Life of Faith 12: Our City of Refuge

By Richard Sibbes

When we have a zeal against all contrary doctrine, as St Paul shows to the Galatians, who would have joined works with faith: “Christ is become of none effect unto you; whoever of you are justified by the law, you are fallen from grace” Galatians 5:4 and in the third chapter he says , ” Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you not to obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly portrayed among you as crucified?”  “I just want to learn this from you. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith?”  Galatians 3:1,2  A man sound in the point of justification has a hatred to …(certain religions)1 and all such doctrine which impairs the riches of the grace of Christ.  Death is in such a … Why are some of them then saved? Not because they die in that religion, but because they reverse their judgment in this point of justification.  So you see there is a hatred, a zeal in such, as St Paul had against contrary doctrines.

There is peace and joy settled in the heart: as Romans 5:1,2, “Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;  through whom we also have our access by faith into this grace in which we stand. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. ”

Questions: To add one thing more before I leave this point, In the case of relapse and falling, what shall we do then? Aren’t we then cut off?  We must then have a new incision?

I answer, every man who fall does not fall on all-four, fall away totally.  There are degrees of falling; as in a sick man, though ill, he is brought to death.  Some life and some strength remains, which works toward health again.  There is so much grace and life in justification left, as to recover him again.  But as in other cases, so in relapses also, a man must live by faith.  We see, 2nd Corinthians 5:20, even such as were in the state of grace, are entrusted to be reconciled.

Though we fall, we must not therefore fall off, but stir up grace, and recover ourselves again.  So Isaiah 55:7, there it is said, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous his thoughts: and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” And then he adds the reason, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” So Jeremiah 3:1, “They say if a man puts away his wife, and she from him and become another man’s should he return to her again?  Wouldn’t the land be greatly polluted?  But you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me says the Lord.  Thus we must live by faith, for all our slips and falls, yet not to let go of our hold, but still run to the horns of this alter, still fly to this city of refuge, and so we shall be safe.

 

 


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Life of Faith 11: The Justified Highly Value the Justifier

By Richard Sibbes

Now let us see how it may be known that I live the life of faith in justification.

By trying how it comes in the soul: as Romans 7:4, says the apostle, Therefore, my brothers, you also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you would be joined to another, to him who was raised from the dead, that we might produce fruit to God.”  After a man is dead by the law, and apprehends himself slain, then he comes to live this life of faith.  Christ enlivens none but the dead…Such only are quickened by him who find themselves dead in the law.  Then they come to see that life and comfort are out of themselves and in another.  Justification springs from a holy despair, and receiving life, after we have seen ourselves dead.

Where this life of faith is, there is a wonderful high valuing and prizing of Christ, his righteousness, merits, obedience, and wisdom of God in that way of forgiveness of our sins by this God-man, the wonderful mediator; as in Philippians 3:8, Paul counts all things “but loss and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord,” being contented to suffer the loss of all things to win Christ.  It is the precious pearl to sell all for.  Paul accounts all our own righteousness as nothing in regard to this.

There must be a high estimation of the riches of Christ’s obedience and sufferings: for where there is not this high estimation of it, they are rotten in the point of justification.  But you see how Paul sets at being bad and vilifies all things in regard thereof; so Roman 4:16, “Abraham is brought in to be justified by grace, to the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed. ” And Psalm 32:2, He is pronounced to be the blessed man, “unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity, and whose sin is covered.”

 

 

 


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Life of Faith 10: Repentance, Confession, and Joy

By Richard Sibbes

Look back every day to the passage thereof.  See how we have passed along, see what sins have escaped you; then come at night to God, confess and be sorry for all, resolve against all, crave strength against all.  Oh it is a fearful state to sleep in sin; better sleep in a house of adders and venomous beasts.  See also and watch every morning; corruption does cleave to all our best actions; we pass no day so, but we have cause to say, Lord forgive us our sins.  By this course we shall keep our souls free, being ready for death.  We shall by our particular reckoning, every day clearing the score, be ready for our great general pardon, and when trouble comes, have only that to encounter with.

I beseech you, therefore, put this in practice.  Be sure with the day to clear the sins of the day; so shall you live a comfortable life, for death, for sickness, trouble, or whatsoever, all our business lying in heaven then.

—”If it be thus, we need not care how we sin: it is but every day to sue out a new pardon.”

Oh beware, if our pardon be sealed, there must be confession, sorrow for sin, resolution with full purpose to do so no more; there must be arraigning, condemning, and judging of ourselves for it, because whatsoever we would not have God to do, we must do it ourselves.  Our time in getting this ransom sealed, is for the most part according to our sin.  He that has such a resolution to sin every day, because sin is pardoned everyday, he may go long enough without pardon, at least comfort of his pardon.

For though pardon of sins be pronounced, yet God has the keeping of joy in his own hand.  As David had his sin pardoned,—by the judgement of faith he knew this much—yet Ps. 51:8, how does he pray for joy, and that God would heal the bones which he had broken! He roared all the day, and still felt a pain like the breaking of bones.  The joy of the Spirit had left him.  This he cries to have restored.

Thus though sin may be pardoned, yet the more we sin, with little repenting, the longer we shall be wanting of joy; or, it may be, go all our lifetime mourning without comfort in such a case.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Life of Faith 9: The Ground of Faith

By Richard Sibbes

…Justification is not only a sentence of pardon, but it is also as in Roman 5:15, a title to life everlasting:

“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one, much more they who receive the abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by Jesus Christ.”

Where God pardons, he advances.  So if Satan shall come to shake my title, to shake this faith, assure him that Christ came to save sinners.  If he object, “your title is nothing, it is stained, being that you have so many sins and corruptions within your mortal body.”  answer him, “This just serves my faith for comfort, to show me that my title is in Christ.” my strength and ground of comfort is in him, not in myself.

See one parallel example, how David lived this life of faith in justification:

“If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, who shall stand?(Psalm 130:3)

There he pronounces death on himself unless he be acquitted, and so it is in our case.  But then comes the appeal:

“But mercy is with you, that you may be feared.”

Think on this yourself.  If a man is sound on this point, all he does is nothing.  This is all in all.  Our sanctification without this is nothing.  This is the ground of all.  Be careful of this, to look to Christ’s obedience, life, death, and sufferings, and those comforts flowing from our interest therein.

 

 


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Life of Faith 8: He Justifies Us Daily

By Richard Sibbes

As we sin daily, so Zech.13.1, “There is a fountain daily running, to wash away sin and uncleanness.” Therefore for our daily sinning, we must continually run and bathe our souls in this blood, apply the comforts of his sufferings, intercession, and obedience unto us.  St. John teaches us this much; He says, “If any man sin, we have as advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,”  1st John 2.1.  If we sin daily, he justifies the sinner daily:  He came to save sinners: therefore, when sin stirs us up to run from God, we should run to him.  Faith says, “There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8.1.  Why?

My sin was condemned in Christ, and a condemned person has no voice.  Christ came to destroy sin, and condemned sin in the flesh.  Our sins were crucified with him, and are now all condemned sins, if we will go to Christ, who has borne all our iniquities, as the prophet Isaiah excellently shows.  Therefore St. Paul triumphantly demands the question, “Who will lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?  It is God who justifies, who is he that condemns?  “It is Christ who died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.  Who shall then separate us from the love of Christ?  Romans 8.38,31. 

So in our daily sins you see we have use of these things, to have, upon our confession, a daily pardon of course taken out everyday.  Thus God would not have us sink.  So long as there is matter of guilt in us, God will have a way to cleanse our souls, and renew our comforts.  Everyday we run into new debts, and everyday in the Lord’s prayer we are taught to ask pardon, and to run to God, to have the book crossed out with his blood.

Every day a Christian must eye the brazen serpent, I mean the Lord Jesus, signified thereby; he must sprinkle his heart with the blood if Christ, that the destroying angel may pass him in the day of wrath, as the Israelites then did.

This is it to live by faith; every day to sue out our pardon; to look to our advocate and surety, who has paid our debts, and cancelled that obligation against us, contrary to us, as the apostle speaks, daily to wash in that ever-running fountain. “Christ is a priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec,” Ps.  110.4.  Though the act be past, he remains the same still.  What puts down our courage, strikes us with terror and fear, but our sins?  Oh but why is this brazen serpent lifted, but to wash away our daily frailties and failings,so as whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life? John 3.14-15. 

Life of Faith 8: Sinners Justified

By Richard Sibbes

We live the life of faith in justification.  This is a life of sentence that the soul lives by, peace being spoken unto it by the pardon of sin; for God by his Spirit communicates so much to the soul, giving us assurance that Christ our surety and peace-maker is raised up again.

So Ephesians 2:5 says “Even when we were dead in sins, he has given us life together with Christ, and raised us together, and made us sit in heavenly places with him.”  And why?  Because our Surety has paid our debt.  We say of a man condemned, he is a dead man until he have a pardon, which he has obtained, we turn our speech, and say, he lives.  So in justification: being united to Christ, and believing our pardon, we are said to live.  Our sins lie on him as our surety; for then, as our husband in charge, he pays all our debts.

Thus by virtue of our marriage to Christ, he discharges all our debts, and goes away with them; even as the scapegoat in the wilderness went quite away will all the sins and iniquities of the people, never to return again.  Look to our sins, the curse and wrath due them, and all is laid on him.  Look at all the good in him, that is for us; all the evil in us, look also to him for it, to have it taken away, pardoned, and not imputed.


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Life of Faith 7: Faith Throughout

By Richard Sibbes

Now we have come to the main thing intended, how we live by the faith of the Son of God.  We will not approach the depths of such a profound mystery; only I will endeavor to give you some heads, where faith principally exercises her powers and functions.

  • The life of faith is exercised in our effectual calling.
  • In the state of justification, through which comes reconciliation.
  • In a vigorous life, arising on the comfort of our justification, our being credited right with God.
  • In our sanctification; in those supplies faith finds out to make up the imperfection thereof, faith works to make itself and us more perfected.  
  • The life of faith in glorification.

We live by faith in all the several passages of this life, as we will see when we come to them.  Thus we live continually by the faith of the Son of God, and so we must live until we come to heaven.

We live the life of faith in our effectual calling.  The Spirit works it, the Spirit is God’s hand.  This makes our eyes to be bent upwards to see a better life, to see a calling, to a holy and righteous living in all things,  to see what a rich means is provided to reconcile God and man, to satisfy justice, and so to draw us in a new way and course of life, to rely on God, and look to him in all our actions.

Then the grace of union is given.  God’s Spirit works our hearts by this faith, to have first union and then communion with God.  Thus the soul being seasoned, and seeing the excellency and necessity of another life, touches Christ, and begins to live the life of faith in effectual calling; for at first we are dead and unlovely creatures, estranged from grace and gracious actions, until, in this state, Christ is discovered by the Spirit, and faith to unite us to him.

 


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Life of Faith 6 : Faith Conveys Life

By Richard Sibbes

We have seen briefly there is another life than the life of nature; and the root and spring of it is the Son of God.  Now the way of conveyance of this life is “by faith.”  A fountain is not sufficient to send forth water abroad; there must be pipes to convey it for use.  So from the heart and liver there must be arteries and veins for the maintenance of life and conveyance of blood through all the body.

Christ is the heart and liver of all spiritual life; but there must be a conveyance to bring it to us, and this is faith.  But why is faith the grace to convey life to us?

Because we are saved now out of ourselves by another.  Therefore that grace which brings us to this great good must lead us out of ourselves.  This faith does, which is the hand of the soul, to lay hold of all the graces, excellencies, and high perfections of Christ.

Because faith gives all the glory to the party whom it relies on and trusts, as in Romans 3:20.  Paul shows why works were excluded; and such a righteousness was brought in, he says, the he might be just, and the justifier of him who believes; and then he adds, “Where is boasting then? it is excluded.  By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.”  If by love it has come, or humility, patience, or anything in us, there might be some boasting; but this looks another way, lays hold upon another’s riches.  Faith acknowledges nothing to be at home;  therefore it goes to another to fetch it, which else it would not do.

Because we must be brought back to God by a contrary way than we were lost by; for the same way could never have recovered.  The serpent, we know, shook Eve’s faith in believing the threatening.  While they kept the word and feared the commandment, they kept their life; but, losing this fearing respect, they lost communion with the fountain of love.  So we fell by infidelity, and must return again by faith in the righteousness of another.

 


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Life of Faith 5: He is Life and Light

By Richard Sibbes

…before Christ is made life for us, he must be a man first, as in John 6.55, “For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.”  And the reason he gives life is, that he is also God, being that bread which came down from heaven, of which “whosoever eats shall live forever.”  Now this great work of our salvation being of necessity to be performed by an infinite person as God is, who could not die, he, therefore, took upon himself a mortal nature, to open a current to mercy and justice.  Therefore his flesh is meat indeed, but the flesh profits nothing without the Spirit which gives life; for there must be a Spirit to seal up all this unto us.  As without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins, so without the Spirit sealing these things unto our souls, we can have no comfort of them.

When we speak of spiritual life, he is it that we live for; by him, and in him, and through him we live.  Therefore, 1st Corinthians 15:45, “the last Adam is called a life-giving Spirit,” because by that Spirit he gives life to himself, and gives this life to us now to live the life of grace, and shall after give life to our dead bodies at the resurrection.

So he is called “the Sun of righteousness,” for light a heat, because as the sun lightens and warms, so he is the light of the world, as John speaks, “lighting everything that comes into the world,” John 1:9, warming also and cherishing the mass of things, and therefore is called light and life.