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Thomas Goodwin :: Section Four :: Chapter Five

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CHRIST SET FORTH
Section Four :: Chapter Five

Demonstrates in like manner what influence Christ’s sitting at God’s right hand has into our justification, upon that second consideration of his being a common person. And the security faith may have from thence.

The consideration of his sitting at God’s right hand may, in respect of the influence that it must necessarily have into our salvation, yet add more security unto our faith, if we either consider the power and authority of the place itself, and what it is to sit at God’s right hand; or secondly, the relation, the person he bears and sustains in his sitting there, even of a common person in our right. And both these being put together will add strength mutually each to other, and unto our faith, both to consider how great a prerogative it is to sit at God’s right hand, and what such a one as sits there has power to do. And then that Christ (who is invested with this power, and advanced to it), he possesses it all as our head, and in our right, as a common person representing us. And

(1.) Consider the prerogatives of the place itself, they are two: [1.] Sovereignty of power, and might, and majesty. [2.] Sovereignty of authority and judgment, either of which may secure us from non-condemnation.

  • [1.] Sovereignty of power and might; this the phrase “sitting at God’s right hand” implies in Matthew 26:64, where Christ himself expounded the purport of it. “Hereafter you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power.” And so, Ephesians 1:20, 22, this is made the privilege of God’s “setting him at his right hand.” Ephesians 1:20, that “he has put all things under his feet,” Ephesians 1:22—a phrase importing the highest sovereignty and power, not used of any creatures, angels, or men; none of them have other things under their feet i.e., in so low a subjection as to be their vassals; especially, not all things. And therefore by that very phrase, “the putting all things under his feet,” the apostle argues in Hebrews 2 that that man of whom David in Psalm 8 (there cited by him) had spoken, was no other but Christ; not Adam, nor the angels, for to neither of these has God subjected all things, Hebrews 2:5, but to Christ only, Hebrews 2:8, who sits in the highest throne of majesty. And to make his seat the easier, has a world of enemies made his footstool, even all his enemies (so Psalm 110); which is the highest triumph in the world. Now to what end has God committed this power to him, but that himself may be his own executor, and administrator, and perform all the legacies which he made to those whom he died for? As the expression is in Hebrews 9:15-17, that none of his heirs might be wronged. Fairer dealing than this could there ever be, nor greater security given to us. This to have been God’s very end of investing Christ with this sovereign power is declared by Christ himself. John 17:2, “Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” And accordingly at his ascension, to comfort his disciples, in the fruit of their ministry. In Matthew 28:18 he says, “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.” What holy confidence may this breed in us! He is at God’s right hand and we are in his hands, John 10:28. And all his enemies are under his feet, who then can pull us out? Revelation 1:18, says Christ, “I have the keys of hell and death.” The key is still in the Scripture phrase the ensign of power and authority. Now Christ has both the keys of death, the postern gate out of this world and of hell, even of the broad gates of that eternal prison; so as none of his can be fetched out of this world by death, but Christ he must first open the door; much less can any go to hell without his warrant. Yes, Matthew 16:19, he has “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” also, to open to whom he will. By his resurrection, we may see and rest assured that he has the keys of death and hell (for he unlocked the doors, and came out from thence), and by his ascension and sitting at God’s right hand, that he has the keys of heaven, whose door he has unlocked and now set open. What need we then fear hell, when Christ our Redeemer has the keys of it?

  • [2.] Secondly, to sit at God’s right hand imports all judgment to be committed to him; for sitting was a posture of judges, a phrase used to note out their authority. So in Proverbs 20:8, “A king that sits on the throne of judgment, scatters the wicked with his eye,” and so does Christ his and our enemies. See what Christ says in John 5:21-22, “The Son of man raises up whom he will; for the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” Now if he who loved us so, and died for us is the Judge himself, then, “Who shall condemn?” Christ sits on God’s right hand. This is the very inference that after follows in John 5:24, “He that believes shall not come into condemnation.” Christ utters it upon his having said he had all judgment committed to him, in the fore-going, John 5:22, on purpose that he might from that consideration ascertain believers of their non-condemnation. For what need we fear any underofficers, when we have the Judge thus for us?

(2.) But then in the last place, add that second particular mentioned to all these, that Christ sits there as a head, as a common person for us. First as a head: so in Ephesians 1 when the apostle had so hyperbolically set forth his power of being advanced unto God’s right hand, Ephesians 1:21, “far above all principalities and powers, and above every name that is named, not only in this world, but that which is to come.” And how God “has put all things under his feet,” he adds, “and has given him to be head over all things to the church.” Observe now, he is said to sit there over all things, not in his own pure personal right simply, as it is his inheritance, as he is the Son of God (as in Hebrews 1:3-5, it is affirmed of him), but he sits thus over all as a head to the church. That same over all things comes in there, between his being a head, and to the church, on purpose to show that he is set over all, in relation to his church. So that we see that our relation is involved, and our right included, in this exaltation of his and so put into his commission, for this prerogative is there said to be given him. He sits not simply as a Son, but as a head, and he sits not as a head without a body; and therefore must have his members up to him. Wherefore in the next verse it is added, “which is his body, yes, his fullness;” so as Christ is not complete without all his members, and would leave heaven if anyone were wanting. It were a lame, maimed body, if it wanted but a toe. Christ is our element,* and he being ascended, we are sparks that fly upwards to him. He took our flesh, and carried it into heaven, and left us his Spirit on earth, and both as pawns and earnests that we should follow.
*The reference is to the old idea of the four elements occupying their several places, one above the other; which was supposed to be the reason why stones fall, and rivers run into the sea, and flames rise.—ED.

Nay, further yet, he is not only said to sit as our head, but we are also said “to sit together with him.” That is made the upshot of all in the next chapter, Ephesians 2:6. So that as we arose with him, he being considered as a common person and ascended with him; as was said, so yet further we “sit together with him in the highest heavens” (as there), ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις, in supercælestibus, “in his exalted estate above the heavens,” as is the meaning of that phrase. Not that Christ being at God’s right hand (if taken for that sublimity of power) is communicable to us; that is Christ’s prerogative only. So Hebrews 1:5, “To which of all the angels did he ever say, Sit thou at my right hand?”

Yet so as his sitting in heaven, as it is indefinitely expressed, is understood to be as in our right and stead, and as a common person, and so is to assure us of our sitting there with him, in our proportion. So in Revelation 3:21, it is expressly rendered as the mind and intendment of it, “Him that overcomes, I will grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also am set down with my Father in his throne.” There is a proportion observed, though with an inequality; we sit on Christ’s throne, but he only on his Father’s throne. That is, Christ only sits at God’s right hand, but we on Christ’s right hand, and so the church is said to be at Christ’s “right hand,” in Psalm 45:9. Yes, further (and it may afford a farther comfort to us in the point in hand), this represents, that at the latter day we shall sit as assessors on his judgment seat, to judge the world with him. So Matthew 19:28, and Luke 22:30, “When the Son of man shall sit in his glory, you shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the tribes of Israel.” So as this our sitting with him, it is spoken in respect to judgment, and to giving the sentence of it; not a sentence shall pass without your votes.

So as you may by faith not only look on yourselves as already in heaven, sitting with Christ, as a common person in your right, but you may look upon yourselves as judges also; so that if any sin should arise to accuse or condemn, yet it must be with your votes. And what greater security can you have than this? For you must condemn yourselves, if you be condemned; you may very well say, “Who shall accuse? Who shall condemn?” for you will never pronounce a fatal sentence upon your own selves.

As then Paul triumphed hero, so may we; for at the present we sit in heaven with Christ and have all our enemies under our feet. As Joshua made his servants set their feet on the necks of those five kings, so God would have us by faith to do the like to all ours; for one day we shall do it. And if you say, We see it not, I answer, as in Hebrews 2, the apostle says of Christ himself, “Now we see not yet all things put under him,” Hebrews 2:8. Now not under him, for he now sits in heaven, and expects by faith, when his enemies shall be made his footstool, as Hebrews 10:12-13; “but we see” for the present “Jesus crowned with glory and honor,” Hebrews 2:9. And so we may be sure that the thing is as good as done; and we may, in seeing him thus crowned, see ourselves sitting with him and quietly wait and expect, as Christ himself does, until all be accomplished, and our salvation finished and fully perfected.

His intercession now remains only to be spoken of, which yet will afford further considerations to strengthen our faith. His sitting at God’s right hand notes out his power over all, from God. But his intercession, all power and favour with God for us, so as to effect our salvation for us, with God’s highest contentment and good will, and all yet further to secure us. “Who shall condemn?”

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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