Darby on the Absolute

Summary of an apologetic article by JND entitled ‘The Absolute’ JND Collected Writings Vol 32 (Miscellaneous 1) page 18.

J N Darby (1800-82)

Having spent most of last year on my book, I felt I ought to do a few more articles summarising JND’s works.  I looked to the Lord for direction and chanced upon the title, ‘The Absolute’.  Knowing that Darby was criticised for using that term, critics even accusing him of having to do with the occult, it was well to see the comment availed.  I will leave it to the reader to judge, but my conclusion is that Darby jealously protects what is of God personally from that which relates to man.

Absolute and Relative

Only God is absolute.  Therefore, man cannot have absolute knowledge about anything.  All human knowledge is relative.

The closest concept is the “I[i]“, which is outside of time and space, and therefore precludes any relation.  But even this is not absolute. 

The ‘I’ is not the same as ‘I am’ which is clearly a relative expression which we can understand.  Any human conception or idea cannot be infinite and must be relative.  When ‘I’ relates to time, infiniteness is not implied.  I can say ‘I am’ that relates to time – but the word ‘being’ relates to what is infinite and therefore can only belong to God[ii].

If God in infinity has a relationship with man in relativity it is because of His own will.  The human mind cannot know God, because relative cannot know absolute. But if imagination works, it corrupts the intuition mythologically.


Man’s Futile Rationalism

It is impossible to arrive at the knowledge of what is absolute through science.  Science is clearly incompetent as every discovery throws up further questions

The French philosopher and theologian  Scherer[iii] reduced man to the lowest estimate of the judgment of God and good.  He said, ‘Truth is no longer truth in itself’-  a ridiculous sentence.  At an absolute level beauty truth and righteousness cannot be made relative.  God is the Absolute.

With man these things are

relative and can only be so.  The philosopher attempts to define these things in human  terms.  One reasons from final causes, another from intuition as to what relates to God.  A third vacillates between the two.  The result is nothing. It is the ‘unknown God’  (Acts 17:23).  When Paul was in Athens he contended with a vast system of philosophy.  In wretched pantheism there is a germ of truth, for God is above all and through all.  I want the absolute but cannot have it, because I am in a relative condition; yet.  Anything further is self occupied with self.


[iv] In Darby’s time it was thought that the smallest possible particle was the atom. Since then we have found that atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons, and beyond that, quarks.

The Truth – Thr Absolute become Relative

The truth gives us a true object as from the beginning, though present fulness, to the end,  we have the assurance of knowing as we are known, knowledge being now in part (See 1 Cor 13:12).  In Christ we have the absolute become relative, giving us the absolute goodness in coming into relation, perfect love and perfect light, but we have it more fully.  We have the truth as to everything from the supreme God to sin, the world, the devil and death. That is what our hearts can delight in.  In Christ, we see absolute moral perfection of man, because He could give Himself.  Could God’s ways be more perfect or wise?

God has revealed Himself in Christ in grace to us, and we discover a supreme relationship and an absolute claim which frees us from all others and leads us to give up self in all things. How admirable and divine the whole scheme is!  Man out of self by the absolute-become-relative and perfection in the relative toward God and toward man, while the absolute is maintained to our souls in every sense by the sacrifice of Christ and man’s perfect abnegation of self in the same to glorify God.  The result is man dwelling in God (and God in him) and that in glory, enjoyed now.  he that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself

Human Philosophy

Philosophical wisdom objects to this display of God’s absolute character at Christ’s expense.  It does not understand it when the Lord says, ‘Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again’ (John 10:17).  It never gets out of self.

Metaphysical scepticism can only arrive at what is true within a limited sphere. The finite cannot know the infinite – because it is not the knowledge of God.[v] Truth beyond physical fact, must be a revelation from God[vi]

Darby’s next couple of paragraphs comprise intellectual logical arguments which are beyond my level of comprehension. I have therefore not attempted to summarise them[vii].

However, in this section Darby introduces human will as affecting our perception of the truth.


One intelligible conclusion

Simple Christianity totally rejects heathenism and philosophy as being evil.  However, some of the early so-called fathers, such as Clements and Origens, accepted human lusts and cravings as part of the truth. met them when not simply lusts. Christ alone is the truth; His word is, because He is as He said, ‘altogether that which I also say to you’ (John 8:25).

Modern Theological Thinking

Darby now refers to the German theologian and philosopher Schleiermacher (1768-1834) as if his teaching was well known – and from the note below[i] it probably was, and the source of the worst infidelity now is that he has taken the Holy Ghost’s work in us – very likely in himself – for intuition.  Doubtless, he was influenced by Kant and others.  Philosophers would deny revelation – not founded on logic and human reasoning.

True believers see things differently


[viii] Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (November 21, 1768 – February 12, 1834) was a German Reformed theologian, philosopher, and biblical scholar known for his attempt to reconcile the criticisms of the Enlightenment with traditional Protestant Christianity. He also became influential in the evolution of higher criticism (looking at texts from a worldly historical setting), and his work forms part of the foundation of the modern field of hermeneutics (the interpretation of biblical texts). Because of his profound effect on subsequent Christian thought, he is often called the “Father of Modern Liberal Theology” and is considered an early leader in liberal Christianity.

Source Wikipedia

Reading the rest of the article one would question whether he had a true conversion,

[i] It is interesting that Darby uses the expression ‘I’.  I would have expected to have used the Greek Ego/ Εγώ, especially as the Greek is in English everyday parlance.

[ii] I do not fully understand this!

[iii] In Darby’s time it was thought that the smallest possible particle was the atom. Since then we have found that atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons, and beyond that, quarks.

[iv] Presumably Edmond Henri Adolphe Schérer (April 8, 1815 – March 16, 1889)  a French theologian, critic and politician.  He was a rationalist.

[v] Hence Pilate asked, ‘What is truth?’ (John 18:38)

[vi] This is difficult to follow, and I am not too sure if I have got what JND said right.  The only way I can is to relate things to scripture – which of course must be true.   This paper is meeting the infidel, and drawing on scripture. However I am thinking of what Paul said the in scripture, ‘God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; (Gal 1:15-16), the truth being in Him.  And also ‘the truth is in Jesus’ (Eph 4:21).

[vii] If a reader could help it would be appreciated.

[viii] Presumably Edmond Henri Adolphe Schérer (April 8, 1815 – March 16, 1889)  a French theologian, critic and politician.  He was a rationalist.

J N Darby – Death – King of Terrors for the Unbeliever –

Man is condemned: he cannot deliver himself. But Christ has come in. The Prince of Life has come into death. What is death now for the believer?

IMPORTANT – The Bible says, ‘It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment’[i]  If you landed on this page because you are afraid of death, and do not have peace with God Click here first.

 

Death – The King of Terrors for the Unbeliever

John Nelson Darby

For the unbeliever, nothing can be more terrible than death.  It is the ‘King of Terrors’ (See Job 18:14).  It is the end of life of the natural man, the first Adam.  Everything in which man has had – his home, his thoughts, his whole being, is closed and perished forever.  ‘His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day, his thoughts perish’ (Psalm 146:4). It is the end to all his plans. This busy world forgets him: he is extinct.  Death is written on him, for he is a sinner: he cannot deliver himself.

But that is not all.  Man indeed, as man alive in this world.  Sin has come in; with sin Satan’s power, more sin and death.  The wages of sin are a terror to the conscience. Man has been unable to resist the master, Satan, who has exercised his dreadful rights.

God cannot help[ii].   Death is His judgment on sin.  Sin does not pass unnoticed, and the terror and plague of the conscience is witness to His judgment, the officer of justice to the criminal, and the proof of his guilt in the presence of coming judgment.  How terrible!

Christ’s Death for the Believer

Man is condemned: he cannot deliver himself.  But Christ has come in.  The Prince of Life has come into death.  What is death now for the believer?

So we see two aspects of death –

  1. Satan’s power:
  2. God’s judgment:

In being made sin for us, Christ has undergone death, passing through both Satan’s power and God’s judgment. Death with its causes has been met in its every way by Christ.  It is no longer a source of terror to my soul.  In every sense, it has lost its power.

Death is Ours

But death has much more than passed away. Paul says that death is ours, as all things are (See 1 Cor 3:22).  Death and judgment have become my salvation; sin and the wages of sin have passed away.  In a word, Christ, the sinless One, having come in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, has dealt with my whole condition, the first Adam under obligation to the law (see Rom 8:3).  I live before God now in the One who is risen.  What is the effect of this?

  1. Condemnation and judgment being over, my soul is accepted. The foods of water that engulfed the oppressive Egyptians was a wall of deliverance to the children of Israel (see Ex 14:22).
  2. In the power of Christ’s resurrection, I am quickened. He becomes my life. In the new man, I can dispense with the old, Christ having passed through death, I can consider myself dead.  ‘Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Rom 6:11).  We are free of ordinances.
  3. The old man dies; the new man can never die. It is Christ.  In dying, it quits what is mortal and leaves death behind.  ‘We … are absent from the body and present with the Lord’ (2 Cor 5:8 Darby).  Our old man never revives, but our mortal bodies will be changed, like unto His glorious body conformed to the image of God’s Son.  (See Phil 3:21 and Rom 8:29).   Having a new life, we are disencumbered from the old man which hinders and hems in our way.

Conclusion

Death is the ceasing of the old man in which we were guilty before God.  It is the ceasing of sin, hindrance and trouble. We have done with the old man righteously, because Christ has died for us, and now we live in the power of the new.

  • As to death: ‘To depart and to be with Christ is far better. (Phil 1:23)
  • As to judgment: Christ has borne it.
  • As to the power of sin: it is the death of the very nature it lives in.
  • As to actual mortality: it is deliverance from the old to be with Christ in the new man who enjoys Him.

Who knowing the proper gain of it, would not die?

Meanwhile, we live here to serve Christ.  To us to live is Christ. (See Phil 1:21).

 

A simplified summary by Sosthenes of J N Darby’s – ‘What is Death’ ‘ Collected Writings volume 17 – Doctrinal 1, page 302.

[i] Hebrews 9:27

[ii] Or should I say, ‘does not help’? – Sosthenes

Introduction to the Timeline

‘After These Things’ Chapter 1.1 Introduction to the Timeline

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 present is now; the future starts at the Rapture.

All we can say is that the church is not yet complete – the last soul to be saved has not yet been saved.  Other than this, no further events need to happen before the Rapture.  A brother who helped us much in our area often said, ‘The prophetic clock has stopped’.  He also said that we are not told about the future to satisfy our curiosity, but only things that have a present moral bearing.  Please, dear reader, bear this in mind when reading this book.

Corinthians says ‘Now’:  ‘For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation’ (2 Corinthians  6:2) quoting from Isaiah 49:8

Hebrews says ‘Today’:  ‘To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts’ (Hebrews 3:15) quoting from Psalm 95:7

With that in mind, we begin our timeline from the Rapture. 

The period from the Rapture to the Appearing

 

We anticipate two great events

  1. Christ’s coming ‘to the air’ to take the living believers on Him to be with Him, and to raise the bodies of those who have ‘fallen asleep’. This is known as ‘The Rapture’.  It could happen today.

 

  1. To come with His saints to reign over the earth for 1000 years. This is known as ‘The Appearing’.  It follows the Great Tribulation and precedes the Millennium.

Chapter 2.3 contrasts the two.

 

 

 

 

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‘After These Things’ Foreword

Introducing After These Things – Summaries of John Nelson Darby’s Papers on Prophecy – and more.

‘After These Things’ Foreword

Introducing After These Things – Summaries of John Nelson Darby’s Papers on Prophecy – and more.

1.0 Foreword. 1

Introduction to ‘After These Things’ 1

A brief summary of what is to come: 2

This book is in six sections: 2

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

Thank you for purchasing ‘After These Things’.  Doubtless you and I share a common salvation through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and a common certain hope of hearing His voice, and being with Him when He comes with His Church to reign.

So that we can enjoy sharing something very precious, please drop me an email today. I will answer you personally, and occasionally send ‘A Day of Small Things’ emails.

daniel@adayofsmallthings.com

Introduction to ‘After These Things’

The following words come right at the end of the Bible:

‘And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely… . He which testifieth these things saith, Surely, I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus’ (Revelation 22:17-20).

Jesus continues to say, ‘I come quickly’ . This book is for His lovers who respond to Him with the words, ‘Come Lord Jesus’ – hearts which are looking for Him to come NOW.

In the mid 1800’s John Nelson Darby reawakened thousands of Christians as to the Rapture, described clearly in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15.   This gave them a burning desire to hear His call, and to be amongst ‘we the living’ when our Lord Jesus calls His saints on earth to meet Him in the air.  Along with these, there will be millions of sleeping saints whose bodies will be raised and changed.[1]  What a joy it will be to be with Him, forming His Bride, the Church, married to Him in heaven.

A brief summary of what is to come:

It will be an awful time of Satanic deception on earth.  The world will be dominated by the Beast, the Antichrist and the False Prophet. There will be pestilence and wars – the ‘great tribulation’

There will be a faithful ‘Jewish Remnant’, persons from the twelve tribes of Israel, enduring tribulation while standing for, Christ their Messiah, during the period from the ‘Rapture’ to the ‘Appearing’.  After the Antichrist breaks his covenant with the Jews, they will suffer extreme persecution.

World powers will engage in battle, but Christ will return.  All alive and will be judged; Satan will be bound, introducing the 1000-year  benevolent reign of Christ. After the Millennium Satan will be briefly released, gathering the world’s armies to the final war.  The Devil, who was really defeated at the Cross, will be consigned eternally to the lake of fire along with his agents and those not in the ‘Book of Life’.  For the saints, there’s a new heaven and new earth wherein dwells righteousness – the tabernacle of God with men.

That is the future and the theme of this book in a nutshell.

It is not a book on John Nelson Darby’s eschatology.  Darby did not want to create theologians[2] – he wanted us to love Jesus more.

This book is in six sections:

Section 1:  A Prophetic Timeline – from the Rapture to the New Heaven and New Earth

Section 2:  A summary of Darby’s prophetic thought, the dispensations, and the differences as to what applies to the Church, to Israel and the ‘Nations’, the distinction between the Rapture and the Appearing, the Resurrection of the Living and the Resurrection of the Dead,  what proceeds in heaven and what on earth, the judgement seat of Christ and the Great White Throne and the thousand-year Millennium and the eternal state.

Section 3: John Nelson Darby – the man and his ministry

Section 4: Summaries of eleven lectures on the ‘Present Hope of the Church of God’.  J N Darby, Geneva 1840

Section 5 – Summaries of other papers on prophecy by J N Darby, including his Prophetic Map.

Section 6   –        Glossary of prophetic terms, bibliography, and other references.

These summaries have been produced  from the notes of lectures or addresses as we would call them now.  JND would typically end these with an appeal to the conscience or heart.  These are often reproduced verbatim.  After all, Darby wanted us stimulated spiritually, not intellectually.  Indeed, ‘the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’ (Revelation 19:10) – it is to enhance His glory, not to satisfy our curiosity.

Most of these summaries were initially posted on my website www.adayofsmallthings.com. If you have comments on this book, or on my site,  email me at daniel@adayofsmallthings.com, or use the comments form on my websit

Scriptures Quotations

Scripture quotations are from the 1611 King James Version of the Bible.  Despite its age and often archaic language, it remains the only universally accepted version.  Sometimes, for accuracy, I have used Darby’s translation, (1890 edition), shown as Darby after the reference.  Very occasionally I use the English Standard Version (ESV), a modern language version. Most of my personal comments are footnotes.

This work, dear reader, is committed to God. May I be given diligence, understanding and in humility, serve His Son, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

 

Your brother in Christ

Daniel Roberts

November 2020

 

[1] Including Paul, all the Thessalonians, and many before and since.

[2] Darby wrote ‘We must here notice a striking part. The moment one searches the word, it comes out that theology and theologians are worth nothing at all … It is impossible to read the word and to follow, even one moment, the established theological system. Poor theologians!’ (Collected Writings Vol 3  Doctrinal 1 p243).

 

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The New Heaven and New Earth

This is culled directly from the Synopsis on the first part of Rev 21. 

Revelation 21:1-5 gives us the v.9 – ch. 22:4 is the millennial city.

‘After These Things’ Chapter 5.6 The New Heaven and New Earth

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

This is culled directly from the Synopsis on the first part of Rev 21.

Synopsis vol 5 page 420

 

Revelation 21:1-5 gives us the v.9 – ch. 22:4 is the millennial city.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away’.

 

There was a new heaven and a new earth; but no more sea — no separation, nor part of the world not brought into an ordered earth before God. Here we do not find any mediatorial kingdom. The Lamb is not in the scene. God is all in all. No sorrow or crying more, no earthly people of God distinct from the inhabitants of the earth. These are God’s people, and God is with them Himself, but withal His tabernacle is with them. This is the holy city, New Jerusalem.

 

The assembly has her own character, is the habitation of God in a special way, when the unchanging state comes, and all is made new. God is the end, as the beginning. Him that is athirst now God will refresh with the fountain of the water of life — the overcomer shall inherit all things. The world for the Christian is now a great Rephidim[1].

 

This is the twofold portion of the final blessedness: he shall have God for his God and be His son. Those who feared this path — did not overcome the world and Satan but had walked in iniquity — would have their part in the lake of fire.  This closes the history of God’s ways.

 

 

 

[1] Rephadim was the place of the battle against between the children of Israel and Amalek, shortly after going over the Red Sea.  ‘The LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation’ (Exodus 17:16).

 

 

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Section 5 – Other Papers on Prophecy by J N Darby

‘After These Things’ Section 5 – Other Papers on Prophecy by J N Darby

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

J N Darby wrote many other papers and gave various  lectures on prophetic subjects.  Much of this work is covered in the four ‘Prophetic’ volumes of Collected Writings.  Those which have been summarised in this book are highlighted.

You will see that I have selected only a very few.  However, it is my opinion that most of the essential truths relating to the period from the Rapture onwards have been covered.  If I summarised much more this book would be excessively long and there would be much repetition and duplication.

A list of published books by J N Darby, along with the table of contents of the four ‘Prophetic’ volumes is presented in the Bibliography Chapter 6.

This section, therefore, covers the following:

5.1 The Power, Hopes, Calling, Present Position, and Occupation of the Church

–           Source Material Vol. 12 (Evangelical 1)

5.2 After the Rapture, the Jewish Remnant – Particularly from Isaiah

–           Source Material Vol. 11 (Prophetic 4)

5.3 After the Rapture, the Jewish Remnant – Particularly from the Psalms

–           Source Material Vol. 11 (Prophetic 4)

5.4 After the Rapture, the Jewish Remnant – Particularly from the New Testament

–           Source Material Vol. 11 (Prophetic 4)

5.5 The Lord’s Second Coming and the Church’s Witness

–           Source Material Notes & Comments Vol. 2

5.6 The New Heaven and New Earth

–           Source Synopsis of the Bible Vol. 5

5.7 J N Darby’s Prophetic Map

–           Source Material Notes & Comments Vol. 2

5.8 The Truth of the Rapture is Clear from Scripture

–           Source Material Vol. 11 (Prophetic 4)

 

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5.8 The Truth of the Rapture is Clear from Scripture

Christ’s second coming Is the proper hope of the church.It is clearly presented in the New Testament.  

‘After These Things’ Chapter 5.8 – The Truth of the Rapture is Clear from Scripture

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

 

 

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A Lecture by J N Darby on the Second Coming of Christ – The Rapture in Scripture

In Section 4 of the book, we have summaries of J N Darby’s lectures in 1840 on  ‘The Present Hopes of the Church’. One lecture was on the Second Coming of Christ.  Later Darby gave a series of lectures on the same subject in Toronto – this is a summary of the first lecture’.  The Original is ‘Lectures on the Second Coming of Christ, delivered in 1863 at Toronto, Canada. (Collected Writings Vol 11 (Prophetic 4) page 206).  He outlines how Christ’s second coming is presented in the New Testament.

Christ’s second coming Is the proper hope of the church. The Holy Spirit constantly brings this before us in the New Testament.  It is not some vague speculation; it is a foundational truth which maintains our hearts as we wait patiently for our Saviour’s return.  We are to be raised, our bodies changed, and we will be with Him.   As we had been quickened and justified, there will be no resurrection of judgment for us.   We do not have long to wait now.

Sadly, many Christians overlook the Rapture and think only in terms of the resurrection in the last day, a resurrection for judgement.  They confuse what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 with what is in the previous chapter. The first scripture says, ‘The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them’ and ‘the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory’.  This is not what we are looking for.  Our expectation is, ‘For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).  Those who await the final judgment, hoping that all will be well, are mistaken.

If I was comforting someone who had just lost a dear one, who had put their trust in the blood, and was therefore forgiven, cleansed and justified, and told them that their loved one would return with Jesus, they might think that think I was mad.   But that is exactly the comfort that Paul gave to the Thessalonians.

The world rejects His coming, and the worldly church dismisses and devalues it.  But it dominated the lives of the early disciples.  It should dominate ours.

Scriptures on the Lords coming:

Bible – Darby Version

Notes[1]
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.  And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.  And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.  Matt 25:1-6 There is the essence of the church’s calling. The virgins had lost the expectation of Christ and sank into the comfort, pleasures and the hierarchical structure of the world.  The Bridegroom tarried and they had given up watching.  They had to be aroused; Behold, the Bridegroom cometh: go ye out to meet him” (v.6).  Those with the Holy Spirit were able to go in.

Lecture in Toronto CW Vol. 11 (Prophetic 4) p 210

Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. 

Luke 12: 35-36

Waiting for the coming of Christ characterises the Christian.  Men speak of death, but death is not ‘my lord.’

CW Vol. 32 (Miscellaneous 1 ) p 245

And as in the days of Noah and of Lot, they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, planted and builded, even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. Luke 17:25-27 This passage does not warn people as to sin, but as to the unholy notion that the world will go on indefinitely. As soon as Noah entered into the ark, the flood came and destroyed them all.  As soon as the church is taken up, Satan will fill men’s hearts with lies.  Judgment follows.

Note: This does not apply to the Great White Throne. When Christ sits on that, the heavens and the earth flee away; there is total destruction of everything.

And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains. . . 

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;  Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.  And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.  Luke 21:20-21,25-28

V. 20-21 refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70.

The rest is much later – the time of the Gentiles will have been fulfilled.  The last beast’s – the Antichrist’s wickedness will be exposed.

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  John 14:1-3 Such is the promise: the comfort Christ gave to His disciples when He was leaving them.  He comes to receive them to Himself.
And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Acts 1:1011. This too is not the end of time. The angels comfort-ed them, indicating that Jesus would come again.  Scripture points to His return.
It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Hebrews 9:2728.

That is the allotted portion of the seed of the first Adam.  The Christian awaits His coming, with no reference to sin.
We shall not all die; 1 Corinthians 15:51
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

 Romans 11:25-27

When the church is complete, and its last member will have been brought in, Israel will be saved as a nation. Christ will appear for their deliverance.
So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:7-8 All the promises of the prophets will be fulfilled at that coming.
He now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because He hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world (i.e., this habitable earth) in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained, whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.

Acts 17:30-31

Though God winked at the times of ignorance, there was now a clear testimony which could not be ignored.
But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

1 Corinthians 15:23

The distinctive resurrection of the saints will be at His coming.
Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. For our conversation is in heaven, from when also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Philippians 3:19-21

No comment
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3: 1-4

No comment
1 & 2 Thessalonians The theme of both letters – see Synopsis
That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 6:14

The apostle exhorts Timothy to go on diligently and faithfully looking for the appearing. When the word of God speaks of joy to the saints, it is referring to the Rapture; when God speaks of responsibility to the world or the saints, it always refers to His appearing.
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

2 Timothy 4:8

Love! – Do you love, can you love, that which will put a stop to everything pleasant in the world?
For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Hebrews 2:5, 6 The world to come is the habitable earth here.  Christ is now at God’s right hand till God puts all things under His feet.
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. Hebrews 9:24 Man was tried, up to the death of Christ, by the law, the prophets, and finally, by the mission of God’s Son, but in vain.  Man finds out that he is lost, and that redemption is by the cross.  When sin was complete Christ appeared to put away sin by His sacrifice. Now that that work is complete, those who through grace believe, await the same Saviour to come again for their final deliverance.
Be ye also patient: stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh

James 5:8

We are to be patient in our daily life as yet knowing what will change the whole state of the world.
Jesus Christ: whom, having not seen, ye love; on whom [though] not now looking, but believing, ye exult with joy unspeakable and filled with [the] glory, receiving the end of your faith, [the] salvation of [your] souls. Concerning which salvation prophets, who have prophesied of the grace towards you, sought out and searched out; searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which [was] in them pointed out, testifying before of the sufferings which [belonged] to Christ, and the glories after these. To whom it was revealed, that not to themselves but to you they ministered those things, which have now been announced to you by those who have declared to you the glad tidings by [the] Holy Spirit, sent from heaven, which angels desire to look into.

1 Peter 1:7-13

In 1 Peter we have a remarkable testimony to the order of God’s ways.

1. The prophets

2. The gospel

3. The appearing of Jesus Christ, whom, having not seen, we love.

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming 

1 John 2:28

Our consciences are clear
It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is: and everyone that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

1 John 3:1-3

His appearing rejoices the heart and affects the walk of the saints.  Our blessed and assured hope is to be like Christ Himself. The present effect of this special hope is that the saint purifies himself even as He is pure, and seeks to be like Him now.
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints

Jude v.14

The epistle looked at the decline of the professing church – the false brethren coming in unawares.  It would be the object of the judgment of the Lord when He would appear.

 

God’s moral glory was seen

[1] Notes from (JND Collected Writings Vol. 11 (Prophetic 4) p206-216 – Lectures on the Second Coming of Christ, unless otherwise stated.

 

Who can Preach the Gospel?

 

Preaching
John Nelson Darby

They that were Scattered Abroad went Everywhere, Preaching the Word  Acts 8:4.

Paul prayed ‘that the word of the Lord may have free course’(2 Thess 3:1).  All true Christians should pray for that too.  But alas, preaching is beset by human perverseness, especially in establishments of any sect or denomination where only appointed or ordained individuals are permitted to preach.  Scripture does not support ordination or authorisation – whichever word is used.  In a world under condemnation, there are sinners ready to perish.  Ordination and the distinction between laity and clergy (which includes so-called lay preachers) was not known in the early church – nor is it scriptural.

No human qualification should be needed in order to declare to them God’s remedy in love: that Jesus died for sinners.  Man has set up restrictions: the gospel which was ‘to be preached to every creature under heaven’(Col 1:23) has been bound and shackled.  Multitudes have been shut out from the springs of life for want of hearing a clear invitation which should have been upon the lips of all who have drunk of the living waters.  The Spirit of God has been grieved.

The questions are –

  1. Do those in appointed office have the Spirit of God?
  2. Can any member of the church of God with love for souls preach if the Lord gives them the ability and opportunity?
  3. Is any human sanction needful for their doing so?
  4. Are those who are not ordained, or otherwise appointed, disqualified from preaching?

As to Christians speaking in the church, the only restriction is, ‘Let your women keep silence in the churches’ (1 Cor 13:34).  Women have other blessed services.  Many godly women have spiritual gifts, and we read elsewhere the directions for their exercise (in the home, with their heads covered – see 1 Cor 11:5).  They were not to use them in the church, because that would be out of order.

The apostle says, ‘every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation’(v. 26).   So, if God has given some men the ability to speak, they were to speak in an orderly way in the power of the Holy Spirit:  not all at once or every day, but as God led them.  Because of the presence of the indwelling Spirit is in the church, it is built up, and God is worshipped  ‘in spirit and in truth’(John 4:24).

It is most mischievous to say that times have changed.  The Spirit of God does not break His own order by systematic rules.   Christ initially gave in his church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers; ‘for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, . . . speaking the truth in love, [that we] may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love’ (Eph 4:11-16) .  Some quote to justify ordination, ‘the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2).  But the thing committed here was the doctrine: it does not appear that they were ordained for the purpose.

Human prescription regulates everything in matters of religion, as in politics, commerce, education and most other aspects of life.  The result of this is that much has been lost in the public profession: the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge, for example.    If that is true, then the effectiveness of the word is further weakened by asserting that the Spirit of God is has left the Church.  This then raises the question: ‘What are we, and where are we – are we the church of God without the Spirit?’   If the Spirit is not there, all union between Christ and His members will have been cut off, and the promise, ‘I am with you always, even unto the end of the world’ (Matt 28:20) made of no effect.  It would no longer be the church.

But present-day disciples of Jesus know that He is with them in spite of public failure; and that He said, ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matt 18:20).  His Spirit is with them for instruction and blessing.

The question becomes more critical when we consider speaking outside of the church.  We read, ‘They that were scattered abroad, went everywhere preaching the word’ (Acts 8:4). – that was all except the apostles. ’The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord’ (Acts 11:21).  The idea of ordination had never occurred to them.  Paul preached without any other mission than the Lord’s glory and His word.  He preached everywhere including synagogues and encouraged others to do the same.  He said simply, ‘I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak’(2 Cor 4:13) .  Apollos too preached very effectively, and it is said that, when Paul would have sent him from Ephesus to Corinth, he would not go.  He was not ordained, and earlier knew only the baptism of John.  Aquila and Priscilla had‘expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly’ (Acts 18:26). [Note that we have here a woman performing a very vital and authoritative service in the right way.  She was as competent as any].

In the previous dispensation, much of the order was according to birth.  Nevertheless, there was a clear distinction according to position – priests, Levites, princes, Nethinim etc.  However, even in Jewish worship, far greater liberty was permitted than in the restricted systems of the present day. ‘Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on’ (Acts 13:15).   When Eldad and Medad prophesied by the Spirit in the camp, without coming to the door of the tabernacle, Moses said, ‘Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!’ (Num 11:29).

There is therefore ample evidence from Scripture to an impartial mind.  Appropriately gifted Christian men have the liberty and right to speak, in or out of the church, without needing any human authority.   This is the dispensation of the outpouring of the Spirit qualifying for speaking of Jesus all who can do so.  The assumption of priesthood by any person is wrong (save as all believers are priests).  Priesthood and kingship belong to Christ alone.

At Pentecost, 120 were assembled together and spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance (See Acts 2:4).  And Peter, standing up, explains to the Jews that they were not drunk, but it was what was spoken of by Joel, ‘I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy’ (Joel 2:29).  The Spirit was poured on people without distinction – men and women, young and old, rich and poor, even slaves.   Subsequent history has been to create classes according to social, academic, racial, financial and ecclesiastical status.  This has been a cause of the loss of power in Christendom.  And the consequence – unrestrained irregularities in the church.

There are, of course, other services such as pastoral care.   A good shepherd will go after the scattered sheep in order to present God’s glad tidings to them, and to help them further in their souls.  One significant advantage of God’s order is that all men and women are able to fulfil their part according to the gifts that God has given them.  Those who should be teachers, shepherds or evangelists should not be hindered due to the lack of official academic and theological qualifications. This ought to be obvious: God appoints the field of their operations, in order do the Lord’s work.   Persons should not be prevented by the spirit of Diotrephes in the system.   God’s manifold grace and the gifts that He has given to the church blend together in true harmony and love in the body of Christ.

Nothing demonstrates the preference of man’s authority to the Lord’s more than the way in which the free and unrestrained proclamation of the gospel of God’s grace is discredited.  Those who should be preaching are obliged to modify their message and restrict their work, for fear they should be in breach of the authority which has placed them in their appointed position.  For example, an area of the country is destitute of the gospel, despite a lot of religious activity.  One in whose heart God has put the desire and whose mouth He has opened to speak of His love, goes and preaches there, and many souls previously in darkness are blessed.  The district is already full of men and women holding office in the various churches, but who are not shepherds and do not preach a sound gospel – replacing it with the fleshly excitement and emotional happiness of popular charismatics, or teaching doctrines which deny the deity of Christ, or telling souls that God’s love is such that they can attain salvation by their own works – or are just as the word to Sardis – dead.  What is the labourer to do in these circumstances? – Is leave souls at the mercy of these unsound church leaders, or is he to abandon them altogether?  There is no godly righteousness in either.  Faithfulness to Christ demands that he should preach to those who in need.  However, he is restricted in his activities by the systems (of whatever denomination) which have also sanctioned those appointees who harm poor souls.  The church hierarchy, even if formed of devout Christians, must recognise their officially sanctioned ministers and pastors and reject faithful men of God, working in the power and guidance of the Spirit of God, but who do not hold the appropriate office and qualifications[*].

So why does one take an ecclesiastical office – vicar in the Church of England, pastor or minister in the Baptists or Methodists etc.?  Because it is the only way to serve within the confines of the system.  One who habitually waits on the Lord is obligated to work in an organisation which is not regulated by the Lord’s headship.  The Master’s service can be undertaken in complete, unhindered dependence on the Spirit of God.  If service does not fulfil the Lord’s own time, place, and purpose, servants are what Paul calls busybodies (see2 Thess 3:11), whatever may be the apparent (defective) results of their labours.

One further observation: we ‘should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints’ (Jude v.3).  Look at the multitude of conflicting interests in the church – ‘wars and fightings’(James 4:1) amongst brethren.  So much spiritual and natural energy is spent on defending one human system against another.  Ask calmly: ‘For what are we contending?’  If the contention is for our own views or interests, or to support the system to which we owe allegiance, God cannot support us.  It is not for the things of Christ; it is not of His Spirit.

All this shows that these traditional opinions are worthless and deeply injurious to the glory of God unless based upon His word.  Let it be observed that the liberty of the believer is not the spirit of insubordination, but of entire subjection to the Spirit: not the spirit of enthusiasm, but of a sound mind – of a mind at one with God, which alone gives righteous judgment.  And let the people of God wait on Him for His guidance.  It is a time in which God is separating reality from mere outward form.  May God work abundantly fill His labourers with His spirit!  ‘The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest’(Matt 9:37-38).

 

Based on J N Darby: ‘Christian Liberty of Preaching and Teaching the Lord Jesus Christ’ – JND’s Collected Writings Vol 1 Ecclesiastical 1 page 68

 

 

[*]In modern times, there may be more lay preachers due to limitations of resources.  Packaged lectures, even with PowerPoint presentations, may be used to spread a word.  Such sermons, cannot be energised by st Spirit of God, meeting the needs of those who attend these preachings. [Sosthenes]

Why this Dispensation will be Terminated prior to the Biblical Millennium

Is this dispensation the last, or is it not?
What are the circumstances by which any other is to be introduced?

The testimony of Scripture must be the basis of our thoughts concerning prophecy. Otherwise, we will have wrong thoughts about God’s dealings, leading to a misunderstanding of our relationship with Him, and affecting our conduct in this dark world.  If we stray from scripture, any service that we might undertake will be defective: our light will be darkness, and we may lead others astray.

In his paper, ‘Evidence from Scripture of the Passing Away of the Present Dispensation’(Collected Writings Volume 2, Prophetic 1, page 89), J N Darby looks at two questions regarding this dispensation.

  1. Is this dispensation the last, or is it not?
  2. What are the circumstances by which any other is to be introduced?

It is a long paper, but this short abstract gives his principal conclusions.

 

Is this dispensation the last, or is it not?

Paul writes, ‘Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance’(Eph 1:10).

The passage talks about a gathering: it cannot be referring to Christ’s assembly in the present or any dispensation; for the assembly never comprises all things in heaven and on earth – the saints are not ‘all things’.  The saints of the church of God comprise only a small, but worthy and admired, part of the glory and purposes of God.  In our dispensation, Satan is the prince and god of this world: in no way are all things in heaven and on earth gathered together in Christ.  The passage is clear.

Also, ‘Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow’  (1 Peter 1:9-11).

Here we have three things:

  1. The prophets prophesy about the grace to be brought to us,
  2. The Holy Spirit confirms the same things.
  3. The Christian church is waiting until the end for the glory.

Hence there must be a dispensation to come, in which the things prophesied of by the prophets will come to pass:  our dispensation is not it.

In the present time, we groan in our bodies awaiting redemption (see Rom 8:23).  What we have now is an earnest, something given as a sign or promise of what is to come.

Furthermore, we are told of the everlasting (universal) glad tidings (see Rev 14:16) which precedes the  ‘the earth . . . full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea’ (Hab 2:14).  In this dispensation preaching is not universal: the gospel Is preached in places throughout the world.  In spite of this, publicly evil gets worse, not better as some would like to think.

As to the Jews, ‘all Israel shall be saved’  (Rom 11:26), that is as a body.  But now Jews may be saved individually by faith in Christ’s finished work – not as a body.  The word is, ‘Even so, then, at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace’(Rom 11:5).  The dispensations, therefore, are essentially different in their character; the one the rescuing of the remnant, the other, the saving of the body.

 

What are the circumstances by which any other is to be introduced?

The next dispensation commences with judgment, especially on the Jews.  ‘They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn’(Zech 12:10, John 19:37, Rev 1:7).  The consequence is that the Jews will again be recognised as God’s people, and ‘The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea’ (Hab 2:14).  We need to note that this will not be by means of the preaching of the gospel.

There is no prophecy or promise in Scripture that the gradual diffusion of the gospel will lead to the world being converted (the ‘kingdom’), an amillennialist line of thought which is prevalent in Christian circles.

May God in mercy and grace guide us to the right and full use of His word, receiving it with a simplicity of faith and obedience in our consciences.

 

A Guide to the Walk of an Enlightened Christian

 

Ephesians 4and 5 give us a guide to the walk of an enlightened Christian. Here are some excerpts.

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ch. 4:1-6)

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.   Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.  Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with hishands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ch. 4:17-32)

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.  . . . Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.  (Ch5:1-2, 14).

 

Putting off and Putting on – Our Life, what we are

We have learned the truth as it is in Jesus.  We have put off the old and put on the new – ‘created after God in righteousness and true holiness’ (ch 4:24).  Darby notes – not yet love.

God has been perfectly revealed through the work of Christ.  Evil has been dealt with and Christ is glorified: He is sitting at the right hand of the majesty in the heavens (see Heb 1:3) : He is the righteous One who hates evil and delights in what is pure and good:  He is holy. If we are to be ‘after God’it must be in righteousness and true holiness.

God is known now not merely as a Creator, but One whose whole nature is revealed in the work of redemption. Through redemption we have new creation: we are quickened out of our state of death in sin, and are raised as Christ out of His grave.  By new creation we have become partakers of the divine nature.

 

The Presence of the Holy Spirit

God Himself dwells in us by His Spirit.  His love is shed abroad in our hearts, sealing us for the time when we shall fully enjoy Him.  We are not to grieve such a holy and blessed Guest. The Holy Spirit guides, orders, reveals the things of Christ to our minds, communicates what is blessed to us, filling us with what is divine.  So nothing inconsistent with His presence, where all is peaceful with holy love flowing in our hearts.  This governs our walk and speech.

 

God is Love

God has two essential names: Love (1 John 4:16) and Light (1 John 1:5).  These characterise the Christian’s walk, Christ being the model.  The measure of the Christian is not what he or she ought to be, but what God is morally, in holiness and love.  God is sovereign:  He can love without a motive.  We need a motive and an object which we find in the Lord Jesus and His work.

 

Imitators of God

We are to be imitators of God, as His beloved children.  As we are born of Him, partaking in the divine nature, we walk in love.  We are to be tender-hearted and forgive, showing grace to one another.  God has forgiven and shown grace to us (See Col 3:13).

There are two evidences of divine love in man:

  1. It says, ‘And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour’ (Eph 5:2). This means that sorrowing over the evil in myself and in the world, I offer up myself, as Jesus did, perfect in love.  Our path is to follow Him in this.  As in 1 John 3:16, ‘Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren’.
  2. Christ offered Himself to God – with a motive – He did so for us, despite our worthlessness. The object and motive were perfect. Hence, we are called to add brotherly love to love (see 2 Peter 1:7), which, we are told, is the bond of perfectness. We are therefore told to present our bodies living sacrifices (see Rom 12:1) – weak and sinful they may be, but self must be given up to God.

 

God is Light

God is light – essentially pure in nature.  Christ was the light of the world: now He is our life.  We are to be shining lightsamid a crooked and perverse generation (see Phil 2:15). We were in darkness, but nowwe are shining, and we are exhorted to walk as children of light.  ‘For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’(2 Cor 4:6) – The fruits of light contrast with the darkness of the world.  ‘But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord,(2 Cor 3:18).  We are irreproachable.   But in spite of all that, the apostle has to say, ‘Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light’(Eph 5:14).

 

Conclusion

Such, then, is the true measure of Christian walk – what God is in His nature as love and light, has its true, perfect, and blessed expression on the earth, in man, in Christ. Thus we are to be followers of God as dear children, the fruit of the light and the purity of the divine nature being seen in us.

 

Based on J N Darby: ‘The True Path of a Christian’ – JND’s Collected Writings Vol 34 Miscellaneous 3 page 99