This study is based upon the New City Catechism.

Text

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5)

Exposition

After deciding where to go, vacationers have to decide how they will get there. If by plane, then which connections? If by car, then which roads? Some of us have fond, nervous memories of a parent driving with one eye on the road and the other on a map. There are typically numerous ways to arrive at a single destination. This is not so in how we relate to God. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). There is one way, one road, one avenue to God. We come to Him through Jesus, or we do not come at all.

This is the exclusivity of Christ’s redemptive work. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Christ is the only source of life and our only hope for redemption (6:53-58). He is the only Redeemer.

The exclusivity of Christ’s redemptive work is tied to its historicity. When we say that Jesus is our Redeemer, we are not using symbolic or figurative language. He is literally the Redeemer, by consequence of the unique, historical work He has accomplished – namely, His incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and perpetual intercession. The Apostle’s Creed explains the historicity of Christ’s work like this:

I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried…. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

First, Christ was “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.” Jesus is truly God and truly man.[1] At a particular moment, the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and caused her to conceived, yet in such manner as to maintain her innocence (Matthew 1:18-25). Jesus grew in her womb nine months and was born in no particularly special manner. He then lived and matured as a man because He was a man: very man and very God. The incarnation was an actual event in time and space, when the infinite God committed himself to a hypostatic union with created flesh (John 1:1-18).

Second, Christ “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.” Jesus suffered, on earth as a man, at the hands of lawless men (Acts 2:23). There came an hour when He was physically nailed to a cross – nervous system responding, heart throbbing, lungs heaving. Then He died and was sealed in Joseph’s tomb (Matthew 27:57-61). As God, Christ’s divine nature did not die or suffer, but as man, He truly did.

Third, Christ “rose again from the dead” on the third day. He is God’s chosen Servant (Isaiah 42:1). He obeyed God to the uttermost, and so God refused to leave Him to the decay of death (Acts 2:24-28; Philippians 2:5-11). Christ had suffered for sinners, but He was not a sinner Himself. Therefore, after the redemption of His people had been accomplished, He was loosed from the pangs of death.

Fourth, Christ “ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty.” Jesus’ incarnation – the hypostatic union of divine and human – was a permanent decision. He is perpetually the God-man, the Messiah, the image of the Triune God (Colossians 1:15-23). His present ministry is priestly intercession. He advocates for God’s elect in the presence of God the Father (1 John 2:1-2).

Therefore, when we say that “the only Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ,” we are not speaking metaphorically or spiritually. We mean that Jesus is truly and actually our Redeemer. He physically, in time and space, made atonement for our sins. The condescended to us, to identify with us and lie in our place on God’s altar. This Jesus is the only One to have ever done this, which is why there is one mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5).

In relation to the historicity of Christ’s work, we must end with a warning for disciplines critical of Scripture. Against theological liberalism, we maintain the historicity of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension – all of it, as Scripture details. Christ purchased a bride for Himself in time and space: not metaphorically, but physically and historically. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. Substitutionary atonement is an historical event.


Question: Who is the Redeemer?
Answer: The only Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ.


[1] We say “truly” instead of “fully,” because to say Christ is fully or “100%” God is to say that everything pertaining to Himself is divine. He being fully man would teach the same thing. This necessarily implies either of two false doctrines. On the one hand, it teaches that His deity and humanity are molded into one hybrid, “demi-god” nature. On the other hand, it teaches that either His deity or humanity are lost in His incarnation. There is no reasonable way that all of Christ can be divine and human at the exact same time in the exact same way. Therefore, we prefer the terminology of “truly,” “actually,” or “very.”

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