The Truth of the Rapture is Clear from Scripture

A Lecture by J N Darby on the Second Coming of Christ

A summary by Sosthenes

J N DarbyBack in 2014 I produced a summary of JN Darby’s series of 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 the way in which 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 keeping our hearts full of the love of God as we wait patiently for our Saviour to return.  We are to be raised, our bodies changed, and we will be with Him.   Having been quickened and justified, there will be no resurrection of judgment for us.   We do not have long to wait, and it is a wait worth being patient for.

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 Thess 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 Thess 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. 

So, in 1 Thes 5:23 it says, ‘I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  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.

Let us look at scriptures on the Lords coming:

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 down 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.
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.’
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 this to the Great White Throne. When Christs sits on that, the heavens and the earth flee away; there is a 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 refer 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 the angels comforted 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 Cor 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 and Outline
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 to 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 that is 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, or finally 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. The time of the saints’ receiving the promise is the appearing of Christ

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 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 at the first coming: it surpassed everything before it.  But only at His second coming will the actual result be realised.  Jesus will come to receive the church to Himself, a witness of sovereign grace, and then to appear setting the world in blessing subject to Him in the power of His kingdom. 

Now we enjoy the full revelation of Him from whom all that blessing flows, and enjoy it here in a nature suited to it and flowing from it; but we wait for the results for ourselves and for this burdened world.  We love His appearing.  How is it with you?  Are you linked with the world He subverts when He comes, or with Him who brings the fulness of blessing, though with judgment on what hindered it? Were He to come now, would it be your awaited joy and delight, or does it alarm and try your hearts? The Lord give you to answer before His face!

 

Sosthenes

November 2018

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.

 

The Thessalonians – Fresh in their Faith

We love His appearing, but we love Himself better. Therefore we wait for Him to take us to Himself. If our hearts have known what Himself is, we cannot confound His taking us to Himself, with His appearing. We are ‘members of his body’ (Eph 5:30). ‘Your life is hid with Christ’ (Col 3:3). He is to take us up to the Father’s house, the fullness of His own blessedness – with Christ; the blessed outshining of His Father’s love connects itself with the church’s position. All through there is an identity of blessedness with Christ in life, hope, object, all. If this hope is let into the heart, there must be a break with the world. I cannot be waiting for God’s Son from heaven if I am expecting wrath; and I cannot be waiting for God’s Son from heaven

 

 1 Thessalonians 1

When Paul wr0te to the Thessalonians who had ‘turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven’(1 Thes 1:9-10),  he amplified each statement:

  • A work of faith (v. 3)
  • A labour of love (v. 3)
  • Patience of hope (v. 3)
  • A word in power and the Holy Ghost (v. 5)
  • Received the word with affliction (v. 6)
  • Joy in the Holy Ghost (v. 6)
  • Serving the living God (v. 9)

The Thessalonians were newly converted.  They had not received much teaching, but their lives had been totally changed. No doubt they had not been satisfied with those idols from which they had turned, but now they had a hope and were happy.  They knew that wrath was to come on the earth, but they were assured that the Lord had delivered them from it.  They were really free.

 

What it means to us:

There are three ways in which scripture shows how our souls are affected by Christ’s return:

  1. As a fulfilment of our hope. Our bodies will be raised and we will be changed to be like Him.  Christ will have the church with Himself and His government will later be set up.
  2. As having the Holy Spirit. Gifts have been given now, but the result of God’s work will be seen in display.
  3. As enjoying the embrace of His love – not His outward government, but His intimate presence. See John 14:3I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also’. 

We are caught up into the Father’s house, and bear the image of the Heavenly One.   We come into the Father’s delight – loved as His Son is loved .  We enjoy His presence: ‘ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thes 4:17).

When He comes forth, the church, armies in heaven come with Him (see Rev 19:14).  They must have been raised first in order to be with Him.  It will be a display in power, and everything will be set in order.

Darby said: We love His appearing, but we love Himself better. Therefore we wait for Him to take us to Himself. If our hearts have known what Himself is, we cannot confound His taking us to Himself, with His appearing. We are ‘members of his body’ (Eph 5:30).   ‘Your life is hid with Christ’ (Col 3:3).  He is to take us up to the Father’s house, the fullness of His own blessedness – with Christ; the blessed outshining of His Father’s love connects itself with the church’s position. All through there is an identity of blessedness with Christ in life, hope, object, all. If this hope is let into the heart, there must be a break with the world. I cannot be waiting for God’s Son from heaven if I am expecting wrath; and I cannot be waiting for God’s Son from heaven if I am linked up with the world. If this world is the scene where my heart is building itself up, if I have an object in this world, Christ will spoil it all.

If He came tonight, would this be what we wanted?

 

This is a summary of paper written by John Nelson Darby.  It is entitled The Freshness of Faith 1 Thessalonians 1 published in Collected Writings Volume 21 (Evangelic 2) page 358.

Sosthenes

February 2017

 

The Things which shall be Hereafter (Rev 1:19)  – The Marriage of the Lamb

7Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb

The Marriage of the Lamb

The third in our series of forthcoming events is the marriage of the Lamb. Chronologically the Antichrist and the great tribulation probably come first, but I would like to concentrate first on the events which affect the church and the saints of our dispensation:

  1. The Rapture
  2. The Judgment Seat of Christ
  3. The Marriage of the Lamb (this note)
  4. The Millennium (to be written)

 

Revelation 19:6-9

King James Version Darby Version
6And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.7Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 6And I heard as a voice of a great crowd, and as a voice of many waters, and as a voice of strong thunders, saying, Hallelujah, for [the] Lord our God the Almighty has taken to himself kingly power.7Let us rejoice and exult, and give him glory; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready. 8And it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright [and] pure; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints.

9And he says to me, Write, Blessed [are] they who are called to the supper of the marriage of the Lamb. And he says to me, These are the true words of God.

 

The marriage is described in this passage.  I have shown the Darby version as there are expressions which he, and several modern translators, believe that the KJV rendering is inaccurate.  These are highlighted.

The Current Relationship between Christ and His Church

The church came into existence when the Holy Spirit filled the 120 or so persons who were gathered in the upper room in Acts 2:2, a number that soon grew to 5000.   From the start, she was united to Christ, and even at this early date fully capable of fulfilling her function as the wife of Christ.

The epistles often refer to the church as Christ’s body.  The body comprises only those who are alive now, not to all who will form the bride.  Nevertheless, the relationship between Christ and His assembly is clear: ‘For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church’ (Eph 5:31-32.

It is not until Revelation that we have the Church described as a bride.  His wife had made herself ready, so she was a wife before she was a bride.  The church is now the wife looking after her Husband’s affairs in His absence.  She is His trustworthy confidante. Although the marriage ceremony has not yet taken place, the relationship already exists.  There is perfect unity between Christ and His church.  Christendom publicly is something else.

When is The Marriage of the Lamb?

Before the marriage celebration of the Lamb, Babylon – the rival – will have been overthrown and judged..  It says, ‘[the] Lord our God the Almighty has taken to himself kingly power’  (v. 6 Darby).  He had taken the power, and was about to reign, but He was not actually reigning.  Hence we can say that this event would take place between the great tribulation and the millennium

The judgment seat of Christ, must precede the marriage.  No doubt ‘his wife hath made herself ready’ (v. 7would refer in part to that.  What remains is the bride’s bright clothing – the righteousnesses of the saints (v. 8 Darby).  – things that they had done which had met with God’s approval. (Note KJV appears wrong again here – most modern translations say ‘righteous deeds or acts’, which is correct – Greek δικαιώματα/dikaiōmata/Strong 1345).  What qualifications the bride has!

 

The Marriage Celebration

When a couple gets married, the persons will not have been united beforehand (at least if they have been conducting themselves according to God’s clear ordering).  Traditions might vary, but in any marriage there is generally a legal act and a celebration.  The bride is the centre of attention, beautifully dressed (hopefully comelily), and looking her best.  A new household is established, the man and the woman having both left their parental homes (see Gen 2:24 and Psalm 45:10).  The fact that the Holy Spirit introduced this concept so early in Genesis shows that the marriage relationship was always in God’s mind and purpose.

From what we have seen this will be no ordinary marriage.  We might say that legal side has already taken place.  Now it is time for a celebration of an existing relationship.  Until Satan had been overcome publicly it was not yet the time for her to be seen publicly in her beautiful radiance

It says ‘Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ v. 9.  Abraham and other Old Testament saints will be there as guests. They are children of the bridechamber, but they are not united to Christ as the church is (see Minstry of James Butler Stoney vol 6 page 116).  It has been suggested that the invitees include the king’s daughters and the daughters of Tyre in Psalm 45: 9 & 12.

  

Jerusalem as the Bride

The bride is described as a city because of her function of rule.  ‘Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.  And he [the angel] carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God…’ (Rev 21:9-11).  However, this will be seen in the millennium – the bride (or wife) of Christ, already married.

The holy Jerusalem is, of course, totally different from the millennial Jerusalem on earth, described in Ezekiel 40-44 and many other scriptures.  The city we are referring to will not be physically on the earth – indeed its foundations will be visible. Rev 21:6 describes the city as a cube 12,000 cubits (approx. 1380 miles or 2200km) in each dimension.

 

What is the difference between Christ’s heavenly and earthly bride?

The following table shows the difference between the two:

The Heavenly Bride The Earthly Bride
What The Church or Assembly Israel
Key Scriptures Rev 19:6-9 Psalm 45
Where In heaven – or at least over the earth On earth (see Ezek 40:2)
Jerusalem The holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Rev 21:2) I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain (Zech 8:3)
Relation to Christ She adores her Head She worships her Lord
When formed Starting with the Spirit’s coming, complete at the rapture Before Christ’s appearing and during the tribulation

 

Conclusion

We should guard ourselves from applying too much human logic and chronology to these holy matters.   I have not wanted to be technical, but have been feeling my way prayerfully through this holy subject.   I trust I have covered the matter justly.  If any reader feels that I have erred, please write immediately.

But it is wonderful that we are part of this beautiful bride!  Magazines are full of pictures of very beautiful women – pictures often enhanced digitally.  No such outward improvement will be required for the bride of Christ.  She will be just how Jesus wants it.

And we will be part!

God’s blessings

Sosthenes

February 2017

The Things which shall be Hereafter (Rev 1:19)  –  The Rapture

The next event for us is the rapture. It could be at any time – today even – and applies only to the church. Because of that, there is no reference to it in the Old Testament. In scripture, the in Greek word ἁρπαγησόμεθα/harpagēsometha/Strong 726 in 1Thess 4:17. Is translated ‘caught up’. The word ‘rapture’ is a noun with the same meaning.

We should ask why is the rapture so little understood, or even accepted amongst many sincere Christians? This scripture in 1 Thess 14:13-18 is very clear:

A few weeks ago I was talking to some of my younger Christian friends regarding the various things which had happened and were yet to happen.  They had little problem with the history – creation, the fall, the flood, the Exodus, Moses receiving the law,  David, the captivity, the birth of Christ, His death and resurrection, Pentecost etc., but they had real problems with what is to come.  I thought therefore in this and a few coming letters to look at these future events so that we might be sure where we are in relation to them.

 

The Rapture

new-jerusalem-2sThe next event for us is the rapture.  It could be at any time – today even – and applies only to the church.  Because of that, there is no reference to it in the Old Testament.  In scripture, the in Greek word ἁρπαγησόμεθα/harpagēsometha/Strong 726 in 1Thess 4:17. Is translated  ‘caught up’.  The word ‘rapture’ is a noun with the same meaning.

We should ask why is the rapture so little understood, or even accepted amongst many sincere Christians?  This scripture in 1 Thess 14:13-18 is very clear: ‘But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them [Darby – are in no way to anticipate those] which are asleep. 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words’.  Look at a few phrases ‘the dead in Christ shall rise first’ – that encompasses all those who have been ransomed by His blood from creation onwards.  Whether we who are alive now will be taken before the rapture, none of us knows.  Paul referred to ‘we, the living’, as if he thought it would be within his lifetime.  Of course we know it was not, but he was looking forward to the Lord’s coming – we should be too.[1]

Paul also says, ‘we shall ever be with the Lord’ (v.17), and ‘them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him’.  Now when Jesus comes (the public second coming, often referred to in scripture as ‘the appearing’) the dead in Christ will be with Him – and so will be those lovers of the Lord who were alive at the rapture.  Also, ‘When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory’ (Col 3:4).  Clearly, we could not come with Him, if we were still on the earth.

The church is heavenly entity: she belongs to Christ in heaven, and her hope and glory is Christ Himself.  She looks forward to and His return to take up His rights.   Therefore the church has nothing to do with the course of events of the earth.  This makes its rapture and return with Christ so simple and clear, as we see from Col 3:4, ‘When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’ [2]

1 Cor 15:51-52 is another scripture which describes the rapture: ‘We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. ’  From this we can deduce that there will be a rallying trumpet, the whole event will be very quick, and our bodies will be changed.  The latter is also referred to in  Rom 8:23waiting for the adoption, [to wit], the redemption of our body’.

When the Lord was discoursing with his disciples immediately prior to the crucifixion, He tells them that a place was being prepared for the saints to be with Him, where He is.  ‘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 14:2-3).

Therefore:

  • The rapture will be sudden
  • No one knows when the rapture will be
  • The rapture will be private
  • At the rapture there will be a voice (or trumpet sound) which only Christians will hear
  • At the rapture the Lord will not come quite to the earth – just to the air
  • The rapture will affect people, whether raptured or left here: the world carries on
  • At the rapture bodies will be changed

The question often arises as to what the effect of the saints being taken will be.  Suddenly millions of people will just vanish!  Hal Lindsey, who awakened many Christians to the rapture in the 1970’s in a popular book ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’, said that there would be confusion.  I doubt it.   Christians who are ‘not of the world’ will not be missed.  Writing about future events in his second epistle to the Thessalonians Paul said, ‘God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie’ (2 Thess 2:11).  The Antichrist will conjure up a satisfactory credible explanation which will be accepted universally.

 

The Rapture and the Appearing

We must not confuse the second coming with the rapture.  At the rapture the Lord comes to the atmosphere immediately above the earth.  At the appearing He comes to the earth. Here are some differences between the rapture and the appearing:

 

RAPTURE APPEARING
No one knows when it will be It will be 7 years after the rapture
It will be private It will be very public
The Lord comes to the air The Lord comes to the earth
He comes FOR His saints He comes WITH His saints
It is followed by the great tribulation[3] It is followed by the millennium
He is the Bridegroom He is the King
He is the Morning Star He is the Sun of Righteousness
It is for the Church It is not for the Church
There is little in prophecy There is much in prophecy
The world will carry on Christ will reign
The man of sin will be revealed Satan will be bound
There will be the judgment seat of Christ[3] The world will be judged
People will be translated Nobody will be translated
People will believe a lie The truth will be acknowledged

 

Two Resurrections

Something else many Christians do not realise is the fact there will be two resurrections.  The Old Testament did not distinguish between the two.  John made the distinction very clear.  When the Lord was here, He said ‘all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation’ (John 5:28-29).   Also in Revelation, ‘Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power’ (Rev 20:6).  The second death is to the Great White Throne – the resurrection of the dead for judgment[3].

The first resurrection (the resurrection of the just) is primarily at the rapture.  J N Darby says that it will be the consummation of our happiness[4].  Having given life to our souls, He will give life to our glorified bodies.

Satan is the author of this confusion.  He does not want Christians to burn with anticipation of the Lord’s immediate coming.  He certainly does not want us saying ‘Come Lord Jesus’ (Rev 22:20).

Dear Christian friends, may we keep near Him, and be assured as to the immediacy of His return.

 

 

Sosthenes

December 2016

 

[1] See ‘ADOSS – The Lord is Coming Very Soon’

[2] Note that this is distinct from the individuals who, though not of this world have to do with things here.

[3] This will be addressed in a later note, God willing.

[4] Lecture 4 on ‘The Hopes of the Church of God’, summarised by ADOSS asThe First Resurrection – or The Resurrection of the Just’

 

See other references in ADOSS:

 

Adam failed –  Christ  Replaces Him

ublicly, the Church has fallen like all the rest. Grace will produce and perfect its own work. Christ’s building will be complete and perfect, and manifested in glory. But Man’s building is defective and corrupt, and will come under the worst and severest of judgments.

 

JohnNelsonDarbyThe Law

In Exodus 20, God gave Moses the law.  Within days Israel had made a golden calf, breaking the first commandment.  The stones were broken.

In a future day, when Christ comes to reign, the law will be written upon the heart of Israel (See Jer 31:33).

 

The Priesthood

In Leviticus 10, the priesthood failed, Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire.  The result was that Aaron was forbidden to enter the sanctuary, except on the great day of atonement, and then not in his garments of glory and beauty.

On the other hand, Christ is now in glory as a merciful and faithful High Priest.

 

The Kingdom of Israel

 

Though wise, Solomon failed.  He loved strange women, and the kingdom was divided.  It was ultimately ended by Nebuchadnezzar.

However Christ, now in glory on His Father’s throne, will take the throne of David and reign over Jews and Gentiles.

 

The Church

The Church was established here called to glorify Christ.  But evil workers (John called them antichrists) came and there was falling away. Paul prophesied that grievous, seductive wolves would come from within the church – they did.  But Christ will come to be glorified in His saints and admired in all them that believe (1 Thess 1:10).

Publicly, the Church has fallen like all the rest.  Grace will produce and perfect its own work.  Christ’s building will be complete and perfect, and manifested in glory.  But Man’s building is defective and corrupt, and will come under the worst and severest of judgments.

 

The conclusion of a paper by J N Darby ‘The Church – the House and the Body’ – Collected Writings Volume 14 (Ecclesiastical 3) – p.99

 

Sosthenes

 

October 2016

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

The Lord’s first coming: He came in flesh, but only those who received Him knew Him, and that through the Spirit.
His second coming: He is seen by all.
Hence His first coming was really a spiritual one; the true coming will be the second.

Based on J. N. Darby: The Lord’s Coming and the Church – Notes and Comments Vol. 2, p 275.

JohnNelsonDarbyTwo comings:

  1. The Lord’s first coming: He came in flesh, but only those who received Him knew Him, and that through the Spirit.
  2. His second coming: He is seen by all.

Hence His first coming was really a spiritual one; the true coming will be the second.

Although in His first coming He came in the flesh, He was only known spiritually.   No man could come to Him, except the Father who had sent Him draw him (See John 6:44).   He said to them,  ‘The words that I speak unto you they are Spirit and they are Life’ (John 6:63).  So those who heard, believed and kept His word had everlasting life: their eyes were opened by to see Him through the Father’s grace.  They were taught of God and knew who He was – the Son.  Others saw His miracles, but He would not commit Himself to them – He spoke in parables.

The real personal coming of the Lord Jesus is His second coming.  It will not be merely a revelation to believers, but ‘every eye shall see him, they also which pierced him’ (Rev 1:7).  His, the Son’s, glory will be known.

Christ is now in glory.  That is how the church knows Him now.  If the church denies this, it ceases to be the church: the ground of its very existence has ceased – it has ceased to exist in the sight of God.  Although salvation may be taught in a casual way, there is not faith as a church and the Spirit has no office in it, for His office is to testify of Jesus and His glory.   Even if the church suffers, that suffering is for nothing because it is joined to the world – it has ceased in its true existence.  The same applies to individuals, even evangelicals, who deny the Spirit’s voice witnessing His glory.

Nevertheless, God has not left Himself without witness.  We may be all mixed up, with our errors, weaknesses, and even unbelief.  But the witness in the true church has not ceased to exist.  Competent members of the church acknowledge of the power of reconciliation in Christ, and the testimony of the Word of God.  They believe it, submitting to God, and know the presence of the Holy Spirit, looking forward to the return of the Lord Jesus. They are they the glory and hope of the church.  Here is a church with faith – held in humility.

May God our Father keep us humble, holy in spirit and conversation giving us grace, patience, and that of faith.  May we and lean in faith upon His word in the certainty of His love, qualifying us for His glory, forgiving us our weakness for Jesus sake, our Lord, and in Him.

 

 

John Nelson Darby’s Prophetic Map

In 1828 or 1829 Darby drew his ‘Prophetic Map’ (see JND Notes & Comments Vol 2 – page 192).

This article looks aback over what Darby wrote in the light of various things that have happened in the world since then.

JohnNelsonDarbyIn 1828 or 1829 J N Darby drew his ‘Prophetic Map’ (see JND Notes & Comments Vol 2 – page 192).  Of course he was well versed in Daniel 11

This article looks back over what Darby wrote in the light of various things that have happened in the world since then.  For example:

  • The break-up of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of many independent states in the Middle East
  • The first and second World Wars
  • The Treaty of Rome and the European Union
  • NATO and allies
  • The United Nations and other treaty organisations
  • The rise and fall of the Russian (Soviet) Empire and its resurgent ambitions
  • Former Warsaw Pact nations aligning themselves with the West, joining NATO and the European Union
  • Colonial independence from Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands etc
  • Post WW2 political and later economic migration
  • Formation of the State of Israel and territorial disputes
  • The growing significance of Islam, and the hostility between the Sunni and Shi’ite divisions
  • Islamic jihad terrorist organisations such as ‘Islamic State’, al Qaeda and  Boko Haram
  • The wealth of the Arabs etc. due to oil
  • Increased material wealth and generally reduced poverty
  • The dominance of the United States
  • Improvements in health care
  • Legalisation and even promotion of unorthodox/immoral lifestyles
  • Modern communications, radio, TV and the internet
  • The green movement
  • The large migration of Eastern people to Europe, America and elsewhere, bringing the influence of religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.

 

I will treat the various areas of the world, citing Darby’s analysis and opinion and possible deductions in describing his Prophetic Map.  I have also noted a couple of things I do not understand.  Doubtless this could be a topic for discussion.

I might add that this does not involve the church.  However we Christians should be intelligent as to events in the world, and also know what will happen here after the rapture of the church .  Of course we will not be here!

 

JN Darby's Prophetic MapEurope, the ‘Western World’ and the Antichrist

Europeans are primarily descendants of Japheth,  Gomer (hence Germany also known as Cimmerians – from which Cimbri – Celts), and Magog (Scythians/Russians), and Madai (Medes), and Javan (Greece) , and Tubal (Tiblisi? i.e. the Caucuses), and Meshech Moschi – Armenians), and Tiras (probably Goths/Scandinavians) see Genesis 10:2-3 (and Elicott’s Ethnological Table.  However, with so much migration over the millennia, clear demarcations are impossible.

Darby believed that France, not the USA, would become the dominant Western power.  At the time France was in turmoil:  Napoleon, whose objective had been European integration, had been defeated, and there was continued unrest up to the establishment of the Second Republic in 1848.  France would not have been considered a potential leader of Europe at ay time during JND’s adult life, it being in trouble again in the 1870’s after the Franco-Prussian war.

In drawing up his Prophetic Map, Darby foresaw European unity – at least as nation states working together, and that is what we have.  At the time of writing Britain had just elected to withdraw from the European Union.  Nevertheless, it will remain in the larger political/military grouping of NATO and probably the European Economic Area.  However, it will not be in a position to lead Europe.  Indeed, in Darby’s paper England is described as a minor irritant – this must have been perceptive considering the world dominant position of the British Empire in the 1800’s.

Germany, whilst the largest economy, has never led, still being held back by the WW2 legacy.  Hitler, another prefigurement of the Antichrist had thankfully been defeated.   Darby referred to Austria.  Of course this country’s influence has become minor since the fall of the Hapsburgs, and even more so since Hitler (an Austrian) annexed the country to Germany.  It would remain part of the West European nations.  He was also critical of Poland and to date the role of this populous nation has been limited to its part in the downfall of the Soviet system, and to providing the Pope in office at the time.

Roman Catholicism will be the dominant religion, especially as so-called Protestant churches veer towards Rome.  Elsewhere Darby made it clear that this would be increasingly so despite the strength of atheistic secularism.  The large influx of Muslims, and those of Eastern religions will in time make way for the unified false Babylon religion.  Already, in the UK, Muslims represent about 10% of the religiously active population, with Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists making 5%.  There is even a trend to pre-Christian paganism.

Biblically the sphere of operations is the area covered by the Roman Empire and some extensions in Europe, Asia and Africa.  Outgoings of Europe in the rest of the world – USA, Canada, Australia, Latin America etc., are not part of the sphere or provide leadership, but can be regarded as part of the expanded Roman Empire in Revelation.

Did Darby foresee the modern advances in technology and its impact?  He saw the improvement in communications and was not ignorant of scientific thought.  What is clear from his writings is that he relates a lot to the influence of the East, embraced by the West.

So it is not impossible that France will be the dominant Western force, supporting Darby’s prediction that the Antichrist would come from that country, despite all that has happened in the last 200 years.  Who knows?

Prophetic-map

Russia and the King of the North

Darby was quite specific as to this area, drawing on Ezekiel and Daniel in particular.

On the European side we have Russia, referred to in prophecy as Rosh and Meshech (Moscow?) and Tubal.  He thought that Russia would come to dominate Turkey-in-Asia, but I believe that if it does, it will control the whole country.  Istanbul is as much Turkey as Ankara.  This is not impossible.  Whilst Turkey has been a member of NATO for decades, and would like to join the European Union, there are areas of tension with NATO and strong resistance to its joining the EU.   Like Russia it does not really have democratic government.  Having lost the Eastern European countries to the EU after the fall of communism, there is little doubt that Russia would like to extend its sphere of influence.  Russia’s influence and control would then extend from the Arctic to the Mediterranean.

The other area that Darby thought that Russia would dominate (though not control) is that of Persia (Iran) and Media the Japhetic children of Medai .  [Darby said that that Persia was a subservient Hamitic people, but their language does not bear this out.  Probably he was referring to what we now know as the Iraqis who speak Arabic, but would have been, like the Canaanites, descended from Ham – Sosthenes].   Darby’s map shows this area extending eastwards as far as the Indus River, and therefore embracing a lot of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and  south to include Syria and Lebanon.  Although those countries are mostly Sunni, Iran would like to control all the Muslim regions in that part of the world.

Significantly Darby hardly mentions Islam – just four passing references to the religion or to Mohammed.   Any review must take account of the increased profile of this religion, its divisions and the violent actions in its name.  He never referred to the two opposing Sunni and Shi’ite divisions of that religion.  The Shi’ite religion, with its observance of shrines and icons is probably more compatible with Orthodox Christendom, so there is a natural fit here.  The Assyrians are referred to a lot – basically the same people.

Finally, in this group are the descendants of Nimrod, the hunter.  These Hamites led to the Huns and the Magyars, now occupying Hungary and much of the Balkans.  Russia would have to wrest these countries from the EU and stop Serbia and the Ukraine from joining.

 

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the King of the South

The area ‘between the two rivers’ (i.e. the Euphrates and the Nile) is occupied by descendants of Shem and Ham.  Ishmael (Arabs) and Hamites – from Cush, Phut and Mizraim (Egypt and North Africa) are generally stricter, puritanical Sunni Muslims rivalling the Shi’ites to the north.  Doubtless due to financial relationships with the West, Darby’s words could be fulfilled, ‘Eastern descendants of Ham, just as the western or southern descendants of Ham will be at the steps of Antichrist or the mature apostate body, for they will be judged as Antichrist, Gog and Magog, for coming against the Jews.’ (See original paper).

J. N. Darby. – Notes and Comments Vol. 2. page 192

Available from Kingston Bible Trust (Lancing Sussex), Bibles etc. (Wheaton IL)  and elsewhere

 

The Prophetic Map: What does all this mean?

All this is very interesting, but has no direct bearing on the church.  But as Darby says, ‘There is not a more important chapter in Scripture as to the providence of God than Genesis 10.  The Noahic and Abrahamic earth under Providence leaves the will of man to act.  All the powers of the world will be brought together as they have acted within the limits of God’s known providence, and formed the subject of Scriptural statement as to kingdoms, i.e., powers in the world previous to the interposition and restoration of the four great kingdoms with the power of Ezekiel [especially ch. 38], acting as described in Joel [chs. 2 and 3]; and of other types. The Gog and Magog of Revelation includes all and runs over the whole extent of the inhabited earth, not the powers of the earth as in the formative system, for then the system is formed and it is re-action, in God’s wisdom and permission, of judgment on those not truly of it, as I am led to believe.’

 

Sosthenes

July 2016

 

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

 

JohnNelsonDarbyHow does the New Testament distinguish between the earthly hopes and promises to Israel, and the heavenly hopes of the church?   It is absolutely impossible to set aside the promises to Israel – the church odes not replace them [as modern ‘replacement theology’ and would suggest*].  God had made promises to His people which cannot be undone – ‘The gifts and calling of God are without repentance’ (Rom 11:29).   In speaking of Israel, ‘Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers’  (Rom 15:8).  His rejection and death did not set the promises aside. Israel is now in unbelief, but after the rapture of the church, there will be a pious godly remnant owning Christ and owned by Him.

 

The Birth of Christ

In the beginning of Luke, Christ’s birth is announced to Israel.  The angel told Zacharias that many of Israel should turn to the Lord their God, a people prepared for Him (see Luke 1:16-17).  This is a people prepared for the Lord before He comes (not sovereign grace meeting sinners in their need, as it is with us).  Mary was told that Jesus (Jehovah the Saviour) should be called the Son of the Highest, and that He would be given the throne of His Father (see Luke 1:32).   The song of Zacharias (Luke 1:67-79) is wholly composed of the divinely-given celebration of God’s having visited and redeemed His people, and raised up a horn of salvation for them in the house of His servant David (see v.69).  The Jewish shepherds received the announcement of His birth.

But these persons were not typical of those of Israel – they were they believing, pious ‘remnant’.  Later, Anna and others were looking for redemption in Jerusalem: they evidently knew one another.  Simeon saw in ‘light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel’. (Luke 2:32).  It is therefore absolutely clear that this remnant, a people prepared for Jehovah, awaiting earthly deliverance.

The Gentiles come later in Luke.

 

Christ’s Rejection by Israel

Matthew’s gospel reveals the way in which Christ was presented to the Jews and rejected by them.  Following His rejection, God’s plans for the remnant were interrupted in order to accomplish something brighter and more blessed [viz. the church, the time of the Spirit, grace and the Christian dispensation*].  But to suppose that God had invalidated His thoughts as to Israel, would be to subvert divine testimonies and undermine God’s faithfulness and testimony.

The old was still in the mind of God to be fulfilled at the appropriate time.  Like the prophets, Matthew, passed over the intervening church period.  He introduced Christ as the accomplishment of prophecy and promise, giving His genealogy and showing how prophecy was being fulfilled – see Matt 1:22,  2:5 &  2:15.    ‘The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus’  (Rev 19:10).  The church does not have any part in this, already being with Christ.

In the sermon on the mount (Matt 5-7) the ‘ye’ refers to the remnant, not the self-righteous Jews – [nor does it directly refer to Christians*].  They were to expect persecution and a consequent reward in heaven.   Those who were obedient to His teaching were like the man building his house on the rock see (Matt 7:24).  On the other hand,  unbelieving Israel would be cast into prison till the uttermost farthing was paid (Matt 5:26).

 

Christ’s Teaching

In Matt 10, Christ sends out the twelve.  They were not to go to the Gentiles or to the Samaritans, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  They were to declare the kingdom of heaven to be at hand, and to enquire who was worthy, that is to seek the righteous remnant (not poor sinners).  Although they were to speak peace everywhere, the peace would rest only on the sons of peace.   They were to shake the dust off of their feet before those hostile Jews who did not receive them.  Verse 18 goes beyond the Lord’s lifetime and the church period.  The faithful would be brought before the Gentiles (enemies), and be hated of all men for Christ’s name sake.  This ministry was to Israel and would not be completed till the Son of man came.

In Matt 23 the disciples and the people are on Jewish ground.  They were to be subject to the teachers who had set themselves in Moses seat, even if those teachers had rejected the ‘prophets, and wise men, and scribes’ (v. 34).  Their forebears had stoned the prophets, and killed those sent; but still Jerusalem would never listen.  Often would Jesus (Jehovah) have gathered Jerusalem’s children together, but now the desolate city would not see her Lord until she repented, saying,  ‘Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord’ (v. 39).

In Matt 24 His disciples ask about the judgment and the end of the age (not the ‘world’). This again is in line with Jewish thought.  The temple would be destroyed, which of course happened in AD70, but the Lord spoke of what would happen at the end.  False Christs would come, saying, ‘I am the Christ’, and some would be deceived, even perhaps the elect. Many troubles would arise: there would be the abomination of desolation of which Daniel spoke, and those who were in Judea would flee to the mountains.  But before His coming, the gospel of the kingdom would be sent to all the Gentiles.  Finally, the Messiah would return and associate Himself with the godly remnant in Judea and Jerusalem.  What language could be plainer?

The whole scene is Jewish, not Christian.  Indeed, it has no direct application whatever to true Christians, because when the Lord comes, they would already have been caught up to meet the Lord in the air.  The Lord will come publicly as Judge, whereas when He comes to rapture His saints, it will be secretly in perfect grace.  A Christian who has been beguiled by thoughts of going through the tribulation, must have renounced Christian hopes or have never understood them.

 

Peter’s Ministry

On the cross the Lord interceded saying, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34).   After the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter says, ‘And now, brethren, I know that ye did it in ignorance, as also your rulers… Repent therefore and be converted, for the blotting out of your sins, so that times of refreshing may come from [the] presence of the Lord, and he may send Jesus Christ, who was foreordained for you, whom heaven indeed must receive till [the] times of [the] restoring of all things, of which God has spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets since time began’ (Acts 3:17-19 Darby).  Repentance was called for, but few repented.  Stephen witnessed to the Jews always resisting the Holy Spirit.  Finally, the most active resister of the Spirit, Saul, was converted.   When the Jews counted themselves unworthy of eternal life, he, now Paul, turned to the Gentiles and the doctrine of the church is revealed to him.

As far as we can see, Peter did not teach the doctrine of the church.  Christians remained strictly attached to Judaism, zealous of the law; priests were obedient to the faith and some even continued to be priests.  Peter never even taught Jesus to be the Son of God, even though it had been revealed to him: his doctrine was, ‘Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ’ (Acts 2:36).

 

The Church

Now God introduces the sovereign fullness of His grace, a doctrine entirely unknown in the Old Testament.  Paul speaks of the mystery, Jews and Gentiles forming one body, and says ‘The preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest and by prophetic scriptures [not ‘the scriptures of the prophets’], according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith’ (Rom 16:25-26 Darby).  The Father had revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Son of the living God (not merely the Christ).  Following that, Christ could then speak of the church, for it was to be founded on that confession.  But it was still a future thing – ‘on this rock I will build my church’ (Matt 16:18).  In Christ’s death He gathered together into one the children of God; in His resurrection He was declared Son of God with power; in His departure the Comforter came.

Christ’s death and resurrection laid the great foundation for all our blessings, in particular the church.  When the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, came down the church (or the assembly), was formed, and the Lord added daily to the church such as should be saved (see Acts 2:47). Those who previously formed the remnant, became the nucleus of it.  It was a newly instituted body, formed in unity by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, and united to the Head, Christ in heaven.   However, His promises to Israel remained sure.

 

Paul’s Ministry

Only Paul speaks of the assembly (or church).  Also Paul is the only apostle who speaks of the rapture of the saints taking place before the appearing of Christ.  This ministry changed everything: we now have a heavenly gathering on earth. Paul’s free ministry, distinct from that of the twelve, had already been started by Stephen.   He saw a heavenly Christ, a Man in glory, and was put to death.  This was individual.

Now Saul, the chief persecutor, when drawing near to Damascus, was arrested by the same Man whom Stephen saw.  From the glory He said, ‘‘Why persecutest thou me?’ … I am Jesus whom thou persecutest’ (Acts 9:4-5).   Lord’s told him that He, Himself was being persecuted, although the objects of that persecution were the Christians.  From this we infer that the Lord’s body was here, identified with its glorified Head in heaven.  This became the starting-point for Paul’s ministry as to the church.  Jew and Gentile were all one; they were all one in Him.  He taught, ‘God hath put all things under his [Christ’s] feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church [assembly], which is his body, the fulness of him who filleth all in all.’ (Eph 1:22-23).

Before God took up the children of Israel as a nation, the saints of God walked in individual faith.  Afterwards, they were individual members of a nation owned as God’s people.  It was a unity in the flesh: the Spirit had nothing to do with it, and it excluded the Gentiles.  After the death and exaltation of Christ, both Jews and Gentiles were reconciled to God through faith, and consequently were made one by the Holy Spirit.  This was the body of Christ, the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit.

The Greek word for ‘church’ or ‘assembly’, ἐκκλησίᾳ/ekklēsia, means ‘a calling out’.  We see it in ‘The Lord added daily to the assembly’ (Acts 2:27 Darby). ‘He set some in the assembly; firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets’ (1 Cor 12:18 Darby).  It is called out to participate in the sufferings of Christ, later for Him to present it to Himself as His bride, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing (See Eph 5:27).  The word ἐκκλησίᾳ/ekklēsia is also applied to the particular assemblies of Christians in different places, because they formed the assembly of God in that place.  No other meaning is possible.

 

The Hope of the Church

The church is heavenly in its calling, and belongs to Christ in heaven.  It forms no part of the course of events of the earth.  This makes its rapture so simple and clear as we see from   Col 3:4, ‘When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’  The church’s hope and glory is Christ Himself.   He is our life; our life is hid with Him; He is our righteousness; the glory given to Him He has given us; we are members of His body; we are of His flesh and of His bones.  We suffer with Him now, but will reign with Him in a future day, conformed to His image.

 

The Rapture

The church has nothing to do on earth with Christ’s appearing or second coming.  She is already spoken of as sitting with Him in heavenly places (see Eph 1:20), so she belongs elsewhere –  she has only yet to be brought there bodily.  Her immediate outlook is her being taken physically to where He is. ‘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 Thess 4:6).

This being the case, a person who maintains that he does not go to be with Christ until His  appearing, is denying the proper hope and relationship of the church.  Ignorance is one thing, but denial is another.  Grasping the fact of our being with Him at the rapture, not the appearing, changes all our spiritual thoughts and affections.  Our hope is not even to be in glory with Him, wonderful as that is, but it is being with Him.  ‘I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also’ (John 14:3), ‘So shall we ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thess 4:17).

There are several ways in which the return of Christ are presented in Scripture:

  1. The general fact: Christ will come again, and we will be with Him. The saints of our dispensation ‘have been made to our God kings and priests; and they shall reign over the earth’ (Rev 5:10 Darby).
  1. The world, evil and in confusion, will ripen into rebellion. The believer knows and believes that at Christ’s appearing and His kingdom, God will judge the the quick and the dead.  It will be an earthly kingdom and an earthly judgment.
  1. The saints of our dispensation will have, through grace, a special association with Christ. They will have met Him in the air.  They will also have been before the judgment-seat of Christ, giving an account of themselves to God, but this part of their privilege, not punitive, for they will already be like Jesus.  He will introduce them into His Father’s house, placing them in the heavenly seat of government with Himself.  This is the rapture of the saints, and it precedes the appearing.

Before the appearing certain events must have occurred.  The world will have become completely apostate, and the man of sin will have been revealed.  The church will already have gone, not being of the world, but risen with Christ.  On the other hand, the rapture does not depend on any earthly event. The Christian’s hope is therefore not a prophetic subject at all.  No one knows when the rapture will take place.

The saints leave the world and worldly religion by going out to meet the Bridegroom. The cry ‘Behold the Bridegroom cometh!’ (Matt 25:6)’ went out at midnight, but it could have been at any time.  We know that the Bridegroom did tarry, and the sense of His coming was lost.  It is the loss of the expectation of immediacy of the Lord’s coming that lays behind the public church’s departure from simplicity, and its fall into clerical authority and worldliness.   It lost its spiritual authority.  In Matthew 24, what leads the wicked servant into mischief is not the denial of the Lord’s coming, but the loss of the sense and present expectation of it.  The Christian is constantly waiting for the Lord to come.

When therefore is the Christian to expect the Lord? – Always.

 

Thessalonians

An example of those who were awaiting the Lord’s return were the newly-converted Thessalonians.  They might not have had much light, but their expectation was a divine witness to the world.  They were not waiting for any events – just waiting.  They saw themselves to amongst those who would be alive and remain at the coming of the Lord (see 1 Thess 4:15).  We need to be like that.

We know that the Thessalonians were distressed about those who had perished for Jesus’ sake, that they would not be here to enjoy His coming.  They were also troubled by false teachers alleging that that day of the Lord was already present.  Paul corrected this error, by showing that the dead would be raised, and then the living go up to meet Christ with them.  He explained that it was an absolute moral absurdity for the Lord’s people to go though the judgment, since they would already be in heaven along with the Judge.  This confirmed their expectation, enlivening their faith, and brightening their hope, despite the persecution.  The terrible persecution was but a pledge from a righteous God that they would have rest and glory, not trouble, when the kingdom came.  The Thessalonians’ minds were therefore re-established, and all was clear and peace.

 

The Tribulation

In Rev 12:10-12, it is said, ‘And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!’  This is not the rapture, because that will have taken place earlier.  This is in the subsequent seven years.  3½ years before the close (that is the last half-week of Daniel), Satan, the accuser, is cast out of heaven.  Now begins the great wrath of Satan for those living upon the earth.  For one class persecution and death had now ceased; for another it was just going to begin.

As regards our passing through the tribulation (a question which often arises on this matter) the scripture makes it very simple. How do we know that there will be a tribulation?  Scripture tells us.  But equally it makes it clear that the the Jews will in it, and the church not:

  1. I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth’ (Rev 3:10).
  2. These [clearly after the rapture] are they who come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb’ (Rev 7:14).
  3. It is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he [a faithful one of Israel] shall be saved out of it’ (Jer 3:7).
  4. ‘There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [Israel] even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book’ (Dan 12:1).

The time of temptation, referred to above, shall come to try them who dwell on the earth.  This is more general; it is not the great tribulation of Jeremiah, Daniel, and Matthew, which is exclusively Jewish.  Although the Lord is addressing Philadelphia, one of the churches, He says that they would be kept out of it.

 

Israel and the Appearing

In the epistle to the Romans, specifically chapter 11, we have the general doctrine as to the remnant in Israel.   An elect believing remnant will be grafted into their own olive tree and become one nation – ‘all Israel.’   That could not be the Christian assembly, even with Jewish believers – they had never been broken out of the Jewish olive tree.

In that future day, Israel will be blessed on earth.  ‘He shall come to be glorified in his saints [not to receive them up to Himself], and to be admired in all them that believe’ (2 Thess 1:10).   The remnant of Israel will be blessed in spite of the tribulation.  They form a separate class from unbelieving Israel and the church.  They come in after the sealing of the 144,000 – the elect of the twelve tribes of Israel (see Rev 7:4), experiencing God’s protection, nourishment, refreshment and comfort.  Their position is totally different from ours.

 

Conclusion

We should not confuse the companies or the happenings. The scripture is as plain as can be.  Anybody who confounds the day of Christ with His coming to receive the church does not understand the day we in, nor His coming, nor the church.  Confounding the day of the Lord and His coming to receive the church, is a subversion of the whole nature of the relationship between both Christ and the church, and Christ and the world.   It is far more than a mistake in terms.   The denial of the rapture brings the church down to an earthly position, destroying its whole character.

 

 

Summary by Sosthenes

Based on   ‘The Rapture of the Saints and the Character of the Jewish Remnant’ – Collected Writings vol. 11 (Prophetic 4) page 142 

Scripture marked ‘Darby’ are from the Darby Translation

April 2016

 

 

 

 

I Will Lift Up My Eyes to the Hills – Psalm 121

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him (John 4:23).

 

A Song of degrees. 

1Psalm121I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

2My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

3He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

4Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

6The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

7The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

8The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

 

It is Lord’s Day morning. Instead of being at the Lord’s Supper, I am sitting beside my bed in hospital, having had a routine prostrate operation. Hopefully, God willing I will be out today. Meanwhile my wife is at the meeting; she will be coming to see me afterwards.

So I spent a little time with the Lord, thanking Him for what He has done, rejoicing in His resurrection and ascension, praising Him for His glory as the Son of God, glad to be one of His brethren and in a vessel which is so precious to Him, His assembly or church, soon to be united to Him in glory. Then I thanked the Holy Spirit for His service, taking the things of our Lord and showing them to us, but worshipping Him too, as being God – no less than the Father and the Son. Then trough Christ we have access by the Spirit to the Father, who sought and found worshippers. I was able to thank the Father for the Son, our blessed Lord who has brought the many sons to glory – and just to think that through grace I am one of those worshippers! I missed being with the brethren, of course, but what a privilege it is to give God praise and worship even from a hospital.

Then I got out my iPad and looked for a ‘morning service’. I found a site where a preacher, an elderly American gentleman, spoke from Psalm 121: I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help (v.1). He prayed; he spoke of God’s goodness and the gospel and what Jesus had done and redemption was in His name. Then a woman sang ‘My Redeemer is faithful and true’. After that one would have expected the preacher to give the glory to God. Instead he read a series of letters from persons who had received blessing and ended with asking for money* to be sent to an address in South Dakota. What was the object of his preaching?

I don’t want to be critical. I am sure he loved the Lord and desired the blessing of souls. But surely worship is the object of the preaching. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him (John 4:23).

 

* Let’s face it. What were his costs? What are mine? Pretty well zero! You don’t need a studio/church; you don’t need professional broadcasting equipment; you don’t need trained singers and musicians. A home camera or video recorder, and a web-site or even You-tube are sufficient.

 

Sosthenes

January 2015