November 4, 2012

The Spirit of Freedom

I have been reading Richard Sibbes (1577–1635) lately along with the likes of John Owens, Jonathan Edwards and others. Sibbes like these other Puritan writers are second to none in their depth and insight. We sorely lack this depth in modern writing as I can count on my fingers the modern writers that would compare. Most of the modern writers that would compare are usually writers of Bible commentaries and other biblical reference material that few read anyway. Sadly, their writing is often overlooked or fades into obscurity because it is not "hyped" by the publisher and is perceived as too dry by a visually crazed sensory overloaded society. I believe this is the exact reason many of the writers of old are also relegated to obscurity except by a chosen is because they are perceived as antiquated, irrelevant or boring. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If anything, in a modern godless society their writings are more relevant than ever, especially the writings on sin and man's depravity. Granted, some of the reading is a slow drive because of its density of thought but a good steak is never quickly marinaded. 

For your reading pleasure below, I have included a portion from Sibbes’ posthumous Glorious Freedom: The Excellence of the Gospel Above the Law (1639). It is in reference to the Spirit that is upon Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:17 ~ "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

He begins by stating that like other humans, Jesus had the Spirit upon Him but unlike other Humans, because of His divinity, He [Jesus] therefore must…
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“…have the Spirit in greatest abundance. His fullness of the Spirit is as the fullness of the fountain; ours is but as the fullness of the cistern. He has grace in the spring; we have it but in the conduit. His graces are primary; ours derivative. We have nothing but what we have received. Therefore it is said, he has the oil of gladness poured upon him above his fellows (Psalm 45:7). He has the name of 'Christ' by virtue of anointing. He was separated and ordained to the office of mediator by anointing, not literally with any material oil, but with the Spirit. This was in regard to his human nature only, but it was above his fellows; that is, above all kings and priests, for they are his fellows in regard to titles. He was above them all, for all have their anointing from him. Therefore he is the King of kings and the Prophet of prophets and so on, and also above all his fellows. We take his fellows to be Christians; 'I go to my God and your God' (John 20:17). He is the 'first-born' amongst them, and in all things he has the preeminence.

He is to be the pattern, and we are to follow him. We are predestined to be conformed to him (Romans 8:29) and to grow up to that fullness which is in him. And in this respect, he has the Spirit and all graces in greater abundance that he might exceed all, even Christians of greatest growth and perfection. He is to be a pattern and example to all, the strongest as well as the weak. Even Paul himself, who was a leader to others, for the excellency of the grace of Christ that was in him, was yet a follower of Christ. 'Be you followers of me, as I am of Christ' (1 Cor. 11:1).
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[Sibbes then poses the question]: 
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When did this fullness of the Spirit come upon Christ? When did he have it? This question has (3) three answers.

Answer 1:

A fullness of the Spirit was poured out upon Christ in the union of the human nature with the divine. Union and unction went together. There was an anointing of the Spirit together with the union of the Spirit.

Answer 2:

There was a fuller manifestation of the Spirit in his baptism. When the Holy Ghost fell on him in
the shape of a dove, he received the Spirit. He was to enter into the ministry of the gospel. 'The Spirit of the Lord God was upon him' because he had anointed him to preach good tidings unto the meek, and so on (lsaiah 61:1).

Answer 3:

But the fullest degree of declaration and manifestation of the Spirit upon Christ was after his
resurrection, after he had satisfied fully for our salvation. Then the stop of his glory was taken away. For to work our salvation the glory of Christ was kept back from his human nature, that he might be abased to suffer for us. When he had fully suffered for us, that stay of his glory, his abasement, was taken away, and then nothing appeared but all glory and Spirit in Christ. All things were put under his feet, and he was set upon his throne as a glorious king. His prophetic office appeared before his death, his priestly office appeared in his death. But then in the resurrection he appeared as king and Lord of all. Thus we see how Christ is that Spirit; that is, he is full of the Spirit in regard of himself.

What is the scope of all the Scriptures but Christ – from the first promise of the blessed seed, the seed of the woman shall break the serpent's head (Gen. 3:15), to the end of the Bible? What are all the Scriptures without Christ? The law is a dead letter; and indeed, so is the gospel without Christ. He is 'that Spirit' which gives life to all the Scriptures. Moses without Christ is but a shadow without a body, or a body without a soul. Take away Christ, what was the brazen serpent? What was the ark? What were the sacrifices? What is all? Is not Christ 'all in all' in these? The kings and priests and prophets, they were types of Christ; all the promises were made and fulfilled in Christ. The ceremonial law aimed at Christ, and the moral law is to drive us to Christ. Christ is the Spirit of all. And the Scripture without Christ is but a mere dead thing, a shell without a kernel, as it is to the Jews to this day.

In Jesus’ Life and Death, Jesus Gives Life to All People

He gives life to all people. He is a universal principle of spiritual life, infusing it into all his church and His children. Christ has always been with his church from the beginning of the world, and will be to the end. It was no loss to the church that Christ in his bodily presence left it, for he left it 'the Comforter', his Spirit, and greater works were wrought after his ascension than before. He is 'anointed with the oil of gladness' and grace 'above his fellows' (Psalm 45:7), but all was for his fellows. Whatever he is or has, all is for his church and children. 'For us' he was born, 'for us' he was given. He is a king, a priest, a prophet for us. He died for us, he rose again for us.

And all that he does towards the church, he does as the one who has the Spirit, and he does it by the Spirit. The Father is the first in the Trinity, 'from whom' all comes; and the Son, 'by whom' all things are; but the Holy Ghost is the immediate worker of all things, nearest to the creature. All things are applied from God the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit. What Christ wrought, and what the Father in wisdom devised, was applied by the Spirit; and so also by the Spirit we are made fit for such a glorious condition as we have by Christ. And this is why Christ gives the Spirit to those to whom he purposes to give faith or love, or to work any gracious work. For where Christ saves, he does it not only by merit and satisfying the wrath of God for us, but also by sanctifying and working effectually in us, that he might be a perfect Saviour.
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Sibbes then goes on to state...
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The Father devises and determines what to do; the Son, who is the wisdom of the Father (1 Corinthians 1:24), dispenses what the Father wills; the Holy Spirit, the power of both, finishes and works all upon us, and therefore he is called the 'power of the highest' (Luke 1:35). Whatever works come from God to creatures in general as works of creation and providence are done immediately by the Holy Spirit as the third person coming from the Father and the Son. But in those special works wrought in his church and on his children, all things come from the Holy Ghost, not simply as the third person, but as 'the Spirit of Christ' - that is, first sanctifying and filling the human nature of Christ, and then sanctifying and filling us. Christ could not give the Holy Spirit immediately to us, as we are at enmity with God and separated from him through our sins. He must first take the Spirit to himself and, having by his death and sufferings reconciled us to his Father and purchased the Spirit for us, he may now give his Spirit to us.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - the Holy Spirit is given to us as a down payment on our salvation or an αρραβων that was that part of a purchase price placed on deposit to guarantee that the purchase would be completed. In other words that payment made for redeeming us from our just punishment due because of our sin. A punishment that was death since the wages of sin is death. The one thing we must never forget though is that even though the Spirit is given to us by God, the Holy Spirit gives freely of Himself also in love. There is not just a directing of the Spirit as if He is a person-less force but rather a consent or agreement within the Trinity...just as their was when it was decided that Jesus would be the One to die on the Cross before the foundations of the world.

Ephesians 1:11-14 ~ "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. In Him [Jesus], you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

In other words, by being slaves to Christ and being God's own possession...we are free.

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