Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Bruised Reed Chapter 11

Chapter 11 begins a new section in Sibbes work. We now move from the bruised reed and the smoking flax to consider Christ's gracious government. This gracious government is where Christ will set up "absolute government in us which shall prevail over all corruptions." The chapter will serve us to make certain that we do not get the cart before the horse. Sibbes reminds us again that justification leads to sanctification and not the opposite.

Quick Outline:
  • Christ's Judgement Established in Us
  • Christ's Mildness and His Government
  • Pardon Leads to Obedience
  • Justification Leads to Sanctification

What is meant by the text in Isaiah 42:3..."he will faithfully bring forth justice" (or in the KJV that Sibbes would have used, "he will bring forth judgment unto victory)? Sibbes believes that it is speaking of Christ's rule in the believers heart. As Christ is seated on the throne of our hearts (keep in mind this was written before the Spirit-Filled Life tracts), his judgments become our judgments. What is taking place is that the Spirit of God is changing our affections.

Sibbes then sets forth to show various conclusions from this text. The first will be dealt with in this chapter and the others later. That first conclusion is that, "Christ is mild in the way that we have seen so that he may then set up his government in those whom he is so gentle and tender over". The reason then for our pardon is to secure our obedience. This then is a fitting judgment as to whether or not we can claim the mercy of Christ; are we desiring to follow Christ in obedience? As Sibbes says, "None ever did truly desire mercy for pardon but desired mercy for healing."

The chapter closes with the truth that justification leads to sanctification. Even in this title we can discern two things. One, justification comes before sanctification. Therefore, sanctification can never be the grounds for justification. Two, justification will lead to sanctification. Therefore, justification will never be alone. Sibbes expounds upon this and cautions us to remember four things.
  1. The first and chief ground of our comfort is that Christ as a priest offered himself as a sacrifice to his Father for us.
  2. When we are overtaken with sin we must remember to come back to Christ for mercy
  3. When we become cold in affection the best way to warm ourselves is at the fire of Jesus' love and mercy.
  4. We are ruled by a spirit of love. His subjects are voluntaries.

As he closes Sibbes has a little doctrine to teach about the last (and actually preceding) points. Loving Jesus and freely following him and taking up his yoke is not something that natural man will do or can do. "Our disposition must be changed...they seek for heaven in hell that seek for spiritual love in an unchanged heart."


I really appreciate this chapter and Sibbes' desire to make certain that we not get the cart before the horse. I also am very thankful that Sibbes concluded with reminding us that unless our hearts are regenerate we will never love Christ. That is what will keep all of these things turn into legalistic duties to perform. It is only out of regenerate heart, and living that springs from that heart, that we will be able to love Christ as we ought.

I have not studied in depth Isaiah 42:1-3, but I do wonder if Sibbes' interpretation of this verse is accurate. Is this "rule" speaking of Jesus' government in our heart? What do you think?

Also, on page 80 when Sibbes says, "This also shows that those are misled that make Christ to be only righteousness to us and not sanctification, except by imputation, whereas it is a great part of our happiness to be under such a Lord...", who do you see as his "enemy" in this section? Who is the polemic against? Is it Catholicism? Or is it those that make grace cheap?

Pearls and Diamonds:

"...it is most necessary that the Spirit should alter the taste of the soul so that it might savour the things of the Spirit so deeply that all other things should be out of relish."

"None ever did truly desire mercy for pardon but desired mercy for healing."

"They seek heaven for hell that seek for spiritual love in an unchanged heart."

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