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Sermon 6: The Authority of the Mediator

"The Father’s sealing of Christ is a great comfort to us. God stands engaged, even by His own seal, to allow and confirm whatever Christ has done in the business of our salvation" (John Flavel).

by John Flavel on July 07, 2020

Sermon 6: The Authority of the Mediator

“For him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:27). 

We have heard of what the Father did in giving His Son out of His bosom and of what the Son did in assuming human nature. Everything He did in that assumed body would have been invalid without a due call and commission from His Father. This is what we have in this verse: “For him hath God the Father sealed.” It consists of two parts.

First, the person who seals Christ with power and authority is God the Father. All the persons in the Godhead are equal in nature, power, and dignity, yet in their operation there is an order observed among them. The Father sends the Son, the Son is sent by the Father, and both send the Holy Spirit.

Second, the subject in whom the Father places His authority is Christ. The Father has so sealed Him as He never sealed anyone before Him or after Him: “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 43:12). “The government shall be upon his shoulders” (Isa. 9:6). 

Doctrine: Christ did not of Himself undertake the work of our redemption, but God the Father solemnly sealed Him unto it.

When I say that Christ did not undertake this work of Himself, I do not mean that He was unwilling to do it. His heart was as fully engaged as the Father’s was (Ps. 40:7). What I mean is that He did not come without a full commission from His Father (Jn. 8:42; Heb. 5:4–5). Our present business is to open Christ’s commission, and to view the great seal of heaven by which it was ratified. I will handle four points.

The Purpose of the Sealing

Christ was sealed to the whole work of mediation, to save all the elect whom the Father had given Him (Isa. 44:5; Jn. 17:2; 1 Pet. 3:18). More particularly, He was sealed to the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King, in order to accomplish this glorious work. First, God sealed Him to His prophetic office, commissioning Him to preach the glad tidings of salvation to sinners (Lk. 4:17–21). Second, God sealed Him to His priestly office, authorizing Him to execute both parts of it: oblation and intercession (Jn. 19:18; Phil. 2:8; Heb. 7:21–25). Third, God called Him to His regal office. He was set upon the highest throne of authority by His Father’s commission (Matt. 28:18).

The Implications of the Sealing

What does the Father’s sealing of Christ imply? First, it implies the validity and efficacy of all His mediatory acts. This sealing fully ratified all that He did, and thus it is a source of comfort and security. Everything that is done without commission and authority is null and void. But what is done by commission and authority is authentic. If Christ had come from heaven and entered upon His mediatory work without a due call, our faith would stumble at the very beginning.

Second, it implies the great obligation that was upon Christ to be faithful in His work. The Father placed a great trust upon Him and relied upon Him for its faithful discharge. Upon this account, Christ reckoned Himself to be obliged to pursue His Father’s design (Jn. 5:30; 9:4). His eye was always upon His Father’s will, and He reckoned Himself to be under a necessity of precise and punctual obedience to it. As a faithful servant, He was willing to have His own will swallowed up in His Father’s will.

Third, it implies Christ’s complete qualification (or, instrumental fitness) to serve the Father’s design in our recovery. God will not seal an unfit person for His work. Whatever is desirable in a servant was eminently found in Christ: faithfulness (Heb. 3:2–6; Rev. 1:5); zeal (Jn. 2:16–17; 4:32); love (Heb. 3:5–6); wisdom (Isa. 52:13); and self-denial (Jn. 8:50). If He had not been all these things, He could never have been employed in this great work.

Fourth, it implies Christ’s sole authority to appoint what He pleases in the church. This is His peculiar prerogative. God has sealed Christ, and none but Him (Jn. 10:8). He foretells that some will labor to deceive the world with a pretend commission and counterfeit seal (Matt. 24:24). But God never commissioned anyone but Christ.

The Means of the Sealing

How did the Father seal Christ to this work? First, He sealed Him by solemn designation, meaning He singled Him out and set Him apart for it (Isa. 42:1; 1 Pet. 2:4). This is implied in John 10:36, where we read that the Father sanctified Him—that is, separated Him and devoted Him to this service.

Second, the Father sealed Christ by unparalleled sanctification. He was anointed as well as appointed to it. The Lord filled Him with the Holy Spirit to qualify Him for this service (Isa. 61:1–3; Lk. 4:1). He anointed Him “with the oil of gladness” above His fellows (Ps. 45:7). We are His fellows (or, co-partners) of the Holy Spirit. We too have an anointing, but not as Christ had it. It was poured out abundantly on Christ, our head, and it ran down to the hem of His garment (Jn. 3:34). God filled Christ’s human nature to the utmost capacity with all fullness of the Spirit of knowledge, wisdom, love, etc., for the effectual administration of His mediatorship. He was full extensively with all kinds of grace, and He was full intensively with all degrees of grace. “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell” (Col. 1:19), so that He might not only fill all things (Eph. 1:22) but that He might be fit in every way to discharge His work. The holy oil that was poured upon the heads of kings and priests, whereby they were consecrated to their offices, was typical of the Holy Spirit by whom Christ was consecrated (or, sealed) to His offices.

Third, the Father sealed Christ by immediate testimony from heaven. He was declared to be the person whom the Father had solemnly designed and appointed to this work. God gave this extraordinary testimony at two remarkable seasons: (1) at the beginning of His ministry (Matt. 3:17); and (2) at the beginning of His suffering (Matt. 17:5). With this voice, God owned, approved, and ratified Christ’s work.

Fourth, the Father sealed Christ by extraordinary miraculous works. In these the Father gave convincing testimonies to the world that this was He whom He had appointed to be our Mediator (Matt. 11:3–5; Jn. 5:36; Acts 10:38).

The Need for the Sealing

Why was it necessary for Christ to be sealed by His Father? First, it fulfills and accomplishes the types which prefigured Him. Under the law, the kings and priests had their inauguration by solemn anointing. This foreshadowed Christ’s consecration (or, sealing) (Heb. 5:4–5). Second, it engages us to love the Father because it reveals His love for us. If the Father had not sealed Christ with such a commission, Christ would not have come. But He did come in the Father’s name and in the Father’s love. We are bound, therefore, to ascribe equal glory and honor to them (Jn. 5:23). Third, it causes us to ground our faith in Christ. How could we be satisfied that He is indeed the true Messiah unless He had shown His Father’s seal upon Him? If He had come from heaven without these credentials, who would rest their faith in Him? “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true” (Jn. 5:31). If He had only given His bare word as confirmation, and not produced any evidence from His Father, His testimony would have been invalid. But He has His Father’s seal, and therefore all doubt is removed.

Application:

The Father’s sealing of Christ is a great comfort to us. God stands engaged, even by His own seal, to allow and confirm whatever Christ has done in the business of our salvation. On this ground, we may thus plead with God: “Lord, You have sealed Christ to this office, and therefore I depend upon it. You allow all that He has done and all that He has suffered for me, and You will make good all that He has promised me.”

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