"Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, 'You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.' Moses said to the people, 'Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.' The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was."
- Exodus 20:18-20
These verses appear immediately after the revelation of the Ten Commandments. They reveal the affect that the words of God had on these, His covenant people. In a word, they were terrified! This is both the proper and the natural response of the person who is outside Christ. In our lost condition, we are violators of God's righteousness, and can expect nothing from Him but wrath (Ephesians 2:3). This was early in the revelation of the redemptive purposes of God, but they already had the stories of Adam's fall (Genesis 3), the Noachic flood (Genesis 6-7), and the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 18), so they were well-aware of the consequences of sin.Their fear was a completely rational reaction.
However, what is God's response? While their sin certainly did create a chasm between God and His chosen people (see Isaiah 59:2), He chooses, by grace alone, to bridge the gap by the appointment of a mediator, Moses. Was Moses without sin? Certainly not. In fact, we know that God refuses to allow him to enter the Promised Land because of his sin (Deuteronomy 32:48-52). So, how could a sinner serve as mediator between God and other sinners? In was according to his own merit, it was impossible. The difference was that the mediatorship of Moses pointed to the greater Mediatorship of Christ (Deuteronomy 18:15, Hebrews 3:1-6, 4:14-15, 12:24).
One thing stands out in these descriptions of mediatorship, that is that in neither case was the mediator chosen by the human side. Rather, God alone decided whom He would receive on behalf of sinful mankind.
Consider how different this is from the concept of saints in the Roman, Eastern Orthodox, and (some) Anglican churches. Sinful men appoint for themselves other sinful men and women, and pray to them to mediate between their devotees and God. Not only is that contrary to the biblical pattern, but it undermines the one-and-only Mediatorship of Christ (I Timothy 2:5). How can sinners appoint another sinner to represent them to the sinless God? And why? When there is already a God-appointed and sinless Mediator interceding for us before the throne of God (Hebrews 7:25), is it not wickedly presumptuous to appoint a second, sinful mediator of our own creation? Yet that is what we see in the church buildings of the papal church.
To my mind, that can only be taken to mean that the congregations of Rome are no churches of Christ.
Aquinas Reconsidered (Richard A. Muller)
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