Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Bruised Reed – Reading the Classics, Part 2

Bruised ReedTime once again to enter the world of Richard Sibbes and his fine pastoral work, The Bruised Reed. This week, we're reading chapter 2 & 3 together. I'll give a quick summary of each chapter and then make a few observations.


Chapter 2 – Christ Will Not Break the Bruised Reed

Sibbes takes the first of two images from isaiah 42.3 and describes what this means for us. As we consider that we are the bruised reeds, we are drawn to consider the mercy of Christ. As we do so, we'll quickly see that Christ fulfills His offices perfectly (prophet, priest, king and physician).

For ourselves, we learn that we can come boldly to Christ as wounded followers, for He will heal us. How much better than Satan is our precious Christ? Infinitely so.

Who are the bruised reeds Jesus mends? Sibbes gives eight responses, but the ultimate answer is: us! How do we come to recognize this? God brings it to us. Thus, we see that we have bruised ourselves through our sin. Yet this bruising (which also includes the working of conviction of sin) is a good thing for it will cause us to look to and see Christ, who comes to heal us, not break us. One important fact, however, is that this bruising will bring about grieving. But should it not grieve us that we sin, even in light of what Christ has done for us? We are weak and lost and need Him more than anything. The healing comes, yet may require patience and faith in most cases.

Chapter 3 – The Smoking Flax

On to the second image from isaiah 42.3, that of the smouldering wick, or the smoking flax. This last bit of smoke may seem to doom us, but Christ will not quench, but rather, He will come, breathing life upon us so that we will soon be burning brightly with His mercy & grace. We ought not be discouraged by the sign of only a little smoke, for, as we say now, where there's smoke, there's fire.

It may seem like the grace we receive is small at first, but do we not all start off as babes in Christ when we come to faith in Him? It takes time for a baby to grow into manhood; so too, it takes time to mature as a Christian. So, don't be discouraged, even if the sparks seem little; God uses the little things far more and more quickly than the large things in life. This brings glory to Him, for only little things can be made large.

While we're in this process, grace is mixed with corruption. Not all the corruption is eradicated from our lives when we come to faith in Christ Jesus. There are defects everywhere in us; they need weeding out. The smoke in our lives says, "I'm broken and weak, so to You do I cry!" Sibbes then goes on to give multiple references of smoke (us, in our weakness) crying out to God and to Christ. Since we carry both grace and our nature in a mixture, we have great need to rest upon the fact of our justification in Christ Jesus. We need Him mightily, not our own opinion of ourselves and how we're doing in life. No, we need Christ above all things.

Observations –

Again, Sibbes is a good shepherd to his flock (and to us, as well). He cares for his people, the despair they must feel from time to time, as they consider the slow progress of sanctification (or even the backwards movement at times). by offering them Christ, he knows each will be strengthened, encouraged and built up far better than the first. Personally, his words in these two chapters are a precious balm to my heart. When it seems like I have sinned so great as to smother the flame of the Holy Spirit, I will cry out to Christ to not snuff me out. When the Holy Spirit comes with convicting power and bruises me so I am conscious of my state, I rejoice that Christ is my King and my Lord and will not break me off. Rather, he will mend me, seeking to have me stand upright in His field and help hold others up as well.

I'm grateful to Tim for choosing this book. It comes at a fine time for me personally, but also for many in my congregation. May God continue to use it for His glory.

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  1. Hey Kevin, I'm reading along too. Resonated with your thoughts here, especially regarding Sibbes as a good shepherd to his flock. I finished chapter three especially sensing his care for the people parishioners.

  2. Kevin,
    Excellent summaries and analysis. I'll look forward to reading along with you.

    So much of what you said resonates with me as well. I particularly liked this:

    "When the Holy Spirit comes with convicting power and bruises me so I am conscious of my state, I rejoice that Christ is my King and my Lord and will not break me off."

    We're not totally crushed by our bruises, thanks to our King who knows just how much we can take before we would break.


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