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Author:Rev. Steven Swets
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 www.urcpastor.blogspot.com
 
Congregation:Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church
 Abbotsford, BC
 www.abbotsfordurc.org
 
Preached At:
 
 
Title:A Perfect Intercessor
Text:BC 26 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Intercession
 
Preached:2022-06-05
Added:2023-04-20
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Song selections taken from the Trinity Psalter Hymnal:  365, 431, 148B, 468, 69B, 566

Scripture Reading:  Hebrews 2:5-18 

Belgic Confession of Faith:  Article 26

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Steven Swets, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,

                Have you ever wanted to talk to someone, but you were unable? We live in an age where people are pretty easy to reach. To explain to my kids the process of calling and leaving phone messages that were to be written down and having no ability to know when the phone message would finally be read, is startling to them. When the situation is serious, not being able to speak with a loved one can be very trying.

                However, sometimes the inability to speak with someone might not be connected to their unavailability. Sometimes you don’t have the right to speak to them. That was the case of Mordecai, in the days of Esther. Mordecai had heard of Haman’s plot to kill the Jews and seize their land. When Mordecai heard this, he tore his clothes. Word came to Esther, the one Mordecai treated as a daughter. Mordecai explained the situation to Esther, so that she could tell the king and maybe get him to change the edict. The problem was, that Esther wasn’t sure if she would be permitted into the presence of the king, even though she was queen. But, Esther was the only hope. The Jewish people would have been slaughtered without Esther and her intercession on behalf of her countrymen. 

                In our text this afternoon, we have a worse predicament than Mordecai and the Jews. The penalty that awaits us is eternal condemnation, if we cannot find a solution to our great need. As we read from Article 26, God has provided the solution we needed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our theme this afternoon is: Our Lord provides a complete and perfect Intercessor in the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ’s Intercession is:

  1. Merciful
  2. Exclusive
  3. Comforting

I. Merciful

                Our confession begins with the use of negative language. We believe that we have no access to God. Sin ruined our access to God. Man was a friend to God, in Adam, and was in true and sweet fellowship with God, but sin ruined that. The entrance to God’s presence, God’s throne, access to God’s ear and heart were blocked. This is how things will remain. Unless something happens. You can see that the first sentence has an exception clause. “Except through…Jesus.” God provides a way forward. 

                Notice the two terms our confession uses to describe Jesus Christ. “Mediator and Intercessor.” Those two words are similar in meaning, but I think they can be distinguished.

                A mediator is a word we have come across already in the confession. A mediator is a go-between. Like a parent settling a dispute between siblings. This great mediatorial work of Jesus Christ is what we saw in Articles 22 and 23 of the confession. By faith alone we are justified before almighty God. So, a mediator resolves a disagreement, so to speak. He mediates with his precious blood and righteousness.

                An intercessor is one who speaks on your behalf. There is a future aspect to this work of Christ. If Christ’s work as mediator restores the broken fellowship between an offended God and the offending creature, then Christ’s work as Intercessor continues on at the right hand of God. We have access to God through Christ, we pray through Christ, we are comforted by and through Christ, etc. 

                The only access we have to God is through Jesus Christ. If the Israelites had a question for God, they would have to tell Moses who could potentially seek the Lord’s will. The only access Ahab had to God was through Elijah and since Ahab was wicked, that access was only one of judgement. When our Lord Jesus Christ cried out on the cross and breathed his last breath, there was an earthquake. Something else also happened. The curtain in the temple was torn in two. Now, not only the High Priest would have access to God, but all those who would come to him through the intercessor, Jesus Christ.

                What a tremendous mercy and grace of the Lord.  

                So, what kind of intercessor are we speaking about? The second paragraph of this answer refers to what we saw earlier in the confession. Jesus is the God Man. He has an eternal divine nature, and he took to himself, willingly, a truly human nature. In that unique relationship of the two natures in one person, the human (us) has access to the divine (God), through the human and divine access in Jesus Christ. This is the mystery of the incarnation.  

                The second aspect of this intercessors work we see in the third paragraph. He is merciful. Think about it, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then that means that no one loves you more than Jesus Christ does. Think of the person you love the most, a spouse, a child, or parents. A godly parent looks at their newborn child with a new realization of love. But Jesus love is greater, longer, deeper, unconditional, and more giving. Everything about Jesus’ love is greater. Once again, this whole article is simply breath-taking and pastoral. If we just spent a bit more time reflecting on Christ’s love.

                Think of what this might mean to the person who doesn’t feel loved. Many of their closest friends have passed away or friendships and relationships have changed. Sometimes, in despair, someone might wonder, would it even matter if I was alive or not. “For neither in heaven nor among the creatures on earth is there anyone who loves us more than Jesus Christ does.” Christ’s intercession is merciful.

II. Exclusive

                In John 14, after the Lord Jesus Christ comforted his disciples in that important passage that he is going to prepare a place for them in his father’s house, in verse 6, he makes the exclusive claim. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” There isn’t another way. Article 27 does not begin by saying, “If you prefer not to go the way of Christ’s intercession, one other possible way is is…” No, he is the only way. 

                Let’s notice a few things about this. First, though we ought to have a child-like fear of God, we do not need to be afraid of this mediator. Especially to the point, as our confession says that we “have to look for another one, according to our fancy.” According to our fancy means according to our own liking and imagination or desire. There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Why would someone be afraid? Because they are sinners.

                I remember as an older child watching the movie the Wizard of Oz. The wizard of the movie was to invoke fear in Dorothy and her friends. Smoke, a loud voice, intimidating room, etc. all evoked fear in all of them, not just the cowardly lion, fear. They were shaking with fear. I won’t spoil the movie if you haven’t seen it. Our Lord is not like that. He is a good shepherd who calls his sheep. He is not harsh to them, but merciful.    

                Second, we can see the historical references in our confession. The reason our confession is going to great lengths to make it clear that there is only one mediator and none other should be sought, is because at the time of the reformation and for centuries before that, people were praying through the saints and Mary as a co-mediator with Christ. Since then, Maryolatry has only gotten worse with the teaching of her perpetual virginity and immaculate conception, both of which are false.

                Read the fourth paragraph and notice the hypothetical questions. (read). So, let’s suppose we were to seek another intercessor. There could be none greater than the Lord Jesus Christ. He has shown more love, he has more power, and he will be most quickly heard by the Father…he is at the right hand.

                On top of this, the veneration of saints, which teaches that they did more good works than were necessary and neither they, nor those who tap into the treasury of merit, have to spend much time in purgatory. The saints did not want to be treated as such. Do you think Paul and Peter would want to be venerated the way they are? We might honor them as servants of the Lord, but they were sinners. Peter denied the Lord, Paul had persecuted the church. Do you know who called themselves a worm, and the chief of sinners? Peter and Paul. Do you know what Jesus called himself? Meek and lowly of heart.  

                Jesus Christ is the only one. We ought not to seek another.

III. Comforting

                What this article and our confession has been making crystal clear when it deals with salvation and righteousness is that it is all of Christ. Do you feel unworthy to approach a holy and righteous God? You are unworthy in yourself, but that is not the ground of approach. It is in spite of our sin and weakness that we see the tremendous grace of God. And that ought to be comforting to us.

                The remainder of the article deals with a number of different scripture passages regarding the intercession of Jesus Christ. We are not going to dig deeply into them but let us just see why they might be included. The first two mentioned are both from our scripture reading. Look back at Hebrews 2:17 and 18. From that passage we learn:

  1. Jesus work in becoming man regards the office of high priest. Why? Because he offered himself as the sacrifice.
  2. He is truly man. Made like us, his brothers, sin excepted. He needed to be truly man.
  3. He is our propitiation, meaning he removed the wrath of God from us. He took our punishment for our sins. 
  4. Since he was tempted like we are and since he did not give into temptation, then he can help us when we are tempted. That is good news, because we are tempted often. It is a continual struggle that we have. Every single one of us.  

The second passage is taken from Hebrews 4. Our confession says to “encourage us more to approach him.” The focus of this passage is on the Lord who has entered heaven before us. He reigns as the eternal high priest. Like the passage from Hebrews 2, we see again, that we have a sympathizing Saviour. This is to be an encouragement to approach God’s holy throne. Notice an important connection at the end of that verse, “that we may obtain mercy and find grace, in order to be helped.” Help is found before the throne of God. That is where we first to go for help. Don’t ask someone for help if you have not first brought it before the Lord in prayer. God is the great helper of his people.  

The third passage from Hebrews 10 encourages us to have assurance as we go before God. We do not have to be like Dorothy and her friends in the wizard of Oz. They had no idea if the wizard could help them. We have the assurance of faith. That assurance is secured when it is resting in Christ. When it rests in self, then it becomes shaky.

The fourth passage comes from Hebrews 7. Notice a theme? They are from Hebrews. Hebrews has the great theme of the excellence of Christ as the greatest intercessor. He is the great prophet, priest, and king. Hebrews 7 makes it clear that Christ is a complete Saviour.  

The fifth passage we touched on already, John 14:6. If Christ is the exclusive way, why would we possibly seek any other?

The point is clear, and it concludes in these last two paragraphs. There is no other intercessor. Do not seek one from any other place. Frankly, I don’t think we are in danger of seeking to pray to saints or Mary. So, what do we take away?

Be comforted in the fact that we have all that we need. We have our own flesh in heaven who is interceding for us. Go to him in prayer. Bring before him your joys and trials and especially, your temptations. He is a gracious intercessor, who brings us to a gracious Father, through the work in our hearts of the gracious Holy Spirit. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Steven Swets, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2022, Rev. Steven Swets

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