Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Friends woo for Christ and open the riches, beauty and honour, and all that is lovely in him

In the 2nd sermon of the Bowels Opened series on Song of Songs, Richard Sibbes takes up the text:
I am came into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have gathered my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved: SONG 5:1.
PDF: Bowels Opened by Richard Sibbes: Sermon 1 & 2

In this verse Christ accepts the invitation of the bride to come. Sibbes describes us as having a sibling and spouse relationship as the church to Christ. He calls us collectively "my sister, my spouse". He becomes one of us in the incarnation so that he can marry the church. In the gospel:
"The church of Christ is every way royal."
Christ has been wounded so that we might gain the true riches of his grace. In the marriage of the church to Christ (1) we have taken his name, Christians of Christ. (2) He has taken on all our debt and we gain all that is his. And (3) those who bring the parties together are friends of the bride. From this he defines the task of a gospel minister!
"so they woo for Christ, and open the riches, beauty, honour, and all that is lovely in him, which is indeed the especial duty of ministers to lay open his unsearchable riches, that the church may know what a husband she is like to have, if she cleave to him; and what an one she leaves, if she forsake him."
What can we do with this?
1. Think often of the nearness of Christ and the church. Answering every accusation with "Go to Christ".
2. His desire is to make us better.
3. Let us live for him. Though this raises the question: are we espoused to Christ. Sibbes identfies the answer in two ways - (1) your heart knows, (2) will we follow him in everything we discover in his word
4. There is grace for us! So consider (1) the excellence of Christ, (2) the necessity of being near him, and (3) the hope of being near him.
As those accepted by Christ we desire Christ and know that he does not come to us empty handed but with abundance of grace and comfort for us. How do we know his acceptance?
"the declaration of the acceptance is most in peace of conscience and joy in the Holy Spirit, and from a holy fire of love kindled by the Spirit"
And so we know that our prayers are accepted, we want to have our hearts right with Christ, for when he comes he comes with grace. So "let us be stirred up to have communion with Christ" for "the church is brought in, delighting in Christ, and he in the church". It is a joyful relationship:
"Whatsoever Christ says to the church, the church says back again to Christ, and he back again to the church. So there is a mutual contentment and joy one in another. 'Eat, friends, drink,' etc."
Shared joy is the Christian life, for others and ourselves. To have joy we need the Spirit:
"There is joy in heaven at the conversion of one sinner, Luke 15:10. God the Father joys to have a new son; God the Son to see the fruit of his own redemption, that one is pulled out of the state of damnation; and God the Holy Spirit, that he has a new temple to dwell in; the angels, that they have a new charge to look to, that they had not before, to join with them to praise God. So there is joy in heaven; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with the angels, joy at it; and all true-hearted Christians joy in the graces one of another.... All that have grace in them are of Christ's and of the angels' disposition. They joy at the conversion and growth of any Christians. Here, such as they are styled friends and beloved; and indeed none but friends and beloved can love as Christ loves, and delight as Christ delights. "

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