LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Criticism will surely come, but Christians must continue proclaiming Jesus Christ as the sole means of salvation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said at the school’s spring convocation Jan. 29.
Preaching on “The Glory of Christ Our Mediator,” Mohler said that the Bible clearly states that Christ is the sole mediator between God and man [1 Timothy 2:5-6].
The divide in today’s world, Mohler said, lies between two camps: those who say that there are many ways to heaven and those who say that Christ is the only way.
“No one is threatened these days about Christians speaking of Jesus Christ as a mediator or a Savior,” he said. “But that is not the Gospel. … The Gospel we have received declares that Jesus Christ is the solitary mediator.
“There are those who say that this is arrogant. Well, it would certainly be arrogant if we made this claim for ourselves. There are those who say that this is intolerant, but their understanding of toleration means that no one’s right and no one’s wrong — and eventually, of course, no one’s saved.”
Ministers who claim that there are many ways to salvation are not preaching the true Gospel, Mohler argued.
“There are not many mediators,” he said. “There is not a divine committee of mediators. … There is one mediator between God and man — the man Christ Jesus.
“Any other declaration is not merely a compromise of the Gospel; it is an un-Gospel. It is an anti-Gospel.”
Preaching from Hebrews 9:1-10:18, Mohler noted that the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message includes an addition to describe Christ’s role as mediator.
The new BF&M adds the word “substitutionary” to the section on “God the Son” to read: “He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin.” With the exception of “substitutionary,” this section of the 2000 BF&M reads exactly like the 1963 version.
Explaining the addition, Mohler said that Christ’s death served as the substitute for the punishment man deserved.
“There was some controversy about this,” Mohler said of the BF&M addition. “There is still some controversy about this. There are some who hate the very idea that Christ was our substitute. There are those who say it is simply an archaic way of looking at it, (that) it presents a grotesquely distorted understanding of God.”
But Mohler pointed to several verses that describe Christ as the mediator. Hebrews 9:15 says that Christ is the “mediator of a new covenant” (NASB), while 1 Timothy 2:5-6 says that there is “one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
The importance of the addition cannot be overstated, Mohler said.
“The substitutionary reality of the atonement of Jesus Christ reminds us again and again that it is not we who have a problem with God; it is God who has a problem with us,” Mohler said. “It is not God who declared Himself our enemy; it is we who in our sinfulness declared ourselves His enemies. We rebelled against our Creator.”
It is important, Mohler said, to distinguish between the biblical meaning of “mediator” and the modern definition of the word. While the modern use of “mediator” often refers to a third party helping negotiate among two conflicting parties, the biblical definition is much different.
“Christ is not a disinterested third party,” Mohler said. “Christ is not a neutral observer. In fact, His role as mediator is established in the fact that He is not a disinterested third party. But [he is] the Lamb of God, slain before the foundation of the world. He is the Lamb who came to die. He came at the initiative of the Father. He came with His mediatoral work representing the supreme act of obedience to the Father’s will.”
Mohler pointed to another key doctrine that must be defended: the blood atonement of Christ. Mohler quoted liberal theologians who argue for the removal of blood references in the Bible.
“There are those who want no more bloody cross religion,” he said. “Feminist theologians have accused the church of holding to a substitutionary theory of atonement which amounts to nothing more than divine child abuse.”
Pointing to Hebrews 9:12, Mohler said that the sacrificial blood of Christ is central to the Christian faith.
“Again and again, the text speaks of blood,” he said. “There will be those who say (that) they want nothing of a bloody-cross religion. If you say that, you want nothing of Christianity, because the blood of Christ is central to the Gospel itself.”
This message can be heard on the seminary web page at http://www.sbts.edu/news/audio/chapelspring2002.html
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: SOUTHERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY PRESIDENT R. ALBERT MOHLER JR.