“To God’s Glory” : A Practical Study of a Doctrine of the Westminster Standards.
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn
THE SUBJECT : Our Intercessor
THE BIBLE VERSES TO READ : Isa. 53:12; John 17:9; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25.
REFERENCE TO THE STANDARDS : Confession : Chap. VIII.1 and 4; Larger Catechism : Q. 39; 42; and 44; Shorter Catechism : Q. 25.
The Word of God tells us, “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us.” (I John 5:14). A wonderful secret of our confidence, our peace, is our ability to be heard by our Heavenly Father. That we have access to the Father in prayer is a promise from Holy Writ.
This informs us that all prayer made in the will of God, prayer dictated by the Holy Spirit—in that it is consistent with the Word of God—reaches the ear of our Sovereign God. What a glorious promise! It is almost too much to imagine that our Lord Jesus Christ is pleading on our behalf.
Our Intercessor, Jesus Christ, sits on the right hand of God the Father, ever making intercession for us. This is an important source of our confidence as we live the Christian life day by day. We need never worry about whether or not He hears us. We need never think we are alone. We need never be concerned that because of our inability to put things into words He will not hear us. We can put the finger of faith on I John 5:14 and KNOW that He hears us. What a wonderful privilege!
When our Lord uttered the words, “It is finished” on the Cross of Calvary, He was speaking of His atoning sacrifice. His work was not finished. His work of reconciliation continued for His children. His work on our behalf in heaven is summarized by the use of the word “intercession.”
We are told that our Lord is well suited for this work. “We have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15). He has experienced everything we experience. He knows of all the temptations that come upon us.
If we are faced with the temptations of pride, He has been there. If we are faced with the temptation of rebelling against God’s Law, He has been there. If we are faced with the temptations of feeling sorry for ourselves in the midst of loneliness, or sorrow, or trouble, He has been there. He has a perfect understanding of every human experience for He became truly man and now is our intercessor before God.
We need to be reminded that His intercessory work also includes our sanctification. He sanctifies our prayers and is ever present to separate us from evil unto holiness. He represents us before the Throne of God against Satan, and intercedes for our prayers.
However, we should remember that our access to God, through this Intercessor, puts upon us an awesome responsibility. This responsibility is to behave ourselves as the children of God. Too many times we seem to rely upon our theological position rather than on our attitude, our relationship to our Father through Jesus Christ. If we are indeed saved by God, and expect to enjoy the privileges that salvation gives to us, we must remember that responsibility always comes with privilege.
The next time we go to our God in prayer it would be good for us to ask ourselves a question. With what kind of spirit are we praying? Our approach to our Lord should always be that of recognizing certain Biblical truths about ourselves. Let us list a few to help us examine ourselves :
Many times we should have a chastened spirit because of our sin as we approach Him;
Our approach to Him should always be encompassed with obedience, for it is the obedient heart He desires to hear;
We must be willing to approach Him with an attitude of submission to His Word.
Our prayers must always be accompanied with the spirit of praise to our God who is so precious to us.
We need to remember our prayers should be constant, not just when we are in need of help.
One further word could be helpful as we think of the intercession of Christ for His saved ones. Thomas Watson says it clearly : “. . . a Christian when he prays must chiefly fix his eye on Christ’s intercession. We read in Lev. 16 that Aaron made atonement by the incense as well as by the blood. So we must look to the cloud of incense, viz., the intercession of Christ.” (A Body of Divinity, p. 183).
Let us praise God for our Intercessor, even our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us remember His intercession is not based on our worthiness, it is of His free grace. Let us make use of His intercession more and more!