THE DIGNITIES OF THE GOSPEL STATE!
OPENING STATEMENT by Robert
It is fit that believers should know the honours and privileges that Christ has procured for them, that, while they take comfort, they may give him the glory of all. The privileges are,
Boldness to enter the holiest. They have access to God, light to direct them, liberty of spirit and speech to conform to the direction they have a right to the privilege and a readiness for it, assistance to use and improve it and assurance of acceptance and advantage.
They may enter the gracious presence of God in his holy oracles, ordinances, providences, and covenant, and so into communion with God, where they receive communications from him, till they are prepared to enter his glorious presence in heaven.
A high priest over the house of God, even this blessed Yeshua ( Jesus ), who presides over the church militant, and every member thereof on earth, and over the church triumphant in heaven. God is willing to dwell with men on earth and to have them dwell with him in heaven, but fallen man cannot dwell with God without a high priest, who is the Mediator of reconciliation here and of fruition hereafter.
We are told the way and means by which Christians enjoy such privileges, and, in general, declares it to be by the blood of (Yeshua) Jesus, by the merit of that blood which he offered up to God as an atoning sacrifice: he has purchased for all who believe in him free access to God in the ordinances of his grace here and in the kingdom of his glory.
Being sprinkled on the conscience, this blood chases away slavish fear and gives the believer assurance both of his safety and his welcome into the divine presence. Now the apostle, having given this general account of how we have access to God, enters further into the particulars of it, Hebrews 10:20.
It is the only way there is no way left but this. The first way to the tree of life is and has been, long shut up.
It is a new way, both in opposition to the covenant of works and to the Old Testament’s antiquated dispensation. It is vianovissima–the last way that will ever be opened to men. Those who will not enter in this way exclude themselves forever. It is a way that will always be effective.
It is a living way. It would be death to attempt to come to God in the way of the covenant of works, but this way, we may come to God and live. It is by a living Saviour, who, though he was dead, is alive, and it is a way that gives life and lively hope to those who enter .
It is a way which Christ has consecrated for us through the veil, that is, his flesh. The veil in the tabernacle and temple signified the body of Christ when he died, the veil of the temple was rent in sunder, and this was at the time of the evening sacrifice and gave the people a surprising view into the holy of holies, which they never had before. Our way to heaven is by a crucified Saviour; his death is to us the way of life. To those who believe this, he will be precious.
Christ and his gospel have excited those to appear for him and who otherwise had no great affection. Two things they plead: —
The excellency of his doctrine: “These are not the words of him that hath a devil they are not idle words distracted men are not used to talk at this rate. These are not the words of one that is either violently possessed with a devil or voluntarily in league with the devil” Christianity if it is not the true religion, is certainly the greatest cheat that ever was put upon the world and, if so, it must be of the devil, who is the father of all lies.
But it is certain that the doctrine of Christ is no doctrine of devils, for it is levelled directly against the devil’s kingdom, and Satan is too subtle to be divided against himself.
So much holiness is in the words of Christ, so we may conclude they are not the words of one that has a devil, and therefore are the words of one that was sent of God are not from hell, and therefore must be from heaven.
The power of his miracles: Can a devil, that is, a man that has a devil, open the eyes of the blind? Neither madmen nor bad men can work miracles. Devils are not such lords of the power of nature as to be able to work such miracles, nor are they such friends to mankind to be willing to work them if they were able. The devil will sooner put out men’s eyes than open them. Therefore, Jesus had not a devil.
It is just with God to leave those to themselves who pour such proud contempt on divine wisdom and grace. To those who are called and saved, he is the wisdom of God and the power of God.
Those who are called and sanctified, who receive the gospel, and are enlightened by the Spirit of God, discern more glorious discoveries of God’s wisdom and power in the doctrine of Christ crucified than in all his other works. Those who are saved are reconciled to the cross’s doctrine and led into an experimental acquaintance with the mysteries of Christ crucified.
God did not choose philosophers, nor orators, nor statesmen, nor men of wealth and power and interest in the world, to publish the gospel of grace and peace. Not the wise men after the flesh, though men would be apt to think that a reputation for wisdom and learning might have contributed much to the gospel’s success. However, not the mighty and noblemen might be apt to imagine that secular pomp and power would make way for its reception in the world.
But God sees not as man sees. He has chosen the foolish things of the world, the weak things of the world, the base and despicable things of the world, men of mean birth, low rank, and no liberal education, to be the preachers of the gospel and planters of the church. His thoughts are not as our thoughts, nor his ways as our ways. He is a better judge than we what instruments and measures will best serve the purposes of his glory.
The legal ceremonies were abrogated by Christ, having their accomplishment in him. By taking these out of the way, he formed one church of believers, whether they had been Jews or Gentiles.
Thus, he made in himself of twain one new man. He framed both these parties into one new society, or body of God’s people, uniting them to himself as their common head, they being renewed by the Holy Ghost, and now concurring in a new way of gospel worship, so making peace between these two parties, who were so much at variance before
There is an enmity between God and sinners, whether Jews and Gentiles and Yeshua (Christ) came to slay that enmity, and to reconcile them both to God, Ephesians 2:16. Sin breeds a quarrel between God and men.
Yeshua (Christ) came to take up the quarrel, and to bring it to an end, by reconciling both Jew and Gentile, now collected and gathered into one body, to a provoked and an offended God: and this by the cross, or by the sacrifice of himself upon the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.
He, being slain or sacrificed, slew the enmity that there was between God and poor sinners. The apostle proceeds to illustrate the great advantages which both parties gain by the mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 2:17. Yeshua (Christ), who purchased peace on the cross, came, partly in his own person, as to the Jews, who are here said to have been nigh, and partly in his apostles, whom he commissioned to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, who are said to have been afar off, in the sense that has been given before.
And preached peace or published the terms of reconciliation with God and of eternal life. Note, When the messengers of Christ deliver his truths, it is in effect the same as if he did it immediately himself.
He is said to preach by them, insomuch that he who received them received him, and he who despised them (acting by virtue of his commission and delivering his message) despised and rejected Christ himself.
Now the effect of this peace is the free access which both Jews and Gentiles have unto God (Ephesians 2:18): For through him, in his name and by virtue of his mediation, we both have access or admission into the presence of God, who has become the common reconciled Father of both.
The throne of grace is erected for us to come to, and liberty of approach to that throne is allowed us. Our access is by the Holy Spirit. Christ purchased for us leave to come to God, and the Spirit gives us a heart to come and strength to come, even grace to serve God acceptably.
Observe, we draw near to God, through Jesus Christ, by the help of the Spirit. Ephesians 2:21. All believers, of whom it consists, being united to Christ by faith, and among themselves by Christian charity, grow unto a holy temple, become a sacred society, in which there is much communion between God and his people, as in the temple, they are worshipping and serving him, he is manifesting himself unto them, they are offering up spiritual sacrifices to God, and he is dispensing his blessings and favours to them. Thus, for the nature of it, the building is a temple, a holy temple for the church is the place which God hath chosen to put his name there, and it becomes such a temple by grace and strength derived from himself–in the Lord.