- Published: Wednesday, 09 November 2016 14:54
Dear Church Family,
Well, the elections are finally over, the results surprising most political pollsters and pundits. Whatever one’s personal political opinions on the election, I’d like to suggest a couple of things to read and reflect upon. In the Bible, Christians are described as aliens and strangers in this world (1 Peter 2:11; Hebrews 13:14), who – at the same time – have a vested interest in the welfare of the city in which they live (Jeremiah 29:7), praying for all those who are in authority so that we may lead tranquil and quite lives in all godliness and dignity (1 Timothy 2:1). So, as we seek to live in that tension, with the proper priorities before us, here are some articles with some food for thought.
First, writing before the election took place, David F. Watson reminds us to not be too elated if our candidate won, and not too despondent if our candidate lost: “Christians have one Lord, and he doesn’t need to run for office.”
Second, writing after the results of the election came in, Russel Moore reminds us that the church of Jesus Christ does not need the influence that comes from being a political bloc, but rather the power of the gospel is in the weakness of the preaching of the cross.
Third, and finally, I’d like to point you to something that I wrote four years ago on the eve of the last presidential election, that explains the three main responsibilities that we as Christians have to the civil magistrate, according to the Scripture: (1) pray for the magistrates; (2) pay tribute to the magistrates; (3) submit and obey the lawful commands of the civil magistrates.
WCF 8: Of Christ the Mediator
r continuing chapter by chapter study of the Westminster Confession of Faith as we consider the ground and source of our eternal hope, the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches us that “the only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, for ever” (WSC 21).
This was our lesson in the most recent adult Sunday school class on the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 8: “Of Christ the Mediator. This chapter summarizes what the Bible teaches about the second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God. Basically, there are three main topics that are addressed
1. The Person of Christ
First, we begin with the Person of Christ. This is a very important doctrine of the Christian faith. In fact, most of the controversies in the early church taken up by several ecumenical councils had to do with this doctrine. Indeed, confessing that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is one of the foundations of true faith (Matthew 16:17; 1 John 4:2-3).
The Bible speaks of Christ Jesus as the one and only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Before the incarnation (Jesus coming in the flesh), God raised up individual men for the offices of prophet, priest, and king. Christ fulfills these offices as the final and full revelation of God, the one who intercedes for us by laying down His life, and ruling over us as our supreme King (Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:17).
The mystery concerning how the Son of God took flesh to Himself, thus becoming one Person with two natures (a divine nature and a human nature) is referred to by theologians as the hypostatic union. It is a mystery beyond our comprehension – like two dimensional beings trying to comprehend and explain a three dimensional being. Yet, the Scriptures are clear that Jesus Christ is both fully God (Colossians 2:8-9) and fully man (Galatians 4:4).
Thus, He is the perfect (and only) Mediator who is able to reconcile us to God (Hebrews 12:24), and the guarantee of the promises of the new covenant (Hebrews 7:22).
2. The Work of Christ
We may describe the work which Christ did as our perfect Mediator, in at least two ways:
The humiliation and exaltation of Christ
First, we may speak of the work of Christ according to the historical timeline. Christ experienced humiliation in His being born, His earthly life, suffering, death, and burial. Christ is exalted in His resurrection, ascension, session (being seated at the right hand of God the Father), and His future return. The classic hymn of Christ in Philippians 2:5-11 summarizes this work of Christ in this way. The humiliation and exaltation of Christ is also summarized in the historic Apostles’ and Nicene creeds.
The active and passive obedience of Christ
The ‘active obedience’ of Christ refers to His perfectly keeping the whole law of God, actively fulfilling all righteousness (Matthew 5:17; Galatians 4:4-5). The ‘passive obedience’ of Christ refers to His receiving the punishment for sin that we deserve in His suffering and death (Mark 10:45; Colossians 2:13-14). Thus, John the Baptist spoke of Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). As the unblemished and spotless lamb (the sinless One), He offered Himself to God as the ‘once for all’ sacrifice for our sins (1 Peter 1:17-19; Hebrews 9:11-16).
3. The Application of Christ’s Work
In His active and passive obedience, Christ did not simply make salvation possible; He effectually applies and communicates redemption to His people (Titus 3:4-7). In other words, from beginning to end, salvation is all of Christ; He is the alpha and the omega (Revelation 1:8) – the author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2). As such, Christ makes intercession for His people as our Advocate before the Father (1 John 2:1-2), reveals the mysteries of salvation to us (Johns 15:13-15), anoints us with His Spirit, effectually persuading us to believe and obey (John 14:16; Romans 8:9, 14), and overcomes all of our enemies (1 Corinthians 15:25-26).
From the first days of the early church until today, there have been people (even those claiming to be Christians) who have denied these important truths about the Person and work of Christ. Today, some deny His humanity; even more deny Christ’s divinity, thinking of Jesus only as a prophet or a wise teacher.
In seeking to live lives that are pleasing to the Lord, it is good to ask the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” Yet, more importantly – and foundational to our faith and assurance – is the answer to the questions, “What Did Jesus Do?” The glorious good news and assurance of the Gospel is that all that is needed to be done to earn our salvation, has been accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ. Though man has sought out many ways to God, and though true believers may often struggle and wrestle with doubt, the great mystery of salvation has been revealed to us. It is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:25-27), the only Redeemer of God’s elect.
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch