"If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:1.
This passage is supposed to favor the thought, that when coming to the Father, the glorified Jesus must act as an ambassador or advocate with the Father, to plead for our acceptance and forgiveness. This we have already shown to be contrary to reason as well as contrary to the spirit and word of God. How then is this statement of John's to be understood? We answer that when this statement concerning the advocate is taken in connection with the context, all is clear and plain. The evidence of our ransom, presented by Jesus when he ascended on high, is, and ever shall be, our advocate. As the blood of Abel "cried" or spoke to God after his death, so the blood of the man Christ Jesus, the Mediator, speaks for every sinner for whom he died, for all who come unto God trusting in his sacrifice for sins. The blood of Abel cried for vengeance, but not so the blood of Christ. (Heb. 12:24.) It speaks peace and pardon to the sinner, and speaks full satisfaction (propitiation) to God, for our sins. That blood, that sacrifice, that ransom presented by Jesus, is our advocate; ever with the Father, ever heard on behalf of every repentant sinner, and Jesus, the glorified, has no need to further plead for our forgiveness.
And this is plainly the apostle's teaching. In the preceding verse he says, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves." "If we confess our sins, he [God] is JUST TO FORGIVE us our sins." Then in explanation of why we may know certainly of our forgiveness and see how God to be JUST must forgive us, the apostle points to our advocate, the blood which speaks for us—"Jesus Christ the righteous"—without sin, therefore a perfect ransom, the satisfaction for our sins and for all sins. He thus points us to Calvary and to the acceptance of that ransom price as our advocate.
We read of the INTERCESSION of Christ for us, and it is well that we should appreciate its meaning. "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." "He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25.) These statements are not out of harmony with the foregoing. They do not teach that Christ Jesus prays or entreats with the Father for our acceptance. The Greek word used rather signifies to deal or to show cause. He ever liveth to deal or negotiate for them. The same Greek word is translated "deal" in Acts 25:24.
Now the question arises, What negotiation is necessary? If the man Christ Jesus by the sacrifice of himself met all the obligations and penalties of the original covenant, and opened up a new way of life—by ratifying a new covenant with his blood, and if whoever cometh to the Father by him—accepting of the ransom from the old, and the conditions of the New Covenant, is acceptable with the Father, why need there be any further dealing or negotiation on our behalf?
We answer, The rolling away of the condemnation of the first covenant is not sufficient. If all the old score were blotted out, the sinner would still need to be helped; for if when the old score was settled, he was presented to God as a person against whom not a charge could be found—fully cleared of all guilt, how long would such an one maintain such a standing? Not a moment; for though cleansed, if not made perfect; if not freed from the weaknesses resulting from the fall, we would be condemned again under the new covenant, were it not that the Great High Priest deals for us.
As our Redeemer he bought us. His sacrifice is our price. As our Restorer he will bring us to perfection and to fellowship with the Father. Because he is perfect and acceptable with the Father, we, whom he purchased, and whom he represents, are acceptable through him representatively.
As in the person of Adam, death passed upon all represented in him long before each individual became totally dead, so in Christ's person as their representative, a right to life has come to all mankind long before each individual becomes fully alive—perfect. (Adam was the representative of the race by nature, by creation; Christ being their representative by virtue of ownership; having bought us with his own precious blood.) We will not be personally worthy of recognition by the Father until made actually perfect.
Thus, then, while imperfect, Christ deals with us for God; judging and correcting us, etc., and he deals with God for us, by appropriating to us the merit of his own sacrifice. When the present trial is past, if we are accounted worthy of life, when we reach the point of actual perfection we shall need no one to "deal" [R792 : page 6] for us, or to represent us, but we will deal directly with the Father ourselves.
But now, and so long as we are imperfect, it would be "a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Heb. 10:26-31.) Fearful, in that every imperfect being, judged by the law of God, would be found imperfect, and hence as unworthy of life, condemned to death. Specially fearful, because it would be "the second death," for all were released from the condemnation of the first or Adamic death by the ransom, and should be hid or covered by the Redeemer until perfected. And all may be so covered who are willing to be; hence if they "fall into the hands of the living God" before perfection has been reached, it must be by a willful rejection of the Redeemer's merit. In thus removing their cause from his negotiation or dealing, such are face to face with Him whose laws they violate, and whose appointed way of reconciliation they thus spurn when they reject Jesus' merit as their justification, and attempt to deal with God themselves as though perfect or not requiring a ransom.
But in all this there is nothing in favor of the usual idea of INTERCESSION, of Jesus pleading for sinners, and praying the Father to accept them. It is rather that of a representative or attorney, who, as our case is called, acts for us, represents us, applying the merits of his ransom-sacrifice to each one coming to the Father by him. He continues to supply and apply that meritorious sacrifice until we, made perfect, shall have no further need of it, though that sacrifice and merit shall never be forgotten—in eternity. Thus he not only redeems us from guilt, but is able (and willing) to save to the uttermost—completely—all who come to the Father by him.
Thus every Scripture points to the merit of the sacrifice on our behalf. His sacrifice redeemed us, he bought all; all are his, and he represents all whom he purchased, and will continue to represent them, and to deal for them, until such times as he shall have perfected them and presented them perfect to the Father, (1 Cor. 15:27,28 and Jude 24.) unless they wilfully and designedly remove their case from his charge.
Those whom the apostle mentions as falling into the hands of the living God and receiving his fiery indignation, and being devoured or destroyed as his adversaries, are those who reject the ransom and refuse God's spirit of favor therein extended to them—who reject the efficacy of the blood which sealed and ratified the New Covenant and attempt to stand before God and deal for themselves with all their imperfection.