Truth On Fire

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The Believer's Advocate

A legal firm in our city has taken out a huge billboard ad that reads: “When the going gets tough, the tough get a lawyer.” What first impressed me was the cleverness employed by the firm in using a popular time-tested slogan to promote the advocacy business. I can still recall my high school track coach (circa 1965) reminding his runners that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. My second thought was the reality behind the slogan. Life at times does indeed get tough, and people going through a tough time might well be willing to pay for a lawyer’s time! My third consideration was its application to the spiritual realm. There are no tough issues in life more needful of resolution than those that impact the soul of man, and the Bible has plenty to say about the advocacy of God Almighty on behalf of those who trust him!

One such man was David—a man of God for whom the going got tough on many occasions. In Psalm 35:1, we find him soliciting the services of his personal defense attorney, praying: “Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.” Plead means literally to toss or grapple, and figuratively to wrangle (engage in a controversy). It implies a third-party defense of one grappler from the ill-intended attacks of another. David envisioned himself in a spiritual fight against ungodly grapplers, and petitioned the Lord his God for assistance in defending him from his adversaries.

David was essentially saying, “O Lord, come to my defense! Toss them about who desire to toss me about! Reconfigure the battle array so that it is no longer ‘them striving with me’ but rather ‘them striving with You’; and no longer ‘them fighting against me’ but rather ‘them fighting against You’!” The king of Israel understood that, if you’re going to face trial in the tough and contentious courtrooms of life, you had better secure the toughest Advocate you can, and defer your defense to him! Blessed is the saint who learns early on in his or her spiritual walk to petition the Lord as the first line of defense rather than the last resort!

Divine advocacy was a familiar theme to the apostle John, who penned these words: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). Advocate in Greek is parakletos, which refers literally to one who comes alongside of another to render aid in the time of need—an intercessor or comforter. The adversarial grappler in the context is none other than one’s own personal sin. And, in this most vulnerable condition, the Lord Jesus Christ serves as Defense Counsel for the believer as he represents his own before the Father!

Jesus the Lawyer has never lost a case! Why? Because he is the propitiation (full satisfaction) for our sins! In his substitutionary death on the Cross, the full measure of Divine justice against sin, as demanded by the Law, was exacted upon and from Jesus Christ! He bore our sins in his body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). He was God’s Scapegoat—the Lamb of God—who took away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Sovereign God has decreed that only those who trust his Son Jesus shall be justified in his sight, and have the benefits of his vicarious death applied to their souls! Sin always makes the going tough in life! But the advocacy of Christ is God’s guarantee that our righteous standing, grounded in the merits of Christ, shall never be reversed!

The apostle Paul taught Divine advocacy with these words: “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth” (Romans 8:33). One benefit of justification is immunity from any spiritual charge that might bring the elect under condemnation once again. Accusers may abound, but none can make the charges stick! Why? Because a “Justified!” verdict in God’s courtroom overrides every accusatory claim!

Paul employed this rhetorical declaration to establish an incontrovertible link between justification and election. Every believer in Jesus is both justified and elected whereas unbelievers are unjustified, unelected, and therefore chargeable. God’s elect are justified—all of them! The elect are believers, and only believers are elected! Failure to grasp this basic primer on election has led many good-hearted and otherwise godly men (The Puritans, Spurgeon, et al) into the philosophical and unbiblical morass of five-point Calvinism.

Brethren, perhaps we should adopt the slogan to read: “When the going gets tough, the believer has the toughest Lawyer in town.” Personally, I have never been fond of reducing the majesty of Jesus Christ to a simplistic jingle. But the truth, without regard for its expression, is still the truth, and there are few truths so precious to the believer as the advocacy of Christ on behalf of his clients—the elect. Therefore any jingle stored within our spiritual memory banks that prompts us to seek God early in tough times serves us well. If the going gets tough where you live, defer your defense to the Lord Jesus Christ!


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