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Phila delphia > Mediatorship of Christ by Charles G. Finney from "The Oberlin Evangelist"

The Oberlin Evangelist

Lecture XXXV
Mediatorship of Christ

Charles G. Finney

Charles G. Finney

A Voice from the Philadelphian Church Age

  Wisdom is Justified

by Charles Grandison Finney

Public Domain Text
Reformatted by Katie Stewart

from "The Oberlin Evangelist"
June 23, 1841

Lecture XXXV.

by the Rev. C. G. Finney

Text.--1 Tim. 2:5: "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

In discussing this subject, I shall--

I. Show what a mediator is.

II. Some things implied in the existence of that office.

III. What are essential qualifications for the office of mediator.

IV. On what conditions the end of the mediatorial office can in any case be accomplished.

V. Apply these principles to Christ as mediator between God and men.

I. Show what a mediator is.

II. Some things implied in the existence of that office.

III. Essential qualifications for the office of mediator.

IV. On what conditions the end of the mediatorial office can, in any case, be accomplished.

V. These principles applied to Christ, as mediator between God and men.

Nor can it be possible, that selfish men, remaining selfish, love God. They are hostile to God, because He is so holy as to require of them entire benevolence, on pain of eternal death. This He ought to require. Nothing less than this can He require and be virtuous. But, for this very requirement, men hate Him; and because they hate Him for his goodness, He must certainly, and, if He be a good being, must necessarily abhor them. But the actual state of things in the world shows, that the world is full of blasphemous opposition to the government of God, on the one hand, and that, on the other hand, God is sweeping the nations, from time to time, with the besom of destruction. It is manifestly open, outrageous war, between God and men--God exercising as much forbearance all along as the nature of the case admits--while men, encouraged by his forbearance, are pushing their desperate opposition in the most fool-hardy and blasphemous manner. To maintain, that there is no controversy between God and men, is to deny one of the most universally evident facts that exists in the universe.

As man, He had the experience of a man--knew all the difficulties in the way of rendering perfect obedience to the moral law, under circumstances of the severest temptation. If any allowance should be made under the government of God for sin, in the circumstances in which mankind were placed, the man Christ Jesus had the opportunity to know, and must of necessity have tested the question in his own personal experience.

As God, He was infinitely concerned to secure the stability of his government, and the virtue of the universe.

Being also man, and sustaining the same relation to men that He did to God, rendered it peculiarly proper, that He should interpose his influence with his Father, who in this respect sustained the relation of the law-giver, in behalf of his fellow-men.

Let me illustrate this, by supposing a mighty earthly sovereign at the head of an immense army, and marching to effect some all-important object. Discipline in his army is altogether indispensable. Therefore, his orders must be most rigorously enforced, or insubordination will defeat the enterprise. But on one occasion he issues an order, against which a whole regiment rebel. Now what shall be done? It is a valuable regiment. The sovereign pities them, and yet abhors their disobedience. Either his authority must cease, that regiment must be put to the sword, or some governmental expedient must be devised, that will as effectually secure future obedience as the execution of the law would do. An order is issued for the whole army to form a hollow square. In the center of this a vast scaffold is erected, over which an immense velvet pall is thrown. The implements of punishment are prepared. The whole army with trailed arms and standards dragged in dust, muffled drums, and solemn death marches, are gathered, as they suppose, to witness the execution of the rebellious regiment. They wait in breathless expectation, for the order for the regiment to be put to death. In the mean time, this regiment is drawn out and paraded by itself alone around the scaffold. Every thing is gloomy. Sorrow fills every countenance. Every heart is heaving. Deep sighs are heard on every side, and the whole mass of mind is heaving with excitement, and agonized with the dismal prospect. At this moment, the sovereign, attended by his guards, is seen to ride within the square. He dismounts, lays aside his royal robes, uncovers his head, and arrays himself in the humble attire of a servant. Every eye is upon him. Unutterable astonishment and wonder fill every mind. No one can imagine what is now to be done. Leaving his attendants behind him, he meekly ascends the scaffold, unattended, unarmed, and thus addresses the rebellious regiment: "You have disobeyed my orders. You deserve to die! But my compassions bleed over you. To wholly set aside the penalty which you deserve, simply upon your bare repentance and return to duty--I cannot, dare not, and must not offer you forgiveness on any such conditions. My authority must be sustained. Discipline in my army is wholly indispensable. So much do I regard public justice, that sooner should heaven and earth pass away than I would set aside the execution of law, in a manner that would weaken my authority. But on the other hand, so much do I compassionate your case--so much do I love and pity you, that for the sake of being able to offer you a pardon, upon conditions that will not destroy the discipline of my army, I am willing, and about to suffer in your stead."

So saying, he uncovers his shoulders and receives upon his naked back one hundred stripes, until the blood flows down and stains the pall beneath his feet. Indeed he suffers, until a universal wail is heard--the army refuses to look on. They cover their faces, and cry out in agony, until he bids the executioner stay his hand. He resumes his garments, bows to the army, and retires to his quarters. Now what think you, would be the effect of a transaction like this upon the discipline of his army? Who would dare thereafter to rebel, and which of that rebellious regiment, or who, of his whole army, would not instantly die, to protect their sovereign, or rather than disobey him.

Now the design of Christ was, to satisfy the demands of public justice, at once to demonstrate the infinite compassion of God for his rebellious subjects, and at the same time his unalterable determination to sustain his government and enforce obedience to his law--to protect and bless the innocent--to punish and destroy the guilty. And his relation to the universe was such, that his death, I may say, was an infinitely higher expression of his compassion, on the one hand, and of his justice on the other, than could have been given in his execution of the law upon sinners.

This is a summary statement of the indispensable conditions, upon the fulfillment of which depends your eternal salvation. And now what do you say? It is in vain for you to pretend to consent to the mediatorial office and character of Christ unless you consent to and fulfill the conditions imposed by Him upon you, as indispensable to your being justified through Him. This, I say, is a question for you to decide. No one can decide it for you. God, on his part, has consented. Christ as Mediator, has thrown the door wide open before you, and stands as a daysman between you and the throne of God. He, as it were, lays his hand on both the parties. The Father has committed to Him the adjustment of this difficulty, on the part of the divine government. Now will you commit to Him the keeping of your soul? Will you submit yourself to his government and control? Will you give your case into his hands, to be advocated, managed, and adjusted by Him? Will you consecrate your whole being to God, and from this time know, and prove by your own conduct, that the controversy between you and God is at an end. Now, therefore, "as an ambassador for Christ, pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."


1. In the light of this subject you see the disinterested love of Christ. O how infinitely wonderful, that He should consent to undertake such an office as this, fully knowing as He did the immense sacrifice to which it would call Him--the immense amount of shame, persecution, agony, and death and for what? For Himself?--to promote some selfish interest? No! But from disinterested love to you and me. What an exhibition of self-denial, his whole life being only an accumulation of sufferings, reproach, ridicule, and opposition. How great his mental agonies must have been. In the midst of a world created by Him, and yet ruining themselves with their blasphemous opposition to Him!

2. From this subject you can see for what we are to trust Christ as Mediator:

(1.) We are to look to Him for sanctification, for that measure of grace that will thoroughly cleanse us from all our sins.

(2.) We are to look to Him for justification, that is, pardon and acceptance in respect to all our past sins.

(3.) We are to look to Him for preserving grace, to quicken and sustain us to the end.

3. You see from this subject, what it is to be a Christian. It is heartily to consent to the mediatorial work of Christ, and to comply with the conditions upon which he offers to save.

4. From this subject you can see the security of the saints. The controversy between them and God is at an end. Being justified by faith, they have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. And now what shall be able to separate them from the love of Christ? "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

5. From this subject also we see the certainty of the final damnation of all unbelievers. Why, sinner, by your rejection of Christ--the controversy between you and God, so far from being ended, is only made worse. Your guilt and final damnation are awfully aggravated, by your rejection of the mediatorial interference of Christ.

6. How infinitely foolish and mad are the saying and expectation of some, that if Christ has made an Atonement sufficient for all, that all will be saved, as a thing of course. Why, sinner, it would be just as reasonable, if you were starving, and invited to a feast, to which you obstinately refused to go, for you to affirm that the provision was ample, had actually been made, enough for all, so that no one need to famish with hunger; that therefore it mattered not whether you went to the feast or not. Why, sinner! are you crazy? Can it be possible, that the mediatorial work of Christ will save you without your own consent? Surely it cannot be. It is virtually and for ever impossible.

7. From this subject you see the wickedness and danger of delay. Sinner, God urges now upon you the obligation and necessity of instantly deciding, whether you will consent to this plan of salvation or not. This may be the last opportunity you will ever have, to make your salvation sure. Now what do you say? Do you call heaven and earth to witness, and to record on your soul, that you now, in the presence of God, of angels, and of men, from the inmost recesses of your being, consent to the mediatorial work of Christ, and accept the conditions of salvation? Do you so decide? And is the response of your heart, "So help me God!"

8. From this subject we can see the meaning of the context, which has been in some instances, much perverted. The apostle begins the chapter by saying: "I exhort, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority: that we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."

From this passage it has been inferred by some, that all men will inevitably be saved. But the plain meaning of this passage, when taken together, is, that God desires the salvation of all men. The word rendered will, may with equal propriety be rendered desire, as it often is. God really desires the salvation of all men, as a thing desirable in itself; and has therefore set forth his Son to be a mediator between Himself and mankind in general, "who has given Himself a ransom for all, to be testified (or, as in the original, a testimony or witness,) in due time." He was given as a witness or testimony of the righteousness and infinite love of God to dying men, "So that God may be just and still justify him that believeth in Jesus."

Now, sinner, you have before you as condensed and simple an exhibition of the gospel as I can give you in one discourse. Will you accept it, or do you reject it? "I call heaven and earth to record this day upon your soul, that I set before you life and death, blessing and cursing." Therefore, choose this day, and O, choose life, that you may live!

And Christian, do you see your privilege? Do you see your obligation to Christ? Do you see your dependence upon Him? Do you understand your security in Him? Why you are to ask in his name? Why you are to approach God through Him? Do you understand the gospel? Then cleave to the Mediator, that the river of life may flow continually through your soul!


of easily misunderstood terms as defined by Mr. Finney himself.
Compiled by Katie Stewart

  1. Complacency, or Esteem: "Complacency, as a state of will or heart, is only benevolence modified by the consideration or relation of right character in the object of it. God, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and saints, in all ages, are as virtuous in their self-denying and untiring labours to save the wicked, as they are in their complacent love to the saints." Systematic Theology (LECTURE VII). Also, "approbation of the character of its object. Complacency is due only to the good and holy." Lectures to Professing Christians (LECTURE XII).

  2. Disinterested Benevolence: "By disinterested benevolence I do not mean, that a person who is disinterested feels no interest in his object of pursuit, but that he seeks the happiness of others for its own sake, and not for the sake of its reaction on himself, in promoting his own happiness. He chooses to do good because he rejoices in the happiness of others, and desires their happiness for its own sake. God is purely and disinterestedly benevolent. He does not make His creatures happy for the sake of thereby promoting His own happiness, but because He loves their happiness and chooses it for its own sake. Not that He does not feel happy in promoting the happiness of His creatures, but that He does not do it for the sake of His own gratification." Lectures to Professing Christians (LECTURE I).

  3. Divine Sovereignty: "The sovereignty of God consists in the independence of his will, in consulting his own intelligence and discretion, in the selection of his end, and the means of accomplishing it. In other words, the sovereignty of God is nothing else than infinite benevolence directed by infinite knowledge." Systematic Theology (LECTURE LXXVI).

  4. Election: "That all of Adam's race, who are or ever will be saved, were from eternity chosen by God to eternal salvation, through the sanctification of their hearts by faith in Christ. In other words, they are chosen to salvation by means of sanctification. Their salvation is the end- their sanctification is a means. Both the end and the means are elected, appointed, chosen; the means as really as the end, and for the sake of the end." Systematic Theology (LECTURE LXXIV).

  5. Entire Sanctification: "Sanctification may be entire in two senses: (1.) In the sense of present, full obedience, or entire consecration to God; and, (2.) In the sense of continued, abiding consecration or obedience to God. Entire sanctification, when the terms are used in this sense, consists in being established, confirmed, preserved, continued in a state of sanctification or of entire consecration to God." Systematic Theology (LECTURE LVIII).

  6. Moral Agency: "Moral agency is universally a condition of moral obligation. The attributes of moral agency are intellect, sensibility, and free will." Systematic Theology (LECTURE III).

  7. Moral Depravity: "Moral depravity is the depravity of free-will, not of the faculty itself, but of its free action. It consists in a violation of moral law. Depravity of the will, as a faculty, is, or would be, physical, and not moral depravity. It would be depravity of substance, and not of free, responsible choice. Moral depravity is depravity of choice. It is a choice at variance with moral law, moral right. It is synonymous with sin or sinfulness. It is moral depravity, because it consists in a violation of moral law, and because it has moral character." Systematic Theology (LECTURE XXXVIII).

  8. Human Reason: "the intuitive faculty or function of the intellect... it is the faculty that intuits moral relations and affirms moral obligation to act in conformity with perceived moral relations." Systematic Theology (LECTURE III).

  9. Retributive Justice: "Retributive justice consists in treating every subject of government according to his character. It respects the intrinsic merit or demerit of each individual, and deals with him accordingly." Systematic Theology (LECTURE XXXIV).

  10. Total Depravity: "Moral depravity of the unregenerate is without any mixture of moral goodness or virtue, that while they remain unregenerate, they never in any instance, nor in any degree, exercise true love to God and to man." Systematic Theology (LECTURE XXXVIII).

  11. Unbelief: "the soul's withholding confidence from truth and the God of truth. The heart's rejection of evidence, and refusal to be influenced by it. The will in the attitude of opposition to truth perceived, or evidence presented." Systematic Theology (LECTURE LV).


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