Saturday, August 6, 2011

Chapter Eight: Of Christ the Mediator

The Westminster Confession  of Faith in Plain Language
1. Before time began, God planned that his one and only son, the Lord Jesus, would bridge the gap between God and humanity.[1] He determined that Jesus would be the ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King, the ruler and Savior of his Church. God gave him everything and made him judge over everyone. Before time began, God gave him a people of his own, to be his heirs. At the appointed time in history, Jesus would pay the price for their sins, call them to himself, give them his own righteousness, set them free from sin, and make them perfect forever.

2. The Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, is God himself. He and the Father are equal, but they are only one being. When the appointed time finally arrived, the Son became human just like everyone else. He had typical human limitations, except that he was completely sinless.

He got his humanity from his mother, the virgin Mary. Because she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus had two natures—he was completely and perfectly God and completely and perfectly human. But he was still only one person. He did not stop being God when he became human, and he was not blended together into someone who was neither God nor human. He is totally God and totally human at the same time—He is Jesus Christ, the only one who can bridge the gap between God and man.

3. Because the Lord Jesus was both human and divine, he was different from the rest of humanity and possessed the unlimited power of the Holy Spirit. He was all wise and all knowing. He was holy, unstained by sin, and never wronged anyone. The Father made certain that Jesus was completely qualified to guarantee salvation and bridge the gap. Jesus’ only desire in all this was to glorify his Father. So the Father gave him all power and authority and commanded him to bridge the gap between God and humanity.

4. The Lord Jesus took this responsibility willingly. When he became a human, he obeyed the law perfectly. He endured horrible spiritual and physical pain. He was put to death on the cross and then buried. His body, however, did not decay. In fact, he rose from the dead on the third day in the same body that he had before he died. He went to heaven, body and all, where he took his place of power and authority at his Father’s side. He is there even now praying for his people. Someday, when it is time for this world to end, he will return to judge both humans and angels.

5. Jesus fully satisfied his Father’s demands by obeying the law perfectly and giving his life, with the Spirit’s power, as the ultimate sacrifice.[2] This fixed the relationship between God and the people the Father had given to Jesus, and it bought them a never-ending inheritance in God’s kingdom.

6. Christ’s redeeming work took place during a specific time in history—after he became a human being. However, its goodness, effectiveness, and benefits were applied to all God’s chosen people throughout history, even those who lived before Christ. In the Old Testament times, this was done through promises, symbols, and animal sacrifices. They proclaimed that Christ fulfilled one of the Bible’s earliest predictions—a woman would have a child who would defeat Satan.[3] So Christ’s sacrifice was actually timeless—he was the Lamb sacrificed before time began. His work applies to all times in history because he is the same yesterday, today and forever.

7. When Christ bridged the gap, both natures played very important roles—for instance, only humans can shed blood, and only God can save souls. But because these natures were perfectly united in a single person, the Bible sometimes credits his human nature with what his divine nature did, and his divine nature with what his human nature did.

8. Christ guarantees that all those for whom he died will be saved:[4] He intercedes for them. He uses the Word to make salvation clear to them. He persuades them to believe and obey by the power of the Holy Spirit. He uses both the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit to govern their hearts. He will not let anything or anyone stand in the way of their salvation. Christ’s ways are more than humans can understand, but he has the authority and the wisdom to do whatever he deems best.

[1] Mediator

[2] Vicarious atonement

[3] Protevangelium

[4] Particular Redemption

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