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 (Isa. 42:1; 1 Pet. 1:19–20; John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:5), the Prophet (Acts 3:22), Priest (Heb. 5:5–6), and King (Ps. 2:6. Luke 1:33), the Head and Savior of His Church (Eph. 5:23), the Heir of all things (Heb. 1:2), and Judge of the world (Acts 17:31): unto whom He did from all eternity give a people, to be His seed (John 17:6; Ps. 22:30; Isa. 53:10), and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified (1 Tim. 2:6; Isa. 55:4–5; 1 Cor. 1:30).
Jesus Christ is the Elect of God. This election is not the same as the eternal begetting of the Son by the Father, but is rather a sovereign appointment to the position of a Mediator. The appointment presupposes a human race, in need of a Mediator. The basis of this ordination is the good pleasure of God.
The only-begotten was chosen to fill many offices. The first was that of Mediator, bridging the divide between men and God. He was ordained to teach His people, filling the office of Prophet. He was chosen to be our Priest, presenting a sacrifice on our behalf to God. He was chosen to be King, so that we might have someone to rule over us. His position of authority is organic; He is the Head and Savior of the Church. He will inherit everything, and will be the sovereign judge over all things. From all eternity, a particular people were given to the Son to be His seed, and what we call history is actually the process in which we see the outworking of that gift. In history, we were redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.
2. The Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon Him man’s nature (John 1:1, 14; 1 John 5:20; Phil. 2:6; Gal. 4:4), with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin (Heb. 2:14, 16–17; Heb. 4:15); being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance (Luke 1:27, 31, 35. Gal. 4:4). So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion (Luke 1:35; Col. 2:9; Rom 9:5; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 Tim. 3:16). Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man (Rom. 1:3–4; 1 Tim. 2:5).
The second person of the Trinity, being infinite, added the finitude of human nature to His attributes. The finitude of the human nature of Christ is not to be understood as a subtraction from the divine nature. In taking on human nature, He took on all its essential properties and limitations, the only exception being sin. The fact that He was conceived by the Holy Ghost did not make Mary a “surrogate mother.” He was conceived without a human father, but was conceived “of her substance.” In other words, she was His mother in every sense of the word.
The two natures were inseparably joined in this hypostatic union, which is to say, the Incarnation was permanent. Neither of the natures was altered by this union, meaning that the one person involved, the Lord Jesus Christ, is truly God and truly man. If we conceive of this union in a way that makes sturdy common sense to us, then that means we have fallen into heresy. This is the miracle of miracles.
3. The Lord Jesus, in His human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified, and anointed with the Holy Spirit, above measure (Ps. 45:7; John 3:34), having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3); in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell (Col. 1:19); to the end that, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth (Heb. 7:26; John 1:14), He might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety (Acts 10:38; Heb. 12:28; 7:22). Which office He took not unto Himself, but was thereunto called by His Father (Heb. 5:4–5), who put all power and judgment into His hand, and gave Him commandment to execute the same (John 5:22, 27; Matt. 28:18; Acts 2:36).
The human nature of Christ did not “tag along” as He fulfilled the ministry appointed to Him. The Spirit of God was upon Him, sanctifying and anointing Him as man above all measure. Because of the work of the Spirit, Christ was filled with all wisdom and knowledge, and in Him all fullness came to dwell. The human nature of Christ was not a hindrance in the work of mediation, but was rather an essential aspect of His qualification to execute that office.
He did not push Himself into that office, but was called to it by His Father. The Father entrusted Him to do render all judgment, and commanded Him to fill His office.
The expressions of Scripture which describe Him as growing, obeying, being filled, resisting temptation, etc. are all to be understood of Christ in His humanity.
4. This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake (Ps. 40:7–8; Heb. 10:5–10; John 10:18; Phil. 2:8); which that He might discharge, He was made under the law (Gal. 4:4), and did perfectly fulfill it (Matt. 3:15; 5:17); endured most grievous torments immediately in His soul (Matt. 26:37–38; Luke 22:44; Matt. 27:46), and most painful sufferings in His body (Matt. 26; 27); was crucified, and died (Phil 2:8), was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption (Acts 2:23–24, 27; 13:37; Rom 6:9). On the third day He arose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:3–5), with the same body in which He suffered (John 20:25, 27), with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of His Father (Mark 16:19), making intercession (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24; 7:25), and shall return, to judge men and angels, at the end of the world (Rom. 14:9–10; Acts 1:11; 10:42; Matt 13:40–42; Jude 6; 2 Pet. 2:4).
Christ willingly submitted to this requirement of the Father. In order to enable Him to perform His ministry, He was born of a woman, under the law. He lived in obedience to the law perfectly. Despite His obedience (and in some senses because of it), He suffered grievously. He was crucified, He died, and was buried briefly. He was not in the grave long enough to see corruption. When He rose from the dead, it was with and in the same body He had during His passion. He has that same body now that He has ascended into heaven, where He has a position of ultimate authority at the Father’s right hand. In heaven, He prays for His saints, and will return from heaven to judge all men and angels, which He will do at the end of the world.
5. The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of His Father (Rom 5:19; Heb. 9:14, 16; 10:14; Eph 5:2; Rom. 3:25–26); and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father has given unto Him (Dan. 9:24, 26; Col. 1:19–20; Eph. 1:11, 14; John 17:2; Heb. 9:12, 15).
The Confession here does not make a point of distinguishing between the active and passive obedience of Christ. According to this division, there were two aspects to the obedience of Christ. The first was the active perfect obedience of His sinless life. The second was the “passive” obedience rendered when He submitted Himself to the ignominy of death on the cross. Through the Spirit, His entire obedience was offered to the Father, and satisfied the justice of God the Father. This offering purchased more than simple forgiveness and reconciliation—He secured by this offering an everlasting inheritance to be enjoyed by all the saints given to Him by the Father. While the point of this division is an important one, we need to recognize that it is the righteousness of Christ’s entire obedience that is imputed to us, and not the righteousness of Christ on even-numbered days
along with the righteousness of Christ on odd-numbered days. If theological divisions help us understand that we have all of Christ, then well and good. If not, we should perhaps not overanalyze it.
6. Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after His incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein He was revealed, and signified to be the seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent’s head; and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world; being yesterday and to–day the same, and forever (Gal. 4:4–5; Gen. 3:15; Rev. 13:8; Heb. 13:8).
Every saint in the history of the world has been saved in the same way, by the same gospel. The saints who lived before the Incarnation were saved by looking in faith at the promises of God, including the gospel preached in the types and sacrifices. The entire Old Testament points to the coming Christ, and believers were those who believed that God would fulfill His word. God, for His part, knew what He was going to do, with no possibility of anything else being done, and so He could apply the virtues, efficacy, and benefits of Christ’s death to these forward-looking saints. But of course, this would not have been possible unless God had predestined the obedience of Christ.
7. Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself (Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 3:18); yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature (Acts 20:28; John 3:13; 1 John 3:16).
This is simply the teaching of the Definition of Chalcedon. What is predicated of one nature may be predicated of the person, but not of the other nature properly. But in the common way of speaking, a man might say, “Christ, the divine Son of God, resisted temptation.” It is proper to speak this way, but only if we remember the nature of the divine and human “categories.”
8. To all those for whom Christ has purchased redemption, He does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same (John 6:37, 39; 10:15–16); making intercession for them (1 John 2:1–2; Rom. 8:34), and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation (John 15:13, 15; Eph. 1:7–9; John 17:6); effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by His Word and Spirit (John 14:16; Heb. 12:2; 2 Cor. 4:13; Rom. 8:9, 14; 15:18–19; John 17:17); overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation (Ps. 110:1; 1 Cor. 15:25–26; Mal. 4:2–3; Col. 2:15).
Once Christ has purchased redemption for His elect, He is not done with them. He also applies this redemption to them, He prays for them to the Father, He teaches them the way of salvation, He sends His Spirit to persuade them of the gospel, which brings them to faith and obedience, He becomes the ruler of their hearts by means of His Word and Spirit, and He conquers all their enemies—in such a fashion as seems good to Him.