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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
Preached At:Providence Canadian Reformed Church
 Hamilton, Ontario
Title:The gospel announces our Mediator and Deliverer
Text:LD 6 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Revelation of the Gospel

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Note:  All songs from the 2010 Book of Praise

Psalm 126
Psalm 45:1-3
Psalm 118:1-3, 8
Hymn 1
Hymn 10

Readings:  Leviticus 25:8-17, 25-28; 1 Timothy 2
Text:  Lord's Day 6
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus,

Some of us get the opportunity to travel by plane for winter vacations.  Some of us travel regularly by airline because of our work.  Have you ever watched the people around you during the safety announcements?  Most people aren’t paying attention.  In fact, neither are you because you’re watching the people around you not paying attention.  Almost everyone has been on a plane before and heard these announcements.  There’s nothing new.  So nobody pays attention.  The flight attendants don’t look too thrilled to have go through this rigmarole for the seventeen thousandth time either.  Nobody cares all that much.  If something bad does happen on our flight, we’ll figure out how to get out safely, that is, if we’re still alive. 

If you think about it, for many people it’s like going to church.  For many people, they go to church and hear someone giving a message that doesn’t grip them personally.  There’s no passion in the delivery, there’s no sense that this is something that could save your skin.  For many people, they go to church and they hear the same message that they’ve heard before.  The gospel is not new news to most of us anymore.  It’s old news.  So it doesn’t grab our attention.  And then we might think that we don’t hear anything useful in church.  There’s nothing we’ll need in case of an emergency.  If an emergency comes, we’ll figure it out. 

So we start to take things for granted.  Just like we take the safety announcements on the plane for granted, we take the gospel for granted.  We hear it over and over again, and it’s lost its power and preciousness to us.  It’s so easy to get to that point.  It may happen without you even realizing it.

This is not a new danger.  It’s been around since the beginning of the church.  Think of what Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:12, “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have...”  And in Hebrews 2, the author of Hebrews exhorts us to pay closer attention to what we have heard so that we will not drift away.  And in Philippians 3:1, Paul says that he’s writing nothing new.  But it is a safeguard for his listeners to read it and hear it again.  The gospel is something that needs repeating.  We need to be constantly reminded of the good news, because our human tendency is to drift.  We need to be anchored with the news of what Christ has done for us.  We need that so we will not be tempted to think that our relationship with God is either established or maintained on the basis of our own effort.  The gospel keeps us humble and keeps our eyes on Christ.        

So this afternoon we’re going to again consider the gospel.  As Hebrews says, let’s pay closer attention to what we have heard so that we will not drift away.  We’re going to see how the gospel announces our Mediator and Deliverer. 

We’ll consider:

1.      Who this Mediator and Deliverer is

2.      Where this gospel is found

Let’s begin with our definitions.  Remember, we’re not into taking things for granted.  So what is a Mediator?  A Mediator is someone who goes between two parties who are at odds with each other.  A Mediator steps between two people who are fighting with each other and brings them together.  A Mediator turns a relationship of enmity into a relationship of fellowship.  In the Old Testament, Moses is often described as a mediator.  He stood between God and the people.  He prayed for the people and represented their interests before God.  But Moses also represented God and brought God’s Word and especially his law to the people.  So what is a Mediator?  Here I want the kids to listen carefully.  Your mom and dad can ask you this later at home.  What is a Mediator?  He is a peacemaker.  A mediator makes peace between two people who are fighting with each other.

Who are the people fighting?  On the one side is God.  He is holy and just.  He hates sin and promises to punish it with a just judgment now and eternally.  On the other side is us.  We are sinners.  We sin in thought, word, and deed every day, even as Christians.  Our hearts are not right.  We are inclined by nature to hate God and our neighbour.  So there is this warfare between ourselves and God.  We need a Mediator to bring us together.  We need someone who can reconcile us to God. 

Reconciliation to God would also mean our deliverance.  That’s the other definition we need to think about here:  “Deliverer.”  A Deliverer is someone who saves us, who delivers us.  Delivers us from what?  From the just punishment we deserve for our sins.

This Mediator and Deliverer we need must be two things according to the teaching of Scripture.  First, he has to be a true man.  He has to be one of us.  That’s because we human beings sinned and God will only punish a human being for our sin.  But he also has to be a righteous man.  That’s because a sinner can’t pay for others.  He’s constantly piling up debt himself.  So we need someone who is a true human being, but a true human who is perfect. 

But a mere human being would be destroyed by God’s wrath against sin.  That’s why our Mediator needs also to be true God.  Only God can stand up to his own wrath.  Only if this Mediator has a divine nature and its strength will he be able to take in his human nature the brunt of God’s wrath.  Only if he is divine can he come out on the other side victorious. 

We know what Scripture says about the identity of this Mediator and Deliverer.  He is our Lord Jesus.  He is both true God and true man, and therefore qualified to step in between God and us.  He brings us peace.  He reconciles us to our Creator through his merits.  This is clearly taught us in 1 Timothy 2.  Paul says that there is one Mediator between God and men.  That Mediator is Christ.  He is the one who made the payment for us so that we can be reconciled to God. 

Scripture is clear about his humanity.  We see him in the gospels as a true man who has true human needs.  Jesus gets hungry and thirsty.  He gets sad.  He falls asleep.  He was tempted.  Think of Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.”  Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted.  He sympathizes with us.  And further in chapter 5, the author of Hebrews says that even Jesus had to learn obedience.  Even though he was the Son of God, he too had to learn what it is to be obedient to God.   He therefore knows how difficult and challenging that can be.             

Scripture is equally clear about our Saviour’s divinity, the fact that he is God almighty.  Think again of the picture portrayed for us in the gospels.  We see him commanding the wind and the waves to shut up and calm down.  We see Christ exercising authority over demons.  We see him healing and raising the dead.  We see him forgiving sins against heaven.  He was doing things that only God could do.  The rest of Scripture supports this conclusion.  1 John 5:20 says it, “He is the true God and eternal life.”  We hear Stephen and Paul praying to Jesus, offering the worship that is only due to the true God.

Through the history of the church there have been those who either denied Christ’s humanity or his divinity.  Heretics went to one extreme or the other.  Those who denied his humanity were known as docetists.  Their heresy was docetism.  Docetism says that Jesus only appeared to be human.  He took the form of a human being, but he was not a true man.  Oftentimes, this heresy has gone hand in hand with the idea that what is physical and earthly is evil and what is spiritual and heavenly is good.  We call that a spirit/matter dualism.  But the Bible doesn’t teach that physical things are in and of themselves evil.  God made this world and everything in it and he declared that it was all good, even very good (Gen. 1:31).  Sin entered into this world and has affected everything, but sin has not made created things evil in themselves.  This heresy of docetism is still around.  Generally it lurks in subtle ways in how people think about Jesus.  It lurks when people think that he wasn’t a true human baby when he was born, but some kind of super baby who never cried or wet himself.  It lurks when people think about Jesus today, right now.  There are many people who forget that Jesus has a true human nature still today, right now.  Right now he has a human body at God’s right hand.  A real, physical human body.  When we deny, forget, or minimize that, we are on the track of the docetist heresy.  It’s not just a problem because it’s wrong, but also because it is false it deprives us of comfort and hope.  We have a Saviour in heaven at God’s right hand who was and is and will always be one of us.  That’s part of our gospel hope, an indispensable part of the good news. 

There have also been those who have denied Christ’s divinity.  Right away we think of the Jehovah’s Witnesses today.  They are modern examples of what we call Arianism.  Arius taught that Jesus was only a man.  He was not God.  The JWs teach the same thing today.  For them the doctrine of the Trinity is an illogical teaching.  To reject it, however, they have to twist the Bible to fit their religion.  The classic example is what they do with John 1:1.  In our Bible it reads, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”  Now as we go further into John we find that Jesus is the Word.  So John 1:1 is a problem for the JWs.  So what do they do with it?  They make it say what the Greek does not say.  They make it say in their New World Translation, “the Word was a god.”  That’s god with a small ‘g.’  They do similar things with other passages which teach the divinity of our Saviour.  They twist the words of Scripture to fit their own liking. 

But the Jehovah’s Witnesses are just one example of this.  As you may know, the Free Church of Scotland is a sister church of ours.  They are a Presbyterian church.  Though they have their struggles and challenges, the Free Church today strives to be an orthodox and confessional Reformed church.  But back in the late 1800s, there were serious problems in the Free Church.  One of their seminary professors was William Robertson Smith.  He was a professor of Old Testament.  It soon became clear that Smith did not believe in the inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture.  He was a liberal in the classical sense of the word.  He was put on trial for heresy by the Free Church of Scotland and was fired from the seminary.  At one point he was accused of denying the divinity of Christ.  He responded, “How can they accuse me of that?  I’ve never denied the divinity of any man, let alone Jesus.”  So according to Smith, Jesus is divine but only because all human beings are divine in some sense.  You see there are different ways you can undermine or deny Christ being true God.  And they all contradict the teaching of Scripture. 

We need to be aware of these false teachings so that we don’t fall for them and fall away from the truth.  Why?  Because the gospel of our Mediator and Deliverer is at stake.  You can’t have a Mediator who is only a true and righteous man.  You can’t have a Mediator who is only true God. The Bible tells us we need a Mediator who is both.  Only a Mediator who is both can deliver us.  Only with a Mediator who is both do we have true good news. 

That’s what the gospel is.  There’s another definition for you.  Gospel means good news, glad tidings.  And where is this gospel found?  That’s another question we can’t take for granted.

You see there are those who say that the gospel is only found in the New Testament.  They say that the Old Testament is just about law and some good stories that illustrate how to live God’s way.  But if you really want to find out the good news, you need the New Testament.  And there is a small bit of truth in that.  The full revelation of the gospel is found with the coming of Jesus Christ.  After his coming in the flesh, everything becomes clear.  We come out of the shadows and into the light.

Still, our Catechism is totally right when it says that the gospel was in fact already there in the Old Testament.  It was revealed right away in Genesis 3, right after the fall.  There in Genesis 3:15 we find the mother promise.  God said, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  Those words were spoken to the serpent, but they were spoken within earshot of Adam and Eve and they were a promise to them.  Satan would meet his demise.  There would be a day of reckoning, a day of salvation.  And the rest of the Bible is the unfolding of how that takes place.  The patriarchs proclaimed it – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and so on.  The prophets too.  We think especially of the well-known prophecies of Isaiah, especially what he said in chapter 53.  The Psalms too pointed ahead to the coming of the Saviour, in fact it is the most quoted book in the New Testament and it’s almost always applied to Christ.  The Psalms are his songs.  And then there is the law. 

And this afternoon, we can pay some special attention for a minute to the laws regarding the Year of Jubilee.  That’s found in what we read from Leviticus 25.  According to God’s law, after every forty-nine years, there was to be a Year of Jubilee.  This was the year when everything was restored and set back to the way it should be.  It was like a reboot for the covenant people.  Those who had to become servants to pay off their debts were to be released during the Year of Jubilee.  People who’d had to sell their homes and properties because of debt would get them back.  This was to be the year of regained freedom and forgiveness.  Everything belonged to God and he was sovereignly bringing things back to the way they should be.  It was designed to be a rehearsal for the renewal of all things that would some day come from heaven.  It was meant to be a great and glorious year.  It was supposed to be a time that people eagerly anticipated.  They would tell each other the good news:  “Have hope my brother, my sister, the Year of Jubilee is coming.  It’s going to be great!  We have something to look forward to!  We’re going to be free.”       

There was one problem with the Year of Jubilee.  There was one major downer.  A huge issue.  The Year of Jubilee was never celebrated in all the Old Testament.  Even in the best and most faithful times of the history of Israel, we never find any evidence that the Year of Jubilee was celebrated.  Ever.  No one was ever set free.  No one had their debts released.  This law was on the books, but on the books it stayed.  It never became reality.

Until Christ came.  Let’s turn to Luke 4 and read verses 14-21.  When Isaiah wrote about the year of the Lord’s favour, he was writing about the Year of Jubilee.  Isaiah recognized that the people had never celebrated this feast.  But he said the Messiah would come and he would announce it.  He would inaugurate it.  The people had failed.  The grace involved with this feast was too much for them, it was too radical.  Setting people free, reorganizing real estate, and all of the other provisions, it was just too hard.  Too much.  But Christ would come and he would fulfill this kind of radical grace, a restoration of creation, bringing things back to the way that God wants them to be.

That work was begun with Christ’s first coming.  It continues today with the preaching of the Word and as God’s people live in this world and bring his claims to bear on it.  Some day the full reality of the Year of Jubilee will be revealed.  Through Christ and his redemptive work, creation will come to be as God intended – everyone and everything living on earth will be living for him and his glory.  That’s the gospel, that’s the good news, announced already in Leviticus 25. 

Loved ones, the gospel is not just there, it’s elsewhere in the Mosaic laws too.  We think of the Passover and the lamb whose blood protected the Israelites.  We think of the Day of Atonement and the two goats, the goat offered as a sacrifice, and the scapegoat.  These and many more passages could be studied by you.  We sometimes think that the book of Leviticus is impenetrable and difficult to understand, difficult to apply to our lives.  It is difficult – but when you put in the effort (using commentaries, Bible encyclopedias and other resources) you soon discover that the gospel is there in amazing ways.  The gospel does apply to our lives.  It applies comfort and hope to people who are sinners.  It tells us that we have a great Saviour and it leads us onward to love for him, devotion to him, and praise of him.

Let me conclude with some powerful words from John Calvin about the gospel of our Mediator:

Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God. But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.

Let’s not ever take that beautiful true gospel for granted.  AMEN.


Heavenly Father,

Our Mediator and Deliverer brings us to you again in praise and love.  We praise you that through him, the true and righteous man, our sins have been paid for.  We love you for sending your Son to bear the brunt of your wrath in his divine nature.  Thank you that he is our wisdom, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.  Everything we have before you we have in him.  O Father, please help us to continue to love this gospel message.  Help us to hold it fast in all its truth.  We pray for those who do not.  We pray for the Jehovah’s Witnesses in our city.  We pray that you would work a true knowledge of your Word into their hearts and lives that they would repent and believe the true gospel and be saved.  We pray for all who are confused around us and who don’t know you truly from your Word.  Please shine your light into their lives.  Please use us as your instruments to do that.  We pray that you would give us your help and make us strong to be your true witnesses.  For the glory of your Name.                      



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

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