About ten years before he became, or knew anything about being Protestant Reformed, this writer came across a tiny book in the library of his maternal grandparents, entitled, “The Heidelberg Catechism.” On page 7 of this little book a question is asked, “What sort of a mediator and deliverer then must we seek for?” The answer given is: “For one who is very man, and perfectly righteous; and yet more powerful than all creatures; that is, one who is also very God.” Since we are to seek such a mediator, is there such a mediator to be found? Holy Writ assures us that there is. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (I Tim. 2:5)
We once had a conversation on the train with a fine gentleman, a medical doctor, and a Roman Catholic. Our dialogue centered around the above text. We asked whether he believed that there were many mediators by which we are to approach God He readily affirmed that he did. We then asked, that if there were only one mediator, whether all other so called mediators were unnecessary. He replied that they probably were, but that they could be of help. Then we asked that if there were exclusively one mediator between God and men, that then all other so called mediators are no mediators. He admitted that in that event such would be the case. Finally, we asked that if the Word of God stated just such a fact, would he believe it? Then we quoted the above words of Paul. It was pointed out that Paul could not hold with the Roman Catholic doctrine of many mediators. Romanists say that Christ Jesus is the one mediator, but not the only one. To this it need only be replied that the words “one mediator” mean nothing less than “only one mediator,” just as the language “one God” certainly means “only one God.” They are blasphemously wrong who infer that Christ Jesus is not the one and only mediator. They deny the exclusive mediation of Christ, as taught, e.g., in I Tim. 2:5; John 14:6and Acts 4:12.
Among apostate Protestants there are modernists who have appealed to this text (I Tim. 2:5) in support of their denial of the Godhood of Christ. To their minds the text teaches that Christ is not God, but plainly and merely man. To go along with this thinking would be to follow blind guides. Consider the apostle in Galatians 1:1, “Paul an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ.” One might as well reason, as the Doketic heresy, that in the light of this text the Lord Jesus Christ is not man, as to infer from I Tim. 2:5 that He is not God. Christian Science, falsely so called, does exactly this; it maintains the double denial, that he was neither man nor God—He was an idea in the mind of Mary. But the Scripture is full of the truth that the estrangement between God and men could never be removed and overcome except by a mediator who had in himself both the divine and the human natures.
Also in the same marvelous little book we read, “Can there then be found any where, one who is a mere creature, able to satisfy for us? None! for first, God will not punish any other creature for the sin which man hath committed; and further, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin, so as to deliver others from it.” This is true, because there is such a great difference between God and man as a result of man’s sin and fall from Him. The fall brought about the complete ruin of the whole human race. There could not then be found in heaven or earth any creature, in its original state or condition, fitting or able to restore the breach between God and man. “For if one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?” (Is. 2:25). Yet mediation must be effected or man is without hope for ever. The mediator, though of God, and true God, could not be God absolutely considered, for “a mediator is not of one, but God is one.” (Gal. 3:20) He must also be “one who is true man.” He is God manifest in the flesh, and as such became, as the children of God did, a partaker of flesh and blood.
The eternal Son of God was possessed and embraced in the bosom of the Father by eternal generation. In the counsels of eternity He was set up, ordained, before the earth was, to be the Head and Mediator of His people. In eternity He willed to come into the world as Head and Mediator. From everlasting, from the beginning, when God appointed the foundations of the earth, He, the Son, was eternally rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth, and His delights were eternally with the sons of men. That is, the decree of the incarnation was always before His mind. Note, while we are on this thought, that in the view of God’s decree, the Son was seen first as Head, then as Mediator. God has the end in view first, then the means to that end. In God’s decrees, Christ as Head is first. All else is means. “Christ is (first) theHead of the Church, and (then)’ He is the Savior of the body.” (Eph. 5:23)
From before all worlds, He saw himself as the Head of a glorified people, becoming so as Mediator, Saviour, as making “himself of no reputation,” and taking “upon Him the form of a servant,” seeing himself “made in the likeness of men,” looking to the day when He would fill and discharge the office of mediator. How God condescended to man in the fore-appointment of His Son as the humble Saviour! God “dwelleth on high, and humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth.” (Ps. 113:5, 6) Every consideration the most glorious God has for His creatures is an infinite condescension. This is so because there is an infinite distance between the being of God and the being of the creature. “What is man that Thou art mindful of him?” In fact, what are “all the nations before Him” but “a drop of a bucket!” This is so, too, because God is Jehovah, the absolutely independent and self-sufficient God. He needs no other outside himself to be what He is, the eternally happy God. Man, the creature, has a desire to that which will bring or add to his comfort. Neither he, nor any creature, is self-sufficient to his own happiness. But God never wants anything, never lacks anything, never needs anything, is never envious of anyone. “Your heavenly Father is perfect.”
How the Son of God humbled himself! He being in the form of God, considered it not robbery, robbing God of His infinite glory, to be equal with God. That is, He considered it perfectly in harmony with reality to be what He is, equal with God! He was always being in the form of God and equal with God, even when He made himself of no reputation by taking the form of a servant. God alone possesses absolute transcendence beyond the whole creation. God alone is so perfectly self-sufficient that nothing can be taken from Him, nothing added to Him. Yet He became nothing, of no reputation, a worm and no man! This is evidence that from before the foundation of the world He loved the decree and covenant of God, He loved the Father, He loved the people the Father gave Him. “Lo, I come, in the volume (head) of the Book (of election) it is written of Me,—to do Thy will, O God,” “I do always those things that please the Father.” “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them” perfectly.
Christ as Mediator is the Son of God in human nature, God and man united in the one person of the Son, His two natures distinct, yet inseparable, unmixed, undivided. This explains what we meant when we said the Mediator could not be God absolutely considered, that is, God without a human nature united to the divine person. For then He could never make himself of no reputation and take the form of a servant. He would be too transcendent to humble himself according to obedience to the, law, being obedient, even as far as death, the death of the cross. Nor could He be man absolutely considered, that is, a mere creature. For then He would be too low, too inadequate, with no infinite value attached to His work. It took God incarnate in two perfect entire natures to beg the Mediator. He must therefore be in one person true God and true man, “that He might by the power of His Godhead sustain in His human nature the burden of God’s wrath,” and so “restore to us righteousness and life.” (Heidelberg Catechism, 17)
Back in Depression days a great aunt read to me from a little black Puritan book entitled, “The Westminster Confessions,” where she rightly deemed this very teaching beautifully expressed. “It was requisite that the Mediator should be God that He might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God and the power of death, give worth and efficacy to His sufferings, obedience and intercession, and to satisfy God’s justice, procure His favor, purchase a peculiar people, give His Spirit to them, conquer all their enemies, and bring them to everlasting salvation.” (Westminster L.C., 38) He must be a divine person, for only God can give eternal life and be a Saviour of those dead in sins (John 10:27, 28; John 11:43). The Princeton Seminary bookstore discarded an old book we salvaged containing the works of Herman Witsius (1693), who wrote, “For man to glory in any one as his Saviour, and give him the honor of the new creation, to resign himself to his pleasure, and become his property, and say to him, ‘Thou art Lord of my soul,’ is an honor to which no mere creature can have the least claim. ‘In Jehovah shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory.” (Is. 45:25)
Also the Mediator had to be man, a human being without being a human person, for He could not, as with Nestorianism, be two persons. But He must be true man and perfectly righteous man, “because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which hath sinned should likewise make satisfaction for sin, and one who is himself a sinner cannot satisfy for others.” (Heidelberg Catechism, 16) Or, the same thought may be expressed thus: “It was requisite that the Mediator should be man, that He might advance our nature, perform obedience to the law, suffer and make intercession for us, in our nature, have a fellow-feeling of our infirmities, that we might receive the adoption of sons, and have comfort and access with boldness unto the throne of grace.” (Westminster L.C., 39)
Further, the Mediator must be God and man in one divine Person. “It was requisite that the Mediator who was to reconcile…man should himself be both God and man, and this in one person, that the proper works of each nature might be accepted of God for us, and relied on by us as the works of the whole person.” (L.C., 40) Had He been God only, He could not have died. Had He been man only, His death could not have been the satisfaction for sin demanded by divine justice. Nor could He have come forth in resurrection life to bestow the Spirit and eternal life on His people.