Standing On The shoulders Of The Fathers – 14
Theology is broken into two greek words, theos (God) and logos (Word). So then basically theology is the study of a “word about God” or God’s Word or God. You cannot separate the two. Many today will decry the study of doctrine or forming a belief system or knowledge about what and why one believes what they believe about God’s Word.
Claiming all you need are the red letters, or love, or the Bible is forgetting some important truths. Those same red letters, that same Bible says that because of love we should “be aware of false teachers.(Matthew 7:15, Romans 16:17-20, 1 Timothy 4:1-2)” Paul, told Timothy to study God’s Word, so that he would be a craftsmen (2 Timothy 2:15).
The writer of Hebrews challenged his readers to move beyond the, “milk of the Word. (Hebrews 5:11-6:4)” So, to say that doctrine is not necessary is to try to live this life, as though one is building a swingset with no instructions. Ask anyone who has tried such a thing, and they will point out how utterly futile such an effort is.
Yet, the Word of God says something else very powerful, it says that God has given us teachers in order that we might not be carried away with every wind of doctrine, (Ephesians 4:14, Hebrews 13:9). So, to say that we need no one to teach us God’s Word is bound to allow us to begin a slow decent into the land of heresy, off the path of solid truth that keeps us on the right road, taking us beyond the horizon.
Yet, how does one know that how one is interpreting God’s Word or how a particular teacher is interpreting God’s Word is right? One way is by looking back upon historical faith. Historical faith helps direct us toward knowing how to interpret the Bible, application and theological formation, allowing one to know not only how such beliefs one is holding to may have developed, thus helping one better postulate those beliefs.
Historical faith also reveals to us what is important about the faith and how Christ is building His church. It is these, the reason why World Prayr is bringing, “Standing On The shoulders Of The Fathers”. As, we travel through history we will be looking at what various teachers, pastors, writers have had to say through history about God’s Word.
We, pray you are encouraged and blessed by such insights, introductions and teachings.
Richard Sibbes (or Sibbs) (15771635) was an Anglican theologian. He is known as a Biblical exegete, and as a representative, with William Perkins and John Preston, of what has been called “main-line” Puritanism because he ever remained in the Church of England and worshiped according to the Book of Common Prayer.
The Excellency of the Gospel Above the Law
Therefore, I beseech you, let us often even stand in admiration of the love of God to us in Christ. So God loved the world, John iii. 16. The Scripture leads to this admiration by phrases that cannot have a apodesis, a reddition back again.
So. How? We cannot tell how. So as is beyond all expression. The Scripture itself is at a stand for words. Oh base nature, that we are dazzled with anything but that we should most admire. How few of us spend our thoughts this way, to consider Gods wonderful and admirable mercy and grace in Christ, when yet there is no object in the world so sweet and comfortable as this is, that the very angels pry into!
They desire to pry into the mystery of our salvation by Christ. They are students therein. The cherubins, they were set upon the mercy seat, having a counterview, one upon another, implying a kind of admiration.
They pry into the secrets of Gods love in governing his people, and bringing them to heaven. Shall they do it, and shall not we study and admire these things, that God may have the glory? God made all for his glory, beloved; and the wicked for the day of wrath, as Solomon saith, Prov. xvi. 4. And hath he not new made all for his glory?
Is not the new creature more for his glory than the old creature? Therefore if we will make it good that we are new creatures, let us seek to glorify God every way, not in word alone, but in heart admiring him, and in life conversing with him.
“Nature, beloved, is glorious of itself, and vain-glorious. But would you glory without vanity? Go out of yourselves and see what you are in Christ, in the grace and mercy and free love of God, culling us out from the rest of mankind; and there you may glory safely over sin, and death, and hell.
For being justified freely from our sins, you can think of death, of the damnation of others, of hell, without fear. God forbid, saith St Paul, that I should glory in anything, but in the cross of Christ, Gal. vi. 14; that is, in the mercy of God appointing such a means for satisfaction. Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nor the strong man glory in his strength, &c., Jer. ix. 23.
There is a danger in such glorying. It is subject to a curse. But if a man will glory, let him glory in the one who loves.”
Again, if God account his mercy and love in Christ, especially his glory, shall we think that God will admit of any partner with Christ in the matter of salvation? If, as the psalmist saith, he made us, and not we ourselves, Ps. c. 3, shall we think that we have a hand in making ourselves again?
Will God suffer his glory to be touched upon by intercessions of saints merits, and satisfaction, and free will? Grace is not glorious if we add the least thing of our own to it.
Cannot we make a hair of our head, or the grass that we trample upon, but there must be a glory and power of God in it? And can we bring ourselves to heaven?
Therefore away with that Hail, Mary, full of grace! Hail, Mary, freely beloved! is the right interpretation; and they that attribute matter of power and grace and favour to her, as in that Oh beseech thy Son, &c., they take away that wherein God and Christ will be glorified, and attribute it to his mother and other creatures.36
I do but touch this, to bring us into loathing and abomination of that religion that sets somewhat of the creature against that wherein God will be glorified above all.”