Intercession for Who?

Think of the perspective of an unfallen being or angel in heaven and the suspicions that they rightly could feel whenever they think about the possibility of any one of us entering into the pure, holy, undefiled society of heaven still infected with secret or open faults that still lurk in our hearts. Even our innocent mistakes would reek havoc in the perfect functioning of heaven's society. We have such ignorance of natural law not to speak of the many urges we have inside to live independently that cause malfunction and pain in relationships. We have very little appreciation for the tight but delicate interconnections required to live in harmony with the rest of the perfect universe.

These beings may rightly shudder with horror to imagine what would happen if we were ever to attempt to integrate into their family in our present condition. These beings have an intense awareness of the perfection of God that is so great that any sin (anything that is not in perfect synchronization with God's ways of functioning) is instantly exposed and consumed in His presence. They cannot comprehend any possible way that we could be allowed into that atmosphere without serious damage to the happiness and harmony of heaven. The motives of our hearts are so contaminated by selfishness that it is absolutely impossible for us to begin to comprehend the danger that these beings clearly see and the threat that our presence in their midst would present. Talk about tolerance levels – the tolerance level for sin in heaven's society is an absolute zero!

But it is a huge mistake to think that the problem with us is simply our legal relationship to God's law. The laws of God are simply explanations of principles of existence defined in words. These are in no way arbitrary rules imposed on others, they are descriptions of our function and design no different than how we view the laws or principles of physics and science. We do not go around arguing about or trying to repeal natural laws and can easily see the absurdity in such logic. But when we think that we can live out of harmony with spiritual laws with impunity simply because Jesus died on the cross to forgive us our sins, we are living in deep deception and don't appreciate the real problem of sin and what God is doing to resolve it.

The fundamental problem created by sin is not a legal one though that is certainly a model God uses to try to illustrate to some extent what is taking place. The real issue is far more subtle and problematic than simply adjusting our legal status with God through forgiveness. The core problem between sinners and God is a breakdown in trust. We cannot get along with God or with anyone else in a universe where complete freedom reigns as long as we harbor any lurking doubts about His fairness, His goodness, His forgiving spirit and His unconditional love for us. This is the problem God is working to resolve; He is carrying out a strategy whereby all the insinuations and accusations about God by sinners and Satan will ultimately be exposed as false and unfounded, and His character of perfect and consistent love will be fully vindicated without His ever resorting to employing the tactics of His arch enemy. God is seeking to invite us into a relationship of trust, not into a technical relationship of pardon without having our hearts changed about how He feels toward us or what He is really like.

If we would allow ourselves to absorb and meditate on God's problem from this perspective we could more readily begin to grasp the true meaning of many of the statements and analogies and symbols used by the Scriptures. When we look at words such as intercession, mediation, pleading before the Father, etc., we usually mistakenly assume that they imply that the Father must need to be appeased by Jesus' blood. But I am starting to see that this is not the case at all. Since the Father is in perfect agreement and harmony with the Son, that assumption has to be false.

So what is the reason that Jesus' intercession for us takes place in the presence of the Father? As I am now starting to perceive, it is because the Father is the supreme authority in all the universe and as such is the judge and exposer of what is right, what is safe, what can be trusted or what is not safe. The Father is the ultimate protector of the rights and safety of all His created beings everywhere, not just of fallen humans. When we fail to take into consideration the concerns of other beings in the universe which are so immense in number that we humans are only infinitesimal in comparison, then maybe we can begin to appreciate the problem God faces when He proposes to save us and integrate us into the holy atmosphere of heaven and into the society of perfect beings who already live in absolute harmony with the just and perfect principles of God's holy law.

Talk about perceived legalists; if we were able to catch a sense of the legitimate alarm that our proposed introduction into heaven causes in the hearts of these unfallen beings we would likely view them as some of our strongest opponents for our entry there. From our perspective of only knowing sin, having grown up surrounded by sin and its effects, it is impossible for us to appreciate properly the concerns of myriads of beings who have never had to live in close proximity with or had to tolerate the dysfunction that sin brings. We easily overlook many mistakes and offenses here because we assume that these are just part of life. But these unfallen beings thrive in a reality sharply different than the one we assume is normal. They are and have always been living in a society where harmful events don't happen, where the principles of God's laws have always been perfectly obeyed and there is no resistance to Him. As a result of this perfect harmony everything about their interdependence and the effects of their relationships on each other are always safe, life-giving, intimate and filled with love.

I am starting to perceive something more clearly now regarding references made to satisfying the law's demands. In reality it may be these references are referring at least in part to reservations of beings who have always lived in perfect harmony with the law and who face the very real and serious threat of having their own perfect and harmonious societies and loving relationships contaminated by the viral infection of sin if even one sinful human were allowed to be introduced into their midst. As much as they love and respect God, many of these beings may have very legitimate and serious reservations about His proposal to bring even redeemed sinners into the fragile and vulnerable perfection of heaven. They are far more keenly aware of the danger of sin than we will ever be here, because our ability to comprehend these dangers is so handicapped from our limited perspective.

The only thing that makes sense is that all of the mediation, the pleading before the Father by Jesus, the intercession on our behalf could be not for the purpose of changing God's mind or heart since the Father and Son are already and have always been in perfect agreement with each other about us. Rather, all of this activity on the part of Jesus must be intended to address the concerns and objections and questions of all those who cannot yet see how this plan could ever be safely executed while eliminating the danger of sin springing up again to ruin God's perfect creation.

Jesus is really pleading in defense of the plan formed from the foundation of the world to salvage sinners and proposes to somehow make them safe enough from the inside that all the rest of His children who are so vulnerable to this virus can be assured that they will not be contaminated by our presence. And He proposes to do this without every using arbitrary means or force or violating our free will. He will use the power of attraction and grace and love to transform us into thinking and feeling and action like Him in order to make us safe for the society of heaven.

Remember in all of this that God never artificially or arbitrarily forces anyone to change. He does not take any shortcuts for character transformation. He does not impose His desire to save on anyone; not on sinners who agree to be saved nor on any other perfect beings who are worried about the threat of our presence in their midst. God fully respects and honors all the concerns of His unfallen children and gives them His word that even with complete respect for His children's full freedom of choice He can protect His unfallen children from contamination by transforming us into beings able to function in that perfect atmosphere without spoiling it.

But until our transformation becomes enough of a reality, these beings still may not be able to fully figure out how that can happen safely. They, just like us, must accept the assurances of God on faith. They have to trust that God can do what He says He can do just like we have to, even when they cannot fully appreciate the details of how He is going to accomplish that.

And what is the grandest, most outrageous claim God has made in the great war between good and evil? It is His proposal to somehow salvage and transform rebellious sinners into perfectly humble, selfless saints that will never again choose to abuse their ability to live independently from God even while all the time perfectly free to do so. God promises to the whole universe that He can accomplish such a thorough work of transformation in our hearts that by the time we are integrated into the fellowship of perfect beings in heaven that we will be changed enough to live around safely.

But it is not our character transformation alone that will make us safe for our future neighbors to trust us. We are too damaged by the fall of Adam to ever return to that original innocence and have lost the capacity that the rest of the unfallen universe still retains. We must be born into a new identity provided for us by Jesus through His identification with us as a human. The purpose of Jesus in becoming human was not alone to gain credibility with sinners so as to be able to attract them into an intimate, transforming relationship with God. It was also to establish credibility with unfallen beings and to literally create a new race of beings in the process that will always remain under His direct authority and supervision.

The Bible describes this new breed of beings as existing 'in Christ' and it is distinct and uniquely different from just being a descendant of Adam and Eve. Being a human alone is no longer an option if we ever hope to be integrated harmoniously back into the society of the rest of the universe. They know far better than we the permanent damage to our souls that sin produced when we encountered its deadly poison in our hearts. They want no part of that experience because they have a much broader awareness than we have of the pain and suffering that sin has caused throughout all the rest of the universe.

These unfallen beings may well be more antagonistic to the presence of sin in their midst than God appears to be, though they know that sin cannot exist in His immediate presence. These beings who can safely thrive in that rarified atmosphere of God's presence know better than anyone the danger of living close to such enormous power. That power is electric, is atomic, is infinitely energizing, is immeasurable in its potential but by the same token can only be approached by being in perfect conformity and harmony with its principles.

In our existence it might be analogous to the importance of knowing all the safeguards for working with very high-power electrical transmission lines or equipment. If a person is ignorant of the dangers associated with such an apparatus they will likely suffer deadly consequences if they attempt to play around with them carelessly. It is vital that anyone who approaches something that is extremely powerful such as atomic energy or electricity, that they understand thoroughly how to prepare and conduct themselves so as to be in harmony with the principles by which that power operates if they value their safety and happiness.

But it is not just the dangers to our own existence that must be taken into account in the matter of our introduction into heaven's society or living in the presence of God. Because of the tightly interconnectedness and vulnerability of heaven's social system, all unfallen created beings everywhere are in danger of being damaged if even one person were to act inappropriately. And because we are so ignorant and often careless of all the safety requirements needed to protect both ourselves and others we are connected to, Jesus has pledged Himself as the safety guardian for both us and all those endangered by our introduction into the society of heaven. He is the One who is full of grace to protect us from hurting or damaging any of His children as we live in total submission and connection with Him through His Spirit.

When Jesus pleads His blood before the Father, in reality He is assuring unfallen beings that He is able and will finish making us safe and that He Himself will absorb all the potential liabilities that our mistakes and ignorance might cause. That is not to imply necessarily that we will eternally continue to make mistakes. And we certainly are not going to find anyone still harboring a spirit of rebellion against God among those who are saved. But because of the permanent damage to the human race, Jesus has pledged that He will fill in the gaps caused by this damage with His perfect abilities as God Himself. (That is what in religion is called the righteousness of Christ) He will always be the One who both redeems us and who also promises to protect unfallen beings from any potential damage we might present to them if we were not under His full supervision by means of His Spirit.

In the following quotation I am now starting to see more readily these functions on the part of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The author clearly distinguishes between the role of Jesus and that of the Holy Spirit. Placed into the context of the above perspective it takes on far greater meaning than I ever saw previously. Think about these things – especially the function of Jesus before the Father – from the perspective of Jesus addressing the concerns of the unfallen beings rather than His attempting to change anything in the Father's attitude toward us. It now begins to make far greater sense for me when put into that perspective. So in that sense I now see Jesus dealing with the concerns of His unfallen beings in concert and full agreement with the perfect Judge of the universe, while the Holy Spirit is busy dealing with our side of the issue working inside of us, soliciting our cooperation to transform us to the point of being safe to introduce into the perfect atmosphere and society of heavenly angels.

Paul in his Epistle to Timothy describes the very men who are under the bondage of the law. They are the transgressors of the law. He names them lawless, disobedient, sinners, unholy, profane, murderers, adulterers, liars, and all who depart from sound doctrine. 1 Timothy 1:9, 10.
The law of God is the mirror to show man the defects in his character. But it is not pleasant to those who take pleasure in unrighteousness to see their moral deformity. They do not prize this faithful mirror, because it reveals to them their sins. Therefore, instead of instituting a war against their carnal minds, they war against the true and faithful mirror, given them by Jehovah for the very purpose that they may not be deceived, but that they may have revealed to them the defects in their character.
Should the discovery of these defects lead them to hate the mirror, or to hate themselves? Should they put away the mirror which discovers these defects? No; the sins which they cherish, which the faithful mirror shows them as existing in their characters, will close before them the portals of heaven, unless they are put away, and they become perfect before God. {6BC 1077}

Imagine the concerns of unfallen beings when they see people claiming to be Christ-followers acting like those described above. Unfallen beings are already living in perfect harmony with the principles of God's character which is described in His law. From that perspective, those who resist coming into conformity to these principles that heavenly beings all find life-giving and that protects them from malfunction and pain – these people are in essence lashing out and threatening the need of heavenly beings for protection from sinners. These beings deserve protection from the pain and abuse of evil even more than any of us do. God is pledged to protect them just as much as for us.

God will be faithful to protect His unfallen children from any threat we present to them which is exactly why He will allow anyone into the perfect society of heaven if they are not willing to first be fully submitted to the authority and influence of Jesus. Because Jesus is the perfect human fulfillment of the law of God, the full expression of His character, we will be made safe for heaven by giving Him full access to our hearts but which can never happen if we act like those described in the above quote.

Now consider a description of those who choose to come under the control and authority of Jesus in the arrangement He has set up to salvage us (the true meaning of the word salvation).

No one who believes in Jesus Christ is under bondage to the law of God; for His law is a law of life, not of death, to those who obey its precepts. All who comprehend the spirituality of the law, all who realize its power as a detector of sin, are in just as helpless a condition as is Satan himself, unless they accept the atonement provided for them in the remedial sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who is our atonement – at-one-ment with God.
Through faith in Christ obedience to every principle of the law is made possible. {Ibid.}

There is also a class of people in between these two groups that will end up being lost but for a different reason. They think they are conforming themselves to the law of God but they fail to accept the truth of their inability to change their own hearts. They mistakenly try to comply with the law through efforts of their own instead of realizing that their only hope is admitting their total helplessness and focusing their attention constantly on the merits and beauty of Jesus and allowing His Spirit to fully access every part of their heart and life. They do not understand yet what it really means to be 'in Christ' and instead try to go about producing righteousness in themselves (with help from God). This is the most dangerous deception because it can sometimes produce a life that may appear on the outside qualified for to heaven while inside it is still infected by seeds of independence and rebellion, the very thing most feared by unfallen inhabitants of heaven. Consider this description of this group of people.

The spirit of bondage is engendered by seeking to live in accordance with legal religion, through striving to fulfill the claims of the law in our own strength. There is hope for us only as we come under the Abrahamic covenant, which is the covenant of grace by faith in Christ Jesus. The gospel preached to Abraham, through which he had hope, was the same gospel that is preached to us today, through which we have hope. Abraham looked unto Jesus, who is also the Author and the Finisher of our faith. {Ibid.}

With the above perspective, consider now the significance of this last statement and how necessary it is for the safety and assurance of God's unfallen children as we are considered to be candidates for integration into the society of heaven.

Christ Jesus is represented as continually standing at the altar, momentarily offering up the sacrifice for the sins of the world. He is a minister of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man. The typical shadows of the Jewish tabernacle no longer possess any virtue. A daily and yearly typical atonement is no longer to be made, but the atoning sacrifice through a mediator is essential because of the constant commission of sin. Jesus is officiating in the presence of God, offering up His shed blood, as it had been a lamb slain. Jesus presents the oblation offered for every offense and every shortcoming of the sinner.
Christ, our Mediator, and the Holy Spirit are constantly interceding in man's behalf, but the Spirit pleads not for us as does Christ who presents His blood, shed from the foundation of the world; the Spirit works upon our hearts, drawing out prayers and penitence, praise and thanksgiving. The gratitude which flows from our lips is the result of the Spirit striking the cords of the soul in holy memories, awakening the music of the heart.
The religious services, the prayers, the praise, the penitent confession of sin ascend from true believers as incense to the heavenly sanctuary; but passing through the corrupt channels of humanity, they are so defiled that unless purified by blood, they can never be of value with God. They ascend not in spotless purity, and unless the Intercessor who is at God's right hand presents and purifies all by His righteousness, it is not acceptable to God. All incense from earthly tabernacles must be moist with the cleansing drops of the blood of Christ. He holds before the Father the censer of His own merits, in which there is no taint of earthly corruption. He gathers into this censer the prayers, the praise, and the confessions of His people, and with these He puts His own spotless righteousness. Then, perfumed with the merits of Christ's propitiation, the incense comes up before God wholly and entirely acceptable. Then gracious answers are returned.
O, that all may see that everything in obedience, in penitence, in praise and thanksgiving must be placed upon the glowing fire of the righteousness of Christ. The fragrance of this righteousness ascends like a cloud around the mercy seat. {Ibid.}

What is important to grasp is the roles of Jesus described here as contrasted with what the Holy Spirit is seeking to do in our lives. By attempting to do for ourselves what only can be accomplished by the Spirit's work inside of us, we fail to enter into the very kind of belief in Jesus necessary for us to receive His Spirit into us to do that work of preparation. The above statements are actually comments on Galatians 3 which also addresses this very problem.

Well then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? Just as Abraham "believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness," so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. (Galatians 3:5-7 NRSV)

What is it that we need to believe in relation to God that enables us to receive the Spirit of God, so we can be transformed in preparation for integration into the society of perfect angels and unfallen beings? It is the same thing that they have to believe and the same thing that Abraham believed – believing that God can do what He claims He can do if we give Him our permission. God claims that He can transform sinners at the heart level into people safe enough to live in His presence, who no longer resist His principles and love (the same as 'living in harmony with the law'). He will not do this arbitrarily but proposes to change us from the inside with our cooperation so that we can become trustworthy to make life-giving decisions all the time instead of acting out in our fallen nature in selfishness. This claim on the part of God seems almost incredulous to unfallen beings, but to religiously deluded sinners it seems unnecessary. While unfallen angels question whether we are totally salvageable at all, too often we fall into a trap of thinking that we have power to help God produce righteousness.

Those who simply believe that God can accomplish within and through us what He says He can do even though we cannot figure out how He does it, are privileged to become experiments of His grace. And what God is allowed to do when we believe in Him, He is also faithful and eager to bring to completion. The key pivotal point in all of this is our willingness to believe in Him about these things.

The only way that we can even come to that place, to believe that God can do what He says He can do in our hearts, is for our hearts to catch enough of a glimpse of the reality of God's goodness, kindness, grace, compassion and desires for us that trust will be awakened in our hearts which in turn we can then invest back toward Him. When we choose to invest trust in God that has sprung up in our hearts from some revelation of His wonderful character, that investment is called saving faith and is enough permission for God to impart more of His Spirit into our lives to reveal more of Himself, which in turn awakens more trust which in turn we invest back into belief which in turn....

As we choose to enter into this every-intensifying cycle of life, receiving and reinvesting faith, hope and love, we will remain in the salvation process that will transform us spontaneously into children of heaven who can be trusted with the keys to the Father's house. And someday we will be matured enough to even interact more directly with our neighbors in the community of heaven.

Attempting to generate faith apart from this kind of natural trust awakened Through appreciation of the goodness and kindness of God, only produces an artificial repentance and a counterfeit religion that purports to prepare us for heaven but in reality blinds us to our real condition. We cannot work up faith that impresses God enough to save us. This is the general formula offered by many Christian groups but is not the type of faith needed for intimate fellowship with God. True saving faith only comes from first catching a glimpse of the incredible beauty and holiness and attractiveness of God. That kind of faith sees that God really is trustworthy and that the problem sin has created between us is all on our side and not because of any animosity on His part.

When we begin to actually perceive that sin is totally a problem of our mistrust of God and not just a legal matter of needing pardon for bad things we have done; when we appreciate the fact that our suspicions about God are the obstacle to our reconciliation with Him who is the only Source of all life, then saving faith will be awakened in our soul and we can ask Him and allow Him to impart His Spirit to us to accomplish what only it can do from deep within our soul.

Jesus is defending God's claims for us before the rest of the universe. He is running interference for us by preparing the hearts and minds of our future neighbors to embrace us without reservations when we are ready to live with them. He is doing this on the main stage, in front of the supreme Judge of the universe, His Father, so that His claims on our behalf will have full credibility and also where they can be challenged by anyone.

In the meantime the Spirit that Jesus sent for us is doing the other half of the preparation for our future life for eternity. His Spirit is working inside of all those who believe in Jesus, who invest full confidence in His desire and ability to salvage us. This Spirit works to bring into reality the very claim that Jesus has made on our behalf. If we are willing to believe that Jesus really can and will save us from the inner power of sin and the malfunction of our hearts, the Holy Spirit will bring that very promise into reality. He will produce His fruit in our hearts and lives. He will replicate the attributes of Jesus by duplicating them in us and producing an irrefutable testimony on behalf of God.

We cannot accomplish any part of this work except to cooperate with what He initiates from inside of us. We can believe that God can do what He says He can do like Abraham believed and then continue to allow God's Spirit fuller access to increase our allegiance to Him as we are restored into a fully trusting relationship of love with God. Thus we will become safe to live in the presence of the rest of His family and safely be able to thrive in the very presence of God without harm.

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