THIS WEEK’S R2R DISTINCTIVE
Authenticity (John 13:33-34): I know and understand biblical truths and transfer these truths into everyday life. Who I am on the inside and outside is a pure reflection of Christ and His Word.
As I write this, the world is watching closely the conflict in Ukraine and an attempt by the nations of France and Germany to broker a peace agreement that will bring to an end the fighting between Russia and Ukraine. Leading the charge as the chief mediator is German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.
The dynamics we watch playing out in Eastern Europe give us an excellent example of the role of a mediator. Russia is a powerful, expansive nation with a vast military and a willingness to use their power to achieve their objectives. Ukraine is a small nation-state with a population of approximately 45 million compared to Russia’s 150 million.
Short of the intervention of a third party, Ukraine has no hope of surviving a conflict with Russia. This is where Germany and France enter. As mediators, they bring substance to the table on behalf of Ukraine and can help force Russia to make some concessions that it might otherwise not be open to if it wasn’t for the participation of German and France.
The role of a mediator is a long-standing one in the areas of law, politics, and, as we shall see today, in spiritual matters.
Because of our sinful nature, mankind is permanently at odds with God the Father. On his own, there is nothing man can do to bridge that gap. There is only one person who is uniquely qualified to mediate between God and man, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:15).
Don’t let the significance of that last sentence escape you. Because there is only one mediator between God and man, no one can approach God except through Jesus Christ. John 14:6 tells us, “I [Jesus] am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In Acts 4, Peter standing before the council declares, “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 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” (vs. 11-12).
This belief in the exclusivity of Jesus as the only way to God is not a popular belief in today’s culture of inclusiveness. Critics often label those who teach the exclusivity of Jesus as narrow minded and hateful. Popular champions of universalism like Rob Bell and Oprah Winfrey teach a much more tolerant gospel. Consider these words from the preface to Bell’s book, Love Wins (2011):
A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better…. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’s message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.
Contrast Bell’s description of a misguided, toxic gospel with these words from Jesus:
“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it, For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it,” (Matt. 7:13-14).
What are we to make of all of this? Consider the twin arguments the writer to the Hebrews has been making since the beginning: 1) Jesus is better than any other means of attempting to approach God, even better than the Old Covenant; 2) press on towards maturity–don’t give up. Every generation has dealt with the skeptics, the critics, the apostates, and the false teachers. Each one brings a new twist to the ancient lie–it is possible to achieve eternal life apart from God. The power is within you. The power is within nature. The power is within all of us. We do not need God. We do not need Jesus. You can do it all by yourself. That’s the lie that started in the garden with the serpent himself and is woven through human history like a cancerous lesion.
Oswald Chambers makes this observation regarding the ultimate division between God and man:
Sin is a thing I am born with and I cannot touch it; God touches sin in Redemption. In the Cross of Jesus Christ God redeemed the whole human race from the possibility of damnation through the heredity of sin. God nowhere holds a man responsible for having the heredity of sin. The condemnation is not that I am born with a heredity of sin, but if when I realize Jesus Christ came to deliver me from it, I refuse to let Him do so, from that moment I begin to get the seal of damnation. “And this is the judgment” (the critical moment) “that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light.”
This is, indeed, the tragic destiny of much of mankind. It is not that they did not believe in Jesus, or even that they did not valued His role as a mediator with God. In the end, “people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19). Oh, precious one, submit your prideful spirit to the light of Jesus Christ. Surrender your will to His perfect will, and through Him may you draw close to God and enter into His perfect rest.–Chris Eller