The Christian’s Assurance as to Prophecy

‘After These Things’ Chapter 4.1 – The Present Hope of the Church

From our book ‘After These Things – Summaries of John Nelson Darby’s Papers on Prophecy – and more…’ Compiled by Daniel Roberts. For more about this book click on the picture or CLICK HERE

The Purpose of Prophecy

 

A summary of the First Lecture by J N Darby on the Present Hope of the Church – Geneva 1840 entitled ‘Introduction.

The Christian’s Assurance

Dispensations

The Jews and the Church

The Jews/Israel

To the Church

What is the Purpose of Prophecy?

The Sceptic as to Prophecy

Communion with God as to Prophecy

The Christian’s Assurance

The study of prophecy is of little point unless we Christians are sure of our eternal salvation in Christ and have experienced its results.  Without hope, we are the most miserable of all men (See 1 Corinthians  15:19).  We should not only know that the Father’s house with all its privileges is our home, but we are to be happy there too.   Our hearts are associated with Christ and realise His love. We are confident too: God treats us as His friends and through prophecy, He reveals the things that occupy Him in heaven. This emphasises to us that we are strangers and pilgrims here.  Accordingly, we become free of human objects, cares and distractions and dependent on the One who knows the end from the beginning.

Dispensations

We are currently in the dispensation of grace, which started when the Spirit came at Pentecost (AD29) and will end at the Rapture.  After that, it will be too late to be convinced of the truth, or to convict others of the terrible wrath of God at the final judgment.

The Great Tribulation will be followed by the dispensation of the fullness of times – the millennial kingdom when God will gather together all things in Christ who was typified in Abraham’s day as the  Royal Priest Melchisedec.  God will be known as ‘the Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth.’ (Gen 14:19).

Note: while Darby, more than most showed how time was divided into dispensations, he did not produce a formal list of dispensations.  Based on the works of C I Schofield and others, the following list forms the backdrop of this book.  They are described in detail in chapter 2.2 (above) and are listed here:

  1. Innocence – till the fall of Adam
  2. Conscience – Adam to Noah
  3. Human Government – Noah to Abraham
  4. Promise – Abraham to Moses
  5. Law – Moses to Christ
  6. Grace – Christ to the Rapture
  7. Millennial Kingdom (or Fullness of Times)[1]

The Jews and the Church

We need to distinguish between that which applies to the Jews and to the ‘nations’, before the birth of Christ and after the Rapture, and that which applies to the Church.  It is in the way God is known that the differences are most striking.

The Jews/Israel

The prophetic books of the Old Testament, plus Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13 and Luke 21 centre around Israel. God’s earthly people were warned as to the consequence of disobedience to God and idolatry, which led up to the overthrow of Israel and the captivity of Judah. God made Himself known as ‘Jehovah[2]’ (or more literally ‘Yahweh’) to the Jews, though many Jews consider this name too holy to pronounce. In the Gospels, Jesus is presented as the Messiah, the centre of God’s promises and blessings to the Jewish nation.  Prophecy looks forward to a kingdom here enjoyed by the ‘Remnant’.

To the Church

It is often noted that the Church, the Assembly does not form part of Old Testament prophecy in any way.  To the Church, God presents Himself as ‘Father’ and Jesus as the ‘Son of God’.  We are His brethren – children of God and members of His family.  He, the Firstborn, is the expression of all the glory of the Father.

What is the Purpose of Prophecy?

Prophecy and its fulfilment were not written for contemporary Israel.  Prophecy belongs to the Church now, and it will belong to the Remnant in a coming day, as a light or torch before things take place.  God tells us the truth; Satan does not.  Do we doubt God?

Most, if not all, prophecy is to be fulfilled after the end of this dispensation.  Then it will be too late to be convinced as to the truth.  The day of grace will be over.  Those unbelievers left will experience terrible judgment.

Satan has deceived many by introducing the thought that partially fulfilled prophecies, have already been completed.

However, we are to be restful in reading God’s Word.  We have been delivered from the coming wrath.  We are to cleave to Jesus, rather than our own understanding for enlightenment.  As things unfold, we see the purposes of the Most High, opening up His character – His faithfulness, justice and long-suffering. He will certainly judge proud iniquity and execute vengeance on these who corrupt the earth, so that His government may be established in peace and blessing.

The judgment of God is to come upon the nations; the church is informed of this; and, thanks to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, understands it, believes it, and escapes the things which are coming.

The Sceptic as to Prophecy

The sceptic views prophecy as merely speculative, vague and uninfluential, the imaginations of proud hearts.  The future is conjured up and imagined: how Satan deceives!  But prophecy reveals God’s thoughts as to things to come. And the Christian rejoices that ’the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea’ (Habakkuk 2:14).  God will show how. 

Communion with God as to Prophecy

Through communion, which is eternal, God comforts and sanctifies us to prevent our hopes being vague.  Thank God ‘we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:  Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.’ (2 Peter 1:16-21)

 

 

 

 

[1] See Schofield Reference Bible – note to Gen 1:28, and Chapter 2.2 above.

[2] J N Darby writes as to the Name of Jehovah: ‘Jehovah was a proper name of God to Israel, and declared positively to be such, though the name of the one true supreme God. Now for the believer the use of the names of God carries blessed divine instruction with it, for all His names have a meaning: Almighty, Jehovah, Father, all have a sense to his soul… The proper place of Nothing can be more important as a key to the whole question of God being Jehovah, and the peculiar God of Israel, and yet the one supreme and universal God (a thought so easily lost, at any rate as to goodness, if not as to power, by Jewish pride). It corrects all that a Jew could draw falsely from his peculiar position.  (JND Collected Writings Vol 8 Prophetic 3 page 182)

Note that in his English translation Darby uses the name Jehovah for יְהוָה֙/YHVH/Strong H3068. KJV and most modern translations use LORD in capitals.  JND’s French translation used l’Éternal.  I know no Hebrew, but the Jews replace that name when speaking of the normal word for Lord, אָדוֹן/Adonai/Strong H113.

 

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After These Things – Summarised Papers by JN Darby on Prophecy and More

Zech 4:10
Who hath despised the day of small things

ADOSS Newsletter

September 2020

Soon to be Published

Dear Brother/Sister
I have not issued anything from A Day of Small Things since May 2020.   A few short articles have been added to the website, thanks to our brother Edwin Mutton’s ‘Golden Nuggets’ but there has not been any new summary of J N Darby’s papers or ministry.  A few reasons:
1.     My neuropathic pain has been very trying.  It has limited the number of hours I can work at a time.  Thank God for the Great High Priest who sympathises with our infirmities.
2.     We have been clearing out and selling the house of a local sister who has had to go into a care home.
3.     In some ways, I am not sure of what to add.  Most articles I read cover the same ground as summaries already published.  Nonetheless, I am always open to suggestions.
Title Page

But the main reason is that I have been writing a book: ‘After These Things – Summaries of John Nelson Darby’s Papers on Prophecy for Christians waiting to see the Lord of Glory when he Raptures his Church’.  When finished it will be about 300 pages long, much of it being revisions of articles I had summarised over the past six years, supplemented with chapters on subjects which Christians often confuse, and which Darby strove tirelessly to clarify.  Doctrine is unashamedly premillennial, based on scripture and showing clearly what pertains to the heavenly Church and earthly Israel.

Sections
Most of the book has now been written and reviewed.  Five brothers, in particular Jim Hibbert of Calgary, have provided invaluable input and helpful comments.  A challenging task has been a ‘Timeline’ covering events in heaven or on the earth between the Rapture and the Appearing drawing on scriptures in Matthew, Mark, Luke, Revelation, 1&2 Thessalonians, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and others.
If you reply to this email, I will send you pre-publication PDF copies of the Timeline, the Table of Contents and a summary of one of Darby’s 1840 Geneva addresses.  There is still time to make minor additions or changes, so if you ask questions such as ‘Have you covered/explained . . .?’ or ‘Have you distinguished between X and Y?’ I will certainly take these into account.
It has been quite a mammoth undertaking and I feel the more cast on God for help in this holy subject.  I have learned a lot while doing it, but become increasingly conscious of there being so much more to learn.  Even Paul said, ‘We see now through a dim window obscurely, but then face to face’ 1 Cor 13:12 Darby).  That is why I feel so dependent on the Lord, the Holy Spirit, reliable publications (rejecting what is unsound) and many dear brethren from several countries and denominations.
I hope, if the Lord will, to have it published by November.  It will be available on-line at cost in hard copy and Kindle and ebook electronic formats.
2020 has been such an unusual year.  Whether you are gathering physically – with restrictions, or on-line –  I trust you are feeling blessed and encouraged.  As a ‘second wave’ of Covid-19 now appears inevitable, people – some believers even – are fearful.  May we all seize the opportunity to point persons to the One on whom we can cast all our cares.  We need not fear.
With greetings in our Lord Jesus, your brother
Daniel Roberts (a.k.a. Sosthenes)

What is the Heavenly Vision or Call of the Church?

Recently a brother wrote to me needing to answer the following question:
What is the heavenly vision or call of the church?   People I speak to want to know what is the purpose of the church?  I have spent a lot of time reading and thinking about this question, but what is the best approach or angle to take when answering?  I believe it’s a very important question that I should be able to answer when I’m asked.
This question affects a lot of things. What should be our focus as a local church? The gospel, soup kitchens, ending poverty (social gospel), trying to change culture, etc.

My answer: The true Church – and what it is in the Sight of Men

I have been giving more thought to this question.  We need to see what the church is in the sight of Christ – which is the true Church – and what it is in the sight of men – a religion here.
Before starting, Christians must realise that their calling is a heavenly one.  ‘Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus’ (Heb 3:1).
The Greek word ἐκκλησίᾳ /ekklēsia/Strong 1577 .  The word implies people called out from the world and to God, the outcome being the Church or assembly comprised of all believers formed into one by the Holy Spirit. It is viewed as the body of Christ and also the habitation of God.  In a more general sense. it meant simply assembly – e.g. calling together for a civil function.  Incidentally, the English word ‘church’ or German ‘Kirche’ comes from the Greek word κυριακός/kyriakos/Strong 2960, ‘belonging to the Lord’ (kyrios), the French ‘église’ from ‘ekklēsia’.  The Hebrew word ‘קָהָל/qahal/Strong H6951’ has a similar meaning.
We must recognise the direct role of the Spirit of God.  It has been said that the Holy Spirit ‘is here; but He has taken a lowly place, . . .and has been here on earth for over 1,900 years in that lowliness. He maintains what is due to God according to what God is in heaven; there is a perfect answer to that in the presence of the Spirit down here, and the Spirit is here in the assembly; and that brings out the greatness of the assembly’s place too, but nevertheless the assembly is never part of the Deity.’  and ‘The assembly is nearest to Deity in the whole realm. What is sovereign is seen in the assembly.’ [*]  That being the case what has the assembly to do with the things of this world?

The Church in the Sight of Christ

The church is a perfect vessel (for the want of a better word), formed exclusively of saints worked on by the Spirit of God, apart from sin.  It has been said that it is of heaven in origin and destiny.  It is here in the body of Christ and its hope is totally towards Jesus – as a bride is towards her bridegroom.  Her desire is to be with Him – and therefore has no part here.  But she does care for His interests here.  His interests are what is for Him, His glory and to worship the Father, and for the members of His body to point to Him.  The church’s view is God-ward, not man-ward.
Ministry is for those of the church universally (as there is only one church) – ‘we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness’. (Romans 12:5-7)
The fact that it is ‘called out’ is important.  If it is ‘called out’ it cannot be ‘part of’.  Over the centuries Christians have been called out of every other religious organisation – in the earliest days Judaism and paganism, later Catholicism, later nationally established churches, later clericalism, and more recently social liberalism, charismatic Christendom or systematic legalism.  Importantly, if we are called out of something, we cannot reform it.  It is in the attempt to reform the old lump that Christians have become unstuck.
2 Corinthians 6:14-17 makes this clear ‘Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.’
This brings me to:

The Church in the Sight of Man

This is something different, and different people will have different ideas.
1.     A group of disparate organisations with common central beliefs and many interpretations, grouped together loosely for example in the World Council of Churches – sometimes preaching the gospel.
2 A humanitarian force for good, seeking to make the world a better place, while preaching a gospel, but not always the gospel.
3.     A place of religious exhilaration and excitement with rousing music – usually with the gospel but this is sometimes distorted – or a liberal ‘inclusive’ community – no matter what the bible says.