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The Advocate - Scott Richardson

The Grace Of God - David Sandlin


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August 28, 2011


The Advocate

Listening to radio and television or seeing billboards along the highways, we are constantly barraged with shouts of “Let us be your advocates!” and claims of being “the country’s most successful advocates!” One would think that the world will fall apart if we don’t hire multiple advocates to avenge us of the evils perpetrated by those who would injure us personally, cheat us of Social Security benefits, or force upon us “bad drugs.” Some people hearing or seeing these adds might not even know exactly what an advocate is, but they certainly are led to think that they better get one.

What is an advocate? According to the New Oxford American Dictionary it is “a person who pleads on someone else’s behalf.” It is from the Latin advocatus, past participle (used as a noun) of advocare ‘call (to one’s aid),’ from ad- ‘to’ + vocare ‘to call.’ So, in basic terms, an advocate is someone who represents us and pleads our case. In our society, most of the time this would be a lawyer.

“I want my lawyer!” is one of the first things someone accused of a crime will utter. In our country, requesting a lawyer for representation is one of the rights afforded through the judicial system. The reality is that we all really do need a lawyer—just not necessarily one advertised from the screaming billboards. We all need a “real” advocate.

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1John 2:1-2).

The Lord requires his people to strive for perfection. However, the Lord knows that no one will be absolutely perfect: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” (1John 1:8-10). Therefore, an advocate, who can plead for them, has been provided. Look a little closer at the advocate who has been provided.

Who is the advocate?

The advocate is called: “Jesus Christ the righteous.” In Paul’s writing the advocate is also called the mediator. “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1Timothy 2:5). Still in another place, the advocate is called the intercessor. “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25). In our text, He is also called the propitiation (1John 2:2; 4:10). Propitiation is a word not often used that simply means “the act of making well disposed or making favorable.” All of these terms have to do with Jesus being the one who pleads the case of the erring Christian before God and placing us in a favored position.

What kind of an advocate is the advocate?

Continual advertisements for the personal injury advocates tout their abilities—what kind of advocates they are and how successful they are. What about our “real,” our “ultimate” advocate?

Our text tells us that He is righteous. So, we have nothing to fear because of an advocate with an impaired reputation. Our advocate is also merciful and faithful: “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17). He can be depended upon.

The advocate is experienced in that He knows all about temptation (Matthew 4:1-4). “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18). “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15).

The advocate is one who is well-pleasing to the one before whom the erring one stands. “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you” (1Peter 1:18-20). No one has ever been injured by having an advocate who is well respected by the judge; the advocate is just and just the advocate we need.

Who needs the advocate?

Christians need Him. All sin (1John 1:8-10; 2:1). I do. You do. All do. Those who aren’t yet Christians need Him as a savior of past sins. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). This is a subject which is applicable to everyone.

Why did the advocate take our case—mine and yours?

This was not because of our great reputation or merit. Our lack of merit is why we need an advocate in the first place. “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:3-5). Our advocate took the case because of love: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1John 4:10).

Before what court does the advocate appear?

In our system, some advocates can appear before lower courts but not before higher courts. Our advocate argues our case before the highest court of courts. “For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24).

Can you rightfully call upon the advocate? If not, why not come and obey Him and make Him your advocate?

—S. Scott Richardson Sr.

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