Life of Faith 12: Our City of Refuge

By Richard Sibbes

When we have a zeal against all contrary doctrine, as St Paul shows to the Galatians, who would have joined works with faith: “Christ is become of none effect unto you; whoever of you are justified by the law, you are fallen from grace” Galatians 5:4 and in the third chapter he says , ” Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you not to obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly portrayed among you as crucified?”  “I just want to learn this from you. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith?”  Galatians 3:1,2  A man sound in the point of justification has a hatred to …(certain religions)1 and all such doctrine which impairs the riches of the grace of Christ.  Death is in such a … Why are some of them then saved? Not because they die in that religion, but because they reverse their judgment in this point of justification.  So you see there is a hatred, a zeal in such, as St Paul had against contrary doctrines.

There is peace and joy settled in the heart: as Romans 5:1,2, “Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;  through whom we also have our access by faith into this grace in which we stand. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. ”

Questions: To add one thing more before I leave this point, In the case of relapse and falling, what shall we do then? Aren’t we then cut off?  We must then have a new incision?

I answer, every man who fall does not fall on all-four, fall away totally.  There are degrees of falling; as in a sick man, though ill, he is brought to death.  Some life and some strength remains, which works toward health again.  There is so much grace and life in justification left, as to recover him again.  But as in other cases, so in relapses also, a man must live by faith.  We see, 2nd Corinthians 5:20, even such as were in the state of grace, are entrusted to be reconciled.

Though we fall, we must not therefore fall off, but stir up grace, and recover ourselves again.  So Isaiah 55:7, there it is said, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous his thoughts: and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” And then he adds the reason, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” So Jeremiah 3:1, “They say if a man puts away his wife, and she from him and become another man’s should he return to her again?  Wouldn’t the land be greatly polluted?  But you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me says the Lord.  Thus we must live by faith, for all our slips and falls, yet not to let go of our hold, but still run to the horns of this alter, still fly to this city of refuge, and so we shall be safe.

 

 


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