Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Puritan Reading, Bruised Reed - Chapter 14

Means to Make Grace Victorious

Am I drawing nearer to God, or am I drawing away from Him?

Sibbes makes a similar argument as that of William Carey. Carey had been told that if God wanted the heathen saved it would happen without Carey's help. Carey's response was his Enquiry, coupled with his going in response to the Gospel call. Sibbes ensures us that Christ will be victorious, but he also enlightens us to the fact that this victory will take place as Christ equips us for the battle and sets us in the front lines.

As Christ works in us we must maintain a sound judgment concerning our state and progress. Sibbes lay out a series of principles for us to follow:
  1. Am I growing in knowledge? Does God's Word enthrall me, and do I seek to know Him better?
  2. Is love towards Christ growing within me? Do I love the One who is the lover of my soul?
  3. Do I seek only godly advice and counsel? Do I know that God jealously guards us and wants us to have no part with the wicked?
  4. Do I watch that the means that I use are ones that honor Him? (A lesson to the pragmatic church of our day!) Do I strive to be obedient to Him and trust His wisdom over all of the schemes that are contrary to His Word?
  5. Am I exercising the grace within me? Am I actively involved in growing in grace?
  6. Am I focused on Christ? Am I united and bound to Him?
  7. Am I engaged in honest examination of my spiritual state? It is far too easy for us to lie to ourselves and think more highly of ourselves than we ought.
Yet, what if I find myself at a standstill? What if I see little progress? Sibbes gives us two items to consider. First, we should understand that progress will come in God's timing. We keep on keeping on, and expect to see His results in due time. Second, is there some besetting sin that is robbing me of victory? If we were brutally honest with ourselves we would often find that the reason for spiritual failure is the direct result of our desiring something more than we desire communion with Christ. All too often we rationalize away our sin.

At the end of the day, where do we stand? Do we really want to be a part of the victory of Christ or do we falter in our commitment? He will reign, He will be victorious, but have we tied our lives to His victory? Do we see in Him the only solution for all of our troubles and recognize Him as the only source of our joy? He will use us in His struggle, but only in conjunction with our whole-hearted commitment to His cause. There is no place for half-measures.

Everything else will fail. Only Christ will be victorious. Where have we placed our trust?

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