In the eight sections of this chapter the Westminster Confession treats the office and work of Christ as Mediator of His people. Let us recall that the Confession has already taught that God from eternity unconditionally elected some men and angels in Christ unto salvation and glory out of His free grace and that God has foreordained all the means to that salvation and glory (Chapter III).
In this issue we consider the first four sections.
1. It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man;¹ the Prophet,² Priest,³ and king;4 the Head and Savior of His Church;5 the Heir of all things;6 and Judge of the world;7 unto Whom He did from all eternity give a people to be His seed,8 and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified and glorified.9
Isaiah 42:1; I Peter 1:19, 20; John 3:16; I Timothy 2:5.
Hebrews 5:5, 6.
Psalm 2:6; Luke 1:33.
John 17:6; Psalm 22:30; Isaiah 53:10.
I Timothy 2:6; Isaiah 55:4, 5; I Corinthians 1:30.
2. The Son of God, the second Person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the Father did when the fullness of time was come, take upon Him man’s nature,¹ with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin;² being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance.³ So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one Person, without conversion, composition, or confusion.4 Which Person is very God and very man yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.5
John 1:1-14; John 5:20; Philippians 2:6; Galatians 4:4.
Hebrews 2:14, 16, 17; Hebrews 4:15.
Luke 1:27, 31, 35; Galatians 4:4.
Luke 1:35; Colossians 2:9; Romans 9:5; I Peter 3:18; I Timothy 3:16.
Romans 1:3, 4; I Timothy 2:5.
3. The Lord Jesus, in His human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure;¹ having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;² in Whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell:³ to the end, that being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth,4 He might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety.5 Which office He took not unto Himself, but was thereunto called by His Father;6 Who put all power and judgment into His hand, and gave Him commandment to execute the same.7
Psalm 45:7; John 3:34.
Hebrews 7:26; John 1:14.
Acts 10:38; Hebrews 12:24, 7:22.
Hebrews 5:4, 5.
John 5:22, 27; Matthew 28:18; Acts 2:36.
4. This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake;¹ which that He may discharge, He was made under the law,² and did perfectly fulfill it;³ endured most grievous torments immediately in His soul,4 and most painful sufferings in His body;5 was crucified, and died;6 was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption.7 On the third day He arose from the dead,8 with the same body in which He suffered;9 with which also He ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of His Father,10 making intercession;11 and shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the wor1d.12
Psalm 40:7, 8; Hebrews 10:5-10; John 10:18; Philippians 2:8.
Matthew 3:15, 5:17.
Matthew 26:37, 38; Luke 22:44; Matthew 27:46.
Matthew 26, 27.
Acts 2:23, 24, 27; Acts 13:37; Romans 6:9.
I Corinthians 15:3-5.
John 20:25, 27.
Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:24, 7:25.
Romans 14:9, 10; Acts 1:11, 10:42; Matthew 13:40-42; Jude 1:6; II Peter 2:4.
The first section speaks of the eternal appointment of Jesus Christ as Mediator and it identifies the office of Mediator.
We read first that God was pleased to ordain Jesus to be the Mediator between God and man. It was the good pleasure of the Triune God to do this. He gave to the Mediator a responsibility and calling to fulfill, namely, to save those people God gave Him. The Confession teaches that God’s eternal purpose logically began with Christ, the Mediator, for it speaks of the fact that to Him Who was already ordained Mediator, God gave a people. God’s eternal purpose also ends in Christ, for He is the Heir of all things. “All things were made by Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16b). In all things He has the preeminence and in Him all fullness dwells. No wonder He is called the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending (Rev. 1:8).
A mediator is one who comes between two disagreeing parties for the purpose of making reconciliation. In such a way this term is used today, for example, in a labor union contract dispute. However, Christ’s office of Mediator is essentially different. He is not an unbiased and separated third party, for He comes from God, one of the disagreeing parties. He is ordained by GOD to stand between GOD and man. In perfect harmony with the Scriptures the Confession shows that salvation is completely of the Lord: beginning, middle, and end. In another very important way does Christ’s office of Mediator differ from other mediators. He does not merely persuade in order to reach agreement, but He makes peace. He has the power to make peace, not just beg for it. He does not seek a compromise, for His power is His cleansing blood and efficacious grace.
His work as Mediator requires that Jesus Christ function as Prophet, Priest, and King. He fulfills this not as three separate offices, but as three related functions of the one office of Mediator. For example, He is a priestly and kingly prophet.
“Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in His revealing to the church, in all ages, by His Spirit and word, in divers ways of administration, the whole will of God, in all things concerning their edification and salvation” (Larger Catechism, q. 43).
“Christ executeth the office of a priest, in His once offering Himself a sacrifice without spot to God, to be a reconciliation for the sins of His people; and in making continual intercession for them” (Larger Catechism, q. 44). “Christ executeth the office of a king, in calling out of the world a people to Himself, and giving them officers, laws, and censures, by which He visibly governs them; in bestowing saving grace upon His elect, rewarding their obedience, and correcting them for their sins, preserving and supporting them under all their temptations and sufferings, restraining and overcoming all their enemies, and powerfully ordering all things for His own glory, and their good; and also in taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel” (Larger Catechism, q. 45).
It is Christ, in these functions of His office, Who is the Head and Savior of His Church. Not only is this Mediator biased because He comes from God, but consider how intimately He unites Himself with the other party. He becomes their Head and Savior.
Not only is He Lord of His people, but also He is Lord of all things: Heir of all things and Judge of the world. He rules both the church and creation according to His redemptive purpose (Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18). Christ’s judging all things is also treated in chapter 33.
Section two speaks of the Mediator’s two natures (divine and human) and their relationship to each other.
Ever since Christ was on earth there have been assaults which deny either that He was truly God or that He was real man. Other related heresies have confused the relationship of these two natures.
That Jesus is very God was proven in chapter two, section three. In this chapter the Confession reiterates that when we speak of the Mediator we are dealing with the Second Person of the Trinity, Who is very and eternal God.
Jesus was also a true man. Being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, He took upon Himself the flesh and blood of His brethren (Heb. 2:14). In body and soul He was like us. In that human body and soul He experienced the infirmities common to man. He had to eat and drink and sleep. He grew in knowledge and wisdom, loved and wept, and shrank from suffering as a man. Yet in all of His humanity He was without sin.
As perfect God and real man He is one person, for these two complete and distinct natures are inseparably joined. They are not mixed or confused into one conglomeration. Also, the uniting of these two natures did not make any change in them; both remained complete. On the other hand, the fact that they remained distinct and complete does not imply any separation. Rather than being divided into two composite parts, they were and are inseparably united. No farther does the Confession go in explaining and describing this mystery, and wisely so.
The Mediator is very God and also real man, united in the one Person of the Son of God. So the Scriptures reveal our Mediator to be. Truly He is ordained of God, for such a Mediator could not be the conception nor creation of man. To God be the glory.
Section three shows us how Jesus was “thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator.”
The union of the human and divine natures did not deify the human nature and thus cause it to cease to be human. To fulfill His office, therefore, it was necessary that He be furnished by God. To that end He was anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure (John 3:34). His very name “Christ,” which means “anointed,” signifies this. As anointed He is authorized and qualified to perform and accomplish His task of reconciling man to God. He needed the Holy Spirit to enable Him to accomplish the work of redemption.
The Confession makes clear that Christ was appointed to His office by God. He was “called of God” (Heb. 5:10). Christ says that He was “sent by the Father” (John 5:30). Also He says that the works He did and words He spoke were not His, but the Father’s Who sent Him.
Even as God called Him to the office, He voluntarily took it upon Himself. “I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:18). Even in His death “He gave Himself” (Galatians 2:20).
Section four gives the details of how Christ voluntarily discharged His mediatorial office. He did so by going down the steps of humiliation and up the steps of exaltation.
The Confession begins the details of His humiliation with His birth, which it describes in the language ofGalatians 4:4, “made under the law.” Voluntarily and as our representative He came under the law and all of its demands of perfection. And this He did by rendering perfect obedience to every point of the law. He fulfilled it vicariously as our obedience. Another part of His humiliation was the experience of most grievous torments in His soul and most painful sufferings in His body. As grievous and painful as these were they were as nothing when compared to the wrath of God which He experienced on the accursed cross. As mediator He had to die and be buried to accomplish salvation for His people. His burial showed that He tasted death in all of its parts. However, while buried, unlike any other man, His body experienced not even the beginning of decay and corruption.
Christ performed His work as Mediator also in His exaltation. He, the Mediator, human and divine, arose from the dead. It was the same human body that was buried which arose, only now it is exalted. In that body He also ascended into heaven and sits at God’s right hand. Thus He shall return to judge at the end of this world.
Each of the steps of humiliation and exaltation were voluntarily taken. At the same time each was divinely prescribed and was necessary unto the redemption of all those whom the Father had given to Him. It was out of love for His own that He walked this way. He is the “Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
May we ever retain the consciousness of such a great love, to the end that we may live to serve Him in eternal gratitude and praise.