Jesus is the One Meditator of that Truth!
The year was 1976, and I was ten years old, growing up just outside of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
The company where my Dad worked was a union shop, and a strike was called because of a disagreement between management and the union. The strike lasted for at least a year. No doubt the union workers were not 100% satisfied with the fact that non-union workers were allowed in the shop. But the mediators, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), had spoken, and that was it.
The fact that the Apostle Paul uses the word “Mediator” in our text assumes that there were two sides which are separated. And now that a Mediator was on the scene—the ONE Mediator, the ONLY One there is or even could be—would both sides be satisfied with His work, with His solution to the impasse?
In seeing the Lord’s solution we rejoice—for we are brought face to face once again with the astounding, astonishing, amazing grace and love
In the case of the 1976 strike, there was plenty of fault on both sides. Not so with the impasse between “God and men.” The reason for this separation was sin on the side of mankind. The truth of this situation is well documented in Scripture!
Initially the created world was just like its Creator—“good”—even “very good.” There was no taint, no imperfection anywhere to be found in what God had made. It wasn’t until the man and his wife disobeyed God that “sin entered the world” (Romans 5:12). Through their sinful act “death [came] by sin; and so death has spread to all men, for all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). And that “all men” means “all men.” “There is not one who does good; no, NOT ONE” (Psalm 14:3).
There is nothing intrinsic in man, no innate ability which could change things. The passage of time did not bring with it any changes for the better, either. Even after God washed the world clean with the Flood, the stubborn stain of sin remained. “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake,” the Lord said in His heart, “although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21).
God had said that one sin is all that it would take—“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). God and mankind were at an impasse of epic proportions—all due to man’s rebellion! On the one hand is God in His holiness demanding perfection, and on the other hand is mankind with his utter lack of perfection.
Is there a solution to this impossible situation? Yes! “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
Both sides in the 1976 strike came to the conclusion that mediation was needed. Both admitted that finding a solution to their impasse was beyond their ability. Both needed outside help to come up with a solution.
Such an admission of need for help or lack of ability to solve the impasse between God and sinful mankind would never be forthcoming—not from sinful mankind. Only when a person has been brought to faith is he able to see how utterly lost he is in his sin. Only when the Holy Spirit has enlightened man with the gospel is he able to see both how black is the darkness of unbelief in which we were born, and at the same time the incredible glory of God’s gracious plan of salvation!
History is full of examples of sinful man’s efforts to deal with sin, from “sweating sin out” in the steam lodges of the Nez Perce of Idaho, to the extreme of human sacrifice such as was practiced in Old Testament Bible times, when heathens “caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech” (see 2 Chronicles 33:6). The sadly mistaken idea behind such actions is that if I but sacrifice something of importance, then “god” will certainly be pleased with me.
“It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). There is no solution to sin if things are left in the hands of sinful humans! The one and only Solution to the impasse of sin is Jesus Christ, as the theme passage of our Convention states: “God our Savior desires all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
God knew that if anything was to be done to take care of sin, He would have to do it! Sin and its guilt could not just be swept under the rug. God could not just look the other way. So God “gave His only begotten Son,” (John 3:16)—the Son who as Paul says here in 1 Timothy “gave Himself a ransom for all.” “[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). It is in Christ that the price for sin has been paid!
As the Son of Man, Jesus came to Earth as our brother. The life the Son of God lived was holy, and as a result the Passion He endured was substitutionary, as Isaiah put it so well, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; …and by His stripes we are healed….The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4ff). Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Jesus is the SOLUTION! Jesus stands in the middle! He is “the one Mediator between God and men.”
Was the NLRB’s work as mediator satisfactory? Well, my Dad finally did get to go back to work, but not everyone did. The NLRB solution was far from perfect.
How about Jesus? Was the redemptive work He did to solve the impasse of sin satisfactory? Is He qualified to be the “one Mediator between God and men”?
Satan would have us doubt the sufficiency of God’s solution. He would have us wonder if there is not something that must be added to what Christ has done, some works or deeds on our part to supplement or even replace the salvation work of Jesus.
How wonderful to have the testimony of the true, faithful, reliable God in His Word!
That Word teaches that there is nothing that we need to add to what Jesus has already done: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
How many people on Earth did God not only desire to save (“ALL men”) but also for whom did He give Himself a ransom (“for ALL”)? That “death He died”—who was it for? “He died to sin once for ALL” (Romans 6:10).
Jesus is the satisfactory Mediator because He was the satisfactory sacrifice! “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [satisfactory sacrifice] for our sins…and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2, 4:10).
(Note: The second Convention essay “We are appointed to proclaim that truth!” will appear in abbreviated form next month.)