"MEDIATOR OF THE NEW COVENANT"
"And to Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant,
and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better
things than that of Abel."--Heb. 12:24.
SOME dear brethren seem to have difficulty in harmonizing former and our more recent presentations on the subject of the New Covenant and its Mediator. They seem to get the thought that the latter presentations are contradictory to the previous ones, and that some radical change of sentiment is thus involved. On the contrary our views respecting the facts are in no sense or degree altered. We still believe and teach that Christ died for our sins, that without his redemption work there would be no remission of our sins, and in the future no remission of the sins of the world. We still claim that all the virtue, all the merit for sins, is in his personal sacrifice, finished at Calvary. What then is the change? Merely we now see that we have for years been using wrong terms when expressing right thoughts. For instance: We have spoken of Jesus as being the Church's Mediator, when we should have said that he is the Church's Redeemer and Advocate and the world's Mediator, because this latter is the Scriptural presentation. We have spoken of ourselves as being blessed by the terms of the New Covenant, whereas clearer light upon the subject shows us that it is Israel and the world that get God's blessing thus, and that the Church gets her blessing under most favorable portions of the original Abrahamic Covenant, symbolized by Sarah and not under the Law (or Hagar) Covenant nor under the New (Law) Covenant symbolized by Keturah.
THE ORIGINAL ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
The Apostle declares that God preached the Gospel in advance to Abraham, saying, "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 28:14.) The Apostle shows that the original Abrahamic Covenant contained two parts, or two seeds, represented in the two statements, Thy seed shall be, (1) as the stars in heaven, and, (2) as the sands of the seashore. The first seed mentioned relates to Christ--Jesus, the Head, and the Church, his Body. The Apostle enunciates and emphasizes this in Galatians 3:11,29. Abraham's spiritual Seed, like the stars of heaven and the brightness of the firmament, is the channel through which the secondary seed will receive its blessing. The secondary seed of Abraham, likened to the sands of the seashore, represents [R4366 : page 103] all the families of the earth, which ultimately will come into harmony with God, during the Millennial Age. As Abraham typified God, the picture shows two classes of God's children, developed through Abraham--Christ and the Church on the spirit plane and the perfected Restitution Class of mankind on the earthly plane.
The Apostle refers to these two seeds, the one developed under Faith and the other under Law and works. The first, the spiritual Seed under the Abrahamic Covenant, is now in process of development during this Gospel Age. The second, the seed according to the flesh, the Restitution Class, is to be developed under the New Covenant and by its Mediator, according to Law and works and actual perfection and not reckoned by faith merely. Its type was the Law Covenant, which had Moses for its Mediator, but which brought nothing to perfection. The Apostle's words are, "Therefore it (the Abrahamic Covenant, covering the Church) is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the intent that the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the [R4366 : page 104] Law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all"--as Jehovah will be the Father of all the saved, not only of the Church Class, but also of the restituted world. As it is written, "I have made thee a father of many nations."--Rom. 4:16,17.
All the families of the earth, all the nations that will be blessed (to whom the blessing will become effective) will thereby become the children of God, whom Abraham prefigured. It is to be hoped, then, that we can all see that the original Covenant made with Abraham includes everything that God promised to give, both to the Church and, through the Church to such of the world as will receive the grace of God not in vain. Notice that no additional Covenants were necessary so far as the Divine determination is concerned --it was all in the original Abrahamic Covenant.
TWO COVENANTS ADDED
If the original Covenant contained the Divine Promise to the full, both for the Church and for all the families of the earth to be blessed through the Church during the Millennium, why did God arrange for two other Covenants, namely (1) the Law Covenant, instituted at Mt. Sinai with the nation of Israel, with Moses as its Mediator, and, (2) the New Covenant, which is to follow and is to bless Israel and the world? We answer that these two Covenants were added for the good and sufficient reason that they further elucidate the Divine Purpose, and, rightly understood, help us to appreciate the operation of Divine love and justice, past, present and to come.
(1) The Law Covenant. What was its object? The Scriptures answer that it was added to the Abrahamic Covenant to fill up the time until the promised Seed should come, to whom the original Covenant applied, and that this was necessary, because of sin, that the high Divine standard for the Seed might be shown. It is certainly a fact that the Law Covenant with the nation of Israel rendered this very service. It set up the standard which approved Jesus and condemned all others. It helped to develop the Jewish nation towards God and towards righteousness. It helped to fit and prepare them for the glorious "calling" of the Gospel, as it ultimately came to them, inviting them to the Divine favor and joint-heirship with Messiah in the glorious Millennial Kingdom, upon conditions of faithfulness and following in the footsteps of their Redeemer. It had a beneficial effect in that, under God's providences, the Jewish nation was the most advanced in righteousness of any nation of the world at the time of our Lord's first advent, so that amongst them several thousands were found fit for transfer from Moses to Christ. Furthermore the arrangements of the Law Covenant provided for certain typical transactions and for prophecies which have been very helpful to Spiritual Israel during this Gospel Age, illustrating to us in the types and shadows of the Law, and enunciating through the prophecies, various matters appertaining to the blessing of the Church during this Gospel Age and to the blessing of the world during the Millennium.
This conglomeration, this mixing, of the matters pertaining to two Ages in the types of the Law Covenant have confused things, to some minds. The Lord hides things from us so as to develop in us the necessity of searching for them. Thus the children of God grow stronger from the Truths, by reason of the difficulties they have in the mastication of them, even as it is with the natural food; those who thoroughly masticate obtain the better nourishment.
Thus we have clearly before our minds the thought that the Law Covenant "made nothing perfect" and added not a whit to the original Abrahamic Covenant, though it gave certain typical foreshadowings in connection with the general plan. That the Law Covenant was never intended to take the place of the original Covenant, is the Apostle's argument. He develops this at considerable length in Galatians 4:21-31. The Apostle addresses Christian believers who, while recognizing Christ as the original inheritor of the Abrahamic Covenant, felt that somehow or other they were still under the Law Covenant, very much as some of us for a time recognized Christ and the completeness of the Abrahamic Covenant, and yet somehow supposed, without Scriptural authority, that we additionally needed the New Covenant and were under it. We now see that the Church, the Body of Christ, is not under either the old Law Covenant, which came to an end, or under the New (Law) Covenant, which has not yet been even sealed.
What we Spiritual Israelites have is the superior portion of joint-heirship with Christ in the Original Covenant represented by Sarah, as the Apostle distinctly declares in Galatians 3:29, "If ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's Seed and heirs according to that promise."
The world is to get all of its blessings and favors of Restitution through the New (Law) Covenant, the second addition to the Original Covenant. This New (Law) Covenant has not yet been instituted, because the Mediator, who is to inaugurate it and to cause its blessings to reach to every member of the race during the Millennial Age, has not yet been completed. The New (Law) Covenant will be inaugurated in the end of this Gospel Age, and will embrace the entire period of the Millennial Age. This is the teaching of the Apostle in our text. Jesus our Redeemer and Head is its appointed Mediator, in the merit of his own sacrifice finished on Calvary. He could have sealed it and could have begun at once its operation, had not the Father "provided some better thing for us," his Church, his Bride whom God foreknew as his members. This is "the mystery," that the Gospel Age has been devoted to the development of the "body" of Messiah, the Mediator by sacrifice.
In Hebrews 12th ChapterSt. Paul points us down to the end of this Age and to the inauguration of the New Age, under the New (Law) Covenant. He shows that its inauguration is typified in the inauguration of the old or typical Law Covenant. He draws the contrast between the two. When the Old Law Covenant was instituted, Moses came down from the mountain and set forth the tables of the Law and sprinkled them with the blood, sealing the Covenant in a sense, and then took of the blood and sprinkled all the people. This was typical of what is to occur shortly. The anti-typical Moses, The Christ (Jesus the Head, and the Church, the Body) will come down from the mount veiled, hidden, because mankind could not endure the glory of the shining presence.
The inauguration of the Law Covenant was accomplished in a typical time of trouble, a shaking of the mountain, the fearing and quaking of the people. The antitype of what occurred at Mt. Sinai will take place at Mt. Zion (the Millennial Kingdom of Christ) as soon as the "election" closes and the new age opens. The Great Mediator (Head and Body) veiled, hiding the glory of the spirit condition, will set forth the Law, and sprinkle it with his blood of the New (Law) Covenant--as Moses took of blood and sprinkled the (Old) Law Covenant in the type. The difference is that Moses sprinkled the tables of the Law with the blood of bulls and goats, but the antitypical Moses, the Mediator of the New (Law) Covenant, will (symbolically) sprinkle the Law with the antitypical blood of the better sacrifices (antitypes of the bullock and the goat)--"his own blood"--not only the precious blood of Jesus, but the blood of the sacrifices of all those whom he shall have accepted as "members of his Body." Then, as Moses sprinkled all the people at Mt. Sinai in the type, so in the antitype, on a larger scale, the Christ, Jesus and his members, will, during the Millennium, sprinkle all the people, that is bring all mankind to a knowledge of the Truth and to an appreciation of their privileges of full return to harmony with God and his Divine laws and regulations.
"SOME BETTER THING FOR US"
We hope that the Lord has blessed us with great plainness of speech in treating this subject, and that every reader can clearly discern that God's Covenant with Abraham primarily related to the Seed of promise and faith only, and was symbolized by Sarah, who bore the Seed. The Law Covenant, Hagar bore not the Seed, failing to perfect anything. The New (Law) Covenant costs the death of the Seed in order to pass the earthly rights back to natural Israel and through them to the world of mankind. And this so, not because God could not have done otherwise but because it pleased God to do it thus. [R4366 : page 105]
Well did the Apostle declare that there is a "mystery" connected with the peculiar relationship of Christ and "the Church, which is his Body." So heavily clouded is this Mystery that the Jews could not see it at all, except the few who were Israelites indeed, and they not until after they had been imbued with the holy Spirit at Pentecost. Even then, as St. Paul pointed out, it was difficult for them to grasp the Mystery, that the Gentiles also were to be fellow-heirs with themselves in these special blessings that appertained to Messiah [R4367 : page 105] and the faithful few, the "very elect."
Whoever realizes that the Church is Joint-Heir with her Lord; that those who now suffer with him shall also reign with him by and by, should have no difficulty in seeing that the death of the Church, as the Apostle declares, "fills up that which is behind of the afflictions of The Christ," and that only those who thus have part in the afflictions of Christ will have a share in the glory that shall follow. We are at a loss for words to make this subject more plain than it is already stated in the Scriptures. What we each need is the enlightening of the eyes of our understanding, that will enable us to discern "the deep things of God." But the Scriptures assure us that these "deep things" of the "mystery" are only for the Spirit begotten.--I Cor. 2:10,13.
This holy Spirit is one of humility and faith and obedience of heart--and, so far as possible, of word and of deed also. We trust that the Vow is helping many to get into this attitude, where they will be the nearer to the Lord and thus have the more abundant favor and blessing and enlightenment. One thing to be borne in mind is that our sacrifices would be without merit or value; that it is only because our Redeemer adopts us as his members and imputes his merit to us and counts our sacrifices as a part of his own--only thus does any merit attach to anything that we may say or do or sacrifice.
Whoever sees the above clearly must see that during this Gospel Age the branches of the Vine have been in process of development and are a part of it; and that only as they bear the fruit of the Vine will they be retained as members thereof. This picture of the vintage of the Church, the One Vine--Christ--the crushing of all the grapes, and the gathering of all the wine, is a picture of the experiences of the whole Church.
Another picture of the same thing loses sight of the Vine, and represents our participation with the Lord by the Cup itself. Our Lord, after participating of the Cup, gave it to his disciples, urging that they drink all of it. That Cup of suffering and self-denial has come down to us during eighteen centuries, and is still with us. It is a prophetic Cup, representing all the sacrifices and all the sufferings of all the members of the Body of Christ, from the Head down to the humblest feet members.
The faithful of the past have participated and the Cup has now come to us, and the Master's voice still says, "Drink ye all of it." Soon the last drop of it will be drained and then the sufferings of the Church which is his body--the Body of Christ--will have been completed. Immediately, through the resurrection, the glorious "change" promised shall follow.
Of that Cup of suffering of which the Lord tasted and which he passed on to his followers, and members, he said, "This is the Cup of the New (Testament) Covenant shed for many for the remission of sins. Drink ye all of it." Participate ye all in it. It is not for the world to drink of that cup of the sufferings of Christ. That honor is reserved for his saints. They alone may participate with their Lord in his sufferings. If the blood of the New Covenant be participated in by all the faithful members of the Body of Christ, how could the New Covenant itself be sealed until the members of the Body had all participated? It would be impossible. Whoever sees clearly that which is a "mystery" to the world must see that the work of The Christ in the inauguration of the New Covenant could not begin until the perfecting of his own Body, which is the Church. And the first, the initial feature of the inauguration of the New Covenant, is its sealing with the blood, and all of his blood has not yet been shed.
This sealing of the New (Law) Covenant has nothing to do with the ransom nor with our justification. We are not justified by any Covenant, but by faith in the precious blood of Jesus. Who cannot see that nobody could be justified by faith under the New (Law) Covenant? The Law is not a "new" faith arrangement but a "new" work arrangement. The Old Law Covenant (of works) failed only because its mediator could not render the needed aid. The New Law Covenant (of works) will succeed because it has a "better Mediator," able to restore to perfection, and ability for perfect works, all who will.
ABRAHAM'S THREE WIVES
Abraham had three wives; Sarah, his original spouse; then later, Hagar, Sarah's maid, whom she urged upon him as a supposed assistance to God in the carrying out of the Covenant, after a long delay and waiting; and third, after Sarah's death, Abraham took Keturah to wife, and by her had many children, whereas by the primary wife and by the maid, but one each. The Apostle's language justifies us in considering this matter allegorical or typical. The holy Spirit, through St. Paul, tells us that Sarah represented the essence of the original Covenant and that Hagar represented the Law Covenant. He explains that the Jewish people were in bondage under their Law Covenant and therefore the antitypes of Ishmael, Hagar's son, and that these were cast out from Divine favor, even as Hagar and her son were cast off from Abraham's family by Divine instruction, and to make the type complete. The Apostle introduces this lesson to show us that the Covenant of Grace, under which the Gospel Church is developed, has nothing whatever to do with the Covenant of the Law; that the two were separate and distinct.
Hagar's child might indeed appear to be the child of Sarah for a time, but it was not; even as Sarah's child, Isaac, was in no sense Hagar's son. The Apostle's argument is, "So, then, brethren, we, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise"--the original Covenant, and not children of the Law Covenant. Similarly, we fancy, the Apostle, if writing today to those who claim to be under the New Covenant, represented in the type by Keturah, would tell them plainly, "You cannot be children of two covenants, children of two mothers." If you are children of the Keturah Covenant in any sense or degree, you cannot be the children of the Sarah Covenant; and if you are children of the Sarah Covenant, then in no sense or degree can you be the children of the Keturah Covenant, or New Covenant--which is not yet in existence.
"CHILDREN OF THE OATH"
The original Covenant with Abraham, typified by his wife Sarah, is the one which God bound with an oath, and which the Apostle describes in Hebrews 6:13-20and which he calls "the hope set before us in the Gospel" and our "anchor sure and steadfast within the veil." We, then, are the children of the oath of God, the children of "the promise." Our begetting promise, through Christ, to the New Nature, is wholly different from the promise by which the Jews were begotten, as the house of servants; and wholly different also from the promises by which restored Israel and all the families of the earth will be begotten to human nature through Restitution processes, as the children of the Keturah Covenant.
What is the difference between the promises by which we came into the family of God and the promise by which others may come into the family of God hereafter? We answer, the differences are very great indeed. God will not deal with the world directly during the Millennium. He has committed all things to his Son, and the Son, in harmony with the Divine program during this Gospel Age, has been accepting as his "members" such as the Father has "drawn" to him, granting them the spirit of adoption and thus bringing them into new spirit relationship. No such promises will prevail in the begetting of other children of God, the "other sheep which are not of this flock." These children of the oath, or children of the promise of God, are the special "little flock," to whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give the Kingdom, as the Master declares.
On what basis, different from that of the world, are these acceptable to God? We answer that the world will be accepted only when they reach actual perfection, under the processes of Restitution at the close of the Millennial Age. The [R4367 : page 106] Father will have no dealing with the world until, mankind being perfect at the end of the Millennium, Christ shall deliver up the Kingdom to the Father. Then men will fall into the hands of the living God; but be perfectly secure, because of their perfection, if they are at heart loyal to God and the principles of his Government.
Jesus Christ (and his Bride and Joint-Heir) will stand as "Mediator between God and men" during the Millennium. All of mankind's communications and relationship to God must come to them through Messiah, and all of God's dealing and relationship with mankind will be in and through the Messiah. How different from that is the dealing of God with the Church of this Age, "Abraham's Seed and heirs according to the promise." These are "drawn" by the Father, as Jesus declares, "No man can come unto me (now), except the Father which sent me draw him," and whoever cometh unto me, drawn by the Father, I will in no wise reject. (John 6:44.) Some of our Lord's followers were drawn to him of the Father before he had completed the sacrifice for sins at Calvary, and others have been drawn throughout the Gospel Age; as the Apostle declares, "Even so many as the Lord your God shall call." (Acts 2:39.) Here is a reversal of the Divine purpose. The Gospel Church, under the Abrahamic Covenant arrangement, are drawn to the Son by the Father, "Given unto him." The world in the next Age the Father will not draw, but the Lord Jesus will draw them to himself. "If I be exalted, I will draw all men unto me." And even after the Son draws them unto himself, he must as the Mediator keep them unto himself until he shall have instructed them, disciplined them, and made their knees to bow and their lips to confess, and taught them the necessary lessons and brought them back to all that was lost, before the Father will have anything to do with them--at the close of the Millennial Age. [R4368 : page 106]
Who will say that the children of the free woman, the Sarah Covenant, have not a great advantage every way over the children of Keturah, and not only have they this more favorable reception of the Father, but they receive directly his begetting to the spirit plane; as we read, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (I Pet. 1:3.) These are his "elect." As the Apostle says, "Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren."--Rom. 8:29.
WHEREIN IS THE DIFFERENCE?
Why should God make such a difference in his dealings? Surely there is a logical reason connected with the matter, if we can but ascertain it. And surely it is true that "The Lord God doeth nothing but he revealeth it unto his servants." If all mankind had been at heart "Israelites indeed" there would have been no need of a mediator and a New Covenant--the Abrahamic Covenant would have been quite sufficient. It is because the world of mankind is estranged from God, rebellious against the Divine Law, and lovers of Sin, that the mediatorial work is a necessary one. The Great Mediator (Head and Members) after making "an atonement for the sins of all the people," at the close of this age, will take all the people in hand, and, by chastisements and corrections in righteousness, cause every knee to bow and every tongue to confess, in harmony with the Divine arrangement, or be cut off in the Second Death.
All men are sinners and all are children of wrath and under Divine sentence of death; but there are other respects in which all are not alike. Some hate the chains of Sin, wherein they are held, and long for freedom and for reconciliation to God, while others love the sin and are estranged from God. God is not in their thoughts. Here, then, we have the ground for the difference in God's dealings with the two classes. He takes note of those who are weary and heavy laden; these, feeling after God, if haply they might find him, he is pleased to "draw," during this Gospel Age, through the knowledge of the Truth, to Jesus, that at his hand they may be justified and become acceptable, if they will, as "members" of his Body, suffer with him now. Then they will reign with him by and by. The ungodly are not "drawn" or called in consecration with the High Calling of this Gospel Age, but left to be dealt with by their Redeemer, when he shall assume the Office of Mediator between God and men--the world.
But is it not Scripturally declared of believers that "We were enemies of God through wicked works"? And does not that place us on the same level with the world, in enmity against God? We answer, No, there is a difference. The worldly mass are enemies against God, not merely in respect to their works being imperfect, such as he cannot accept, but also and specially because their hearts are estranged from him. They love unrighteousness. Believers, on the contrary, although enemies through wicked works, are not enemies at heart, and God, who reads the heart, deals with them from that standpoint and leads them to Christ, that the merit of his sacrifice may offset the demerits of their sin and their imperfect or wicked works.
But does not the Apostle again say that we "were aliens and strangers and foreigners from the commonwealth of Israel"? Yes, we, who were Gentiles, were entirely separated and alienated from God, until Christ came, and we found access to Divine favor through him, whereas the Jew had a measure of Divine favor and opportunity for development, before Christ came. Three and one-half years after Christ's death, St. Paul says, the middle wall of partition or separation between Jews and Gentiles was taken down, so that, in God's providence, the honest-hearted Gentile was no more an alien and a foreigner to God than his Jewish neighbor.
ATONEMENT NOT MEDIATION
There is a difference between Atonement for Sin and mediation between God and the sinner. There are certain senses in which we might correctly say that the person who made atonement for the sins of another was his mediator, but this is not the Scriptural use of the word mediator. The Bible speaks of Christ as the Mediator of a Covenant, not as a Mediator for sins. However true it is that he mediated an atonement for the sins of the world, that is not a Scriptural form of statement. Believers, as well as all the remainder of the world, need to have an atonement made for our sins, as a basis for our reconciliation to the Father. But believers are under a Covenant which needs no mediator, as St. Paul distinctly points out. "A mediator is not of one." (Gal. 3:20.) That is to say, Where a Covenant has only one side to it, it does not have, nor require, a mediator. On the contrary, covenants which have conditions demand a mediator, as, for instance, Moses was the mediator of the Law Covenant, and Christ was the Mediator of the New Covenant. Under both of these covenants there is a conditional proposition --"If ye will do those things, I will do this thing. If ye will obey my laws and keep my statutes, I will bless you," etc.
Let us notice carefully why the original, or Sarah Covenant, "The mother of us all," needed no mediator. It was because in it God made no conditional promises. They were all unconditional to whoever would become The Seed. "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." There are no conditions in that promise, and hence, there would be nothing for a mediator to set straight. God himself undertook to choose who should constitute the Seed of Abraham. He chose our Lord Jesus to be the "Head over the Church, which is his Body," and he foreordained, and, in harmony with that foreordination, chose and called, throughout this Age, such as he desired might have the privilege of membership in that Seed of Abraham. There was no place for a mediator in connection with it, for God did his own selecting. As it is written, "Ye are God's workmanship." "The Father himself loveth you." "Whoever is drawn of the Father cometh unto me." "No man can come unto me except the Father which sent me draw him."
TAKE ANOTHER GLANCE
Honest-hearted ones now "drawn" of the Father are, indeed, children of wrath, and hence, before they can be received of the Father as sons, he delivers them over to Christ, and Christ's acceptance of them, or justification by faith in his blood (not faith in a covenant) makes them ready to be returned again to the Father, if they still so will. It is to [R4368 : page 107] these justified ones that the Apostle says, "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." If these needed to be made actually perfect they would need to be left in the hands of the Son for such restitution work as is his alone, and would be held over for the Millennium. But instead they are justified by faith. Their faith in Christ, in the merit of his sacrifice, attested by their repudiation of sin, "Is counted unto them for righteousness," Jesus applying his merit on their account. When, afterwards, these made full consecration of themselves to do the Father's will, even unto death, and when they were begotten of the holy Spirit as New Creatures, they became "members" of the Seed of Abraham, members of the Mediator of the New Covenant. Then they by faith passed to a new plane, where no sin or imperfection is imputed to them, so long as they fulfil their consecration Vow and "Walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit."-- Rom. 8:1.