The Bold Adventure of Faith (YWS Week 50)

richardsibbessmallWelcome 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.

Summary/Engagement

Do you remember what it was like when you first believed in Christ? Think for a minute. Take a break and remember.

Did you have that seemingly insatiable thirst to read the Word of God? Was there a desire to worship with other believers that caused a reprioritization of how you spend your Sundays? Many of us had a zeal for evangelism and our friends and family heard the gospel whether they liked it or not, as the realization of salvation from judgment was fresh in our hearts. The inward realization of our sinfulness before a holy God weighed heavy on our hearts, almost to the point of breaking, until the gravity altering reality of salvation by faith through grace made us lighter than air.

Do you remember that first plunge of faith? For me, it was as though I stood at the door of an airplane, parachute strapped to my back, ready to plunge to what felt like death, because of the promise of life held before me by Christ. The Holy Spirit gave me courage, nudged me out of that plane, and sent me flying. I came to know the Law commanded I fly while knowing I was incapable. The Gospel however.. oh the Gospel!

John Bunyan is attributed as saying;

“Run, John, run, the law commands
But gives us neither feet nor hands,

Far better news the Gospel brings:
It bids us fly and gives us wings!”

Application / Further Discussion

Somewhere along the path of faith many of us can lose that initial burning zeal for God. This is not necessarily a deficiency. When I start a fire in the fireplace, I use news paper, or maybe even some heart wood from a pine. The flames build quickly, burning high and bright and covering the logs I have placed. For a time. Eventually the logs catch and the flames die down a bit, settling in to a slow burn. A bed of coals form, giving off much warmth even though the fire is not as bright as when first kindled.

This is, in many ways, a parable of faith. We come to Christ and burn with zeal and appreciation for what He has done. As we mature, if we are in fact maturing, the zeal is perhaps tempered by virtue, knowledge, and self-control. (2 Peter 1:5-11) The zeal is not lost, it is directed, shaped, and formed with specific purpose. However, it can feel as though we have lost something, and perhaps some of us have lost something if we doubt our assurance.

When we take that plunge we don’t know what assurance is. We take a step for paths unknown because we can no longer bear to be where we’ve always been. As we walk this path, we become assured that He who promised is faithful, (Hebrews 10:23) and are given strength to walk through deep valleys in darkest night. Yet, we can begin to lose that assurance through temptations surrendered to and sins committed.

Despite our doubts, our careless sins and deceitful hearts, Christ is indeed faithful. The Holy Spirit has sealed us until such time as he breaks that seal. We did not save ourselves, which you may roll your eyes at yet another Gospel “platitude,” yet this is truth you must press in to your soul. You did not choose your salvation, God did. God elected you if you are saved. (Read all of Romans 9) God acts, regenerates, calls, and provides the faith with which we respond.

“There is no action that God works upon the soul, but there is a reflect action by the Spirit to God again. If God choose and love us, we choose and love him again. God appropriates us first. We are his and we are Christ’s. We are God’s because he hath given Christ for us. We are Christ’s, because he hath given himself for us.” (Emphasis mine)

Why am I pointing out election and monergistic salvation here? Simply this, if your salvation depends on your intelligence to grasp and understand the Gospel and your will to respond, what assurance do you have at all that you have 1) gotten it right and 2) that you can hold on to it? You don’t have any assurance of either.

“God will not suffer the spirit of his children to fail.”

My assurance rests on the promises of God and not myself. I rest on God because he is faithful and I am not. I boldly come before the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) by virtue of the blood of Christ shed for me 2000 years ago. Our souls would be fearful at times, but friends, there is no time for fear. God gave you in Christ a salvation that is eternal. It is never referred to as temporary nor spoken of as something that can be lost.

So then, fellow adventurers on the Way of life, step out of the shadows into his marvelous light. Sibbes encourages us, “No opposition shall prevail.” We walk a path already traveled by Jesus Christ. We are empowered to do so by the sealing of the Holy Spirit who has drawn us out of darkness and shame. We walk this path to the glory of God, striving for all holiness and virtue. We walk because we are promised the ending is sure, the warmth of Heaven awaits, and the joy inexpressible of eternity with God (Face to face!) awaits. Do not be timid therefore, but stride boldly in the grace of God, seeking his glory and honor in all things.

“The poor soul oftentimes out of the deep, cries, and in the dark, trusts in God; and this is the bold adventure of faith.”

Last week, we read Part 1 of A Fountain Sealed.

Next week, we finish our year together with A Fountain Opened.

Today in Blogworld 12.19.14

7 of the Most Dangerous Leadership Mindsets I’ve Observed

Is it bad that at one time or another I’ve been guilty of all these?

The Church and Mental Illness Part 3

This one is about pastors who struggle with mental illness and whether or not their churches are supportive.

One Sentence That Pastors and Church Staff Hate to Hear

Yep. And the second sentence that I don’t like to hear is, “We need to talk…” Followed by no information but only a meeting date for said talk to occur.

On Being Healed of Being a Big Deal

This article really resonated with me. I think we all need to be healed of being a big deal…especially me. (See what I did there?)

Warning, watching this will change the way you watch Home Alone:

That’s What Gospel Do

small__8185864833You might not catch that title….but I’m banking on the fact that since it has the word “gospel” in it, and that’s a buzzword, you’ve clicked here anyways.

Allow me to explain the title before I show you something in Scripture that I’m confident will prod your heart to worship.

A couple of years ago Jarrod Dyson, the speedy centerfielder for the KC Royals, scored the game winning run by tagging up on a pop up to the shortstop. If you don’t understand baseball just know that in order to do something like this you have to be crazy fast. Dyson is crazy fast.

When being interviewed after the game, Dyson quipped, “That what speed do”. And it stuck. Now every time Dyson uses his legs to wreak havoc in a game—the announcers will inevitably say “that what speed do”.

Jarrod Dyson has the speed to change a game. In the same way, times infinity, the gospel changes things. Don’t believe me look at this.

That’s What Fear Do

In Genesis 3 we read the history-altering story of Adam and Eve. The first couple eat of the forbidden fruit and immediately they are naked and ashamed. The beauty of Genesis 1 and 2 is shattered in a moment.

As soon as their eyes are opened to their sinfulness they sewed for themselves some fig leaf underpants. But they knew that wasn’t enough because in verse 8 when they heard the sound of the Lord walking in the Garden they tried to hide from him in the woods.

So get this picture in your mind. You sin. You feel the weight of guilt. You are exposed and you are afraid. Then somebody says, “It’s the Lord”. Your immediate response is to run into the woods and hide from him.

That’s what fear does.

That’s What Gospel Do

In John 21 we read the story of Peter and the other disciples fishing. Now this story takes place after Peter has denied Jesus. He’s sinned against the Lord just like Adam and Eve did. And the Lord caught his eye and Peter went out and wept bitterly.

Now here in John 21, Peter is going back to life as normal. This is his version of hanging out in the garden in the cool of the day. And somebody—this case John—says, “It’s the Lord”. Remember the response of our first couple to a similar situation. And now read this:

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. (John 21:8)”

Peter is so overwhelmed with emotion that he does the silly thing of putting on his clothes in order to jump into the water. He doesn’t run away from Jesus, instead he—in a very undignified manner—runs towards Jesus.

That is what the gospel does.

It takes guilty sinners and turns them into undignified worshippers of Jesus.

I close with these thoughts from Richard Baxter:

And resist also all humiliation and grief, that do not, immediately or remotely, tend to help your love. A religion that tendeth but to grief, and terminateth in grief, and goeth no further, hath too much in it of the malice of the enemy, to be of God. No tears are desirable, but those that tend to clear the eyes from the filth of sin, that they may see the better the loveliness of God. (Baxter, A Christian Directory, 125)

When Peter wept bitterly he wept tears that cleared his eyes from the filth of sin and stirred up his heart to love God.

That’s what gospel do.

Today in Blogworld 12.18.14

A Major-Leaguer’s Descent into the Unknown

This is a sad story about former big league pitcher Brad Halsey.

The Dumbest Thing I Ever Said

Erik Raymond shares the dumbest thing he ever said as a new Christian. And then gives us this takeaway point: “If you think that Christianity is easy, then maybe you are not loving people very well. Perhaps you are not living very closely to other believers.”

The Darkness of Christmas

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year…except for those who experience the darkness of Christmas.

The Christmas Story Is All Wrong

A great reminder that the Christmas story was “all wrong” just like the many times in our life.

Clearly this dog has watched too much Sponge Bob: