"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" (1 Tim. 2:5, 6).
There is one God, one human race, and one mediator between the two. The one God is a unity who alone is the source of all created things. His character is holiness, love, and truth. The one human race has descended from its common ancestors, Adam and Eve. The human race had a common origin and constitutes a unity. The entire human race is in sin and needs salvation. The one mediator is Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. He is the only person who could ever have served as mediator between the one God and the one human race. If Jesus had never fulfilled His work as mediator, that work never would have been accomplished. Included in this truth, therefore, are the facts of the unity of God, the unity of the human race, and the uniqueness of Christ.
I. Man's Need for a Mediator
Before Adam sinned the human race had no need for a mediator. Man's character reflected the moral likeness of God; he lived in submission to God's rulership; he obeyed God's will. Man walked in fellowship with God. A satisfactory divine-human relationship was sustained between Creator and creature.
Adam and Eve, however, rebelled against God's authority; they refused to obey His will. The original divine-human fellowship was broken. Fallen man walked alone. In choosing self Adam erected a barrier between himself and God. He slammed shut the door of fellowship and locked it from within. The windows of his heart that had been open heavenward now were closed. His heart was filled with darkness. His vertical contact with God had been destroyed. The posterity of Adam, therefore, was born with unlikeness to God's character, opposition to His government, and a predisposition to transgress God's laws.
Sinners stand before God as criminals under condemnation, as enemies estranged from God's fellowship, and as dead ones having no vital contact with Him. Consider the dark picture of the sinner's position before God as revealed in Ephesians 2:12, "At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." What a contrast there is between the one God in His holiness and the one human race in its sin!
Visualize a modern highway on a high mountain plateau suddenly coming to an abrupt end at the edge of a deep chasm. Across the wide gorge one can see the high steep slope of a great bluff that forms the opposite wall of the canyon. There on the mountain top he can see the continuation of the highway. To reach the other side of the canyon one would need to descend a vertical wall of solid rock, hack his way through a dense tropical jungle, and then scale the great bluff on the opposite side.
This is a picture of the immense gulf between God and man. Man's deliberate revolt from God produced an impassable gulf between creature and Creator. One mountain bluff pictures God in His holiness. The other bluff on the opposite side of the chasm represents the human race in its sin.
God in His infinite holiness cannot forgive sinners unless His justice is satisfied by sin's penalty being paid. Man in his sin cannot experience eternal life, self-realization, spiritual light, and true freedom apart from an adequate fellowship with God. There must be a bridge across the chasm so that there can be a continuous two-lane highway between man and God. Apart from such a structure sinners cannot find salvation, and God's blessings cannot flow into the lives of men.
Man through his own efforts could never build a bridge between himself and God. Salvation does not originate in man; it is not based upon human works. Salvation originates in God. It is planned by His wisdom, prompted by His love, and performed through His power. Jesus Christ as Mediator is the bridge between God and men. That bridge is a reality because of the divine initiative. "God so loved the world that he gave. " God is the one who has erected the bridge between Himself and man.
II. Christ the Only Mediator
Jesus is the one and only Mediator between the one God and the one human race. He is the only Saviour, the all-sufficient Sacrifice, the perfect and eternal High Priest. He alone is qualified to serve as Mediator. He is the only one required. He excludes all others. No other person could ever have occupied His position or performed His mediatorial work. No angel, no animal, no sinner could have served as mediator. Jesus stands alone in His ability to fulfill the requirements of a mediator between God and men.
There is a growing sentiment among modern thinkers which suggests the creation of one universal religion for all humanity. They feel that heathen religions are as valid as Christianity. They may agree that Christianity is superior to other religions, but they deny that it is the exclusive means of salvation. They insist that all religions have some good elements. They suggest that Christianity give up all claims to being supernatural and supreme. They suggest that it should combine with the best elements of all religions in order to create one world faith and one world church.
Men who are working, for a union of all religions point out the fact that all religious are alike in that each one has some variation of the Golden Rule. Hinduism says: "The true rule is to guard and do by the things of others as you do by your own." Buddhism teaches: "One should seek for others the happiness one desires for oneself." Confucianism: "What you do not wish done to yourself, do not do it to others." Zoroastrianism: "Do as you would be done by." Islam: "Let none of you treat your brother in a way he himself would dislike to be treated" or "No one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself. " Judaism teaches: "Whatsoever you do not wish your neighbor to do to you, do not to him." The Christian Golden Rule is: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them."
The Golden Rule, however, is not the sole factor which brings salvation. A man could keep the Golden Rule and yet be a lost sinner. Salvation cannot result from man's self-efforts. Men cannot be saved by their own works. Salvation can come only through a redemptive relationship with Jesus Christ.
Christianity is not merely one religion among many. It is the religion. Jesus is the only Saviour. Christianity is the only way to God. All other religious roads are dead-end streets. Leaders of heathen religions may have been "saintly men," but they are lost sinners apart from Christ. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). Peter declared, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Paul wrote, "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5). Jesus is the only redemptive link between heaven and earth. He is the only bridge between Creator and creature. He is the only door between God and man. If man shuts that door, there is no other opportunity for salvation.
Christianity is the perfect religion of God for the whole human race. It is the end of all religions, and will itself have no end. It is the final revelation of God to men. All further religious progress will be a growth of humanity in (but not beyond) Christianity, or a more complete apprehension and application of the spirit and example of Christ. The Kingdom of God on earth is intended to embrace all nations and to last forever.
Christianity is the most rational of all religions, and is consistent with the highest culture. Its doctrines and facts are indeed above, but not against reason, and the more reason is elevated and purified, the nearer it approaches revelation. The Christian religion commands the homage of the greatest intellects, as well as of the humblest child. . . . Other religions cannot bear the touch of criticism, nor survive an advanced stage of intellectual culture.
Christianity is the religion of humanity. It is catholic or universal, i.e., adapted to the whole human race, while all other religions in capacity and extent are ethnic, i.e., limited to one or more nations.
Christianity is universal not only as to extent, but also internally, in that it is suited to all classes, states and conditions of man. It brings the same blessings to all, it requires the same duties from all. It is compatible with every form of government, with every kind of society, with every grade of culture, with the largest progress and development, physical, intellectual, and moral. It can never be replaced or superseded.
Christianity is pleromatic. It is the fullness and harmony of all the truths which are scattered through the different religions without their corresponding errors and defects. It is the central truth which comprehends all other truths. (Schaff, Philip. Theological Propaedeutic. New York: Scribners, 1904, pp. 59-62.)
III. The Only Mediator Needed
Jesus is the only mediator required; His work is complete, all-sufficient, and eternally effective. There is only one bridge across the chasm between God and man; there is no need for any other. Nothing should stand between the believer and God except Jesus Christ. When He stands between the two, He is not a barrier nor a blockade; He is a window through whom one can see God and an open door through whom one can enter into a fellowship with God.
(Adapted from Systematic Theology, by Alva Huffer, published by Church of God General Conference, Oregon, Illinois 61061, U.S.A.)
© Church of God General Conference. This lesson may be reproduced without change for non-commercial purposes without prior permission.