Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Transforming sight

The very beholding of Christ is a transforming sight. The Spirit that makes us new creatures, and stirs us up to behold this servant [see Matt. 12:18], it is a transforming beholding. If we look upon him with the eye of faith, it will make us like Christ; for the gospel is a mirror, and such a mirror, that when we look into it, and see ourselves interested in it, we are changed from glory to glory, 2 Cor. iii.18. A man cannot look upon the love of God and of Christ in the gospel, but it will change him to be like God and Christ. For how can we see Christ, and God in Christ, but we shall see how God hates sin, and this will transform us to hate it as God doth, who hated it so that it could not be expiated but with the blood of Christ, God-man. So, seeing the holiness of God in it, it will transform us to be holy. When we see the love of God in the gospel, and the love of Christ giving himself for us, this will transform us to love God. When we see the humility and obedience of Christ, when we look on Christ as God's chosen servant in all this, and as our surety and head, it transforms us to the like humility and obedience. Those that find not their dispositions in some comfortable measure wrought to this blessed transformation, they have not yet those eyes that the Holy Ghost requireth here. 'Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom my soul delighteth.'
Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), A Description of Christ

That's all very well - but does it really work? Listen to Sibbes' younger contemporary, Thomas Fuller, as he gives an assessment both of Sibbes' character and - most interestingly - the reason for it.

He was most eminent for that grace which is most worth, yet costs the least to keep it, viz., Christian humility. Of all points of divinity, he most frequently pressed that of Christ's incarnation; and if the angels desired to pry into that mystery, no wonder if this angelical man had a longing to look therein. A learned divine imputed this good doctor's humility to his much meditating on that point of Christ's humiliation when he took our flesh upon him... [This shows us] that men's souls improve most in those graces whereon they have most constant meditation, whereof this worthy doctor was an eminent instance.

This works both positively and negatively. For a contemporary slant on this issue Greg Beale's recent book 'We become what we worship' looks excellent. I haven't read it yet - but I recently heard Beale speaking on the subject, and I came home and promptly ordered the book!

No comments:

Post a Comment