the captain of their salvation

What is God? At Westminster, they said: God is a Spirit, in and of himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible…

This is true of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, since these three persons are one true, eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

It is beyond our understanding, why it pleased him to create anything, seeing he does not need any thing; but he did. Then there was rebellion among his creatures. Angels fell, and man fell. It is utterly beyond us to understand why he chose to continue taking any interest in this sinful fallen human race. It was out of his mere good pleasure, but we can’t say much more than that. In his mere good pleasure he made arrangements so that his own glory would be consistent with our good.

He made all the arrangements – he would bring some sinners out of their state of sin and misery, and bring them into a state of salvation, and he would do so by a Redeemer. The only redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continues to be, both God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, for ever. The Son was, and continues to be, and never ceased to be, infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection. Within the Godhead he had ample scope for loving and being loved by the other persons of the Godhead, who are one true, eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. Yet when the Father appointed him to the work of redeeming his people, he was pleased to do it.

It was undoubtedly a glorious work, all majesty and power and wisdom and love, but in order to carry it out, he needed to become of no reputation, and take on himself the form of a servant, and be made in the likeness of men, and humble himself, and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, this one who was by the Father from everlasting, as one brought up with him, daily his delight, and rejoicing always before him.

It was necessary that the Mediator should be God; it was necessary that the Mediator should be man; it was necessary that the Mediator should be God and man in one person. These are all necessary, if sinners were ever to be saved, but there was no obligation on the Son to be the Mediator, even though only he could be that mediator: no compulsion whatsoever. He would still be God over all, blessed for ever, if we had never been, or if we had been miserable. Yet as he was daily the Father’s delight, his delights were with the sons of men, and his delight was in mercy.

Strictly speaking, it is not the incarnation so much as the atonement which should above all absorb us in wonder and worship. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and that by the sacrifice of himself. The Son of man was lifted up, so that whosever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life; there is life for a look at the crucified one. Still it is legitimate, not to say necessary, to look in awe on this infinite stooping down, that the eternal Son of God became man, and to pause half way through Paul’s faithful saying – that Christ Jesus came. “His being clothed with our nature derogates nothing from the true reason of divine worship due unto him,” said John Owen, “but adds an effectual motive unto it.”

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7 thoughts on “the captain of their salvation

  1. Many thanks Cath!

    “It was necessary that the Mediator should be God”
    If there’s any particular references you have in mind I’d love it if you shared them.
    The attributes required dictate it to a large extent, but I can’t think of any particular verses at present.

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  2. The Larger Catechism says, so that he could “sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God, and the power of death; give worth and efficacy to his sufferings, obedience, and intercession; and to satisfy God’s justice, procure his favour, purchase a peculiar people, give his Spirit to them, conquer all their enemies, and bring them to everlasting salvation.”

    Supporting texts include Acts 2, it was not possible that he should be held by death; Heb 9, he offered himself; Heb 7, he doesn’t need to offer up sacrifice daily. Plus several more, http://www.reformed.org/documents/wlc_w_proofs/ (q38-40)

    Point being presumably all the various things that would be required from the Mediator that a mere man couldn’t provide/fulfil. Not sure where it comes from but there’s a phrase in circulation to the effect that he was able to put his hand on the shoulder of both parties, being himself God and also man. Ie he is able to represent the interests of God and of man.

    Any thoughts yourself?

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  3. Many thanks, some of those its relatively easy for those who deny the Deity of Christ to complain at, some need inferring, but some are pretty clear cut.

    I can’t think of whatever phrase you may be thinking of. There’s being tempted like us for man, and then being in union with the Father, but I can’t think of any single link right now other than 1 Tim 2v5:
    “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”

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  4. quact, maybe I missed the point you were getting at – if the question is, how do you demonstrate that Christ is divine, i would have chosen different texts?

    the quotation from the LC i gave was intended to outline why one of the essential qualifications of the Mediator is that he should be divine – different q.

    was quite interested by the “proof texts” actually – like you say some of them need some thought to see the connection, not that (apparently) they were original to the people who wrote the catechism (can anyone confirm) and you often need a bit more context/ background knowledge to make sense of their choices (not just on this one obv)

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  5. Pingback: season’s greetings « ninetysix and ten

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