Christ’s “Effectual Plea” – To Whom Is He Pleading?
October 9, 2009 Bible Answers That Make Sense, Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

In my study of lesson #8 for the third quarter 2009, “Loving Brothers and Sisters,” under Tuesday’s lesson, I came across a quote by E.G. White… I accept what I believe to be the Biblical view that the plea of Jesus is not to the Father, but to us (sinners)… Please read the quote below and address the highlighted portion.  To whom is Jesus presenting an “effectual plea”? 

Satan knows that those who ask God for pardon and grace will obtain it; therefore he presents their sins before them to discourage them. Against those who are trying to obey God, he is constantly seeking occasion for complaint. Even their best and most acceptable service he seeks to make appear corrupt. By countless devices, the most subtle and the most cruel, he endeavors to secure their condemnation. {AG 316.2}

In his own strength, man cannot meet the charges of the enemy. In sin-stained garments, confessing his guilt, he stands before God. But Jesus, our Advocate, presents an effectual plea in behalf of all who by repentance and faith have committed the keeping of their souls to Him. He pleads their cause, and by the mighty arguments of Calvary, vanquishes their accuser. His perfect obedience to God’s law has given Him all power in heaven and in earth, and He claims from His Father mercy and reconciliation for guilty man. To the accuser of His people He declares: “The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan. These are the purchase of My blood, brands plucked from the burning.” And to those who rely on Him in faith, He gives the assurance, “Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.” (Zech. 3:4). {AG 316.3}

All who have put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness will stand before Him as chosen and faithful and true. Satan has no power to pluck them out of the hand of the Saviour. Not one soul who in penitence and faith has claimed His protection will Christ permit to pass under the enemy’s power. His word is pledged: “Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me” (Isa. 27:5). The promise given to Joshua is given to all: “If thou wilt keep my charge, . . . I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by” (Zech. 3:7). Angels of God will walk on either side of them, even in this world, and they will stand at last among the angels that surround the throne of God. {AG 316.4}


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I agree with your assessment about God and the Biblical reality that there is no need for Jesus to plead to His Father to get the Father to be kind, gracious, forgiving, etc.

How then do we understand the Biblical meaning of the commentary you cited? In the context of the passage Satan is mentally attacking God’s children on earth, seeking to discourage them by focusing their minds on shortcomings and sins. He seeks their condemnation by doing what? By “presenting their sins before them”! Satan works to confuse our minds about God and get us to doubt God’s goodness, love and grace and think of ourselves as so unworthy God couldn’t possibly love us.

The paragraph you highlighted follows next. Notice again it states “He [Jesus] pleads their cause, and by the mighty arguments of Calvary, vanquishes their accuser.” To whom is the accuser presenting their sins? To the discouraged sinners!  Then to whom is the “mighty argument of Calvary” presented?

The commentary is expanding on events described in Zechariah chapter 3 where the high priest stood before the angel of the Lord (who is Christ) and Satan began accusing and Christ said “The Lord rebuke you Satan.” The commentary quotes Zech 3 to help us understand this is the source of the concept being discussed. Within the passage you cited there is no hint of Jesus pleading to His Father to get His Father to do anything that the Father isn’t already doing. The mighty arguments of Calvary vanquish the misconceptions of God from the mind of the sinner removing fear of God from the sinner’s mind restoring the sinner to trust in God!

There are several other points that shed light on this. One of them is that Jesus said to His disciples that it was expedient for Him to leave earth so the Comforter would come. Then Jesus said, in regard to the Comforter, “He will not speak on his own. He will speak only what he hears.” Who is the Holy Spirit listening to and from where is the Holy Spirit getting the information to communicate to us? From Jesus! Jesus is in heaven pleading to us! He is pleading the truth of all He has done to counter the lies Satan is telling. It is the truth that sets us free, free from all the lies that discourage us. The Holy Spirit takes all the pleadings of Christ and communicates them to our minds to help us battle the discouraging attacks of Satan!

Finally, the three members of the Godhead take different roles or functions. The Father acts as the source of all that is good. The Son is the medium, mediator, advocate, conduit, agent through which the Father reveals Himself or acts and the Holy Spirit is the actualizer or applier of what the Father and Son have achieved. Thus God was in the Son reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor 5:19). Jesus’ work on earth was the acting out of the Father’s heart. His completed mission and victory over sin are applied to the lives of believers by the work of the Holy Spirit. So, with this understanding we realize what Christ meant when He said, “I do nothing of myself.” Christ takes from the Father to fulfill all the Father’s purposes for His universe.  In this sense we can see Christ turning to the Father, not to persuade the Father to be kind, but to receive from the Father the fullness of the Father’s purpose of love for His creation, and carry that purpose out in meaningful action!

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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain. In 2022, Dr. Jennings became Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Lynchburg, Virginia.