Excerpted from "Holding Fast Our Confession"
(See Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 8, paras 6-8)
(See Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 8, paras 6-8)
The redemption promised to the Old Testament believers came to pass through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among His people. He is the One who lived the perfect life by keeping God’s Law for His elect people. He is the One who laid down His life to pay for the sins of His elect people. All who trust in Him alone for salvation are His elect people. Therefore, whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. And at the heart of the Gospel message is the requirement for people to believe in Him.
But what about His people in the Old Testament? What about those who lived before the incarnation of the Word? What about those who lived before the 2nd Person in the Trinity took to Himself human flesh? How were the Old Testament saints saved? Well, the Old Testament saints were saved the same way the New Testament saints, i.e., you and I are saved. We all are saved – whether Old or New Testament – by Christ’s perfect life and atoning death.
This is the grace of God toward us. Which is to say that the God-man Jesus Christ kept the Covenant of Works perfectly, and also paid the price owed for the breaking of it. This is what we mean when we say that we believe in Him. We believe that He is the perfect Man who kept God’s covenant Law perfectly. And we believe that He paid the price we owe for not keeping God’s Law perfectly. And we believe that everything Jesus did was as our substitute or representative. Which is to say that we believe that He stood in for us. He represented us, and continues forevermore, to represent us, before God.
We believe, therefore, that God has accepted the perfect work of His Son. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is testimony enough that God’s justice has been fully satisfied by the life and death of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament saints were saved through believing that the Promised One was coming to satisfy God’s justice. And the New Testament saints, (including you and me) are saved through believing that the Promised One has come and has satisfied God’s justice.
Therefore, Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all the saints of God whether Old or New Testament. He is the Saviour of all who believe.
The Person of the God-man
If you were asked what you think is the most valuable thing in the world, how would you answer? Would you say your spouse? Or your children? Or your family? We would answer that question about the most valuable thing in the world by stating what was most valuable to us personally. Maybe it’s your car, or your house, or your combine-harvester!
But what is it that gives a thing value in the first place? Is it your love for it? Or is it your need of it? Or perhaps both? Well, surely you can see that Jesus Christ is the most valuable thing in the world? For isn’t He what the world needs and is He not what we love most? But, someone might say that Jesus Christ is not in the world. And if He is not in the world how can He be the most valuable thing in the world? But of course He’s in the world! He’s been in the world from the very beginning!
Genesis 3:8, “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” So, if the LORD God was walking in the Garden of Eden way back in the beginning, then Christ has been in the world from the beginning!
We need to be careful here, don’t we? We’re not saying that Christ in human flesh was in the Garden. But we are saying that the One who took to Himself human flesh and became Jesus at His incarnation was in the Garden. So, we’re saying that the One who, in the fullness of the time, became Jesus was in the world at a time prior to becoming Jesus. He was in the world at a previous time because He is God, and as God, He is not bound by time as we are.
But the point I make, is that when the Word became flesh, i.e., when Jesus was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary, He didn’t become another person, or a different person. He remained the same Person He always was, always is, and always will be. His incarnation didn’t change the fact that He is God the Son, the 2nd Person in the Trinity. The God-man Jesus Christ has two distinct natures – the Divine and the human. But His divine nature is not changed or altered by His human nature. Nor is His human nature changed or altered in any way by His divine nature. As the Scripture says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” Hebrews 13:8. Therefore, if we are going to talk about the most valuable thing in the world, we need to talk about Jesus Christ, don’t we?
Jesus Christ is God in the world. He is our Immanuel, which means, God with us. Therefore, because His human nature is united to His divine nature, He is the most valuable thing in the world. How so? Well, God is infinite in being and perfection. And if Christ is infinite in His being and perfection He must give infinite worth to His humanity. And if He gives infinite worth to His humanity, He also must give infinite worth to the perfect deeds done in His human body.
Are you still with me? Think about it this way: Jesus Christ has saved us from our sins. What do our sins deserve? According to Scripture, we deserve to suffer the wrath of God forever in Hell for our sins. Hell is the place of everlasting torment. Jesus speaks about Hell being the place of “…fire that shall never be quenched— ‘where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched’” Mark 9:43&44. He says in Matthew 25:46, “These [i.e., the wicked] shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
So the question then is this? If it’s everlasting punishment we deserve for our sins, how could Christ pay that debt of everlasting punishment we owe to God? The answer is that He, on account of being Divine, is of infinite value. Therefore any work that He does, has done, or will do, is of infinite value. If He were not a Divine Person His life and death would not be of infinite worth. And if His life and death are not of infinite worth, then how can He pay the penalty of everlasting punishment?
Everlasting is a long time, isn’t it? In fact everlasting is forever and ever! Well, that’s what Christ has paid for a numberless multitude! All of humanity is deserving of everlasting death, i.e., conscious torment in the fires of Hell forever. But Jesus Christ, on account of His Person, has paid that price in full! His perfect life and atoning death is infinitely more than enough to pay for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” His work of redemption is enough to cover all the sins of everyone in the world who will believe in Him for salvation. Therefore, the work of the Mediator is enough to cover the sins of those believers who were in the world before His incarnation.
The value, effect and benefit of this redemption have been communicated to God’s chosen people since the beginning of the world. The Old Testament people saw the Seed of the Woman who would crush the Serpent’s head in the promises, types, and animal sacrifices. Immediately after man sinned in the Garden God promised that in time the Seed of the Woman would crush the Serpent’s head. The Old Testament people saw a type of this, e.g., in Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and also king David; all crushed their enemies. The victories these men accomplished under God were typical of – or were pictures of – the ultimate victory of Christ over the Devil.
Circumcision and Passover were, of course, types of Christ and what He was coming to do. And with the Old Testament sacrifices they revealed that the Promised One was going to take away their sins. John says in Revelation 13:8b that Jesus Christ is “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Therefore, it is on account of His Divinity He has been in the world since it’s beginning. And He has been successfully communicating to His elect in all ages progressively, what He was going to do, and now what He has done.
He was and is able to do this because of who He is as a Person. Jesus Christ is the God-man. Which is to say that He is One Divine Person with two distinct natures forever.
The Perseverance of the God-man
The God-man will persevere forever with and for His people because he is One Divine Person with two distinct natures forever. And He will persevere by interceding for them forever. And He will continue with them by revealing to them the revealed truths of salvation in and by the Word. And He will persist in effectively persuading them to believe and obey by His Spirit and His Word. And He will carry on ruling in their hearts by His Word and Spirit. And He will persevere in defeating all His people’s enemies by His almighty power and His wisdom. And He will do so in such manner and ways as are most agreeable to His wonderful and unsearchable administration of all things. So, in a word, the God-man will persevere with us and for us!
He intercedes for us before God on the strength and value of the perfect life He lived, and His infinite sacrifice at Calvary. Mark 10:45, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” 1 Timothy 2:5&6, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave His life a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
So, His life of infinite worth was given to ransom us, to redeem us, to buy us back from Hell. He kept the Covenant of Works perfectly for all who believe in Him and His works. And His infinite sacrifice, i.e., the sacrifice of Himself, was to fully satisfy God’s Divine justice for us. Therefore all the sins of all the saints, past, present, and future have been paid for in full. For, “…while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8b.
This perfect life and infinite sacrifice is communicated to all who will believe. The God-man makes absolutely, positively certain that they will hear and believe. Therefore He effectively applies and communicates to them the redemption He has purchased for them. Jesus says in John 10:14-16 says, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” So, His sheep hear His voice. His voice is heard when the Word and the Spirit work together in the elect person.
He brings His flock into the fold through the proclamation of His Gospel. His Gospel is preached, and will be preached, every Sunday in every faithful congregation until He comes again. Where a person keeps on repenting and keeps on believing in the Gospel, there is the God-man applying and communicating to that person His purchased redemption. For the Spirit works with the Word effectively persuading that person to believe and obey the Gospel.
And Jesus says in John 6:37-39, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.”
So, the God-man is going to persevere with all the Father has given Him and raise us up at the last day. And He will continue to rule in our hearts until that last day, and then forevermore. He rules in our hearts by His Spirit and His Word. As even the Old Testament psalmist says, “Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” Psalm 119:11. And the following is written in Psalm 110:1&2, “‘The LORD said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’ The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!”
So, the God-man rules in our hearts by His Word and His Spirit. And His enemies are being made His footstool – even now! The Apostle Paul speaking of Christ says, “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet” 1 Corinthians 15:25. (This, of course, is not suggesting that His reign will come to an end when all enemies are put under His feet. For that would mean that His enemies will – albeit inadvertently – conquer Him!)
So we see then that He will persevere till all enemies are under His feet. And since all Christ’s enemies are our enemies we are more than conquerors in Him! And since it is God who is making His enemies into His footstool His kingdom cannot fail! For God is almighty in power and in wisdom. And Jesus Christ is the incarnate omnipotent and all-wise God. In this we see that the God-man does His work of Mediator according to both His natures.
In fact, because of the unity of His Person, Scripture Itself sometimes attributes what is proper to one nature to the person named according to the other nature. Luke records the Apostle Paul saying to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” And John 3:13, where Jesus says, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”
One perhaps wouldn’t ordinarily speak of God shedding His blood because God is Spirit and therefore has no blood to shed. And neither perhaps would one ordinarily speak of the Son of Man as having come down from heaven, since the name “Son of Man” suggests a human person, i.e., a man. But we may and do say these things because Jesus Christ is the God-man. Which is to say, that because He is One Divine Person with two distinct natures, anything that pertains to either nature is rightfully ascribed to His Person. Did God shed His own blood? Some prefer to translate that verse to say that God shed the blood of His own: “His own”, as in His own Son. But regardless, any blood that was shed was shed only by the Person who is Jesus Christ. Which is to say that the God-man shed His blood.
We need to be very careful, therefore, not to be guilty of transferring or ascribing His Divine attributes to His humanity, or His human attributes to His Divinity. To be sure, Christ’s Divinity gives infinite value to His humanity. But this is not going a millimetre towards alleging that His humanity has any attributes that belong to His divinity.
An example of this error would be the very popular teaching that the resurrected Jesus is able to walk through solid doors. In John 20:19 we are told only that when the disciples were in a room and when the doors were shut Jesus came and stood in the midst. Is this verse teaching that Jesus de-materialized in one place and re-materialized at will in another, like Mr Spock in Star Trek? I put it to you that you are confusing the two natures of Christ if you think this. You are mixing His Divinity with His humanity. Therefore be very careful not to go beyond what the Scripture is actually stating. How Jesus came to be in that locked room is not stated. But I would think long and hard about the fact that Jesus is One Divine Person with two distinct natures, human and Divine forever, before I would draw any conclusions!
But alas! Rome with their doctrine of Transubstantiation teaches that Jesus Christ can be in more than one place bodily at their Mass. And, arguably, so do the Lutherans with their doctrine of Consubstantiation. Both these doctrines, if you don’t know, have to do with the physical i.e., the bodily presence of Christ at the Lord’s Supper, i.e., the ubiquity of Christ’s humanity. But we believe that Jesus Christ after His bodily resurrection was raised bodily into Heaven where He remains bodily till He returns bodily after all His enemies have been made His footstool. Therefore the God-man is in Heaven bodily right now, and He is interceding on our behalf. For as John says in 1 John 2:1, “…we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
What does an advocate do? He pleads the cause of others. Therefore Jesus Christ is in Heaven pleading the cause of His elect seed before His Father. And He is doing this as our Representative. He is advocating for us on the strength or value of the perfect human life He lived, and His atoning human death. But if He is presently no longer one of us, (i.e., if His Adamic nature has changed and is no longer Adamic) He would be doing a poor job of representing us human beings! An angel might as well represent us! But Scripture says that Jesus remains like us in every way apart from sin.
Hebrews 4:14&15, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has Passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” So, we see then that our High Priest sympathizes with us because He is, and remains as, one of us even in Heaven. As Hebrews 2:14 testifies, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same…”
I put it to you, that if Christ’s human nature has taken on attributes belonging to His divinity then He no longer is fully and truly Man; and therefore cannot be called the second Man or last Adam. And if He is no longer fully and truly Man, then we don’t have a true man, i.e., a true representative interceding for us in Heaven! If we don’t have a true man in Heaven interceding for us, then we are doomed to perish (as He must have done – if indeed He no longer has a human nature!) But the work of Christ in His role as our Mediator is not over and never will be! Yes, His High Priestly work of offering up Himself as the sacrificial Lamb on the cross is finished (John 19:30). But His High Priestly work as our intercessor is not finished and never can be finished. For a priest, as you know, was one who was appointed and anointed by God to offer up sacrifices to God for the sins of his people AND also to intercede for them.
His work as intercessor will never end, because that is what the Scriptures say! Hebrews 7:24&25, “But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” How much plainer could it be? He, i.e., the God-man Jesus Christ, continues forever. But if either of His two natures changes, even for a moment, He no longer continues as the same Godman for that moment. But we are told here that He continues forever in His role as Mediator between God and men. For He saves to the uttermost, i.e., He saves forever, those who come to God through Him. How is it possible for Him to save to the uttermost, even forever? Well, it’s because He always lives to make intercession for them. Which is to say that His role as Mediator is forevermore!
Therefore He will be making intercession for us as the God-man forever. This is good news to all saints in all ages!
Who is the God-man? He is Jesus Christ, who is one Divine Person with two distinct natures, which natures will never be changed, combined, or confused. Hebrews 10:12&13, “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.”
Notice that these verses are saying that this Man sat down at the right hand of God. And notice what this Man is waiting for, and for how long He will be sitting there. He is waiting till such time as His enemies are made His footstool. Therefore He is going to persevere for as long as it takes to make His enemies His footstool. And once His enemies have been subdued they will remain subdued as His footstool forever.
He is the Promised Seed of the Woman who has crushed the Serpent’s head. He crushed the Serpent’s head by becoming the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world who was slain in the fullness of the time. Therefore He conquered His enemies in principle at Calvary’s cross. Now He is waiting till God has fully put that principle into practice.
If Christ crushed the Serpent’s head in principle as the God-man, then as the God-man He will persevere till He has overcome all His enemies in practice. It is a Man who is sitting on the throne till God makes His enemies His footstool. Therefore His human nature must remain united to His Divine nature. Otherwise, we who were once His enemies, but have now been conquered, (i.e., converted by His grace), have no Mediator, no High Priest, no Advocate interceding for us in heaven! For if either of Christ’s two natures changes, or become combined, or confused at anytime with the other (e.g., in order to pass through a solid door!), then that’s the time we are without a proper Mediator! But let’s be thankful that the perseverance of the God-man is forever, because the Person of the God-man is forever.
Therefore we will never be without our Mediator – not even for a moment.
Taken from my e-book "Holding Fast Our Confession" http://web.mac.com/macfhionn/More_Snow_on_the_Ben/Holding_Fast_Our_Confession.html
Taken from my e-book "Holding Fast Our Confession" http://web.mac.com/macfhionn/More_Snow_on_the_Ben/Holding_Fast_Our_Confession.html