Sometimes our richest comforts lie in apparently simple truth.
During one particularly trying quarter, my college physics teacher requested a private meeting with me and another student. It seems we had made the worst grades in the entire class. I can’t remember how the gospel came up during that meeting. The teacher was spiritually ambivalent, but was intrigued when she found out I was a committed Christian (although my faith had not much benefited my understanding of physics). I launched into an explanation of the gospel, placing our sin and the salvation of Jesus front and center.
The other guy who sat there was also a Christian, and unbeknownst to me, was developing problems with me by the second. Finally he spoke up and said, “Hey, what about full salvation?” Apparently I had not created a large enough doctrinal field to interest him, and rather than join me in witnessing to our physics teacher, chose to critique my gospel presentation right there in front of her.
The teacher quickly lost interest when she saw that two Christians placed side-by-side in a room could not find enough unity to tell her what they believed.
My classmate had assumed I had shortchanged our teacher by preaching the overly simple message of Christ giving Himself up for us.
Admittedly, Scripture presents a larger built-out thought of regeneration-transformation-glorification. But Mrs. Physics Teacher had nowhere near the level of interest needed to support that kind of inquiry. Instead, her concerns had been of a more primal nature, which was How we could ever expect anything from God, not to mention second birth, while in a condition of sinfulness?
Even Job, whom the Scriptures called “blameless and upright” (1:1, 2:3), had been tormented by the same question, “how can a man be in the right before God?” (9:2).
Under the omniscient purview of the Almighty, what human being could successfully self-exonerate every thought, deed, and intent from the infection of sin?
Job complained long and loud,
“There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both. Let him take his rod away from me, and let not dread of him terrify me. Then I would speak without fear of him, for I am not so in myself” (9:33-35).
While in this world, suspended on a spiderweb of mortal life, Job felt “dread,” “terror,” and “fear” about the perfections of a God who stood ready to chasten evil. No, not only systemic evil at some vague strategic level, but personal wickedness, the kind that keeps men awake at night, the kind we would love to project out somewhere, far, far away from ourselves, but can’t.
And the solution? Job was spot-on: an arbiter. Someone who would represent both the divine and the human. A mediator.
“But there is none,” he lamented.
I’m guessing from Job’s “improved” vantage point today, though, he has changed his mind:
“…God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Tim. 2:3-6).