Our Only Mediator & Redeemer

Catechetical sermons preached in PCC Evening Worship Services, Feb 2013 to Dec 2017

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For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

1 Timothy 2:5-6

WSC 21. Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect? 

A. The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ,1 who, being the eternal Son of God, became man,2 and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever.3

11 Tim 2:5–6; 2Jn 1:14; Gal 4:4; 3Rom 9:5; Lk 1:35; Col 2:9; Heb 7:24–25. 

Our previous message in this series, based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, introduced us to the concept of a redeemer. The Hebrew word for redeemer is goel. A goel is a kinsman who will redeem you out of bondage or debt. A goel will also avenge you if you happen to be murdered by someone. 

Job needed a redeemer. He was accused of hypocrisy not only by the devil but also by his own friends. They assassinated his character. He was not as wicked as they portrayed him to be. He needed a redeemer to vindicate him. 

But at the same time, before God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, he was a sinner deserving God’s wrath and curse. So his redeemer would also need to represent him before God to pay his debts. 

We saw that the only one who could fulfil these roles as Job’s redeemer was the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. We also saw that Job’s redeemer is likewise the Redeemer of God’s elect. 

This leads us to our next catechism question: 

WSC 21. Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect? 

A. 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, forever.

Let’s consider how this statement is solidly founded upon the Scriptures.

We’ll take 1 Timothy 2:5-6 as our primary text: 

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

From these two verses, we may derive four propositions: 

  1. There is only one mediator between God and man 
  2. Our mediator is fully God. 
  3. Our mediator is fully man. 
  4. Our mediator is the redeemer of God’s elect. 

1. Christ Jesus Is the only Mediator Between God & Man 

This is precisely what the apostle Paul says under inspiration: 

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (v. 5). 

What is a mediator? A mediator stands between two parties at odds with one another to try to reconcile them. 

A mediator between God and men seeks to reconcile God and men. 

But why is there a need for a mediator between God and men? Well, there is a need because man has fallen into sin. When Adam, our first father, fell into sin, we were not only imputed with Adam’s guilt but also inherited his sin nature. We became enemies of God, and children of God’s wrath.  

And because we were dead in sin and trespasses, we were haters of God by nature.  

We were children of God’s wrath, and we hated God. There is no way we could have any fellowship with God. But God has from all eternity elected some to everlasting life. God would have an elect people to enjoy Him and glorify Him. 

How is this possible? This is possible only if there is a mediator. Thank God that He has appointed a Mediator. 

Who is this mediator between God and men? He is Christ Jesus. Elsewhere He is known as Jesus Christ or the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Remember that “Jesus Christ” is not His first and last name. His name is Jesus. Christ is His Office. Just like when we say: “Prophet Jeremiah,” “prophet” is his office. Likewise, when we say “Pastor Timothy,” “pastor” is his office. 

What is the office of Christ? The word “Christ” is the English transliteration of the Greek Christos. Christos means “Anointed One.” This is what the Hebrew “Messiah” means. So Christ means Messiah. Since the fall of Adam and the first proclamation of the gospel in Genesis 3:15, God’s people have been waiting for the Messiah, the Anointed One. He is the Seed of the Woman. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of His people. He is the Hope of Israel, the Desire of All Nations.  

Christ Jesus is that Anointed One. Old Testament prophets, priests and kings were all anointed with oil because they were all His representatives and types of Him. Oil was a symbol of the Holy Spirit. They were anointed with oil because Messiah, whom they represented, would be anointed with the Holy Spirit. He himself declared: 

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 

Lk 4:18-19

What about His name, “Jesus”? What is the meaning of “Jesus”? “Jesus” is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means “Jehovah Saves.” When the Lord Jesus was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary, the angel of the Lord said to Joseph, her husband-to-be: 

Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Mt 1:20-21

Christ Jesus is Jehovah, who has come to save His people. He is the Anointed One. He is the Emmanuel. 

He is the only mediator between God and men, says Paul.  

What essential facts do we know about the Lord Jesus Christ that qualifies Him to be the mediator between God and man? 

Well, we may infer from our text and other passages that he is fully God and man. 

So consider our second proposition that Christ Jesus is fully God. 

2. Christ Jesus Is Fully God 

Now, this is admittedly not so clear in our text. We understand that He must be God because the distance between God and man is too great for a mere man to mediate.  

You say, but Moses was a mediator, wasn’t he? Well, search for the term “mediator,” and you will quickly realise that Moses was never called a mediator in the Scriptures. Moses was a type of Christ, and he did mediate between God and His people on some occasions. But he was not truly a mediator! If he were truly a mediator, then Paul would be wrong to say that there is only “one mediator” between God and man (v. 5). 

Another clue that Christ is God comes from the context, where God is referred to as “God our saviour” in verse 3. How does God save? Through Jesus! His name means “Jehovah Saves.” Thus in his letter to Titus, Paul refers to Jesus Christ as our Great God and Saviour (Ti 2:13). God is our Saviour because Jesus saves, and Jesus is God! 

Now, this truth is reflected in many other places in Scripture. Let’s look at a few of these passages. 

  • Isaiah 9:6—“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” 
  • John 1:1—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  
  • John 5:17-18—“But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”  
  • Romans 9:5—“Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” 
  • Philippians 2:6—“[Christ], being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God….” 
  • Colossians 2:9—“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” 
  • 1 Timothy 3:16—“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”  
  • Hebrews 1:2-3—“[God] hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” 
  • Hebrews 1:8—“But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.”  
  • 1 John 5:20—“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”  

Can you see how the evidence is simply overwhelming? The deity of Christ is indisputable without denying Scripture. If you believe the Word of God, you must believe that Jesus is God. He is fully God. It is no wonder that modern cult groups that deny the deity of Christ will either have to have their own peculiar translation or add some other holy books to the Bible to contradict and muddy the teachings of the Scriptures. 

Think of Jehovah’s Witnesses with their New World Translation and Watchtower Magazine. Think of the Mormons with their Book of Mormons. Think of the so-called Christian Science people and the book by Mary Baker Eddy entitled Science and Health (1875). 

But it may be asked: how can Christ be God when there is only one living and true God? Well, He can be God because there are three persons in the Godhead, same in substance, equal in power and glory. Christ Jesus is the eternally begotten Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. He is the same in substance, equal in power and glory with the Father and with the Holy Spirit. He is fully God. 

But Jesus is also fully man. And here’s our third proposition.  

3. Christ Jesus Is Fully Man 

Once again, Paul says: 

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (v. 5). 

The words translated “man” and “men” here are the Greek “ἄνθρωπος” (anthrōpos) from which we get anthropology: the study of human beings. 

Christ Jesus is fully human.  

Now, it may seem somewhat redundant to speak of the humanity of Christ since few people today dispute that. We can see from the gospels that Christ is fully human. He was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary, who gave birth to him in the fullness of time. He grew in grace, wisdom and stature. He thirsted and hungered. He needed to eat and drink. He grew tired. He needed to sleep. He felt human emotions. He was tempted at all points, like as we are. He groaned; He wept; He bled; He died. These all prove that He is human. 

Some people today would vehemently deny Christ’s deity, but His humanity is not in question. 

However, we must remember that in the days of the apostles, it was generally only the Jews that questioned the deity of Jesus. The Gentile believers, on the other hand, tended to question the humanity of Christ. Indeed the first Christological error that had to be dealt with by the apostles concerned the humanity of Christ. 

Consider, for example, the words of the apostle John in 1 John 4:2: 

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist.

But why is it important that Jesus be fully man? Well, he has to be a man to mediate between God and Men! He must be fully God to represent God to man, and He must be fully man and a member of the human race to represent men to God.  

Thus, the apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians 2 that Christ, the eternal son of God, took on human flesh to be a man. Philippians 2:6-8: 

6 [Christ], being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Likewise, after proving that Jesus is God by quoting from the Old Testament, the apostle to the Hebrews points out that he is also a man. Turn to Hebrews 2: 

9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10 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.… 

14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death… 

16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved 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.

 The apostle returns to the subject in chapter 4 to remind us that Christ Jesus is a faithful high priest who was touched with the feelings of our infirmity and tempted at all points, like as we are (Heb 4:14-16). A priest represents man to God, so He must be human. 

So, to continue to make intercession for us as our priestly mediator, he must remain human forever. Thus Hebrews 7:24-25: 

24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.  25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Can you see how the Lord Jesus Christ, our mediator, must be fully God and fully man? Can you see how the doctrine taught in our catechism is fully supported by the Scriptures? 

Our catechism, Q. 21, reads: 

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, forever.

Now, we have been speaking of Christ as our mediator because that is the office mentioned in our text. But our catechism speaks of Christ as our Redeemer. Does our text teach that our mediator is our Redeemer?  

Well, yes! And this is our fourth proposition. 

4. Christ Jesus Is the Redeemer of God’s Elect 

Paul says: 

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

What is the meaning of the word “ransom”? Well, a “ransom” is the price paid by a redeemer to redeem someone or something. When Boaz paid the money to redeem the field that belonged to Naomi for Ruth, the money was the ransom.  

Our text tells us that Christ gave himself as a ransom. But why? Well, man is at enmity with God because we have sinned against God. We owe God an outstanding debt. Paul says, “The wages of sin is death,” that is to say, we owe the punishment of death for our sin against God. A physical, spiritual and eternal death sentence is over our heads.  

For us to be reconciled to God, we need a redeemer. Or, to put it in another way, our mediator must also be our redeemer. 

Paul tells us that Christ “gave himself a ransom for all.” It is evident that by “all,” Paul does not mean everyone in the world, for if Christ paid the ransom for everyone in the world, then everyone in the world would be saved. 

It is clear that when Paul speaks about the Lord being a ransom for all, he is not speaking about “all without exception,” but rather “all without distinction.” As Calvin reminds us, “the universal term all [in this context] must always be referred to classes: of men.” Christ gave himself as a ransom not only for the Jews, but for the Gentiles; not only for princes but for commoners. 

Christ, therefore, laid down His life to be a ransom for all His elect in the world. They may be Jews or Gentile, great or small, rich or poor, young or old, male or female. Christ Jesus is a ransom for all whom the Father has given unto Him. 

Christ Jesus laid His life down for us all that our sin may be paid for. By taking the punishment due to our sin upon Himself, He turns away God’s wrath from us. That is to say: He laid down His life for all of us so that God might justly forgive us of our sin against Him. As Paul puts it in Galatians 3:13: 

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree. 

Gal 3:13

Christ Jesus did so as one person, even the God-Man. He did not die merely as man, or He could not have sustained the infinite wrath of God against us. Nor was his death only an illusion, as the Docetists in the days of John would have us believe. No, no, he died as the God-Man. As man, because only the blood of man can pay for the penalty of man. As God, for God alone can forgive us our debt by suffering the loss. 

Think of it this way. If you owe someone a billion dollars, and he says he forgives you, what does he mean? He means you don’t have to pay him back, doesn’t he? So what happened to the money? The money is lost. Who suffers the loss? Not you! You do not pay. It is the man who forgives you the debt who suffers the loss. You see, if someone forgives you a debt you owe, he is actually suffering the loss. What if he requires you to raise the money to pay him back? Then he has not really forgiven you. What if he looks for a third party and asks him to pay for your debt on your behalf? Well, again, he has not really forgiven you, your debt. He found someone to show charity to you, but he has not forgiven your debt. 

So it is with God. If God would forgive us and reconcile us to Himself, He must clear the debt Himself by suffering the loss Himself. But our debt against God can only be paid by suffering and death, for the wages of sin is death. So, to cancel our debt, God must take the wages of our sin upon Himself. He cannot require a third party to pay for our debt, for otherwise, He would not be forgiving us, and in fact, He would have shown injustice toward the third party by punishing him for our sin. God must pay the debt Himself. He must suffer the loss Himself. 

Yes, God cannot suffer nor die. But the God-Man can. It is as the God-Man that Christ redeems us. This is why Paul told the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28: 

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 

Acts 20:28

The blood of Christ is the blood of God, for the person Jesus Christ is the God-Man. 

We will see more of this doctrine in our subsequent studies. But for now, it is clear isn’t it 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 continues to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever. 


What shall we say to these things? 

We have summarised a crucial doctrine. It is also so central to the Christian faith that I am afraid many in Christendom take it for granted that they know it, and yet they don’t. May I urge you to know it well? 

Some think that Jesus is a good man or a great prophet on par with, or just a little better than, the founders of other religions. Are you one of them? 

Some think that Jesus emptied himself of all but love, and so he was but a perfect man upon the earth. Are you one of them? 

Some think that after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, He ceased to be a man. Are you one of them? 

Some think that when Jesus died on the cross, He endured it only as a man because God forsook Him. Are you one of them? 

Some think that Jesus did not really die and His death was only an illusion. Are you one of them? 

But now, apart from correcting your thinking, I want to leave you with a few applications for your heart. 

First, I would address you who are believers. I would like you to consider the implication of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is your only redeemer.  

What does that mean to you? Are you living in frustration and exasperation that things are not so well for you? You struggle with sin. You struggle with relationships. You struggle with your job. You feel lousy. You feel that you are not good enough in the eyes of the world and the eyes of God. You feel frustrated.  

Oh, will you not turn to Christ and know that were it possible for you to be perfect, you need not a redeemer? Will you not find grace in Him to persevere on, looking unto Him who is the author and finisher of your faith to strengthen you? Will you not find comfort in the fact that He was tempted in all points, like as you are and yet without sin? He understands your struggles and pains. He cares for you. 

Secondly, I would address you who are still walking in unbelief. I hope you can see that Christianity is not founded upon a myth, as some put it. It is founded on solid theology that is taught throughout the Scriptures. These books are written by forty authors over several thousand years, yet they consistently point to Christ as the redeemer. You need a redeemer, or you will perish in your sin. Oh, will you not turn your eyes to Him and pray: “Lord be merciful to me, a sinner!” 

But thirdly, I would address you, covenant children. You have been taught the catechism from a young age. The words of the catechism are familiar to you. But do you understand what it teaches? It is my prayer that you will take time to think and to ask.  

Ask yourself: Why do I need a redeemer? Why must He be God? Why must He be a man? Why must He be the God-Man? Then ask yourself: Do I think about Him often? If not, why? Is He the most important person in my life? If not, why? Do I fellowship with Him? If not, why? Do all my prayers mention Him, not only at the end? If not, why? 

Beloved brethren and children, Christ Jesus, our Redeemer, ought to be the most important person in our lives. If you understand who He is to you, you will never again name another person to be the most important friend and influence to you. Amen.  

—JJ Lim