When Christ came to the world, John says that “he came unto his own, and his own received him not.” The Jewish nation had set up a standard of character that they deemed righteous, and they did not realize their need of the righteousness of Christ. They were self-deceived, as was the man who presented himself at the wedding feast not having on the wedding garment. The Jews did not appreciate the incomprehensible love of God in giving Christ to be our Mediator, and to be the representative of God to man. They did not appreciate the fact that Christ was our intercessor, invested with the fulness of divine love. They did not realize the necessity of an Advocate at the right hand of the Deity. Satisfied with their own self-righteousness, they would none of Jesus.
"The prayer of faith is not listless, dry, and uninteresting. It wells up from perfect trust and assurance, and by its fervor makes manifest to the world, to angels, and to men, that you do believe in God, and have made Christ your personal Saviour."
Shall any of us be as unappreciative as were the Jews, or shall we look upon Christ as a perfect specimen of our perfected humanity uniting in himself the attributes of Deity with our human nature? The only-begotten Son of God made manifest what humanity may become. In his sanctified human nature he revealed what man must be. Through him mercy was enabled to deal justly in punishing the transgressor of the law, and justice was enabled to forgive without losing its dignity or purity. At the cross mercy and truth embraced each other, righteousness and peace kissed each other. O, what a wonderful provision was made for man! How is it that we do not appreciate the heavenly gift? By the course that we individually pursue, we testify as to what value we place upon the golden privileges that are granted to us.
We should consider the fact that to Christ our nature was a robe of humiliation and suffering. He humbled himself to become a man, so that a body should be found, a Lamb without blemish should be provided as a sinless offering, that God might be just and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Humanity was in union with divinity. What was the exceeding sorrow he bore, when, tho sinless, he took upon himself the mass of the guilt of the world? As we stand and view his cross and contemplate the amazing sacrifice of the only begotten of the Father, as we look upon the holy Sufferer, we realize something of the offensive character of sin, and at the same time have a feeble comprehension of the love of God for a fallen, apostate race.
"It is our privilege and duty to bring the efficacy of the name of Christ into our petitions, and use the very arguments that Christ has used in our behalf. Our prayers will then be in complete harmony with the will of God. Then it is that Christ clothes the contrite suppliant with his own priestly vestments, and the human petitioner approaches the altar holding the holy censer, from which ascends the incense of the fragrance of the merit of Christ’s righteousness."
God does not love us because he provided this great propitiation, but he so loved the world that he made the propitiation from the foundation of the world. He has made every provision whereby his grace and favor may come to man. But was the great sacrifice made in order that Adam’s sin might be perpetuated, and the flood-gates of woe be ever left open upon our world?—No, it was to bring us back to our loyalty to God, to keep his commandments and live, and his law as the apple of our eye. Christ says, “Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Perfect obedience to the law of God is the test by which it is known that our love is perfect toward Christ. The Father reveals his love to Christ by receiving and welcoming the friends of Christ as his friends. The Father is fully satisfied with the atonement that Christ has made. He suffered the penalty of the law in order that man might have an opportunity to exercise repentance towards God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. In behalf of sinners Christ has borne hardships, insults, calumny, abuse, and misrepresentation. He was refused by those he came to save, rejected by his own nation. The Lord of glory was put to a most shameful death, and God himself was in Christ, suffering with his only-begotten Son, in order to reconcile the world unto himself. All this was done in order that fallen man might have another chance by which to redeem himself. Christ imputes his righteousness to the repentant, believing soul, and he who receives Christ becomes the friend of God. Humanity is glorified by the incarnation of Christ. Through the plan of salvation the divine government stands unimpeached, while salvation of penitent souls is secured.
In his prayer for his disciples Christ said: “I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” In his prayer Christ includes all those who shall hear the words of life and salvation through the messengers whom he sends. We are to look with respect upon God’s workmen, remembering that they are laborers together with God. The people of God through their union with Christ become one with each other. This is the object of their sanctification, “that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”
"God has given assurance upon assurance, heaped gift upon gift, multiplied grace upon grace, and imparted his divine treasures to humanity, in order that we may believe the love that God hath for us."
Can the human mind comprehend this statement? Can we by faith comprehend the fact that we are beloved by the Father even as the Son is beloved? Could we indeed lay hold of this and act up to it, we would indeed have the grace of Christ, the golden oil of heaven, poured into our poor, thirsty, parched souls. Our light would no longer be fitful and flickering, but would shine brightly amid the moral darkness that like a funeral pall is enveloping the world. We should by faith hear the prevailing intercession that Christ continually presents in our behalf, as he says: “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee; but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
We have an advocate at the throne of God, which is encircled by the bow of promise, and we are invited to present our petitions in the name of Christ before the Father. Jesus says: Ask what ye will in my name, and it shall be done unto you. In presenting my name, you bear witness that you belong to me, that you are my sons and daughters, and the Father will treat you as his own, and love you as he loveth me. Your faith in me will lead you to exercise close, filial affection toward me and the Father. I am the golden chain by which your heart and soul are bound in love and obedience to my Father. Express to my Father the fact that my name is dear to you, that you respect and love me, and you may ask what you will. He will pardon your transgressions, and adopt you into his royal family,—make you a child of God, a joint heir with his only begotten Son. Through faith in my name he will impart to you the sanctification and holiness which will fit you for his work in a world of sin, and qualify you for an immortal inheritance in his kingdom. The Father has thrown open, not only all heaven, but all his heart, to those who manifest faith in the sacrifice of Christ, and who through faith in the love of God, return unto their loyalty. Those who believe in Christ as the sin-bearer, the propitiation for their sins, the intercessor in their behalf, may through the riches of the grace of God, lay claim to the treasures of heaven. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Jesus says, “Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”
The summing up of the benefit of prayer is that devotion that leads to faith in God’s promises. This faith is the key that opens the divine treasury, is the hand by which we appropriate to our use the richest gifts of God. The prayer of the contrite heart unlocks the treasure house of supplies, and lays hold of omnipotent power. This kind of prayer enables the suppliant to understand what it means to lay hold of the strength of God, and to make peace with him. This kind of prayer causes us to have an influence over those with whom we associate. The prayer of faith is not listless, dry, and uninteresting. It wells up from perfect trust and assurance, and by its fervor makes manifest to the world, to angels, and to men, that you do believe in God, and have made Christ your personal Saviour. The Lord Jehovah accepts the argument that is presented in the name of his Son, and places the resources of his merit at your command. It is our privilege and duty to bring the efficacy of the name of Christ into our petitions, and use the very arguments that Christ has used in our behalf. Our prayers will then be in complete harmony with the will of God. Then it is that Christ clothes the contrite suppliant with his own priestly vestments, and the human petitioner approaches the altar holding the holy censer, from which ascends the incense of the fragrance of the merit of Christ’s righteousness.
Our Redeemer encourages us to present continual supplications. He makes to us most decided promises that we shall not plead in vain. He says: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” He then presents the picture of a child asking bread of its father, and shows how much more willing God is to grant our requests than a parent is to grant his child’s petition. He says: “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
Our precious Saviour is ours today. In him our hopes of eternal life are centered. He is the One who presents our petitions to the Father, and communicates to us the blessing for which we asked. He is the medium of prayer through which man speaks to God, and the medium through which God imparts blessing to humanity. He is the Intercessor and the Bestower. Herein is the love of God made manifest, “not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” God has given assurance upon assurance, heaped gift upon gift, multiplied grace upon grace, and imparted his divine treasures to humanity, in order that we may believe the love that God hath for us. Beholding this love, John exclaims, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, June 18, 1896