January 21, 2014

Our Advocate has a Great Case!

I am about two thirds of the way through the book Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life's Biggest Questions by Timothy Keller. I normally try to wait until I finish a book and then just give a nice little review, but this section I just read in the chapter "The Two Advocates" is well worth mentioning on its own.

This portion that I have included parallels some thoughts that I have also had, but as is the case with an exceptionally talented author, Timothy Keller has phrased it much better than I ever could have. I know this is a long quote, but it is worth it.

In the early days after becoming a Christian, I first heard of this idea that Jesus Christ somehow "intercedes" for me before the Father. I got this out of the book of Hebrews, where Jesus is depicted as our great high priest who stands before the Father for us, as priests in the Old Testament did for the people. When I first heard the idea of Jesus Christ representing me before the Father, it made me think of him going before the throne like this: "Good morning, Father, I represent Tim Keller. And my client, I admit, is having a very bad week. He's broken three or four promises he made to you. He has broken several of your laws that he knows and acknowledges. He has sinned a lot this week. He deserves to be punished -- but cut him a break, please, Father? For my sake? I really ask that you give him another chance." That's how I imagined him speaking. And I also imagined the Father saying in reply, "Well, all right. Okay. For you, one more chance." 
Now the trouble with that imaginary scenario is that Jesus does not have a case; he is simply pleading for another chance. And I remember thinking, "I wonder how long even Jesus can keep that sort of thing up?" I wondered when the Father would finally say, "That does it! I've had it!" But my imagination was ill-informed. It is not sufficient for a lawyer to just resort to tugging on the heartstrings of the jury or the judge, or to try to delay the verdict, or to appeal to technicalities. The lawyer doesn't need spin or emotional manipulation -- but a real case. And that is just what Jesus has. 
What is his case? John goes on to tell us in I John 2:2. First he says, "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins." When Jesus goes before the Father, he is not actually asking for mercy for us. Of course it was infinitely merciful of God to send Christ to die for us, but that mercy has now been granted, so Jesus does not need to beg for it. I John 1:9 says that "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." Notice that it does not say that if Christians confess their sins God forgives because he mercifully gives them another chance. No, it says he forgives because he is faithful and just. To not forgive us would be unjust. How could that be? 
The best way for you to get an acquittal for your legal client is not to hope you can get some sympathy from the court. The best way is to show that your client must be acquitted under the law. You want to be able to say with integrity and conviction, "This is the law, and the law demands my client's acquittal." You want to make a case that is not based on how the court feels at the time but is open ans shut according to the law. And Jesus has one! Jesus Christ can say, in effect, "Father, my people have sinned, and the law demands that the wages of sin be death. But I have paid for those sins. See, here is my blood, the token of my death! On the cross I have paid the penalty for these sins completely. Now if anyone were to exact two payments for the same sin, it would be unjust. And so -- I am not asking for mercy for them; I'm asking for justice." 

That, if Jesus' claims are true, is an infallible case. This is why John could say that when Christians confess their sins they are forgiven because the justice of God now demands it!

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Keep following this blog for the review of this book as soon as I am finished reading it.