Friday, September 03, 2010

The Gospel Awakens the Heart

Having shown eight ways to stay spiritually awake Sibbes continues first to win us to being awake, and second to wake us up with the gospel.

Getting hold of Sibbes isn't easy. Banner of Truth will sell you his complete works for £95 and they publish two other books. I'm working from some low quality scanned PDFs of the complete works, including the sermon series Bowels Opened. 

What does gospel wakefulness look like?
(from the end of sermon 4)
"When he is in his right temper, he is an excellent person, fit for all attempts. He is then impregnable. Satan has nothing to do with him, for he, as it is said, is then a wise man, and has his eyes in his head. He knows himself, his state, his enemies, and adversaries, the snares of prosperity and adversity, and of all conditions, etc. He being awake, is not overcome of the evil of any condition, and is ready for the good of any estate. He that has a waking soul sees all the advantages of good, and all the snares that might draw him to ill. What a blessed estate is this!"
Please, more of that. And that means more of the gospel. In Sermon 5 Sibbes draws us in that direction. He's known for his Espousal Theology - captivated by the marital relationship of Christ and the church that is so clear in The Song of Songs. He reflects that:
Take a Christian at the lowest, his heart yearns after Christ. Acknowledging him to be his beloved, there is a conjugal chastity in the soul of a Christian. Holding firm to the covenant and marriage between Christ and it, he keeps that unviolable. Though he may be untoward, sleepy, and drowsy, yet there is always a conjugal, spouse-like affection. 'It is the voice of my beloved,' etc. ...
The gospel-wakeful Christian longs for Christ but might wonder if Christ will receive one who is so prone to sleepiness...
As the true soul that is touched with the Spirit, desires nearer and nearer communion with Christ; so he seeks nearer and nearer communion with his spouse, by all sanctified means. Christ has never enough of the soul. He would have them more and more open to him. Our hearts are for Christ, who has the heaven of heavens, and the soul of a believing Christian for himself to dwell in. Christ is not content to be in heaven alone, but he will have our hearts.... How can Christ come into the soul? He comes into the heart by his Spirit... 
The heart never has enough of Christ, nor he of us!
Let us remember this and be awoken:
We need not wonder at this
his willingness to receive us,
when we first know that
God became man,
happiness became misery, and
life itself came to die,
and to be 'a curse for us,' (Gal. 3:13)
It's the gospel. It doesn't just wake up the heart like absorbing caffeine from a hot beverage, it's more like injecting adrenaline into a vein. "When a Christian has a heart and grace to awake, then his love, his patience, his faith is awake, as it should be. He is fit for all conditions, to do good in them, and to take good by them."

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