The Mediator Between God and Man
July 6th, 1958 @ 7:30 PM
THE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Timothy 2:5
7-6-58 7:30 p.m.
First Timothy, you young men; chapter 2, everybody. First Timothy, chapter 2: We shall read verses 1 to 7, and the text is verse number 5. First Timothy 2:1-7 – we have it? First Timothy 2:1-7. Now let’s all read it:
I exhort therefore that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions,
and giving of thanks be made for all men,
For kings and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and
peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
Who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge
of the truth.
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man
Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,
Whereunto I am ordained a preacher and an apostle–I speak the truth
in Christ and lie not–a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
[1 Timothy 2:1-7]
And the text – First Timothy 2:5: "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus." That is a doctrinal statement. It is one, when it was written, of which – concerning which – the author must have known that there was, would be, great difference of opinion. That verse has been a storm of controversy through the centuries since.
The next sermon that is prepared will speak somewhat of these years of raging controversy concerning this text. Tonight, we look at it boldly, openly – the thing that the apostle Paul here avows: "There is one God – there is one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" [1 Timothy 2:5]. Simply stated. We may not agree with it. We may not believe it. We may not accept it. But there is no one who could read in this language, or in any language, who could not understand the plain, simple doctrinal import of the passage.
There is one God – one God over all of the tribes and families and nations of men. However people may be divided into tribes and into racial groups; however they may be divided by manners, and character, and custom; however they may be separated by physical barriers and by artificial, social barriers; however people and languages and families and nations may differ in enmity, in history, in background, in outlook, in hope, in aspiration, this is an eternal truth – there is one God over all men everywhere.
And this is a corollary. There is one true God alone.
Depraved humanity has made many gods [Romans 1:25]. They have given the honor and the adoration due to the Heavenly Father to many, many deities. They have peopled heaven with gods multitudinous – a host. They have bowed down before gods multitudinous and monstrous in the earth – gods made with their own hands. They’ve bowed down before their own craftsmanship. They have even set up, in pantheons, rival gods.
But this is an eternal and revealed truth: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one God!" [Deuteronomy 6:4] That is a plain and simple statement – a doctrinal truth. It is the religion of the Bible: there is one God. That corollary and that statement – "And there is one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus" [1 Timothy 2:5] – that also is plainly stated, plainly understood. There is no doubt of its import, its meaning: there is one mediator between God and man.
Again, depraved humanity has filled heaven with suitors who are importuned and implored and begged to ask favors and benedictions from the great high God. They have filled churches and altars and cloisters with a multitude of images before whom they bow, pleading that they make intercession with the great God in heaven. "Mediators, intermediaries, intercessors, pray for me" – asking of this image, and of that saint, and of this mediatrix a favor from the great God of heaven.
How succinctly, how emphatically, how plainly does the Word of the Lord say: "There is one Mediator between God and men, that Man Christ Jesus" [1 Timothy 2:5].God rejects all of that multitude of beggars and suitors, and God appoints one Mediator between Him and humanity, the Man Christ Jesus. There is one throne. There is one Intercessor before that throne, and all men who ever approach the grace and mercy of God must receive it through that one Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus [John 14:6].
Now, may I pause? You have come a long way in theology, and you have progressed in divine things exceedingly if you are able to receive that one statement without addition, or subtraction, or alteration. "There is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus" [1 Timothy 2:5] – one access to God and one medium between God and us: our Savior, the Lord Jesus.
Now, let us look closely, deeply, into the meaning of these words. First, that title "mediator": "There is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus" [1 Timothy 2:5]. There are four places in the Bible where the word"mediator" is accorded the Lord Jesus Christ. One of them is in this text; the other three are in the Book of Hebrews [Hebrews 8:6, 9:15, 12:24]. And these texts and the discussions of them in the holy Word of God bring to our minds the two offices that are included in the word "mediator."
The first is this. A mediator is a reconciler. He stands between two parties that differ – that are separated – and the mediator seeks to effect a reconciliation between the two opposing parties. In this instance, those two opposing parties are the holy Lord God whose wrath is kindled against sin every day [Psalm 7:11], who has a controversy with vile and wicked mankind,who shall judge mankind according to His holiness and His righteousness; and in that judgment, the man finds himself lost and condemned and damned. The great, holy, high God on one side; on the other side is the sinful and depraved and dying man – these two. And the Scriptures say that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself [2 Corinthians 5:19].
Then in the cross, reconciliation has been made that in Jesus there is a bridge between the holy and righteous God and the lost and doomed and damned and dying man. So that’s the first meaning of the office and title of "mediator": it is Christ who reconciles God and man and man to God.
The other meaning of the title "mediator" refers to a medium – the avenue, the channel of communication – between God above and man, insignificant and depraved, below. In the third chapter of the Book of Galatians, Paul refers to a thing. The law, he says, was given through a mediator [Galatians 3:19-22] – through Moses. In the fifth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses says: "When the Lord – in fire and in fury, in thunder and in cloud and in darkness – appeared on Sinai, the people said: ‘Let us not see His face. Let us not talk to God, lest we die,’ and Moses said, ‘I stood between you and God’" [from Deuteronomy 5:4-5].
Now, Paul is referring to that when he speaks of the Law being given through a mediator; that is, through an intermediary, through a go-between [Galatians 3:19-22]. God did not hand the Law directly down to the people, but God handed the Law through Moses, the mediator. The channel of communication between God and a man was Moses. That’s what John meant in the first chapter of his gospel and the seventeenth verse:
For the law was given by Moses –
he was the mediator of the law of the Old Covenant –
but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ –
that is, He is the Mediator of the New Covenant
So the mediator is one who stands between, and he is the channel through which communication is made. All of the blessings that have come down to us from God have come through the gracious hands and the loving benedictions of Christ our Lord – all of them: light, strength, life, health, hope, heaven. Every good thing that is bestowed upon us is bestowed through the gracious hands of Jesus Christ [2 Peter 1:2-3].
Now, the other way around: all of the appeals, the approaches, the prayers, the importunities that are made from this groveling, sinful man to the great God of heaven must be made through the mediator Jesus Christ: "In My name," He says [John 14:13, 15:16, 16:23]. For Jesus’ sake, in the name of our Lord and Savior, all of our prayers, all of our approaches, all of our appeals are to be made in the name of Jesus Christ. "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus" [1 Timothy 2:5].
So a mediator then is one who first reconciles two parties who are separated, and sin has separated between us and our God [Isaiah 59:2]. He is the great reconciler. Then He is the great medium through which God reaches down to us [Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18] and through whom we reach up unto God [Hebrews 4:15-16].
Now, we are to discuss the qualifications of Jesus for the high office and title of "mediator." "There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, that Man Christ Jesus" [1 Timothy 2:5]. What are the obligations of the office of mediator? They are plainly set forth in the Word of the Lord:
For every high priest –
Hebrews 5 –
For every high priest taken from among men is ordained . . . in things pertaining to God, that he may offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
So also Christ glorified not Himself –
chose not Himself, lifted up not Himself –
tobe made an High Priest, but He –
said unto Him, "Thou art that Son," –
that Mediator –
"This day have I begotten Thee." –
Have I set Thee so?
So the first qualification of the high office of mediator is that he has to be chosen and ordained of God: "No man taketh the honor unto himself, but he that is called of God" [Hebrews 5:4]. God does it – as was Aaron [Exodus 28:1], so also Christ [Hebrews 5:5]. So the author of the Hebrews points to the Aaronic priesthood as a type and a symbol of the great mediatorship, the great high priesthood, of Jesus Christ.
Now, his avowal is that no man can take that honor unto himself nor can a man bestow that honor on somebody else, but that mediator must be chosen and ordained of God [Hebrews 5:4]. You can make you an image and set it on every pew. You can make you some kind of a likeness and put it in every niche, but that does not mean that God has accepted that image or that saint as a mediator between Him and you. There is no mediator that is a mediator in truth but the one that is appointed and ordained by God, and this author here in the epistle to the Hebrews uses as an instance the Aaronic priesthood of the levitical covenant.
Then you turn the pages of those Old Testament books, and you come to the rebellion of Korah [Numbers 16:1-40]. Korah said, "I will be priest. I will be high priest. I will be mediator between God and man and man and God."And the Lord God said, "Not so!" And there came into the earth a great, dark fissure, and it swallowed up Korah and all of these families, and they perished in the great darkness of the cavern of the earth [Numbers 16:30-33]. For the Lord God said: "There is one mediator; there is one high priest, and I have chosen him in this levitical covenant" [from Exodus 28:1]. That’s what the author of the epistle to the Hebrews is saying here in the fifth chapter of his book: Every high priest is taken from men by God [Hebrews 5:1]. He is ordained to that office by the Lord Almighty. "No man taketh this honor unto himself, but he is called of God, as was Aaron" [Hebrews 5:4]. So Christ was chosen in heaven, in glory, by the Father, God Most High, to be the mediator between God and man and man and God. We cannot choose any other. We cannot sanctify any other. We cannot ordain or build up any other. That mediator has to be chosen of God, and God has chosen just one, the Man Christ Jesus: "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" [1 Timothy 2:5].
Now, there is a second qualification for the office of mediator. The first one: He has to be ordained and chosen of God – appointed of the Lord – and God appointed one – Christ Jesus! The other qualification of a mediator is this: He must be able to sympathize with both parties. There must be an understanding in him of both sides. With one hand, he must touch God and hold God, and with the other hand, he must touch humanity in understanding and in sympathy with humanity.
So whoever is the mediator between God and man must be both God and man. He must be deity itself – to be in the presence of God, knowing God, being God, understanding God – and yet, he must be a manunderstanding man, sympathizing with man, holding man and God together. And that is whyin the Book of the Hebrews, passage after passage, is beautifully written here speaking of the wonderful understanding and sympathy of our great High Priest.
"But we see Jesus, made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He by the grace of God, should taste death for every man" [Hebrews 2:9]. Every one of us that struggles, and agonizes, and convulses in death has the sympathy and understanding of our Lord who Himself agonized and struggled in that death:
For it became Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.
Wherefore, in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
For in that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted.
The Lord understands and knows: "tempted in all things like as we are, though without sin" [Hebrews 4:15].
Seeing then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
So the mediator between God and man must be understanding of God, and able with God, and powerful with God – God Himself – and at the same time, He must understand us and sympathize us. He must be open-hearted toward us for the wrath of God would burn us away. But the mercy of Jesus endureth, and understands, and sympathizes forever: ". . . Tempted in all points like as we are, though He without sin" [Hebrews 4:15].
That’s a hard thing to believe. Every trial that you have, every temptation you face, every great struggle in your life – every one of them – our Lord endured. He knew. He understands. He’s the great Mediator between us and God. Being God, He knows God, has been with God forever, was in the beginning with God – is God [John 1:1-2]; and yet He was tried in all points like as we are [Hebrews 4:15], and He understands us.
What a glorious, incomparably precious doctrine is presented here in this simple verse. If that Mediator was God and God alone, we could never touch Him. We could never reach Him: His high holiness, inexplicable, unreachable by us, far and removed. We would be no better than the ancients.
That’s why in the Roman Church you have a mediatrix between us and Jesus. They have so pushed away and put aside and sent afurther and beyond the Lord Jesus Christ until now, they need somebody between them to plead with Jesus.
In Rome, in the courtyard of the one of those great basilicas, I took a picture of Mary on the cross. As I stood and looked at it, I arranged my camera and took a picture of it – have looked at that picture many times since. I have wondered how men could so wrest the Scriptures as to "take away our Lord and know not where they have laid Him" [John 20:13] – away and away and away.
If He is God and God alone, then they’re right: We need a mediator between us and God. But, oh, how sweet, and how precious, and how meaningful is the revelation of the holy Word of God, that He is also man. And that’s why the emphasis in the text: "There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" [1 Timothy 2:15] who knows, who understands, who sympathizes, who in all points was tried as we are [Hebrews 4:15]. Come boldly [Hebrews 4:16]. Come to Him. He knows and He understands. The highest position in this universe is occupied by a Man – the Man Christ Jesus – and that Man holds that high position for us: for you, for me, for us – the one Mediator.
Now, may I say just a few words, hastily? May I say just a few words of the work of this Mediator? What is the work of our Lord as mediator? What is His work today? What is it now? What is it this moment, the work of the Lord Jesus, our Mediator?
All right,this is the work of the Lord Jesus now. His ministry is to keep us saved [Hebrews 7:25]. Being saved, the great office work of our Mediator is to save us forever – to keep us from falling, to present us without blame and without blemish someday in the presence of God Almighty [Colossians 1:22]. Listen to the marvelous words of The Book. "If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God – the office of mediator, reconciler – we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, shall be we saved by his life" [Romans 5:10]: up there in glory where Jesus lives, keeping us forever and ever and ever.
Once again, and oh, you can multiply these passages:
Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died –
for us –
yea rather that is risen again –
for us –
who is even at the right hand of God –
for us –
who also maketh intercession for us.
You can multiply those endlessly:
In 1 John 2:1-2: "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father" [1 John 2:1]. In John 14:19: "Because I live, ye shall live also."
In the first chapter of the Revelation: "I am He that was dead, and behold, I’m alive forever more" [Revelation 1:18].
What God means in the Book is this: when I am saved, when I am converted, all of my sins are washed away. Then I sin again having been saved, having been washed. Practically all of us who were saved when we were little children, practically all of our sins have been committed since we were saved.
Well, then what? Do we fall into damnation and into hell? Having been saved and our robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, then we stain those robes. Then does God cast us out? How can a man who is a sinner be saved? And yet, here we are: saved, converted, washed in the blood of the Lamb, and still we sin. How is it that God can save us then? Why don’t we fall into hell? That’s what these Scriptures are speaking of.
When we are saved, when we are washed, when we are cleansed, when we are converted, when we are forgiven, every day after that, the Lord Jesus Christ continues to forgive us. He continues to cleanse us. He continues to wash us [1 John 1:7]. He continues to keep us. "Wherefore He is able to save to the uttermost them who come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them" [Hebrews 7:25]. The great office of Mediator in Christ, as He works today, is to save forever and ever and ever them who come unto God by Him – to wash your sins away, every sin you ever commit [Hebrews 10:12].
How does He do it? How is that done, the remission of our sins? It is very plainly presented in the Word of the Lord.
There are two sides – two departments, two things – in the remission of sins. First, there must be a sacrifice [Hebrews 9:22]. There must be an expiation. There must be a propitiation.
Expiation is an offering that atones, that reconciles, that restitutes. It is restitution. Expiation is a something that takes away, that atones for, that makes up for what has been done. If I were to rob you, expiation is returning and making atonement for what I have robbed you of; expiation: taking away
Propitiation is making favorable. A propitious circumstance – a propitious day is a happy day, a wonderful day. Propitiation is making happy, rendering favorable.
So those two things in an offering: it is expiation – that is, making satisfaction, atonement, making up, restitution, expiation – and propitiation is rendering favorable.
Now, in the remission of our sins, there is first expiation, propitiation, atonement: the offering of sacrifice. And the second part of it is on the basis of the gift of the sacrifice, of the offering, of the expiation, of the atonement – on the basis of it, making appeal, pleading.
Now, those two things are pictured in the Old [Testament] in types; and their ante-types is what Christ is doing for us now. In the Old [Testament], an offering was made. And as Isaac walked along with his father, he said: "Father, here is the wood and here’s the fire, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?" And Abraham replied: "Son, the Lord will provide Himself a lamb" [from Genesis 22:7-8].
There is first a sacrifice – the lamb. Then, on the basis of the sacrifice, there is an entrance into the Holy of Holies with blood of the sacrifice and there to make intercession for the sinners. That’s the way they did it in the ritual of the Old Testament, in the levitical covenant [Leviticus 16:1-34]. The ante-type – the thing that it was a picture of – is in Christ [Hebrews 9:11-15]. The offering is Himself: His body, His blood, His life, His atoning suffering. The sacrifice is the Lamb of God, and the intercession is on the basis of that expiation, that atonement, to plead for the love and mercy and forgiveness of God.
Can’t you see? He doesn’t stand before the throne. He doesn’t enter into the Holy of Holies and plead your good works: "Now, he’s a good boy, let him off light. Now, he’s trying the best that he can. Be good to him, God. Look at him over there. He’s struggling. He’s doing pretty good for him."
It is never mentioned, never referred to – our good works. But when Christ enters the Holy of Holies as our Mediator, our High Priest, He makes appeal to God on the basis of the blood, the sacrifice, the atonement for sins. "Lord, forgive him for My sake. I died for him. I gave My life for him." And He pleads our salvation on the basis of the atoning sacrifice, the offer of Himself [Hebrews 9:14].
Why, bless you. That’s the whole Bible from beginning to ending. And when a man accepts it – the blood, the sacrifice, the atonement, the expiation – when a man accepts it, Jesus Christ stands forever and forever before the throne of God pleading for you on the basis of your faith in Him.Saved by grace through faith, that not of yourselves [Ephesians 2:8-9], just the love and mercy and gift of God. And He saves us, and He saves us, and He saves us to the uttermost, daily making intercession for us – our Mediator before the throne of God [1 Timothy 2:5].
"Simon, Simon; Simon, Simon! Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee . . . and when you turn" – when you come back – "strengthen thy brethren" [Luke 22:31-32]. That’s for you. Satan desired to have you that he may try you and sift you. But our great Intercessor: "I have prayed for thee. I’ve called you by name." And there stands our Intercessor – our Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus – who knows and sympathizes with us, and He pleads our cause. And on the basis of the atoning cross, God forgives us for Jesus’ sake [Romans 6:23].
That’s the gospel.That’s the gospel. Saved by a look at the Crucified One [Numbers 21:8-9; John 3:14-15]; saved by trusting in Him; saved by looking to Him; saved by pleading Him. Saved in His name, washed in His blood, kept in His intercession – all of it, our blessed Lord Jesus. "There is one God; there is one Mediator between God and man" – just one – "the Man Christ Jesus" [1 Timothy 2:5].
And our appeal that you come in faith and in trust to Him, will you do it? In this balcony around, down these stairwells, at the back, at the front: "Here, pastor, tonight, I take Jesus as Lord and Savior. Here I am. Here I come." In this lower floor tonight: "I will trust in Him, and here I am. In repentance, in turning, in faith, I give my life, my soul to Him. I give you my hand, pastor. My heart, I give to God." Somebody you, put your life in the church. As the Lord shall say the word, lead the way, open the door, would you come? Would you make it now – one somebody you, a family you – while we stand and while we sing?
MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN
I. Few passages of Scripture where a
doctrine is expressed more distinctly
is one God
and above all men, however separated into tribes and nations
Depraved humanity has made many gods(Deuteronomy
There is one Mediator
humanity has crowded the access to heaven with countless mediators, suitors to
solicit favors, benedictions for them
rejects the multitude of beggars and suitors, and appoints one Mediator –
II. The title "mediator"
places in Scripture where it is ascribed to Christ(1
Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 8:6, 9:15, 12:24)
offices included in the word "mediator"
A medium of communication(Genesis 3:19,
Deuteronomy 5:5, John 1:17)
Bringing down to man the message of God; bringing up to God the appeals of man
III. The qualifications of Jesus as
by God (Hebrews 5:1, 4-6)
Aaronic priesthood type, symbol of the great high priesthood of Christ (Leviticus 10:1-2, Numbers 3:4; 16)
Must be both God and man
By deity able to touch God; by humanity able to understand and sympathize with
man(Hebrews 2:7, 9-11, 16-18, 4:14-16)
IV. The work of the Mediator
save us forever, keep us from falling(Romans
5:10, 8:33-34, 1 John 2:1-2, John 14:19, Revelation 1:18)
When saved, salvation continues, cleansing continues (Hebrews 7:24-25)
parts in remission of sins
An offering, a satisfactory expiation, propitiation
An intercession, based on the offering
Old Testament types and the antitypes in New Testament(Genesis 22:7-8)
Christ our Advocate, protector(Luke 22:31-32)