“Jesus Christ in all His glories is the great and eminent subject of the gospel” by Thomas Goodwin

“1. In Christ all the riches of God and the knowledge of Him are laid up, as the treasury and subject of them; and so discovered and communicated to us objectively in the knowledge of Him. Thus, in Colossians 2:2-3, the apostle further explains it.

For having termed the gospel the mystery of God and of Christ, he adds, ‘In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;’ not only to be revealed by Him, or subjectively known in and by Himself; but (which is the proper scope of the apostle) objectively set forth, and contained in Him alone, and in the knowledge of Him made known to us.

2. In Christ shines ‘the glory of God’ (2 Cor. 4:6, ‘The light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’), as the lively image of all His features and perfections, and evidences of His inward counsels and affections.

That therefore which I here insist upon is, that Jesus Christ in all His glories is the great and eminent subject of the gospel, (Rev. 1:1).

3. It is the gospel of God (namely, as the author of it), but it is concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. God had but one Son, and He made this gospel on purpose to honour Him, and set Him forth.

It is all, and every word of it, some way or other concerning Him, or about Him. God made it purposely to set His Son Christ forth to us; and in setting forth His Son, Himself also.

It is therefore termed (Colossians 2:2) ‘the mystery of God the Father, and of Christ,’ Christ, in that series of truths about Him held forth in the whole New Testament, is the sum of this newly revealed wisdom of God, (1 Cor. 1:24).”

–Thomas Goodwin, “A Discourse of the Glory of the Gospel,” The Works of Thomas Goodwin, Volume 4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 1862/2021), 4: 263–264.

“This is the heart of the gospel” by Herman Bavinck

“There is one mediator between God and humanity, the true God-man Jesus Christ.

This is the heart of the gospel.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation in Christ (Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend; vol. 1; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 237.

“Christ has His arms outstretched to embrace us” by John Calvin

“Let everyone one of us know for his own part, how we had forgotten God and were quite turned away from Him in our dissoluteness until He called us again to Him.

When we know this, let us learn to magnify His grace for vouchsafing to reconcile us to Himself and to put away all the enmity that was between Him and us, and to make us His children who were His deadly enemies, assuring ourselves that all this is done through our Lord Jesus Christ, in order that out of that fountain we should draw all that belongs to our salvation.

And furthermore, let us consider also what encouragement we have by the helps God has given us by which to come to Jesus Christ, and to confirm us in Him in order that we may have a settled and sure doctrine.

When the gospel is daily preached to us, Jesus Christ is offered in it to us, and He, for His part, calls us to Himself. To be short, He has His arms outstretched to embrace us. Let us understand that.

And afterwards let us add the sacraments. And, seeing that Jesus Christ has not only commanded the open preaching of the gospel, by which He shows Himself to be our Shepherd and that He will have us to be His flock, but also confirms it by baptism and by the Supper, let us take good heed that we do not make those signs useless through our own evil and ingratitude.

But let us rather consider to what end God has ordained them, and let us so use them that we may grow more and more in faith and be thereby inflamed with such zeal that we may endeavor to give ourselves wholly to God, since it has pleased Him also to give Himself to us.”

–John Calvin, Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians (trans. Arthur Golding; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1562/1973), 183. Calvin is preaching on Ephesians 2:11-13.

“This Intercessor stretches out His hands of blessing” by Joel Beeke

“One of the great functions of a priest was to pronounce God’s blessing, or benediction, upon his people. Melchizedek, “the priest of the most high God,” blessed Abraham, the covenantal father of all the faithful (Gen. 14:18–20), and did so as a type of Christ (Ps. 110:4; Heb. 7:1, 6–7).

The Lord chose the Aaronic priests to bless Israel in his name (Deut. 10:8; 21:5), saying, “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Num. 6:22–26).

The core elements of this priestly blessing, “grace” and “peace,” now flow from the Father and the Son to His people, as the greetings in the New Testament Epistles abundantly affirm.

Some theologians have considered blessing to be a distinct third function of priests after sacrifice and intercession. Aaron blessed the people after making sacrifices and again after going into the tabernacle to intercede (Lev. 9:22–23). Other theologians have seen the priestly blessing to be an aspect of intercession.

The blessing was a prayer that invoked God’s name upon His covenant people so that God would bless them (Num. 6:27). “The priests the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven” (2 Chron. 30:27).

What is clear is that Christ blesses his people as their Priest. Just before Christ ascended into heaven, “he lifted up his hands, and blessed” his disciples (Luke 24:50–51), just as formerly “Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them” (Lev. 9:22). Peter, citing God’s promise to bless all nations by Abraham’s seed, says, “God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:25–26).

God’s blessing through Christ is covenantal. Sinners are under God’s curse for breaking the commandments of his law (Gal. 3:10). In his redeeming sacrifice, Christ received the curse of God’s law, absorbing its full fury in his sufferings while perfectly obeying the law, so that his believing people are delivered from the curse (Gal. 3:13; 4:4). They receive the blessing promised in the covenant with Abraham “through Jesus Christ” by faith (Gal. 3:14).

God’s curse against lawbreakers hangs over all the good things that they receive in this world (Deut. 28:15–19), mingles sorrow into all good (Gen. 3:17–19), and one day will take all good away from unrepentant sinners (Luke 6:24–25; 16:24–25). However, Christians may pray to their Father for their “daily bread” (Matt. 6:11), “that of God’s free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.” The ability of believers to enjoy earthly goods with God’s blessing presupposes that he is pleased with them (Eccl. 9:7–9).

Therefore, the goodness of all God’s providences toward his elect comes to them through Christ’s intercession (Rom. 8:28, 34). Paul says, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by [or “in”] Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

The core of God’s blessing is justification and the grace of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:8, 14). Owen observed that the work of the Spirit is the “purchased grace” that Christ won by his obedience and sufferings. Christ obtains the Spirit for his people by his intercession: “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). The fullness of the Spirit’s new-covenant ministry depends on the glorification of the Son (7:39). Christ himself sends us the Spirit from the Father’s side (John 16:7).

By these spiritual graces, the reality and efficacy of Christ’s invisible intercession in heaven is demonstrated on earth, for we have received the Holy Spirit and know the fruit of Christ’s intercession in our lives, as Perkins said. The best evidence that Christ prays for us in heaven is the Spirit’s work to make us pray on earth.

The exaltation of our great High Priest signals the fulfillment of the covenant of grace and the inauguration of the last days (Heb. 1:2–3; 9:26). Murray said, “Jesus as high priest is the surety and mediator of the new and better covenant.… The new covenant brings to its consummation the communion which is at the heart of all covenant disclosure from Abraham onwards: ‘I will be your God, and ye shall be my people.’ … The heavenly high priesthood of Christ, means, therefore, that Christ appears in the presence of God … to plead on the basis of what he has accomplished the fulfilment of all the promises.”

Therefore, Christ’s intercession unlocks all grace and glory for his people. In union with Christ, they are blessed by the Father with “all spiritual blessings” (Eph. 1:3).

The intercession of our Lord Jesus is a boundless field full of flowers from which we may draw sweet nectar for our souls. Let us consider some of the riches of knowing our Intercessor by God’s grace.

First, we must allow this doctrine to form in us constant reliance on the exalted Christ. We must run the race set before us, “looking unto Jesus” (Heb. 12:2; cf. Col. 3:1). Brown said that Christ’s intercession glorifies him, for “in this way believers have an immediate dependence on Christ for ever.” Let us look to him for every grace.

Second, Christians may find here strong consolation and hope. Christ’s entrance into heaven as our forerunner confirms the unbreakable promise of God that he will bless his people (Heb. 6:17–20). If Christ’s death reconciled us to God when we were his enemies, much more will his living ministry deliver us from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:10). We can exult in hope.

Third, believers should look to Christ’s intercession for confidence in our justification. Christ was raised for our justification and intercedes to deliver us from condemnation (Rom. 4:25; 8:33–34). His appearing before the face of God confirms that his blood sacrifice has expiated the guilt of our sins once for all (Heb. 9:24). We should assure our consciences with this doctrine.

Fourth, knowing Christ as the Intercessor can encourage quickness to confess sin to God. Rather than remaining silent when God convicts us of sin (Ps. 32:3–5), let us immediately confess our sins with faith in Christ’s propitiation and intercession, for God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9; 2:1–2).

Fifth, the doctrine of Christ’s intercession increases expectation and comfort in prayer. What is more comforting in trials than to go to a friend who knows how we feel and how to help us? Christ sympathizes with us perfectly. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15–16).

Sixth, given that all spiritual blessings come to us through Christ’s intercession, we should learn to exercise trust in Christ for the grace of the Holy Spirit. Let us never separate the Spirit from Jesus Christ, for he is the Spirit of God’s Son (Gal. 4:6). Whether we need the Spirit’s power to mortify sin (Rom. 8:13), his fruit for works of love and self-control (Gal. 5:22–23), or his gifts to serve the church effectively (1 Cor. 12:7, 11), let us drink of his living water by exercising faith in the exalted Christ (John 7:37–39). Believers overcome trials, even unto martyrdom, by “the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:19). Owen said, “The great duty of tempted souls, is to cry out unto the Lord Christ for help and relief.”

Seventh, the more God’s children meditate upon Christ’s intercession, the more they will increase in assurance of ultimate salvation and blessedness. We will be purged of legalistic perfectionism and rest in his perfection. We will learn to recognize all our good desires and good works as fruit of his priestly work. Then we will be able to rejoice and exult, for our Intercessor is able to save us completely (Heb. 7:25).

As long as this Intercessor stretches out His hands of blessing, we may be sure that the true Israel will prevail over its enemies (Ex. 17:8–13).”

–Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology, Volume 2: Man and Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 2: 1099–1103.

“Die every morning before you leave your bedroom” by Charles Spurgeon

“The future is intended to be a sealed book. The present is all we need to have before us. Do thy day’s work in its day, and leave to-morrow with thy God. If there were ways of reading the future, it would be wise to decline to use them.

The knowledge would create responsibility, arouse fear, and diminish present enjoyment; why seek after it? Famish idle curiosity, and give your strength to believing obedience.

Of this you may be quite sure, that there is nothing in the book of the future which should cause distrust to a believer. Your times are in God’s hand; and this secures them.

The very word ‘times’ supposes change for you; but as there are no changes with God, all is well. Things will happen which you cannot foresee; but your Lord has foreseen all, and provided for all.

Nothing can occur without his divine allowance, and he will not permit that which would be for your real or permanent injury. “I should like to know”, says one, “whether I shall die soon.” Have no desire in that direction: your time will come when it should.

The best way to live above all fear of death is to die every morning before you leave your bedroom. The apostle Paul said, ‘I die daily.’ (1 Cor. 15:31)

When you have got into the holy habit of daily dying, it will come easy to you to die for the last time. It is greatly wise to be familiar with our last hours.

As you take off your garments at night, rehearse the solemn scene when you shall lay aside your robe of flesh.

When you put on your garments in the morning, anticipate the being clothed upon with your house which is from heaven in the day of resurrection.

To be fearful of death is often the height of folly.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “‘My Times Are in Thy Hand,’” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 37 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1891), 37: 285–286.

“Reconciliation is His masterpiece” by Thomas Goodwin

“Are not all God’s attributes His nature, His justice as well as mercy? His hatred of sin, as well as the love of His creature?

And is not that nature of His pure act, and therefore active, and therefore provokes all His will to manifest these His attributes upon all occasions?

Doth not justice boil within Him against sin, as well as His bowels of mercy yearn towards the sinner?

Is not the plot of reconciliation His masterpiece, wherein He means to bring all His attributes upon the stage?”

–Thomas Goodwin, “Of Christ the Mediator,” The Works of Thomas Goodwin, Volume 5 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 1862/2021), 5: 16.

“God stamped upon His Son all His glory” by Thomas Goodwin

“He is the Son of God, and second person, and therefore the express image and brightness of His Father’s glory, (Hebrews 1:3) the essential substantial image of His Father, which transcends infinitely more all other drafts of Him than the image of a king in his son begotten like him, and in a board or tablet.

But this image, you will say, it is too bright for us to behold it shining in His strength, we being as unable to behold it in Him, as we were to see His Father Himself, who dwells in light inaccessible, which no eye can attain to.

Therefore that yet we may see it as nigh and as fully and to the utmost that creatures could; this Godhead dwells bodily in a human nature (Colossians 2:9), that so shining through the lantern of His flesh we might behold it.

His human nature and divine make up one person, and being so, are united together in the highest kind of union that God can be to a creature, and the nearest and fullest communications follow always upon the nearest union.

To Him therefore as man are communicated these riches of glory that are in the Godhead, as nearly and fully as was possible unto a creature; and being thus communicated, must needs shine forth in Him to us to the utmost that they ever could unto creatures.

And therefore more clearly than if millions of several worlds had been created every day on purpose to reveal God to us.

God having stamped upon His Son all His glory, that we might see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, (2 Cor. 4:6).”

–Thomas Goodwin, “A Discourse of the Glory of the Gospel,” The Works of Thomas Goodwin, Volume 4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 1862/2021), 4: 232.