Welcome to a year of reading Richard Sibbes together! The reading plan for the entire year can be accessed here. I encourage you to stick with us, allow yourself time to read, and soak in the riches of this gifted and prolific Puritan preacher. You will be edified and encouraged.
If you have trouble with how Sibbes used words, check out the Lexicons of Early Modern English for definitions from the period.
Calling and glory. Some confuse the two with each other, assuming that calling is glory. They glory in work, in a job well done, or the mere title afforded by a position. This is weak glory. This is the glory of man, cheaply attained, and rests on the shoulders like gaudy and fake party jewelry. If your glory is in such a weak calling, then surely you have your reward now.
But what of the Christian’s calling? Are we called merely to title and comfort now to enjoy the benefits of a now once-dominant cultural stance? Is all that we strive for a cheap foil wrapping on hard candy? Fancy looking yet cheap. Sweet, satisfying for a moment, but either slowly worn down or crushed in seconds. Have we been called to prestige in the church and the respect of peers? Is it merely to soothe our conscience as we smile our way to hell, clutching our sins tighter than the Christ, assuming we have him because we know his name yet do not know him?
“Many may know Christ in a sort, but not apprehend him. What is my knowledge, but so much the more misery to me, if I apprehend not Christ?”
No, the calling of the Christian is Jesus Christ himself. We seek nothing less than God to the detriment of our former self. Yes, we celebrate the death of the old man, and live with heads bowed under the cross where Jesus bore the wrath of God for our sins. This is glory. The God who loves us and created us, atoned for all who would believe, and calls them to himself. Our calling is not cheap imitation glory. Our calling is the very glory and righteousness of Christ draped on our broken bodies with a beauty so pure I ache to think of it.
We are called to him. We are called to glory. Where is this glory?
“It is heaven, the proper seat and mansion of all glory, where Christ is.”
Application / Further Discussion
We talk of heaven and glory but we don’t dwell long enough on it. We sinners, we broken and hurting ones, talk very little of the very place where we will no longer sin, be broken, or hurt. Think on that for a moment.
“And so here [heaven] we shall have a happiness beyond that estate of Adam’s innocency; for at the best all he received was but a possibility to stand if he would, but we shall receive an impossibility ever to fall again.”
Adam had a possibility not to fall, but in Heaven we shall receive an impossibility ever to fall again. Ever. What a glorious thought! We all struggle with sin every day. Every single day we are reminded of our depravity and rebellion against the God who formed us and gave us breath. Sins, lusts, desires, idols. We pursue things with great urgency yet have so little concept of what is to come. Christian, you are bound for glory.
For all the talk of heaven that we do, stop and consider it. Consider that we will behold our God face to face. Consider that we will experience unbroken, intimate, sweet, and reverential worship of our God and King. Consider that sin will be removed along with its impurities, deformities, defects, and temptations. Forever. Consider that we will no longer experience heart ache and sorrow as we so deeply and darkly do now. Justice will have been accomplished, sin punished, and our lives redeemed.
Have you considered Heaven being a place of rest? Work will no longer weary us. The curse will be lifted. Worry, fear, doubt, shame; all gone. We will live in perfect peace with the God of peace. Whether I run, walk, crawl, or slide, when the Lord calls me home I will arrive to rest so deep, relief so complete, joy so full that I almost burst now to think of it. Not for a little bit of time, but forever. Eternity. A thought too big to grasp. And even bigger, this calling and election of the Christian is sure. We have already won. So fight, brothers and sisters, strive to enter that rest, because in Christ we have already won.
“No man, we know, how base soever, even the greatest coward that may be, but he would fight, if he were sure, to overcome. What cowards then are we. Every one of us would be reputed stout and valiant; where, then, is our valour, whenas every barking of a dog, as I may so call them, or every touch of a fly, makes us deny our master? Oh, the shame of our profession; what is this temporising but to draw to lukewarmness, and so to denial, that we are ashamed in this or that company for these and these causes of our profession! Well, remember, if we deny him, he will deny us; if we be ashamed of him, he will be ashamed of us, Mat. 10:33. In this case, what shall, what can we answer him at that great day?”
Last week, we read The Knot of Prayer Loosed.
Next week, we read A Christian’s Portion.