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Thomas Goodwin :: Section Four :: Chapter Four

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CHRIST SET FORTH
Section Four :: Chapter Four

Demonstrates, in the second place, what influence Christ’s ascension has in a believer’s non-condemnation, upon that second premised consideration, of Christ’s being a common person for us. The security that faith may have from thence.

We have thus seen what triumphing evidence and demonstration, both Christ’s ascension and sitting at God’s right hand, do afford us for this, that Christ being considered as our Surety, has therefore undoubtedly subdued our enemies and sins, and satisfied God. Let us now consider further, what force, efficacy, and influence these two (both his ascending and sitting at God’s right hand as a head and common person for us) have in them towards the assured working and accomplishment of the salvation of believers, his elect. And from the consideration of this, which is a second head, our faith may he yet further confirmed and strengthened in its confidence. “Who shall condemn? It is Christ that is at God’s right hand.” I shall take in (as in the former) both his ascension and sitting at God’s right hand.

  • 1. And first for his ascending consider these two things in it which may uphold our confidence.

    • (1.) That the great end and purpose of that his ascending, the errand, or the business he ascended for was “to prepare and provide a place for us,” and to make way for our coming thither. This he assures his disciples in John 14:2, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: I go to prepare a place for you.” As Joseph was secretly sent before by God’s intendment to prepare a place in Egypt for his brethren, whom God’s providence meant to bring after him, so more openly does Christ ascend to heaven, professedly declaring that to be his business: “I go to prepare a place for you,” and it is my Father’s house, says he, where I can provide for you and make you welcome. You heard before, what welcome God gave Christ when he first arrived there, and what he said to him, and Christ said (as it were) again to God: I come not alone, I have much company, many of my brethren and followers to come after (for it was the declared and avowed end of his coining to prepare a place for them), I prayed when I was on earth, “that where I am they might be also,” John 17:24. And now I am come hither, my train must come in too, I am not complete without them; if you receive me you must receive them also, and I am come to take up lodgings for them. Thus the Captain of our salvation, being “made perfect through sufferings,” and then “crowned with glory and honor,” in “bringing of many sons to glory,” as Hebrews 2:10, of which company he was Captain, is brought in saying to God. Hebrews 2:13, “Behold I and the children which God has given me,” he speaks it when brought to glory. I am their Captain, and they must follow me; where I am they must be. Lo! I am here, and am not to come alone, but to bring to glory all the children which you have given me. They shall be all welcome (says God), there is room enough for them, “many mansions;” so that we need not fear, nor say in our hearts doubting and despairing, “Who shall ascend up to heaven for us,” to bring us thither? (as in Romans 10:6). Christ has done it; that is the first thing, but that is not all.

    • (2.) He entered into heaven in our very names, and so is to be considered in that act as a common person (as well as in his death and resurrection), and so representing us, and also taking possession in our right, and we in him, as a guardian takes possession for heirs under age. Hebrews 6:20, “The forerunner is for us entered” into heaven. “The forerunner for us,” that is our forerunner. A forerunner is a forerunner of followers, and of such as stay not long behind, and usually goes before as a harbinger, to provide and take up lodgings for them that are to come, and writes the names of those who are to come over the doors of such and such rooms, that they may not be taken up by any other. And so in Hebrews 12:23, the names of “the first-born” are said to be “written in heaven,” or enrolled there. And in 1 Peter 1:4, their places or mansions in heaven are said to be “reserved for them;” they stand empty as it were, yet taken up, so as none shall take them from them, their names and titles to them being entered and superscribed. And so he truly entered, pro nobis, for us, that is in our stead and in our names, as a common person; and therefore the high priest (in the type) entered into the holy of holies, with all the names of the tribes on his breast; even so does Christ with ours, even as a common person in our names, thereby showing that we are likewise to come after him. And this is more than simply to prepare a place, it is to take possession of a place, and give us a right thereto.

    • So that your faith, through this consideration, may see yourselves as good as in heaven already, for Christ is entered as a common person for you. Justification has two parts: first, acquittance from sin and freedom from condemnation, as here, “Who shall condemn?” and secondly, “justification of life,” as it is called in Romans 5:18; that is, which gives title to eternal life. Now dying and rising as a common person for us, procures the first, sets us perfectly enough in that state of freedom from condemnation. But then, this Christ, his entering into heaven as a common person, sets us far above that state of non-condemnation. It places us in heaven with him. You would think yourselves secure enough if you were ascended into heaven. As Heman said of his condition, that he was “free among the dead,” Psalm 88:5; that is, he reckoned himself (in his despair) free of the company in hell, as well as if he had been there, thinking his name enrolled among them and his place taken up. So you may “reckon yourselves” (as the word is in Romans 6) free of the company of heaven, and your places taken up there. So that when you come to die, you shall go to heaven as to your own place, by as true a title, though not of your own, as Judas went to hell, which is called “his own place,” as (Acts 1) the apostle speaks. What a start is this! How far have you left below your pardon of sins and non-condemnation! You are got above. How securely may you say, “Who shall condemn?” Christ has ascended and entered into heaven. This is the first branch of the second head, the influence that Christ’s ascension has into our justification and salvation.
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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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