One Mediator Between God and Men
1 Timothy 2:5
“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.”
One of the first things God reveals of Himself is that He is ONE God. There is only one true God, and our God is one God. This great truth has always been central to a right relationship between God and men. This truth has some vital implications and these implications are revealed by God to men. First, one God means that there is only one God to seek and to worship. All rational creatures are responsible to seek after and worship their Creator. Secondly, one God means one standard for all. This standard is set by God alone, the sovereign Creator. This was central to Adam’s continued existence in the Garden of Eden.
When God created Adam, He set Adam in the garden. God appointed Adam as the representative of the whole human race. He gave Adam the commandment not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This tree represented God’s sovereign authority and standard over Adam. It was God who set the standard for all. Adam fell when he took sides with Satan against God in desiring to set his own standard. Satan told him, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
This was the fall of mankind in Adam, the representative. In Adam the whole human race fell. In Adam the whole human race sinned and rebelled against God and was put under the curse and condemnation of God’s law (Romans 5:12). God was the one who was offended. Man through Adam was the one who offended.
Because of our fall in Adam, mankind by nature lies in a state of condemnation and guilt, alienated and enemies of God. In Adam we rebelled and declared war on God. The whole human race in Adam was doomed to eternal punishment and damnation unless God, the offended party, would intervene and provide a way of redemption and salvation. Here is where we come to the glory of Christ our Mediator. A third implication we see revealed in light of the fact that our God is ONE God is the fact that there is “ONE MEDIATOR between God and men, THE MAN, CHRIST JESUS.” One God means there is ONE way of salvation, ONE redeemer, ONE savior. Christ stated in John 14:6, “I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE: no man cometh unto the Father BUT BY ME.”
The Apostle Paul’s whole purpose in 1 Timothy 1:5-6 is to direct lost sinners to Jesus Christ, the one Mediator between God and men, for salvation. Paul, like the Apostle Peter, knew and was convinced that “neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The problem today is that there are so many counterfeits being preached (2 Corinthians 11:4). Preachers are preaching in the name of Christ, but they are perverting and denying the doctrine of His Person and His mediatorial offices and work. To preach, believe and trust in a counterfeit christ is just as deadly and damning to the souls of men and women as openly denying the ONE TRUE GOD and the ONE TRUE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MEN, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS.
In order to know and be assured that we are trusting the true Christ and, thus, that we are truly saved, we must have right views of both His Person as the one Mediator between God and men, and of His mediatorial offices and work. In order to have right views of both, we have to understand and abide by God’s testimony concerning Christ (Matthew 11:27; John 17:3; 1 John 5:10-13). Sinners are going to be saved only as they see the “glory of God revealed in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). They will see this redemptive glory of God only as they see the sufficiency of Jesus Christ in His Person as Mediator and in His accomplishing all His mediatorial duties on our behalf.
There are three basic reference points of truth whereby we come to savingly understand the mediatorial glory of Christ. All three are vitally connected in order for our salvation. Our faith is not in Christ absolutely considered but in Christ the Godman/Mediator who accomplished redemption by establishing a righteousness to enable God the Father to be both a just God and a Savior. These three reference points of truth support this.
I. CHRIST’S APPOINTMENT AND MISSION AS MEDIATOR (Matthew 1:21-23; Ephesians 1:3-6)
This has to do with the EVERLASTING COVENANT OF GRACE. Christ is the Mediator of the everlasting covenant. Three times in the Book of Hebrews He is called the Mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). But remember the New Covenant is the fulfillment in time of the everlasting Covenant of Grace made before time. To understand this, let’s consider what a mediator is. A mediator is a middle person between two parties entering into covenant. His charge is to bring these two parties together in agreement, to reconcile the two parties at odds. As we have seen, God, one of the parties, was the one who was offended, and man, the other party, was the one who offended. Therefore it was totally up to God alone, according to the “good pleasure of His will,” whether or not to seek reconciliation. God would have been well within His just rights to damn the whole human race to an eternal punishment in Hell.
But God is a merciful, gracious, and loving God, as well as a just and righteous God. He determined before this world was ever created, before the fall of man took place, to save a people of His own sovereign choice out of Adam’s fallen race. But being a just and righteous God, He could not save even one of them apart from His holy law and inflexible justice being satisfied. God must be holy and just. He can by no means clear the guilty. Sin against God demands eternal punishment. God is loving and gracious, but He cannot exercise His love and grace at the expense of His justice and holiness. God must find a way that He can be both holy and gracious, just and merciful, righteous and loving. He must be both a just God and a Savior, or He cannot save at all. Therefore, He had to provide a mediator, one who could not only stand between God and men, but who could also represent men, one who substitute Himself in their place and satisfy law and justice on their behalf.
Therefore, God the Father appointed His beloved Son, God the Son, the second Person of the blessed Trinity, to be this one Mediator between God and sinful, fallen men. And He conditioned the whole of the salvation of His elect upon God the Son as their Mediator. This was God’s purpose from the very beginning. “It was God’s purpose to overrule the fall of man for His own glory, by a signal manifestation of all His moral perfections, in justifying ‘the ungodly,’ through Christ as Mediator” (Buchanan). God’s salvation was not a mere purpose of mercy. It was a purpose of mercy “in Christ Jesus,” and it was to be carried into effect by Christ as Mediator of the Covenant of Grace. Here we learn how the purpose of God the Father in appointing Christ to be the Mediator is dependent upon Christ establishing a righteousness that would enable the Father to be both a just and justifier. Here we learn that Christ’s mission as Mediator was to meet all the conditions of the salvation of all whom the Father had given Him by establishing a righteousness that would insure their salvation and final glory in Heaven.
II. CHRIST’S PERSON (Isaiah 9:6-7)
This has to do with His incarnation and His qualifications to be a proper mediator between God and men. As we have seen, a mediator is middle person between two parties entering into covenant. If the parties be of different natures a perfect mediator would have to share each of their natures in his own person. The nature of the problem determines the type of mediator needed. And this problem was such that no man could be redeemed if salvation were conditioned on sinful man. This problem was such that God could not save any sinner apart from His law and justice being satisfied. So this problem required a mediator who could and would substitute himself in the place of sinners while at the same time provide such an atonement that would honor the holiness and justice of God. He must represent God before men and men before God.
“In that great difference between God and man occasioned by our sin and apostasy from him, which of itself could issue in nothing but the utter ruin of the whole race of mankind, there was none in heaven or earth, in their original nature and operations, who was meet or able to make up a righteous peace between them. Yet this must be done by a mediator, or cease for ever.”
“The mediator could not be God Himself absolutely considered; for ‘a mediator is not of one, but God is one,’ (Galatians 3:20). Whatever God might do herein in a way of sovereign grace, yet He could not do it in the way of mediation; which yet was necessary unto His own glory … And as for creatures, there was none in heaven or earth that was meet to undertake this office … In this state of things the Lord Christ, as the Son of God, said, “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:5,9). By the assumption of our nature into union with Himself, in His own divine Person He became every way meet for the discharge of this office.” (John Owen)
“A scheme of mediation does not necessarily imply in all cases the substitution of the Mediator in the room and stead of either of the two parties between whom he interposes” (Buchanan).
Had Christ been only a prophet sent from God to instruct men in the divine truth, or had He been only a king to exercise divine rule over a spiritual kingdom, He might have fulfilled His mission as the representative of God without becoming the Substitute of men. This is where we see that the fundamental part of the mediatorial work and glory of Christ was His PRIESTLY office. He is not only our Prophet and our King, but He is our High Priest. In fact the exercise of His prophetic and kingly offices is directly based on the exercise of His priestly office. So as our High Priest, He is our Representative, Substitute, and Surety, to stand in our place before God. AND EVERY HIGH PRIEST MUST BE “TAKEN FROM AMONG MEN, ordained for men in things pertaining to God” (Hebrews 5:1). “Christ, as Mediator, was ‘made under law’ as the substitute, representative, and surety, of His people” (Buchanan). The terms of the eternal covenant of grace provided for the incarnation, the sufferings, the death, the resurrection, and the exaltation of Christ as GODMAN/MEDIATOR.
His mediatorial glory is directly connected to the constitution of His Person. All that He did as the one mediator between God and men, He did in His entire Person. God could not be made under law in order to obey, suffer, bleed, and die. But this Person who is truly God was made under law and did suffer, bleed, and die. On the other hand, man could earn and dispense eternal life, but this Person who is truly man, without sin, did earn and does dispense eternal life. He is our Godman/Mediator. To deny His deity is to deify humanity, and this is idolatry. To deny His humanity is to leave us without a high priest, a redeemer, and this dooms all of us.
III. CHRIST’S ACCOMPLISHED WORK OF MEDIATION (John 17:1-4)
This includes His substitutionary atonement for the sins of His sheep, the establishment of righteousness that insures the salvation of all whom He represented, the application of the benefits of His righteousness to each and everyone of God’s elect, and His continual intercession on their behalf. All of this comes together to make up His mediatorial glory.
The whole purpose of His mediation was to reconcile God to men and men to God. In order to accomplish this He had to establish the ground of peace (2 Corinthians 5:21). He had to remove the ground of condemnation and establish the ground of justification for His people. He had to bring about a propitiation towards God. He had to satisfy God’s law and God’s justice by fulfilling the precepts of that law perfectly and by suffering on the cross for the sins of His sheep. Satisfaction means that He effectually secured the salvation of His people and laid a sure and solid ground of immediate pardon, acceptance, and entitlement for all that should believe in His name. This ground is not their faith. It is His righteousness imputed and received by faith.
This is why universal notions of Christ’s atonement, or salvation conditioned on the sinner, is a denial of His mediatorial glory. His mediatorial glory is directly tied to the fact that He established a perfect righteousness that demands the salvation of all for whom He lived, died, and arose again. It is directly tied to His lordship in seeing that all of them actually experience all the blessings of eternal life that He by Himself earned for them as Mediator. If He were to lose even one of them to eternally perish in Hell, His mediatorial accomplishments and glory would be annulled. All of His mediatorial offices would be left unfulfilled and unfinished.
Christ is the Mediator of reconciliation in a way of satisfaction, and when He made satisfaction for the sins of His people, all the attributes of God that were engaged against His elect became the ground of salvation, of confidence and hope as considered in Christ’s Person. In His mediation between God and men, He does not plead with the Father to be compassionate and merely lay aside His displeasure with sinners. Christ stands as our Great High Priest pleading the merits of His own mediatorial accomplishments. He being the Mediator and Representative and Surety of a people insured that God would be glorified in their hearts as they see Him as just to justify the ungodly based on the righteousness of Christ. They see the glory of God in Person and mediatorial work of Christ.
God commands sinners to believe His promise of salvation conditioned on this one Mediator. He commands sinners to enter into judgment with Him, a holy God, based on the righteousness Christ has worked out for them. And God promises to save sinners who seek Him, find Him, and trust Him as the God who justifies the ungodly based on the imputed righteousness of Christ. It is therefore impossible to trust Christ savingly, to rest in the one true Mediator between God and men, while thinking that salvation or any part of it is conditioned on the ungodly sinner, or while thinking that any sinner for whom Christ performed His mediatorial duties could perish in Hell. This would imply an insufficiency in the one mediator between God and men.