10 May 2013

Who Jesus Is

What an amazing article from our brother Mike Reeves over at Theology Network on the Puritan Thomas Goodwin. Wow. I know nothing about Goodwin but I have ordered The Heart of Christ, given the snippets Mike provides. Sheesh. Have I been misapprehending who Jesus is my whole life?

On John 13-17 and the words Jesus gives to his disciples of his return, Goodwin writes:
It is as if he had said, The truth is, I cannot live without you, I shall never be quiet till I have you where I am, that so we may never part again; that is the reason of it. Heaven shall not hold me, nor my Father’s company, if I have not you with me, my heart is so set upon you; and if I have any glory, you shall have part of it… Poor sinners, who are full of the thoughts of their own sins, know not how they shall be able at the latter day to look Christ in the face when they shall first meet with him. But they may relieve their spirits against their care and fear, by Christ’s carriage now towards his disciples, who had so sinned against him. Be not afraid, ‘your sins will he remember no more.’ … And doth he talk thus lovingly of us? Whose heart would not this overcome?
And expounding Hebrews 4:15, he says that this text
doth, as it were, take our hands, and lay them upon Christ’s breast, and let us feel how his heart beats and his bowels yearn towards us, even now he is in glory – the very scope of these words being manifestly to encourage believers against all that may discourage them, from the consideration of Christ’s heart towards them now in heaven.
And on sinning Christians:
your very sins move him to pity more than to anger… yea, his pity is increased the more towards you, even as the heart of a father is to a child that hath some loathsome disease… his hatred shall all fall, and that only upon the sin, to free you of it by its ruin and destruction, but his bowels shall be the more drawn out to you; and this as much when you lie under sin as under any other affliction. Therefore fear not, 'What shall separate us from Christ’s love?'
This is a different religion than the one many evangelicals are growing up mentally immersed in.


aletheia said...

Goodmorning Dane

Just happened to read Ezekiel 33:23-29.

i found it interesting...that God says in this passage,
"Then they will know that I am the Lord."

Seems a stark contrast to the thoughts, above.

Dane Ortlund said...

Thanks Aletheia.

I presume you know what is coming in Ezek 34-37?

Aletheia said...

I know them in a very real sense. Actually...it is quite a story. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey Dane,

Great post. In case it's helpful, here is an open source link to Mark Jones' (of A Puritan Theology) diss/book on Goodwin's Christology, "Why Heaven Kissed Earth": https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/14037/Thesis-MarkJones-Leiden.pdf?sequence=1

Emily said...

I thought exactly the same thing! Jesus is so much more loving, so much more wonderful than I had been thinking! Why don't we talk about this more- Gods unrelenting love for his people in Christ?! Thanks for the reminder!

Anonymous said...


Patrick Chan said...

Thanks for the post! Really edifying. :-)

By the way, I noticed you can get an electronic or digital version of The Heart of Christ (as well as Goodwin's other works) here. It's in volume 4, and available as pdf, epub, mobi, txt, and web files.

pilgriminconflict said...

Hi Dane,

Read two paragraphs in Owen's mortification of sin that brought this post immediately to mind, specifically the last quote you share from Goodwin. Here are the paragraphs from Owen:

Though the power of sin be weakened by inherent grace in them that have it, [so] that sin shall not have dominion over them as it has over others, yet the guilt of sin that does yet abide and remain is aggravated and heightened by it [i.e., sin’s power]: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:1-2)—“How shall we, that are dead?” The emphasis is on the word “we.” How shall we do it, who, as he afterward describes it, have received grace from Christ to the contrary? We, doubtless, are more evil than any, if we do it. I shall not insist on the special aggravations of the sins of such persons—how they sin against more love, mercy, grace, assistance, relief, means, and deliverances than others. But let this consideration abide in your mind—there is inconceivably more evil and guilt in the evil of your heart that does remain, than there would be in so much sin if you had no grace at all. Observe:

That as God sees abundance of beauty and excellency in the desires of the heart of his servants, more than in any [of] the most glorious works of other men, yea, more than in most of their own outward performances, which have a greater mixture of sin than the desires and pantings of grace in the heart have; so God sees a great deal of evil in the working of lust in their hearts, yea, and more than in the open, notorious acts of wicked men, or in many outward sins whereinto the saints may fall, seeing against them there is more opposition made, and more humiliation generally follows them. Thus Christ, dealing with his decaying children, goes to the root with them, lays aside their profession: “I know you” (Rev. 3:15)—“You are quite another thing than you profess; and this makes you abominable.”

Owen, John; Kelly M. Kapic; Justin Taylor. Overcoming Sin and Temptation (Foreword by John Piper): Three Classic Works by John Owen (p. 98). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

In the first paragraph, Owen says that at the same time that grace diminishes the *power* of sin in the believer, that remaining sin *magnifies* guilt in the believer. In the second paragraph, he comes at if from another angle suggesting that while God sees more beauty in the good that His people do than in the good that the natural man does, He sees more evil in the lusts of His people than in the deeds of darkness done by the natural man.

Is it me or do you also see a tension in reconciling Owen and Goodwin in this case? My first response to the Owen quote was the "how much more?" argument of Romans 5. But then as I read and re-read it, my mind was directed to Luke 12:47-48 ("to those whom much is given, much will be expected"). By the time I finished reading chapter 10 of Owen's Mortification where these two paragraphs are, I felt rightly reminded of what it is to truly fear God and His righteous judgments in a way that much modern doctrine today lacks (in my experience). What Owen makes clear that perhaps is where the heart of the tension is with the final Goodwin quote is that *sin* can and does separate us from God where we continue to persist in it (which would mean we were never united to Christ in the first place). To be sure, Owen's desire is the same as Goodwin's: to cause the believer to flee to Christ and from sin. Though in somewhat different (complementing?) ways.

Perhaps in the final analysis we might say *in this case* (there's much more that both these men taught) that Goodwin is functionally developing "the carrot" while Owen is functionally developing "the stick", both of which are important aspects of God's gracious revelation to save us from sin.