The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
by John Flavel
File 21
(... continued from file 20)

Sermon 19. 
The Saints coming home to GOD by Reconciliation and Glorification, 
opened and applied. 
1 Pet. 3: 18. 
For Christ has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that 
he might bring us to God. 
    The scope of the apostle in this place is to prepare and 
fortify Christians for a day of suffering. In order to their 
cheerful sustaining whereof, he prescribeth two excellent rules of 
mighty use for all suffering Christians. 
    First, To get a good conscience within them, ver. 16,17. Hic 
murus aheneus esto. 
    Secondly, To set the example of Christ's sufferings before 
them, ver. 18. "For Christ has once suffered for sinners;" the 
sufferings of Christ for us, is the great motive engaging Christians 
to suffer cheerfully for him. 
    In the words before us we have, 
    First, The sufficiency and fulness of Christ's sufferings 
intimated in that particle [once]; Christ needs to suffer no more, 
having finished and completed that whole work at once. 
    Secondly, The meritorious cause of the sufferings of Christ, 
and that is sin, Christ once suffered for sins; not his own sins, 
but ours; as it follows in the next clause, which is the third thing 
here observable, viz. 
    Thirdly, The admirable grace and unexampled love of Christ to 
us sinners, the just for the unjust; in which words the substitution 
of Christ in the room and place of sinners, the vicegerence of his 
death is plainly expressed. Christ died not only nostro bono, for 
our good, but also nostro loco, in our stead. 
    Fourthly, Here is also the final cause or design and scope of 
the sufferings of Christ, which was to bring us to God. 
    Fifthly, Here is also the issue of the sufferings of Christ, 
which was the death of Christ in the flesh, and the quickening of 
Christ after death by the Spirit. Many excellent observations are 
lodged in the bosom of this scripture; all which I must pass over in 
silence at this time, and confine my discourse to the final cause of 
the sufferings of Christ, namely, that he might bring us to God: 
where the observation will be plainly and briefly this. 
    Doct. That the end of Christ's cursed death, and bitter 
         sufferings, was to bring all those for whom he died unto 
    In the explication and preparation of this point for use, two 
things must be spoken unto, viz. 
    1. What Christ's bringing us to God imports? 
    2. What influence the death of Christ has upon this design of 
bringing us to God? 
    First, What Christ's bringing us to God imports? And certainly 
there be many great and excellent things contained in this 
expression: more generally it notes our state of reconciliation, and 
our state of glorification. By reconciliation we are brought nigh to 
God, Eph. 2: 18. "Ye are made nigh," i.e. reconciled, "by the blood 
of Christ," Heb. 12: 22, 23. we are said "to come to God the Judge 
of all." By reconciliation we are brought nigh unto God now; by 
glorification we shall be brought home to God hereafter, 1 Thes. 55: 
17. "We shall be ever with the Lord." But more particularly this 
phrase, "that he might bring us to God," imports, 
    First, That the chief happiness of man consisteth in the 
enjoyment of God: that the creature has as necessary dependence upon 
God for happiness, as the stream has upon the fountain, or the image 
in the glass upon the face of him that looks into it. For as the sum 
of the creature's misery lies in this, depart from me; separation 
from God being the principal part of damnation, so, on the contrary, 
the chief happiness of the creature consisteth in the enjoyment and 
blessed vision of God, 1 John 3: 2. Psal. 17: 15. "I shall be 
satisfied when I awake with thy likeness". 
    Secondly, It implies man's revolt and apostasy from God, Eph. 
2: 12. "But now in Christ Jesus, ye who were some time afar off; are 
made nigh by the blood of Christ." Those whom Christ bringeth unto 
God were before afar off from him, both in state and condition, and 
in temper and disposition: we were lost creatures, and had no desire 
to return to God. The prodigal was said to go into a far country, 
Luke 15: 80. 
    Thirdly, Christ's bringing us to God, implies our inability to 
re turn to God of ourselves; we must be brought back by Christ, or 
perish for ever in a state of separation from God: the lost sheep is 
made the emblem of the lost sinner, Luke 15: 5. The sheep returns 
not to the fold of itself, but the shepherd seeks it, finds it, and 
carries it back upon his shoulders. And the apostle plainly tells 
us, Rom. 5: 6. That when we were without strength, i.e. any ability 
to recover, help, or save ourselves, in due time Christ died for the 
    Fourthly, Christ bringing us to God evidently implies this, 
that God's unsatisfied justice was once the great bar betwixt him 
and man. Man can have no access to God but by Christ: Christ brings 
us to God by no other way but the way of satisfaction by his blood: 
"He has suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might 
bring us to God." Better ten thousand worlds should perish for ever, 
than that God should lose the honour of his justice. This great 
obex, or bar to our enjoyment of God, is effectually removed by the 
death of Christ, whereby God's justice is not only fully satisfied, 
but highly honoured and glorified, Rom. 3: 24. And so the way by 
which we are brought to God is again opened (to the wonder and joy 
of all believers) by the blood and sufferings of Christ. 
    Fifthly, and lastly, It shews us the peculiar happiness and 
privilege of believers above all people in the world: these only are 
they which shall be brought to God by Jesus Christ in a reconciled 
state: others, indeed, shall be brought to God as a Judge, to be 
condemned by him: believers only are brought to God in the 
Mediator's hand, as a reconciled Father, to be made blessed for ever 
in the enjoyment of him: every believer is brought singly to God at 
his death, Luke 16: 22. And all believers shall be jointly and 
solemnly presented to God in the great day, Col. 1: 22. Jude, ver. 
24. They shall be all presented faultless before the presence of his 
glory with exceeding joy. Now the privilege of believers in that day 
will lie in divers things. 
    First, That they shall be all brought to God together. This 
will be the general assembly mentioned, Heb. 12: 22. There shall be 
a collection of all believers, in all ages of the world, into one 
blessed assembly; they shall come from the east, and west, and 
north, and south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God, Luke 13: 
29. 0 what a glorious train will be seen following the Redeemer in 
that day! 
    Secondly, As all the saints shall be collected into one body; 
so they shall be all brought or presented unto God, faultless and 
with out blemish, Jude, ver. 24. "A glorious church, without spot or 
wrinkle, or any such thing," Eph. 5: 27. For this is the general 
assembly of the spirits of just men that are made perfect, Heb. 12: 
23. All sin was perfectly separated from them when death had 
separated their souls and bodies. 
    Thirdly, In this lies the privilege of believers, that as they 
shall be all brought together, and that in a state of absolute 
purity, and perfection, so they shall be all brought to God: they 
shall see his face, in the vision whereof is "fulness of joy, and at 
whose right-hand are pleasures for evermore," Psal. 16: 11. The 
objective blessedness of the saints consisteth in their fruition of 
God, Psal. 72: 25. To see God in his word and works, is the 
happiness of the saints on earth; but to see him face to face, will 
be the fulness of their blessedness in heaven, 1 John 3: 2. This is 
that intuitive, transforming, and sanctifying vision, of which the 
scriptures frequently speaks, Psal. 17: 15. 1 Cor. 15: 28. Rev. 7: 
    Fourthly, To be brought unto God, must needs imply a state of 
perfect joy and highest delight. So speaks the apostle, Jude 14. 
Christ shall present, or bring them to God with exceeding joy. And 
more fully the joy of this day is expressed, Psal. 45: 15 "With joy 
and rejoicing shall they be brought; they shall enter into the 
king's palace." It will be a day of universal joy, when all the 
saints are brought home to God in a perfected state. For, 
    1. God the Father will rejoice when Christ brings home that 
precious number of his elect, whom he redeemed by his blood: he 
rejoiceth in them now, though imperfect, and under many distasteful 
corruptions and weaknesses, Zeph. 3: 17. How much more will he 
rejoice in them when Christ presents them without spot or wrinkle to 
him, Eph. 5: 27. 
    2. Jesus Christ will exceedingly rejoice; it will be the day of 
the gladness and satisfaction of his heart; for now, and not till 
now, he receives his mystical fulness, Col. 1: 24. beholds all the 
blessed issues of his death, which cannot but give him unspeakable 
contentment, Isa 53: 11. "He shall see of the travail of his soul, 
and shall be satisfied." 
    3. The day in which believers are brought home to God, will be 
a day of unspeakable joy to the Holy Spirit of God himself. For unto 
this all his sanctifying designs in this world had respect: to this 
day he sealed them: towards this day he stirred up desires, and 
groanings in their hearts that cannot be uttered, Eph. 4: 30. Rom. 
8: 28. Thus the great and blessed persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, 
will rejoice in the bringing home of the elect to God. For as it is 
the greatest joy to a man to see the designs which his heart has 
been long projecting, and intently set upon, by an orderly conduct, 
at last brought to the happy issue he first aimed at; much more will 
it be so here; the counsel and hand of each person being deeply 
concerned in this blessed design. 
    4. The angels of God will rejoice at the bringing home of 
believers to him: the spirits of just men made perfect, will be 
united in one general assembly, with an innumerable company of 
angels, Heb. 2: 22 Great is the affection and love of angels to 
redeemed ones; they greatly rejoiced at the incarnation of Christ 
for them, Luke 2: 13. They greatly delighted to pry into the mystery 
of their redemption, 1 Pet. 1. 12 They were marvellously delighted 
at their conversion, which was the day of their espousals to Christ, 
Luke 15: 10. They have been tender and careful over them, and very 
serviceable to them in this world, Heb. 1: 14. and therefore cannot 
but rejoice exceedingly, to see them all brought home in safety to 
their father's house. 
    5. To conclude, Christ's bringing home all believers unto God, 
will be matter of unspeakable joy to themselves; for, whatever 
knowledge and acquaintance they had with God here, whatever sights 
of faith they had of heaven and the glory to come in this world, yet 
the sight of God and Christ the Redeemer will be an unspeakable 
surprise to them in that day. This will be the day of relieving all 
their wants, the day of satisfaction to all their desires; for now 
they are come where they would be, arrived at the very desires of 
their souls. 
    Secondly, In the last place, let it be considered, what 
influence the death of Christ has upon this design, and you shall 
find it much every way. In two things especially, the death of 
Christ has a blessed casualty and influence in this matter, viz. 
    1. It effectually removes all obstacles to it. 
    2. It purchaseth (as a price) their title to it. 
    First, The death of Christ removes all obstacles out of the way 
of this mercy: such were the bars hindering our access to God as 
nothing but the death of Christ could remove, and thereby open a way 
for believers to come to God. The guilt of sin barred us from his 
gracious presence, Rom. 1: 2, 3. Hos. 14: 2. The filth of sin 
excluded us from God, Hab. 1: 23. Heb. 12: 14. The enmity of our 
nature perfectly stopped up our way to God, Col. 1: 21. Rom. 8: 7. 
by reason hereof fallen man has no desire to come unto God, Job 21: 
14. The justice of God, like a flaming sword turning every way, kept 
all men from access to God. And Lastly, Satan, that malicious and 
armed adversary, lay as a lion in the way to God, 2 Pet. 5: 8. 0, 
with what strong bars were the gates of heaven shut against our 
souls! The way of God was chained up with such difficulties, as none 
but Christ was able to remove; and he by death has effectually 
removed them all: The way is now open, even the new and the living 
way, consecrated for us by his blood. The death of Christ 
effectually removes the guilt of sin, 1 Pet. 2: 21. washes off the 
filth of sin, 1 John 5: 6. takes away the enmity of nature, Col. 1: 
20, 21. satisfies all the demands of justice, Rom. 3: 25, 26. has 
broken all the power of Satan, Col. 2: 15. Heb. 2: 14. and 
consequently the way to God is effectually and fully opened to 
believers by the blood of Jesus, Heb. 10: 20. 
    Secondly, The blood of Christ purchased for believers their 
right and title to this privilege, Gal. 4: 4, 5. "But when the 
fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, 
made under the law; to redeem them that were under the law, that we 
might receive the adoption of sons," i.e. both the relation and 
inheritance of sons. There was value and worth enough in the 
precious blood of Christ, not only to pay all our debts to justice, 
but over and above the payment of our debts, to purchase for us this 
invaluable privilege. We must put this unspeakable mercy of being 
brought to God, as my text puts it, upon the account, and to the 
score of the death of Christ: no believer had ever tasted the 
sweetness of such a mercy, if Christ had not tasted the bitterness 
of death for him. The use of all you will have in the following 
deductions of truth. 
    Deduction 1. Great is the preciousness and worth of souls, that 
the life of Christ should be given to redeem and recover them to 
God. As God laid out his thoughts and counsel from eternity, upon 
them, to project the way and method of their salvation, so the Lord 
Jesus, in pursuance of that blessed design, came from the bosom of 
the Father, and spilt his invaluable blood to bring them to God. No 
wise man expends vast sums to bring home trifling commodities: how 
cheap soever our souls are in our estimation, it is evident by this 
they are of precious esteem in the eyes of Christ. 
    Deduct. 2. Redeemed souls must expect no rest or satisfaction 
on this side heaven, and the full enjoyment of God. The life of a 
believer in this world, is a life of motion and expectation: they 
are now coming to God, 1 Pet. 2: 4. God, you see, is the centre and 
rest of their souls, Heb. 4: 9. As the rivers cannot rest till they 
pour themselves into the bosom of the sea, so neither can renewed 
souls find rest till they come into the bosom of God. There are four 
things which do and will break the rest, and disturb the souls of 
believers in this world; afflictions, temptations, corruptions, and 
absence from God. If the three former causes of disquietness were 
totally removed, so that a believer were placed in such a condition 
upon earth, where no affliction could disturb him, no temptation 
trouble him, no corruption defile or grieve him, yet his very 
absence from God must still keep him restless and unsatisfied, 2 
Cor. 5: 6. "Whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from 
the Lord." 
    Deduct. 3. What sweet and pleasant thoughts should all 
believers have of death! When they die, and never till they die, 
shall they be fully brought home to God. Death to the saints, is the 
door by which they enter into the enjoyment of God: the dying 
Christian is almost at home, yet a few pangs and agonies more, and 
then he is come to God, in whose presence is the fulness of joy. "I 
desire (saith Paul) to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far 
better," Phil. 1: 23. It should not affright us to be brought to 
death, the king of terrors, so long as it is the office of death to 
bring us to God. That dreaming opinion of the soul sleeping after 
death, is as ungrounded, as it is uncomfortable: the same day we 
loose from this shore, we shall be landed upon the blessed shore; 
where we shall see and enjoy God for ever. O, if the friends of dead 
believers did but understand where, and with whom their souls are, 
whilst they are mourning over their bodies, certainly a few 
believing thoughts of this would quickly dry up their tears. and 
fill the house of mourning with voices of praise and thanksgiving! 
    Deduct. 4. How comfortable and sweet should the converses and 
communication of Christians be one with another, in this world! 
Christ is bringing them all to God through this vale of tears: they 
are now in the way to him; all bound for heaven; going home to God, 
their everlasting rest in glory: every day, every hour, every duty 
brings them nearer and nearer to their journey's end, Rom. 13: 11. 
"Now (saith the apostle) is our salvation nearer than when we 
believed." O, what manner of heavenly communications and ravishing 
discourses should believers have with each other as they walk by the 
way! O, what pleasant and delightful converse should they have with 
one another about the place and state whither Christ is bringing 
them, and where they shall shortly be! What ravishing, transporting, 
transforming visions they shall have that day they are brought home 
to God! How surprisingly glorious to them the sight of Jesus Christ 
will be, who died for them to bring them unto God! how should such 
discourses as these, shorten and sweeten their passage through this 
world, strengthen and encourage the dejected and feeble-minded, and 
exceedingly honour and adorn their profession? Thus lived the 
believers of old, Heb. 11: 9, 10. "By faith he sojourned in the land 
of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with 
Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he 
looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is 
God." But, alas! most Christians are either so entangled in the 
cares and troubles, or so ensnared by the delights and pleasures 
which almost continually divert and take up their thoughts by the 
way, that there is but little room for any discourses of Christ and 
heaven, among many of them: but certainly this would be as much your 
interest as your duty. When the apostle had entertained the 
Thessalonians with a lovely discourse of their meeting the Lord in 
the air, and being ever with the Lord, he charges it upon them as 
their great duty, to comfort one another with these words, 1 Thes. 
4: 17,18. 
    Deduct. 5; How unreasonable are the dejections of believers 
upon the account of those troubles which they meet with in this 
world! It is true, afflictions of all kinds do attend believers in 
their way to God; through many tribulations we must enter into that 
kingdom. But what then? must we despond and droop under them as 
other men? Surely no; If afflictions be the way through which you 
must come to God, then never be discouraged at affliction; troubles 
and afflictions are of excellent use, under the blessings of the 
Spirit, to further Christ's great design in bringing you to God. How 
often would you turn out of that way which leads to God, if he did 
not hedge up your way with thorns, Hos. 2: 6. Doubtless when you 
come home to God, you shall find you have been much beholden (it may 
be a great deal more) to your troubles than to your comforts, for 
bringing you thither: however, the sweetness of the end will 
infinitely more then recompense the sorrows and troubles of the way: 
nor are they worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be 
revealed in you, Rom. 8: 18. 
    Deduct 6. How much are all believers obliged, in point of 
interest, to follow Jesus Christ whithersoever he goes! Thus are the 
saints described, Rev. 14: 4. "These are they which follow the Lamb 
whithersoever be goeth: these were redeemed from among men, being 
the first fruits unto God, and to the Lamb." If it be the design of 
Christ to bring us to God, then certainly it is our duty to follow 
Christ in all the paths of active and passive obedience through 
which he now leads us, as ever we expect to be brought home to God 
at last: "We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning 
of our confidence stedfast unto the end," Heb. 3: 14. If we have 
followed him through many sufferings and troubles, and shall turn 
away from him at last, we lose all that we have wrought and suffered 
in religion, and shall never reach home to God at last. The crown of 
life belongs only to them who are faithful to the death. 
    Deduct. 7. Let all that desire, or expect to come to God 
hereafter, come to Christ by faith now. There is no other way to the 
Father, but by Christ, no other way to Christ but faith. How vain 
therefore are the hopes and expectations of all unbelievers? Be 
assured of this great truth, Death shall bring you to God as an 
avenging Judge, if Christ do not bring you now to God as a 
reconciled Father: without holiness no man shall see God: the door 
of hope is shut against all christless persons, John 14: 6. "No man 
cometh unto the Father but by me." O what a sweet voice comes down 
from heaven to your souls this day, saying, As ever you expect or 
hope to come to God, and enjoy the blessing that is here, come unto 
Christ, obey his calls, give up yourselves to his conduct and 
government, and you shall certainly be brought to God! As sure as 
you shall now be brought to Jesus Christ by spiritual union, so sure 
shall you be brought to God in full fruition. 
    Blessed be God for Jesus Christ, the new and living way to the 
    And thus I have finished the motives drawn from the titles and 
benefits of Christ, serving to enforce and quicken the great gospel 
exhortation of coming to, and effectually applying the Lord Jesus 
Christ in the way of faith. O that the blessings of the Spirit might 
follow these calls, and fix these considerations as nails in sure 
places! But seeing the great hindrance and obstruction to faith is 
the false opinion and persuasion of most unregenerate men, that they 
are already in Christ; my next work therefore shall be, in a second 
use of conviction, to undeceive men in that matter; and that, by 
shewing them the undoubted certainty of these two things: 
    First, That there is no coming ordinarily to Christ without the 
application of the law to our consciences, in a way of effectual 
    Secondly, Nor by that neither, without the teachings of God, in 
the way of spiritual illumination. The first of these will be fully 
confirmed and opened in the following sermon. 

The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
(continued in file 22...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: flamt-21.txt