The Mediatory and Covenantal Offices of Christ:

An Evaluation and Acceptance of the Doctrine

as expressed by the Reformation in General and John Gill in Particular.

 


Part One: Christ’s Qualifications as Mediator

 

Christ’s Covenant Mediatorship

The New Testament, especially the Epistle to the Hebrews, describes Christ as Mediator. This office is allied to Christ’s further office, that of Covenant Head. He is described as the Mediator of the new and better covenant (Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). Christ alone bears this office as “there is one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). Many say that Moses, too, was a Mediator. His office, however, was that of God’s spokesman. Christ does not merely hold the office of a spokesman-messenger, revealing the Father’s mind, but he is a true Mediator in that He reconciles sinners to God on behalf of both God and man. He is the Ideal Mediator of reconciliation between two parties because He is of the two parties.


The Mediator of reconciliation

Christ, therefore, stands between and yet for both parties, that of God who initiates the mediation and man who needs it. Christ’s office entails being a Mediator by His proposing to His Father that he make satisfaction for the offence committed and appease injured justice. Christ proposed this in Eternity as a covenant of mercy, which was acceptable to the Godhead. Christ is thus the Mediator of the Covenant of Grace.

Man was created in friendship with God but fell to temptation and was alienated from God by his own sin. Christ’s task is to mend what was broken. As Col. 1:21 says, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.” Now Christ’s loved-ones share a greater friendship with God than Adam experienced before the Fall. Furthermore, Christ is a Mediator who is continually needed. Unfallen Adam needed no Mediator as he lived in natural harmony with God but fallen man can now only live in harmony with God by the mediatory merits of Christ. Man lost his integrity at the Fall. His present integrity as a child of God is solely found in His union with Christ who has mediated a better covenant for him. The atonement was a once and for all action on the cross announcing the fulfilling of time. The propitiation which ensued from it is for ever maintained for us by our eternal Redeemer who will never leave us, nor forsake us. We share Christ’s unity with the Father through our unity with the Son.

This necessary reconciliation does not contradict the everlasting love of God for His elect. Reconciliation is from everlasting. As David loved rebellious Absalom, so God loves His elect, though they rebelled, but God provided a way for His elect to return to Him. God does not change from a hating Deity to a loving Deity in his attitude to His elect but always loves His own, Christ ever covenants in the Spirit with the Father to save His elect Bride.


The Mediator of intercession and advocacy

Christ thus continually keeps His flock from falling, preserving them before the face of the Father by interceding for them and representing them as their advocate. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation of our sins,” 1 John 2:1,2. Just as sinners are reconciled through Christ’s atoning death, they are preserved through His interceding life. Christ is the medium of access to God and none can draw nigh to God but through Christ’s advocacy. He is the new and living New Covenant way of which He is Mediator. We are accepted in God because we are accepted in the Beloved. Christ is not only the medium of the saints’ happiness and communion on earth but also in Heaven, for all eternity.


The fitness of Christ for His work and office

Christ is the perfect Mediator because He is perfect Man and perfect God. Thus He is perfectly suited to be both the human and Divine agents in salvation. The modern deadening emphasis on God’s provisions being activated by each man using his own duty-bound agency, shows ignorance of Christ’s mediatory work.


The Mediator must be truly man

The Son of God is thus the only human agency in salvation, mediating for us to save us from the mess our human agency has caused. Gill says this human Mediator must be:

a. Our Goel who has a just right to redeem us according to the law, in our room and stead, (Lev. 25: 48, 49).

b. Our Goel kinsman must be of the same nature as the ones to be redeemed.

c. A divine person would not be subject to the law but a human person must show that He is able to obey the law that his fellow-men have broken. So Christ was born under the law, not above it. Those who teach that Christ stands above His own law, rather than uses the law to reflect His own nature err. Not wanting a Saviour who humbled Himself so much, putting Himself under the law for our sakes, they preach that Christ was above the law and gained our freedom by virtue of this high position. Indeed, they deny that Christ was punished on our behalf and that He paid the penalty of sin vicariously. In this, they follow Fuller who taught:

‘The sufferings of Christ in our stead, therefore, are not a punishment inflicted in the ordinary course of distributive justice, but an extraordinary interposition of infinite wisdom and love; not contrary to, but rather above the law, deviating from the letter, but more than preserving the spirit of it. Such brethren, as well as I am able to explain them, are my views of the substitution of Christ1.’

According to Gill, following the Bible, if Christ did not stand where we stood and fulfilled the law in its entirety and to the letter on our behalf, exactly where we failed, then He could not be our Mediator. He would not have fulfilled the claims of the law on human beings which was the purpose of His vicarious life. Nor could He have taken on the penalty of the broken law which was the purpose of His vicarious death. The fact that Christ was made of a woman and made under the law (Galatians 4:4), fitted Him out to be our Mediator. It was by His obedience that many are made righteous (Romans 5:19). Thus, Christ showed Himself to be fit for the office of Mediator in taking upon Himself the sufferings of death which were necessary to obtain atoning reconciliation. A sacrifice for sin was necessary and Christ gave Himself to His Bride as that perfect sacrifice. The Captain of our salvation was demonstrated as perfect through His sufferings which were acceptable by imputation to reconcile the elect to their God because ‘In that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.’2 Hereby, Christ demonstrated His fellow-feeling for man and His sympathy with them in all their temptations and afflictions. He also showed His will to relieve them from their troubles by offering Himself as the only sacrifice possible and acceptable to present them, with Himself, spotless before God.


The Mediator must be truly God

a. The Mediator must be on equal terms with God to plan salvation with Him and enter into covenant with Him.  

b. If the Mediator were mere man, His virtue, obedience and righteousness would not have sufficed to justify men nor his sufferings and death a proper sacrifice and atonement for sin. Modern Fullerite Probationists see enough natural and moral capacities in man to restore him through obedience to his former Adamic stature. Even if this were possible, however, it would be senseless. Christ does not mediate with His Father to reform Eden but to give mankind a higher justification making him an inheritor of Heaven. In Christ, we receive a greater righteousness than that of Adam. Those in Christ can never fall. Christ’s righteousness is the righteousness of God, not Adam, and it is this divine righteousness with which He imputes His elect-ones. Believers are thus made to partake of the divine nature. Adam’s nature was never sufficient to open Heaven’s gates to mankind but only the gates of Eden. Only God can justify by imputing Christ’s righteousness and only God can atone.

c. Fallen man has thus no agency in salvation. God will not give His glory to another. Thus for a Mediator to be a proper object of trust, worship and honour, He must be God Himself.


The Mediator must be God and man in one Person.

Human nature must be taken up, united to and subsist in the Person of the Son. It must be a union of two natures in one Person. The Mediator must be divinely human and humanly divine. He cannot mediate as sometimes God and sometimes man. He must be both in unity or He is neither in separation.


How Christ comes to be Mediator

Christ’s mediatorship is on the initiative of the Godhead. This is the party offended by man but also the party who then sues for peace. ‘All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the work of reconciliation,’ (2 Cor. 5:18-19). For this office, Christ is set up from everlasting (Prov. 8:23) to be a demonstration of God’s forbearance and a propitiation for sin (Rom. 3:25).


What Christ’s mediatorship entails

a. He is the only Mediator. Not the angels, not saints, not Mary. The Bible tells us that ‘There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus,’ (1 Tim. 2:5).

b. Christ is the Mediator of all God’s chosen vessels of mercy (Rom. 9:23, 24) for whom He died and whom He calls to salvation. He is the Mediator of the New Testament, Heb. 9:15. He is thus a Mediator for mankind only. The good angels need no Mediator and the fallen angels have no Mediator.

c. He is the Mediator of the Old Testament saints as well as the New Testament saints. There is only one Name under Heaven in which salvation is to be found and that is in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Dispensationalists who deny that members of Christ’s Bride existed in Old Testament times, claiming that Christ is Lord of the Church in New Testament times only, are Marcionite deceivers. Christ’s Bridegroomship is not a mere matter of post-resurrection religion.3 Isaiah shows clearly that Christ has His Bride amongst the Old Testament saints and the Shepherdship and Lordship of Christ is everywhere testified within the Old Testament’s pages. One cannot separate the Lordship of Christ over His Bride, the Church, from His office of Mediator. Where Christ is Mediator, He is also Lord, Saviour, Reconciler, Redeemer, Bridegroom and Covenant Head of His Church.  

Christ came not in time but in the fullness of time, Gal. 4:4.. His atonement was from eternity and impinged on time at a special, chosen point of time-fulfilment. From thence, His atoning and reconciling mediatory mercies permeate and fill all time, fulfilling time’s purpose as a handmaid of eternity. Thus at any point of time since the Fall or in any eternal outworking of God’s purpose, Christ is Reconciler and Mediator. Where the Bridegroom is, there is the Bride. This is the glorious testimony of Ephesians 1 which describes Christ’s electing work from the fullness of time, before the foundations of the world, to that Day when He will present His body, the Church as ‘the fullness of him that filleth all in all.”

We see, then that:

a. Christ is an effective Mediator. His mediatory work always succeeds. He is entirely successful as Reconciler, Intercessor and Advocate. The modern teaching that Christ died in vain for the masses of mankind, as if Christ failed in His attempt to mediate for them, is the ‘God is Dead’ blasphemy of modern rational Liberals. Christ’s blood speaks peace and pardon for whom it was shed. Christ never intercedes for us in vain.

b. Christ is an everlasting Mediator. His pardoning blood is eternally effective and Christ’s ever lives to make intercession for us. So, too, His priesthood is unchangeable after the order of Melchizedek, without beginning and end.

c. Christ’s office of Mediator includes his Kingly and Prophetic offices.4 For Gill, all other names and titles of Christ are reducible to them. Gill stresses that these titles were from everlasting and have been exercised both mediately and immediately throughout the Old Testament period and are not new functions which Christ earned through His ministry and sufferings on earth as per John Reisinger. They were then demonstrated with power in the fullness of Christ’s saving work but Christ was ever Prophet, Priest and King as He was also Mediator and Lord. The Lord who is King and Judge for ever and ever (Psalm 10), is the same Lord, King and Judge today as on the day the Psalmist made this statement of faith.



 

  1. Works, vol. II, p. 689.
  2. A careful study of Hebrews 2:9-18 will be helpful here.
  3. See Reisinger’s Christ the Lord of the Church, p. 1-2 and 
               Christ: Lord and Lawgiver Over the Church, p. 7.
  4. See Book IV of Gill’s Body of Divinity.