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§ 2. Qualifications for the Work.
What those qualifications are the Scriptures clearly teach.
1. He must be a man. The Apostle assigns as the reason why Christ assumed our nature and not the nature of angels, that He came to redeem us. (Hebrews ii. 14-16.) It was necessary that 457He should be made under the law which we had broken; that He should fulfil all righteousness; that He should suffer and die; that He should be able to sympathize in all the infirmities of his people, and that He should be united to them in a common nature. He who sanctifies (purifies from sin both as guilt and as pollution) and those who are sanctified are and must be of one nature. Therefore as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, He also took part of the same. (Hebrews ii. 11-14.)
2. The Mediator between God and man must be sinless. Under the law the victim offered on the altar must be without blemish. Christ, who was to offer Himself unto God as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, must be Himself free from sin. The High Priest, therefore, who becomes us, He whom our necessities demand, must be holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. (Hebrews vii. 26.) He was, therefore, “without sin.” (Hebrews iv. 15; 1 Peter ii. 22.) A sinful Saviour from sin is an impossibility. He could not have access to God. He could not be a sacrifice for sins; and He could not be the source of holiness and eternal life to his people. This sinlessness of our Lord, however, does not amount to absolute impeccability. It was not a non potest peccare. If He was a true man He must have been capable of sinning. That He did not sin under the greatest provocation; that when He was reviled He blessed; when He suffered He threatened not; that He was dumb, as a sheep before its shearers, is held up to us as an example. Temptation implies the possibility of sin. If from the constitution of his person it was impossible for Christ to sin, then his temptation was unreal and without effect, and He cannot sympathize with his people.
3. It was no less necessary that our Mediator should be a divine person. The blood of no mere creature could take away sin. It was only because our Lord was possessed of an eternal Spirit that the one offering of Himself has forever perfected them that believe. None but a divine person could destroy the power of Satan and deliver those who were led captive by him at his will. None but He who had life in Himself could be the source of life, spiritual and eternal, to his people. None but an almighty person could control all events to the final consummation of the plan of redemption, and could raise the dead; and infinite wisdom and knowledge are requisite in Him who is to be judge of all men, and the head over all to his Church. None but one in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead could be the object as well as the source of the religious life of all the redeemed.458
These qualifications for the office of mediator between God and man are all declared in the Scriptures to be essential; they are met in Christ; and they all were demanded by the nature of the work which He came to perform.
As it was necessary that Christ should be both God and man in two distinct natures and one person, in order to effect our redemption, it follows that his mediatorial work, which includes all He did and is still doing for the salvation of men, is the work not of his human to the exclusion of his divine nature, nor of the latter to the exclusion of the former. It is the work of the Θεάνθρωπος, of the God-man. Of the acts of Christ, as already remarked, some are purely divine, as creation, preservation, etc.; others purely human, i.e., those which the ordinary powers of man are not only adequate to accomplish, but in which only human faculties were exercised; and, thirdly, those which are mixed, which belong to the whole person. As speaking in man is a joint exercise of the mind and of the body, so the mediatorial work in Christ is the joint work of his divinity and humanity. Each nature acts agreeably to its own laws. When a man speaks, the mind and body concur in the production of the effect, each according to its nature. So when our Lord spake, the wisdom, truth, and authority with which He spake were due to his divinity; the human form of the thoughts and their articulation were what they were in virtue of the functions of his human nature. So with all his redemptive acts. As the mind of man concurs in the endurance of the sufferings of the body according to the nature of mind, so the divinity of Christ concurred with the sufferings of his human nature according to the nature of the divinity.
On this subject the schoolmen made the following distinctions: “(1.) Est ὁ ἐνεργῶν, Agens seu Principium quod agit, quod est suppositum seu persona Christi. (2.) Τὸ ἐνεργητικὸν seu Principium formale quo agit; illud per quod agens, seu persona Christi operatur, duæ scilicet naturæ, quarum unaquæque citra ullum confusionem operatur. (3.) Ἐνέργεια seu operatio quæ pendet a principio quo, et naturam sui principii refert, ut sit divina, si principium quo sit divina natura, humana vero, si sit humanitas. (4.) Ενέργημα, seu ἀποτέλεσμα, quod pendet a principio quod, estque opus externum quod mediationem vocamus. . . . . Ita unum est agens principale, nim. persona Christi, et unum ἀποτέλεσμα seu opus mediatorium; sed operatur per duas naturas, ut duo principia, unde fluunt duæ ἐνεργείαι seu operationes ad unum illud opus concurrentes.”393393Turrettin, locus. XIV. quæst. ii. 3, edit. Edinburgh, 1847, vol. ii. p. 335. He quotes from Damasc. lib. li. 4, orth. fid. c. 18, and refers to Leo’s 10th Epistle to Flavian.459
All Christ’s acts and sufferings in the execution of his mediatorial work were, therefore, the acts and sufferings of a divine person. It was the Lord of glory who was crucified; it was the Son of God who poured out his soul unto death. That this is the doctrine of the Scriptures is plain, (1.) Because they attribute the efficacy and power of his acts, the truth and wisdom of his words, and the value of his sufferings to the fact that they were the acts, words, and sufferings of God manifested in the flesh. They are predicated of one and the same person who from the beginning was with God and was God, who created all things and for whom all things were made and by whom all things consist. (2.) If the mediatorial work of Christ belongs to his human nature exclusively, or, in other words, if He is our mediator only as man, then we have only a human Saviour, and all the glory, power, and sufficiency of the Gospel are departed. (3.) From the nature of the work. The redemption of fallen men is a work for which only a divine person is competent. The prophetic office of Christ supposes that He possessed “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;” his sacerdotal office required the dignity of the Son of God to render his work available; and none but a divine person could exercise the dominion with which Christ as mediator is intrusted. Only the Eternal Son could deliver us from the bondage of Satan, and from the death of sin, or raise the dead, or give eternal life, or conquer all his and our enemies. We need a Saviour who was not only holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, but who also “is higher than the heavens.”
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