The Doctrines of Grace, Part 6
INTRODUCTION – The Priesthood of Christ is unique., because no other priest is fully God and fully man (Heb. 1:2-6). No other priest is sinless (1 Pet. 3:18). No other priest became the sacrificeto be offered (Heb. 10:10). No other priest has infinite power and merit to bestow upon guilty covenant breakers (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ’s priesthood is perpetual, because His life is perpetual (Heb. 7:23-25; Num. 20:22-29).
The term “session of Christ” refers to His ascending after the resurrection to be seated at the Father’s right hand to make intercession for us. “Seated” does not mean resting from all work, Christ is actively engaged in the “unfinished” work of intercession (Heb. 7:25). His intercession involves a constant applying of His sacrificial work, making it effective in the justification and sanctification of sinners (Rom. 8:34; 1 Jn. 2:1).
CHRIST IS MEDIATORIAL KING (Heb. 10:19-22)
All authority has been given to Him in heaven and in earth. He protects, governs and orders all things for the sake of the Kingdom of God (Matt. 28:18; Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 1:16,17). As Mediator, He is able to save to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25). None of Christ’s purposes in man’s salvation shall miscarry. He will bring them all to completion. Redemption, sanctification and protection comprise a complete salvation that saves from sin and the wrath to come a (that is salvation to the uttermost).
It is the victory won by Christ’s atonement that is the true basis and content of Christ’s mediation. His triumph assures us of the efficacy of His mediation (Heb. 9:14,15; 10:14).
IN HIS INTERCESSION, HE LIVES FOREVER TO SEND HIS HOLY SPIRIT TO HIS CHURCH (John 14:16-21)
We depend upon Christ’s Spirit for all illumination (of the Word), for all continuing grace, for all spiritual gifts, for all comfort and consolation, for all endurance and perseverance. We must not forget that the Holy Spirit’s work is vitally joined to the atonement (John 16:13-15; Rom. 8:9-16).
Application – God alone knows how great the work is of saving sinners. He alone knows how to perfect the church to His glory. Consider how much we depend upon Christ’s intercession in order to conquer the remaining strength of sin and to crush the opposition of Satan and the world. The Father saw that the continual intercession of Christ was necessary and expedient unto the salvation of the church for God’s own glory.
CHRIST’S WORK OF BEARING INIQUITY IS CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH HIS INTERCESSION FOR TRANSGRESSORS (Heb. 9:12,24; Rom. 8:31-34)
It is clear from Romans 8:31-34 that our Lord’s sacrifice and intercession are intended for the elect. In this passage, the text makes no distinction between those for whom Christ died and those whom He blesses.
Rom. 8:31 – The Apostle draws our attention to the infinite blessing of having God for us (in every possible way that is holy and righteous). The “us” in verse 31 has already been defined in verses 28 and 29.
Rom. 8:32 – Who are the “us all” who are receiving all things from God? ANSWER: Those for whom God delivered up His Son. These comprise the same “us all” as in the previous verses 28-31. Those who have the Son have all of the other benefits described.
Those who fail to receive the benefits do not have the Son, nor can they say that He was delivered up for them if they perish in unbelief.
Rom. 8:33, 34 – These verses continue the thought of the benefits given to those God loves with an unchanging, inseparable love. The great benefit here is the intercession of the Son of God. The “us” in verse 34 is the same as the elect in verse 33. The same class of individuals is in view in verses 29, 30, 31, 32. Those for whom He intercedes are those whom He has justified. The scope of the atonement (those for whom He is delivered up), embraces the same group of individuals for whom He intercedes. That is why they cannot be condemned or stuck with a charge before God. For Christ pleads the merits of His death on their behalf.
Rom. 8:35-39 – His particular love guarantees our security. It is His love that prompted Him to predestinate and it is His love that prompted Him to deliver up His Son for us (31,32). Those whom God in Christ loves covenantally receive all the spiritual blessings promised in these verses.
Application – Christ’s intercession is the continual application of the benefits of His atoning work to the believer. Christ is the divine Advocate for the elect. He pleads the value of His blood and righteousness. His defense for us entails the appeal that He has satisfied divine justice on our behalf.
CHRIST’S INTERCESSION FOR HIS ELECT BEGAN EVEN BEFORE HIS SACRIFICIAL DEATH (John 17)
In John 17, Jesus prays for Himself (vs. 1-5), for His disciples (vs. 6-19) and for all who would come to believe the apostolic gospel (vs. 20-26).
In order for the work through the disciples to continue, two things must happen:
1.) The disciples must be sanctified,
2.) 2.) Jesus must be sanctified.
Every believer must have this sanctification for which Jesus prayed in order to fulfill the commission. By sanctification, Jesus means in this context, “set apart for God for the purpose of a mission” (17:17). This meaning is tied to the sending of the men in verse 18. The Word of God is the appointed means of producing that sanctification.
Jesus prays to the Father, thus God is the agent of the sanctification and the Word is the instrument of the sanctification.
JESUS’ INTECESSORY PRAYER IS FOR THOSE WHOM THE FATHER HAS GIVEN HIM (John 17)
Jesus’ request is particularly focused. He does not pray for all people everywhere. His prayer is “not for the world.” He prays for those given to Him by the Father, including all future believers (John 17:9)..
Application – If indeed Jesus is praying for sanctification that equips for a mission, then the prayer of sanctification and sending involves you! Jesus is praying for everyone who would ever savingly believe upon Him.
Every Christian is given a mission to declare to the world the saving benefits of Christ’s work. We must declare to men that life does not make sense apart from the conquest that Christ has accomplished. Apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ, life is an absurdity.
Jesus’ prayer is for effectiveness in ministry by ongoing sanctification in the lives of believers by the power of God. The apostolic commission is our commission. You are placed here and kept here that you might be a mouthpiece for Jesus Christ. You are set apart by the Word in order to be sent out into the world on a gospel enterprise.
THE BASIS OF JESUS’ REQUEST IS THE FACT THAT HE SANCTIFIES HIMSELF (John 17:19)
By the phrase, “I sanctify Himself,” Jesus means that He is setting Himself apart for His vicarious death on Calvary (John 17:19). Jesus is able to ask His Father for sanctifying grace for His people BECAUSE He is about to purchase it for His own on the cross.
The sanctifying work of the Father is requested on the basis of Jesus’ redemptive work for His own (“for them I sanctify Myself.”). The purpose for which Jesus set Himself apart is the cross. This is the purpose the Father sent Him into the world (John 10:18). By His atoning sacrifice, He purchases grace and He beseeches the Father to dispense it.
JESUS SET HIMSELF APART AS A SACRIFICIAL OFFERING ON BEHALF OF THOSE GIVEN TO HIM BY THE FATHER
The sacrifice of Jesus was particular. His death was on behalf “of them” in contrast to the world (that contrast occurs 5 times in this chapter). Jesus prays for those who belong to Him by divine prerogative (those given to Him by the Father). Jesus sets Himself apart for the sacred purpose for which He was sent into the world to fulfill (Mark 10:45).
Application – The cross purchases the very redemption and sanctification Jesus prayed for (Heb. 9:12). It was a purposeful sacrifice. It secured the sanctification that produces your own eagerness to do what is good. God’s people are characterized by their zeal for good works (Titus 2:14). Wrapped up in the salvation package purchased for you is sanctification through the Word of God (1 Cor. 1:30; Heb. 2:11).
QUESTIONS: Would there be a lordship controversy if evangelicals understood what Jesus purchased at the cross? Consider why a hypothetical atonement exacerbates the problem of antinomianism. Is it not our wisdom to ask the following, “What precisely did Jesus accomplish by His sacrificial death?”
This is why we preach, sing, declare, center upon and unfold the wonders of the cross. For the cross contains every expression of God’s blessings toward us.
Does it matter whether or not a person believes in definite atonement?
1.) Definite atonement qualifies the nature of the atonement. The actual
accomplishment of the cross is of paramount importance because redemption is the central revealer of God’s character. In the divine work of salvation God “bares His holy arm.” (Isaiah 52:10). By contrast, the creation of the universe is merely His “finger work.” (Psalm 8:3). The atonement is of endless fascination to angels because in it is found the greatest manifestation of God’s attributes (1 Peter 1:12).
2.) According to 2 Corinthians 5:14,15, the death of Christ was the death of all those who died when He died. In other words, Christ’s death secured the devotion of the redeemed. Christ’s death guaranteed that the dominion of sin in their lives would be broken. It assures that the redeemed will live for Christ.
3.) Only a definite atonement preserves the biblical theme of an efficacious sacrifice. Christ’s death was efficacious by God’s sovereign design. It is not waiting for men to make it efficacious. Only definite atonement adequately protects the marital picture of Christ’s purchase of His church. (See Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 5:9,10).
4.) Only a definite atonement maintains unity between Christ’s sin bearing and
5.) Only a definite atonement is consistent with the doctrine of true substitution
and propitiation. Christ’s substitutionary death was an actual substitution that turned God’s wrath away from the elect. Divine wrath was immutably removed for all those for whom Christ laid down His life. The Scripture joins the concept of propitiation (the turning away of divine wrath) with the particular love God has for His people (1 John 4:10).
6.) Only a definite atonement preserves the perfect unity of the Godhead in the
work of redemption. In redemption, there is a “division of labor.” The Father elects, the Son redeems, the Holy Spirit applies the benefits of Christ’s death to the elect (See John 6; Romans 8; Eph. 1 and 2 etc.).
7.) Only a definite atonement magnifies the wisdom and power of God. God’s
wisdom is glorified in man’s salvation (Romans 9-11, esp. 11:33-35; Jude 25; Isaiah 53:11; 1 Cor. 1:24,30). God’s power is glorified in an efficacious atonement (Psalm 110:3; Prov. 21:1; Eph. 1:11; Isaiah 46:9,10; Rom. 1:16; Eph. 2:4-6).