A Message from the Staff: Brian Dunkel on "Advocacy"

Below is a post contributed by our Staff Attorney, Brian Dunkel on his views of legal and eternal advocacy. This post is an excerpt of the full talk Brian gave last year at Taylor University for a chapel address, “Doing Biblical Justice as a Servant of Jesus”. To watch the chapel address click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IlRu1qquQg


What do Jesus Christ and an attorney have in common? Before dismissing that question as some tacky lawyer joke, consider how both Jesus Christ and attorneys are advocates. An advocate pleads the cause of another.

For the last 20 years, the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic has existed to promote justice through legal representation and education for our low-income neighbors as a way of demonstrating Christ’s love. The Clinic pleads the cause of those at society’s margin: the homeless, immigrant, widow, low-income taxpayer, tenant, single mother, victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, and ex-offender reentering society. For those who seek help from the Clinic, a court entering judgment against them is not an abstract concept. It is a scary and life-shaking crisis. When our low-income neighbors seek help from the Clinic, they are looking for an advocate who can plead their cause.

As an attorney, I can only plead the merits of my client’s cause. If my client has no claim or defense, then I do not have anything to plead on his/her behalf. But Jesus Christ has his own record of righteousness on which to anchor his advocacy for his children. None of us have our own claim or defense before the holy and righteous God of the universe, so we all need Jesus Christ as our eternal advocate.

Here are some of my favorite verses that describe Jesus’ advocacy:

  • The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:23-25)
  • Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:33-34)

I often have the opportunity to talk about the Gospel with my clients—about their eternal legal needs. Every person has committed sinful offenses against the holy and righteous God of the universe (Romans 3:10-12). Someday, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God and all the “good” things we have done will not be enough to pay the penalty for our sin. (Roman 14:10-12). We each stand accused and condemned before God with no defense that will undo the penalty that our sin has earned us—eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23).


But because of God’s mercy and grace, he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth. He lived a sinless life (Hebrews 4:15) and then gave up his life to pay the penalty for sin (Hebrews 4:15, John 3:16-17). Jesus’ penalty-paying death and death-defeating resurrection means that you and I can be in a right relationship with God for all of eternity.

In striving to be a competent and compassionate legal advocate for my clients, I hope and pray that they see Jesus Christ as the best advocate they could ever have.  Just as my clients’ legal problems drive them to seek an advocate, every person’s sin problem should drive them to seek Jesus Christ, the perfect and eternal advocate.