The Confession of Faith: A commentary on The Westminster Confession of Faith

by A. A. Hodge

A. A. Hodge

Chapter 8

Of Christ The Mediator

SECTION 1: IT pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man;(1) the Prophet,(2) Priest,(3) and King;(4) the Head and Savior of his Church;(5) the Heir of all things;(6) and Judge of the world:(7) unto whom he did from all eternity give a people to be his seed,(8) and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.(9)

Scripture Proof Texts

(1) Isa. 42:1; 1 Pet. 1:19,20; John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:5. (2) Acts 3:22.(3) Heb. 5:5,6. (4) Ps. 2:6; Luke 1:33. (5) Eph. 5:23. (6) Heb. 1:2. (7) Acts 17:31. (8) John 17:6; Ps. 22:30; Isa. 53:10. (9) 1 Tim. 2:6; Isa. 55:4,5; 1 Cor. 1:30.

Having already established the doctrine of God's sovereign election and the doctrine of the covenant of grace between the Father and His Son, this section teaches that Christ as mediator is both God and man, exercising His authority as prophet, priest, and king. Moreover, He is Head and Savior of His Church, Heir of all things, and Judge of the world.

1. A mediator is one who intervenes between contesting parties for the sake of making reconciliation. The term is sometimes applied to independent and disinterested parties called in to arbitrate a difficulty; sometimes to a dependent messenger or agent of one of the parties to the contest employed to carry overtures to the other party. In this sense Moses was a mediator between God and the people of Israel. (Deut. 5:5; Gal. 3:19.) Sometimes it is applied to an intercessor employed by the weaker party to influence the stronger.

The Scriptures apply the term, in a higher sense than any of these, to Christ. They teach that he intervenes between God and man, not merely to sue for peace and to persuade to it, but, armed with plenipotentiary power, efficiently to make peace and to do all that is necessary to that end.

The things necessary in order to this great end fall into two classes-(1) Those that respect God, and (2) Those that respect men.

(1) As it respects God, it is absolutely necessary, in order to reconciliation, that the Mediator should propitiate the just displeasure of God by expiating the guilt of sin, and that he should supplicate in our behalf, and that he should actually introduce our persons and services to the acceptance of the Father.

(2) As it respects men, it is absolutely necessary that the Mediator should reveal to them the truth concerning God and their relations to him, and the conditions of acceptable service; that he should persuade and enable them to receive and obey the truth so revealed; and that he should so direct and sustain them, and so control all the outward influences to which they are subjected, that their deliverance from sin and from the powers of an evil world shall be perfected.

2. Hence the mediatorial office involves all the three great functions of prophet, priest, and king; and Christ discharged them all, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation. These are not three distinct offices meeting accidentally in one office, but three functions inhering essentially in the one office of mediator. And they each so belong to the very essence of the office that the quality peculiar to each gives character to every mediatorial action. When he teaches, he is always a priestly and kingly prophet. When he offers sacrifice or intercession for sin, he is always a prophetical and royal priest.

(1) Christ is a Prophet. A prophet is a spokesman; one sent from God to man to make known the divine will. In this sense Moses and all inspired men were prophets. But Christ was the personal "Word of God" incarnate, he who had eternally been "in the bosom of the Father," and "known the Father"; and consequently as Mediatorial Prophet is that original fountain of revelation of which all other prophets are the streams. He is the Prophet of all prophets, the Teacher of all teachers.

"He executes the office of a prophet, in his revealing to the Church, in all ages, by his Spirit and Word, in divers ways of administration, the whole will of God, in all things concerning their edification and salvation." (L. Cat., q. 43.) That this representation is true is proved from the fact that the Scriptures-(a) Explicitly call him a prophet. (Compare Deut. 18:15,18 and Acts 3:22; 7:37; Heb. 1:2.) (b) Teach that he executed the functions of a prophet before his incarnation. (Isa. 9:6; Mal. 3:1; Job 33:23; 1 Pet. 1:11.) (c) Teach that he executes the office of a prophet since his incarnation. (Matt. 11:27; John 3:2; 6:68; Rev. 7:17; 21:3.)

(2) Christ is a Priest. A priest is (a) one taken from among men, (b) to appear in the presence of God and to treat in behalf of men; and (c), in order thereto, to make propitiation and intercession. It is declared to be essential to the priest-(a) That he be a man chosen to represent men before God. Aaron always bore before the Lord for a memorial a breastplate with the names of all the tribes of Israel engraved upon it. (Ex. 28:9,12,21,29.) (b) He must be chosen of God, as his special election and property. (Num. 16:5; Heb. 5:4.) (c) He must be holy and consecrated to the Lord. (Lev. 21:6-8; Ex. 39:30,31; Ps. 106:16.) (d) He must have a right both to draw near to Jehovah and to bring near-i.e., to offer sacrifices and intercessions. (Lev. 16:3-15.) (e) He must have an acceptable sacrifice to offer. (Heb. 8:3.) Christ is in this sense a true priest, and he executes this office "in his once offering himself a sacrifice without spot to God, to be a reconciliation for the sins of his people; and in making continual intercession for them." (L. Cat., q. 44.) That this is true is proved from the fact that the Scriptures declare-(a) That Christ possessed all the characteristic marks and qualifications of a priest. He became a man for this purpose. (Heb. 2: I6; 4:15.) He was chosen of God, as was Aaron. (Heb. 5:5,6.) He was perfectly holy, and had right of immediate approach to the Father. Heb. 8:6. (b) He is declared to be a priest in the Old Testament. The entire order of priests and the ceremonial of sacrifice were typical of him. {Zech. 6:13; Isa. 53:10; Dan. 9:24,25.) (c) The Gospel history declares that he actually discharged all the functions of a priest. He has made propitiation by a sacrificial bearing of the penalty due to sin. (Eph. 5:2; Heb. 9:26; 1 John 2:2.) He has made intercession, and he ever lives to intercede. (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25.) The work of Christ was the substance of which the entire ceremonial of the temple was the shadow. (Col. 2:17.)

His priesthood is said not to have been of the order of Aaron, because, although Aaron and his priesthood were types of Christ. and existed simply for the purpose of showing forth his work, yet they were inadequate to represent him fully and in all relations. They were inadequate chiefly-(a) With respect to the incomparable dignity and excellence of his person. (John 1:1-4,14.) (b) The infinite value of his sacrifice. (Heb. 10:1-14.) (c) The manner of their consecration. (Heb. 7:20-22.) (d) They were constantly succeeding each other, as dying men. (Heb. 7:23,24.) (e) He was a minister of a greater and more perfect tabernacle. (Heb. 9:11,24.) (f) They were mere priests-he was a royal and prophetical priest. (Zech. 6:13; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 8:1,2.)

His priesthood is said to have been of the order of Melchizedek, because-(a) Like him he was a royal priest. (b) Like him, he had no predecessors or successors in office. He was the only one of his line. (c) Because he was an eternal priest: "Thou art a priest forever, of the order of Melchizedek." (Heb. 7:17.)

(3) Christ is sovereign Head over all things to his Church. (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; Col. 1:18; 2:19.) He executes the office of a king-(a) In calling out of the world a people to himself, and giving them offices, laws, and discipline, by which he visibly governs them; (b) In bestowing saving grace upon his elect, rewarding their obedience and correcting them for their sins, and preserving and supporting them under all their temptations and sufferings; (c) In restraining and overcoming all their enemies, and powerfully ordering all things for his own glory and their good; and also (d) In taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God and obey not the gospel.

This lordship differs from that which belongs essentially to the Godhead-(a) Because it is given to him by the Father as the reward of his obedience and suffering. Phil. 2:6-11. (b) The object and design of this mediatorial kingship has special reference to the upbuilding and glory of the redeemed Church. (Eph. 1:22,23.) (c) The dignity and authority belong not to his deity abstractly, but to his entire person as God-man. This power and lordship Christ already possesses, and it extends over all creatures in all worlds. (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:17-23; Phil. 2:9-11; Jer. 23:5; Isa. 9:6; Ps. 2:6; Acts 2:29-36.) And of this kingdom there shall be no end. (Dan. 2:44; Isa. 9:7.)

Thus Christ has been shown, as Mediator, to be-

3. Head and Savior of his Church, and Heir of all things; that is, sovereign ruler and disposer of all things throughout all worlds. (Eph. 1:10.) That element of Christ's dominion which shall be exercised in his judging men and angels at the end will be considered under chapter 33.

SECTION 2: THE Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man's nature,(10) with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin;(11) being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary of her substance.(12) So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion.(13) Which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.(14)

Scripture Proof Texts

(10) John 1:1,14; 1 John 5:20; Phil. 2:6; Gal. 4:4. (11) Heb. 2:14,16,17; 4:15. (12) Luke 1:27,31,35; Gal. 4:4. (13) Luke 1:35; Col. 2:9; Rom. 9:5; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 Tim. 3:16. (14) Rom. 1:3,4; 1 Tim. 2:5.

The subject of this section is the constitution of the person of the Mediator as the God-man. Having proven (ch. 2., s. 3) that Jesus Christ is the one God; the second person of the Trinity, of one substance and equal with the Father, this section further dwells on the personality and natures of Christ.

The most ancient and universally accepted statement of the Church doctrine as to the person of Christ is that which was formed by the fourth General Council, consisting of "six hundred and thirty holy and blessed fathers," who were convened in Chalcedon A.D. 451: "We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; the same perfect in Godhead, and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the manhood; in all things like unto us without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, according to the manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only Begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably, the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved and concurring in one Person and one Substance, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the prophets have from the beginning declared concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us, and the creed of the holy Fathers has delivered to us."-

1. Jesus of Nazareth was a true man, possessing all the essential properties of humanity, conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance This includes two constituent propositions-(1) Jesus Christ vas a true and proper man, possessing all the essential properties of humanity. He is constantly and characteristically called the Man Christ Jesus, and the Son of Man. (Matt. 8:20; 1 Tim. 2:5.) He had a true body, for he ate, drank, slept, and increased in stature. (Luke 2:52.) Through his whole life he was in all public and private association recognized as a true man. He died in agony on the cross, was buried, rose again, and proved his identity by physical signs. (Luke 24:36-44.) He had a reasonable soul, for he increased in wisdom, loved, sympathized, wept and shrank from suffering as a man. (John 11:33-35; Matt. 26:36-46.) (2) The human nature of Jesus is not an independent creation merely. Like ours, but it was generated out of the common life of our race, of the very substance of the Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Ghost. The angels do not constitute a race produced by generation, but only a collection of individuals. This distinction is emphasized when it is declared of Christ, "He took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham." (Heb. 2:16.) He is the seed of Eve (Gen. 3:15); the seed of David ( Rom. 1:3.) He was made of a woman (Gal. 4:4); conceived by her in her womb (Luke 1:31; 2:5-7).

2. That Jesus, although tempted in all points like as we are, was yet absolutely without sin, is expressly declared in Scripture. (Heb. 4:15.) Peter testifies of him that "he did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." (1 Pet. 2:22.) John testifies that "in him is no sin." (1 John 3:5; Heb. 7:26; Luke 1:35.) The same is evident from the origin and constitution of his person as the Incarnate Word; from the nature of the work he came to perform as the deliverer of men from sin; and from the record of his holy life preserved by the evangelists, which remains, in the constrained acknowledgments of infidels as well as the faith of Christians, the great moral miracle of all ages.

3. That he was no less very God, the eternal Son of the Father, has been already proven. Ch. 2., s. 3.

4. That, nevertheless, this God and this man is one single person, is proven in every way that such a truth can be verified. (1) In all the record of his life there is no word spoken of him, no action performed by him, no attribute predicated of him, that suggests the idea that he is not one single, indivisible person. (2) The personal pronouns are always used by him and applied to him as if he were a single person. Of the same subject and in the same connection divine attributes and actions and human attributes and actions are predicated. (3) To make the matter more certain and evident, there are passages in which the person is designated by a title proper to his divine nature, while the attribute or action predicated of him is proper to his human nature; e.g., "The Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28); "Crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor. 2:8.) (4) There are other passages in which the person is designated by a title proper to the human nature, while the attribute or action predicated of it is proper to the divine nature: "The Son of man, who is in heave," (John 3:13); "If Ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before" (John 6:62). (5) There are other passages in which divine and human attributes and actions are indiscriminately predicated of the same person: "Who hath . . . translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature . . . and having made peace through the blood of his cross," etc. (Col. 1:13-20; Heb. 1:3.)

5. This personality is that of the eternal Son of God, who in time took a human soul and body into personal union with himself. This remarkable person did not begin to exist, and therefore was not constituted, when he was conceived in the womb of the Virgin. "Before Abraham was, I am," he says. (John 8:58.) "The Word was made flesh." (John 1:14.) "God sent his only begotten Son into the world." (1 John 4:9.) The Son was "made of a woman, made under the law." (Gal. 4:4.) "Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same." (Heb. 2:14; Phil. 2:6-11.) Hence it is evident that the person of Christ is divine, and not human-eternal, and not formed in time. But in time this eternal divine person took a human nature (soul and body) into its personality. Just as the body, with its wonderful constitution of organs, nerves, senses, and passions, has no personality of its own, but, during its entire life in the womb, grows into the personality of the soul; so the human nature of Christ never for an instant had a separate personal existence of its own, but, from the instant of its conception, grew into the eternal personality of the Son of God. There are in Christ, therefore, two natures, but one person; a human as well as a divine nature, but only a divine person. His humanity began to exist in the womb of the Virgin, but his person existed from eternity. His divinity is personal, his humanity impersonal, and his divine nature and his human nature one person.

6. Although but one person, the divine and human natures in Christ are not mixed or confused in one, but remain two pure and distinct natures, divine and human, constituting one person forever.

It is impossible for us to explain philosophically how two self-conscious intelligences, how two self-determined free agents, can constitute one person; yet this is the precise character of the phenomenon revealed in the history of Jesus. In order to simplify the matter, some errorists have supposed that in the person of Christ there was no human soul, but that his divine spirit took the place of the human soul in his human body. Others have so far separated the two natures as to make him two persons-a God and a man intimately united. Others have so pressed the natures together that neither pure divinity nor pure humanity is left, but a new nature resulting from the mixing of both. That Christ's two natures remain separate and unconfused, is self-evident. The very point proved in Scripture is that Christ always continued a true God and true man-not something else between the two. The essential properties of divinity cannot be communicated to humanity-that is, humanity cannot be made to be infinite, self- eternal, and absolutely perfect; because, if it possessed these, it would cease to be human; and because even God himself cannot create divinity, and therefore cannot make humanity divine. The same is true with respect to Christ's divinity. If that should take on the limitations of humanity, it would cease to be divine, and even God is not able to destroy divinity. Hence, since Christ is both God and man, it follows that he cannot be a mixture of both, which is neither. Hence, while the Scriptures constantly affirm (as we have seen) of the one person whatsoever is true, without exception, of either nature, they never affirm of either nature that which belongs to the other. It is said that God-i.e., the person who is a God-gave his blood for his Church; but it is never said that his divinity died, or that his humanity came down from heaven.

SECTION 3: THE Lord Jesus, in his human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure;(15) having in him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;(16) in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell;(17) to the end, that being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth,(18) he might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety.(19) Which office he took not unto himself, but was thereunto called by his Father;(20) who put all power and judgment into his hand, and gave him commandment to execute the same.(21)

SECTION 4: THIS office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake;(22) which that he might discharge he was made under the law,(23) and did perfectly fulfill it;(24) endured most grievous torments immediately in his soul,(25) and most painful sufferings in his body;(26) was crucified, and died;(27) was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption(28) On the third day he arose from the dead,(29) with the same body in which he suffered;(30) with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father,(31) making intercession;(32) and shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the world.(33)

Scripture Proof Texts

(15) Ps. 45:7; John 3:34. (16) Col. 2:3. (17) Col. 1:19. (18) Heb. 7:26, John 1:14. (19) Acts 10:38; Heb. 12:24; 7:22. (20) Heb. 5:4,5. (21) John 5:22,27; Matt. 28:18; Acts 2:36. (22) Ps. 40:7,8; Heb. 10:5-10; John 10:18; Phil. 2:8. (23) Gal. 4:4. (24) Matt. 3:15; 5:17. (25) Matt. 26:37,38; Luke 22:44; Matt. 27:46. (26) Matt. 26 , 27. (27) Phil. 2:8. (28) Acts 2:23,24,27; Acts 13:37; Rom. 6:9. (29) 1 Cor. 15:3-5. (30) John 20:25,27. (31) Mark 16:19. (32) Rom. 14:9,10; Heb. 9:24; 7:25. (33) Rom. 14:9,10; Acts 1:11: 10:42; Matt. 13:40-42; Jude 6; 2 Pet. 2:4.

Now these sections proceed to address the effect of Christ's hypostatical union upon his human nature; His unique function as Mediatorial God-Man, having been voluntarily appointed to this office by the Father; His discharging of Mediatorial functions in humiliation and in exaltation.

1. The effect of this hypostatical union upon the human nature of Christ was not to deify it, since, as we saw above, the human nature as well as the divine nature remains pure, separate, and unchanged, after as before. But the effect of this union was-(1) To exalt the human nature of Christ to a degree of dignity and honor greatly beyond that attained by any other creature. (2) To fill it with a perfection of intellectual and moral excellence beyond that of any other creature. The Father gave not the Spirit by measure unto him. (John 3:34.) "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." (Col. 1: l9.) His person, therefore, possessed all the properties belonging to absolute divinity, and an all-perfect and incomparably exalted manhood, and was thoroughly furnished to execute the office of Mediator and Surety.

2. Hence Christ was Mediator, and discharged all the functions of that office, not as God, nor as man, but as God-man. As this point is more directly called up by the seventh section of this chapter, it will be considered in that place.

3. That Christ was appointed to this office by the Father, and acts in it upon an authority derived from the Father, is very prominently as well as clearly set forth in Scripture: "And no man takes this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but . . . he was called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek." (Heb. 5:4-10.) Christ constantly affirms that he was "sent by the Father"; that the Father had given him "a commandment"; that the "works" which he performed and the "words" which he spoke were not his, but the Father's that sent him. "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." (John 5:30.) "Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me." (John 7:16.) "If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father; for my Father is greater than I." (John 14:24,28,31; 10:18; 12:49; 4:34.)

The Eternal Word is of the same identical substance with and equal to the Father in power and glory. But the God-man, in his official relations and works, is officially, and as far as concerns these relations and actions alone, inferior to the Father-sent by his authority, acting for him, returning and accounting to him.

4. That nevertheless Christ took this office and all it involved upon himself voluntarily is very evident-(1) Because otherwise, being absolute God, it could never have been imposed upon him. (2) Because otherwise his obedience and suffering could not have vicariously availed for us. (3) Because otherwise the execution of the law upon him would have been outrageously unjust. (4) Because it is expressly declared. Speaking of his life, he said, "No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again." (John 10:18.) The motive which impelled him to the self-sacrificing undertaking was a personal love for his people "which passes knowledge." (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:19; 5:2.)

5. Christ discharged the functions of the mediatorial office in his estate of humiliation, which consists-

(1) In his being born, and that in a low condition. It is evident that nothing could be added to the divine perfections by the assumption of a human nature into a personal relation. On the other hand it is an act of infinite condescension on the part of the Godhead of Jesus, and of transcendent and permanent benefit to the whole intelligent creation, that all the fullness of the Godhead should be contained in him bodily, and so revealed under the limitations of a finite nature. For it is only thus that the Infinite can be "seen and known," "tasted and handled," and that of "his fullness" we may all receive, and "grace for grace" (John 1:16,18; 1 John 1:1.)

(2) In his being made under the law, and rendering perfect obedience to it. The law lays its claims not upon natures, but upon persons. The person of Christ was eternal and divine. Personally, therefore, he was the norm, the Author and Lord of the law, his divine perfections being the necessary and supreme Law to himself and to the universe he had made. Therefore he owed nothing to the law, since the law was conformed to him, not he to the law.

But, as we have seen, chap. 7., s. 3, in the covenant of grace the Mediator assumes in behalf of his elect seed the broken conditions of the old covenant of works precisely as Adam left them. In that covenant punishment was conditioned upon disobedience, and life and blessedness upon obedience. Therefore it was necessary that the "second Adam" should render vicarious obedience in order to secure for his people the promised reward, as well as that he should suffer the penalty in order to secure for them the remission of sins. By Christ's suffering (passive obedience), our Confession teaches, he purchases for us reconciliation; while by his fulfilling the precepts of the law (active obedience) he purchases for us "an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven." Chap. 8., s. 5. Christ, therefore, was "made under the law" (Gal. 4:4,5), (a) Not as a rule of righteousness, but as a condition of blessedness, "to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." (b) Not for himself, but officially as our representative. (c) His whole obedience of that law was vicarious-instead of our obedience and for our sakes. "By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Rom. 5:19.)

(3) His undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross. Christ was the representative of his people, and all his obedience and suffering was vicarious, from his birth until all the conditions of the covenant of life were fulfilled. All his earthly career was in one aspect suffering, in another aspect obedience. As suffering, it was a vicarious endurance of the penalty of sin. As obedience, it was the discharge in the stead and behalf of his people of that condition upon which their eternal inheritance is suspended. The two were never separated in fact. They are only the two legal aspects presented by the same life of suffering obedience. The essence of the penalty vicariously borne by Christ was "the wrath of God." The incidents of it were "the miseries of this life." The culmination of it was "the cursed death of the cross," (Gen. 2:17; Heb. 9:22.)

(4) In his being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time. In the Creed commonly called the Apostles' Creed, and adopted by all the Churches, this last stage of the humiliation of Christ is expressed by the phrase, "He descended into hell" (Hades, the invisible world). This means precisely what our Confession affirms, that while the body of Jesus remained buried in the sepulcher his soul remained temporarily divorced from it in the unseen world of spirits.

Some (as Pearson on the Creed, pp. 333-371) have held that as Christ died vicariously as a sinner, so, in order to fulfill the law of death, his soul went temporarily to the place where the souls of those who die for their own sins die the second death forever.

The Lutherans teach that the descent of the God-man into hell, in order to triumph over Satan and his angels in the very citadel of his kingdom, was the first step in his exaltation. (Form. Of Concord, part 2., chap. 9.)

The Romanists teach that Christ went, while his body was in the grave, to that department of Hades (invisible world) which they call theLimbus Patrum, where the believers under the old dispensation were gathered, to preach the gospel to them, and to take them with him to the heaven he had prepared for them. (Cat. of the Coun. of Trent, part 1., art. 5.)

6. He executed the functions of his mediatorial office also in his estate of exaltation, which consisted-

In his rising from the dead on the third day. The fact of his resurrection is proved. (a) Predicted in the Old Testament. (Compare Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:24-31.) (b) Christ himself predicted it. Matt. 20:18,19; John 10:17,8. (c) The witness of the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:3.) (d) The separate testimony of Paul. (1 Cor. 15:8; Gal. 1:12; Acts 9:3-8.) (e) He was seen by five hundred brethren at once. (1 Cor. 15:6.) (f) The miracles wrought by the apostles in attestation of the fact. (Heb. 2:4.) (g) The witness of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 5:32.) (h) The change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week.

The importance of the fact is proved to be fundamental. (a) The resurrection of Christ is the pledge for the fulfillment of all the prophecies and promises of both Testaments. (b) It proved him to be the Son of God, because it authenticated his claims, and because he rose by his own power. (John 2:19; 10:17.) (c) It was a public acceptance of his mediatorial work in our behalf by the Father. (Rom. 4:25.) (d) Hence we have an advocate with the Father. (1 John 2:1; Rom. 8:34.) (e) "If Christ lives, we shall live also." (John 14:19; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; 1 Cor. 15:21,22.) (f) His resurrection secures ours. (Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:15; 15:49; Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2.)

(2) In his ascending up into heaven. This took place forty clays after his resurrection, from a portion of the Mount of Olives near to Bethany, in the presence of the eleven apostles and possibly other disciples. He ascended as Mediator, triumphing over his enemies and giving gifts to his friends (Eph. 4:8-12), to complete his mediatorial work, as the forerunner of his people (John 14:2, 3; Heb. 6:20), and to fill the universe with the manifestations of his power and glory. (Eph. 4:10.)

(3) In his sitting at the right hand of God the Father, where he intercedes for, and reigns over all things in the behalf of, his people. The passages which speak of this session of the Mediator at the right hand of the Father are, Ps. 16:1l; 110:1; Dan. 7:13,14; Matt. 26:64; Mark 16:19; John 5:22; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20,22; Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3,4; 2:9; 10:12; 1 Pet. 3:22; Rev. 5:6. This right hand of God denotes the official exaltation of the Mediator to supreme glory, felicity, and dominion over every name that is named. It is, moreover, a definite place, since the finite soul and body of Christ must be in a definite place, and there his glory is revealed and his authority exercised. There he intercedes for his people, a priest upon his throne (Zech. 6:13); and hence he effectually applies to his people, by his Spirit, that salvation which he had previously achieved for them in his estate of humiliation.

With the presentation of "his own blood" (Heb. 9:12,24) he pleads for those who are embraced in his covenant, and for those blessings in their behalf which in that covenant were conditioned upon his obedience and suffering. (John 17:9; Luke 22:32; see John 17.) His intercession is always prevalent and successful. (John 11:42; Ps. 21:2.)

(4) In his coming to judge the world at the last day. This will be discussed in its proper place, under chapter 33.

SECTION 5: THE Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of his Father,(34) and purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father has given to him.(35)

SECTION 6: ALTHOUGH the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ until after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof, were communicated to the elect in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein he was revealed and signified to be the Seed of the woman, which should bruise the serpent's head, and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world, being yesterday and today the same, and forever.(36)

Scripture Proof Texts

(34) Rom. 5:19; Heb. 9:14,16; 10:14; Eph. 5:2; Rom. 3:25,26. (35) Dan. 9:24,26; Col. 1:19,20; Eph. 1:11,14; John 17:2; Heb. 9:12,15. (36) Gal. 4:4,5; Gen. 3:15; Rev. 13:8; Heb. 13:8.

Compare chapter 11., s. 3: "Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to his Father's justice in their behalf."

These sections teach us of the effects of Christ's mediatorial work on earth:

1. That Christ made satisfaction for those whom he represented, both by his obedience and by, his sacrifice of himself, has been shown above (chap. 7., s. 3, and 8., s. 4). This truth is taught in the Confessions of all the Churches, Lutheran and Reformed. The Heidelberg Catechism, one of the most generally adopted of all the Reformed Confessions, says, question 60: "God, without any merit of mine but only of mere grace, grants and imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, . . . as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ hath accomplished for me."

The Formula of Concord, a Lutheran Confession, says: "Since Christ was not only man, but God and man in one undivided person, so he was not subject to the law, nor obnoxious to suffering and death, because he was the Lord of the law. On which account his obedience is imputed to us; so that God on account of that whole obedience (which Christ by his acting and by his suffering, in his life and in his death, for our sake rendered to his Father who is in heaven) remits our sins, reputes us as good and just, and gives us eternal salvation."

2. Christ thus has, in strict rigor, fully satisfied all the demands of divine justice upon those whom he represents. Jesus Christ has met the divine demand that the original covenant of works be fulfilled through the sorrow of His life and death, and he has met the divine demand for essential justice in the punishment of sin through the obedience unto death. Christ suffered as the representative of sinners. Our sins were laid upon him. He, "hath redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us." He died, "the just for the unjust." "He is the propitiation (expiation) for our sins." He "gave his life a ransom for many." We are "bought with a price." (Gal. 3:13; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 2:2; Matt. 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:20.) Christ suffered only in his single human soul and body, and only for a time. Nevertheless, his person was the infinite and transcendently glorious person of the eternal Son of God. Consequently his sufferings were precisely, both in kind and in degree, what the infinitely righteous wisdom of God saw to be in strict rigor a full equivalent, in respect to the demands of legal justice, for the eternal sufferings of all for whom he suffered. This is the doctrine of the whole Christian Church. The Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, say, Art. 31: "The offering of Christ, once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual."

The Catechism of the Council of Trent, 2.5, 63: "Whatever is due by us to God on account of our sins has been paid abundantly, although he should deal with us according to the strictest rigor of his justice. . . . For it we are indebted to Christ alone, who, having paid the price of our sins on the cross, most fully satisfied God."

3. That thus he has, according to the terms of the everlasting covenant, not only secured in behalf of those whom he represented remission of sins and propitiation of divine wrath, but also an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of glory. The sufferings of Christ secure the remission of the penalty; and by his active obedience, according to the terms of the covenant made with Adam and assumed by Christ, he purchases a right to life and eternal blessedness. That he has so purchased eternal life for all those in whose stead he rendered obedience, is proved from the fact that the Scriptures habitually set forth the truth that the "adoption of sons" and "eternal life" are given to the believer freely for Christ's sake, as elements of that purchased possession of which the Holy Spirit is the earnest. (Eph. 1:11-14; Rom. 8:15-17; Gal. 1:4; 3:13,14; 4:4,5; Eph. 5:25-27; Titus 3:5,6; Rev. 1:5,6; 5:9,10.)

This proves, therefore-(1) That Christ did not die simply to make the salvation of those for whom he died possible-i.e., to remove legal obstructions to their salvation-but that he died with the design and effect of actually securing their salvation and of endowing them gratuitously with an inalienable title to heaven. (2) It proves, in the second place, that the vicarious sufferings of Christ must have been, in design and effect, personal and definite as to their object. Salvation must be applied to all those for whom it was purchased. Since not the possibility or opportunity for reconciliation, but actual reconciliation itself was purchased; since not only reconciliation, but a title to an eternal inheritance was purchased, it follows (a) That "to all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same." (Conf. Faith, ch. 8. s. 8.) And (b) That he who never receives the inheritance, and to whom the purchased grace is never applied, is not one of the persons for whom it was purchased.

4. That although this satisfaction was rendered by Christ only after his incarnation yet the full benefits thereof had been applied to each of the elect severally in their successive generations from the beginning, by the Holy Ghost, through the various forms of truth to them made known. This has been proved at length and illustrated (chap. 7. ss. 5, 6).

SECTION 7: CHRIST, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures; by each nature doing that which is proper to itself;(37) yet by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.(38)

Scripture Proof Texts

(37) Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 3:18. (38) Acts 20:28; John 3:13; 1 John 3:16.

Under section 2. we saw-(1) That Jesus of Nazareth was a true man. (2) That he was true God. (3) That he was nevertheless one single person. (4) That his personality is eternal and divine, his human nature having been generated into the pre-existent person of the Son. (5) That these two natures remain one person, yet distinct and unchanged divinity and humanity, without mixture or confusion. This section proceeds to state:

1. That all Christ's mediatorial actions involve the concurrent activities of both natures, each nature contributing that which is proper to itself.

Thus the divine nature of Christ is that fountain from which his revelation as prophet is derived. Other prophets reflect his light, or transmit what they receive from him. He is the original source of all divine knowledge. At the same time his humanity is the form through which his Godhead is revealed, his flesh the veil through which its glory is transmitted. His person as incarnate God is the focus of all revelations-the subject as well as the organ of all prophetical teaching.

Thus, also, the human nature of Christ was necessary in order that his person should be "made under the law"; and it is the subject of his vicarious sufferings, and the organ of his vicarious obedience and intercession as our representative Priest and Intercessor. At the same time, it is only the supreme dignity of his divine person which renders his obedience supererogatory and therefore vicarious, and the temporary and finite sufferings of his humanity a full equivalent in justice-satisfying efficacy for the eternal sufferings of all the elect. Thus, also, the activities of his divinity and humanity are constantly and beautifully blended in all his administrative acts as King. The last Adam, the second Man, the Head of a redeemed and glorified race, the First-born among many brethren, he has dominion over all creatures; and with a human heart acting out through the energies of divine wisdom and power, he makes all things work together for the accomplishment of his purposes of love.

All mediatorial acts are therefore to be attributed to the entire person of the Theanthropos-God-man. And in the whole or his glorious person is he to be obeyed and worshipped by angels and men.

2. Because of the unity of both natures in one person, that which is proper to either nature belongs of course to that one person; and sometimes in Scripture that which is proper to one nature is attributed to the person denominated by the other nature. Thus, as shown above under section 2., the Scriptures often say that God shed his blood for his Church, or that the Son of man came down from heaven, while they never say that the human nature of Christ came down from heaven, or that his divine nature suffered for his Church.

SECTION 8: TO all those for whom Christ has purchased redemption, he certainly and effectually applies and communicates the same;(39) making intercession for them;(40) and revealing to them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation;(41) effectually persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey; and governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit;(42) overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.(43)

Scripture Proof Texts

(39) John 6:37,39; 10:15,16. (40) 1 John 2:1,2; Rom. 8:34. (41) John 15:13,15; Eph. 1:7-9; John 17:6. (42) John 14:16; Heb. 12:2; 2 Cor. 4:13; Rom. 8:9,14; 15:18,19; John 17:17. (43) Ps. 110:1; 1 Cor. 15:25,26; Mal. 4:2,3; Col. 2:15.

This section teaches:

1. That Christ, as mediatorial King, seated at the right hand of God, applies the redemption he had effected as Priest to the proper subjects of it. This point has been already discussed under chap. 7., s. 4, and chap. 8. ss. 1, 4, when we were treating of Christ, the Head and Surety of the covenant and mediatorial King, and of his session at the right hand of God.

2. That he proceeds in the effectual application of redemption in the use of each of the four following methods: (1) By making intercession for the persons concerned. (2) By the revelation of the mysteries of salvation to them in his Word. (3) By the effectual operation of his Spirit on their hearts. (4) By all necessary dispensations of his providence. The discussion of these points must be looked for under the several heads of "The Holy Scripture," "Providence," "God's Covenant with Man," "Christ the Mediator," "Effectual Calling," "Justification," etc.

3. That Christ doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate redemption to ALL THOSE for whom he has purchased it.

Our Standards, it will be observed, very explicitly teach that Christ, as mediatorial Priest, made expiation and purchased salvation for certain definite persons. Thus, in chap. 3. s. 6, it is said: "As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has he by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ. . . . Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, . . . but the elect only." Here it is expressly affirmed (1) That Christ died upon the cross on purpose to carry out the eternal purpose of God in the election of certain individuals to eternal life. (2) That Christ died for the purpose of saving no other than the elect.

In chap. 8., s. 5: "The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, . . . purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father has given to him." Here it is expressly taught-(1) That the design of Christ in dying was not simply to make the salvation of all men possible, but actually to purchase reconciliation for those given to him by the Father. (2) That for the same persons Christ actually purchases, and consequently infallibly secures, an eternal inheritance in heaven.

In chapter 8., s. 8, it is said: "TO ALL THOSE for whom Christ has purchased redemption, he certainly and effectually applies and communicates the same." L. Cat., q. 59: "Redemption is certainly applied, and effectually communicated, to all those for whom Christ has purchased it." When this Confession was written, the phrase "to purchase redemption" was used in the sense in which we use the phrase "make atonement for sin." So it was so used by Baxter in his work, "Universal Redemption of Mankind by the Lord Jesus Christ"; and by Dr. Isaac Barrow in his sermon entitled "The Doctrine of Universal Redemption Asserted and Explained." Dr. Henry B. Smith, in his edition of Hagenbach, vol. 2., pp. 356, 357, says that our Confession uses the phrase in the same sense.

The entire truth upon this subject, as set forth in our Standards, may be stated summarily in the following propositions:

1. God has acted from the beginning, in all his works, according to one changeless, all-comprehensive plan. Being infinitely wise and powerful, his design is always fully executed, and therefore is fully revealed in the event. God, therefore, intended to accomplish by the vicarious obedience and sufferings of Christ precisely what he does accomplish-nothing more, and nothing less.

2. The satisfaction rendered by Christ is amply sufficient for all men who can possibly be created.

3. It is exactly adapted to the legal relations and wants of every man-of one man as well as of another.

4. Hence it has forever removed out of the way all legal obstacles to God's saving any man he wills to save.

5. That it is freely, authoritatively, and in good faith offered to every man to whom the gospel comes.

6. Hence it follows-(1) This redemption is rightfully the possession of any man whatsoever who accepts. (2) It is objectively available to one hearer of the gospel as much as to another, upon the single condition of acceptance.

7. But, since all men are dead in trespasses and sins, no man accepts it except those to whom it is effectually applied by the Holy Ghost.

8. It is effectually applied precisely to those persons to whom the Father and the Son will to apply it.

9. Since God's purposes are all eternal and immutable, the Father and the Son will to apply it now precisely to those to whom they designed to apply it when Christ hung upon the cross, and they willed to apply it then precisely to those to whom they had designed to apply it from eternity.

10. Hence it follows-(1) Christ died with the purpose of executing the decree of election. (2) His design in making atonement was definite, having respect to certain definite persons-the elect, and none others. (3) He designed to secure the salvation of those for whose sake he rendered satisfaction; not merely to make their salvation possible, but to purchase for them inalienably faith and repentance, actual reconciliation and the adoption of sons, etc., etc. (4) He in time applies it effectually and certainly to all those for whom he purchased it.

Special thanks to Steven Luker for making this chapter available to Sola Scriptura!

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