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Thomas Goodwin :: Section Two :: Chapter Three

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CHRIST SET FORTH
Section Two :: Chapter Three

What Support or Matter of Triumph Christ’s Death Affords to Faith for Justification

2. Now, having thus directed your faith to the right object, Christ, and Christ as dying; let us secondly see what matter of support and encouragement faith may fetch from Christ’s death for justification. And surely that which has long ago satisfied God himself for the sins of many thousand souls now in heaven, may very well serve to satisfy the heart and conscience of any sinner now upon earth, in any doubts in respect of the guilt of any sins that can arise. We see that the apostle here, after that large discourse of justification by Christ’s righteousness, in the former part of this Epistle to the Romans, and having showed how every way it abounds, Romans 5, he now in Romans 8 does as it were sit down like a man over-convinced, as Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things?” He speaks as one satisfied, and even astonished with abundance of evidence; having nothing to say, but only to admire God and Christ in this work; and therefore presently throws down the gauntlet, and challenges a dispute in this point with all comers.

Let conscience and carnal reason, law and sin, hell and devils, bring in all their strength. “Who is he shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” “Who shall condemn?” Paul dares to answer them all, and carry it with these few words, “It is God that justifies, it is Christ that died.” And (as in Romans 8:37) “we are more than conquerors in all these.” It was this that brought in the prodigal, that in his “father’s house there was bread enough.” And so likewise he (whoever he was) who was the author of Psalm 130, when his soul was in deep distress by reason of his sins, Psalm 130:1-2, yet this was it that settled his heart to wait upon God, that there was “plenteous redemption with him.” Christ’s redemption is not merely ἀντίλυτρον, a price or ransom equivalent, or making due satisfaction according to the just demerit of sin, but it is “plenteous redemption.” There is an abundance of “the gift of righteousness,” Romans 5:17 and “unsearchable riches of Christ,” Ephesians 3:8. Yes, 1 Timothy 1:14, “the grace of our Lord,” that is of Christ, ὑπερεπλεόνασε, we translate it “was abundant,” but the word reaches farther, “it was overfull, redundant, more than enough.” And yet (says Paul, 1 Timothy 1:13), I had sins enough to pardon, as one would think, that might exhaust it, “I was a blasphemer.” But I found so much grace in Christ, even more than I knew what to do with.

I shall not insist so largely on this first head of Christ’s dying, as upon those three following, because it is the main subject of another discourse, which through God’s grace, I intend to publish though in another method. Only for a taste, to instance in some few particulars, showing how Christ’s satisfaction may be opposed and set against the guilt of a poor sinner’s offences. What is there that can be said to aggravate sin in the general, or any man’s particular sins, that may not he answered out of this, “Christ has died” and something be considered in it, which the conscience may oppose thereto? So that whatever evil, which according to the rules of spiritual reason, (which the righteous law proceeds by, and contains as the foundation of its righteousness in condemning or aggravating sin), a man’s conscience may suggest to be in sin. Oppositely hereunto, may a man’s faith, according to the like rules of true spiritual reason, show a more transcendent goodness to have been in Christ’s death, which the gospel reveals, and so many oppose the one to the other, and have as good reason to show why sin should not condemn, from Christ’s death, as conscience can have, that the law may condemn.

  • (1.) As first, is sin the transgression of the law? Christ dying, the lawmaker, was subjected to the law; and will not that make amends? Is sin the debasement of God’s glory, manifested in his word and works? Christ’s dying was the debasement and emptying of the brightness of his glory in the highest measure, who was God personally manifested in the flesh. The one of them is but as the darkening the shine or luster of the sun upon a wall, but the other is as the obscuring of the sun itself. Sin’s highest evil lies in offending God, but Christ’s righteousness is (oppositely) the righteousness of God himself, or Jehovah made our righteousness. So that God in our sin is considered but as the object against whom; but God in this our righteousness, is the subject from whom and in whom this righteousness comes and is seated. And so his Godhead answerably gives a higher worth to it, by how much the alliance which the subject has to an action of its own, that proceeds from it, is nearer than that which an object has, against which the action is committed.
  • (2.) Or secondly, what peculiar aggravations or circumstances are there in your sins, to weigh you down, with which some circumstances in Christ’s obedience and death may not be paralleled, to lift you up again?

As first, is it the greatness of your sin in the substance of the fact committed? Has there been lewdness in your wickedness, as the prophet speaks? Consider what guilt, of how heinous crimes, God suffered to be laid to Christ’s charge by profane men, when he was made an offering for sin. He died as a traitor to his prince, and a blasphemer of God in the highest kind of blasphemy, as making himself equal with God; an impostor, a seducer, yes, a devil, yes, a prince of devils, than whom a murderer was esteemed more worthy to live. Which imputations, though by men unjustly charged on him, yet by God were so ordered as just, in respect of his bearing our sins. For him who was holiness itself to be made the greatest of sinners, yes, to be “made sin,” and the worst of sins, and accordingly to suffer from God and men, what greater satisfaction for the taking of sins away can be desired or imagined?

Or secondly, do you aggravate your sins by the naughtiness of your heart in sinning, and say that the inward carriage thereof has been much worse than the outward? Look into the heart of Jesus Christ dying, and behold him struggling with his Father’s wrath, you will find the sufferings of his soul more than those of his body, and in them to lie the soul of his sufferings.

Thirdly, may your sin be aggravated, in that you did commit it with so great delight and greediness, and poured out your heart unto it? Consider that Christ offered himself more willingly than ever you did sin. “Lo, I come,” says he in Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do your will,” and “how am I straightened until it be accomplished!” Luke 12:50. And though to show how great an evil and misery it was in itself, he showed an averseness to it; yet as it was his Father’s will for our salvation, he heartily embraced and drank of that cup unto the bottom.

Fourthly, did you sin with much deliberation, when you might have avoided it? There was in this circumstance in Christ’s sufferings to answer that that he knew all he was to suffer, and yet yielded up himself, John 18:4.

Fifthly, have you sinned presumptuously, and made a covenant with death and hell? Christ in like manner offered up himself by a covenant and complot with his Father so to do.

Sixthly, are there any special circumstances of time and place that aggravate your sins?

  • As first, that so great a person in the church should scandalize the name of God in sinning. Why, how great a person was Christ? Even equal with God the Father and yet how greatly humbled, even to the death; his offices of King, Priest, and Prophet being debased with him. How great a name had he! Hebrews 1:4, which notwithstanding was dishonored more than ever any man’s.
  • Or secondly, that you sinned at such a time or in such a company, which sometimes serve to make a sin the more heinous. Consider how God contrived to have the shame and affliction of his Son’s death aggravated by all these circumstances. It was of deaths the most accursed, at a time most solemn, in a place most infamous, with company most wretched.

Thus might we find out that in Christ’s suffering and satisfaction made, that would fitly answer to anything in our sins, and so thereby we should be the more relieved. And though the whole body of his sufferings do stand and answer for the whole bulk of our sinnings, yet the consideration of such particulars will much conduce to the satisfying of a humbled and dejected soul, about the particulars of its sinnings.

Therefore (to conclude) get your hearts and consciences distinctly and particularly satisfied in the all-sufficiency of worth and merit which is in the satisfaction that Christ has made. As it is a fault and defect in humiliation, that men content themselves with a general apprehension and notion that they are sinners, and so never become thoroughly humbled. So it is a defect in their faith, that they content themselves with a superficial and general conceit that Christ died for sinners, their hearts not being particularly satisfied about the transcendent all-sufficiency of his death. And thence it is, that in time of temptation, when their abounding sinfulness comes distinctly to be discovered to them, and charged upon them, they are then amazed and their faith nonplussed, as not seeing that in Christ which might answer to all that sinfulness. But as God saw that in Christ’s death which satisfied him, so you should endeavor by faith to see that worth in it which may satisfy God, and then your faith will sit down as satisfied also. If a man were to dispute for his life some hard and difficult controversy, wherein are many great and strong objections to be taken away, he would be sure to view, and study, and ponder all that might be said on that other part which he were to hold, in way of answer to them, and to get such a clear and convincing light as might make the truth of his position apparent and manifest through those clouds of objections that hang in the way.

Now you will all be thus called one day to dispute for your souls, sooner or later, and therefore such skill you should endeavor to get in Christ’s righteousness, how in its fullness and perfection it answers to all your sinfulness; that your hearts may be able to oppose it against all that may be said of any particular, in or about your sins; that in all the conflicts of your spirits, you may see that in it which would clear your whole score; and that if God would but be pleased to impute it to you, you might say, I dare presently come to an account with him, and cut scores with his law and justice.

Thus much of the first thing made the object of faith, namely, Christ as dying.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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