Updated: Jul 17, 2019
The following is the fifth post in a series looking closely at the teachings of Robert Henderson found in his book Operating in the Courts of Heaven. I first suggest some theological questions that require answers before the teaching is embraced whole-heartedly, then evaluate the biblical passages used to back-up the teaching.
Does the courtroom model suggest Christ’s atoning death on the cross was inadequate?
Henderson holds that Christ, in his role as the High Priest, remains to this day offering his blood before God’s throne of grace for the expiation (removal) of sin. In Chapter 3 he writes,”This is what Jesus is doing as our High Priest now. He is before the throne of grace offering His own blood as God has a legal right to bless us instead of curse us. We don’t have to be afraid to come before this throne, because of the position Jesus has won as our High Priest.”
Put aside the peculiar language of God having to have a legal right before he blesses [See 1 below]. What remains is that Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross was not enough: his work of atonement continues to this day and presumably will continue for the foreseeable future. In contrast, the testimony of scripture is past tense. Christ, “having been offered once to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28), “remove[d] sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26), so that “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).
Notice also that, in contrast to the Old Testament sacrifices which “can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11), Christ’s atoning sacrificial death was expiatory: the sin was removed. Why does Christ have to obediently stay on duty, as it were, removing the sin of repentant sinners who begin their petitionary prayers each night, when the sin is already removed? On the cross Christ said “It is finished.” The old sacrificial system for the expiation of sins – that never worked anyway – is gone. It was replaced by his death “once for all.” Why then would Jesus continue with the ineffectual and obsolete system – only in a different location?
Yes, we are progressively cleansed from sin that remains by the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). This refers to the clearest evidence that Christ’s life was given in judicial execution 2000 years ago. The power of what that blood accomplished on the cross made Jesus the atoning sacrifice for all sins (1 John 2:2). No further payment for sin necessary.
In “The Courtroom on Trial?” series of posts, some theological problems with the Courtroom model of intercessory prayer are discussed. These include;
- Is the nature of the Courts of Heaven obscured by the limitations of human language?
- Does the courtroom model suggest God is not the ultimate?
- Does the courtroom model suggest either God is not all-knowing or heaven is imperfect?
- Does the courtroom model suggest Christ’s atoning death on the cross was inadequate?
- Does the courtroom model suggest a theology of works?
- Does Operating in the Courts of Heaven imply a theological method that prioritises personal experiences over biblical revelation?
Following these the exegetical problems are discussed. These include;
- The persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8)
- The heavenly books
- Heaven’s council
- The five stage process (Romans 8:29-30)
- Simon Peter’s courtroom trial (Luke 22:31-32)
Finally, I provide my own conclusion and recommendations.