The One Mediator Between God and Men
Rev.Angus Stewart, pastor of Covenant PRC of Ballymena, NI. Published Dec.2013
What is a mediator? A mediator is one who comes between two or more parties at enmity, removes the enmity and restores them to friendship.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is not merely a diplomatic or political mediator (whose task is to resolve disputes between two or more states or civil governments, or between two or more factions within a state) or a family mediator (who seeks to effect unity between two or more parties in a family) or a marital mediator (who tries to restore communion between a husband and a wife). I Timothy 2:5 speaks of a religious mediator, a mediator between the perfectly holy God and totally depraved men: “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Our religious mediator, Jesus Christ, is definitely a covenant mediator. He removes enmity between God and men—the fault is entirely on our side—and restores us to fellowship with Jehovah. Since the covenant is friendship and communion with God, the Lord Jesus is our covenant mediator. Therefore, the book of Hebrews calls Him “the mediator of the new testament [or covenant]” (9:15) and “the mediator of a better covenant” (8:6; cf. 7:22).
Where is or was Christ our mediator? In heaven? Yes. On earth also? Yes. When is or was He our mediator? Now? Yes. And during His ministry some 2,000 years ago? Yes. I Timothy 2 clearly teaches this. It was as the mediator (5) that Jesus Christ “gave himself a ransom” while on earth two millennia ago (6).
This makes it crystal clear that the Lord Jesus, our religious and covenantal mediator, brings friendship between God and us not merely as a simple teacher (as if profound words alone could do it) or a moral reformer (as if our ethical transformation alone could be enough to bring us to Jehovah) or as an earnest intercessor (as if His fervent praying for us, all by itself, were sufficient to reconcile us to the Most High). Our religious and covenantal mediator restores us to fellowship with the living God by His sacrifice for our sins on the cross, for our mediator (5) “gave himself a ransom” (6). Thus Scripture glories in “the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Heb. 13:20).
Notice the order of the two parties between whom Christ mediates in I Timothy 2:5: “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men.” It does not say that Christ mediates between “men and God,” although this would be true. It declares that our Saviour mediates “between God and men.”
If we had penned this verse, to speak hypothetically for a moment, we would probably have written it the other way around: “one mediator between men and God” because we, sadly, are man-centred. But the Holy Spirit wisely wrote “one mediator between God and men,” emphasizing the divine initiative and grace in God’s coming to us through the mediator whom He appointed.
In order to do justice to our need for a human mediator, I Timothy 2:5 stresses Christ’s manhood: “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Though Christ is, and needs to be, God in order to save us, He must also be man in order to live on earth, die on the cross and represent us in heaven.
I Timothy 2:5 highlights the singularity and uniqueness of our mediator: “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Why is this? Jesus Christ is so great and glorious and powerful and successful that only one mediator is needed! After all, He is both fully God and fully man and so able to mediate between both. By His substitutionary obedience and particular atonement for all whom the Father gave Him, issuing in His irresistible grace in us, He effects fellowship between the Triune God and His church. This is the blessed union and communion between Jehovah and each and every one of His sheep! There is “one mediator between God and men,” who came all the way from the living God to us and who takes us all the way back to the heavenly Father in the loving friendship of the covenant of grace.
Therefore, there are not two or more mediators. Mary, though a godly woman and the mother of our Lord according to His human nature, is not a mediatrix between God and men. The saints, though our brothers and sisters in Christ, do not mediate between Jehovah and us. The church, though it is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15), is not a mediator between the Most High and men. Nor are our works or man’s supposed free will! Forging another mediator besides Jesus Christ is mistrust of, and unbelief in, the incarnate Son of God and a rejection of His all-sufficient mediatorial office. Hence, it is a despising of Him and His work on the cross.
Praying to Mary or the saints, or viewing the church or anything else as a mediator, is polytheism. But how is that having more than one God? The number “one” occurs twice in I Timothy 2:5: “one God” and “one mediator.” If you have one mediator, you worship one God. If you have two mediators, you serve two gods. If you have three mediators, you have three gods. And so on. Why? Because religious veneration reserved for Jehovah, such as prayer, made to a supposed mediator “deifies” him or her or it.
To look at it from another angle, praying to or through more than Christ is, in reality, a sort of atheism. Whereas polytheism is offering worship to many gods, atheism is having no God. Those praying to, or trusting in, more than the only mediator do not ascend to, or commune with, the Creator and Lord of all. They do not know God!
Seeking to approach God through parties other than Christ alone is double addition: adding other mediators and adding other gods. This double addition is also double subtraction, for one loses both Christ, the only mediator, and the only true God!
Let us believe in Christ’s glorious, sole mediation and pray through Him alone. In this way, we come to the one true and living God and enjoy the forgiveness of our sins and covenant fellowship with Him!
- Volume: 14
- Issue: 20
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
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