Intercession in the New Testament
Intercession in the New Testament
Man's need for an intercessor
We saw how Abraham stood in the gap for his neighbors with a persistent prayer for their lives, and God would have saved Sodom and Gomorrah if He had found ten righteous people.
Next, we saw how God used Moses to save the nation of Israel, delivering them from Egypt and bringing them to the entrance of the Promised Land, but not being able to enter himself.
Then we heard from Habakkuk, who was a watchman and was very familiar with intercessory prayer. Even with his close spiritual connection to God, he could not see how things were going to stack up for good. Something seemed to be missing, at least in his mind. Where is justice?
Now, what about mankind? Surely, God, the Architect of Creation had a bigger plan for mankind. Mankind certainly needed an intercessor.
Listen to Job's complaint, "For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both." Job 9:32-33
This desire of Job's is not to be seen simply as the experience of an individual under extreme circumstances, but as a human experience that affects mankind. Humanity cries for an umpire or a referee to step in and call the fight.
Job is saying in effect, "If God were a man, I could talk to Him." If there were a mediator that could put one hand in God's hand and his other hand in my hand.
So in the council of God in eternity past, because God knows the end from the beginning, it was known that there was going to be a need for an intercessor.
The prophet Isaiah proclaims " and he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. Isa.59:16
Because God saw that there was no intercessor, He was compelled to meet the need by sending Jesus Christ. Jesus came in the fullness of God's time to make up the hedge and stand in the gap for sinful man.
Through the sacrifice of Christ, God established Jesus as the only trustworthy intercessor for mankind. He won back the authority that Satan had usurped from the First Adam in the Garden of Eden.
The Apostle Paul said, For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." I Timothy 2:5
Christ paid the ransom, His life for ours, and entered into the Holy of Holiest place in heaven to appear before God for mankind. While the sacred writers no doubt recognized the proofs of Divine wisdom, furnished by the works of nature and the movements of Providence, their minds were habitually fastened on the method of salvation taught in Scripture as the grand and decisive proof by which all others are surpassed and superseded.
It was through Christ, not only as the brightness of God's glory and the image of His person but as a Saviour, a propitiation set forth by God Himself, a means devised and provided by Him for the accomplishment of what appeared impossible.
Paul said, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." Hebrews 9:24
"Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."Romans 8:34
Who is he that condemneth? Though they cannot make good on the charge yet they will be ready to condemn, but we have a plea that cannot be overruled. It is Christ that died.
It is by virtue of our interest in Christ, our relation to Him, and our union with Him, that we are secured.
"Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." Hebrews 7:25
Christ has become our intercessor, seated at the right hand of God. There is a continual flow of intercession, petitions, and love that flows from Christ to our Father and equally, there is a continual response in meeting the petitions for Christ's sake. Christ responds by distributing needed grace to every member of His body. He is our High Priest.
The writer of Hebrews said, "Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testified, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." Hebrews 7:16-17
That Christ's life was and is "an endless life" needs no demonstration. He died, was resurrected, ascended to the right hand of God, and is making intercession right now on our behalf.
"Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: we have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.."Hebrews 8:1
There is a remarkable difference in the moral qualifications of the priests. Those that were of the order of Aaron were not only mortal men but sinful men, who had their sinful as well as natural infirmities; they needed to offer up sacrifices first for their own sins and then for the people.
But our high priest, who was consecrated by the word of the oath, needed to offer up once for the people, never at all for himself; for He has not only an immutable consecration to His office but an immutable sanctity in his person. He is such a high priest that represents us, He is holy, harmless, and undefiled.
As our High Priest He exercises every function of His office with an endless flow of intercession on behalf of all that will call upon him as well as for all humanity. Our faith and experience of that intercession need never fail because its flow is endless.
The Apostle John says, "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." I John 2:1
Included in the subject of intercession is the fact that Jesus Christ is our Advocate. Advocate means intercessor or one that argues on our behalf. Since His ascension, for about 2000 years, He has been interceding for the people of this earth.
Thank God when you get caught up with the affairs of this life and the day passes by and you are overwhelmed with things that seem so necessary to get done, and you realize that you forgot to pray, be assured that Jesus has been praying for you!
Jesus Christ the Righteous! What a God we serve.
Admit the fact that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself," and then we can understand why when His ministry commenced the heavens were opened and the powers of hell disturbed.
Admit that, when the Lord Jesus was going about doing good upon the earth, the fullness of the Godhead was dwelling in Him bodily, then we can appreciate His assumption of all the moral and potential attributes of the Deity. Admit that the Lord Jesus was Emmanuel, God with us, God manifest in the flesh. The God-man. It's no wonder why when He was born all nature was moved.
He didn't come to earth simply to teach and preach, but He came to counteract and remedy the injury inflicted by the malignant powers of darkness; He came to bruise the serpent's heel; He came as a Deliverer.
He came that by His death we might be reconciled to God, and have redemption through His blood; He came to shed His blood for the remission of sins.
Let us don't wander too far from what we are talking about. Remember, the Apostle John is writing to us, but in reality, God is speaking, "My little children, these things write I unto you, John is writing these things to us because God does not want us to sin. Although God has made ample and adequate provision for us not to sin, our entrance into His provision is imperfect because of our imperfection.
Notice that this verse does not say that we cannot sin, but John is writing to us that we may not sin. God wants us to walk in a manner that is well-pleasing to Him.; that is, He wants us to walk in obedience to His Word.
God never tells us anything merely that we may be wise. The purpose of all Divine speech, whether in His great works in nature, or in the voices of our own consciences, or in the syllables that we have to piece together from out of the world's history, or in the Incarnate Word, where all the wandering syllables are gathered together into one word- the purpose of all that God says to men is primarily that they may know, and in knowing that they may do His will and good pleasure.
Christians do sin, but this does not mean they must be saved all over again for every little sin. Sin in the life of the believer breaks the fellowship but does not destroy the sonship.
In essence, John was saying, I want you to know that Jesus completely satisfied the wrath of God against sinners and that Jesus is in heaven now, pleading His blood whenever you are accused of any sin. Our Lord and Savior is our Counselor, representing our interests and pleading our cause before God.
The thought here is of a defense attorney who takes up the case of his client before a tribunal. The way in which the advocacy of the Lord Jesus Christ works for His sinning people is admirably illustrated in His prayer for Peter. In anticipation of Peter's denial, Jesus asked the Father to prevent Peter's faith from collapsing. He also had in mind Peter's future helpfulness to his brethren.
The consequences of a believer's failure, his restoration, and future usefulness are all urgent matters which Jesus takes up with God when sin occurs. His own personal righteousness is what uniquely suits Christ for His role as a Christian's Advocate after he sins.
So adequate is Jesus Christ as God's atoning sacrifice that the efficacy of His work extends not merely to the sins of Christians themselves, but to the sins of the whole world.
This does not mean that everyone will be saved, but rather that anyone that hears the Gospel can be saved if he so desires.
Give me an advocate who, much as he may care for me, cares for honesty and honor, for law and justice, still more. Such an Advocate is Jesus Christ for us in the high court of heaven.
Our Helper in Intercession
With Jerusalem's religious community turned upside down, Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." John 14:1:4
The compassion Jesus must have felt in His heart for these men, knowing that none of them could have grasped the scope of the topic. Nevertheless, Jesus lets them know that He is not going to abandon them.
Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you." John 14:12-18
Even the Spirit of Truth - The Holy Spirit intercedes for us as well as helps us to intercede.
"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit; because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." Romans 8:26-27
So we have here a clear picture that believers are not left to their own resources in their weakness.
The Holy Spirit helps the believer carry the burden that has been placed upon them, whether it be a holy assignment or a natural infirmity.
The holy scriptures do not say that the Holy Spirit does their praying for them. The Holy Spirit is not sent to do the Christian's work for them, but He comes alongside as a friend to help.
The Greek word that is used in John 14:16 is Paraclete and is translated Comforter and literally means "one call alongside to help"
The help that the Holy Spirit gives us His interceding. This means He approaches or appeals to someone. The one He approaches is the one who searches the heart, God Almighty, and He knows perceptively or intuitively the mind of the Spirit as the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
The Holy Spirit, looking into the depths of the human spirit interprets its longings, discriminating between the mere human and partial expression and the divinely-inspired which may be expressed. If our prayers are weak, they are answered in the measure in which they embody in them a divine longing.
The apparent disappointment of our petitions may be answers to our real prayer.
So, longing is the prophecy of fulfillment when it is longing according to the will of God. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Matthew 5:6
Let us be thankful that the Lord Jesus continually intercedes for believers in God's presence while at the same time the Holy Spirit intercedes on their behalf.
What is God's will concerning our personal prayer life and has He laid out a clear mandate and pattern for all His people to follow? Matthew records the words of Jesus, "And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not faint;" Luke 18:1. Men are used in a generic sense and would, of course, include women also.
The Apostle Paul comes along years later and gives us more insight into God's will concerning our personal prayer life.
He says. "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." I Timothy 2:1-2
We know that Christ laid out the pattern of how we are to go to our heavenly Father in name of Jesus, but Paul gives us additional insight into what every believer should be doing to please God and enjoy the comfort of a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty.
Let us focus now on just one portion of the Apostle Paul's text, and that is the believer's personal intercession.
Bookmark this page as there is more to come.