Thomas Goodwin’s Help In Recovering a Neglected Aspect of Christ

Thomas-GoodwinOften when we want to draw attention to Christ, we focus on two categories, summarized as his person and his work. Christ’s person is who he is and his work is what he’s done. But Thomas Goodwin has focused on a third category that is often neglected today, certainly by me. Specifically, Christ’s heart. We can properly consider Christ’s heart as part of who he is, but it is worth stepping back to consider it on it’s own for a moment.

In one of the richest summary-paragraphs I’ve ever read about Jesus Christ (actually, it’s more like a Pauline paragraph-sentence), Goodwin helps us see this neglected aspect of the person of Christ. Or, we could say, he helps us see Christ from a third angle: Here we see the person of Christ, the work of Christ, and the heart of Christ. Here’s Goodwin, with only my numbering and italics added for clarity on this point:

“We are to know and have fellowship with him, viewed in

[1.] the excellency of his person; to know and have communion with him in his offices, priest, prophet, king; also to contemplate

[2.] what he did for us, in that he took flesh, bore our sins, suffered reproach, all sorrows, died, bore the curse and wrath of his Father, rose, ascended into heaven, and there appears for us, and brings us to God; intercedes for us continually, pleads the fullness and over-sufficiency of his righteousness, his ability to save to the uttermost; then

[3.] his mercy, grace, likewise in all of these, bowels to receive sinners; his gentleness, meekness, lowliness of mind to converse with them after they come to him; his longsuffering to bear with them that come to him; his faithfulness to stand by them in all their needs; his avowed resolvedness not in anywise to cast them out that come to him, but to raise them up at the last day.

In the third place Goodwin uses the Old Testament expression of “bowels” to refer to Christ’s heart. It refers to God’s deep, inward stirrings of compassion. Thus, we don’t just see what Christ has done for us, we also must see his merciful heart in it all. It’s this third aspect that Goodwin shows better than nearly anyone I know. He helps us see Christ’s person, Christ’s work, and Christ’s heart.

— Quote from Thomas Goodwin, Three Several Ages of Christians in Faith and Obedience, in Works, 7:493.

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