Some Foundational Truths
The verses we are going to consider this evening contain some very important information. It tells us:
there is only One God
if we would live in peace with him we must approach him through a qualified mediator
Jesus Christ is the only qualified mediator
the ransom price Jesus paid is what qualifies him to be that mediator
These are precious truths and we will look at them in due course. They are not however presented to us as stand-
How do we know that?
Well the very first word of our text is that little word "for" and it shows us that we are being given a reason for what has gone immediately before. If then we are to properly understand the truth of our text we must understand why it was told us and what action it calls for. How important context is!
The truth that Paul had just written was that God is a Saviour who desires that all people might be saved. Indeed because this is so it is right and proper for us to pray to God for all kinds of people and for all people. It is right for us to pray, for example, for those in positions of authority so that we might live in peace and it is right for us to pray about anybody and everybody because there is no-
In other words we can proclaim the good news to all and sundry confident in the knowledge that we are acting in harmony with the heart of God himself.
It is God’s revealed will that he desires all men to be saved and this is love:
It is genuine love because it takes no pleasure in their destruction
it is a consistent love because it sends to them beseeching preachers and gives them such ravishing tastes of eternal things
it is a painful love because it is often rejected
it is an indiscriminate love because it never passes on the other side of the road any man as judged too mean to save
it is a costly love because its price is more than men shall ever be able to repay.
Such is God’s general love for all men. It is not the same as his saving love for the elect but it is genuine nonetheless.
The message of the gospel that is to be told to all begins with this declaration that there is only One God.
The One True Living God is the only God there is and there is room for only One God like him for he fills heaven and earth. Listen to how Jeremiah put it:
Jer.23:24 "’Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ declares the LORD."
"There is one God" means that there is not a wide range of different gods. There is not one God for the Jews and another for the Gentiles. There is not one God for the Arabs and another for the Chinese. There is not one God for the clever and another for those who are slow to learn. There is not one God for the rich and another for the poor. We are not presented with some kind of spiritual supermarket where we select the type of God much as we might select the type of supper we fancy that evening – no, there is not one God for me and another for you, there is One God. We are all in need of the same truth – every person in the whole world wherever they might be is concerned whether they realise it yet or not – for there is only One God. He made us and he also holds us to account.
"There is one God" and that means that where people worship other gods they are in fact living a lie for their "gods" are false and really "no gods" at all. They need to be saved and the salvation they need includes coming to a knowledge of the truth v.4. When Jesus was asked was the greatest commandment was he began his answer quoting words from Moses, which were so familiar to his Jewish listeners:
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." See Deut.6:4.
When he had finished summing up the law in terms of loving this God with everything you had and loving your neighbour too, the scribe who had asked the original question was impressed:
Mk.12:32 "You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him."
This One True God reveals himself as the Saviour God, as the God who desires all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Revealing himself in this way God makes it very clear that he regards all men wherever they might be to be in need of saving – in other words all are sinners, all are living a lie, and all are in a dangerous predicament for they are all cut off from God, all are rebels in a hostile camp.
God’s concern for the lost can be observed in several parts of the Bible:
Adam and Eve in the Garden – in their fallen state they try to hide from him but he comes calling: "Where are you?"
The prophet Ezekiel wrote:
Ezek.18:32 "For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live."
Ezek.33:11 "As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?"
The prophet Isaiah spoke in a similar way:
In the NT too we find the same truth declared by the apostle Peter:
2Pet.3:9 "The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."
Well it is all very well for God to say he is not willing that any should perish but has he done anything about it and if so what?
Yes, God has done something! He has established a mediator to act as a go-
Now when everything is fine and harmonious you simply don’t need a mediator but when there are tensions, a dispute or a total breakdown of relationship it is at that moment that a mediator is useful and in some cases absolutely essential.
The situation that exists between a sinful fallen humanity and a holy righteous God is one that cries out for a mediator. An ice cube in a super-
And there is such a mediator and his name is Jesus! Just as there is only One God so there is only One mediator. Whoever comes to God through the ministry of this mediator will come safely but whoever does not approach God through him will not approach him at all. Isn’t this just what Jesus himself declared?
Jn.14:6 "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Jn.6:37 "whoever comes to me I will never cast out."
Although Jesus is not often referred to as a mediator in the Bible the word does nevertheless describe wonderfully well his work of bringing God and man together establishing peace between them. We can be confident that this mediator is properly qualified to represent us for we are told categorically that he is one of us – the only mediator between God and men is the man Christ Jesus.
Christ’s work as Mediator
In Jn.3:16 we learn that in love the Father gave his unique son to provide a guilty world with the salvation that was so urgently needed. This meant that when Jesus came into the world he would have to voluntarily take his stand between an offended God and those sinners who were so greatly offending him. Paul describes Jesus’ work as that of a mediator. Functioning as a mediator Jesus gave his own life as a ransom payment for us all.
The payment of a ransom is made in order to redeem or buy back a captive from their captivity. We have all heard about kidnappers sending their ransom notes. Terrible things will happen to their prey, they say, unless their demands are met. The payment demanded is the ransom price.
The Bible speaks of Jesus paying a price to ransom us from the curse of the law:
Gal.3:13 "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree""
The price Jesus paid was not silver or gold but he made the payment with his own life. He took the curse of the law that was due to us and he bore it himself. He did it because we couldn’t ransom ourselves – we have nothing which we could give in exchange for our souls.
If Jesus were imperfect he could never pay the ransom price for himself let alone the price necessary to redeem others. If he were a mere man the value of his life would be insufficient to secure the salvation of anyone other than himself. To be a successful mediator Jesus had to be:
a man – able to represent us
a perfect man – able to stand by his own merit
God – able to ensure the infinite worth of the ransom price he paid
He had to be able to offer a sacrifice that was sufficient to put away sin
Who is able to do this but Jesus?
There is none other but happily there is this one, this Mediator in whom we can put our trust and by whom we can approach God!
Have we come to Jesus trusting him as our go-
How foolish we would be to know about these things in our minds but not to act upon them by putting our faith and trust in him!
At the moment of his ascension our Lord commissioned his apostles with the task of evangelising the nations. While this might not be of any great surprise to us it would have involved a seismic shock to the Jewish world of the 1 st century. For hundreds of years the people of Israel stood in a unique and special position before God but with the ministry of Jesus this limited nationalistic vision was replaced with a gospel for the nations – Gentiles as well as Jews were now concerned and each was to be invited to come to God through Jesus Christ the Lord.
The early church began to preach the gospel and God gave the increase and Gentiles were converted! It sent shock waves through the young church as the members struggled to come to terms with it all but the truth had its way and so we don’t find it strange at all for the gospel to preached throughout the world.
The testimony was given then by Paul as he was appointed to be the apostle to the Gentiles and the testimony is still to be proclaimed by pastors and teachers and individual members of the church. The message is for all! The message is relevant to all whether or not they agree. The church’s task is to proclaim the truth, to explain the truth, to let their lives individually and corporately testify to the truth.
"There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all."
And because this is true we must pray for all kinds and classes of people. We pray for our leaders in order to enjoy peaceful circumstances in which to live our lives to God’s glory. We pray for those we come into contact with that they too might come out of the darkness and come to the knowledge of the truth.
May God strengthen us to testify to a lost world this good news of Jesus Christ.
And to God be the glory.