Questions and Answers (11:10)

Lou: Questions arise in regard to the second part of this chapter, your presentation on intercession. You’ve talked about intercession and a mediator as an emergency measure. Does that mean that we don’t need an advocate? First John says, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1, KJV). Are you saying that we don’t need an advocate?

Graham: As I mentioned, if one is still afraid of God, the Bible says we have an advocate with the Father. However, once we know we don’t need someone to intercede with the Father, do we still need an advocate? What counts is who is really against us. We need an advocate standing beside the Father because Satan is against us. He is the accuser of the brethren day and night before God (Rev 12:10). In Zechariah 3 who is accusing Joshua the High Priest? Who is defending? In Job 1 and 2, who is accusing? Who is defending? Since we have an enemy, we need an advocate. We need someone to represent us. To God? No. He’s our Friend as much as the Son and the Holy Spirit.
A further reason we need an advocate is that our future neighbors and friends, the inhabitants of the universe, might not be too sure about us. And God doesn’t ask them to accept His list of candidates blindly. He doesn’t run His universe that way. So He allows Satan to accuse, and He has Jesus explain. If Jesus can defend them, He does. If He can’t, He won’t. In this role of advocate and intercessor Jesus is defending His loyal children, some of whom are just babes in the truth. If they trust Him like the thief on the cross, Jesus can say, “Yes, he has a terrible record as the Devil has pointed out, but he has a new heart and a right spirit. I commend him as safe to save, even to live next door to.” And his guardian angel heaves a big sigh of relief.

Lou: So this advocate is not protecting us from God’s wrath.

Graham: No. So often, we’ve got the wrong enemy. The Father’s not our foe. “If God can be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31).

Lou: Speaking of Romans 8, in verse 26 it says that the Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered and sighs too deep for words. What about this text? How are both Jesus and the Spirit intercessors?

Graham: Well, we know the Spirit isn’t interceding with the Father. Jesus said there is no need. And the Spirit certainly isn’t interceding with the Son. So in the context of Romans 8 it says, “We do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit helps us to pray” (Rom 8:26-27). I also believe His intercession is exercised in teaching us the truth about ourselves (see texts like John 3:20-21 and Rom 2:15), and about our God (John 16:13)—that God is our friend. He helps us approach the Father in prayer. The intercession of the Spirit is helping us to see the truth and to tell the truth about ourselves. In a later chapter (Chapter Fifteen– “Talking to God As a Friend”) we will discuss the work of the Spirit in helping us talk to God.

Lou: You have talked about John 16:26 as a misunderstood or ignored text: “I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you.” But there are so many texts about intercession and there’s this one that seems clear the other way, we don’t need an intercessor. You talked about the principle of understanding texts in the light of the whole Bible. But what if I said, “Look, let’s take all of these texts that talk about intercession and understand this one in the light of all the other texts?”

Graham: Yes. We so often say that if it’s a difficult verse, it should be understood in the light of all the clear ones. What makes this different is that Jesus labeled John 16:26 “plain and clear.” He didn’t say it was difficult. So we shouldn’t need the others to explain it.
I will accept the Son of God’s evaluation of His own statement. It is one of the only ones in the whole Bible designated as “plain and clear.” And I will understand all the other verses in the Bible in the light of this one. However, one should never leave the others out. We must build a model of understanding based on everything in the Bible. We must be able to put that precious verse in, and all the others, too.

Lou: Why does it tell us to pray in Jesus’ name? Does that mean God is too holy to approach and we need Jesus to kind of run interference, perhaps not against His anger, but in relationship to His holiness?

Graham: You said two things there of consequence. Sometimes we hear, “the Father is too holy to look on sin, so the Son came.” Are we implying the Son is not as holy as the Father? Forbid the thought! The Son is just as holy as the Father. I believe that to pray in Jesus’ name is a grateful recognition that if the Son had not come to reveal the truth, we wouldn’t know the Father. We wouldn’t know He is just as approachable as the Son. We wouldn’t be “bold to approach the throne of grace with confidence,” as Hebrews 4:16 says. We would be afraid to do it. So we pray in Jesus’ name, saying, “Thank You for the whole costly revelation and demonstration.” By the way, “Amen” is not simply a signal that the prayer is over. It implies: “I mean everything I’ve said, dear God. I really mean it!”

Lou: In Hebrews there are statements about how Jesus “was made like unto His brethren” (Heb 2:17), and He Himself has suffered being tempted (4:15), and that we can “come boldly” (4:16) because He has been tempted. Are you saying that these really aren’t important statements?

Graham: I think they are very important, but they certainly don’t mean that God had to come to this earth to learn how to be sympathetic. He came to show how sympathetic He already is. I do believe that Jesus learned as He was growing up (Heb 5:6). He learned from Scripture as we do, and He became convinced of the truth about His Father. And in this way He did grow up and became the marvelous person that He was. But He was no more friendly and understanding than His Father. He came to say, “This is what My Father is like” (John 14:9). But He also came to reveal that you can get all this from the Old Testament. That was the Bible He grew up with. How could He go out and say, “This is what My Father is like?” He got it from reading Jeremiah, and Isaiah, and Hosea, and Amos, and all those other places. The Old Testament is that clear.
The next chapter is an extension of this one, “God’s Law Is No Threat To Our Freedom.” The law has often been seen, by Christians of all denominations, as barring freedom in some way. So we will need to take some time on that topic.

2 thoughts on “Questions and Answers (11:10)

  1. Dan L. Kelly

    The temptation is to take exception to Maxwell’s spin on the scriptures. I have always cringed at this aspect of his tapes and writings. However, in my tender old age, I understand what he’s trying to get across. That is somewhat frightening to me! I remember Morris Venden once saying in reference to an un-named source that his stance was, “God ain’t-a’gonna hurta nobody!” I was reminded of a guy, (whose name escapes me at the moment) who fled to the “rocks and mountains” in the North Woods of Washington and proliferated a paper called “God’s Last Call.” He once made the statement that God Does Not Kill and had people coming our of the woodwork in defense of scripture. One asked him about all the lambs killed in the desert of the Sinai. He wrote, (I’m must paraphrase) “When Moses was on the mountain shrouded in the fire and smoke of God’s presence receiving the ceremonial law, Satan was also there hidden in the clouds getting his ‘two cents’ into the mix and that is where the sacrificial laws entered. God took them and made the best of them by converting them to a good purpose.”

    Ludicrous? Yes, I suppose so. But it reminds me that I must look at Maxwell with the same jaundiced eye as I read through these excellent re-runs. In this specific one I look at myself and, from what I know at this point I would be at the very least, reticent to venture through the veil on my own even though Jesus has in a sense given us the green light. I am aware that, at the “Close of Probation, we will all have to stand before a Holy God without an intercessor,’ but at THIS time, I do not see myself as qualified without the ever present possibility of presumption. I also recognize that Jesus, in His flesh, has made a way for us through the veil…. (Heb 10:19,20) But, I have previously understood this to be “By Faith” not yet in our own flesh. Yet, I am in agreement that we need not have Him plead the Father for our petitions when we can simply ask “in His name” e,g. Character or ‘personality’ asking for that which He has already promised. – Keep up the ministry!! God is blessing!

    Reply
    1. Jon Paulien Post author

      I fully understand your reticence regarding Maxwell. He has certainly not gotten a fair shake from many Adventists outside the West Coast. What has impressed me is the degree to which nearly everything he says has a solid exegetical foundation. It may not be the only way to read some texts, but it is not simply a fantasy.
      I think you are referring to Mike Clute, who never made sense to me. Maxwell is not the same as that. He believes God kills (the Flood, 185,000 Assyrians, etc.), but that these are first deaths. The only model we have for the Second Death is the cross and God did not kill Christ, it was sin that killed him. So it will be at the End. I find that a compelling analogy.

      Reply

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