I always liked the concept of Jesus acting as an advocate on my behalf in front of God. We all think the YHWH of the Tanakh is a bit scary—a judgmental entity that demands swift, immediate and harsh punishment on any transgression and the Jehovah of the New Testament as more loving, compassionate and sympathetic with the human cause. (Heb. 4:15)
It made sense to harmonize the two different compilations of Holy Scriptures by painting God the Father as the invoker of Justice, and Jesus the son as the intermediary pleader for mercy. We have all heard the parable of the Judge that ruled his daughter had to pay a traffic fine, and then took off his black robe, came down in front of the bench and paid it.
It is comforting to believe that somewhere between that awful God sending people to be tortured forever, is another God contending on our behalf.
However, as Christians we often gave conflicting pictures of God. While the advocate concept is comforting, how exactly does that work?
How do two separate manifestations of God, which both have the ability to foreknow, argue with each other? They each know what the other is about to say or do for the next million years or so!
First, we should note that both the Holy Spirit AND Jesus are interceding on our behalf. Well, not exactly, our behalf, in that they only are pleading on behalf of the “true Christians.” Not the unsaved. Every verse discussing this intercession refers to these parts of God arguing on behalf of “the saints,” (Rom. 8:27) “us” (Rom. 8:26, 34) and “those who come to God” (Heb. 7:25)
What, perchance, do the saved need interceding for? They have heaven. Locked in the bag, if “true Christianity” is Calvinism. Is Jesus asking that God NOT judge them? I thought they were free from judgment. (John 5:24) Is it to not be persecuted? I thought persecution was to be expected for all who live Godly lives. (2 Tim. 3:12). Is it to not have their faith tested? I thought they should count it all joy, because it brings patience. (James 1:2-3)
We could speculate, but in doing so must be wary of the trap involved. Anything proposed that Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) is attempting to advocate FOR, means that God is AGAINST. The very reason for an advocate is to persuade another to do some action which the other person is not inclined. If the person is going to do it anyway, an intermediary is unnecessary.
It is meaningless to point out Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) has any benefit interceding for us to ask God the Father to do what God the Father was going to do anyway. The impression is further given that this is not an easy task. The Spirit ist “groaning” and Jesus is perpetually contending. In fact, it requires both of them to persuade God! He must really be a handful.
Whatever the Christian proposes Jesus is fighting for, they must acknowledge it is something the Father is fighting against. Which leaves us with the question: “If God wants something, can God convince God to do something God doesn’t want to do?”
Can Jesus “Rabbit Season. Duck Season” the Father?
God: I want Bob to get well.
God: Nope. I want Bob to stay sick.
God: Please make him well.
God: No I want him sick.
God: Well. I said “well” and I meant it! *Poof.*
God: He. He. He.
Now, one might argue that the “us” Paul uses is universal for humanity, and part of what Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) is arguing for is to have persons saved. Was this an argument that took place long, long ago, before election? And can Jesus convince God to save someone He doesn’t want to?
Interestingly, Romans 8, which refers to both the Holy Spirit and Jesus interceding, has a section in-between that mentions God’s ability to foreknow. Now tell me how this works—how do two entities that have foreknowledge dispute with each other? They already know not only what each other’s arguments are, but what the end result will be!
God: Well, I think we should do this because of these reasons.
God: Ha! I knew you were going to use those reasons, so I already prepared counter-reasons.
God: Aha! But I knew you knew, so I prepared responses.
God: Oh, but did you know that I knew you knew I knew? So here is my reply.
God: Mmm, but I knew that you knew that I knew that….
The only possible method, in which any reasonable discussion could occur, is for them to turn off their foreknowledge.
God: O.K. On the count of three. 1….2….3. STOP foreknowing.
God: You didn’t stop.
God: How do you know?
God: I saw that you were going to foreknow a few minutes from now.
God: But that means YOU didn’t stop!
Worse, how does Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) know what God is about to do, and know to intercede. Does he tell them? God has to tell God what he is about to do? What parts are delegated to the Holy Spirit to “know” and what parts to Jesus? Or does God (regardless of which manifestation) already know what He is going to do?
If Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God, what limits are placed upon them by God the Father? Does the Father have veto power? Why should they intercede? They can make the decision and act upon it themselves—they are God, after all!
What would end up is similar to the fairies making Cinderella’s dress in the Disney cartoon version:
God: Pink! *poof*
God: Blue! *poof*
God: Pink! *poof*
God: Blue! *poof*
Which is humorous to a degree, but in Christianity there are much more dire consequences. What if Jesus would like to save me? He would like me to become a believer. No one comes to the Father, but through Jesus. (John 14:6) But God the Father refuses to draw me to Jesus. (John 6:44) No longer is it the color of a dress, but where I will be spending eternity.
I would be bouncing back and forth. How is this feasible? How can God the Father want/not want someone in Heaven, and Jesus be able to convince him otherwise? Aren’t they both God? Or does it take a 2/3 vote?
We were informed that this blog brings up the some objections to Christianity that have been responded to for centuries. True, but I am looking for a better response than “We don’t know.” It is hardly persuasive there is such a thing as a triune entity that pleads with itself to persuade itself to do that which it does (or does not) want to do, and to explain such a thing say, “We don’t know.”
The Bible claims that two of the three manifestations of God advocate on behalf of humans to the third manifestation. That makes no pragmatic sense.
OR, is it more likely that Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) actually being part of God, and not separate entities was a later development? That when Paul wrote Romans, and when Hebrews was written, the concept of a trinity and equal parts of one God was not conceived?
If Jesus and the Holy Spirit were considered separate persons (albeit supernatural) by the authors of Romans and Hebrews, the claim of intermediary makes cohesive sense. To claim they are all equally God results in (yet another) explanation of “We don’t know.”
Oh, and on a final note, since I am not considered a “true Christian” by any of those that consider themselves “true Christians” I might add that if Jesus IS advocating on my behalf, I would like a different lawyer.
At the moment, according to those “true Christians” I am doomed for hell. If Jesus can’t persuade God to save me, who could do any worse?