Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Puritan Reading, Bruised Reed - Chapter 11

Christ's Judgment and Victory


As I read the first pages of this chapter I could not help but remember the "throne" illustration contained in Campus Crusade's Four Spiritual Laws. (Yes, I know that there will be those who think that this is a deficient Gospel presentation, but God's Holy Spirit used one of these little booklets on the evening of July 24, 1972 to bring conviction, regeneration, repentance, and faith to this pathetic sinner's life.) Under the rule, or judgment, of Christ a life is ordered and governed, and is no longer characterized by chaos. As Sibbes describes "judgment" he is describing the ordering of a life in conformance with the will of God. By this judgment set up in us, good is discerned, allowed, and performed; sin is judged, condemned, and executed. Our spirit, being under the Spirit of Christ, is governed by him, and, so far as it is governed by Christ, it governs us graciously. (pg. 77)

As I continued to read I experienced a memory of my first pastor, a wise man now with the Lord. Bro. Douglas would say 'When you are a Christian, you can do anything that you want to just so long as Christ has changed your "want tos'." From Sibbes: So, in spiritual life, it is most necessary that the Spirit should alter the taste of the soul so that it might savor the things of the Spirit so deeply that all other things should be out of relish. (pg. 78)

On top of this, we see that Christ is victorious, He will prevail, He will bring about His kingdom, He will be glorified in us and in His church.


While not explicit in this chapter, we see in Christ's mildness an answer to those who make the objection that predestination forces us into relationship with Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth. His love, gentleness, and mildness in dealing with us serve to woo us to Him. He is the lover of our souls, He draws us to Himself in such a way that we run to Him.


Who may claim Christ's mercy? Only those who are obedient. Do we "count it a greater happiness to be under his government than to enjoy any liberty of the flesh"? (pg. 80)


I thank God that while I am not yet what I should be I am no longer what I once was. We are saved to be holy, set apart, and growing in sanctification. Do we sometimes fail? And when we feel ourselves cold in affection and duty, the best way is to warm ourselves at this fire of his love and mercy in giving himself for us. (pg. 81) Sibbes would agree with John Owen, who says:

I take not men from mortification, but put them upon conversion. He that shall call a man from mending a hole in the wall of his house, to quench a fire that is consuming the whole building, is not his enemy. Poor soul! It is not your sore finger but your hectic fever that you are to apply yourself to the consideration of. You set yourself against a particular sin and do not consider that you are nothing but sin. (John Owen, On the Mortification of Sin in Believers, Chapter 7)

Sibbes says "We must be new creatures" (pg. 81) and "First we are made partakers of the divine nature, and then we are easily induced and led by Christ's Spirit to spiritual duties." (pg. 82) Trying to mend the holes in our lives when they are burning down is fruitless. We need conversion, we need a new heart, we need the new birth. Then we can proceed on the path of sanctification, but not before.

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