From Studies in the Scriptures Publication: March, 1939
"If anyone sin we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1). He is the only Practicer in the Court of Heaven, and therefore He is full of the businesses of His Church. It is His office to dispatch the affairs of those that come under Him, and crave His favour and intercession to debate their causes; and He is both faithful and merciful in His place, and furnished with such unmeasurable unction of the Spirit and vast abilities to transact all the businesses of His Church, that whosoever comes unto Him for His counsel and intercession, "He will in nowise cast out," or refuse their cause. And this is one great assurance that we may take comfort in: that be our matters never so foul and inexcusable in themselves, yet the very entertaining of Him of our counsel, (engaging of Him as our Counsel) and the leaning upon His wisdom, power, fidelity, and mercy to expedite our businesses, to compassionate our estate, and rescue us from our own demerits, does as it were, alter the property of the cause, and produce a clean contrary issue to that which the evidence of the thing in trial would of itself have created.
And as we may observe that men of extraordinary abilities in the law delight to wrestle with some difficult business, and to show their learning in clearing matters of greatest intricacy and perplexity, so does Christ esteem Himself most honoured, and the virtue and wisdom of His Cross magnified, when in cases of sorest extremity, of most hideous guilt, of the most black and uncomfortable darkness of soul, which pose (puzzle) not only the presumptuous, but the hope, faith, thoughts, contrivances which the hearts of men can even in wishes make to themselves for mercy, they do yet trust Him whose thoughts are infinitely above their thoughts, and whose ways above their ways (Isa. 55:8). "Who is there among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of His Servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the Name of the LORD, and stay upon his God" (Isa. 50:10).
When the soul can go unto Christ with such complaints and acknowledgments as these: Lord, when I examine my cause by my own conscience and judgment of it, I cannot but give it over as utterly desperate and beyond cure. My bones are dried, my hope is cut off, I am utterly lost--my sins and my sorrows are so heavy that they have broken my spirit all to pieces, and there is no sound part in me. But Lord, I believe Thou knowest a way to make dead bones live (Ezek. 37:3). I believe that Thy thoughts and ways are above mine, that Thou knowest Thine own thoughts of peace and mercy (Jer. 29:11), though I cannot comprehend them, that Thy riches are unsearchable, that Thy love is above human knowledge, that Thy peace passes all created understanding. I know that though I an the greatest of all sinners, and feel enough in myself to sink me as low as Judas into Hell, yet Thou hast not left me without patterns of all longsuffering (1 Tim. 1:16), of Thy royal power in enduring, and in forgiving sins.
And now Lord, though Thou afford me no light, though Thou beset me with terrors, though Thou make me to possess the sins of my youth, yet I still desire to fear Thy name, to walk in Thy ways, to wait upon Thy counsel. I know there is not in men or angels so much wisdom, compassion, or fidelity as in Thee, and therefore if I must perish I will perish at Thy feet, I will starve under Thy table, I will be turned away and rejected by Thee, who hast promised to cast away none that come unto Thee. I have tried all ways, and I here resolve to rest and to look no further. Thou that hast kept such a sinner as I am out of Hell thus long, can by the same power keep me out forever. Upon Thy wisdom and compassion (who can make dried bones to flourish like an herb, and broken bones to rejoice and sing), I cast the whole weight of my guilty spirit--into Thy bosom I empty all the fears and requests of my distracted and sinking soul. I say when a man can thus pour out himself unto Christ, he esteems the value and power of His blood most highly honoured, when men believe in Him against reason and above hope, and beyond the experience or apprehensions they have of mercy; for Christ loves to show the greatness of His skill in the salvation of a Manasseh, a crucified thief, a persecutor, an injurious blasphemer, in giving life unto them that nailed Him to His Cross The more desperate the disease, the more honourable the cure.--(E. Reynolds, 1648).
It is indeed one of the most consolatory truths to be found in Divine revelation. Yea, to the editor it seems the crowning mercy of the Gospel, that the Judge of all the earth has graciously provided His erring people with an Advocate to plead their cause in the high court of Heaven: an Advocate who will not put in a single plea which is to the slightest degree opposed to the holy Law of God, who will not request the Judge to show leniency at the expense of righteousness, who will not make light of sin; yet One who is filled with compassion toward those who are out of the way, and One who will successfully silence him who is "the Accuser of the brethren." Surely it is obvious that only One in all the universe is competent to serve in this capacity: that only One who is in Himself both Jehovah's Fellow and also the Firstborn among many brethren is qualified for such an office.
What comfort should penitent saints draw from this grand aspect of the Mediatorial office! "Penitent" ones we say, for so long as we remain indifferent to our breaches of God's Law and sins against His Gospel, we are not entitled to any spiritual comfort. This is a balm for wounded hearts, for those who are sick of sin. It is a cordial for the faint, for those who are cast down by their wretched failures. It supplies the self-judged believer with an unanswerable reply to his arch-enemy, who would feign have him believe that he has forfeited the Divine favour and sinned beyond the hope of forgiveness. Not only does Satan denounce us before God, but he also accuses us in the court of conscience: yet just as Christ silences him in the one, so may we (by faith's appropriation of Christ's Advocacy) silence him in the other.
How much we owe to Christ's advocacy we shall never fully know down here. When Satan has beguiled us into wrong-doing, when our communion with God is broken and our hearts become cold, hard and prayerless, there is One on high who makes intercession for us. And is not the immediate effect of this that, in due course, we are made conscious of our wrongdoing, brought to confess our wickedness, beg the Father to forgive us, and then are granted a fresh token of His love? Surely these are nothing else than the fruits of Christ's advocacy on our behalf. Then let us not fail to thank God not only for One who died for us, but who now lives to make intercession for us. --A.W.P.