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Author:Rev. Mark Chen
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Congregation:First Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore
Preached At:
Title:There Can Be None Other
Text:LD 6 1 Timothy 2:5-6 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God The Son

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Trinity Hymnal Revised 1990, The Psalter 1912

Psalter 292 - Redeeming Love
Psalter 206 - The Righteous Judgment of God
TH 172 - Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mark Chen, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

When man sinned, he knew he sinned. He realized he was naked. The glory of God departed. And he sewed together fig leaves to make an apron to cover his nakedness. But the fig leaves would not last. They’d dry up, crumble, and they were not extensive enough to cover the whole body. If they could not cover their sin, how would they escape their just punishment? God provided something better. He took animals, sacrificed them, and used their skins to fashion a coat to cover Adam’s nakedness. But even those skins would wear thin, disintegrate, and need to be replaced.

The issue, as we should know, is not nakedness - it is sin, which exposed their nakedness. Their attempt to cover their sin failed. God’s provision was temporary. When God gave Israel a system of sacrifice, it was to teach them that sins which would condemn them, needed to be covered. These were elaborate sacrifices - like a burnt offering for general sins - where a male animal without blemish would be sacrificed and its blood would be sprinkled to cover the sinner. A peace offering, where the visceral fat covering the organs, also called suet, would be burned. A grain offering, where dough, was offered along with the burnt offering. And the sin offering, where an animal was offered for specific sins. All these were meant to cover their mistakes, their sins. But the blood of bulls and goats cannot atone for sins. They were insufficient. They had to be offered over and over again. And there were special washings - of water, with ashes - all to symbolize the need for washing away or covering up of sins.

And these offerings would be offered by a priest - God’s representative to man and man’s representative to God. A mediator. But the priest’s work never ended. He would offer from morning until evening. Every day. 7 days a week. 52 weeks a year. Why? Because the work of covering sin was never finished. There wasn’t even a chair in the temple for him to sit. No rest for the weary. As soon as one sin was atoned for, another would be committed. And furthermore, the priest himself was a sinner. He had to offer sacrifices for himself, before he could offer for others. And if he was unclean, his work would be nullified - it would amount to nothing. Mere man can’t save himself. Mere creatures can’t save him. Our catechism says in Lord’s Day 5, that there is only one kind of mediator and deliverer - a man that is true and righteous, more powerful than all creatures, and must be God.

So there was always a question in Israel’s mind. Who could be that perfect mediator? And the Bible tells us who that hero is. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 - “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

Who is this mediator? He is a man - but no mere man. He is God. He is Christ Jesus. And these are the three points we will consider this evening. Firstly, why this mediator must be a super man. Secondly, why this mediator must be God. And thirdly, why this mediator must be Christ.

Firstly, why this mediator must be a super man. The mediator was a representative. And in order for the mediator to represent man, he had to be a man. For example, in the Olympics, only a citizen of a country could represent that country. Similarly, the ambassador of a country must be a citizen of that country - he has his countryman’s interests at heart. Someone who is not loyal to that country would make a poor ambassador. Likewise, who can represent man, except for a man? 

But more than that, God’s justice requires that the mediator must be a man - the representative must have the same human nature as the humans he represents. The objects of punishment were human beings. So the mediator had to be a human being. So Christ, if he was to be a representative, had to be a true man. In fact, Paul was careful to identify Jesus as the man Jesus Christ because the Ephesian church also had Gnostics in their midst. In the morning service, we’ve been studying Colossians - and the Colossian church struggled with Gnostics - false teachers - in their midst. 150 kilometers away in Ephesus, Timothy was also struggling with these false teachers. In fact, 1 Timothy 1:20 reveals the name of 2 false teachers - Hymenaeus and Alexander. One of the things the false teachers taught was that Jesus did not come in the flesh. 

This is why the gospel writers were careful to emphasize that. John said the Word became flesh. Luke said he grew in wisdom and stature. Matthew recorded how Jesus ate in his house. Mark recorded how Jesus was so tired that he slept through a storm. When Jesus resurrected, Thomas only believed it when he touched the scars on his hands. Jesus was not a ghost, he was flesh and blood, as he had always been with them.

But the qualification of that mediator went beyond just having a human nature. He must be a righteous man, because one who himself is a sinner cannot pay for others. So this man’s righteousness supersedes that of ordinary men. He must be a super holy man. Beyond just a man. This was his significance. When priests were selected, they had to be from Israel - from the tribe of Levi and the lineage of Aaron. On the outfit of the high priest, he had 12 gemstones on his breastplate, signifying the 12 tribes of Israel whom he represented. But no mere male descendent of Aaron sufficed. The candidate had to meet certain stringent requirements. A priest could not have any physical defects. In fact, there were 142 requirements he had to meet or risk disqualification. Leviticus 21 tells us that he can’t be bald, he had to have a beard, couldn’t be blind, lame, have a flat nose, or have a broken bones in his feet or hands, he couldn’t have scoliosis, or an eye defect, or have scurvy or skin disease, etc. He practically had to be a Hebrew male super model. Not every male descendent of Aaron would qualify. But the problem with these representatives was they were still sinful. 

A sinless mediator was needed. Not super in looks; but super, beyond, ordinary holiness. He had to be perfectly holy and righteous. You see, these exacting external qualifications were symbolic of the exacting internal and spiritual qualifications that a perfect mediator needed. Hebrews 7:26 says that Christ was a high priest who was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and exalted higher than the heavens. This speaks of the representative’s significant holiness. No one is holy but God. 

And that’s why secondly, this mediator had to be God. He represents God. Besides the 12 stones, the high priest wore a gold crown on his turban. On that crown were the words - “holy to the LORD.” And on his ephod, were attached the Urim and the Thummim. These were the stones that revealed God’s will when a decision needed to be made. So not only did he represent man to God, he represented God to man.

When the priests offered sacrifices for the people, they made absolution on behalf of God. On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would place his hands on the scapegoat, transferring the sins of the people on the goat. He would then put the goat out of the city, thereby signifying the absolution of guilt of the people. In the burnt offering, the priest made the offerer place his two hands on the head of the animal which was to be sacrificed, thereby symbolizing the transference of guilt. He would sprinkle the offerer with the blood of the sacrifice, absolving the offerer of their sins.

Our catechism teaches that Christ had this ability to absolve. As God, he could obtain for us and restore to us, righteousness and life. And the way he did this, according to 1 Timothy 2:6, was to give himself a ransom for all. And why Jesus sacrificed himself was because he represented man. No animal would do. It had to be a man to take man’s place. But this is also why being God was so important. Jesus needed divine endurance. As our catechism says, “he must be true God so that by the power of his divine nature, he might bear in his human nature the burden of God’s wrath.”

No mere man could suffer through the wrath of God upon the whole world. Deuteronomy 4:24 tells us that God is a consuming fire. His wrath upon sinners would be full. Psalm 130:3 asks rhetorically, if God would take into account our sins, who could stand - no man. Nahum 1:6 asks - who can stand before God’s anger? Who can endure its heat? God’s anger is poured out like fire - so much so that even the rocks melt before him. 

Psalm 75:8 gives the full meaning - “For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.” 

God has a cup of judgment in his hand. For the most part, it is diluted - mixed. When he judges now, it’s not the full extent of his judgment. But at the bottom of the cup are the dregs - the tannin - the most bitter part - the sediments. He will make the wicked drink it. This was the cup that Jesus feared. At Gethsemane, he asked God to let this cup pass from him - but in the end, he submitted to God’s will. If a mere man were to face that bitter cup, he could not endure it. No man could stay on the cross for 6 hours - not merely to endure the physical suffering, but the spiritual suffering of the fullness of God’s anger. But Jesus, because he was also God, so that by the power of his divine nature, Christ could endure the wrath of God in his human nature. 

This is why, thirdly, the mediator needed to be Christ. There can be none other. Who is a true man that is completely righteous? No one but Christ. Who is true God who can obtain righteousness for us? No one but Christ. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all.” That was our scripture text. What we didn’t read were the 2 verses before. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 - “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” God, who saw fit for all kinds of men to be saved sent Christ as the only mediator between God and men - not just poor men, or slaves, but even kings and governors - all kinds of people. This was the provision of God. And this is the remarkable truth - God provided himself to be a man, so that this man could face the wrath of God for other men.

And this was God’s plan all along. Verse 6 says, “who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” In other words, Christ’s death was witnessed at the proper time. At Christ’s crucifixion, the high priest was there with the Pharisees; the Roman soldiers, and many of the women disciples. Many people could testify that Jesus died. But the fact that it was the proper time for it to be witnessed, gives the idea that God had planned it all along.

Which he did. Question 19 says that God had revealed this good news all along - even to Adam and Eve. He prophesied that a descendent of Eve - a human being - would destroy sin and the curse of sin. Just as God covered their nakedness, there would be a man who would cover up their mistakes. This was later proclaimed to the patriarchs, the prophets, and foreshadowed by the sacrifice and ceremonies.

Abraham knew the need for sacrifices. Moses offered sacrifices. David knew the sacrifices couldn’t cover his mistakes. The prophets knew God would provide a perfect sacrifice and perfect mediator. Who would that be? Our catechism says, “Finally, he had it fulfilled through his only Son.” This was God’s plan all along. No one else would do. No other sacrifice would do.

Dearly beloved, sin brought with it a curse. Work would be hard, relationships will be strained, and we will die. We spend our whole lives trying to fix these problems. The only one that can truly fix these problems and cover up our mistakes and forgive us, is Christ. He brings us to a land where we can rest from our labors. Where there are only friends and brethren. Where we will live forever. There is none other that can achieve this for us.

Sermon Outline:

1. Why this mediator must be a super man

    A. His representation

    B. His significance

2. Why this mediator must be God

    A. His endurance

    B. His ability

3. Why this mediator must be Christ

    A. God’s provision

    B. God’s plan

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mark Chen, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Mark Chen

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