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Thomas Goodwin :: Section Three :: Chapter Seven

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CHRIST SET FORTH
Section Three :: Chapter Seven

How all this, both the support of our faith and our justification by Christ’s resurrection, is sealed up to us in baptism. The conclusion: How faith may make use of Christ’s resurrection in its pleas to God.

And all this our communion with Christ in his resurrection, both in respect of sanctification, which Romans 6 holds forth, and of justification, which this place in the Colossians holds forth, is lively (as both places declare) set out, and sealed up to us, in the sacrament of baptism. Romans 6:3-4, we are said to be “buried with him in baptism,” and Colossians 2:12, “buried with him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him.” The eminent thing signified and represented in baptism is not simply the blood of Christ as it washes us from sin; but there is a farther representation therein of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, in those baptized being first buried under water, and then rising out of it; and this not in a bare conformity unto Christ, but in a representation of a communion with Christ in that, his death and resurrection. Therefore it is said, “you are buried with him in baptism;” and “wherein you are risen with him.” It is not simply said, like as he was buried, and rose, but with him. So as our communion and oneness with him in his resurrection, is represented to us therein, and not only our conformity or likeness unto him therein. And so baptism represents this to us, that Christ having once in himself sustained the persons of all the elect, in his burial and resurrection, that now, upon the party himself who is baptized, is personally, particularly, and apparently reacted the same part again, in his baptism; thereby showing what his communion with Christ before was, in what was then done to Christ; that he then was buried with Christ, and rose with him; and upon that ground is now in this outward sign of baptism, as in a show or representation, both buried and also rises again.

And moreover, hence it is that the “answer of a good conscience,” which is made the inward effect of this ordinance of baptism, 1 Peter 3:21, is there also attributed unto Christ’s resurrection, as the thing signified and represented in baptism, and as the cause of that answer of a good conscience. “Even baptism,” says he, “doth now also save us,” as being the ordinance that seals up salvation, “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh,” or the washing of the outward man; “but the answer of a good conscience towards God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” To open these words: Our consciences are that principle in us which are the seat of the guilt of all the sins of the whole man, unto whose court they all come to accuse us, as unto God’s deputy; which conscience is called good or evil, as the state of the man is. If his sin remain unpardoned, then as his estate is damnable, so his conscience is evil. If his sins be forgiven, and his person justified, his conscience is said to be good; conscience having its denomination from the man’s state, even as the urine is called good or bad, as the state of the man’s body is healthful or unsound whose urine it is. Now in baptism, forgiveness of sins and justification are sealed up to a believer’s faith and conscience, under that lively representation of his communion with Christ in his resurrection.

Hence this is made the fruit of baptism that the good conscience of a believer sealed up in baptism has wherewithal from thence to answer all accusations of sin that can or do at any time come in upon him. And all this, as it is here added, “by virtue of the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” namely in this respect, that his communion with Christ in his resurrection has been represented in his baptism as a ground of his faith, and of that “answer” unto all accusations. So that indeed the same thing that Paul says by way of triumph and defiance to all accusations, “Who shall condemn? Christ is risen.” The very same thing Peter here mentions, though not by way of defiance, yet of a believer’s answer and apology, that if sins do come to condemn or accuse, a good conscience is ready to say, “Christ is risen,” and I was then “justified in him.” There is my answer, which nothing in heaven or hell is able to reply unto. “This is the answer of a good conscience, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Now to crown this second pillar of faith with this coronis or conclusion, by way of application or direction to a believer’s faith, how to make use of Christ’s resurrection in point of non-condemnation. You heard before, out of Romans 6, that in respect of mortification (as the apostle there reasons), we may be truly said to have been “perfectly dead to all sin” in Christ’s “dying unto sin once,” and through his representing us therein as dying unto sin, in and with him. So as although we be for the present but imperfectly mortified in ourselves, yet when corruptions arise, the apostle bids us help ourselves against them by faith, “reasoning” ourselves to stand wholly dead to sin, when Christ died. And so to conclude from thence, that we shall one day be fully dead to sin because we then did perfectly die in Christ unto it; which kind of reasoning also God would have us use as a motive (and of all motives that are in the gospel it is the strongest) against any corruption when as it arises. “Shall I that am dead to sin” in Christ and so am freed from it, “shall I live any longer therein?” Romans 6:2. Now as God would have our faith make this use of our communion with Christ in his death, in point of sanctification, just so when guilt of sin arises in your conscience to accuse or threaten condemnation, reason you yourself (as the apostle’s word in that other case), or “reckon yourself’” (as our translation has it) justified in Christ, in his justification, which was done at his resurrection. Yes, and seeing God would have you use your communion with Christ in his death as an argument to move you to mortify sin, bidding you to reckon yourself dead to sin in Christ. Do you desire him in like manner, to reckon yourself as justified at Christ’s resurrection (for the ground of both is the same), and return that as an argument to him to move him to justify you. And this is that answer of a good conscience which Peter speaks of; this is the meaning of Paul’s challenge, “Who shall condemn? Christ is risen.”

And should your heart object and say, But I know not whether I was one of those that God reckoned justified with Christ when he arose; then go you to God, and ask him boldly, whether he did not do this for you, and whether you were not one of them intended by him. Put God to it and God will (by virtue of Christ’s resurrection for you) even himself, answer your faith this question before you are aware. He will not deny it. And to secure you the more, know that however Christ will be sure to look to that for you; so as that you having been then intended,—as, if your heart be drawn to give itself up to Christ, you were, —shall never be condemned.

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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