LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Robert Grow's "Devoted Life": A Great Read!

The following is from Bobby Grows "Devoted Life". I loved this post so much that I brought it to BlueCollar blog. The original post can be found here http://bobbygro.wordpress.com/devoted-life/


Richard Sibbes on the Natural Man and Gracious Man: Struggling With Sin 9/17/07
Do you ever feel defeated in your Christian life? Do you ever look at your life, and wonder why you never see any victory over sin? Does this cause you angst and doubt in your communion with Jesus Christ? Richard Sibbes, English Puritan pastor and theologian addresses this very issue in his Bruised Reed treatise. He highlights the reality of living in a fallen, yet redeemed body, and the constant struggle we have as God’s people as the old nature begins to fade away (although not as quickly as we would like), and the new man (Christ in us) emerges from the ashes of our lives. In chapter VI, entitled: Grace is mingled with Corruption, Sibbes says:


. . . The ground of this mixture is, that we carry about us a double principle, grace and nature. The end of it is especially to preserve us from those two dangerous rocks which our natures are prone to dash upon, security and pride; and to force us to pitch our rest on justification, not sanctification, which, besides imperfection, has some soil.


Our spiritual fire is like our ordinary fire here below, that is, mixed; but fire is most pure in its own element above; so shall all our graces be when we are where we would be, in heaven, which is our proper element.


. . . From this mixture it is, that the people of God have so different judgments of themselves, looking sometimes at the work of grace, sometimes at the remainder of corruption, and when they look upon that, then they think they have no grace; though they love Christ in his ordinances and children, yet dare not challenge so near acquaintance as to be his. Even as a candle in the socket sometimes sheweth its light, and sometimes the show of light is lost; so sometimes well persuaded they are of themselves, sometimes at a loss. (Richard Sibbes, trans. Grosart, “The Works of Richard Sibbes,” 50)


Remember Sibbes wrote in the 17th century, and some of this is set in a polemic context oriented towards a particular strand of theology that caused many lay Puritans to wonder if indeed they were elect. Sibbes, like Luther might, challenges the laity to look at Christ, realize that because of His work they are children of heaven, and that their souls are firmly anchored at the right hand of the throne of the Father. Sibbes, as we all should, recognized that we are still living in these natural corrupt bodies (as Paul did cf. Gal. 5:17); and there are points which nature appears to overwhelm grace and the light of Christ. This can be discouraging, but Sibbes wants us to remember that this “competition” between nature and grace has no bearing on ones union with Christ, rather upon our communion. The remedy, look up at Christ, recognize we are in battle that has already been won; and continue to walk humbly with our God!
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I CANNOT!


We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11. For we who are alive always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. ~II Corinthians 4:10, 11


What does the crucified life imply about ourselves? It seems clear that we have that nagging tendency to get in the way, so to speak. In other words, the reality of Christ’s cross, in our lives, is that we are put to death with Him, as He vicariously puts us to death at the cross of Calvary. It hurts the ego to die, doesn’t it? Isn’t this the struggle Paul talks about in Galatians 5:17? Our sin nature, the one that dies daily, is constantly desiring to pop its ugly head up against the beautiful face of Christ.


I would suggest (I say to self) to go with the pain and hurt of death, and walk in the security and comfort that the LIFE of Christ provides for each of us reconciled to Him. Interestingly all we can do is start with knowledge of Christ, first, in order to come to the point that we truly are able to see ourselves as we are in ourselves . . . dead and ugly. BUT this is okay, our life and “esteem” are rooted in Christ, not ourselves. It is okay, contrary to popular preaching, to talk about how filthy and wretched we are; because we know that the super-abundant beauty and life of Christ is now genuinely our life. In fact I would venture to say that those who would shrink away from seeing themselves as they truly are (dead and ugly), are starting with themselves, and attempting to reach Christ in their “own glory”. It is only when we see ourselves through Christ, both wretched and redeemed that it can be truly said that we have a Christ-centered gospel.


Remember Christ alone is supreme over both death and life (cf. Col. 1:13ff), the only way we can truly know Him is to recognize that within ourselves we cannot. We need to abandon ourselves and flee to Christ—of course when we do this we are truly admitting what the gospel has been saying all along—I CANNOT!
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PRAY WITHOUT CEASING: CHRIST’S MEDIATION


I recently finished a book called The Mediation of Christ by T. F. Torrance, and ever since I have been meditating upon the access we have to the Father through the mediatorial work of Jesus—it is quite mind-boggling when you ponder this reality. Think about this:


Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20. by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body, 21. and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22. let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. ~Hebrews 10:19-22


Of course the background context on this is the holy of holies of the Levitic system of worship in the Old Testament. Once a year the high priest could enter behind the veil and offer up petition and sacrifice unto Yahweh for his sins and the sins of the people. Now we continuously stand in the holy of holies through the mediating work of Jesus Christ! Wait a minute did you catch that? We stand, in Christ, in the holy of holies, the very throneroom of God. And not only that, but we are called to stand here boldly and confidently because of Jesus Christ. If I were you I would think deeply upon this, I would meditate on what this means for prayer and intercession. I would cogitate upon the kind of intimacy I have with the Father, and realize that when I pray He in fact is listening; because He listens to His Son—which I am by adoption. Just think about it, when we pray, He listens, He responds, He moves within the essence of His very being; of which we have been reconciled to in Christ. Jesus takes our frail petitions and shapes them into the mold of His perfect dialogue with the Father, leading to responses that fit perfectly within the plans and purposes of His sovereign direction.


Conclusion:


Pray boldly, without ceasing, and realize that because we are in Christ, we are included in the trinitarian dialogue that takes place between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
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TRINITY, LOVE, GOSPEL: RICHARD SIBBES
Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), Puritan pastor and theologian has a few words on the sufficiency of Christ’s offering to the Father, and the trinitarian shape of the gospel:


What a support to our faith is this, that God the Father, the party offended by our sins, is so well pleased with the work of redemption! And what a comfort is this, that seeing God’s love resteth on Christ, as well pleased in him, we may gather that he is as well pleased with us, if we be in Christ! For his love resteth in whole Christ, in Christ mystical, as well as Christ natural, because he loveth him and us with one love. Let us, therefore, embrace Christ, and in him God’s love, and build our faith safely on such a Saviour, that is furnished with so high a commission.
See here, for our comfort, a sweet agreement of all three persons: the Father giveth a commission to Christ; the Spirit furnisheth and sanctifieth to it; Christ himself executeth the office of a Mediator. Our redemption is founded upon the joint agreement of all three persons of the Trinity. (Richard Sibbes, trans. Grosart, “Works of Richard Sibbes: The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax,” 42-3)


What amazing thoughts! Did you notice in the first paragraph how Sibbes highlights the function that our union with Christ has before the Father. We are loved by the Father, with the same love that He loves His Son, Jesus, with. Let that reality sink in, meditate upon how intimate in fact you are with the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit! We are truly represented, and known to the Father, because of the redemptive work and mediatorial Priesthood of the Son. Come boldly to the Father, come as if you are His dearly beloved Son . . . because You are! We have been enveloped into the intratrinitarian life of the Father, Son, and Spirit; snatched out of the idolatry and slavery of self-love, and brought into the union and communion of HIS love. LOVE BOLDLY!

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2 Comments:

Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Thank you Mark, I'm honored that you posted this stuff.

September 20, 2007 2:36 PM

 
Blogger Angela said...

I also LOVE Bobby's devotional posts! And, I can understand them! I am proud of my husband! He is an amazing man of God!

In Christ,

angela

September 20, 2007 4:31 PM

 

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