Advent Series – Westminster Confession Chapter 8 (Of Christ the Mediator) 8 Articles/Article 1 (Left column)
1. It pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest, and King, the Head and Saviour of his church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world: unto whom he did from all eternity give a people, to be his seed, and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.
Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,
During the recent US presidential debates, you could tweet who you thought was winning the debate and Twitter kept score. Well, after one of the debates, the result was unanimous – the winner was Kenneth Bone. Ken Bone was a member of the audience and he asked the candidates a question about energy. And this probably tells us everything we need to know about politics and/or social media in the USA, but the reason Ken Bone was declared the winner was because of a bright red, knitted jersey that he was wearing. So the next day he was on all the breakfast shows still wearing this bright red, knitted jersey. Well it turns out that the jersey that made Jones famous was actually ‘Plan B.’ Can you believe it! He had been going to wear an olive suit but he split the trousers so he chose to wear this jersey instead. So the fact that the jersey was ‘Plan B’ became a news-story in its own right.
Well, I mention this only because sometimes we can make the mistake of thinking about the cross of Jesus Christ as God’s ‘Plan B.’ ‘Plan A’ was the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve in all their sinless innocence, and wonderful fellowship with God. But one bite of a piece of forbidden fruit brought ‘Plan A’ to a crashing halt. Now, sin infected everything and everyone. And in our minds, we can have the idea that God had to react to these new circumstances and quickly come up with ‘Plan B’ – the cross of Jesus Christ.
Well, we are going to see today that the cross of Jesus Christ was not God’s ‘Plan B’; we are going to see that the cross of Jesus Christ was always God’s plan for His people.
And we do this as part of our Advent series where we focus on who the Lord Jesus is and what He came to do as a call to faith and praise and joyful obedience and hope. And some of what we say might be well-known for some of us. But it will be new for others of us also. The point is it is in the Bible and it is true!
If you look at the first verse of Peter’s letter, you will see that he calls his readers “Elect exiles.” That title is very important for the rest of the letter; sets the tone, so to speak. These believers had been scattered from their homeland because of persecution – exiles. But this is not some sort of cosmic accident. v2 “According to the foreknowledge of God, the Father.” And more will be said about foreknowledge when we come to our text because the same word is used there in relation to the Lord Jesus. But the main point here is that the salvation situation of these believers and the life situation of these believers was according to the foreknowledge of God. His foreknowing of them in the past was why they were “elect exiles” now, and what will bring them to their true home, heaven. But for now they must endure these hardships.
Triune Salvation Song – vv3-12
v17 – “Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.” vv18-v19 – Because you have been “ransomed … with the precious blood of Christ.”
Well, Peter has more to say now about our precious and unique Saviour! And he this does by EXPLORING THE ETERNAL DIMENSIONS OF OUR REDEMPTION. For in these verses we learn astonishing truthes about the WHO? of our redemption and then the WHAT FOR? of our Redemption.
I. So first of all, the eternal dimensions of our redemption are seen in the WHO? of our redemption. When you come across a “he” or a “she” in a book, 9 times out of 10, the person last named is the person in view. And that is the case here also. In v19, Peter has been talking about Christ so the “He” at the beginning of v20 refers to Christ. So let’s see what is said about Christ and our eternal redemption in these verses:
A. The first thing is that HE “WAS FOREKNOWN BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.”
1. “The foundation of the world” means creation. So this means then that JESUS EXISTED BEFORE CREATION. Before this world came into being, Jesus was. John 1:1 speaks of this great truth also. There Jesus is referred to as the word and we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”
a. Now, we usually think about birth or conception as the moment that someone came into existence. So as we come to Christmas, though we will read about Jesus being born to Mary and placed in a manger, that is NOT WHEN JESUS BEGAN. Jesus is God. And God is eternal and without beginning. Jesus existed before the creation of the world.
2. But more is in view in this sentence: Because these verses go on to say that Jesus was made manifest, and that He rose from the dead, we see that GOD’S WHOLE PLAN OF SALVATION IN AND THROUGH JESUS IS IN VIEW HERE ALSO.
a. At its most basic, to foreknow is to know something before it happens. But much more is in view here in terms of the Father. What God foreknows is what He decrees will happen and what He causes to happen in history.
(1). Turn with me please to ISAIAH 46:9-11. And I want us to turn here and read these words because they are very important. Underline/highlight. There we read, “I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.” What God foreknows in the past is what God decrees will happen in the future and what does come to pass at the appointed time.
b. So what the Lord Jesus did on the cross was planned before the foundation of the world. Before this world existed, it was the plan of God that Jesus would die on the cross to redeem a people. What Jesus did on the cross was not ‘Plan B.’
B. So our redemption has its origins in eternity past. But next we see that how it came to pass in history as we read in v20 that Christ “WAS MADE MANIFEST IN THE LAST TIMES.” Before the foundation of the world, the Father and Son agreed that the Son would one day enter human history to begin a life that would make our salvation possible. Galatians 4:4-5 says, “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman … that we might receive the full rights of sons.” ‘Plan A’ of salvation, the plan put in place in eternity past, was made manifest; was revealed; was shown, as the Son of God was born as Mary’s Son, in Bethlehem.
C. But as wonderful as His arrival in human history was, more was needed for Him to be our Saviour. And we see this as we are told in v21 that GOD “RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD.” Much of Jesus’ life was an ordinary life like yours and mine – sleep, hunger, etc. Some of Jesus’ life was extraordinary – miracles, sinless perfection, etc. But the thing that revealed Jesus to be the Saviour we need was His resurrection from the dead. ROMANS 1:4 says that He “was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead.” Before the foundation of the world, the Father and the Son agreed that the Son would go to earth and die on the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of God’s people. So the resurrection is GOD’S ANNOUNCEMENT that Jesus had done what He and the Father agreed He would do and that it was acceptable to God.
D. The fourth and last thing we are told about Christ is that God “GAVE HIM GLORY.” And Philippians 2:9-11 says more about this. It tells us that after Jesus had done what had been planned in eternity past, “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” People tried to worship Angels, but they would not allow it. People tried to worship the Apostles, but they would not allow it. But Jesus was worshiped and is to receive our worship because He is the glorified Son of God!
So, Jesus existed before all things were created. The cross was always God’s salvation plan. The resurrection of Jesus was God’s announcement that Jesus had done what He was sent to do. And now Jesus has been glorified by the Father.
This is what is in view in our Westminster Confession Article when it says, “It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man.” Jesus Christ is the WHO of our eternal redemption.
II. So this brings us to the WHAT FOR? of our Redemption. God had an eternal plan of redemption that involved the Lord Jesus Christ. But what does that mean for us?
A. Well, this is answered very plainly in our text. Look at the end of v20 where we read that Jesus was “made manifest in these last times for the sake of you, who through Him are believers in God.”
1. So the “you” in view here are believers. But we have already them referred to as “elect exiles,” who were so “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” What we see here then is that what God foreknew and decreed before the foundation of the world had the Lord Jesus in view and also a specific group of people.
a. And this is made crystal clear in Ephesians 1:4-6 where the same language that we saw in relation to the Lord Jesus is used in relation to this group of believers, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.”
b. God’s eternal Plan A had a very specific group of people in view, which the Scripture calls God’s elect, or God chosen ones. And these the Father gave to the Son.
(1). In John 6:37, Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me.”
(2). And in John 17:6, Jesus said, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world.”
c. And our Westminster Article captures this beautiful reality of the Father giving the Lord Jesus a specific group of people when it says, “Unto whom He did from all eternity give a people.”
d. In effect, the Father said to the Son, I give you these people. Go and live as they live, die for them and rise for them. And they shall be your eternal bride.
2. But the way Peter expresses this here makes it very intimate and personal: “For the sake of YOU.” To encourage suffering believers, Peter reminds them that before the creation of the world, the Father gave you and you and you to Jesus Christ. And when Jesus came to earth, every act of obedience, and every moment of agony on the cross had you and you and you in view. What was planned in eternity past and what was accomplished in history was “for the sake of YOU.”
B. Well, the result of knowing and believing that our redemption had its origins in the agreement of the Father and the Son in eternity past is what we see at the end of v21, “So that your faith and hope are in God.”
1. This God, our God, is a God who is sovereign in salvation. He chose us in Christ. He planned to make us His children by Jesus’ work on the cross. And as we have seen, He is a God who declares “the end from the beginning.” He says, “I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.” So we have reason for confidence and trust!
2. And who God is means we may also have a confident hope for the future. God’s plan for Jesus Christ included suffering but it ended with Him being glorified. So though we might suffer today, one day we too shall be glorified with Christ in heaven. Amen.