Friday, February 1, 2008

The Bruised Reed Chapter 16

This is the concluding chapter to this excellent work by Richard Sibbes. As Spurgeon said he scatters pearls and diamonds throughout this book. The last chapter is as if Sibbes has taken his collection of pearls and diamonds and is now showing them off to the reader. This chapter is rich in its concluding remarks.

Quick Outline:
  • Why Christ's Government is Opposed
  • We Must Expect Opposition
  • Our Victory in Christ is Certain
  • Treasure the Least Degree of Grace
  • Encouragement to Come to Christ
  • Christ is the Hope of the Church
  • Faith Will Prevail


Sibbes point is this concluding chapter is to show us that there will be combat, yet in this combat we will be victorious. To think that we will not have a battle is ridiculous. "There can be no victory if there is no combat". Certainly, Christ will be opposed. Yet, in all of this, Sibbes encourages us that our victory in Christ is certain; our faith will prevail.

The government of Christ will be opposed. Sadly, this opposition will come from our very own flesh. As Sibbes points out, "The flesh still labours to maintain its own government, and therefore it cries down the credit of whatever crosses it, such as God's blessed ordinances, and highly prizes anything, though never so dead and empty, if it allows the liberty of the flesh."

It is utterly stupid that any would oppose Christ, yet we all do at times. Why? We can see from our own hearts that the flesh opposes any type of government. We abhor restraint. The very nature of Christ's rule (it being a rule) will cause men to oppose it. Yet, further still, it is a spiritual government. Since, the flesh constantly wars against the spirit we must not be surprised that Christ is opposed. He is also opposed because men are opposed to judgment. We hate to be censured. We balk at the word no. Therefore, it is obvious that Christ will be opposed by the flesh. We must expect opposition.

"It is therefore no sign of good condition to find all quiet, with no opposition; for can we think that corruption, which is the older element in us, and Satan, the strong man who has many holds over us, will yield possession quietly?" Therefore, we must understand that "wherever Christ comes there will be opposition".

As Sibbes always does, before we get discouraged with our remaining corruption, he reminds us that our victory in Christ is certain. Thankfully, "the victory lies not with us, but with Christ, who has taken on him both to conquer for us and to conquer in us...they are his enemies as well as ours". Is that not very encouraging? It must really strengthen us and frustrate the father of lies to know that "a grain of mustard seed should be stronger than the gates of hell". Oh, the wonderful power of the grace of Christ!

Because of this beautiful reality we must be certain (as Sibbes has labored to prove) that we must treasure the least degree of grace. This all should prove an encouragement to believers and an allurement to unbelievers to come fully under the rule of Christ's government. We shall do so because Christ is the only hope of the Church. (Oh, that we would remember this!) We shall take heart in all of this because faith will prevail! Thanks be to Jesus Christ. We close our summary as did Sibbes, "And may he grant that the prevailing power of his Spirit in us should be an evidence of the truth of grace begun, and a pledge of final victory, at that time when he will be all in all, in all his, for all eternity. Amen."


Do you agree with Sibbes' statement that it is "no sign of a good condition to find all quiet"? My personal take is that he should have (and perhaps in the Puritan language he has) added the word "sure". Therefore it would read: "It is therefore no sure sign of a good condition to find all quiet". It appears as if Sibbes is saying that if all is quiet then something is wrong. (I believe Owen considers something of the like in his work Overcoming Sin and Temptation). What is your take on this?

What are your thoughts on this book, overall? How has the Lord used it in your life? Questions? Comments?

Pearls and Diamonds:

"Though corruption does not prevail so far as to make void the powerful work of grace, yet there is not only a possibility of opposing, but a proneness to oppose, and not only a proneness, but an actual withstanding of the working of Christ's Spirit, and that in every action" (p.118)

"...wherever Christ comes there will be opposition". (p.121)

"...we see the conflicting, but yet sure and hopeful, state of God's people." (p.122)

"Satan will object, 'You are a great sinner.' We may answer, 'Christ is a strong Saviour.'" (p.123)

"Oh, what a confusion is this to Satan, the he should labour to blow out a poor spark and yet should not be able to quench it; that a grain of mustard seed should be stronger than the gates of hell..." (p.124)

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