Wednesday, July 15, 2009

7/15- I John 2:1,2- Christ our Advocate

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Calvin abridged: 2:1- “So that you will not sin”- To not sin is not only the basic teaching of the preceding passage, but the meaning of the whole gospel. Our sin always exposes us to God’s judgment, yet Christ’s sacrificial death intercedes for us so that our Father is forgiving toward us. Christ does not give us a license to sin because of God’s mercy. The Apostle testifies first that the design of his doctrine was to keep people from sinning. Christ is not silent about the gracious remission of our sins, for though the heavens should fall and all things be unanswered, yet this part of truth should never be left out; The person of Christ should be preached clearly and distinctly (which is what we should do now). Though people misunderstand us, we still should boldly proclaim the grace of Christ which brings salvation to us. These challenges are like barking dogs, and should be disregarded because the disciples were also facing these challenges. In order to show how we return into favor with God, he says that Christ is our advocate. He appears to God in order to exercise toward us the power and work of his sacrifice. The intercession of Christ (as our advocate) is a continual application of his death for our salvation. That God does not punish us for our sins is because Christ is our intercessor.
Here John calls Christ two things: “Just” and our “propitiation.” An advocate must have both qualities. An unjust sinner cannot reconcile God to us. We are excluded from access to God because of our impurities. No one can be a high priest except the innocent man (Heb. 7:26 describes Christ as innocent). Likewise no one can be a high priest without a sacrifice, a propitiation. A priest enters the sanctuary with a sacrifice and prayers. All saints have need of an advocate, and Christ is our true advocate. Because Christ died for us and prays for us, our own prayers can be heard in his name. We should also be careful that his honor not go toward another. The Papacy gives the special saints the ability to intercede for us. But the intercessor or advocate must also be a priest. Only Christ is our great high priest. People err when they think that Christ falls to his knees before the Father to pray for us. These thoughts detract from Christ’s own heavenly glory. He makes his requests and our prayers holy by his continual sacrifice on the cross.
“and not only for our sins” Christ’s love does not just cover one individual sins, but the sins of all those who would believe. How have the sins of the whole world been forgiven? It is not that everyone is saved- even Satan himself. Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation. Commonly people say that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect. But this does not fit this passage. John is not talking about those who have faith and those who don’t but different parts of the world geographically. The grace of Christ is for those in every land.

For Calvin, Christ is our ultimate advocate. This was very meaningful for Calvin who was trained as an advocate, a lawyer. Calvin studied at the best law school in the world at the time (Orleans), and rose as a prominent student. The Pope asked the law school for an opinion on Henry VIII’s divorce, and Calvin was asked to sit on the panel that made the decision (he voted against the divorce). A lawyer was supposed to speak for the client, and intercede for them. Calvin appreciated (and we should too) that Christ speaks to the Father on our behalf, and more than that, he also sacrifices for us.

Prayer: Thank you Lord, that you care about the whole world, and you intercede for the world and for us.

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