“One Mediator” (1 Timothy 2:1-15)

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 22, 2019

“One Mediator” (1 Timothy 2:1-15)

Our text this morning is a portion of the Epistle for this day, 1 Timothy 2, reading from verse 3 through verse 7, as follows: “God our Savior . . . desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle. . . .”

This has to be one of the most hated passages in the Bible in our day. Think of it: It boldly proclaims that there is only one mediator between God and men, and that it is the man Christ Jesus. That is just unacceptable! It is way too narrow for most people today. “One Mediator”?

The amazing thing is, this “one mediator” business is unacceptable and way too narrow even for some people who claim to be Christian. Case in point: The ELCA. The ELCA is the church body that calls itself the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I call it the Extremely Liberal Church in America. How many revolutions per minute Luther is spinning in his grave because they use his name, I don’t know.

But I do know what the ELCA did at its churchwide assembly just last month. Committee chairperson Bishop Patricia Lull introduced a proposed policy statement called “A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment.” The document contains lines such as these: “We must be careful about claiming to know God’s judgments regarding another religion.” “In the context of inter-religious relations, we do not need answers to these questions. . . .”

Well, one brave soul offered up an amendment to strike these words and this section from the resolution. Citing Jesus’ words from John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” convention delegate Zachary Johnson said, “We have a clear statement from Jesus, who is fully God and fully man. We do therefore have a basis to know God’s views on religions that do not require faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son.”

This should be a no-brainer, right? Wrong. The committee declined to bring the amendment to the floor. Undeterred, Johnson stood up and spoke to the assembly: “I am here to speak truth to power, even if it is an inconvenient truth. I would urge this assembly to repudiate and repent of any false teachings.” Pastor Jennifer Chrien spoke against the amendment: “Frankly I am embarrassed that we are having this conversation right now in front of all of our interfaith guests.” The assembly overwhelmingly rejected Johnson’s amendment, and they adopted the Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment by a vote of over 97%. So much for the ELCA.

But really, friends, the ELCA is right in line with the thinking of most people in our culture today. It is very unpopular and not at all politically correct–in fact, it’s downright offensive in our world–to say that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, that he is, in the words of our text, the one mediator between God and men.

Heck, most people today would not even agree that we need any mediator between us and God. They might not agree that there even is a God at all, much less that we need someone to get us right with him. So many people give no thought at all to God. They just carry on as if there is no God, no sin, no death, no eternity, no heaven, no hell, no final judgment. All that matters is the next fun experience, the latest electronic device, the newest program on Netflix, and the hottest celebrity gossip. That’s their life. God doesn’t even enter in.

That is the life of a fool. “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” For there is a God. He is the one who made us. He is the one to whom we are accountable. And he will judge us in the end. So how do we stack up with him? And if there is something wrong between us and God, can it get made right? Or does God just want to condemn us and damn us and send us to hell? Those are questions that should be paramount in everyone’s thinking.

Paul has been thinking about these questions. And here is what he says: “God our Savior . . . desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Do you want to know the will of God? This is what it is: God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. And what Paul says here is totally in line with what we read elsewhere in Scripture. For example, in Ezekiel 33: “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Or in 2 Peter 3: “The Lord is . . . patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” So God’s will is that each of us–his will for all people everywhere–is that we would know the truth, turn from our sins, repent, be saved, and live.

And what has God done about it? You know the verse. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” And going on to verse 17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came down from heaven for us men and for our salvation. That’s what it took to save us, so that we would not perish, but instead have life.

It took God’s own Son to be our mediator. A mediator is one who stands in the middle to make peace between two opposing parties. And Jesus is that mediator between God and men. For our sins had separated us from God. Your sins, my sins–we all have rebelled against our Creator and broken his commandments in thought, word, and deed. We have not loved God with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. So we had cut ourselves off rom God, and thus from the source of life, by our own stubborn self-will. But God intervened and sent his Son to be our mediator. Jesus is the man in the middle. He makes peace between us and God. Jesus bore the punishment for our sins by his death on the cross. He paid the price that sets us free. “Christ Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all,” our text says. Thus he removed the barrier separating us from God. Hanging on that cross, suspended between heaven and earth, Christ reconciled us back to God. Jesus is the man in the middle. He is our mediator.

And he is the only one. There is no other. As Paul says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” There are not many roads to God. There is one. Only one. You heard it in the words of Jesus himself, John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Likewise, Acts 4:12, where Peter says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” No other name. No other Savior. But then, Jesus is the only one we need. The one Savior for all people.

And this good news has gone out to all people, so that they may be saved. St. Paul was all about this. He says, “For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle.” And Paul and the other apostles were just the start. Ever since then, God has sent out gospel preachers to carry the news to every nation. Through the preaching of Christ crucified, God saves people. They hear and believe and live. The gospel is the power of salvation for all who believe.

God desires all people to be saved. Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all. Jesus is the one mediator, who makes peace with God for all men. And the good news that saves people is being preached and is going out in all the world. And so what do we do about this? Let me suggest four things.

One: Pray. Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest. Pray for our own congregation, St. Matthew’s, that people will come and hear the good news through our gospel ministry. Pray for your pastor, that he may be bold in preaching it. Pray for our church body, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, that together we will be a blessing and send out preachers and teachers into the mission fields. Pray that the gospel message will penetrate into darkened lands where they know not Christ and the gospel shine forth with the light of life.

Two: Give. Jesus tells the parable of a shrewd manager who used money to make friends for himself. And he encourages us to use money to make friends for eternity. So support the work of the church with your money. Your wise stewardship and generous financial offerings help support the work of the church, both here and abroad.

Three: Tell. Tell people about Jesus. Tell the good news you know to your friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors. Tell them about your church, where they too can come and meet Jesus. Invite them. Bring them with you. The Word works. Share your faith with others.

Pray. Give. Tell. And four: Rejoice. Yes, rejoice that Jesus is your mediator! Jesus has made peace with God for you! He is your Savior. You have forgiveness, life, and salvation in him. No one can take that from you. The gift is yours. You have been baptized into Christ, into union with him. The Holy Spirit works faith in your heart through the preaching and teaching of the Word. Christ Jesus comes to you today and gives you his very body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins. You have the sure hope of the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Friends, it doesn’t get any better than this! Well, actually, it will! And that’s what we’re looking forward to.

Brothers and sisters, the good news today is this: “God our Savior desires all people,” including us, “to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

Published in: on September 21, 2019 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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