Work of Christ

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

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
~ 1 Timothy 2:5

But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 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 7:24-25

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

All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
~ Luke 10:22

But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.
~ John 5:36

If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.
~ 1 John 2:29

And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
~ 1 John 3:5

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
~ Zechariah 9:9

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

The Work of Jesus Christ As An Advocate, by John Bunyan. The following contains an excerpt from his work.


THAT the apostle might obtain due regard from those to whom he wrote, touching the things about which he wrote, he tells them that he received not his message to them at second or third hand, but was himself an eye and ear witness thereof— That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of life, (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you.

Having thus told them of his ground for what he said, he proceeds to tell them also the matter contained in his errand-to wit, that he brought them news of eternal life, as freely offered in the word of the gospel to them; or rather, that that gospel which they had received would certainly usher them in at the gates of the kingdom of heaven, were their reception of it sincere and in truth–for, said he, then “the blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God cleanseth you from all sin.”

Having thus far told them what was his errand, he sets upon an explication of what he had said, especially touching our being cleansed from all sin — “Not,” said he, “from a being of sin; for should we say so, we should deceive ourselves,” and should prove that we have no truth of God in us, but by cleansing, I mean a being delivered from all sin, so as that none at all shall have the dominion over you, to bring you down to hell; for that, for the sake of the blood of Christ, all trespasses are forgiven you.

This done, he exhorts them to shun or fly sin, and not to consent to the motions, workings, enticings, or allurements thereof, saying, “I write unto you that you sin not.” Let not forgiveness have so bad an effect upon you as to cause you to be remiss in Christian duties, or as to tempt you to give, way to evil. Shall we sin because we are forgiven? or shall we not much matter what manner of lives we live, because we are set free from the law of sin and death? God forbid. Let grace teach us another lesson, and lay other obligations upon our spirits. “My little children,” said he, “these things write I unto you, that you sin not.” What things? Why, tidings of pardon and salvation, and of that nearness to God, to which you are brought by the precious blood of Christ. Now, lest also by this last exhortation he should yet be misunderstood, he adds, “And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the rather, Jesus Christ the righteous.” I say, he adds this to prevent desponding in those weak and sensible Christians that are so quick of feeling and of discerning the corruption of their natures ; for these cry out continually that there is nothing that they do but it is attended with sinful weaknesses.

Wherefore, in the words we are presented with two great truths–l. With a supposition, that men in Christ, while in this world, may sin–, “If any man sin;” any man; none are excluded; for all, or any one of the all of them that Christ hath redeemed and forgiven, are incident to sin. By “may” I mean, not a toleration, but a possibility; “For there is not a man, not a just man upon earth, that does good, and sins not” (Eccl 7:20; 1 Kings 8:46). II. The other thing with which we are presented is, an Advocate–, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

Now there lies in these two truths two things to be inquired into, as-First, What the apostle should here mean by sin. Second, And also, what he here does mean by an advocate—”If any man sin, we have an Advocate.” There is ground to inquire after the first of these, because, though here he said, they that sin have an advocate, yet in the very next chapter he said, “Such are of the devil, have not seen God, neither know him, nor are of him.” There is ground also to inquire after the second, because an advocate is supposed in the text to be of use to them that sin–, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate.”

First, For the first of these–to wit, what the apostle should here mean by sin–, “If any man sin.” I answer, since there is a difference in the persons, there must be a difference in the sin. That there is a difference in the persons is showed before; one is called a child of God, the other is said to be of the wicked one. Their sins differ also, in their degree at least; for no child of God sins to that degree as to make himself incapable of forgiveness; “for he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one touches him not” (I John 5:18). Hence, the apostle says, “There is a sin unto death” (v. 16). See also Matthew 12:32. Which is the sin from which he that is born of God is kept. The sins therefore are thus distinguished: The sins of the people of God are said to be sins that men commit, the others are counted those which are the sins of devils.

1. The sins of God’s people are said to be sins which men commit, and for which they have an Advocate, though they who sin after the example of the wicked one have none. “When a man or woman,” said Moses, “shall commit any sin that men commit – they shall confess their sin – and an atonement shall be made for him” (Num 5:5-7). Mark, it is when they commit a sin which men commit; or, as Hosea has it, when they transgress the commandment like Adam (Hosea 6:7). Now, these are the sins under consideration by the apostle, and to deliver us from which, “we have an Advocate with the Father.”

2. But for the sins mentioned in the third chapter, since the persons sinning go here under another character, they also must be of another stamp-to wit, a making head against the person, merits, and grace of Jesus Christ. These are the sins of devils in the world, and for these there is no remission. These, they also that are of the wicked one commit, and therefore sin after the similitude of Satan, and so fall into the condemnation of the devil.

Second, But what is it for Jesus to be an Advocate for these? “If any man sin, we have an Advocate.” An advocate is one who pleads for another at any bar, or before any court of judicature; but of this more in its place. So, then, we have in the text a Christian, as supposed, committing sin, and a declaration of an Advocate prepared to plead for him—”If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father.”

And this leads me first to inquire into what, by these words the apostle must, of necessity, presuppose? For making use here of the similitude or office of an advocate, thereby to show the preservation of the sinning Christian, he must,

1. Suppose that God, as judge, is now upon the throne of his judgment; for an advocate is to plead at a bar, before a court of judicature. Thus it is among men; and forasmuch as our Lord Jesus is said to be an “Advocate with the Father,” it is clear that there is a throne of judgment also. This the prophet Micaiah affirms, saying, “I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left” (I Kings 22:19). Sitting upon a throne for judgment; for from the Lord, as then sitting upon that throne, proceeded that sentence against king Ahab, that he should go and fall at Ramoth-gilead; and he did go, and did fall there, as the award or fruit of that judgment. That is the first.

2. The text also supposes that the saints as well as sinners are concerned at that bar; for the apostle said plainly that there “we have an Advocate.” And the saints are concerned at that bar; because they transgress as well as others, and because the law is against the sin of saints as well as against the sins of other men. If the saints were not capable of committing of sin, what need would they have of an advocate (I Chronicles 21:3-6. I Samuel 12:13,14)?4 Yea, though they did sin, yet if they were by Christ so set free from the law as that it could by no means take cognizance of their sins, what need would they have of an advocate? None at all. If there be twenty places where there are assizes kept in this land, yet if I have offended no law, what need have I of an advocate? Especially if the judge be just, and knows me altogether, as the God of heaven does? But here is Judge that is just; and here is an Advocate also, an Advocate for the children, an Advocate to plead; for an advocate as such is not of use but before a bar to plead; therefore, here is an offence, and so a law broken by the saints as well as others. That is the second thing.

3. As the text supposes that there is a judge, and crimes of saints, so it supposes that there is an accuser, one that will carefully gather up the faults of good men, and that will plead them at this bar against them. Hence we read of “the accuser of our brethren, that accused them before our God day and night” (Revelation 12:10-12). For Satan does not only tempt the godly man to sin, but, having prevailed with him, and made him guilty, he packs away to the court, to God the judge of all; and there addresses himself to accuse that man, and to lay to his charge the heinousness of his offence, pleading against him the law that he has broken, the light against which he did it, and the like. But now, for the relief and support of such poor people, the apostle, by the text, presents them with an advocate. That is, with one to plead for them, while Satan pleads against them; with one that pleads for pardon, while Satan, by accusing, seeks to pull judgment and vengeance upon our heads. “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” That is the third thing.

4. As the apostle supposes a judge, crimes, and an accuser, so he also supposes that those herein concerned—to wit, the sinning children—neither can nor dare attempt to appear at this bar themselves to plead their own cause before this Judge and against this accuser; for if they could or durst do this, what need they have an advocate? for an advocate is of use to them whose cause themselves neither can nor dare appear to plead. Thus Job prayed for an advocate to plead his cause with God (Job 16:21); and David cries out, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant,” O God, “for in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psalm 143:2). Wherefore, it is evident that saints neither can nor dare adventure to plead their cause. Alas! the Judge is the almighty and eternal God; the law broken is the holy and perfect rule of God, in itself a consuming fire. The sin is so odious, and a thing so abominable, that it is enough to make all the angels blush to hear it but so much as once mentioned in so holy a place as that is where this great God does sit to judge. This sin now hangs about the neck of him that hath committed it; yea, it covers him as does a mantle. The adversary is bold, cunning, and audacious, and can word a thousand of us into an utter silence in less than half a quarter of an hour. What, then, should the sinner, if he could come there, do at this bar to plead? Nothing; nothing for his own advantage. But now comes in his mercy—he has an Advocate to plead his cause— ”If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” That is the fourth thing. But again,

5. The apostle also supposes by the text there is an aptness in Christians when they have sinned, to forget that they “have an Advocate with the Father”; wherefore this is written to put them in remembrance—”If any may sin, [let him remember] we have an Advocate.” We can think of all other things well enough—namely, that God is a just judge, that the law is perfectly holy, that my sin is a horrible and an abominable thing, and that I am certainly thereof accused before God by Satan.

These things, I say, we readily think of, and forget them not. Our conscience puts us in mind of these, our guilt puts us in mind of these, the devil puts us in mind of these, and our reason and sense hold the knowledge and remembrance of these close to us. All that we forget is, that we have an Advocate, “an Advocate with the Father”—that is, one that is appointed to take in hand in open court, before all the angels of heaven, my cause, and to plead it by such law and arguments as will certainly fetch me off, though I am clothed with filthy garments; but this, I say, we are apt to forget, as Job when he said, “O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleads for his neighbor!” (Job 16:21). Such an one Job had, but he had almost at this time forgot it; as he seems to intimate also where he wishes for a daysman that might lay his hand upon them both (Job 9:33). But our mercy is, we have one to plead our cause, “an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” who will not suffer our soul to be spilt and spoiled before the throne, but will surely plead our cause.

6. Another thing that the apostle would have us learn from the words is this, that to remember and to believe that Jesus Christ is an Advocate for us when we have sinned, is the next way to support and strengthen our faith and hope. Faith and hope are very apt to faint when our sins in their guilt do return upon us; nor is there any more proper way to relieve our souls than to understand that the Son of God is our Advocate in heaven. True, Christ died for our sins as a sacrifice, and as a priest he sprinkles with his blood the mercy seat; ay, but here is one that has sinned after profession of faith, that has sinned grievously, so grievously that his sins are come up before God; yea, are at his bar pleaded against him by the accuser of the brethren, by the enemy of the godly. What shall he do now? Why, let him believe in Christ. Believe, that is true; but how now must he conceive in his mind of Christ for the encouraging of him so to do? Why, let him call to mind that Jesus Christ is an Advocate with the Father, and as such he meets the accuser at the bar of God, pleads for this man that has sinned against this accuser, and prevails for ever against him. Here now, though Satan be turned lawyer, though he accuses, yea, though his charge against us is true, (for suppose that we have sinned,) “yet our Advocate is with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Thus is faith encouraged, thus is hope strengthened, thus is the spirit of the sinking Christian revived, and made to wait for a good deliverance from a bad cause and a cunning adversary; especially if you consider,

7. That the apostle does also further suppose by the text that Jesus Christ, as Advocate, if he will but plead our cause, let that be never so black, is able to bring us off, even before God’s judgment-seat, to our joy, and the confounding of our adversary; for when he said, “We have an Advocate,” he speaks nothing if he means not thus. But he does mean thus, he must mean thus, because he seeks here to comfort and support the fallen. “Has any man sinned? We have an Advocate.” But what of that, if yet he be unable to fetch us off when charged for sin at the bar, and before the face of a righteous judge?

But he is able to do this. The apostle says so, in that he supposes a man has sinned, as any man among the godly ever did; for we may understand it. And if he gives us not leave to understand it so, he said nothing to the purpose neither, for it will be objected by some—But can he fetch me off, though I have done as David, as Solomon, as Peter, or the like? It must be answered, Yes. The openness of the terms ANY MAN, the indefiniteness of the word SIN, does naturally allow us to take him in the largest sense. Besides, he brings in this saying as the chief, most apt, and fittest to relieve one crushed down to death and hell by the guilt of sin and a wounded conscience.

Further, methinks by these words the apostle seems to triumph in his Christ, saying, My brethren, I would have you study to be holy; but if your adversary the devil should get the advantage of you, and besmear you with the filth of sin, you have yet, besides all that you have heard already, “an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” who is as to his person, in interest with God, his wisdom and worth, able to bring you off, to the comforting of your souls.

Let me, therefore, for a conclusion as to this, give you an exhortation to believe, to hope, and expect, that though you have sinned, (for now I speak to the fallen saint) that Jesus Christ will make a good end with the—”Trust,” I say, “in him, and he shall bring it to pass.” I know I put thee upon a hard and difficult task for believing and expecting good, when my guilty conscience does nothing but clog, burden, and terrify me with the justice of God, the greatness of thy sins, and the burning torments is hard and sweating work. But it must be; the text calls for it, thy case calls for it, and thou must do it, if thou would glorify Christ. And this is the way to hasten the issue of thy cause in hand, for believing daunts the devil, pleases Christ, and will help thee beforehand to sing that song of the church, saying, “O Lord, thou has pleaded the causes of my soul; thou has redeemed my life” (Lam 3:58). Yea, believe, and hear thy pleading Lord say to thee, “Thus said thy Lord the Lord, and thy God that pleads the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shall no more drink it again” (Isaiah 51:22). I am not here discoursing of the sweetness of Christ’s nature, but of the excellency of his offices, and of his office of advocate ship in particular, which, as a lawyer for his client, he is to execute in the presence of God for us. Love may be where there is no office, and so where no power is to do us good; but now, when love and office shall meet, they will surely both combine in Christ to do the fallen Christian good. But of his love we have treated elsewhere; we will here discourse of the office of this loving one. And for thy further information, let me tell thee that God thy Father counts that thou wilt be, when compared with his law, but a poor one all thy days; yea, the apostle tells thee so, in that he said there is an Advocate provided for thee. When a father provides crutches for his child, he does as good as say, I count that my child will be yet infirm; and when God shall provide an Advocate, he does as good as say, My people are subject to infirmities. Do not, therefore, think of thyself above what, by plain texts, and fair inferences drawn from Christ’s offices, thou are bound to think. What does it bespeak concerning thee that Christ is always a priest in heaven, and there ever lives to make intercession for thee (Hebrews 7:24), but this, that thou art at the best in thyself, yea, and in thy best exercising of all thy graces too, but a poor, pitiful, sorry, sinful man; a man that would, when yet most holy, be certainly cast away, did not thy high priest take away for thee the iniquity of thy holy things. The age we live in is a wanton age; the godly are not so humble, and low, and base in their own eyes as they should, though their daily experience calls for it, and the priesthood of Jesus Christ too.

But above all, the advocate ship of Jesus Christ declares us to be sorry creatures; for that office does, as it were, predict that some time or other we shall basely fall, and by falling be undone, if the Lord Jesus stand not up to plead. And as it shows this concerning us, so it shows concerning God that he will not lightly or easily lose his people. He has provided well for us—blood to wash us in; a priest to pray for us, that we may be made to persevere; and, in case we foully fall, an advocate to plead our cause, and to recover us from under, and out of all that danger, that by sin and Satan, we at any time may be brought into.

But having thus briefly passed through that in the text which I think the apostle must necessarily presuppose, I shall now endeavor to enter into the bowels of it, and see what, in a more particular manner, shall be found therein. And, for my more profitable doing of this work, I shall choose to observe this method in my discourse—

Method Of The Discourse.

FIRST, I shall show you more particularly of this Advocate’s office, or what and wherein Christ’s office as Advocate does lie. SECOND, After that, I shall also show you how Jesus Christ does manage this office of an Advocate. THIRD, I shall also then show you who they are that have Jesus Christ for their Advocate. FOURTH, I shall also show you what excellent privileges they have, who have Jesus Christ for their Advocate. FIFTH, And to silence cavillers, I shall also show the necessity of this office of Jesus Christ. SIXTH, I shall come to answer some objections; and, LASTLY, To the use and application.