Why he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.
(with Romans 8:27): — One of the ways in which the enemy of souls destroys men is by joining together what God has separated. Hence the alliance between the world and religion. Another mode by which he destroys is to separate what God has joined together: such as principle and practice; doctrine and duty; pardoning mercy and renewing grace. That man is not yet truly awakened and enlightened from above who does not see and feel his equal need of — the Saviour and the Sanctifier — the Son of God and the Spirit of God — the work of the one for him, and of the other in him. To such a connection I am going to lead you. For, be it remembered, every Christian has two Advocates, two Intercessors; and they should be viewed relatively to each other. "Jesus ever liveth to make intercession for them. The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us." (See Romans 8:27.)
I. Let us consider THE INTERCESSION OF CHRIST. Dr. Owen long ago complained, and there is much truth in the remark, that we do not dwell enough, in our thoughts, on the present life of Christ: for He is living, not a life of glory only — though even this should delight those that love Him — but a life of office. When our Saviour left our world He ascended up far above all heavens; and frailty might have feared that His concern for us would have ceased with His residence among us. But, says Paul, though Jesus the Son of God be passed into the heavens, "we have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." The ligature which unites us remains, and is all sensibility and life. "He ever liveth to make intercession for us." Volumes might be written on the subject; but we must be brief. It has been questioned whether this intercession be vocal. Why should it not? He is "clothed in a body like our own." But, not to intrude into things which we have not seen, it is enough for us to know —
1. That His intercession is real. It consists in His personal appearance; in the presentation of His sacrifice, and claiming the, benefits arising from it. AEschylus was strongly accused, and likely to be condemned. His brother Amyntas engaged to be his advocate. Amyntas had done much for the commonwealth; and, in a certain action, in their service, had lost a hand. He came into the court. The court was uncommonly crowded; and all were eager to hear him plead ,in so interesting an occasion. But he said nothing — he only held up his dismembered arm! The audience and the judges were so moved as immediately to order his brother's release. It does not appear that the high priest said anything when he entered the holy place: but what. he did spake loud enough. He wore the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on his breastplate; he took the blood of the slaughtered victim in a basin, and sprinkled the mercy-seat, and burned incense before the golden altar, and then came forth and blessed the people. Abel's blood spake to God from the ground; that is, it demanded vengeance: the blood of Jesus is equally vocal; but it speaketh better things than that of Abel — it calls for mercy. How did John see Him in the vision? As a lamb that had been slain; that is, with the wound in the neck, and the blood on the wool. Without a figure — He retains in His glorified body the marks of His sufferings and death.
2. It extends to all our important interests. We may look upon His prayer for His disciples, on the night in which He was betrayed (John 17.), as a specimen of His continued intercession before the throne. And for what does He not there plead? Is it their preservation (ver. 15)? Is it their renovation (ver. 17)? Is it their union (vers. 21-23)? Is it their glorification (ver. 24)?
3. It is successful. "I know," says He, "that Thou hearest Me always. This conclusion is derivable from the grandeur of His character, and His nearness to God.
II. Let us examine THE INTERCESSION OF THE SPIRIT: for the Spirit " itself maketh intercession for us." In entering on this, it is necessary to observe, that, subjectively and instrumentally considered, religion is our own work: we run the race set before us; and fight the good fight of faith: we believe, and repent, and pray; but, owing to our natural ignorance, and weakness, depravity, and aversion, it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. To His Spirit, therefore, all our renovation is ascribed: we are said to be " born of the Spirit"; to be "led by the Spirit"; to "live in the Spirit"; to " walk in the Spirit"; and to "worship God in the Spirit." Let us see, then, how this Divine agency brings the sinner upon his knees and keeps him there.
1. The Spirit leads us to an acquaintance with ourselves. He removes the veil of ignorance and delusion that concealed our state, our wants, and our desert; and the man who once said, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, now sees that he is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
2. The Spirit fixes upon the mind a concern to be delivered and relieved, too great to be shaken off. His sin is ever before him. Neither business, nor company, nor amusement, can ease the anguish of his broken heart, or divert him from the inquiry, "What must I do to be saved?"
3. The Spirit enables us to apprehend and believe the mercy and grace revealed in the gospel. Hence arises a hope that maketh not ashamed. This hope enters the soul, as the sun does a garden in spring, calling forth, by a genial influence, the leaves and the buds, after the dreariness of winter.
4. The Spirit renews our souls, removes our alienation from the life of God, and produces in us those principles and dispositions which cause us to delight in approaching Him, and even to give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness. Thus our duly is converted into a privilege; and we find it too good to draw near to God ever again to restrain prayer before Him.
III. View them IN THEIR RELATION TO EACH OTHER. It is easy to distinguish these Intercessors. The one makes intercession above; the other below: one in the court of heaven; the other in the conscience. The one makes intercession for us, the other in us. But there is a connection between them; and it is threefold.
1. A connection of derivation. The one flows from the other.
2. A connection of dependence. The one needs the other.
3. A connection of evidence. The one proves the other. As to some of you, how long have you been praying, "Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation. Show me a token for good, that I may rejoice in thee "? What happy beings would you go away at the end of this exercise, if you could ascertain one thing; n freely, that the Redeemer thinks upon you for good — and appears in the presence of God for you! Well, the proof does not lie far off — it is nigh thee, even in thy month and in thy heart. It is prayer — not fine prayer — not well-arranged language. The proof does not require language at all. No — but a broken heart: a contrite spirit; tears; sighs; groanings — groanings which cannot be uttered. Of this therefore rest assured, that if the Spirit itself is thus making intercession in you, Jesus is ever living to make intercession for you.
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.