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Thomas Goodwin :: Section Five :: Chapter Seven

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Section Five :: Chapter Seven

Thirdly, the prevalency of Christ’s intercession, and of his grace with his Father, demonstrated from the greatness and absoluteness of his power to do whatever he asks.

[3.] A third demonstration both of Christ’s greatness with God and his power to prevail for us is taken from this, that God has put all power into his hand, to do whatever he will, has made him his king to do what pleases him either in heaven, earth, or hell; yes, to do all that God himself ever means to do, or all that God desires to do. And certainly if his Father has been so gracious to him as to bestow so high and absolute a sovereignty on him, as to accomplish and effect whatever he means to do, surely his purpose was never to deny Christ any request that he should after this make; he would never have advanced the human nature to that absoluteness else. Those two great monarchs made great grants and generosity, the one to Esther, the other to Herodias’s daughter; but yet they were limited only to the half of their kingdoms, so in Mark 6:22 and Esther 5:6, and the royal power in their kingdoms they meant still to retain and reserve wholly to themselves. But God having placed Christ on his throne, bids him ask even to the whole of his kingdom, for God has made him a King, sitting on his throne with him, not to share halves, but to have all power in heaven and earth, “he has committed all judgment to the Son,” to save and condemn whomever he will; and so far as the kingdom of God goes or is extended, he may do anything. So in John 5:21, “As the Father raises up the dead, so the Son quickens whom he will; for as the Father has life in himself, so has he given to the Son to have life in himself,” John 5:26. And has in like manner “given authority to execute judgment also, as the Son of man” (namely, of himself) in John 5:27; as he said, “he had given him to have life in himself,” John 5:26, not dependently, as we have, but independently so to execute judgment also, John 5:27. So that Christ’s will is as free, and himself as absolute a monarch and king of himself, as God himself is. He indeed has it not à seipso, but in seipso; not à seipso originally, but from his Father; but in seipso, independently.

Now then, if he who is king and may and does of himself command all that is done, as absolutely as God himself does, I speak in respect of the execution of things downward, by second causes. If he, over and above to honor his Father, will ask all that himself has power to do, what will not be done? Qui rogat, et imperare potest; he that can and does command whatever he would have done, and it is straight done, if he shall ask and entreat, what will not be done? As a king who sues for peace, backed with a potent army which is able to win what he entreats for, must necessarily treat more effectually, so does Christ sue for everything with power to effect it. Remember that he is said here in the text, first to be at God’s right hand, and there to intercede. He treats the salvation of sinners as a mighty prince treats the giving up some town to him, which lies seated under a castle of his which commands that town. He stands treating with the governor, having his ordnance ready for the battery, and to bring all into subjection, as in 2 Corinthians 10:4. And this is a consideration that God himself took, in that Psalm 2, when he made him that promise, “Ask, and I will give thee,” why he made so large a grant. He had said before, Psalm 2:6, “I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion,” which made him, one would think, past asking and above the condition of an intercessor. Now God says of him, “He is my King,” not in respect of his commanding God (that were blasphemy to think), but it is spoken in respect of commanding all below him. God having set him in his throne, to do as much as he himself would, or means to have done, says, he is my King, to rule all, not so much under me as for me, and in my stead, yet absolutely, and in himself; “the Father judges no man.”

Now when the Father had first made and constituted him thus great a King, then he bids him ask, to whom he had first given this absolute power to command. We may without blasphemy, say of this God-man that God has not only not the heart, as being his Father, but not the power to cross anything he does. Thus fast has he God unto him. Only he who in respect of this his power is to be honored as the Father, as in John 5:23, yet to honor his Father, who gave this power originally to him as mediator, he is to ask for that which of himself he yet can do. And therefore, says God, Though you are a King (so Psalm 2:6), and all my kingdom, even “the utmost ends of the earth,” are “your inheritance” by a natural right, now that you are my Son (as Psalm 2:8); yet because you are my King, of my appointing, and “I have set thee” on the throne (as the word is in Psalm 2:6), and “thou art my Son, and I have begotten thee,” therefore acknowledge my grant in all, “ask of me, and I will give thee the utmost ends of the earth for your inheritance.” I cannot deny you, but I would have you ask; and therefore Christ asks. Yet still further remember, that he asks who can command the thing to be done; and yet, as he must ask before the thing be done, so if he ask it must necessarily be granted. These are the terms between this Father and this Son, who, in a word, had not been so great a Father if he had not had a Son thus great, that he could not deny what this Son would have done. It is for his own honor to have such a Son. So John 5:23, “That they might honor the Son as they honor the Father,” therefore “all judgment is committed to him.” Now, then, if he who has so much power will join the force of entreaty with a Father that so loves him; if he who is the word of his Father, that commands, creates, and upholds all, as in Hebrews 1, “He spoke, and it was done;” if he will become a word to his Father and speak a word for us, and ask all that he means to do, how forcible will such words be!

Therefore, observe Christ’s manner of praying, John 17 (which prayer is a platform of intercession in heaven), John 17:24, “Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me be where I am.” He prays like a king, who is in joint commission with God. If God puts that honor upon our prayers, that we are said “to have power with God,” as Jacob in Hosea 12:3, that if God be never so angry, yet by “taking hold of his strength,” we hold his hands, as in Isaiah 27:5. That God cries out to Moses, like a man whose hands are held, “Let me alone,” in Exodus 32:10. Yes that he accounts it as a command and a mandamus, so he styles it, Isaiah 45:11, “command ye me,” so unable is he to go against it; then, how much more does Jesus Christ’s intercession bind God’s hands, and command all in heaven and earth! Therefore in Zechariah 1:12 you have Christ, “the Angel of the covenant,” brought in interceding with the Father for his church; and he speaks abruptly as one full of complaints, and in an expostulating way, “O Lord of Hosts, how long will thou not be merciful to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah?” And in Zechariah 1:13, Zechariah says, that he observed that “the Lord answered the Angel with good words and comfortable.” God was fain to give him good words (as we use to say), that is, words that might pacify him, as words of comfort to us, so good words in respect to the Angel’s complaint. And you may observe, how in the answer God returns upon it (which he bid Zechariah write), God excuses it, as it were to Christ that his church had been so long and so hardly dealt with. As if beyond his intention, he lays the fault on the instruments, “I was but a little displeased, but they helped forward the affliction,” Zechariah 1:15. This is spoken and carried after the manner of men, to show how tender God is of displeasing Christ our Intercessor, that when Christ has as it were, been a long while silent, and let God alone, and his people have been ill dealt with, he on the sudden in the end intercedes and complains of it. And it is not only instantly redressed, but excused for times past, with “good words, and comfortable words.” Christ’s Father will not displease him, nor go against him in anything.

Now that you may see a reason of this, and have all cavils and exceptions taken away, that may arise against this, and how that there is an impossibility that it should be otherwise, know that this Father and this Son, though two persons, have yet but one will between them, and but one power between them (though the Son, ad extra, outwardly executes all). John 10:30, “My Father and I are one;” that is, have but one and the same power to save you, and one mind and will. So also, John 5:19, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do; and whatever he does, the same the Father does also.” They conspire in one, have one power, one will; and then it is no matter though God commit all power to the Son, and that the Son, though he has all power, must ask all of the Father, for to be sure whatever he asks, the Father has not power to deny, for they have but one will and power.

They are one, so as if God deny him, he must deny himself, which the apostle tells us he cannot do in 2 Timothy 2:13. And so in the same sense that God is said not to have power to deny himself, in the same sense it may be said, he has not power to deny Christ what he asks. Therefore God might well make him an absolute King, and betrust him with all power. And Christ might well oblige himself, notwithstanding this power, to ask all that he means to do, for they have but one will and one power, so as our salvation is made sure by this on all hands. “I come not to do my will, but the will of him who sent me; and his will is, that I shall lose none of all those whom he has given me,” John 6:38-39. And therefore, “who shall condemn? It is Christ that intercedes.” As who shall resist God’s will? (as the apostle speaks) so who shall resist or gainsay Christ’s intercession? God himself cannot, no more than he can gainsay or deny himself.

Section Five :: Chapter Six ← Prior Section
Section Five :: Chapter Eight 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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