So here’s the deal. I am going to post some random discussion posts for anyone who would like to talk about the portion of the book I cover here. Each month, I am going to wait until the 15th (or two weeks) before posting discussion posts so that everyone will have a chance to get some reading done. Obviously, there is no way that we can discuss everything in the book, so I am going to my selective and sometimes random. My guess is that I will post somewhere between 4-6 discussion posts for each month, but don’t hold me to it!
An Outline of Chapters 1-2:
> Text: Isaiah 42:1-3
Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
“In pursuing his calling, Christ will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax, in which more is meant than spoken, for he will not only not break nor quench, but he will cherish those with whom he so deals” (7).
> The Promises of God in Christ:
A. As seen in the Trinitarian work of redemption, our grounds of comfort:
“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 comfort is this, that, seeing God’s love rests on Christ, as well pleased in him, we may gather that he is as well pleased with us, if we be in Christ! . . . Let us, therefore, embrace Christ, an 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 gives a commission to Christ; the Spirit furnishes and sanctifies it, and Christ himself executes the office of Mediator. Our redemption is founded upon the joint agreement of all three persons of the Trinity” (2).
B. As seen in Christ’s offices:
“As a prophet, he came with blessings in his mouth . . .” (8).
“He came to die as a priest for his enemies” (8).
“He is a meek king; he will admit mourners into his presence . . .” (8).
“He is a physician good at all diseases, especially at the binding up of a broken heart” (8).
See here how Christocentric and Trinitarian Sibbes is! His focus is preeminently on Christ, his character, offices, and work of redemption. Other times you will hear Sibbes speak of Christ as Mediator, Friend, Husband, Shepherd, and Brother. It is clear that he wants us to be assured and comforted that God is for us in His Son wherein all the promises of God, even the one in Isaiah 42:1-3, are “yes and amen” to the glory of God (2 Cor. 1:20). The starting point we must have is not our corruption but God’s character which is infinitely good, loving, and faithful.
> The Bruised Reeds:
A. Who Are the Bruised Reeds:
“The bruised reed is a man that for the most part is in some misery, as those were that came to Christ for help, and by misery he is brought to see sin as the cause of it, for, whatever pretences sin makes, they come to an end when we are bruised and broken. He is sensible of sin and misery, even unto bruising; and, seeing no help in himself, is carried with restless desire to have supply from another . . .” (3-4).
The bruised reed represents a man who experiences the time “when conscience is once awakened, all former sins and present crosses join together to make the bruise the more painful” (11).
B. Bruising Before Conversion:
“This bruising is required before conversion that so the Spirit may make way for himself into the heart by levelling [sic] all proud, high thoughts, and that we may understand ourselves to be what indeed we are by nature. . . . Our hearts, like criminals, until they are beaten from all evasions, never cry for the mercy of the Judge” (4).
C. Bruising After Conversion:
“After conversion we need bruising so that reeds may know themselves to be reeds, and not oaks. Even reeds need bruising, by reason of the remainder of pride in our nature, and to let us see that we live by mercy” (5).
D. Counsel for Bruised Reeds:
“Hence we should learn that we must not pass too harsh judgment upon ourselves or others when God exercises us with bruising upon bruising” (5).
“Shall our sins discourage us, when he appears there only for sinners? Are you bruised? Be of good comfort, he calls you. Conceal not your wounds, open all before him and take not Satan’s counsel. Go to Christ, although trembling, as the poor woman who said, ‘If I may but touch his garment’ (Matt. 9:21)” (9).
E. The Goal of Bruising – That We Might Treasure Christ!
“A set measure of bruising of ourselves cannot be prescribed, but it must be so far as (1) that we may prize Christ above all, and see that a Saviour must be had; and (2) that we reform that which is amiss, though it be the cutting off of our right hand, or pulling out of our right eye” (12).
“But if we have this for a foundation of truth, that there is more mercy in Christ than sin in us, there can be no danger in thorough dealing. It is better to go bruised to heaven than sound to hell. Therefore let us not take off ourselves too soon, or pull off the plaster before the cure be wrought, but keep ourselves under this work till sin be the sourest, and Christ the sweetest, of all things” (12-13).
1. A bruised reed is “sensible of sin and misery,” but how does a sinner come to this point? We know that sinners often have a seared conscience, hard heart, and depraved mind. So how does the Spirit of God bring about the bruising before conversion?
2. Sibbes’ argued that God bruises after conversion, to deal with indwelling sin and corruption. Have you ever experienced such post-conversion bruising? Care to share?
May we all feel the weight of the words, “There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us”! Are you bruised? Be of good comfort. He calls you . . . to treasure Him, sweetest of all. O that we may taste and see that He is good (Psalm 34:8)!