Every year during the season of Advent I do a four part series in to match up with the four Sunday’s of Advent. In 2014 we explored the various heresies which facilitated the controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries. In 2015 we took an in depth look at the Niceno-Constantinopolitian Creed. This year, we will take a look at the eight clauses of chapter eight of the Westminster Confession of Faith. Each week we will tackle two clauses.
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, the Prophet, Priest, and King, the Head and Savior of his church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world: unto whom he did from all eternity give a people, to be his seed, and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.
This clause roots the incarnation not in a reaction to sin, but as part of God’s eternal purpose. God did not discover the sin of Adam and formulate a plan, but eternally intended his Son to serve as a mediator between himself and his people. This eternal appointment of the Lord Jesus is called the Covenant of Redemption, and should not be understood as an obeyed command by the Son, but as a mutual agreement between two (actually three, but not explicitly so here) Persons of equal nature, authority, and standing. The Son joyfully serves as the Mediator, and as a reward for his faithful service he receives from the Father a people to be his very own. These are the people who would be the beneficiaries of, and only intended recipients of, the atonement.
2. The Son of God, the second person in 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, with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance. 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. Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.
As was alluded to by the apposition in the first article, the second article makes explicit that this Mediator who was appointed by the Father is a single Person. That Person is the second Person of the Trinity, God the Son. the Son is fully and truly God, not only of the same kind of nature… but of one singular nature with the Father. This Son truly took on our nature, along with all its natural limitations and weaknesses, however he did not sin. Because he shares a single nature with the Father, Arianism is excluded. Because he took on all of our essential properties, Apollinarianism is excluded. This second article is essentially a restatement and reaffirmation of the Chalcedonian Definition and refutes both Nestorianism and Eutychainism. Furthermore, the historical reality of the virgin conception is affirmed, excluding various liberal errors.