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In 1 John 2.1 we read that Christ is our advocate. How does He function as our advocate, is He an advocate for those only who confess their sin, and does every Christian need Christ as advocate?

The word "advocate" (parakletos) occurs four times in John’s Gospel (14.16,26; 15.26 and 16.7) where it is used of the Holy Spirit, and is translated "Comforter". The Holy Spirit is our advocate on earth, the Lord Jesus is our advocate in heaven. The basic meaning of the word is "one drawn along side to help". The Holy Spirit’s work as advocate is to comfort and support, whereas the ministry of Christ as our advocate in heaven is with a view to our restoration if we have sinned. It is important to note that the words "if any man sin" are in the point tense. It does not refer to a believer practising sin, but to one act of committing sin. Christ is no advocate for the persistent and habitual sinning believer. This work of Christ as our advocate gives no licence to the believer to live wrongly, for the paragraph from v.3 to v.11 which follows plainly shows that we must obey God’s commandments and love our brethren.

Verses 1 and 2 supply no hint that Christ is an advocate only for those who repent and confess their sins. As soon as a child of God commits a sin the advocacy of Christ comes into action to plead our cause, not before God judicially but rather before the Father. It has in view our communion with the Father. That every believer needs Christ as advocate is proven by the fact that John uses the plural pronoun, for he says, "we have an advocate". This thought alone destroys the sinless perfection doctrine. We believe that the advocacy of Christ is a vital part of the priesthood of Christ, and yet it is a new thought additional to priesthood. It brings to the fore the completeness and fulness of His work in heaven on behalf of His people. Aaron, Israel’s first high priest was never an advocate for the people. He is a lovely type of Christ as our Great High Priest as Hebrews 5 and 7 teach, but he is not a type of Christ’s advocacy because in this work Christ is engaging in something new. We should really thank God for this present aspect of Christ’s ministry.

John J Stubbs

Would it be right for a believer to take part in an election or a referendum when issues have an impact on spiritual matters e.g. the referendum which took place some time ago in Scotland, when the point at issue was the teaching of immoral sexual practices which are condemned in Scripture?

Peter writes, "I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims" (1 Pet 2.11); "strangers" - those who are away from home, "pilgrims" - those who are going home, yet are sojourning in a strange place. Indeed, there were those Old Testament saints who "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Heb 11.13). The believer, like, for example, Abraham, is a pilgrim. Although Abraham was very concerned about the welfare of Lot he did not attempt to meddle with the political affairs of Sodom nor seek to influence them in any way; instead he brought the matter before the Lord: "Abraham stood yet before the Lord…Abraham drew near" (Gen 18.22-23).

Twice over in the prayer of the Lord Jesus to His Father, He says of His own, "they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (Jn 17.14,16). In spite of the social and governmental wrongs that were prevalent when He was upon earth, the Lord did not interfere with its affairs. Paul would remind the Philippian saints, "Our conversation [citizenship or commonwealth - the Greek word is politeuma from which our word "politics" is derived] is in heaven" (Phil 3.20). "The politics of earth mean nothing to those whose lives are governed by the edict of a heavenly city" (S Maxwell, What the Bible Teaches: Philippians). Sadly the politics of this world are marked by much corruption; the believer would be wise to keep himself separate from them.

"There is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God" (Rom 13.1). Not only has God decreed that there should be powers, but He has also determined which individuals should fill these roles. The results of an election (general or otherwise) are not only known to God before the election takes place, but even which party is to win the election. Indeed the very individuals who are to be elected are decided in heaven beforehand and not by the electorate at the time of voting.

In the matter of referenda, even one dealing with the issue raised by the questioner, it would be wise to bring the matter before the Lord and to leave the outcome to Him.

David E West


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