Christ the Advocate for Sinners

Christ the Advocate for Sinners

Let me invite you to turn in your Bibles to One John chapter 2, verses 1 and 2. The context of these verses start in chapter one verse 5, but due to time’s sake we will only read our text.

KJV– 1 John 2:1-2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

This is the Word of God . . . .

Introduction- I must start off with saying what a great privilege it is for us as preachers of the gospel to preach a text like this; it is simply life changing when we read passages like this about our Savior Jesus Christ. My first thought after reading this text was how is it possible to fully describe the overflowing amounts of exceeding joys of the gospel that are presented here for the believer? My plan today is to preach these gleams of the gospel found in this text so that you may see Christ as more beautiful and lovelier to your salvation than when you came in here.[1] I will follow John’s own example, by showing the sickness of sin and the truths of Christ. John writes this letter knowing his audience was a well established group of believers who were standing firm to what they knew to be true about Christ.[2] John gets right to the point in why he is writing this letter. We see John’s mood change from that which he had been writing in the previous chapter when he was dealing with the Gnostics. John had to defend areas that were crucial to these believers. In chapter one he was defending the gospel and here in chapter two, he is teaching the importance of the gospel. This is why Christ is shown so magnificently throughout this entire book, and most beautifully in 1 John 2:1-2.

Propositional Statement (#, Noun, Application, action)

Today, let us consider four important truths in seeing and making known how Christ is the advocate for sinners. They are:

*First, Sin is serious. Sin is the problem within all of mankind, and man cannot nor will he ever find remedy from its disease without Jesus Christ.

*Secondly, In Christ we have an advocate. Christ conquered the cross (death, burial and resurrection) so that he might stand in the courts of heaven and plea to his father, being our Great High Priest.

*Thirdly, Christ is our propitiation. This, however, is twofold. First, Christ, when giving himself up on the cross, reconciled us to God. Secondly, this sacrifice satisfied the wrath of God, so that God could allow mankind to stand in front of him clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

* Fourthly, Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. When Christ died he provided a way that was cross cultural, multi ethnical, and barrier destroying to that which had been previously, namely the law and Jews.

Instructional Point- Sin is serious. It must be clearly understood what sin does in a relationship with God. Sin must be looked at as the absolutely, positively most offensive act against God.

Illustration- what does the Bible give us?

In verse one of our text, when John says, “My little children, these things write I unto you,” what are “these things” that he talking about? Things like in chapter one, verse three, “that ye also may have fellowship with us,” things like in verse four, “that your joy may be full,” things like verse five, “God is light.” Things like “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” in verse seven and also these things in verse nine like “and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” to things in verse ten like, “if we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar.” These are the things which John is talking about when he says, “these things write I unto you.” But why does he write about “these things” at all? He writes them so “that ye sin not.” John’s desire is that believers should strive for the art of perfection and for the pursuit of holiness. Anything short of that is not what they should be striving towards. John wants these people to see the seriousness of sin. Sin is not a part of the loving light that John describes to these believers in chapter one, and he is writing these things in chapter one and later in the book so that they may not sin. Look with me in 1 John 3:4, where we find John’s definition of sin. It says, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” It says that everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

Application- what does this mean?

What this means for the believer is that your sin is sick to God. When you sin, you break the law and that is a serious, serious offense to God. Now, I happened to come across an article in January when reading Charles Spurgeon’s magazine The Sword and the Trowel and I could not think of a better way to help picture exactly what this lawlessness and what the seriousness of sin does to the relationship between man and God. Thomas Brooks wrote this portrait of how we must see sin:

“You shall as soon espouse light and darkness, and marry midnight to the noonday, as you shall espouse or marry a holy God to an unhumbled sinner. Oh, who can look upon sin as an offense against a holy God, as the breach of a holy law, as the wounding and crucifying of a holy Savior, as the grieving and saddening of a holy Sanctifier, and as an eternal loss and undoing of his own soul, and not mourn over it? Oh, who can east a serious eye upon the nature of sin, or upon the exceeding sinfulness of sin, or upon the aggravations of sin, and not have his heart humbled, his soul grieved, and his spirit melted for sin? Oh who, can look upon sin as it strikes at the honor of God, the name of God, the being of God, the glory of God, and the design of God,’ and not have his mouth full of penitential confessions, his eyes full of penitential tears, and his heart fall of penitential sorrow?”[3]

Interaction- what would that look like?

Let me ask you a couple of questions; when was the last time you asked God for the forgiveness of your sins? When was the last time you or anyone you saw wept over their sins? Do people today in your churches even know the seriousness of sin? I hope that you know the seriousness of sin. Denials of truth, deceiving others to get what you want, lusting after another woman on the sidewalk or in the super market, looking at images that are not God honoring, and the greed in wanting something you don’t need – these are all sin. Gluttony in the eating as much of something as much as you would like and the pride of feeling well-liked and well-praised qualify as sin. What about anger and uncontrolled actions when something happens that doesn’t go your way? This is sin! What about the words that express your feelings? What about words and how they are used towards others? Doing someone wrong because life has supposedly dealt you a deck of bad cards is sin. It’s sin and it’s serious. It is serious because it creates a huge barrier in the relationship between you and God. How often do we as the elect forget about our sins and never confess them to God? This is serious in so many ways. It is serious because these sins are part of nature of the devil and do not represent anything of the nature in which Christ died for, bought you, gave you – who you are now. It is serious because when you sin, you are telling Christ that his cross, his death, and his blood were not good enough for you. And it is serious because if you continue in the same sin or sins continually day after day, I tell you, you should wonder about the assurance of your salvation. Have you continued to sin so much that your heart has become hardened, to the point that you don’t even realize that it is sin any longer? The seriousness of sin is more serious than anything, period! It condemns you to hell and without an advocate there is no hope, which leads me to my next point.

Instructional Point –We have an advocate. Not only has Christ finished his outpouring of blood upon the cross in the purchasing of his elect, he now also pleads on behalf of his elect for their forgiveness of sins.

Illustration- what does the Bible give us?

Now look with me to the second half of verse one, “if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Now when you read this, you almost would think that John is trying to say that you shouldn’t sin, but it is okay if you do, because you have an advocate. To that I would say that is not at all what he is trying to tell his readers. What kind of advocate is this? Read with me in the previous chapter in verse seven, “But if we walk in the light, as he is the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” From how much sin are we cleansed? We are cleansed from all sin. For it is in the blood of Christ that we the church can be forgiven by God for our sins. So what John is giving us here is that number one, don’t sin and number two, if you do sin, we have an advocate. This here is the center piece of my text. This word here is not used often in the New Testament and when used in all cases, it is used in describing what the Holy Spirit does. But John uses this to display the beauty of Christ as our best friend, our advocate. For starters, I need to give the biblical definition of what an advocate does or what it is. I believe the best definition of this is found in Scripture, in Hebrews 4:14-16. It reads,

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Application- what does this mean?

That is what an advocate is. Do you get that? Does your family get that? Does your church get that? This is what I am trying to describe to you, that when you know you have a sin issue, when you are struggling more than you ever have in your life, when you think your marriage is at its seams because of the selfish decisions you have made, when your kids do not listen because of the times that you have treated them un-Christ-like manner, Christ is there. When you have left God’s side and disobeyed his word time and time again constantly and willingly, Christ will plead for you, if you are his. And if you are not, today may be the day to meet your lawyer. When you have left God’s side and you have nowhere to run, no one to go to help any longer, and nowhere to hide in your sin, and no arms to comfort you, Christ will take care of His own.

When you are discouraged by your present state, depressed about the decisions you have made, feel abandoned because of the barriers you build between God, hurt because of the loneliness that you have created, and abused by the torment of sin in your lives, Christ is there pleading on your behalf. This is why you pray “in Christ’s name.” All of your problems, all of your troubles, all of your asking of forgiveness of sin, are in Christ’s name. This is crucial to praying to God. Christ sets and pleads and intercedes on your behalf. And as sinners you need an advocate.

Interaction- what would that look like?

What makes this the most amazing is the way that Christ’s intercedes for his bride. In the heavens, he is sitting beside his father in perfect communion, and when you pray, and you ask God for forgiveness from what you have done. What do you think happens? You think Christ says, “Well father he’s really sorry this time.” You think he says, “Well he has not lusted in 3 weeks father, or he hasn’t been prideful lately, father.” You think that’s how God works? No! Christ says, “Look at my cross father, look at it. And look at my hands father, you see them, and my feet, you see my side, look at my cross father; look at my cross. My blood purchased these men father, and I plead on behalf of them with my redeeming, purchasing, sin cleansing pure blood father. That is my plea.” And that is your plea every time you pray to God in Christ’s name and ask for forgiveness before the almighty judge. Amen! God forgives you because he looks at your best friend, your lawyer; he looks at Christ’s blood and not you. This brings me to my next point.

Instructional Point- Christ is our propitiation. The one time single act of atonement for sin by the all together perfect, holy, innocent, unstained, and separated- from-sinners sacrifice of Jesus Christ not only reconciles us to God, but satisfies the wrath of God which was upon us.

Illustration- what does the Bible give us?

Look at our text, the first half of verse two. “And he is the propitiation for our sins.” Propitiation is Christ paying the penalty for all your sins, taking on all of the wrath God that you deserve, enduring all of your condemnation, dying in your place and rising from the dead for your salvation, so that he may reconcile you to God. You must know this to have a solid foundation in understanding our advocate, Jesus Christ.[4] This, however, is not a hard thing to understand. No propitiation and no advocate mean that no pleas and no intercession occur and, therefore, there is no forgiveness of sin in the manner and grace that God has allowed today. No wrath bearing Savior, no propitiation, no advocate, no forgiveness of sins, no gospel. This is how God adopts sinners. This is how you are made righteous and blameless before God. Christ’s sacrifice is complete in reconciling you to God’s wrath so that God is happy with His son, and it is what will allow you to one day stand before God! What thankfulness does this God deserve for saving a sinner like you? You were damned in sin, with God’s wrath on your head, you were a servant of Satan, and when God’s sovereign voice called you, it was Christ’s righteousness that you were clothed in, made possible by his being your propitiation.

Application- what does this mean?

R. C. Sproul says on this issue,

“A Substitute has appeared in space and time, appointed by God Himself, to bear the weight and burden of our transgressions, to make expiation for our guilt, and to propitiate the wrath of God on our behalf. This is the gospel. Therefore, if you take away the substitutionary atonement, you empty the cross of its meaning and drain all the significance out of the passion of our Lord Himself. If you do that, you take away Christianity itself.”[5]

He died in our place, taking on the payment for our sins so that we might be reconciled to God. And yes, it was for the glory of God that Christ died so that the wrath of God would be satisfied and that the wrath of God could and would be removed from his elect. Therefore, he may now plead on the behalf of his people. This is twofold, and without one or the other you lose the foundation and the very center of the gospel. This is not controversial, like many make it today. We must stand for the truth of the wrath of God and our wrath bearing Savior.[6]

Interaction- what would that look like?

In the culture in which we live today it is extremely sad that we have leaders, pastors, teachers, and theologians who belittle Christ, the atonement, and the heart of the gospel when they write books with sections in them like this, and I quote;

“The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse-a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed. Understandably, both people inside and outside of the Church have found this twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith. Deeper than that, however, is that such a concept stands in total contradiction to the statement: God is love”. If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his Son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teaching to love your enemies and to refuse to repay evil with evil.”[7]

Let me quote a few more; “there is a need to construct a new paradigm of the atonement in the 21st century; the sacramental model is flawed.”[8] Another one, “on the cross, God was not punishing Jesus.”[9] And one more argues that our view is, “the moral equivalent of the killer who murdered Amish children at the Pennsylvania schoolhouse.”[10]

Some of these quotes came from what once was a Reformed publishing house. Now today they have left the very center of what they once stood upon. And as reformed believers, students, and professors of the truth and the gospel we must stand firmly against issues that are utterly false to our Propitiation, Jesus Christ. If there is no wrath-satisfier, then there is no gospel.

And without the correct understanding of this, Christ’s person and work are belittled and distorted. Listen to me, the loss of this doctrine is nothing but the loss of the gospel. And to someone who would say such junk as this, I would read to them John’s other place that he mentions propitiation in his book, in 1 John 4:10, it sates “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” For God is love, it is his very love that Christ did die! How beautiful is this that it was because of God’s love, this propitiation did take place. It was because of God’s love that Christ took on your entire wrath, it was because of God’s love that he reconciled you to himself, and it was because of God’s love that you didn’t hang on a cross, whipped, beaten, mocked, scorned, spit on and that you were not murdered naked and nail upon a cross. It was God’s love that allows you to sit here today and know Christ, see Christ, savor Christ, live for Christ because of the propitiation of Christ. The loss of this doctrine is nothing but the loss of the gospel.

Instructional Point- Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world! This propitiation for sinners reaches to all nations, all countries, all states and provinces, all cultures, all colors, all types, and all different groups of the world.

Illustration- what does the Bible give us?

As we draw to an end, follow with me in the last portion of our text in verse two, “and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” This does not mean Christ purchased every soul at the cross. It means that whoever comes to him in repentance and belief has limitless access to the benefits of his gospel, his atoning death, his blood, and his cross. It is open for all.

Application- what does this mean?

This is crucial to living out what Christ has given us, the gospel. Understanding the sickness of sin and knowing that his propitiation has allowed him to become the advocate of his elect should not call us to sit in our pews and rest in only knowing about the great benefits of Christ. That is not what the gospel does. And that most certainly is not what it has done for you. We must preach Christ to the whole world. His elect are scattered throughout this world in remote places, so that those who know the gospel can reach those who need to be reached. Are we reaching them? Are we reaching our hands out to further the ministry of the gospel to which Christ so willingly gave his life for? Are we preaching the gospel freely to those who might have not yet received it? Or are we happy and content in the comfort zone of our everyday circles of Christianity and denominations? The gospel is that all that repent and believe on Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Is that your life today? Do you want to see others come to this Christ? Do you want to preach this good news to those who may have not heard or even to those who do not want to hear? Must I ask, when was the last time you offered the gospel to someone? Or should I ask this: do you only offer the gospel to those that you want to or do you only offer the gospel to the small groups society where you feel most comfortable?

Interaction- what would that look like?

Christ’s gospel is not cultural, and it is not only meant for one solid group of reformed individuals. If you want to live out the gospel then live out what you believe. You must preach it to all of mankind. The gospel is wealth to the poor, it is a home to the needy, and it is sight to the blind. What about the punk with chains all down his pants, the goth with black lips, what about the rich and prideful, the obese, the divorced woman with 5 kids, the homeless, the drug-addict, the alcohol-abuser, the tattooed freak, the wife beater, the “trailer park trash”, the prostitute, the orphan, the pimp, the adulterer? And the list goes on. And I ask where they are in our churches? They are sitting right outside, waiting for the gospel. Do we have them in our churches today? Or should I ask, would you have them in your churches today? Sadly, I am afraid that many of our conservative mainstream churches would never desire to deal with these issues or these types of people because of the problems they may bring. But oh, I tell you that the gospel of Christ has been offered to them all. They sit in our cities and our towns every day here in America waiting to hear Christ. We as the bride of Christ need to live out what saved us, the gospel of Christ. And if we do not reach them, we are not living a gospel-centered life like Christ did and has offered to all of us today. Must I remind you that the only reason that you sit here today and are not one of them is because of the gospel? Must I ask you, are you living out the gospel?

Conclusion- When will the church see this? When will the culture of lost men see the hope that lies in Christ, our advocate and our propitiation? Oh, what is more beautiful than this? I am asking now, tell me one thing greater, one thing more beautiful, one truth that surpasses this; I want one! There is none! There is nothing greater in life than the gospel. It is great to the lost, it is great to those young in the faith, it is what is great to the experienced believer, and it is what the old saint depends on in his later years. And in ending, we must know these truths of the Scripture so that we can carry out Christ’s message to this world. Sin is sick, and it has dragged mankind down to the state which he is in today. Sin has captured many souls over the years and is doing so as we speak. As John says, “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” We have a Savior who has given the perfect sacrifice that can redeem those lost sinners, just like he did for you. His death on the cross on which He bore the sins of many has given hope to us and many more that will come to Christ before his return. Christ has reconciled his elect to his father and drank the cup of wrath so that God may forgive you. And he did this for the world. Amen!

[1] This will be hard to do, with already having Dr. Beeke, Dr. Murray, and Rev. Lanning having preached this text before.

[2] 1 John 2:7; 3:11

[3] Thomas Brooks, The Sword and the Trowel, vol. 7, 1884, p. 403.

[4] Hebrews 7:26

[5] R. C. Sproul, The Truth of the Cross, (Orlando, Reformation Trust, 2007), p. 81.

[6] Isaiah 53: 4-6, 10, Romans 8:3, and Galatians 3:13

[7] Steve Chakle and Alan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), p. 182-3.

[8] Brad Jersak and Michael Hardin, eds., Stricken by God? Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007), p.14.

[9] Jersak, Stricken by God?, p. 31.

[10] Hardin, Stricken by God?, p. 55.


2 Comments on “Christ the Advocate for Sinners”

  1. Logan Snakes says:

    This past week has really been wierd for me. Everything i have been studying and reading has come back to sin and how shoty we are. Negative as the topic may be we still have to remember to say thank you Lord!

  2. Indeed my dear brother, Christ is Great!

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