile Michael Spencer and the Holy Trinity, in himself and his own person.

This one, Great High Priest, exchanges the holiness of God for the pollution and deserved judgement of our sin. In himself alone, he takes the fullness of God’s purity and grace, and exchanges it for the filth and rebellion of our sin.

This mediator, this one man, invites us into the holy place and into the fellowship of the Father’s family. He makes, in himself, a new and living way. He tears, in his flesh, the curtain of the old covenant and inaugurates the new covenant.

In him, the fullness of God lives. On him, the totality of God’s judgement falls.

At the last supper, he says that his broken body and shed blood will make a new covenant way for the salvation of the world. He says this as God-man and he performs this as God-man. He is saying that he is the one mediator, and he is the perfect salvation of all his people who will be purchased by his sacrifice.

He does not come to establish a mediation system. He is the one mediator.

He does not come to establish an organization to parcel out salvation. He is our salvation.

He does not come to make salvation the work of human beings. He comes to offer the gift of a finished salvation to those who trust him and him alone.

He does not come to make a church his partner in mediating salvation, but to purchase and empower a people who will live as evidence of this salvation. His mediation creates a people, and that people live in the constant reality of Christ’s intercession in their behalf.

He does not share this mediation with anyone else. Not with apostle, leader, elder or shepherd. He is the mediator, and there is no one else in heaven or earth worthy of the title. All who represent him take upon themselves nothing of his perfect mediating work, but announce it, proclaim it and teach it.

There is no one else to worship for our salvation. There is no one else who can pay for one sin with any micron of their character. There is no one else whose righteousness meets God’s holy standard. There is no one else whose work will satisfy the Father’s holy demand for righteousness. There is no one else who has become sin for us, that we might become right and the righteousness of God in him.

This one mediator makes a living way of salvation; a way that is himself at every moment. To trust, believe in, treasure and place our confidence in him is to have all that God is for us and offer us in him.

He is the one mediator of God for man. God holds nothing back to the one who has Jesus Christ. To have Jesus is to have all God’s covenant promises, to have them all made “Yes,” and to be the recipients of all the benefits of those promises.

Like one who death executes a will, this mediator’s death and endless life guarantee one perfect salvation for his people. In his Last Supper, he announced his mediation. When we come to that table, we come to re-visit and re-experience the one in whom the old covenant is fulfilled and the new covenant opened by means of his broken body, poured out blood and perfect atoning work.

There is one mediator. No competition. No partners. No shared glory. No incomplete work. No tentativeness or partialness.

Jesus is the mediator. Jesus is salvation. Jesus is the New Covenant. Jesus is all God gives of himself to us.

A wonderful truth that levels every debate, that calms my weary soul and moves me to worship, praise and prayer.

Exalt in the one mediator. Exalt this Jesus, who is your salvation.

Comments

  1. Amen.

  2. Truth that springs worship. I needed that, thanks Michael.

  3. Michael,

    I disagree with the statement “he does not share this mediation with anyone else” because in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (the four verses preceding verse 5), Paul is exhorting Christians to mediate for others as prayer warriors. This is the precursor that provides the immediate context to “there is one mediator.”

    “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men. For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”

    I believe this immediate context shows that Paul’s statement “one mediator” is one that indicates our participation in that one mediation precisely because Christ Jesus is “the man” Christ Jesus. By uniting himself with our humanity, he allows for us to participate in his own life.

    The Greek for “one” in 1 Tim 2:5 is ‘eis (Strong’s #G1520), which is the cardinal number one.

    Paul could have used “monos” (Strong’s G3441), which indicates “alone”.

    One of the fundamental truths of Christianity is that Christ is not alone. He became man so that we might be united to him and participate in his roles.

    As Christians, we are Christ-ians, because we have been anointed [Christos] by the Spirit, uniting us to the one Christ.

    As Christians, we are priests [hierus] because we are united to our High Priest.

    Bishops and Presbyters are shepherds because they are united to the Good Shepherd.

    Christians are children of God because they participate in Jesus’ Divine Sonship.

    Am I making sense?

  4. “No tentativeness or partialness.” That needs to get into my bloodstream. Thanks, Michael.

  5. I would only add that Jesus Christ is the one mediator between man and man …

  6. Hebrews 9:15 (KJV) And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

    Galatians 3:19-20 (KJV) Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. [20] Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

    When Jehovah made his covenant promise to Abraham, God passed between the animal carcasses, indicating the covenant was conditional only upon Jehovah’s graciousness. God made the covenant, and it did not require ratification by man. Abraham believed God.

    When Jehovah gave the commandments to Israel, Moses acted as a mediator between Jehovah and the nation.

    When Christ shed his blood for sinners, it was a picture of Jehovah’s covenant promise to Abraham, not the law covenant with Israel. Therefore, Christ alone is the mediator of the new covenant — Hebrews 8:6 (KJV) But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

  7. Hi, Carson.

    I think the difference between Christ’s mediation and ours rests on the crucial conjunction which begins verse 5 – “for”. All of our intercession rests on the work of Christ, namely His mediating work on the cross (vs. 6). In other words, our mediatory role differs from His. The analogy of “ambassadors” Paul employs in 2 Co. 5:20 illustrates the difference – we entreat others to be reconciled based on the work of Christ, we pray for others to receive what He has provided, but the provision and mediation comes from Him, not us.

    I wouldn’t quarrel with the fact that we participate in the life of Christ, but our entry into that union comes about by virtue of Christ’s mediation, not in cooperation with it!

    As for the point about cardinal numbering of the word “mediator”, this observation seems to ignore the intended parity with the word “one” immediately preceding the word “God” in that verse. There is “one mediator” in exactly the same way that there is “one God”. The word “also” ensures that this is so.

  8. Bob Myers says

    We don’t participate in the Holy Trinity, and we do not participate in Christ’s Atoning death, nor do we participate in His mediatorial work. Only because of Christ’s unparalleled mediation are we joined with Him at all, but never mediating anything. Thank you Michael, another creative and fresh presentation of gospel truth!

  9. The concept of theosis, as taught by our brothers the Orthodox and those of Eastern Catholic rites, may drive some here right out of their noggins.

    If I do not participate in the initimacy of Trinitarian life, I am nothing. Participation in the divine life is what GRACE is.

  10. I’m familiar with the concept of theosis, and it seems to fill the same function as the union with Christ which is being affirmed here. Divinization is never, even in the Orthodox church, confused into making us co-redeemers with God. The doctrine of justification stands side-by-side with texts which speak of being taken up into the divine life without any conflict. They are arguably the same thought developed along two different tracks. Some Luther scholars in the 1970’s even argued that the great Protestant Reformer himself saw justification in something akin to the Orthodox perspective. Modern theological perspectives in the writing of people like N.T. Wright and Richard Hays speak of “New Creation” in very much the same way as EO conceives of theosis. These concepts have long been integrated into Western theology, particularly in Pauline theology where, since Schweitzer, some of have even regarded participationism as the center of Paul’s thought.

    All of that to say I think Carson is wrong to see believers as somehow participating in Christ’s mediatorial work, and that judgment seems to have very little impact on the concept of theosis.

  11. Christ’s mediation is salvational. Our prayers are for the purpose of well, praying. Praying is communicating with God on behalf of ourselves or others. Prayer does not supplant or add one thing to the finished work or Christ. Christ is the one mediator between God and man. Prayers add nothing to the finished work of Christ.

  12. iMonk, seriously. I really think this might be a straw man you’re setting up – you’re clearly talking about popular conceptions of Roman Catholicism, but are these really things that the Catechism teaches? I’m not so sure…

  13. TheBlueRaja, I believe we are in agreement. While I am emphasizing one aspect (our mediation) you are emphasizing the other (Christ’s mediation).

    I wholeheartedly agree that “all of our intercession rests on the work of Christ, namely His mediating work on the cross” and “our mediatory role differs from His” and “we pray for others to receive what He has provided, but the provision and mediation comes from Him, not us.”

    You acknowledge that we have a “mediatory role” and we wouldn’t be given this role if we weren’t Christians. It is by virtue of our incorporation into Christ that our prayers do anything, have any significance, are mediatory at all. Yet, we truly are mediators.

    When you write, “we pray for others to receive what He has provided,” do our prayers make a difference?

    If our choice to pray for another’s salvation results in someone being saved, then we play an important role that cannot be dismissed and needs to be explained – only with reference to our union with Christ.

    If our prayers make a difference, then in some way, we are mediating between “others” and Christ. Christ enables us to participate in his work of redemption – not in the objective redemption (those events recorded in the Gospel that redeem humanity), but in the subjective redemption (the application of that objective redemption to individual subjects).

    In that way – the way fo the subjective redemption – we are co-redeemers. Christ works in us, his Body, in order to applying what He alone has won and mediates to the world.

  14. Kyle: I’m not following you.

    >you’re clearly talking about popular conceptions of Roman Catholicism, but are these really things that the Catechism teaches?

    I haven’t assigned anything here to anything other than whoever rejects the clear implications of one mediator.

    I guess the whole thing is a bit “strawy” because I’m not trying to associate anyone’s doctrine with this. As to practice however, if the shoe fits….

  15. TheBlueRaja,
    Jesus told his disciples: “those who hear you, hear me” (Luke 10:16). It seems to me that such a secondary mediation only makes sense if Christ is also the one mediator between me and my neighbor.

  16. I don’t know, Carson. I think the way that you’re describing effectual prayer seems wrongheaded. You’re making an ontological dependency between answered prayer and our union with Christ. If our prayers are not answered affirmatively, what does this imply? That we’ve lost touch with Christ? That something has managed to separate us? God decides to answer according to His purposes. Prayer is the request of a subordinate to One in authority, not the combination for a heavenly lock.

    Our participation certainly is a co-working with God, there’s no doubt about that. But our role seems to be making known what He’s done, asking for Him to extend what He’s done to others, asking others to avail themselves of what He’s done, displaying the goodness of what He’s done in the Church, etc. – so our “helping” is more like a PR job than anything else. In what way could it be said that we are “co-redeeming” anyone? We ask Him to bring the kingdom, and others to enter it, but we can’t bring it ourselves or ask anyone else to enter. Our contribution is cooperation, not a full partnership. I think there’s a difference. My young children’s partnership in my family isn’t to lead my family with their parents, it’s to cooperate with what their parents are doing. I don’t want to denigrate our involvement in God’s work, but I also don’t want to characterize humanity as the silent partner in the business of salvation. Does that make sense?

    All of that to say that calling us “co-redeemers” seems an overstatement.

  17. I should have also said that I do think we largely agree about our role in what you’ve called the “subjective application” of God’s salvation. I hear what you’re saying there. How will they call upon Him if they haven’t heard? How will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach if they have not been sent? (Ro. 10:14)

    I just don’t see how what you’re saying actually speaks to what Michael posted here. None of that makes the church the mediator between God and men, together with Jesus. It makes the Church emissaries of Jesus, directing others to Him as their one (and only) mediator between God and men.

  18. Maybe I need to unplug my “anti-Catholicism” radar and let it cool down a bit. :0)

  19. Kyle:

    I won’t speak for any group, but I will point out that on this thread we have a poster who took issue that there is one (and only one) mediator between God and man. I don’t really particularly care what a “group” says. WHat gets me is the individual Christians who reject this simple, Biblical affirmation in some way.

  20. Oops – I meant to say, “We ask Him to bring the kingdom, and others to enter it, but we can’t bring it ourselves or CAUSE anyone else to enter.”

  21. Raja,

    Yes, “God decides to answer according to His purposes,” but it would seem that our union with Christ has some real effect upon our prayer that apart from Christ would be non-existent. I’m thinking of James 5:16 – “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.”

    But our role seems to be making known what He’s done, asking for Him to extend what He’s done to others, asking others to avail themselves of what He’s done, displaying the goodness of what He’s done in the Church, etc. – so our “helping” is more like a PR job than anything else.

    I believe Paul saw himself as more than a public relations advocate. I say this because of Colossians 1:24 where we’re presented with the difficult passage: “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”

    Paul implies that there is some deficiency in Christ’s suffering: namely, the suffering of Christ’s Mystical Body.

    I intend to affirm that Christ’s redemption empowers Paul’s suffering with redemptive power, that can be offered to God as a real sacrifice. Paul can exercise his baptismal office of hierus because of his incorporation into Christ.

    When I say co-redeem, I do not mean “full partnership.” ‘Co’ can mean either ‘equal to’ or ‘with.’ I intend the latter, which is the meaning you affirm: “Our contribution is cooperation.”

    In a very real way, we cooperate in a metaphysical – not merely a forensic – way.

    None of that makes the church the mediator between God and men, together with Jesus. It makes the Church emissaries of Jesus, directing others to Him as their one (and only) mediator between God and men.

    Yet, when we pray, we mediate in a very real way because we are the Body of Christ. I think there is something to be said for our metaphysical incorporation into Christ due to the power of the Spirit through grace.

    I think that at the end of the day, the question is whether or not we are made hierus. Can we offer sacrifice, and is our sacrifice efficacious? And if so, why?

    I believe the answer is Yes, Yes, Yes, and because we have been made Christ-ians by the anointing of the Spirit, incorporated into Christ. We have a true, efficacious office of priest, prophet, and king – because of our redemption in Christ Jesus.

  22. I don’t do extended quotations, nor do I take issue with others reading the Bible with honest convictions.

    I will say that I believe Dr. John Piper correctly interprets Colossians 1:24 in this message, and I would encourage anyone interested in the connection between missions, suffering and evangelism to read this outstanding message.

  23. I also recomment John Paul II’s Salvifici Dolores: On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering, where JPII begins – as from a springboard – with Colossians 1:24 and gives a very comprehensive answer by taking a step back and looking at the whole of divine revelation in this matter. It is one of my favorite apostolic letters.

  24. To echo comments above…theosis is an important concept (2 Peter 1:4). It should not be overlooked by us Protestants. I think we too quickly see something in Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy and run with our tails between our legs before we examine it. Or we simply toss it out as an “addition” created by traditions of men. It’s quite a biblical idea, and though Mormons have destroyed it in the eyes of most protestants with their diversion from Scripture on the subject, it remains a valid theological point that needs to be considered. HOW DO WE PARTICIPATE IN THE DIVINE NATURE? Protestants usually skip right on to verse 5 and ignore that burning question. It’s time we protestants allow ourselves to not be constrained by our OWN traditions, and let Scripture speak. This relates to mediation in that we can and DO participate with Christ’s mediation (but ONLY by His grace). We pray for one another (intercession). We partner with God (the term co-worker). We share in the very sacrifice of Christ in Communion (see 1 Corinthians). We share on earth what is being offered continually in Heaven. So yes, we “share” in many things. That doesn’t mean that the glory goes to us, or that the ability to share those things ultimately comes from us. What it does mean is that God decided to share His divine life with us, and decreed that we would participate in His divine plan of redemption and salvation history.