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Thomas Goodwin :: Section Five :: Chapter Ten

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CHRIST SET FORTH
Section Five :: Chapter Ten

The use of all; containing some encouragements for weak believers, from Christ’s intercession out of Hebrews 7:25.

Now, for a conclusion of this discourse, I will add a brief use of encouragement; and this suited to the lowest faith of the weakest believer, who cannot put forth any act of assurance, and is likewise discouraged from coming in unto Christ. And I shall confine myself only unto what those most comfortable words, as any in the book of God do hold forth, which the apostle has uttered concerning Christ’s intercession, the point in hand “Wherefore he is able to save to the utmost those that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them,”—words which I have had the most recourse unto in this doctrinal part of any other, as most tending to the clearing of many things about intercession. And which I would also commend to and leave with poor believers, to have recourse unto for their comfort, as a sufficient abundary of consolation unto their souls, and as a catholicon or universal cordial against all faintings and misgivings of spirit whatsoever.

In the words observe, 1. A definition of faith by the lowest acts of it, for the comfort of weak Christians. 2. Encouragements unto such a faith, opposite to all misgivings and discouragements whatsoever.

1. A definition of faith; and such as will suit the weakest believer. It is a coming unto God by Christ for salvation.

  • (1.) It is a coming to be saved. Let not the want of assurance that God will save you, or that Christ is yours, discourage you, if you have but a heart to come to God by Christ to be saved, though you know not whether he will yet save you or not. Remember that the believers of the New Testament are here described to be comers to God by Christ; such as go out of themselves, and rest in nothing in themselves, do come unto God through Christ for salvation, though with trembling.

  • (2.) It is a coming unto God. For he is the ultimate object of our faith, and the person with whom we have to do in believing, and from whom we are to receive salvation, if ever we obtain it.

  • (3.) It is a coming unto God by Christ; which phrase is used in this Epistle, in an allusion to the worshippers of the Old Testament, who, when they had sinned were directed to go to God by a priest, who with a sacrifice made an atonement for them. Now Christ is the great and true high priest, “by whom we have access to the Father,” Ephesians 2:18. The word is προσαγωγὴν, a leading by the hand. Do you not know how to appear before God, or to come to him? Come first to Christ, and he will take you by the hand, and go along with you, and lead you to his Father.

  • (4.) It is a coming unto God by Christ for salvation. Many a poor soul is apt to think that in coming to God by faith, it must not aim at itself, or its own salvation. Yes it may, for that is here made the errand or business which faith has with God in coming to him or which it comes for; and this is secretly couched in these words, for the apostle, speaking of the very aim of the heart in coming, he therefore on purpose mentions Christ’s ability to save: “he is able to save.”

2. Secondly, here are many encouragements to such a faith as is not yet grown up unto assurance of salvation.

  • (1.) Here is the most suitable object propounded unto it, namely Christ as interceding, which work of intercession because it remains for Christ as yet to do for a soul that is to be saved, and which he is every day doing for us; therefore it is more peculiarly fitted unto a recumbent faith. For, when such a soul comes and casts itself upon Christ, that thing in Christ which must necessarily most suit that kind of act is that which is yet to be done by Christ for that soul. Now for that soul to come to Christ to die for it, and offer up himself a sacrifice (as sinners did use to come to the high priest to sacrifice for them), this was bootless, for (as it is in Hebrews 7:27) he has at “once done that” already. And as for what is already past and done, such a believer’s faith is oftentimes exceedingly puzzled what manner of act to put forth towards Christ about. As (for example) when it is about to come unto God, and it hears of an election of some unto salvation from all eternity made by him; because this is an act already passed by God, the soul knows it to be in vain to cast itself upon God for election or to come unto him to elect and choose itself. And so, in like manner, when the soul looks upon Christ’s death, because it is done and past, it knows not how to take it in believing, when it wants assurance that Christ died for it, though it should come to Christ to be saved by virtue of his death.

  • But there is this one work that remains still to be done by him for us, and which he is daily doing, and that is interceding; for he lives ever to intercede or to pray for us, in the strength and merit of that his sacrifice once offered up. This therefore is more directly and peculiarly fitted unto a faith of recumbency, or of coming unto Christ; the proper act of such a faith (as it is distinguished from faith of assurance) being a casting one’s self upon Christ for something it would have done or wrought for one. Hence intercession becomes a fit object for the aim and errand of such a faith in this its coming to Christ, as also “to be saved” is; it being a thing yet to be wrought and accomplished for me by Christ, is therefore a fit mark for such a faith to level at in its coming to Christ. Those acts of God and Christ which are past, faith of assurance does more easily comply with: such a faith takes in with comfort that Christ has died for me, and risen again, and does now intercede for me, and so I shall certainly be saved; but so cannot this weak faith do. Come therefore unto Christ, as to save you through his death past, and by the merit of it, so for the present, and for the time to come, to take your cause in hand, and to intercede for you. It is a great relief unto such a faith (as cannot put forth acts of assurance, that what has been done by Christ has been done for it), that God has left Christ this work yet to do for us. So as the intercession of Christ may afford matter to such a faith to throw itself upon Christ, to perform it for us, and it may set work to do it.

  • (2.) Now if such a soul ask, but will Christ, upon my coming to him for salvation, be set to work to intercede for me, and undertake my cause?

  • I answer it out of those words, “He lives to intercede for them who come to God by him.” He lives on purpose to perform this work; it is the end of his living, the business of his life. And as he received a commandment to die, and it was the end of his life on earth, so he has received a command to intercede, and to be a common high priest for all that come to God by him. God has appointed him to this work by an oath, “He swore, and would not repent, Thou shall be a priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec,” and this is the end of his life in heaven. That as in the old law the high priest (Christ’s type in this) “ought to offer up the sacrifice” of every one that came unto God by him (as in Hebrews 5:5), in like manner Christ; for it is his calling, as you have it in Hebrews 5:6. Otherwise, as that woman said to Philip, when she came to him for justice, and he put her off, Then cease (says she) to be a king. So if Christ should deny any such soul to take its cause in hand, he must then cease to be a priest. He lives to intercede; he is a priest called by God, as was Aaron, Hebrews 5:6. Wherefore he ought to do it, in that it is his office.

  • (3.) And if your soul yet fears the difficulty of its own particular case, in respect of the greatness of your sins, and the circumstances thereof, or any consideration whatsoever, which to your view does make your salvation a hard suit to obtain; the apostle therefore further adds, “He is able to save to the utmost,” whatever your cause be, and this through this his intercession. That same word, “to the utmost,” is a good word, and well put in for our comfort. Consider it therefore, for it is a reaching word, and extends itself so far, that you cannot look beyond it.

  • Let your soul be set upon the highest mount that ever any creature was yet set upon, and that is enlarged to take in and view the most spacious prospect both of sin and misery, and difficulties of being saved that ever yet any poor humbled soul did cast within itself. Yes, join to these all the objections and hindrances of your salvation that the heart of man can suppose or invent against itself. Lift up your eyes and look to the utmost you can see, and Christ by his intercession is able to save you beyond the horizon and furthest compass of your thoughts, even “to the utmost” and worst case the heart of man can suppose. It is not your having lain long in sin, long under terrors and despairs, or having sinned often after many enlightenings, that can hinder you from being saved by Christ. Do but remember this same word, “to the utmost,” and then put in what exceptions you will or can, lay all the bars in your way that are imaginable; yet know that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against thee.”

  • (4.) Again, consider but what it is that Christ, who has by his death done enough to save you, does yet further for you in heaven. If you thought you had all the saints in heaven and earth jointly concurring in promoving your salvation, and competitors unto God in instant and incessant requests and prayers to save you, how would you be encouraged? Shall I tell you? One word out of Christ’s mouth (who is the King of saints) will do more than all in heaven and earth can do; and what is there then which we may not hope to obtain through his intercession?

  • And would you know whether he has undertaken your cause, and begun to intercede for you? In a word, has he put his Spirit into your heart, and set your own heart on work to make incessant intercessions for yourself “with groans unutterable” (as the apostle has it in Romans 8)? This is the echo of Christ’s intercession for you in heaven.

  • (5.) And lastly, if such a soul shall further object, but will he not give over suing for me? May I not be cast out of his prayers through my unbelief?Let it here be considered that he lives “ever” to intercede; and therefore, if he once undertake your cause, and gets you into his prayers, he will never leave you out, night nor day. He intercedes ever, until he has accomplished and finished your salvation. Men have been cast out of good and holy men’s prayers, as Saul out of Samuel’s, and the people of Israel out of Jeremiah’s, but never out of Christ’s prayers; the “smoke of his incense ascends forever,” and he will intercede to the utmost, until he has saved you to the utmost. He will never give over, but will lie in the dust for you, or he will perfect and procure your salvation.

Only while I am thus raising up your faith to him upon the work of his intercession for us, let me speak a word to you for him, so to stir up your love to him, upon the consideration of this his intercession also. You see you have the whole life of Christ, first and last, both here and in heaven, laid out for you. He had not come to earth but for you, he had no other business here. “Unto us a Son is born.” And to be sure, he had not died but for you. “For us a Son was given;” and when he rose, it was “for your justification.” And now he is gone to heaven, he lives but to intercede for you. He makes your salvation his constant calling. O therefore, let us live wholly unto him, for he has and does live wholly unto us. You have his whole time among you; and if he were your servant, you could desire no more. There was much of your time lost before you began to live to him; but there has been no moment of his time which he has not lived to, and improved for you. Nor are you able ever to live for him but only in this life, for hereafter you shall live with him, and be glorified of him. I conclude all with that of the apostle, “The love of Christ it should constrain us,” because we cannot but “judge” this to be the most equal, that “they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again,” and (out of the text I also add) “sits at God’s right hand;” yes, and there “lives forever to make intercession for us.”

Section Five :: Chapter Nine ← Prior Section
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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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