Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Holy War and the Intercession of the Spirit in Rom 8:26
Teaching from Roman 8 verse 26, I was reminded of something I read from John Bunyan's Holy War around 24 years past. This passage from Holy War very wonderfully illustrates what is meant by the Intercession of the Spirit in Roman 8:26. For we should understand not that the Spirit himself prays for us, pleading for us, which is the office of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. But rather, he is the intecessor or advocate who teaches us both what-we-ought-to-pray and in what-manner-we-should-pray. Christ is our advocate IN heaven with the Father. The Holy Spirit is the advocate who is WITH us. 1John 2:1 and John 14:16
In Bunyan's allegory, Holy War, the LORD Chief Secretary, is the allegorical representation of the person of the HOLY SPIRIT. Read below first some necessary background and then Bunyan himself allegorically expressing the truth contained in Romans 8:26 concerning the intercession of the Spirit of God.
AN ILLUSTRATION FROM JOHN BUNYAN’s BOOK, HOLY WAR:
Because of former rebellion and allegiances with Diabolus, the city of Mansoul has long been under his harsh rule. The people of the city now longing to come to Emmanuel, plead with him for forgiveness, seeking him as the Saviour of their city, they send out petitions for help and forgiveness. But time and again these petitions are refused, unheard and unreceived. It comes to their attention that the only proper way to offer up a letter to Prince Emmanuel is to have the Lord Chief Secretary make out the petition, who is in allegory the Holy Spirit of God. And so we pick up the story:
After the town of Mansoul had been in this sad and lamentable condition for so long a time as I have told you, and no petitions that they presented their Prince with, all this while, could prevail, the inhabitants of the town, namely, the elders and chief of Mansoul, gathered together, and, after some time spent in condoling their miserable state and this miserable judgment coming upon them, they agreed together to draw up yet another petition, and to send it away to Emmanuel for relief. But Mr. Godly-Fear stood up and answered, that he knew that his Lord the Prince never did nor ever would receive a petition for these matters, from the hand of any whoever, unless the Lord Secretary’s hand was to it; ‘and this,’ quoth he, ‘is the reason that you prevailed not all this while.’ Then they said they would draw up one, and get the Lord Secretary’s hand unto it. But Mr. Godly-Fear answered again, that he knew also that the Lord Secretary would not set his hand to any petition that himself had not an hand in composing and drawing up. ‘And besides,’ said he, ‘the Prince doth know my Lord Secretary’s hand from all the hands in the world; wherefore he cannot be deceived by any pretence whatever. Wherefore my advice is that you go to my Lord, and implore him to lend you his aid.’ (Now he did yet abide in the castle, where all the captains and men-at-arms were.)
So they heartily thanked Mr. Godly-Fear, took his counsel, and did as he had bidden them. So they went and came to my Lord, and made known the cause of their coming to him; namely, that since Mansoul was in so deplorable a condition, his Highness would be pleased to undertake to draw up a petition for them to Emmanuel, the Son of the mighty Shaddai, and to their King and his Father by him.
Then said the Secretary to them, ‘What petition is it that you would have me draw up for you?’ But they said, ‘Our Lord knows best the state and condition of the town of Mansoul; and how we are backslidden and degenerated from the Prince: thou also knowest who is come up to war against us, and how Mansoul is now the seat of war. My Lord knows, moreover, what barbarous usages our men, women, and children have suffered at their hands; and how our home-bred Diabolonians do walk now with more boldness than dare the townsmen in the streets of Mansoul. Let our Lord therefore, according to the wisdom of God that is in him, draw up a petition for his poor servants to our Prince Emmanuel.’ ‘Well,’ said the Lord Secretary, ‘I will draw up a petition for you, and will also set my hand thereto.’ Then said they, ‘But when shall we call for it at the hands of our Lord?’ But he answered, ‘Yourselves must be present at the doing of it; yea, you must put your desires to it. True, the hand and pen shall be mine, but the ink and paper must be yours; else how can you say it is your petition? Nor have I need to petition for myself, because I have not offended.’
He also added as followeth: ‘No petition goes from me in my name to the Prince, and so to his Father by him, but when the people that are chiefly concerned therein do join in heart and soul in the matter, for that must be inserted therein.’
So they did heartily agree with the sentence of the Lord, and a petition was forthwith drawn up for them.