Life of Faith 21: Turn the Valve

By Richard Sibbes

 

Two things are opposite to this life of faith.

One, Despair.  This cuts the pillars of hope.  Against many, as Luther for one, have been tempted to despair, but yet setting on the work, have overcome.  So the Israelites were afraid, upon the evil report of the spies of Canaan; but when they went on, they overcame and beat down their enemies.  So we say, Oh, I will never overcome such a sin, or such a corruption, or do such a duty.  This is not true, go on, look to Christ, join his strength with your endeavor, be out of love with it, resolve thoroughly, set on it strongly, and down it will go before you.

Second, is presumption; for this know, that in his own strength shall no man be strong.  In St Paul’s speech. “By grace I am what I am.” (1st Corinthians 15:10).  So, again, he says, “in him” to think, in Christ “we live, and move, and have our being,” (Acts 17:28).  If we presume, it is just with Christ to forsake us, as he did Peter.  Take heed also of spiritual self-sufficiency, or else we rest on ourselves, and do not go to Christ.  Our moving to all good duty is by him.  It is but a word for him to help us, either in things tending to a spiritual or a natural life.  Therefore, for the summing up of all, do not leave him.  In your emptiness go to his fullness.  If your cistern is dry, turn the valve of your faith, and his fountain will fill again.  Take him still along with you, and you cannot not choose but to live this life of faith in growing in holiness and obedience.

 


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Life of Faith 20: Faith and Prayer

By Richard Sibbes

Let’s set upon all Goliaths, therefore, by the word and Spirit, and with everything set our will against them, that we strongly desire and endeavor to be rid of such hindrances and encumbrances, and we will in the end find a notable victory over them; and so in all troubles and frustrations, as in (Luke 17:3-4), the disciples beg of God for the increase of their faith.  This will help us out in all storms and tempests; help faith and help all.  This will set heaven and earth to working for our good.

We see in, (Hebrews 11), that all is attributed to faith.  Why? Many other things came together in those excellent actions for doing them; but all is attributed to faith, because faith is the great wheel which sets all the rest to working, and stirs up all, as in (1st Corinthians 13:4) it is said of love, that it does all: for the same reason, because in those things there mentioned it stirs up the rest.  So in any grace that which is lacking in us, go to Christ and say, Lord, I lack wisdom, counsel, strength, understanding, prudence in your holy fear.  The fullness of these are in you; Lord, it is for your glory to help your poor servant, and give some measure of these upon me to do your own work with.  Look! I Lord,  lay myself down to you to work through me.  I have an angry spirit, full of tossing and turning, but you are the Prince of peace, abounding in meekness.  Oh give me such a meek and peaceable spirit, as, learning of you, I may be meek and lowly in heart.

I have written you only a few things; make use of them, and think on these, yourselves.  In all things let’s with confession of our needs, have an eye to his fullness, and then we will find more of abundance, when we do not attempt these duties in our own strength only.

 

 

 


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Life of Faith 19: His Promises, Life, and Victory

By Richard Sibbes

 

Therefore he will take courage for any duty, to encounter and resist any sin; on this ground, as he should say,

“Don’t I have a storehouse of strength to go to? Isn’t he full of grace and goodness? Aren’t all his works done for us ? Don’t I have so many, great, rich, and precious promises of help? Isn’t he the truth itself? Is there not then supply enough in Christ to help me out in all things?”

It would be Pharaoh-like to set us to work without strength and ability to go through with our work.  There is light and heat in the sun to direct and cherish, much more in Christ their Maker.  It is grace that leads us through all. We are justified freely through his grace, and by his grace we have continual strength supplied to enable us in all things. It is grace, grace! A sanctified one who lives by faith will therefore cheerfully set upon every duty.

Again, in this case, all is lively in a man.  As we see a lively fountain, the water of it will sparkle and leap, so there will be living joys, words, delights, encouragements, being sensible of good and evil.

He will trust God, rely on his word and promise, because Christ cannot touch the soul, but the soul will be lively.  As the man who as soon as touched Elisha’s bones, he stood up and revived, (2nd kings 13:21), so a touch of Christ makes alive and makes energetic.  As Christ’s promise is, John 4:14, “Whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up to everlasting life.” Let’s make use of all of this, On this discovery remember to go to Christ for help, and labor to live plentifully and abundantly in him this life of faith.

But, some may say,

“how should I go on to finish this great work of grace? It is a mighty thing to attain to, so many sins to overcome, so many temptations to fight with, so many right hands and eyes to cut off and pull out.”

I answer: Faith teaches us to go to Christ to receive all from him, to beg his Spirit to help us in the course of growing in holiness and obedience, that by his might we may prevail; and so in all mastering sin beg strength of Christ, and then set upon the walls of Jericho, and they will fall before you.

How shall this be done?

As they did; they believed the promise, that circling it seven times it should fall to the ground.  So we, having the subduing of sin in us, let’s set upon them, look up to Christ, believe the promise; and our walls of sin will fall so far before us, as they will neither hinder our comfort nor our salvation.  Eclipse it they may for a little while, but the sun will shine again, break through and dispel all those clouds and mists

 


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Life of Faith 18: Looking to Him for All

By Richard Sibbes

 

let’s see some trials to discern whether we live this life of faith in sanctification.

If it is this way with us, There will he a setting of ourselves under Christ’s government in all things.  Faith will do all that Christ commands, depending upon him for strength; and the one who depends on Christ for strength in one thing, will depend upon him for strength in another. There is a harmony between the soul of a Christian and the command of obedience.  He hearkens to the precepts of duty, as well as to the promises of forgiveness of sins. Where there is no universal obedience, there is not the life of faith in sanctification; for faith here takes not exception at one duty more than another, but looks for all the strength of performance from Christ, who for this cause is stored with all fullness, that it may drop down upon all his members.

 

Again, There will be a wonderful care not to grieve the Spirit, in such a one. As if he should say,

“I must depend upon the Spirit for help and assistance to do all, to guide me in my whole course, and shall I grieve and turn away from the Spirit? Shall I live in such away as to make him leave me? He must lead, instruct, comfort me, and assure me of my happiness; shall I then quench the Spirit?”

Therefore, I say, there will be a giving way to it, and a resolution settled, that this guiding in sanctification is the best guidance of all.  A believing heart does tremble at any thing that hinders the Spirit’s working.  It does not step forward in anything without direction of the word and Spirit.

Life of Faith 17: Praying for Strength

By Richard Sibbes

 

Thus we seek every day to live our lives, as we not only live the life of faith in justification, but also of sanctification; how out of Christ’s fullness to attain and give to us grace for grace. Therefore in all our wants we go to him still.  He is not only a sacrifice satisfactory for our sins, but he is a storehouse also and treasure of all good things. He is made unto us sanctification, therefore beg favor from him, and endowments of grace conformable to his grace. And again, when we lack fullness, let’s not despair, but get the large vessel of faith, and we will have a share of the great graces which are in Christ, according to the greatness of our faith.

One may ask, “What is the reason that so few find strength and comfort in Christianity?” I say,  they set on the getting of grace, and killing of corruptions by their own strength, and so are ever lacking; but if a man depends on God, he shall have fullness out of Christ. God has sanctified his nature for this purpose, that out of his fullness we might have grace for grace.

And so again, every day go to God, and plead for strength against sin, power to lead a holy life, and imputation of Christ’s righteousness, to supply the defects of our sanctification. St Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13).  These are magnificent words, and is a great thing to have a man ready to suffer all things, and overcome all things. This will make us work wonderfully, if we have this strength supplied.

See in (Luke 27:3-4).  Our Savior tells his disciples, that they must forgive their brother seven times, and seven times, as often as he confesses his fault.  They thought this a very hard duty, for nothing is so sweet to a man as revenge, for he would willingly be his own maker in all things, and do things in his own strength.  The disciples on this fall to praying,  “Lord, increase our faith”; as though they had said. “We had need of faith to believe the pardon of so many sins, and to enable us to forgive so often.”  And so I say for the subduing of sin, we are in need of faith to have so many sins subdued; yet faith will do it.  Now in this great work, first, go to God, and beg his Spirit, and repent of all kinds of sin ; Second, then beg for faith. This will set all other graces to working.

It is like the blood and spirits which run all the body over. So in our spiritual life, this faith must run along in all graces, and set them a-working, yes, it sets God and all his attributes to working.  It runs to Christ, and prays, Lord, increase my faith, that can bear nothing as I should, resist nothing, believe nothing, and trust nothing.

This indeed must be all our strength, to see nothing in ourselves, but all in Christ. Since Adam’s fall, it was appointed that Christ must keep all our joy, our strength, and ability, yes, to be our life. God will not since that time trust us with it, for we would quickly lose all again. This is Christ’s office.  He has these gifts, as man, given him, to furnish us with all things fitting to a spiritual life.  Faith will go get all from God in Christ, who is made the mediator of the New Testament, to convey all these things to us. Yet further, let’s see some trials to discern whether we live this life of faith in sanctification.

 

 


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Life of Faith 16: Faith, Love, Death and Life

By Richard Sibbes

 

Christian affections are as the wind, to carry us on in a holy life.  Thus strength, reason, and affections, these make a man work.  First, love sets us to work : “we love him,” the apostle says,  “because he loved us first,” (1st John 4:19).  We have his love first shed abroad in our hearts, inflaming the affections, and kindling the heat of divine love; and then we send back a reflex of love to him.  God cares for nothing but faith which works by love.  This love is a most operative affection stirred up by faith.  Indeed, all our Christian graces are set to working by faith in Christ.  Thus you see faith apprehending Christ, as God offers him; and these things which I have mentioned following, we come to live the life of faith in sanctification: an example of this is the woman, who because many sins were forgiven her, loved much.  Love is bountiful.  All obedience comes from love.  Love is the keeping of the law.

This affection is stirred up by faith, yes, by Christ, for by him we have the promise of the Spirit, from whom all graces come, and promises of the new covenant, to have fleshly hearts given, and his Spirit put in us.  All promises of justification and sanctification are derived from Christ.  They are in him, made for him, and effected for his sake; for he is ” yes and amen,” the center and ground of all the promises.

Now being brought by faith to live in justification, we must of necessity also live by faith in sanctification.  There are two parts of a holy life: First, In mortification , dying to sin; Second, in being made alive, living to righteousness. For the first, What happens to a man in this case? Why, he looks at what brought Christ to suffer so much; my sin.  So this affection stirs up the same passion in him, in a kind, which was in Christ, and makes him hate sin with a perfect hatred, as in Zechariah it is said, “They should look upon him whom they have pierced, and mourn for him as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first born,”. (Zechariah 12:10)

Secondly, It looks on the love of Christ, that made him give himself for us. This makes us to hate sin, and provokes us to live to him who has done so much for us. These two things in the death of Christ stir up hatred to sin. Then again, in being made alive, the same Spirit which quickened him also quickens us: as in (Colossians 3:1-2), “If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth.” So that the same Spirit which is in Christ, being sent into us, quickens us also to have rising and heavenly thoughts.

As the foot and little finger, though distant, live and stir by the same life and spirits diffused through the whole body, so the same Spirit quickens every Christian this way.  As also by imparting strength, he imparts reasons from the resurrection of Christ to make us heavenly-minded, so when the soul dies one  way, it lives another way.  For Christ having by the Spirit discovered a better state, and life to come, of eternity, immortality, tranquility, and glory; then a Christian dies to all worldly things, and has the affections taken up that way.

Life of Faith 15: Reasons for Growing in Holiness

By Richard Sibbes

 

With justification of necessity comes sanctification.  What will stop God’s mercy?  His anger for sin committed; in that case, he would deny his Spirit.  With reconciliation also comes the Spirit: as in Ephesians 1:13, the apostle says, “In whom also, after you believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”  Now the Spirit once given, is the seed of all graces.

Whoever is justified, has the Spirit of Christ: (Romans 8:9) “And if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not of Christ.”  Having the Spirit of Christ, faith goes and gets all strength from Christ.  Samson’s strength was in his locks; a Christian’s strength is in Christ.  This the devil knows well, and therefore labors especially to weaken faith, and draw us from strength.

Christ says, “Without me you can do nothing,” (John 15:5); and St. Paul affirms, that he “can do all things through Christ who strengthens him,” (Philippians 4:13).  The Spirit gives strength.

As by Christ and his Spirit we have strength, so by his Spirit we have strong convincing reasons to work strength from reason.  Why does a Christian carry himself in a holy just life answering his profession?  Oh, he says, “I have great reason; Christ has loved me, and given himself for me; and shouldn’t I give myself to him, deny my lusts, and live to him?”  for, indeed, the foundation of all Christian obedience is laid by faith in Christ.  So when a man looks to heaven, he has a reason to abstain from all pitfalls and hindrances of his safe and comfortable passage; to magnify the riches of Christ’s love, which has provided for him such an inheritance, and to live accordingly.

So when he looks to the pardon of sins past, he sees reason to hate them more and more, to strive against them in time to come, and to love Christ more, who has pardoned them.  And when he looks to God’s free love in Christ, he sees reason to be inflamed with divine love, to admire the riches of grace, and to be thankful.

 

 

 


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Life of Faith 14: Christ Justifies and Sanctifies Us

By Richard Sibbes

 

The life of faith in sanctification, springs from these grounds:

Faith lays hold on Christ, as God offers him.  How is this?  See 1st Corinthians 1:30—”Because of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.”  God gives Christ, not only for justification, but also for sanctification: and therefore faith must apprehend him.

Faith receives him as whole Christ in all his offices; not as a priest to save only, but as a king to rule; as a wife receives her husband, to be ruled and governed by him.

Again, Christ came not only to take away the guilt of sin, but the dominion of sin also.  He came as John speaks, to destroy the whole work of the devil; as it is said in Ephesians 5:25-27—” …as Christ also loved the assembly, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the assembly to himself gloriously, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without defect.” Christ purges his church not only from the guilt of sin, but also from the meddling and polluting of itself in the world with filthy things.  So in Romans 8:3, the apostle shows, that “God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh;  that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” He came as well by water as by the blood.  Therefore faith puts him on, not only by justification, but also in sanctification.  

 

 

 

 


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Life of Faith 13: Finding Joy in Justification

By Richard Sibbes

 

One may ask:

“But what is the reason that many who are justified yet do not find daily comfort?”

Perhaps they smear up themselves, and do not search the bottom of their corruption: as Psalm 32:8, David, when he kept close his sin, his bones waxed old through his roaring all the day long, and God’s hand was heavy upon him day and night.  Then he shows how he found comfort: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and my iniquity I have not hid.  I said I will confess my transgressions to you; and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”  So it may be in this case.  We come not off with God freely, we do not ransack our sins, we do not search all the corners.  Sin is a marvelously subtle thing.  Again, because of this many times God will humble us for a former sin, and keep the oil of comfort, until we are more humbled, and stand in awe of sin.

Hence springs a vigorous life.  A life of cheerfulness, when a man has his pardon found out, then comes life and joy, strength of holy actions well rooted and grounded.  Who should joy, if a triumphant righteous person should not? Who have cause to rejoice more than kings?

By justification we are made kings and priests, are lifted above all sins and lusts, world and devil; have a right and title to heaven.  Shall a carnal man joy in his titles and privileges, and shall not we much more, being sons of God by adoption, and heirs of all things? So Romans 5:1—”Being justified by faith , we have peace with God, and joy in tribulation.” Being once justified, the sting of all troubles is taken away.  God is ours.  This is all in all.  The blood of Abel, that cries for vengeance; but the Spirit of God in this state tells me, that the blood of Christ speaks better things, mercy, mercy; in his blood is always comfort, though we be weak and unskillful to apply it.  The washing in this blood should make a Christian walk on cheerfully in the comforts of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 


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