Jesus advocates before the Father that your sins are forgiven and you are declared righteous.
JANUARY 20, 2022
Justin Holcomb: Jesus advocates before the Father that your sins are forgiven and you are declared righteous. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
This is Key Life. We are here to let you know that because of what Jesus has done, God will be never angry at you again. Justin Holcomb has been teaching us all this week. Justin is an Episcopal priest, an author and he teaches at Reformed Theological Seminary.
Justin Holcomb: Thank you Matthew. My name is Justin Holcomb. And I have had the joy this week of teaching through the four comfortable words that are found in the Anglican tradition. These are four passages that are read right after the confession of sin, to actually bring some good news. And there’s a logic and flow to these four passages in the order that they are read. And if you’re just joining us, that’s okay. We can catch you up. So, the first one is Matthew 11:28, which is God’s invitation to us because we’re weary. John 3:16 is God’s disposition to those that come to him weary. And it tells us that God loves us and he sends his Son. The third comfortable word, which was yesterday isI Timothy 1:15, which diagnoses our problem of sin and that Christ came to save us. And now today we’re looking at I John 2:1-2, which is God’s remedy for our diagnosis. And as we think about sin, many of us have an image of Jesus watching us like a hawk, ever ready to swoop down to punish every little sin. And of course, sins aren’t little, but we think that he’s just looking ready to pounce and get us, but the comfortable words are presenting you and me a patient savior, who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness and forgiving sin. We learn from these comfortable words, which are summaries of major passages in Scripture, that Jesus is the Good Shepherd alluring back his lost sheep by the power of his self sacrificing love. So, let’s jump in on this fourth comfortable word, I John 2:1-2. This is God’s remedy.
But if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
We have a remedy for our sin problem, that’s what this fourth comfortable word is telling us. Propitiation means that Jesus Christ was a sacrifice that has removed God’s wrath from us, by diverting it from to himself. The Cross is the pouring out of wrath against sin onto Christ, so that we get divine blessing. All of the know of breaking the law goes to Jesus, so all of Jesus’s righteousness, the blessing, the merit, the yes, is attributed to us because Jesus was the sacrifice. He is now our advocate. Jesus himself is the one who stands by your side. He is the one who answers for you when you are accused of being a sinner. And this is the fourth gift of the comfortable words. For believers in Christ, he is not our judge, but our defense attorney. The theological term for this is justification, just as if I never sinned and did God’s will and lived in perfect righteousness. This term should be understood. And as a legal term, it means being declared righteous. It’s a term used specifically for what a judge does in a courtroom, acquitting defendants of charges by declaring them not guilty, but the Bible goes further and says, not only not guilty, but your sins are forgiven and you are declared righteous. Our sins are forgiven because of Jesus’s death taking the consequences. And we are declared righteous because Jesus obeyed the law perfectly and his righteousness has been imputed or given or accounted to us as if we did that. Romans 8:1 tells us that for those who are in Christ, there is now no condemnation. This means that final judgment has happened for those who trust in Christ. Your sin has already been judged on Christ and there is now, no more judgment left for you. The legal declaration doesn’t make this abstract or impersonal, quite the opposite. This is deeply personal and life-giving. The God of the Bible wants justice because his law was broken. Wrath is God’s response to sinners and Jesus substitutes himself on our behalf to divert the wrath of God from us. Jesus willingly becomes the recipient of God’s wrath in our place. He lays down his life. Romans and Hebrews repeats this, we shall be saved from God’s wrath because Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the people. Propitiation is the word for this, is used elsewhere in Scripture. I John 4:10. This is love, it’s not abstract. This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be a propitiation for our sins. God happily diverts his wrath to Jesus because of his love for you. And how do you know that God loves you? You know God loves you because Jesus was the sacrifice for your sins. This love of God is not sentimental or weak. This love of God is efficacious, it redeems, embraces and it renews. It is a courageous love, restoring love, transforming love. We can compare God’s love for us to a parent’s instinct for their child. If you’ve flown, you have heard the pre-takeoff routine cause they say it all the time. If an oxygen mask drops out of the ceiling and you’re traveling with a child, make sure you put the mask on yourself first and then take care of your child. Well, they say this because a parent’s instinct is to sacrifice themselves, to protect their child. And airlines need the parents to take care of themselves first against their instinct, so they can really protect their child. I John 4 or I John 2, our comfortable word is telling us that God sends his son to redeem you. You can be a child of God, if you have faith in Christ. And you need to know that God’s instinct for his children is just like other parents. In Christ, god is so for you as your defender, that he’s protecting you from his own wrath. God is not looking for excuses to turn his back on you because nothing separates you from the love of God. Jesus is our advocate. And Jesus advocates before the Father, that you are forgiven of your sins and declared righteous. And as an advocate, Jesus stands between you and the Father’s judgment. And this is important because God judges justly and we really are guilty of sins against God and others, but Jesus took it all. That’s what the Cross is about, the outpouring of God’s judgment for you on Jesus. He took our place for us, so the guilty could go free. That’s why I John 2 is so powerful, in the face of fear, anxiety or condemnation, the presence of the advocate brings Jesus to mind. And the first advocate, is the Holy Spirit, the presence of the advocate, the Holy Spirit brings Jesus to mind. And it is Jesus, the advocate who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus and his Cross and resurrection are proofs of God’s love for you. So, let’s end our time together this week, looking at this unconditional love expressed in these four comfortable words and especially I John 2:1-2. It reminds me of a Bible translator working on translating the Bible for a people group in Cameroon. And he was working on how to translate the idea that God loves people and started exploring in their language words for love. He learned that their verbs end in one of three vowels, I, A and U. But when it came to the word love, he only found two, dvi and dva. He could not find dvu. So, the translator asks some elders in the group of local men, in this group, who are helping with the translation. He asked, can you dvi your wife? And they said, oh yes, absolutely. That would mean that the wife had been loved, but the love was gone. It was lost. It was there, but no longer. So, I understand that. That makes sense. Can you dva your wife because I’ve seen the word dvi, which is love lost. I’ve also seen the word dva. How does that work out with a spouse? And they said, yes, you can dva your wife. That kind of love depends on the wife’s actions. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband, well. Got it. You know, we got dvi, got dva. And he, he said, I, I, I can’t see this dvu. I know all the verbs end in these vowels. Can you dvu your wife? Everyone laughed, course not. If you said that, you’d have to keep on loving your wife no matter what, no matter what she did, even if she never got your water, never made meals, even if she committed adultery, you would be compelled to just keep on loving her. So, no, we would never say dvu because it doesn’t exist. The translator sat quietly for a while and asked can God dvu people? And there was complete silence for a few minutes. And then tears started trickling down the weathered faces of these elderly men. And finally, the leader responded. Do you know what that would mean? That would mean that God kept on loving us over and over, while all the time we rejected his great love. That would mean that God has compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any other people. One simple word and more importantly one simple vowel. And the meaning changes from a love that was once had, but lost, to a love that is based on what you do, to a love that is based, not on you, but on who is loving you. One letter captured radical grace beautifully. That’s the message of these four comfortable words. Let’s pray. Almighty God, you are the fountain of all wisdom. You know our necessities before we ask. Have compassion on our weakness and mercifully give us those things, which we are unworthy to receive because of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Thank you Justin. Once again, that was our friend, Justin Holcomb, wrapping up his week of teaching on comfortable words. If you missed any day, this week, really encourage you to check out www.keylife.org where you can catch those episodes, along with the transcripts, Steve will be back tomorrow. And of course it being Friday, Pete Alwinson will be here too for Friday Q&A. So, with the start of a new year, our thoughts naturally turned to reflect on the past a bit. And if we’re honest about our past, we’ll find we have a lot in common with Paul, sins, mistakes, struggles. So, the question becomes, what do we do about our past? Now, a lot of us might reflexively respond. Well, you just forget about your past. Just move on, man. Let it go. Unfortunately, those cliches don’t really do much to help us. So, what do we do? Well, Steve has spoken about all of this in one of his classic sermons called What About the Past? And we would love to mail it to you on a CD for free. Just call us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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