Today we continue our series on Gospel Convergence; each week I will reflect on a chapter of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. I would encourage you to pick up a copy of the confession and read along with me.
As we look at Jesus as Mediator there are a number of assertions about the role that the Confession is sure to make.
First, as we have noted on a number of occasions over the past few weeks, God is in the business of enacting his eternal plan. In the words of the Confession, ‘[i]t pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus…to be mediator between God and man’ (pg. 50). God appointed this role of mediation and chose Jesus to fulfil it. Second, while the role is one of mediation, this is accomplished in its entirety through a variety of works executed by Jesus. In mediating Jesus is:
[T]he Prophet, Priest, and King; Head and Saviour of His church, the heir of all things, and judge of the world; unto whom He [God the Father] did from all eternity give a people to be His seed, and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified and glorified. (pg. 50)
The role of mediating between God and man is a complex one, which required Jesus to accomplish it through a variety of offices and employments. Third, the role is one which can only be filled and fulfilled by one individual, namely Jesus Christ. There is no other who could do this – God ordained it, Jesus realised it. ‘This office of mediator between God and man is proper only to Christ…and may not be either in whole, or any part thereof, transferred from Him to any other.’ (pg. 55)
This is remarkable! One individual fulfilling one role has accomplished so much. However, this had much to do with his person.
The Confession tells us that Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. Therefore, he is truly and eternally God. He is divine. However, to be able to mediate effectively between God and man, Jesus must also have some relation to man. To achieve this Jesus took on flesh (Jn. 1:14):
[W]hen the fullness of time was come, [Jesus took] upon Him man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit coming down upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowing her; and so was made of a woman of the tribe of Judah, of the seed of Abraham and David according to the Scriptures; so that two whole, perfect and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion; which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the mediator between God and man. (pg. 50-51)
Jesus is a unique person, unlike any other before or since. To aid him in accomplishing all that he was sent to do, God anointed him with the power of the Spirit (pg. 52; Jn. 3:34; Acts 10:38). Jesus was then ‘thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a mediator’ (pg. 52). It was necessary for him to be thoroughly furnished for this office, because in it Jesus was required to endure the greatest suffering, pain and hardship afflicted on anyone who has walked the dusty surfaced of this planet.
This individual, God and man, empowered by the Holy Spirit, kept all of the Old Testament laws. He was perfect – as we noted a few weeks ago, he was not born of ordinary generation and thus was not contaminated with sin. Yet in his perfection he took the punishment which was due to mankind; enduring great physical suffering to the point of death, and incomprehensible spiritual suffering as he bore the penalty of sin seen in separation from the first person of the Trinity (Gal. 1:3-5; Mt. 27:46).
All of this was for a particular group of people.
Those who enjoy all the benefits of Jesus’ mediation are those given to him by the Father (pg. 53; Jn. 17:2). In other words, a particular group of people have been appointed to receive the outcome of Jesus’ mediation (more about this in future weeks). Amazingly, all of the people that the Father has given to Jesus come from all ages throughout the history of the world. The Confession explains it in this way:
Although the price of redemption was not actually paid by Christ till after His incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy and benefit thereof were communicated to the elect in all ages, successively from the beginning of the world. In and by those promises, types and sacrifices wherein He was revealed, and signified to be the seed of the woman to bruise the serpent’s head; and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, being the same yesterday, and today, and forever. (pg. 53-54)
The recipients enjoy the great blessings of Jesus’ work in a variety of ways. He works on their behalf interceding for them; he works in them through his Spirit and Word; he works in their favour defeating their enemies (pg. 54-55).
Ultimately though, the recipients need this work of mediation. The Confession closes this chapter by asserting this:
This number and order of offices is necessary; for in respect of our ignorance, we stand in need of His prophetical office; and in respect of our alienation from God, and imperfection of the best of our services, we need His priestly office to reconcile us and present us acceptable unto God; and in respect to our averseness and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and security from our spiritual adversaries, we need His kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver and preserve us to His heavenly kingdom. (pg. 55-56)