Chapter VIII—Of Christ the Mediator
The first four sections of this beautiful chapter presented us with the truths of the office of the Mediator and Christ’s eternal appointment thereto, of His two distinct natures and their perfect relationship, and of His states of humiliation and exaltation.
Now we consider the remaining four sections on the Mediator.
5. The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of His father; and purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him.²
Romans 5:19; Hebrews 9:14, 16; Hebrews 10:14; Ephesians 5:2; Romans 3:25, 26.
Daniel 9:24, 26; Colossians 1:19, 20; Ephesians 1:11, 14; John 17:2; Hebrews 9:12, 15.
6. Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after His incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof, were communicated unto 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, which should bruise the serpent’s head, and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world being yesterday and today the same, and forever.¹
Galatians 4:4, 5; Genesis 3:15; Revelation 13:8; Hebrews 13:8.
7. Christ, in the work of mediation, acteth according to both natures; by each nature doing that which is proper to itself;¹ yet, by reason of the unity of the Person that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the Person denominated by the other nature.²
Hebrews 9:14; I Peter 3:18.
Acts 20:28; John 3:13; I John 3:16.
8. To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, He doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same;¹ making intercession for them;² and revealing unto them, in and by the word, the mysteries of salvation;³ effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey; and governing their hearts by His word and spirit;4 overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.5
John 6:37, 39; John 10:15, 16;
I John 2:1, 2; Romans 8:34.
John 15:13, 15; Ephesians 1:7-9; John 17:6.
John 16:16; Hebrews 12:2; II Corinthians 4:13; Romans 8:9, 14; Romans 15:18, 19; John 17:17.
Psalm 110:1; I Corinthians 15:25, 26; Malachi 4:2, 3; Colossians 2:15.
The emphasis of the fifth section is on the completeness of the work of salvation. Christ did not die simply to make salvation possible. But He died with the purpose and effect of actually obtaining salvation for those given Him of the Father. And once that salvation is secured it is not wasted; it is graciously bestowed. All those for whom the Mediator died will receive this completed and complete salvation.
The work of salvation performed by the Mediator consists of the two aspects of reconciliation and eternal righteousness. The Confession does not speak of an active and passive obedience of Christ. Rather it emphasizes that the perfect obedience of Christ accomplished complete salvation. Salvation is not merely reconciliation, i.e., that the anger of God against sin is removed. That would leave the sheep of Christ in an unconceivable, neutral position before God: no longer evil, but on the other hand not deserving of any blessing. The completeness of the salvation wrought by the Mediator is revealed in the gracious bestowal upon the elect of “everlasting righteousness” (Daniel 9:24), “eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12), with the “promise of eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:14) and “eternal life” (John 17:2). The mere thought of such a complete salvation staggers us. The meditation of the thoughts of our hearts on such is our joy now as well as forever.
This complete redemption Christ accomplished by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself. He consciously stood always before God and His demand of all-encompassing love. It was that perfect love of God that abode within His heart and led Him in His perfect obedience and sacrifice. With all of His heart, mind, soul, and strength He loved God and He loved to do God’s will. Thus He obeyed. Without love, obedience is not only imperfect, but it is only a white-washed sepulchre. Love of God is what made Christ’s obedience perfect. The same holds true for us. Only with the love of God as the motive are our works acceptable in His sight.
One more thing does this fifth section bring out: that this complete salvation is for a limited number. This is in harmony with that taught in chapter II on eternal predestination. The vicarious sufferings of Christ were definite as to their object. The other side of this coin is that one who does not receive this salvation is not one for whom Christ suffered. Therefore, to all those for whom Christ suffered and died He does “certainly and effectually apply and communicate” redemption (cf. section 8 of this chapter). How sad that this comforting truth is so rampantly denied today. To be so foolishly bold to say that Christ died for more than those actually saved, profoundly lowers the conception of Christ’s atonement. Christ did far more than merely gain the possibility and opportunity for salvation. He actually took upon Himself the sin and punishment of His people. Thus we condemn the action of the United Presbyterian Church of North America which in 1925 added to chapter XIV that Christ “gave Himself a ransom for all.” We would hold to the creed as originally adopted.
Section six harmonizes with section five, for it states with crystal clarity that the redemption of Christ is actually and efficaciously applied to all of the elect. To receive the benefits of this wondrous redemption it is not necessary that one live after the salvation is actually accomplished by Jesus Christ. In chapter VII we saw that in both dispensations salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ. In all ages the salvation is the same.
The reason for this lies in the very nature and Being of God. He is not limited; He is changeless. His determination to save in Christ has no beginning and no ending. Time does not contain or limit Him in His works, for it is His creature. He is pleased to work within it, but that certainly does not bind Him to it (cf. II Peter 3:8). Therefore “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Therefore, it may be said that the Lamb was “slain from the foundation of the world.” How marvelous are His ways! Who can be His counselor? O the depth of the riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge!
Section seven touches on the unfathomable relationship of Jesus Christ’s two natures (human and divine) as they are united in the Person of the second Person of the Trinity. In section two we say that He is true God and true man with one Divine Person; the two natures remaining distinct and unchanged, but also inseparable. Section seven points out first that in the work of redemption both natures of Christ were active, each contributing that which is proper to itself. The work of the Mediator was performed not just in one nature, but in both; each being necessary for obtaining the salvation of sinful men. The human nature was necessary to be the just object of God’s wrath for man’s sin. The divine nature was necessary to bear fully and to satisfy that wrath of God. What a wonder is the salvation so earned!
Additionally this section states that because of the inseparable and intimate unity of these two natures, Scripture at times will ascribe to the Mediator a name which emphasizes His human nature when it is describing an activity which is properly the activity of the divine nature, and vice versa. Consider the proof texts given.
All that man can do and say before such a Savior is stand in awe and sin not, but praise and thank God with all our heart and strength.
The last section of this chapter relates to the application of redemption. First of all, this redemption is certainly applied. Again the Confession brings out with irresistible force that Christ does not come to make the salvation of all men possible, but to make certain the salvation of some men. The mere possibility of salvation for all means the certainty of the damnation of all, because of the totality of man’s fall into sin. The Confession presents the certainty of salvation in Christ for all those given Him of the Father.
This certainly is based on the means of the application of salvation, i.e., Christ Himself. The work of the Mediator is not completed in the meriting of salvation. Christ Himself applies that redemption He earned. In the lifetime of each elect He applies salvation effectually and certainly. This He does, the Confession says, in four ways, 1. He makes intercession for them. 2. He reveals to them salvation in His Word. 3. By the effectual operation of His Spirit within them Christ works in them to believe and obey. This is an irresistible persuasion, which does not ignore man’s will, but uses it. 4. And by all the administration of His providence He so governs and controls them and all things about them in order that everything works for their salvation. Therefore, it is a terrible sin to doubt one’s salvation. In the meditation of this blessed and comforting truth the praise of God and of the Lamb flows from our hearts and mouths.