- The Open Glory of Christ in His Members
- Follow Sincerity and Truth
- Christ Alone Advances this Government
- We Must Not Look to Ourselves
- Christ Makes us Feel our Dependence
- The Triumph of Grace
Oh, what a glorious truth is behind this chapter. It appears at present that Christ is not advancing and that Satan is reigning victorious. Yet, in this chapter, Sibbes will display for us the open glory of Christ and all that it entails for us. At one glorious point in history, Sibbes proclaims, "then there shall be no glory but that of Christ and his spouse."
What are the implications of this? Sibbes says that if men believed this truth then they would "make more account of sincerity, which alone will give us boldness, and not seek for covers for their shame, confidence in which, as it makes men now more presumptuous, so it will expose them hereafter to their greater shame". We should thus be very vigorous in our pursuit of holiness and hatred of evil. We must "take heed that we follow not the ways of those men whose ends we shall tremble at".
Sibbes at this point decides to throw in some deep biblical theology. Given the depravity of man we must understand that Christ alone advances His government. "Nature, as corrupted, favours its own being, and will maintain itself against Christ's government". Christ then must do a mighty work in establishing his government within us. He must remove sin, weaken it, suspend opposite hindrances, and advance the power of His grace in us. Therefore, we must not look to ourselves in all of this. As Sibbes says, "...it is dangerous to look for that from ourselves which we must have from Christ". Given all of this we must be very cautious to depend upon Christ and not on ourselves.
I believe Sibbes is trying to get us to see that this is another reason why we often struggle. Sometimes Christ allows us to fall into sin to further teach our dependence on him, and to further implant in us His grace and a hatred for wickedness. This is comforting and yet spurs us on to follow Christ even more boldly. Yet, in all of this grace will triumph!
Have you had an experience in your life when because of "irreverent and presumptuous conduct" you gave Christ a cause to "suspend his gracious influence and leave you to the darkness of your own heart"? In doing so, what was the fruit? Do you find that Sibbes is correct in what he says in this chapter?
In this chapter we see how Sibbes' Reformed theology reflects everything that he says. Why is it important that we realize fully that Christ alone advances this government? How might Semi-Pelagianism lead to gross pride and cause our growth to be hindered?
Pearls and Diamonds:
"Can we think that he that threw the angels out of heaven will suffer dust and worms' meat to run a contrary course, and to continue always so?" (p.111)
"A woeful condition, when both we and that which we highly esteem shall vanish together." (p.112)
"Let us know, therefore, that it is dangerous to look for that from ourselves which we must have from Christ." (p.114)
"Nothing is stronger than humility, which goes out of itself, or weaker than pride, which rests on its own foundation." (p.114)
"...that which is begun in self-confidence ends in shame." (p.115)
"Hence it is that we often fail in lesser conflicts and stand firm in greater, because in the lesser we rest more in ourselves, in the greater we fly to the rock of our salvation, which is higher than we." (p.116)