VIII. The Glorified Christ in the Letters of John
44. An Advocate with the Father
"My children, these things I write to you in order that you may not sin; and if any one sin, we have a patron with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1)
In his epistles, John allows us further glimpses of the glorified Christ.
We have already seen from various passages in the Epistle to the Hebrews that Christ is active for us as a glorified Man in heaven, namely as a faithful high priest who after having brought about atonement once and for all, is in God's presence and represents us before God. John speaks here of another office Christ holds as a glorified person in heaven, namely that of the advocate or intercessor: He takes our case into His hands and intercedes for us.
The phrase "if anyone has sinned" clearly indicates the situation in view. When a believer falls into sin, he immediately senses that he no longer enjoys undisturbed fellowship with the Father and the Son. At that moment he lacks "complete joy" (1 John 1:4). It is a situation that should not occur at all. As John had pointed out in the first part of the verse: "My children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin". This is fully in line with Paul’s teaching in the Epistle to the Romans: a believing Christian should not sin, must not sin, does not have to sin and does not want to sin (Rom. 6:22.214.171.124.18.19). This also explains the expression: “If someone has sinned” (and not: “when you sin”). This case is considered an exceptional one. But in view of the fact that, sadly, it may occur (and, unfortunately, occurs far too frequently), the view of the advocate in heaven is a great comfort.
It touches us that God has made provision for this case. We are particularly impressed by the following aspects of it:
- It does not say – as one might have expected: then "he" (the believer who has fallen into sin) has an advocate, but the text says: "We have". John had just addressed them with the expression "My children", i.e. he is addressing the whole family of God. The "we have" expresses a privilege that belongs to every believer.
- The advocate is none other than "Jesus Christ the Righteous": He is perfectly suited to appear in the presence of God for us.
- The possession of this Advocate is not conditionals on acknowledging the sin committed, confession, repentance, etc. It is an established fact. Of course, insight and confession are necessary for restoration, but the Advocate's possession and activity are not made contingent on them. Our Advocate’s activity springs from His own initiative.
It is not a matter of trivializing or excusing sin. The purpose of these teachings is precisely "lest you sin" (v.1). But what consolation that provision has been made for this case, and in such a perfect Person – Jesus Christ the righteous!
45. See Him as He is
"See what love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God. For this reason, the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we children of God, and what we will be has not yet been manifested; we know that if it is manifested we will be like him, for we will see him as he is." (1 John 3:1.2)
Once again, John draws our attention to the glorified Christ – at this point in connection with the particular theme that occupies him: the love of the Father, which already rests on us.
First of all, John speaks here of the present: "See what love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God!" (verse 1). He shows us the greatness and especially the manner, the nature of his love. It has already become effective on us. Already today we are called, and are, children of God. But the world still knows nothing about it. It sees nothing special in us. This is because it has no relationship with Christ and sees nothing special in Him. The family of God is a mystery to them.
We know that one day this will change (the world does not know this – it does not suspect anything about the future that lies ahead of us). When it is revealed (and this is when He is revealed, see the remarks on Colossians 3, verse 4), then we will see Him as He is. Whether we have gone through death or experienced the rapture, either way, we will see Him. Before that we will receive a glorious body enabling us to look upon Him!
In one sense, the whole world will see Him, and that is when He appears in power and glory: "When He comes to be glorified in that day" (2 Thess. 1:10). But the unbelievers will see Him in His official glory, in His majesty and power. The children of God, on the other hand, will see much more of Him, they will see Him "as He is", – in His personal glory.
So, in this verse, we look up to heaven, with the eyes of faith, and we see the glorified Christ and say: The day will come when we will see Him – directly, unhindered – as He is! And we will be like Him. And then we will no longer have our sinful flesh. Today we are already freed from the power of sin – then we will be freed from sin itself.
Christ will take first place. There will be glories that belong to Him alone (and we rejoice in this). Nevertheless, we will be like Him, we will “bear his image” (1 Cor. 15:49). How great the love of the Father must be to pre-destinate us “to be conformed to his image” (Rom. 8:29)! And how great His joy will be when this becomes reality!
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