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The One Mediator

It is important to know that Jesus is in heaven. Having been both our priest and final, all-sufficient sacrifice, he now continues his priestly work of intercession on our behalf.


We need not doubt that Christ, as our Priest, is ever interceding for us in heaven. It is written, ‘He is able to save them to the uttermost who come unto God by him because he ever liveth to make intercession for them’ (Heb. 7:25). It is asked by St Paul, ‘Who is he that condemneth?’ and one reason he gives why there is no condemnation for believers, is the fact that ‘Christ maketh intercession for us’ (Rom. 8:34). Of the manner of that intercession we cannot of course speak particularly: we may not intrude into things unseen. But it may suffice us to remember how our Lord prayed for his people in the seventeenth chapter of John, and how he told Peter he prayed for him, that his faith might not fail (Luke 22:32). Our great High Priest knows how to intercede. . . .

We need not doubt that Christ as a Priest in heaven is continually doing the work of a Receiver of sinners, and a Mediator between God and man. The priest was the person to whom the Israelite was bidden to go, when he was ceremonially unclean and wanted forgiveness. The command was distinct: ‘Go to the priest’. The Heavenly Priest is the person to whom labouring and heavy-laden souls ought always to be directed when they want pardon and rest. He that feels the burden of sin on his conscience and wants it taken away, ought to be told that there is One appointed by the Father for the very purpose of taking it away, and that the first step he must take is to go to him . . .

Let us thank God daily that Christ is doing the work of a Priest for us in heaven. Let us glory in his death, but let us not glory less in his life. Let us praise God daily that Jesus ‘died for our sins according to the Scriptures’; but let us never forget to praise him that he ‘rose again for us, and sat down at the right hand of God’. Let us be thankful for the precious blood of Christ; but let us not be less thankful for his precious intercession.

. . .

Christ’s Priesthood is the great secret of a saint’s perseverance to the end. Left to ourselves there would be little likelihood of our getting safe home. We might begin well and end ill. So weak are our hearts, so busy the devil, so many the temptations of the world, that nothing could prevent our making shipwreck. But, thanks be to God, the Priesthood of Christ secures our safety.—He who never slumbers and never sleeps is continually watching over our interests, and providing for our need. While Satan pours water on the fire of grace, and strives to quench it, Christ pours on oil, and makes it bum more brightly. Start us in the narrow way of life, with pardon, grace, and a new heart, and leave us to ourselves, and we should soon fall away. But grant us the continual intercession of an Almighty Priest in heaven,—God as well as Man, and Man as well as God,—and we shall never be lost. ‘Because I live’, says our Lord, ‘ye shall live also’ (John 14:19).

Let us ever beware of any doctrine which interferes with the Priesthood of Christ. Any system of religion which teaches that we need other mediators besides Jesus,—other priests besides Jesus,—other intercessors besides Jesus,—is unscriptural and dangerous to men’s souls. . . . ‘There is no office of Christ,’ said John Owen, ‘that Satan labours so hard to obscure and overthrow as his priestly one’. Satan cares little, comparatively, for Christ the Prophet, and Christ the King, so long as he can persuade man to forget Christ the Priest. For ever let us stand fast on this point. That Christ is carrying on the office of a Priest in heaven, is the crown and glory of Christian theology.

—J. C. Ryle, Knots Untied (Banner of Truth, 2016), 278, 280–282.

Posted 2017·06·09 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Christology · J C Ryle · Knots Untied

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