Christ's Work as Mediator
Christ's Work as Mediator
Man has wandered from God and rebelled against Him. "All we like sheep have gone astray." Isaiah 53:6. Our iniquities have separated between us and Him. Isaiah 59:1, 2. "The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of god, neither indeed can be." Romans 8:7, KJV. Christ came that He might destroy the enmity and reconcile us to God; for His is our peace. See Ephesians 2:14-16. Christ "died for our sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God." 1 Peter 3:18. Through Him we have access to God. Romans 5:1, 2; Ephesians 2:18. In Him the carnal mind, the rebellious mind, is taken away, and the mind of the Spirit is given in its stead, "in order that the just requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." Romans 8:4. Christ's work is to save that which was lost, to restore that which was broken, to reunite that which was separated. His name is "God with us." With Him dwelling in us we are made "partakers of the divine nature." 2 Peter 1:4.
Christ's work as "intermediary" is not limited in either time or extent. To be mediator means more than to be intercessor. Christ was mediator before sin came into the world, and will be mediator when no sin is in the universe, and no need remains for forgiveness. "In Him all things hold together." He is the very impress of the Father's being. He is the life. Only in and through Him does the life of God flow to all creation. He is then the means, medium, mediator, the way, by which the light of life pervades the universe. He did not first become mediator at the fall of man, but was such from eternity. No one, not simply no man, but no created being, comes to the Father but by Christ. No angel can stand in the divine presence except in Christ. No new power was developed, no new machinery, so to speak, was required to be set in motion by the entering of sin into the world. The power that had created all things only continued in God's infinite mercy to work for the restoration of that which was lost. In Christ were all things created; and, therefore, in Him we have redemption through His blood. See Colossians 1:14-17. The power that pervades and upholds the universe is the same power that saves us. "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." Ephesians 3:20, KJV.
Verses 21, 22.
Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not; for if a law had been given which could make alive, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture consigned all things to sin, that what was promised to faith in Jesus might be given to those who believe.
"Is the law then against the promises of God?" Not at all. If it were, it would not be in the hands of the Mediator, Christ, for all the promises of God are in Him. 2 Corinthians 1:20. We find the law and the promise combined in Christ. We may know that the law was not and is not against the promises of God from the fact that God gave both the promise and the law. We know also that the giving of the law introduced no new element into the "covenant," since, having been confirmed, nothing could be added to or taken from it. But the law is not useless, else God would not have given it. It is not a matter of indifference whether we keep it or not, for God commands it. But all the same it is not against the promise and brings no new element in. Why? Simply because the law is in the promise. The promise of the Spirit includes: "I will put My laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts." Hebrews 8:10. And this is what God had done for Abraham when He gave him the covenant of circumcision. Read Romans 4:11; 2:25-29; Philippians 3:3.
The Law Magnifies the Promise
The law is righteousness, as God says: "Hearken to Me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law." Isaiah 51:7. So, then, the righteousness which the law demands is the only righteousness that can inherit the promised land. It is obtained, not by the works of the law, but by faith. The righteousness of the law is not attained by human efforts to do the law, but by faith. See Romans 9:30-32. Therefore, the greater the righteousness which the law demands, the greater is seen to be the promise of God. For He has promised to give it to all who believe. Yes, He has sworn it. When, therefore, the law was spoken from Sinai "out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice" (Deuteronomy 5:22, KJV), accompanied by the sounding of the trump of God and with the whole earth quaking at the presence of the Lord and His holy angels, the inconceivable greatness and majesty of the law of God was shown. To we but believe Him He will preserve us from the sin against which He warns us.
Righteousness and Life
"If a law had been given which could make alive, then righteousness would indeed be by the law." This shows us that righteousness is life. It is no mere formula, no dead theory or dogma, but is living action. Christ is the life, and He is, therefore, our righteousness. The law written on two tables of stone could not give life any more than could the stones on which it was written. All its precepts are perfect, but the flinty characters cannot transform themselves into action. He who receives only the law in letter has a "ministration of condemnation" and death. But "the Word was made flesh." In Christ, the Living Stone, the law is life and peace. Receiving Him through the "ministration of the Spirit," we have the life of righteousness which the law approves.
This twenty-first verse shows that the giving of the law was to emphasize the importance of the promise. All the circumstances attending the giving of the law—the trumpet, the voice, the earthquake, the fire, the tempest, the thunders and lightnings, the death boundary around the mount--told that "the law worketh wrath" to "the children of disobedience." But the very fact that the wrath which the law works comes only on the children of disobedience proves that the law is good, and that "he who does them shall live by them." Did God wish to discourage the people? Not by any means. The law must be kept, and the terrors of Sinai were designed to drive them back to the oath of God, which four hundred and thirty years before had been given to stand to all people in all ages as the assurance of righteousness through the crucified and ever-living Saviour.
How We Learn to Feel Our Need
Jesus said of the Comforter, "When He comes, He will convince the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment." John 16:8. Of Himself He said, "I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." "They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick." Mark 2:17, KJV. A man must feel his need before he will accept help; he must know his disease before he can apply the remedy.
Even so the promise of righteousness will be utterly unheeded by one who does not realize that he is a sinner. The first part of the "comforting" work of the Holy Spirit therefore is to convince men of sin. So "the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." Galatians 3:22, KJV. "Through the law comes knowledge of sin." Romans 3:20. He who knows that he is a sinner is in the way to acknowledge it; and "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9.
Thus the law is in the hands of the Spirit an active agent in inducing men to accept the fullness of the promise. No one hates the man who has saved his life by pointing out to him an unknown peril. On the contrary, such a one is regarded as a friend and is always remembered with gratitude. Even so will the law be regarded by the one who has been prompted by its warning voice to flee from the wrath to come. He will ever say with the psalmist, "I hate vain thoughts: but Thy law do I love." Psalm 119:113, KJV.
Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed.
Note the similarity between verses 8 and 22. "The Scripture hath concluded [that is, shut up] all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." Verse 22, KJV. "The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, In you shall all the nations be blessed." Verse 8, KJV. We see that the gospel is preached by the same thing (the Scripture) that "consigns" men under sin. The word "conclude" means literally "confine," just as is given in verse 23. Of course, a person who is confined by the law is in prison. In human governments a criminal is confined as soon as the law can get hold of him. God's law is everywhere present and always active. Therefore the instant a man sins he is confined. This is the condition of all the world, "for all have sinned," and "there is none righteous, no, not one."
Those disobedient ones to whom Christ preached in the days of Noah were in prison. See 1 Peter 3:19, 20. But they, like all other sinners, were "prisoners of hope." Zechariah 9;12. God "hath looked down from the height of His sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth; to hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death." Psalm 102:19, 20, KJV. Christ is given "for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house." Isaiah 42: 6, 7, KJV.
Let me speak from personal experience to the one who does not yet know the joy and freedom of the Lord. Someday, if not already, you will be sharply convicted of sin by the Spirit of God. You may have been full of doubts and quibbles, of ready answers and self-defense, but then you will have nothing to say. you will then have no doubt about the reality of God and the Holy Spirit and will need no argument to assure you of it; you will know the voice of God speaking to your soul and will feel, as did ancient Israel, "Let not God speak with us, lest we die." Exodus 20:10. Then you will know what it is to be "confined" in a prison whose walls seem to close on you, not only barring all escape, but seeming to suffocate you. The tales of people condemned to be buried alive with a heavy stone upon them will seem very vivid and real to you as you feel the tables of the law crushing out your life, and a hand of marble seems to be breaking your very heart. Then it will give you joy to remember that you are shut up for the sole purpose that "the promise by faith of Jesus Christ" might be accepted by you. As soon as you lay hold of that promise, you will find it to be the key that unlocks any door in your "Doubting Castle" (see The Pilgrim's Progress). The prison doors will fly open and you will say, "Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we are escaped." Psalm 124:7, KJV.
Under the Law, Under Sin
Before faith came we were confined under the law, "shut up" unto the faith which should afterward be revealed. We know that whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23); therefore, to be "under the law" is identical with being under sin. The grace of God brings salvation from sin so that when we believe God's grace we are no longer under the law, because we are freed from sin. Those who are under the law therefore are the transgressors of the law. The righteous are not under it, but are walking in it.
So that the law was out custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. Verse 24.
The Revised Standard Version renders "custodian" in the place of the King James Version's "schoolmaster." The German and Scandinavian translations employ a word which signifies "master of a house of correction."
The Greek word comes down to us in English as "pedagogue." The paidagogos was the father's slave who accompanied the father's boys to school to see that they did not play truant. If they attempted to run away he would bring them back and had authority even to beat them to keep them in the way. The word has come to be used as meaning "schoolmaster," although the Greek word does not convey the idea of a schoolmaster. "Supervisor" or "custodian" would be better. The one under this custodian, although nominally at large, is really deprived of his liberty just the same as though he were actually in a cell. The fact is that all who do not believe are "under sin," "shut up" "under the law," and, therefore, the law acts as their supervisor or custodian. It is the law that will not let them go. The guilty cannot escape in their guilt. Although God is merciful and gracious, He will not clear the guilty. Exodus 34:6, 7. That is, He will not lie by calling evil good. But He provides a way by which the guilty may lose their guilt. Then the law will no longer curtail their liberty and they can walk free in Christ.
Freedom in Christ
Christ says, "I am the door," John 10:9. He is also the sheepfold and the Shepherd. Men fancy that when they are outside the fold they are free, and that to come into the fold would mean a curtailing of their liberty; but exactly the reverse is true. The fold of Christ is "a large place," while unbelief makes a narrow prison. The sinner can have but a narrow range of thought. The true free thinker is the one who comprehends "with all saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth," of "the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge." Ephesians 3:18, 19. Outside of Christ is bondage. In Him alone there is freedom. Outside of Christ, the man is in prison, "caught in the toils of his sin." Proverbs 5:22.
"The power of sin is the law." 1 Corinthians 15:56. It is the law that declares a man to be a sinner and makes him conscious of his condition. "Through the law comes knowledge of sin," and "sin is not counted where there is no law." Romans 3:20; 5:13. The law really forms the sinner's prison walls. They close in on him, making him feel uncomfortable, oppressing him with a sense of sin, as though they would pres his life out. While in vain he makes frantic efforts to escape, those commandments stand as firm prison walls. Whichever way he turns he finds a commandment which says to him, "You can find no freedom by me, for you have sinned." If he seeks to make friends with the law and promises to keep it, he is no better off, for his sin still remains. It goads him and drives him to the only way of escape--"the promise by faith of Jesus Christ." In Christ he is made "free indeed," for in Christ he is made the righteousness of God. In Christ is "the perfect law of liberty."
The Law Preaches the Gospel
All creation speaks of Christ, proclaiming the power of His salvation. Every fiber of man's being cries out for Christ. Men do not realize it, but Christ is "the Desire of all nations." Haggai 2:7, KJV. He alone satisfies "The desire of every living thing." Psalm 145:16. Only in Him can relief be found for the world's unrest and longing.
Now since Christ, in whom is peace ("for He is our peace"), is seeking the weary and heavy-laden and calling them to Himself, and since every man has longings that nothing else in the world can satisfy, it is clear that if the man is awakened by the law to keener consciousness of his condition, and the law continues goading him, giving him no rest, shutting up every other way of escape, the man must at last find the door of safety, for it stands open. Christ is the city of refuge to which everyone pursued by the avenger of blood may flee, sure of finding a welcome. In Christ alone will the sinner find release from the lash of the law, for in Christ the righteousness of the law is fulfilled, and by Him it is fulfilled in us. Romans 8:4. The law will allow nobody to be saved unless he has "the righteousness which is of God by faith," the faith of Jesus Christ.
Verses 25, 26.
But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Romans 10:17, KJV. Whenever a man receives the word of God, the word of promise, which brings with it the fullness of the law, and no longer fights against it, but yields to it, faith comes to him. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews shows that faith came from the beginning. Since the days of Abel men have found freedom by faith. Faith can come now, today. "Now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." 2 Corinthians 6:2. "Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts." Hebrews 3:7.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
"Do you know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?" Romans 6:3. It is by His death that Christ redeems us from the curse of the law; but we must die with Him. Baptism is "the likeness of His death." We rise to walk "in newness of life," even Christ's life. See Galatians 2:20. Having put on Christ, we are one in Him. We are completely identified with Him. Our identity is lost in His. It is often said of one who has been converted, "He is so changed you would not know him. He is not the same man." No, he is not. God has turned him into another man. Therefore, being one with Christ, he has a right to whatever Christ has, and a right to "the heavenly places" where Christ sits. From the prison house of sin he is exalted to the dwelling place of God. This of course presupposes that baptism is to him a reality, not a mere outward form. It is not simply into the visible water that he is baptized, but "into Christ," into His life.
How Baptism Saves Us
The Greek word for "baptize" means to plunge into, to immerse. The Greek blacksmith baptized his iron in the water to cool it. The housewife baptized her dishes in water in order to clean them. And for the same purpose all would "baptize" their hands in water. Yes, every man would "baptize" himself frequently, going to the baptisterion, that is, the immersing pool, for that purpose. We have the same word transferred as "baptistery." It was and is a place where people could plunge in and be wholly immersed in water.
Being "baptized into Christ" indicates what must be our relation to Him. We must be swallowed up and lost to sight in His life. Only Christ will henceforth be seen, so that it is no more I, but Christ; for "we were buried . . . with Him by baptism into death." Romans 6:4. Baptism saves us "through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" from the dead (1 Peter 3:21), because we are baptized into His death, "so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." Being reconciled to God by the death of Christ, we are "saved by His life." Romans 5:10. So baptism into Christ, not the mere form, but the fact, does save us.
This baptism is "the answer of a good conscience toward God." 1 Peter 3:21, KJV. If there is not a good conscience toward God, there is no Christian baptism. Therefore, the person to be baptized must be old enough to have a conscience in the matter. He must have a consciousness of sin, and also of forgiveness by Christ. He must know the life that is manifested, and must willingly give up his old life of sin for the new life of righteousness.
Baptism is "not the putting away of the filth of the flesh" (1 Peter 3:21, KJV), not the outward cleansing of the body, but the purging of the soul and conscience. There is a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness (Zechariah 13:1), and in this fountain runs the blood of Christ. Christ's life flows in a stream from the throne of God in the midst of which is the slain Lamb (Revelation 5:6), even as it flowed from the side of Christ on the cross. When "through the eternal Spirit" He had offered Himself to God, there flowed from His side blood and water. John 19:34. Christ "loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." Ephesians 5:25, 26, KJV. Literally, "a water bath in the Word." In being buried in the water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the conscientious believer signifies his acceptance of the water of life, the blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin, and that he gives himself to live henceforth by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. From that time he disappears from sight, and only the life of Christ is manifested in his mortal flesh.
Verses 28, 29.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you area all one in Christ. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
"There is no difference." This is a keynote of the gospel. All are alike sinners, and all are saved in the same way. They who would make a distinction on the ground of nationality, claiming that there is something different for the Jew than for the Gentile, might just as well make a difference on the ground of sex, claiming that women cannot be saved in the same way and and at the same time as men. There is but one way. All human beings, of whatever race or condition, are equal before God. "You are all one in Christ Jesus," and Christ is the One. "It does not say, 'And to offsprings,' referring to many; but, referring to one, 'and to your offspring,' which is Christ." Galatians 3:16. There is but one "Offspring," but it embraces all who are Christ's.
In putting on Christ, we "put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:24. He has abolished in His flesh the enmity, the carnal mind, "that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two." Ephesians 2:15. He alone is the real man, "the Man Christ Jesus." Outside of Him there is no real manhood. We come unto "a perfect man" only when we arrive at "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4:13. In the fullness of time God will gather together in one all things in Christ. There will be but one Man and only one Man's righteousness, even as the "offspring" is but one. "If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise."
Christ is the "Offspring." That is plainly stated. but Christ did not live for Himself. He has won an inheritance, not for Himself, but for His brethren. God's purpose is to "gather together in one all things in Christ." Ephesians 1:10, KJV. He will finally put an end to divisions of every kind and He does it now in those who accept Him. In Christ there are no distinctions of nationality, and no classes and ranks. The Christian thinks of any other man—English, German, French, Russian, Turk, Chinese, or African—simply as a man and therefore a possible heir of God through Christ. If that other man, no matter what his race or nation, be also a Christian, then the bond becomes mutual and therefore still stronger. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
It is for this reason that it is impossible for a Christian to engage in war. He knows no distinction of nationality, but regards all men as his brothers. The life of Christ is his life, for he is one with Christ. It would be as impossible for him to fight as it would be for Christ to have seized a sword and fought in self-defense when the Roman soldiers came for Him. And two Christians can no more fight against each other than Christ can fight against Himself.
However, we are not now engaged in discussing war, but are merely showing the absolute unity of believers in Christ. They are one. There is but one "Offspring," and that is Christ. However many millions of true believers there may be, they are one only in Christ. Each man has his own individuality, but it is in every case only the manifestation of some phase of the individuality of Christ. The human body has many members, and all members differ in their individuality. Yet there is absolute unity and harmony in every healthy body. With those who have put on the "new man," which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him, "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but Christ is all, and in all." Colossians 3:11, KJV.
In Christ's explanation of the parable of the tares and the wheat we are told that "the good seed [or offspring] means the sons of the kingdom." Matthew 13:38. The farmer would not allow the tares to be pulled out of the wheat because in the early stage it would be difficult to distinguish in every case between the wheat and the tares, and some of the wheat would be destroyed. So he said, "Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn." Verse 30. It is in the harvest that the seed is gathered. Everyone knows that.
But what the parable especially shows is that it is in the harvest that the seed is fully manifested. In short, that the seed comes at harvest time. The harvest only waits for the seed to be fully manifested and matured.
But "the harvest is the end of the world." So the time when "the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made" (Galatians 3:19) is the end of the world, when the time comes for the promise of the new earth to be fulfilled. Indeed, the "offspring" or "seed" cannot possibly be said to come before that time.
Read now Galatians 3:19 that the law was spoken because of transgression "till the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made." What do we learn from that? Simply this: that the law as spoken from Sinai without the change of a single letter, is an integral part of the gospel and must be presented in the gospel until the second coming of Christ at the end of the world. "Till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot will pass from the law." Matthew 5:18. And what of the time when heaven and earth pass and the new heaven and the new earth come? Then the law will not be needed written in a book for men to preach to sinners, showing them their sins. It will be in the heart of every man. Hebrews 8:10, 11. Done away? Not by any means. But indelibly engraved in the heart of every individual, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God.
The "offspring" refers to all who belong to Christ. And we know that Christ's "promised inheritance" has not yet come in its fullness. Jesus Christ on earth did not receive the promised "inheritance" any more than Abraham did. Christ cannot come into the "inheritance" until Abraham does, for the promise was "to Abraham and to his offspring." The Lord by Ezekiel spoke of the "inheritance" at the time when David ceased to have a representative on his throne on earth, and foretold the overthrow of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, in these words: "Remove the diadem, and take off the crown. . . . I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him." Ezekiel 21:26, 27, KJV.
So Christ sits on His Father's throne, "from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool." Hebrews 10:13, KJV. Soon will He come. Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God and joint heirs with Christ, so that Christ cannot come into the inheritance before they do. The "offspring" is one, not divided. When He comes to execute judgment and to slay those who choose to say, "We do not want this Man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14), He "comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him." Matthew 25:31.
Then will the "offspring" be complete, and the promise will be fulfilled. and until that time the law will faithfully perform its task of stirring up and pricking the consciences of sinners, giving them no rest until they become identified with Christ or cast Him off altogether. Do you accept the terms? Will you cease your complaints against the law which would save you from sinking into a fatal sleep? And will you in Christ accept its righteousness? Then, as Abraham's seed, and an heir according to the promise you can rejoice in your freedom from the bondage of sin, singing:
Pioneer Writings, Index
"I'm a child of the King,
A child of the King!
With Jesus my Saviour,
I'm a child of the King