Scripture Reading: Hebrews 9:1-15
Sermon Title: In Christ: The Mediator of God’s Will
Sermon Text: Ephesians 1:3-14
God wills our salvation in Christ for the praise of His glory.
GOD WILLS: The magnificence of God’s will, OUR SALVATION: The blessings of God’s will, IN CHRIST: The mediator of God’s will, FOR THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY: The response to God’s will
Introduction: Mediation and Salvation
Christ: The Prophet of God’s will
Christ: The Priest of God’s will
Christ: The King of God’s will
I provide this manuscript as a courtesy. I do not follow the document word for word during the message. I also do not write the document with the intent of publication; there may be grammatical errors throughout. Unfortunately, there is not always time to proofread. I choose to use my available time for studying, finding ways to explain the truths of Scripture while keeping a balance of time for visiting and discipleship of people in the church. Thanks for understanding.
Introduction: Mediation and Salvation
If I commit a crime and am found guilty, I desire to have good representation. The goal for me would be to find a very good lawyer who understands the courts, legal system, and the judge. The lawyer is the mediator for me and speaks legalese for me to the justice system.
If I were president of a small country and a very large country declared war on our country and promised to annihilate us, I would desire to have a very good ambassador who can represent my country to the larger country. The ambassador speaks for the country.
If I were to have an important business meeting with a company that spoke a different language, I would desire to have a good interpreter who understood the foreign language and the language which I speak. The interpreter ensures the communication is delivered and understood with the correct intentions.
The lawyer, ambassador, and interpreter are all mediators. There are many types of mediators. A mediator is a go-between between two parties.
We have not done anything to earn our salvation, but it is done by Christ who has acted on our behalf as a mediator. Christ is our go-between. But, we did not appoint Jesus to be our mediator. God appointed Jesus to be our mediator.
As God’s mediator, we see what Christ has done on our behalf:
- We receive from God every spiritual blessing, (v.3)
- God chooses us for adoption as children (v.4, 5)
- God gives us grace (v.6)
- We have redemption and the forgiveness of sins (v.7)
- We have obtained an inheritance, (v.11)
- We are given hope (v.12)
- We are sealed with the Holy Spirit (v.13)
All of these are given to us by God through the mediator God appointed, Jesus Christ.
For me to describe the crucifixion and how Jesus took our punishment would not be new information to you. Instead, what I would rather do, is help us to see and understand Christ’s role as a mediator in our salvation. If we understand Christ’s role completely, it gives us greater assurance of our salvation.
The main idea of the message today is this: Be assured God’s will for our salvation is sealed by Christ, our mediator.
God looked upon us and knew of our total depravity. We were a people estranged from God. We were at one time His enemies and deserving of God’s punishment. We loved the darkness more than the light. Our flesh was hostile toward God. We were blind. We were spiritually dead. God chose to love us and save us. God’s will is to exalt Jesus Christ. The way God exalts Christ is to have Him be complete responsibility for our salvation. Christ gets all the glory. We do nothing to save ourselves.
To save us, God sent a mediator to speak the truth to us about our sin and our need for salvation. God sent a mediator to bring a sacrifice on our behalf to appease God’s wrath. Lastly, God’s plan of salvation is to have a mediator sit in authority over the reconciled relationship and eternally preserve our standing of peace before God.
God’s use of a mediator is not new. In history, God uses many mediators. There are three types of mediators which God uses.
The first type of mediator is a prophet. The first prophet in the Scripture is Noah, who declared to mankind the need to repent. Numerous prophets followed in Noah’s footsteps. The more famous prophets include Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Elijah, and Ezekiel. The role of the prophet as mediator is to speak the truth for God and say, “thus says the Lord.”
The second type of mediator between man and God is a priest. Unlike prophets who speak to people on behalf of God and represent God to the people, a priest represents the people to God. Priests serve as a mediator in offering sacrifices from the people to God. Priests seek to please God by appeasing God’s wrath and satisfying His just anger. Priests make offerings to God because of man’s sin.
Another type of mediator is a King. A king represents God’s judicial rule, authority, and commands. There are many kings who represented God in Israel. King David is the most well-known and popular of the kings.
Prophets, priests, and kings of the Old Testament serve as a shadow, a type designed to point to that which was to come. They serve as a figure to prophetically represent the good which God has in store for His people. They are the appetizer to prepare us for the main meal. They all point to Jesus. God’s plan for the Universe is to have Jesus Christ be the embodiment of all three mediator offices. The apostle Paul wrote, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). God’s plan is to exalt Jesus as Prophet of all prophets, Priest of all priests, and King of all kings.
In the opening paragraph of Ephesians, each mention of Jesus Christ points to one of the three offices. Let’s look at these offices.
Christ: The Prophet of God’s will
We see Christ as the prophet of God’s will in verse 13:
“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”
The message of truth, which is the gospel, is a proclamation of salvation that is made to mankind. The very basics of the gospel is:
- Mankind has sinned against God, and that sin results in a punishment of death.
- Mankind cannot save himself, but needs to be saved from that punishment by a Savior
- Salvation is available to those willing to believe and trust in the Savior.
Jesus is a prophet mediator who proclaims the completeness of God’s gospel message. The gospel is made clear in Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ, there is no gospel.
Without prophets proclaiming the Lord’s word, we would not know God’s will and desire. Without the proclamation of the gospel there is no revealing of God’s plan for creation. The gospel is the unveiling of God’s will so it no longer remains a mystery. The proclamation of the gospel and revealing the mystery of God’s will are the same thing.
Most often, when we think about prophets, we think about prophets who tell us about Jesus. We don’t always think of Jesus as a prophet, but He is. The writer of Hebrews proclaims, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Jesus refers to Himself as a prophet twice during His ministry. The first time is when Jesus is in Nazareth. He said the reason for not doing many miracles there was because, “A prophet is not without honor except in his home town, and in his own household.” (Matt. 13:57-58). The second time Jesus referred to Himself as a prophet is towards the end of His ministry. He knows He is going to die, and He knows He will die in Jerusalem. Jesus is told, “Go away and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And Jesus tells them it is His goal to reach Jerusalem to be crucified. He knows He will die there because Scripture says “prophets” perish in Jerusalem (Luke 13:31-33).
As a prophet, Jesus proclaimed, “thus says the Lord” like no other prophet before. The Gospel of John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus is, “thus says the Lord” in the flesh. Words are symbols on a page to represent something else. Jesus is the Word in exact representation.
Other prophets declare the words of God. Jesus says I am the Word of God. Jesus is the greatest revelation of God the Father because He not only speaks the words of the Father, but is the word of the Father. He lives and walks as the Father walks. When we look at Jesus, we may say, thus says the Lord and thus lives the Lord. Everything we desire to know about God is revealed in Jesus. He is the fullness of the Godhead.
Because He is the Word, who became flesh, Jesus life speaks. Jesus birth speaks of the humility of God. Jesus healing speaks of God being moved with compassion. Jesus death on the cross profoundly speaks of God’s amazing love.
Jesus spoke as a prophet with ultimate authority. He spoke for God as God in the flesh. Jesus prophesied to Nicodemus that God so loved the world that He sent His Son that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus tells us we must be born again, and those who are not the wrath of God abides upon them.
Jesus provided clarity to how God would have us think. For example, He taught about what we should look for before His second coming. As Jesus shared the Sermon on the Mount, He said, “You have heard that you should not commit murder, but I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court.” He taught God’s sheep will hear His voice. Jesus taught we are to count the cost of following Him, and it is better to lose one of the parts of our body than for our whole body to be thrown into hell.
It is because of the prophetic utterings of Jesus we know He is the anointed Messiah who came to take away the sins of the world. He proclaimed all the Law, Prophets, and Writings pointed to Him. Jesus explained the details of that to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Think of it this way. All the prophets spoke of Jesus Christ. Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Jonah, all the prophets God sent, spoke of Jesus. Along came Jesus, and as a prophet of God, Jesus spoke of Jesus.
Jesus is the ultimate prophetic mediator who reveals the oracles of God. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6).
As Ephesians 1:9 says, God has made known to us the mystery of His will. Jesus said He is that mystery revealed because He is the embodiment of God’s will. God opens our eyes to the gospel of the glory of Christ, and we see the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
Christ: The Priest of God’s will
Jesus is not only a prophet who proclaims the need for salvation. Jesus is the means for our salvation. Jesus is not only the truth, but He is the way.
Ephesians 1:7-8 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.” Jesus serves as a mediator by serving as a priest on our behalf and making a sacrifice of blood which brings us redemption and forgiveness.
The role of the priest as mediator is to stand between men and God. The priests make offerings and sacrifices to God on man’s behalf. Offerings and sacrifices have always been a key part of the relationship between man and God. An offering is a gift or a tribute. We make offerings of praise as a tribute to God. A sacrifice is made because of sin.
God desires for us to know there is a price to be paid for sin. God expresses to His people there must be a punishment and the punishment is death. God is very specific about that death. The evidence for death in a living being is the pouring out of the blood. Whenever the blood is poured out, the being dies. The book of Leviticus makes this clear. Because the life of the creature is in the blood, God requires proof of the death by pouring out blood upon the altar. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” (Leviticus 17:11).
The book of Hebrews is very instructive and helps us understand the relationship between the priesthood and Jesus’ death on the cross. The book of Hebrews equates Jesus’ death to the Old Testament sacrifice made on the Day of Atonement. There were frequent sacrifices made for sin throughout the year, but the sacrifice made on the Day of Atonement was different. We read in Leviticus the detailed instruction of how, once a year, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies with the blood of a bull and a goat and sprinkled it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. When the High Priests did this, and he and the Israelite people put their faith in the sacrifice and the forgiveness of sins, they were cleansed from their sin. Each year, they had to be cleansed, it was not a one-time sacrifice.
The Old Testament Levitical Priesthood and Day of Atonement were shadows of what was to come. The priests and the sacrifices point to Jesus. Jesus is the High Priest of all the high priests, and His sacrifice is the sacrifice of all sacrifices.
Unlike the Levitical Priests, who sacrificed goats and bulls, Jesus gave His blood. Jesus, as a priest, willingly shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins. Listen to how the writer of Hebrews describes Jesus sacrifice as a priest:
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 9:11-15)
One more element of Jesus’ priesthood is that Jesus is not a Levitical priest according to the Law of Moses. Jesus is a priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Psalm 110:4 says, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” This is a Psalm of David. A thousand years before Jesus was born David prophesied the Messiah would be a priest, but not a Levitical priest.
Jesus is not qualified to be a priest according to the Mosaic Covenant. Jesus is a descendant of David and not from the tribe of Levi. Priests, according to the Mosaic Covenant, had to be Levites.
In the time of Abraham, there was a man named Melchizedek who was a king and a priest. The prophecy stated Jesus would be like Melchizedek, able to be both priest and king.
In verse 2 of Psalm 110, the same Psalm written by David, that says the Messiah is a priest according to Melchizedek also says, “The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.” A scepter is a rod that a King holds in his hand as a symbol of power. Jesus is a priest and a king. This leads to our third point.
Christ: The King of God’s will
Christ serving God as a mediator who is a King is apparent in verses 9-10 of Ephesians 1:
He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. (Ephesians 1:9-10)
A king is someone who has authority to rule and reign over a group of people. In the Old Testament, kings were established for the welfare of the nation. David was the most famous of God’s kings. The kings served to represent God’s rule and reign.
During the time of His birth, the Magi sought Jesus asking, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” and they brought gifts fitting for a king (Matthew 2:2). On Palm Sunday, Matthew records Jesus entry into Jerusalem as being that of a king and fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah, which states, Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey” (Matthew 21:5). When Jesus stood before Pilate, Matthew records, “Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” (Matthew 27:11).
God has chosen Jesus to be the King who exercises God’s authority, God’s laws, and God’s justice. Jesus has all authority. Jesus gave commands for us to obey. Jesus judges the living and the dead. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.
As we think about Jesus’ ministry as prophet and as priest we marvel at how amazing He served in those offices. Jesus work as a King has not yet been fulfilled in all its glory. The very best of Jesus work as King is yet to come and we have much to look forward to as He will be a glorious King.
There is a very good reason the Apostle Paul refers to Jesus 14 times in verses 3-14. Paul desires to make it very clear it is because of Jesus we are saved. We were blind, spiritually dead, enemies of God. God initiated a relationship with us despite our sin. God chose us and sent a supremely capable mediator to save us and proclaim God’s glory and love. Jesus is far superior in every way.
How should Jesus as the Prophet of God’s will impact our life? What this means is we need not turn to any other place to know God’s will. We have the true and prophetic words of God spoken by God in the flesh. We need not look for any other truth because Jesus is the truth.
There is no more truth needed. Do not let anyone sway you from the truth of Jesus Christ. There are no latter day prophets who speak for God. Jesus scompletes the speaking of God. The very last pages of Scripture are Jesus words.
Any teaching which contradicts the teaching of Jesus is a false teaching. Mohammed, Hare Krishna, Ellen G. White (Seventh Day Adventists), Joseph Smith (Mormons), Charles Russel (Jehovah’s witnesses), the Pope, and many others claim to speak for God. They are false prophets. The Prophet of all prophets has spoken, and there is no other. If we desire to know the words of life given by God the Father, we have no further place to look than the words of life given by God the Son.
We are to believe, as Ephesians 1:13 says, the message of truth, the gospel of our salvation. It is only the Gospel of Jesus Christ which brings us adoption so we may be people who are a possession of God.
Priests mediate forgiveness and redemption. Jesus offers eternal forgiveness and redemption. If God’s children who were under the Mosaic law received redemption and forgiveness by the priest sprinkling the blood of goats and bulls upon the altar; how much more will the sprinkling of the blood of Christ cleanse us from sin and bring redemption?
The Mosaic Covenant priests were great in number because they died and were unable to continue in their priesthood. Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, is a priest forever. He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for the saints.
Jesus, the High Priest, is perfectly holy. Jesus never had to offer sacrifices for His own sin. Jesus only needed to offer one sacrifice when He offered up Himself as a sacrifice for us.
The book of Hebrews tells us how we should think and live because of Jesus’ superior priesthood:
19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:19-25)
This passage tells us what we are to do. Boldly draw near with faith. Do not waver on confessing Christ as our Savior. Encourage one another in the faith as we faithfully assemble.
Jesus has a track record of being good and just. He is proven as a King, who will lovingly care for His subjects. He already gave His life to defeat our enemies. He gave the supreme sacrifice any king could ever give.
Jesus will govern with all authority. All authority is given to Him. Everything is under His authority. There are no competing authorities. He will keep us safe from our enemies. Jesus defeated all of our enemies on the cross. There are none stronger than He who can rise against us.
Jesus will be just in His rule. Everything will be judged fairly. His commands are not difficult or unreasonable. He rules His Kingdom with one law, love one another.
We need not worry that Jesus will lose office or be defeated as King. He will reign forever because His kingdom has no end.
As exalted Prophet, we have heard the perfect truth. We need not look elsewhere to hear God’s will.
As exalted Priest, Jesus offers the perfect sacrifice. There is no need for any other sacrifice. God’s wrath is completely satisfied for those who are in Christ. Draw boldly before God’s throne.
As exalted King, Jesus rules with all authority. We may forever be found to be in perfect peace with God because Jesus ensures we are kept safely in the Kingdom. That is His job.
As we stand before the Almighty God, trust in Christ who as our mediator, brought us there to stand. We are in His hands. He intercedes to God as our advocate. He paid the penalty required by God’s justice. He protects us from any who might bring any new charges by covering us with His holiness. We stand before God, in Christ.
How sure may we be in our salvation? If our salvation depends on upon us, we have much to worry about. But, we know it doesn’t depend on us. Our salvation is very sure because it rests upon Jesus the Prophet, Priest, and King.
MAIN IDEA: Be assured God’s will for our salvation is sealed by Christ, our mediator