Monday, January 28, 2008

The Bruised Reed Chapter 9

At the end of Chapter 8 Sibbes admonished us to believe Christ and not Satan. He was helping us to see that we need to continue in our duties and bank on the mercy of Christ. In this chapter Sibbes is going to add to that thought.

Quick Outline:
  • How We Should Think of Christ
  • When Christ Seems to be an Enemy
  • When Doubt Assails Us

One of the primary things that Satan attempts to do in the life of the believer is put a wedge between us and Christ. He often does this by causing us to think poorly of Jesus. Yet, we should abhor such ridiculous notions and fixate on the biblical Christ.

But still sometimes Satan causes us to view Christ as an enemy. He especially does this when God is legitmately displaying to us his fatherly displeasure. Yet we must be careful in how we view Christ; even when he seems like an enemy. We should take heart even in this season of displeasure and know that, "He cannot restrain his bowels of mercy long".

Although these things are true, doubt still sometimes overcomes us. What do we do in those times? Sibbes gives wonderful God-centered, Christ-honoring, advice. "Cast yourself into the arms of Christ, and if you perish, perish there. If you do not, you are sure to perish. If mercy is to be found anywhere, it is there". After saying this it is as if Sibbes knows people will still question whether they might be accepted into the arms of Christ; they feel themselves not to be smoking flax. The author then reminds us that, "when he [Christ] goes before us by kindling holy desires in us, he is ready to meet us in his own ways". This very doubt is the act of Christ kindling a holy desire. And when we see that holy desire we can rest assured that Christ is ready to meet us there.


Since the Lord changed my heart and mind towards the doctrines of grace (some call it Calvinism) one aspect of my walk with Christ has changed significantly, that of assurance. I am not so sure that if you reject the doctrines of grace that Sibbes statements here will hold much water. Perhaps it will still be accepted but I am not sure that it would go quite as deep. (Maybe some of my Arminian readers would be interested in showing faulty thinking here).

Now, lest I be misunderstood, what I am not saying is that accepting the doctrines of grace is the grounds for our assurance. What I am saying, and what I believe Sibbes is arguing, is that our assurance--and our hope when doubt assails us--is that what Christ has started He will close. When Sibbes says, "The least love we have to him is but a reflection of his love first shining upon us", he means something really loaded and profound. If we can see but a spark of grace in our hearts (even the smallest spark or desire for Christ) we can be certain that it was implanted there by God. (This comes from a true understanding of the depravity of man and that any spark is there because God put it there). Therefore, we can also take heart that Christ is going to finish this work that he has started. Even if we love him a little, that is a reflection that he has shined his love upon us. Knowing that His love being cast upon us (in the way Sibbes means "love" here) we can be assured that we belong to Jesus, and if we belong to Jesus then we have the greatest comfort. Therefore, in the midst of doubtings we must believe Christ (the gospel) and not the lies of Satan.

Pearls and Diamonds:

"Cast yourself in the arms of Christ, and if you perish, perish there." (p.65)

"The sighs of a bruised heart carry in them a report, both of our affection to Christ, and of his care to us." (p.66)

"God sees fit that we should taste of that cup of which his Son drank so deep, that we might feel a little what sin is, and what his Son's love was. But our comfort is that Christ drank the dregs of the cup for us, and will [relieve] us, so that our spirits may not utterly fail under that little taste of his displeasure which we may feel." (p.66)

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