The Contemporary Mr Sibbes

21 01 2008

Post No.5 in the Timmy Brister Challenge.

As you can see from the sidebar, my book of 2007 was ‘Pierced for Our Transgressions’. This has been a milestone book for me in many ways. It has not only warmed my heart through its powerful reflections on what Christ Jesus achieved on the cross, but has inspired my mind about how to engage meaningfully and graciously with academic theology. One of the book’s key strengths is its tracing of the historical pedigree of penal substitution throughout two millennia of the church.

One name which could be added to the hall of fame is that of Richard Sibbes. As he writes of the comfort which the Christian can find in Christ, Sibbes touches on the doctrine of penal substitution and the practical and pastoral implications it can bring. Not only is his prose profound in this respect, but his depiction of the doctrine shows how much is lost when it is denied. May it bless your heart as it has mine, that Christ has died in our place, for our sins:

‘In his desertion in the garden and on the cross he was content to be without that unspeakable solace which the presence of his Father gave, both to bear the wrath of the Lord for a time for us, and likewise to know the better how to comfort us in our greatest extremities. God sees fit that we should taste of that cup of which his Son drank so deep, that we might feel a little what sin is, and what his Son’s love was. But our comfort is that Christ drank the dregs of the cup for us, and will succour us, so that our spirits may not utterly fail under that little taste of his displeasure which we may feel. He became not only a man but a curse, a man of sorrows, for us. He was broken that we should not be broken; he was troubled that we should not be desperately troubled; he became a curse, that we should not be accursed. Whatever may be wished for in an all-sufficient comforter is all to be found in Christ’ [pge 66].

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