Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
One People of God, One Covenant of Grace
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus 1 Timothy 2:5NKJV
Question 36 of the Larger Catechism asks, “Who is the Mediator of the covenant of grace?” It gives the answer, “The only Mediator of the covenant of grace is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, of one substance and equal with the Father, in the fulness of time became man, and so was and continues to be God and man, in two entire distinct natures, and one person, for ever.” Last time we examined how the Covenant of Grace, which God announced in the Garden of Eden, is administered in the New Testament. This week we consider the one and only Mediator of this covenant, the second person of the Holy Trinity and the son of a Jewish woman, the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, the Catechism declares that Christ is the only Mediator of the Covenant of Grace. The Bible teaches that no other man or angel has ever mediated the covenant between God and man. It is true that Jesus is called the Mediator of a new (Heb. 9:15; 12:24), and better (Heb. 8:6) covenant in contrast to Moses, who is thereby indicated to have mediated in the previous administration of the Covenant of Grace. Moses was a mediator, in the sense that he stood between God and the people, bringing God’s word to the people, and interceding on behalf of the people to God. But Moses’ mediation was entirely typological and anticipatory of the Christ yet to come. As a sinful man, Moses was not able to stand between God and His people. Moses needed a mediator for himself! Thus, Moses’ mediation was predicated upon the ongoing mediation of Christ. Moses was set forth as a type of the coming Christ, and as such he played an important role in keeping the faith of God’s people focused on the future fulfillment of God’s promises. You could say that Moses was mediator in the same way that the animal sacrifices were atoning, and the temple was God’s house – they did not actually do what they pictured, instead they pointed to the need for something more.
Second, the Catechism declares that Jesus is “the eternal Son of God, of one substance and equal with the Father.” Here, the Catechism is not simply repeating previous questions (7-11). It is particularly in respect of His exercising the office of Mediator, that we need to notice the natures of Christ. Jesus Christ is the only Mediator of the Covenant of Grace. He is the only being who can stand between God and man and adequately represent and reconcile both parties. Only as God can Jesus sufficiently represent God to man. God is triune – three persons of one substance. As Son, Jesus is not the Father or the Spirit, but He is of the exact same substance with them. Therefore, Jesus is eternal and uncreated. He is equal with the Father and the Spirit in all of His divine attributes. Yet if Jesus were to simply have remained Divine, He could not have been the Mediator between God and man. Only by being man could Jesus effectively bring man to God. Thus, the Catechism teaches that Jesus, “in the fulness of time became man.” The Mediator of the Covenant of Grace, the parties of which are God and man, must be both God and man in order to acceptably represent and satisfy the interests of these two covenanted parties.
Finally, we notice that Jesus Christ the Mediator will continue in His current state as “two entire distinct natures, and one person, for ever.” I remember hearing a discussion between two fellow Reformed seminary students about whether or not Jesus, after His second coming, would someday give up His human nature and simply go back to having one nature. Needless to say I was astonished at this conversation and butted in (probably way too zealously!). To say that Jesus could ever “put off” His human nature, denies that Jesus’ human nature is man of true man – with a real human body and a true human soul. Think of it; if Jesus’ human nature would ever cease to be, then the greatest man who ever lived would be the only human being to be extinguished by God! Such a thought is preposterous. Even the damned in Hell are permitted to continue to exist forever. The fact is that for all of eternity, the eternal Son of God has acquired for Himself a human nature. He will always be the God-man. He will eternally bring God and man together. Therefore, we will always be the beloved of God in Him!