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Thomas Goodwin :: Section Four :: Chapter One

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Section Four :: Chapter One


A connection of this third head with the two former; showing how it affords a farther degree of triumph. Two things involved in it: 1. Christ’s ascension; 2. Christ’s power and authority in heaven.

Who is he that condemns? It is Christ, who is even at the right hand of God. Romans 8:34

I come next to this third great pillar and support of faith, Christ’s being at God’s right hand. And to show how the view and consideration hereof may strengthen faith seeking justification and pardon of sin: “Who is he that condemns? Christ is even at God’s right hand.”

In the opening of which, I shall keep to the begun method, both by showing how justification itself depends upon this, and the evidence thereof to us; both which the apostle had here in his eye, and from both which our faith may derive comfort and assurance. And I mean to keep punctually to the matter of justification only, as in the former.

These two latter that remain here in the text—Christ sitting at God’s right hand, and his interceding for us—are brought in here by the apostle, as those which have a redundant force and prevalence in them, for the non-condemnation of the elect; that although the two former abundantly served to secure it, yet these two added to the former, do make the triumph of faith more complete and full, and us “more than conquerors,” as it after follows. Nor does this place alone make mention of Christ’s “sitting at God’s right hand,” which I now am first to handle, in this its relation, and influence into our justification, and the assurance of faith about it; but you have it to the same end, use, and purpose, alleged by that other great apostle, 1 Peter 3:18-22. And if the scopes of these two apostles in both places be compared, they are the same. Here the resurrection of Christ, and his sitting at God’s right hand, are brought in as the ground of this bold challenge and triumph of faith. And there in Peter is mentioned the answer or plea of a good conscience in a believer justified, which it puts into the court, and opposes against all condemning guilts, (so it is called, 1 Peter 3:12). The apostle alleging the resurrection of Jesus Christ as one ground of it, “the answer of a good conscience, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” And then further to back and strengthen this plea or answer of a good conscience, the apostle puts his ascension and sitting at God’s right hand into the bill, as further grounds confirming it.

So it follows, “who is gone to heaven, and is at the right hand of God, angels, and authorities, and powers, being made subject to him.” All which the apostle here expresses in one word (as enough to carry it) that Christ is “even at God’s right hand.” The soul has sufficient answer against condemnation in Christ’s death and resurrection, full enough though it should stop there; yes therein can faith triumph, though it went no further; for it can show a full satisfaction given in his death, and that accepted by God for us, and Christ acquitted, and we in him. Therefore, faith (you see) comes to a rather there. But then let it go on to consider Jesus sitting at God’s right hand, and making intercession for us; and then faith will triumph and insult over all accusers, be more than a conqueror; then it comes not to a rather only, as here, but to a “much more shall we be saved by his life,” thus Romans 5:10. And the meaning thereof is, that if his death had power to pay all our debts, and justify us at first, then much more has his life this power. So that his death is but the ground and foundation of our faith herein, and the lowest step of this ladder, but these others are the top and full triumph of faith therein. And our spirits should rise, as the apostle here rises. Faith upon these wings may not only fly above the gunshot of all accusations and condemners, but even clean out of their sight, and so far above all such thoughts and fears, as it may reach to a security that sins are forgotten and shall be remembered no more.

What joy was there in the disciples, when they saw Christ risen! John 20. Therefore in the primitive times it was used as a voice of joy; and to this day the Grecian Christians so entertain each other, at that time of the year, with these words, “The Lord is risen,” your Surety is out of prison, fear not. But (as Christ said in another case, so say I) what will you say, if you see your Surety ascended up to heaven, and that as far “above angels and principalities” (as the apostle speaks in Ephesians 1) as the heavens are above the earth? Will you not in your faiths and hopes proportionably ascend, and climb up also, and have thoughts of pardon, as far exceeding your ordinary thoughts as the heavens are above the earth? Therefore, first view him as ascending into heaven, before ever he comes to be at God’s right hand, and see what matter of triumph that will afford you. For that you must first suppose, before you can see him at God’s right hand, and so is necessarily included, though not expressed here. But that place fore-quoted out of 1 Peter 3 gives us both these two particulars included in it: 1. His ascension (who is gone into heaven); and 2. His power and authority there (is at God’s right hand, and has all power and authority subject to him), and prompts both these, as fit matter to be put into a good conscience, its answer and apology why it should not be condemned. And therefore both may here as well come in into faith’s triumph, and that as being intended also by the apostle, and included in this one expression. He speaks with the least, to show what cause faith had to triumph, for the least expression of it; his purpose being but to give a hint of faith, or that which comprehensively contains many things in it, which he would have us distinctly to consider for our comfort.

Section Three :: Chapter Seven ← Prior Section
Section Four :: Chapter Two Next Section →

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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