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

The Great Tribulation

This is the next in our series of ‘The Things which shall be Hereafter (Rev 1:19)’. It is a subject which is spoken of extensively in scripture but is often misunderstood. Two important points:

It is future
It relates to Israel – the church has no part in it.
The notes here are largely from ‘The Scroll of Time’ by John Ashton Savage

The Great Tribulation

This is the next in our series of ‘The Things which shall be Hereafter (Rev 1:19)’.  It is a subject which is spoken of extensively in scripture but is often misunderstood.  Two important points:

  1. It is future
  2. It relates to Israel – the church has no part in it.

The notes here are largely from ‘The Scroll of Time’ by John Ashton Savage (Originally A.S. Rouse, 1893. Available from Chapter Two UK or Bible Truth USA) and various papers from J N Darby.

Plenty has been written, and there have been best seller works dramatising these happenings (e.g Hal Lindsey – this Late Great Planet Earth (Zondervan, 1970) – Amazon.  Here are just a few notes.

Thank God you and I will not be there!

 

Here are a few scriptures:

 

King James Version Darby Version
Daniel 12:1  
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be     a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even  to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of distress, such as never was since there was a nation until that time. And at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that is found written in the book.

 

Jeremiah 30:7  
Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
Matthew 24:21  
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. For then shall there be great tribulation, such as has not been from [the] beginning of [the] world until now, nor ever shall be;

 

Popular Misconceptions

 Some argue that the tribulation is past.  It occurred when the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed by the Romans in AD70.  Others would say that the Old Testament references were fulfilled in BC175 when Artitarchus Epiphanes set up an altar to Jupiter in the temple.  These were serious happenings, and many Jews were slain at those time.

There have been arguments that Daniel’s prophecy referred to 70 weeks (of years) i.e.490 years which would point to the crucifixion of Jesus, and He saying that this generation would not pass till these things had been accomplished.

This overlooks two things though:

  1. There is a lot more detail of the time in scripture (see later), and Satan is involved directly. Moreover in Revelation it is included in ‘the things which shall be hereafter’.
  2. The time we are in – the church period – forms no part of biblical prophecy. As I have said below, a brother in our meeting used to say often, ‘The prophetic clock has stopped’. The church will have been raptured (see 1 Thess 4:16), and we will be in heaven – NOT on the earth where these things take place.

 

Some features of the Tribulation

  1. Its duration is defined – 3½ years (or 42 months or 1260 days) – normally thought of as the last half-week of Daniel’s 70 week prophecy (Dan 9:27).
  2. The Roman Empire will have been re-established. True, the EU could well be a vehicle, but a true political unity will be established.  Brexit will have to be undone!
  3. The ‘lot 10 tribes’ of Israel will have to have been recovered for there to be a remnant of Israel – the 144,000.
  4. There will be political groupings:
  • King of North (Iran, Russia (Rosh), Togarmah (Armenia), Tubal (Tbilisi), Gomer (W Europe)
  • King of South (Egypt, Arabia)
  • The East (200,000,000 strong army – India, Pakistan, China etc)
  1. All restraint will have gone – ‘He who restrains – i.e. the Holy Spirit – see 2 Thess 2:7
  2. Satan, and in particular the false prophet will delude, even if it were possible, the elect (Mark 13:12)

Signs of the Times

Many things which happen now might be regarded as signs that the tribulation is imminent.  Examples:

  1. Israel established but insecure
  2. Religious systems supporting Palestine rather than Israel
  3. Establishment of a world religion
  4. Decline of Christianity in the West, but its increase in Africa and Asia.
  5. ‘Wars and rumours of wars’

However, we should not rely too much on these.  The future is in God’s hands and what is to come will not happen until the church has been raptured

 

The Personages

Three personages will dominate the world – the trinity of evil, forcing obedience.  Their subjects will have the mark of the beast.

  1. Satan – ‘the great red dragon’ – the first beast
  2. The Antichrist – the second beast
  3. The false prophet

 

Happenings on Earth

First part

  1. Great wars Rev 6:1-4
  2. Economic instability favouring the rich and harming the poor Rev 6:5-6
  3. Persecution of the Jewish faithful – more martyrs Rev 6:9-11
  4. Natural disasters Rev 6:12-17

Second part

  1. Tyranny – the beasts and kings, and the mark of the beast Rev 13
  2. Satan cast out into the earth Rev 12:9
  3. The Romish church in control over the secular power (the woman riding the beast Rev 17:3) – then this is reversed (the woman hated and the kingdom given to the beast  Rev 17:16)
  4. The army from the East released Rev 9:14-16 – Armageddon
  5. The King of the North will attack Jerusalem and then proceed through to defeat the King of the South – Dan 11

In Matt 24:22 it says, ‘Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved’ – one can deduce that nuclear bombs will be used – see Rev 16:8, 9:18, Zech 14:12)

 

God’s Testimony on Earth

In spite of everything going on, God will have His testimony on earth

  • The 144,000 faithful Rev 7:4
  • The martyrs Rev 6:11
  • The two witnesses Rev 11:3
  • The ‘man Child’ (Christ formed in the saints on the earth) Rev 12:5
  • The everlasting gospel Rev 14:6

There is no evidence, rather the contrary, that any hearts are turned to God by this testimony

 

God’s Judgment

At the point when all forces will be united against God and the holy city, God will send His angel, and Satan will be bound for 1000 years.  (Rev 20:2)

 

And Afterwards

We have the millennium.  Contrary to popular belief, we shall not be with Christ on the earth.  We are a heavenly family – we reign OVER the earth – Rev 5:10

This is our prospect – and our hope.  Is it yours?

 

Yours in Christ

Sosthenes

May 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

Brexit – What does it mean?

I have heard some say, a view I used to share, that though it would be right to leave, our continued membership of the EU was inevitable. That was because of the unstoppable trend to centralise power, especially in Europe leading to the Man of Sin and the woman riding the beast. Believing that the Lord’s coming must be soon, the pathway in Revelation must have begun.

What we have to remember though is that the church has no part whatever in prophecy and the words to discerning the signs of the times were not addressed to us.

BrexitThe United Kingdom EU referendum was a matter of earnest prayer for Christians – most Christians anyway.  From my observations more were favouring leaving the European Union, though some favoured remaining.  The reasons Christians felt the way they did reflected society as a whole.  Those against Brussels generally felt the need to take back control of matters of the economy, immigration and social justice, whatever that means.  Those for the EU considered the economic risks were too great.  Perhaps a few socially minded Christians were looking at the ‘common good’, and favoured the liberal lines of most Europeans.

But God was over everything.  I heard many prayers that His will might be done.  Personally, I believe that those prayers were answered.  It puts the four constituent counties of the UK back where they were, no longer being a party to the Treaty of Rome with all its connotations.  Of course will it make things better, or people happier?  I doubt it – man’s heart is not changed – self-will, greed and ambition still prevail.

We need to pray for our leaders.  Following the resignation of Mr Cameron, we desire one who fears God, commands respect, and has the energy and wisdom to lead the country well, employing persons who can negotiate the necessary treaties, manage the economy and maintain law, order, freedom of conscience and safety according to right principles.

I have heard some say, a view I used to share, that though it would be right to leave, our continued membership of the EU was inevitable.  That was because of the unstoppable trend to centralise power, especially in Europe leading to the Man of Sin and the woman riding the beast.  Believing that the Lord’s coming must be soon, the pathway in Revelation must have begun.

What we have to remember though is that the church has no part whatever in prophecy and the words to discerning the signs of the times were not addressed to us.  The world is carrying on its course independently of God’s work in His own at the present time.  Yes, we are in the world but not of it, and Christians are to do what is right before God and men.  In doing so they bring in relief.  They have the Spirit of God who is described as ‘He who restrains’ (2 Thess 2:7 Darby).

When the church has been raptured all restraint will be removed, and the positive establishment of evil combinations will start then.  Satan will use existing structures but they will be then totally and exclusively under his control.

We do not know who the Antichrist is.  He may be alive on the earth now.  If the Lord comes today he must be.  But what we are expecting is not see these earthly institutions, but to hear the voice of our Lord and Saviour and to see His face.

May that be today!

The World cannot Continue the Way it is.

 

Based on John Nelson Darby’s paper ‘What is the World, and What is its End? A serious question for those who are of it.’ – by Sosthenes

Note – This paper was written in 1862. Though much of what Darby wrote has relevance today, circumstances, especially in technology, have changed, and these have been reflected in this summary. Changes I have made are shown in blue.

judgment-dayDespite Christianity, the world has not changed since Adam. Things have progressively deteriorate, but man’s worst sin was the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus. Men fear what might come, but the Christian is restful, trusting in God. Some might try and loosen human restraints, whilst others tighten them. Some say that commerce or education is the answer. Religious superstition and extremism, and infidelity may oppose one another, but the world is the same. It is under judgment. God is patient and merciful, but evil will not prevail. Flee the wrath to come.

 

The World is Unchanged

Men are apt to think that have continue unchanged in this world since creation (or since the so-called ‘big bang’). Man has been more prosperous and civilised, making great strides in technology, travel, communications, ammunitions and medicine. All the time, though, man himself is unchanged, his passions remain, and the essential differences in the world since biblical times are not so great as is supposed. Children are not more obedient; families are not more united; the relationship between employer and employee is no better. The world thinks itself better, and vaunts its progress – but is it progress? Underneath the veneer, it recognises that things cannot go on long as they are; we are heading for yet another a crisis of the world’s history, which must result in great disruption.

Christianity has made a difference. But if we look beneath the surface, even that is not much. The world is not Paradise, as God made it. Since Adam, the world has developed through man’s departure from and independence of God.  Men posture their solutions, some advocating democracy and others authoritarianism.  But though judgment is inevitable, God is patient – and over all.

Throughout history men have worried about the future of the world, but their fears, are the fruit of the restless working of principles beyond their control. The world is inherently unstable: regimes have ended violently because man’s passions were stronger than that which controlled them. The bonds of society are either too tight or too weak. Power is not in them, but in the force beneath them. As a result, some would slacken the bonds to give people more independence, whilst others would tighten them through repression. Furthermore, others just give up in fear, hoping for the best.

Man desires to be in control, or at least, control what is within his reach. This can be seen in modern times in the matter of climate change. Despite his fear, man has an exaggerated estimate of his self-importance. The true Christian, on the other hand, he does not fear in this way: he knows that God is over everything. He is more calm and clear-sighted, more interested in the needs of his fellow men, and less interested in politics. In spite of this though, many Christians are deluded into believing that they can meet the world’s needs by their own good works. They even worship them!

 

What is the World?

What is, then, the world? It is a vast system, grown up after man had departed from God, nd Satan is the god and prince of it. At the fall, Man was driven out of the place in which God had set him in innocence and peace. God had made him a vagabond, and barred His way back to the tree of life. Man gave up God for his own lusts and, under the influence of Satan, built a city, Enoch (Gen 4:17), adorning it with art and music. Left without law, the world became so bad that God had to destroy mankind by the deluge, leaving just eight persons. Then under law, man plunged into idolatry, ignoring every prophetic warning. Ultimately God sent His Son, but man would not have Him: He was cast out of the vineyard and slain. Man turned God out of the world, as far as he could, when He had come into it in mercy.

Now when we look at the principles and motives which characterise the world, are they “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16) – pleasure, gain, vanity, ambition, etc. When we speak of men getting on in the world, is it not ambition and gain which motivates? There cannot be much difference in what Cain did in his city, and what men are now doing in theirs. If, say, a Chinese person came to London to see what Christ and Christianity was, he or she would find men governed by the same motives that govern the masses back home in Beijing or Guangzhou. In short, he would find a system in which men honour one another more than God. The world rejected the Son of God when He was here, but the Father set Him at His right hand . Jesus said, “Oh, righteous Father, the world hath not known thee...” (John 17:25). Then, “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).

There is no point in looking to heathenism or Islam for the world; we must look to Christendom. What characterises its state is pleasure, gain, ambition, vanity, without conscience, like the Pharisees. A man is morally what he pursues: if gain, He is covetous: if power, he is ambitious; if pleasure, he is hedonistic, and so on. At the beginning, of Christianity, God’s grace and power of the Holy Spirit raised people above normal human values, and united them in the enjoyment of heavenly things, displaying a care for one other in a way the world never knew. They were dead to the world, pure in walk and unselfish in their ways, so the church got the attention of a hostile, yet admiring, world. Now for centuries, what in infidelity calls itself the church, is marked by ambition, crime and deceit, haughty power and worldly luxury. It makes no difference whether we are looking at Catholicism, Greek orthodoxy or Protestantism. Of course the Spirit of God is active, and that, thank God, good is done in the midst of all this. However, that is not the world, but a distinct power which works in the midst of the world, influencing it and its government. The world is far more guilty,  having had Christianity in its midst – it has not ceased to be the world.

Remember that it was at the death of Christ that the devil received the title of prince of this world, and as to his religious influence, is called the god of this world, When God’s throne was at Jerusalem this was impossible; but, when the true Ruler of the world was rejected, it became plain that Satan was its prince. No doubt the cross gave Satan’s power its death-blow in the sight of God, but not in the in the sight of the world.

Satan’s worst reign is his religious one, as we see from the beasts in Revelation. He reigns only by the corrupt motives of man’s heart, the fears of a bad conscience being the means of his power. He leads men astray by their lusts, and then gives them religion to assuage their consciences, for he cannot cleanse them. Hence wickedness becomes religious wickedness, and the conscience even thinks it is doing God service, while Satan craftily directs all this to his own end, the governance of the world – the Christian world – by men’s lusts. In unbelief and defiance of Christ, the pursuit of gain and pleasure is more ardent and unrestrained than ever. War rages as it ever did.

What, then, is its end? Judgment, speedy judgment. Of the day and the hour, no man knows: it comes as a thief in the night. The self-confident thoughts that men have of improving the world by human development and energy are evil in the extreme. Man sees himself and the world as getting better. He views Christianity as only a phase of man’s history; better is to come. Where from, and how?

 

Commerce and Education

Commerce, we are told, civilises. Commerce appears to have made the world less violent; but gain is its selfish motive. It has not elevated the tone of society, but the contrary. Fraud and corruption are major problems. It has not stopped exploitation and wars; it has caused many, especially where oil is concerned.

What has education done? It certainly has enlargesd the mind, but has it changed man’s values?  People are more educated than they used to be; but to what end? Has the influence of superstition really diminished? The infidelity produced by dependence on man’s mind has forced men, who are not personally established in divine truth, back into a different type of superstition. They call it liberalism, which is bound by no truth, knows no truth, and doubts all truth. It is simply destructive. Go anywhere and everywhere, to India, England, Italy, Russia or America: deliverance from superstition is not by truth, but by disbelief of all known truth. Even Christians rely, not on the Spirit, the gospel and word of God, but on human progress.

 

Superstition and Infidelity

The present conflict is between superstition and infidelity – the mere pretensions of man’s mind.  Neither superstition nor infidelity know or respect truth. One recognises authority; the other rejects it. One is the church, so called (with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, I would venture to include this – Sosthenes); the other, free thought. Faith in the truth is known to neither. Where it is no one knows; the business of man’s mind being to disprove any claim to it.

It is a striking phenomenon that liberalism or infidelity prefer Popery to truth. Truth is divine, Popery is human, and liberalism will be liberal as to it. So governments, pander to Popery, because it is a strong, unscrupulous political power, not concerned with the truth. When centralised power fails, it falls back on modifications, witness Liberation Theology in Latin America, and formal protestant religion which has given up scripture and all moral values.

Even if we turn to America, which many would regard as the most attractive part of the new world, what do we see? There is a large profession and much religious activity, even large-scale tele-evangelism, but Christians are often the most worldly of all.   Money is the number one influence; overrun with alcoholism, immorality and family breakdown.

 

So where is God in all this?

The world, then, has been evil from its origin. Christianity has been corrupted by man.   It has not reformed the world, more it has become the seat of its greatest corruption. Commerce, a partial civiliser of men, absorbs them with the basest of motives – avarice, indifferent to truth and morality.  Education has not improved man’s motives or morals either, nor has it freed him from the bonds of superstition. It has merely set aside all positive truth, by infidelity.

So where is God in all this? God is patient with men, a testimony to His grace. He continues to testify, so long as souls can be won and delivered. But He will not allow the power of evil to last for ever. He declares that evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse; filling up the cup of wrath for themselves. He is patient till no more can be done. God says, “The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Gen 15:16). Finally He will remove all evil and bless the earth.

 

Judgment of the World

The object here is not to enter into prophecy in any detail; that has been amply done elsewhere. But the course of the world’s history points to judgment, the removal of the power of evil by power being the only remedy. This is clearly stated in scripture. This is not the judgment of the dead before the Great White Throne, but the judgment of this visible world. ‘Because he [God] hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him [Jesus] from the dead’ (Acts 17:31). Sin will increase till judgment comes. But the world’s greatest sin  was the rejection and crucifixion of Christ.  However, He whom the world rejected, God has raised from the dead, and committed all judgment to Him. Every knee will bow to Him; and the more boldly men have rejected and opposed Him, the more terrible will be their judgment.  All man’s pride, vanity and pretension must come to nought.

Read:

Such is the end of the world as we know it. Its profession of Christianity will only have increased the severity of its judgment. They that have known their Master’s will, and not done it, will be beaten with many stripes. (See Luke 12:47). Christendom fell from the heavenly state in the early chapters of the Acts. Now it will wax worse and worse, ripening for the judgment that so surely awaits it. Flee from the wrath to come.

April 2015

J N Darby – French Letter No. 141 – The Present State of the Church

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

141[1]

London – 22nd November 1870

To Mr B

Dear Brother

You ask me for some words on the apostasy. I do not hold to the word apostasy. It expresses rather the public denial of Christianity, which abandons the principles by those who make profession of it. But fundamentally, the matter itself is of all importance for the heart and for the conscience. As long as this word is not applied to Romish sectarians, there would be no trouble in using it, but when it is realised that, if this decline of Christendom has come about, the consequence of it would be universal, one begins taking exception to the use of the word. The open apostasy has not yet come, but rather the abandonment of faith and the presence of the Holy Spirit, the substitution of the clergy’s authority over the immediate rights of the Lord over the conscience; the degeneration of justification by faith, the efficacy of sacraments in place of the work of the Holy Spirit. In a word, the full development of the mystery of lawlessness is preceded by an abandonment of the first estate of the church and the principles on which it is founded, which is a moral apostasy. John says, “ye have heard that antichrist comes, even now there have come many antichrists, whence we know that it is the last hour”[2]. Thus, the apostasy has not come in the sense of a public renunciation of Christianity, [but rather] of the Word, and of Christ Himself, which characterises the majority of the population of Western Europe. It is rationalism properly speaking, and the spirit of rebellion that accompanies it. Men’s minds have no place for the word of God, the authority of which is no longer accepted; the will of man no longer desires the authority of Christ. If the antichrist is not already there, antichrists have existed for a long time; if the apostasy is not there, the spirit of the apostasy has already taken over the minds of men a long time.

I say that the thing is serious. If the assembly – for the word church confounds us a lot, since it begs the question what the church is – if the assembly of God does not keep its first estate, if it has said: “My Lord delays to come”[3], and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and to drink and to be drunken; there has been a long time, centuries, when it has done this, and it will be cut in two and have its part with the hypocrites. It is said that Christ built His assembly on the rock, and that the gates of hades will not prevail against it. I believe it, thanks be to God, with all my heart. But that has nothing to do with our question. Certainly, what Christ built will not be overthrown by the enemy; but it is a matter of what man has built. It is not the same there. Paul says, “as a wise architect, I have laid the foundation, but another builds upon it. But let each see how he builds upon it”[4]. Here the responsibility of man comes in for something – in a certain sense for all – into the question of the building. It is indeed God’s building, as the apostle says, but put up under man’s responsibility; a present thing on the earth. It is not about the salvation of individuals, but of the state of the system in which these individuals are found. When the end of Judaism under the first covenant had come about, pious souls, believers, were transferred into the church – God had finished for ever with the first system. At the end of the Christian system, the faithful will be transported to heaven, and judgment will come finally on the system from which they have previously come; nothing is simpler. The old world has perished: Noah and his own were saved. The judgment of a system does not affect God’s faithfulness; it is only to put it into evidence in showing that He keeps His own, even if all that encircles them collapses under the weight of His judgment. But can there be anything more serious than the judgment of what God established on the earth, for it is a hard thing to His heart; if Jesus could weep over Jerusalem, how much should His own not be moved at the sight of the approaching judgment of what was even more precious than Jerusalem. It is thus that Jeremiah, instrument of the groaning of the Spirit of God under the old economy, shows in words of a touching beauty, his deep sorrow at the ruin of what belonged to God. “And he hath violently cast down his enclosure as a garden; he hath destroyed his place of assembly … The Lord hath cast off his altar, he hath rejected his sanctuary” (Lam 2: 6, 7). See the spirit in which the faithful had to think of the ruin of what is called by the Name of Christ. But it will be said to me: ‘Yes, that is understood, when it was a matter of Judaism, but this cannot happen to Christianity.’ This is exactly what the unbelieving Jews said in Jeremiah’s time: “for law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor word from the prophet” (Jer 18: 18): false confidence which brought ruin on the people and on the holy city. But there is more than this. It is precisely against this false confidence that Paul, in Romans 11, solemnly warns Christians among the Gentiles, that is to say ourselves, in establishing the parallel between the Jews and Christianity. “Behold then the goodness and severity of God: upon them who have fallen, severity; upon thee goodness of God, if thou shalt abide in goodness, since otherwise thou also wilt be cut away”, that is to say that the Christian system in the midst of the Gentiles is subject to the same judgment as the Jewish system. If the Gentiles who are only standing by faith alone, do not persevere in the goodness of God, they will fall away in the same way as the Jews. Is Romanism perseverance in the goodness of God? Are the “difficult times” the fruit of perseverance in the goodness of God, or indeed this form of piety which denies the power of it, and from which the Christian must separate? (2 Tim 3). If the apostle can say that all seek their own things, not the things of Jesus Christ[5], is that persevering in the goodness of God? If Paul foresaw that after his departure evil would come in straightaway[6], the powerful hand of the apostle not being there to hold the door shut against the adversary; if Jude had to say that already those who were the objects of judgment had slipped into the church; if John has said that they had forsaken the Christians, being gone out from among them[7], a step further than what Jude spoke of; if he has said again that there were many antichrists and that it was recognised from this that it was the last times; if Peter announces to us that the times were come for judgment to begin at the house of God[8]; does all this lead us to believe that the Gentiles have continued in God’s goodness, or rather that the Christian system, established among the Gentiles, will be terminated by judgment, the terrible judgment of God? – that, as outward profession, it will drink the cup of His wrath unmixed, or will be spewed out of His mouth like something nauseously lukewarm[9]? This is solemn for our consciences. Do we go as a system before the judgments of God? Assuredly, the faithful will enjoy a more excellent part; a heavenly glory, but the Christian system, as a system on the earth, will be cut off for ever.

As to the quotation made by Mr B, it is entirely false. The Scriptures speak of the assembly as being God’s habitation down here: the whole question lies here. In a house, it is not a matter of union, but of dwelling.

As to the body of Christ, there could be no dead members. One can deceive men, but he who is in fact united to the Lord is one Spirit with Him. The body is formed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12). Then Christ builds a house which will only be realised when the last stone is put there; it increases to be a holy temple in the Lord. But we have seen down here the building being confided to men, it may be that the building is ill-built and attract the judgment of God on what has been done. As the church has been established as the pillar and base of the truth, it will always be responsible to maintain this position; it is another thing to say that it has maintained it.

The first epistle to Timothy depicts for us the order of the house of God, and how man must conduct himself in this house. Does he conduct himself so? That is the question. If yes, whence comes Popery? The second epistle to Timothy regulates the conduct of the faithful when disorder has been introduced. Already, things in Christianity were no longer in the state in which they were found beforehand. At the beginning, the Lord added each day to the church those who were to be saved. They were manifested and added under the eyes of the world, a body well known. But when the apostle wrote to Timothy his second epistle, all was already changed. What he can say is that the Lord knows those who are His; it could well be that they remained hidden to man, as the 7,000 faithful to Elijah. But with this there is a rule for the faithful, that is, whosoever names the name of the Lord withdraws from iniquity[10]. Then comes the thought of the great house. One must expect to find in a great house vessels to dishonour as well as vessels to honour. But here again is a rule for the faithful: it is necessary to purify oneself from vessels to dishonour, and not only that, but one must pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. In this state of disorder, I cannot know as at the beginning all those who are God’s; but as to my personal walk, I must associate myself with those who have a pure heart. Moreover, in chapter 3, the apostle teaches us that, in the last days, difficult times will be there, where there will be a form of piety while the power of it is denied. Not avowed apostasy, for there is the form of piety, but real, moral apostasy since the power of it is denied. Mr B says that I must stay there and content myself. The apostle tells me: “From such turn away”. Who must I obey? When Mr B tells me that it is impossible to distinguish the true faithful from those who make profession of Christianity, while the apostle says that he who invokes the name of the Lord should withdraw from iniquity, that I must purify myself from vessels to dishonour, to seek the Christian graces with those who invoke the name of the Lord, out of a pure heart; how can I listen to him who tells me that it is impossible to distinguish one from the other? If he tells me that there may be many souls that the Lord knows that we do not recognise, I answer, ‘Without doubt, the Lord knows those that are His, but I have directions for my conduct in this state of things, which contradict yours’. I must recognise those who invoke the name of the Lord out of a pure heart and associate myself with them, and thus to distinguish them; to purify myself from vessels to dishonour, and thus to distinguish them, and to avoid those who have the form of piety while denying the power of it. It is therefore very necessary to distinguish them. However, it is a frightful principle to say that one cannot distinguish between the children of God and the people of the world. It is not true that it cannot be done. I have said, ‘a frightful principle’ for it is said: “By this shall all know that ye are disciples of mine, if ye have love amongst yourselves”[11]. For if I cannot discern them, I can no more love them, and the testimony that God wants is lost; then, it is not true in practice that one cannot discern them, for one enjoys brotherly fellowship, and every faithful Christian makes the distinction between a child of God and those who are not so. That there are others that are not discerned, but whom God knows, is not denied; but the passages that I have cited in 2 Timothy direct us as to this … What would become of a family’s affections if a father said to his children: You cannot know who are your brothers and who are not; you must associate yourselves with everybody without any distinction whatsoever? I do not look in the dictionaries, as we are told to do, but into the consciences and hearts of those who love the Lord, in taking the word of God to see what the state of the church is at the beginning, and what it is now. What does this Word say to us to make us know what the church has become in the last times? The word could not be clearer on the decadence of the church, on the character of these last times, and on the setting aside of the Christian system. The word is clear enough on the unity which must subsist as testimony rendered to the world that He lives (John 17). If a letter was addressed by the apostle to the church of God which is in Turin, who would collect the letter from the post, unless those of the Romish system? The church as it was at the beginning no longer exists. Call it what name you want, provided that the heart feels it and provided that they take to heart the glory of the Lord trodden underfoot by men. If the church, in its present state, is not yet the harlot sat on the beast, of which the Revelation speaks, the indifference of conscience which can make a squabble about the use of a word is the most sensitive proof of lukewarmness which results, at the end, in Christ spewing the church out of his mouth.

… Besides, there is nothing in this ruin of the assembly which is not in accordance with the history of man since the beginning. As soon as man has been left to himself, he has fallen; unfaithful in his ways; he has cast off his primitive state and never returned to it. God does not re-establish it, but He gives salvation by redemption, and brings man into an infinitely more glorious state, in the second Man, Jesus Christ. When Noah had been saved in the ruin of the whole world, the first thing that we read after his sacrifice is that he got drunk; when the law was given, before Moses had descended from the mountain, Israel had made the golden calf; the first day after the consecration of Aaron, his sons offered strange fire, and entry into the holiest of all was forbidden to Aaron, save on the day of atonement; he never wore his garments of glory and beauty. The first son of David, Solomon, type of the Lord, fell into idolatry, and the kingdom was immediately divided. In all these cases, the patience of God has been gloriously manifested, but the system that God had set up as a system in relation with Himself has been set aside. This is least evident in the case of Noah because a formal relationship did not exist in the same sense. The confusion of Babel having terminated the order of the world, the tyranny and wars came about, but for what concerns man, Israel, the priesthood, the kingdom, whatever had been God’s patience, man has fallen immediately, and the system has never been re-established on its old footing. It is not surprising that this is found again in the history of the church, as being placed under man’s responsibility. It has said: My Lord delays His coming, and has begun to beat the servants and unite itself with the world. It will be cut off. The great principle of Romanism and other systems which are like it more or less, and which makes them essentially false, is that they attribute to Christianity, to the assembly organised by means of ordinances, the stability and the immutable privileges which only belong to what Christ builds, and what is wrought by the Holy Spirit. All sorts of false doctrines are the result of this error. One is born of God, member of the body of Christ, this is what an article says in The Christian Look-out[12]; this is what the passage cited by Mr B says. He forgets one of two principal characters of the church according to the Word, precisely that where man’s responsibility comes in, that of being the habitation of God on the earth. He presents us the state in which the church is presently found, and certainly it is not composed of true members of Christ, without giving us an account, without giving us any particulars whatever on this subject, so that we may know if this state is good or bad, where it comes from or where it will end, and how the Word judges it. The expressions which he makes us of are equivalent to those of the unbelieving Jews in the times of Jeremiah. We are free of all these abominations. Nobody can say that the state of the church, of Christendom, resembles in any way what characterised it at the beginning according to the Word; there was not in any way either Romanism, or the National church, or dissidents. There was the church of God and nothing else. It corrupted itself very quickly, one will say; very well, but was this a good thing? There was then a church to corrupt, an assembly where certain men had slipped in. Was this corruption a good thing, or does it lead to judgment? Has there not been frightful progress since then? Is the church of God re-established on the earth? Must I suffer its state? Must I not seek in the Word how this will end, and take care with it? We have cited the Word, may each judge before God what it says. If we find ourselves in difficult times, does not the Word give us some rules so that we can trace the way in which we must walk?

If someone has the conviction that we are in these times, let him read 2 Timothy 2 and 3, and place himself before God who has given these instructions, with an entire confidence in Christ. The result as to these instructions is not doubtful. May he know to walk with God. Let us remember that, in every position in which the first Adam has failed, man is gloriously re-established in the second. But that is a subject, very interesting though it be, into which I cannot enter here.

Make use, dear brother, as you see fit of these pages; I have written them in haste. From 7 o’clock in the morning to midnight, I have always to work; I have meetings every day, then other work of every kind, I have still the correction of the new edition of the English New Testament, and often the French also at the same time.

The brethren are well.

I did not know who had sent me the Look-out until the arrival of your letter. My response came a bit late, but that has not mattered much; the subject remains important. Only present the gospel more than the controversy.

I have written on the epistle to the Romans, you will find something there perhaps; this is not yet prepared.

Yours very affectionately

[1] a different version of this letter also appears in JND’s published Letters – vol 3 p94

[2] 1 John 2: 18

[3] Luke 12: 45

[4] 1 Cor 3: 10

[5] Phil 2: 21

[6] See Acts 20: 29; Jude 4

[7] 1 John 2: 19

[8] 1 Peter 4: 17

[9] See Rev 14: 10; 3: 16

[10] See 2 Tim 2: 19 et seq

[11] John 13: 35

[12] JND gives the Italian title – la Vedetta Cristiana – a Christian publication commenced in 1870 by Teodorico Pietrocola Rossetti, a preacher and a patriot of the Italian Risorgimento – a 19th-century movement for Italian unification that culminated in the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861

 

Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013
Click here for original – If you have any comments on the translation, feel free to let me know.

Darby’s Stand

Apostolic Catholicism/Pentecostalism – Edward Irving
Oxford Movement – Edward Bouverie Pusey
Sceptical Modernism – Francis William Newman
Roman Catholicism – Cardinal John Henry Newman
Heresy as to the Person of Christ – Benjamin Wills Newton
Arminianism /Perfectionism – John Wesley
Free Church Calvinism – Merle d’Aubigné
Free Chruch of Scotland Rationalism – Robertson Smith
Various ideas as to the future – annihilation, non-eternity, punishment/purgatory

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

John Nelson Darby made a courageous stand against sectarian Christendom. This did not earn him many friends, especially amongst the religious hierarchy.

Some of the things he contended with were:

From W G Turner, ‘John Nelson Darby’ published by Chapter Two

  • Apostolic Catholicism/Pentecostalism – Edward Irving
  • Oxford Movement – Edward Bouverie Pusey
  • Sceptical Modernism – Francis William Newman
  • Roman Catholicism – Cardinal John Henry Newman
  • Heresy as to the Person of Christ – Benjamin Wills Newton
  • Arminianism /Perfectionism – John Wesley
  • Free Church Calvinism – Merle d’Aubigné
  • Free Chruch of Scotland Rationalism – Robertson Smith
  • Various ideas as to the future – annihilation, non-eternity, punishment/purgatory

To this I would add:

  • Ecclesiastical Independency
  • Clericalism
  • Mysticism – Madame de Krudener etc.
  • National churches
  • Post millennialism etc.

We can be thankful to God for the stand that men like Darby, Wigram, Bellat, Mackintosh etc made.

The Present Hope of the Church

J N Darby (1800-82), a leading interpreter of biblical prophecy, laid the basis of dispensational and premillennial and pre-trib teaching in his lectures on the Present Hope of the Church.

To download a DRAFT version of this series in .pdf, Apple or Kindle format please click here.

JN Darby’s Lecture 1 on The Hope of the Church of God

The Present Hope of the Church – Summary by Sosthenes

new-jerusalem-2s

J N Darby gave a series of eleven significant lectures in Geneva in 1840 on the Hope of the Church (L’attente actuelle de l’église). These established his reputation as a leading interpreter of biblical prophecy, and the basis of dispensational and premillennial and pre-trib teaching. His doctrine is still being propagated (in various forms) at such places as Dallas Theological Seminary and by authors and preachers such as Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye.

JND said as to them “In going through the more general features of prophecy, we shall examine these three great subjects: the church; the nations; and the Jew”.  God made Himself known as Jehovah to the Jews.  The prophets showed God’s character as Jehovah.  Jesus is presented as the Messiah, the centre of God’s promises and blessings to the Jewish nation.  To the Church, God presents Himself as ‘Father’ and Jesus as the ‘Son of God’.  We are His brethren – children of God and members of His family.  He, the Firstborn, is the expression of all the glory of the Father.

In the dispensation of the fulness of times, when God will gather together all things in Christ, that name under which He has been celebrated by Melchisedec (a type of the royal Priest), God will be known as “the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.” (Gen 14:19)

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

Summary of Lectures

  1. The Present Hope of the Church
  2. The Church and its Glory
  3. The Second Coming of Christ
  4. The First Resurrection – or The Resurrection of the Just
  5. The Judgment of Evil
  6. Ecclesiastical Apostasy and Civil Apostasy
  7. The Judgment of the Nations
  8. God’s Promises to Israel
  9. What God in His Goodness will yet do for Israel – and what it Means for Us
  10. The Remnant of Israel
  11. The Importance of Prophecy

The Christian’s Assurance as to Prophecy

Every Christian should not only be sure of his salvation in Christ, but also know its results.  He should not only know he is in the Father’s house with all its privileges but be happy there too.  In prophecy, God treats us as His friends, and reveals the things He is occupied with.  As our hearts are associated with Him, they realise His love and confidence and are coloured by the expectation of what is to come.  With this holy knowledge we are strangers and pilgrims here.

We need to distinguish between that which applies to the Jews, relating to the earth, and that which applies to the Church.  Being free of human objects, cares and distractions we can be dependent on the One who knows the end from the beginning.

Whilst prophecy proves the divine source of the Bible, that is not its main purpose.  Prophecy belongs to the Church now and the Jewish remnant in a future day, as a light or torch before things take place.  God tells us the truth; Satan does not.  Do we doubt God?  Surely we do not need witnesses to persuade us that God is telling the truth.

Satan has deceived many by introducing the thought that partially fulfilled prophecies, were in fact complete.   Most, if not all prophecy is to be fulfilled after the end of this dispensation.  Then it will be too late to be convinced as to the truth.  Those left behind will experience terrible judgment.  But as I read God’s word, I am restful.  I am enlightened as I cleave to Him instead of my own understanding.  As things unfold I see the purposes of the Most High, opening up His character – His faithfulness, justice, long-suffering.  But He will certainly judge proud iniquity and execute vengeance on these who corrupt the earth, in order for His government to be established in peace and blessing.

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

 

The Sceptic as to Prophecy

The sceptic views prophecy as merely speculative, vague and uninfluential, the imaginations and vainglory of proud hearts.  The sceptic’s own thoughts are the most speculative.  How Satan deceives!  But prophecy reveals God’s thoughts as to things to come. And the Christian rejoices that “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab 2:14).  And God will show how.

Communion with God as to Prophecy

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

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

 

 

We cry to God for the state of the Church

Up till now the Roman Catholic church, despite its idolatry, human organisation and wrong teaching, stood for some things that were right – upholding marriage, condemning homosexual activity etc. Protestantism had already bowed to the times. Now even Catholicism is following suit

Up till now the Roman Catholic church, despite its idolatry, human organisation and wrong teaching, stood for some things that were right – upholding marriage, condemning homosexual activity etc.  Protestantism had already bowed to the times.  Now even Catholicism is following suit.  Looking at prophecy, that is not surprising.  Let there be a call – not to change the system – but for true hearts to follow Jesus ‘outside the camp’

Adoss Newsletter – No 13 – October 2014

‘Tis not far off-the hour
When Christ will claim His own;
We soon shall hear that voice of power;
The Lord Himself shall come!

The days are passing by,
The years flow on apace;
Lord Jesus, Thy return draws nigh,
We long to see Thy face.

 

Zech 4:10
By Σωσθένης Ὁἀδελφὸς – Sosthenes the Brother

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord

2014 is almost over. When I was a boy, I was told that the Lord would have certainly come for His church by the year 2000. In the 1950’s, 2000 was a lifetime away (so it seemed then). But the years have flown by. We are nearly 2015 and the Lord hasn’t come – yet! But the Lord IS coming soon – we just don’t know when. I am reminded of the verses:

 

‘Tis not far off-the hour
When Christ will claim His own;
We soon shall hear that voice of power;
The Lord Himself shall come!
 
The days are passing by,
The years flow on apace;
Lord Jesus, Thy return draws nigh,
We long to see Thy face.

 

See the full spiritual song: ‘Tis not far off-the hour’

 

An Outline to the Bible

Outline of Bible coverOver the past few months I have been editing a booklet based on J N Darby’s Outline to the books of the Bible.’ This is 80- page summary, highlighting the Holy Spirit’s principal messages, less well known than his five volume synopsis. It is now available in draft form and you can download it by clicking here. Please feel free to circulate it, but note that it is still a draft. If you see anything that looks wrong please send me an email. I would like to put the booklet into print in due course, but I wait on God as to when and how.

 

The Rule Book

A year or so ago a friend of mine gathered a few young people and encouraged them to ask questions – about anything. The majority were of the lines ‘Why are we not allowed to have TV?’ , ‘Why can’t I join a rock band?’ and the like. You can imagine how sad my friend was. Christianity doesn’t have a rule book – the Bible certainly isn’t one, even though it tells us what is pleasing to God and what is not.

I trust that some came away saying ‘I don’t want a TV because of the torrent of filth on it that I cannot control’, and ‘I don’t want to be a member of a rock group, because Jesus would never have been a member.’

The Second Man, and Deliverance from Sin

This caused me to work on two articles for ADOSS based on papers by JND.

The first was based on a preaching. After covering the basics of the gospel, Darby said that sin must be put away perfectly. The sinner brought back to God must be spotless. Christ did not enter heaven again until He had settled the whole question of our sins and of sin itself. The moment I, as a poor sinner, look by faith to Jesus as my divine sin-bearer, all my sins are gone – they are put out of God’s sight for ever.   I am pardoned through His blood, peace having been made through the blood of the cross. And the glorified Man is in heaven, appearing in the presence of God for us – of His Father and our Father, of His God and our God. No sin there

The second paper shows what wonderful freedom we have. Not only as believers are we to be free of guilt, but we are to know deliverance from the law of sin and death. We still have the flesh, its will and lusts, and in our own strength there is nothing we can do. As a result of Christ’s death, the Christian can say, ‘The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death’ (Rom 8:2). As a result we can know newness of life and the liberty of sonship. I am free, because the sin I have discovered in my flesh has been condemned in the cross of Christ. By faith I am crucified with Him; I have a new place before God, beyond death, judgment and Satan’s power. That place is liberty.

 

Zechariah

It would appear that in 520BC Zechariah, Buddah and Confucius were all engaged in their work. Which one brought people back to God? Who said ‘Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you’ (Zech 1:3). Who had an idea of God’s standard (the measuring line) Zech. 2? Who saw a man’s filthy garments changed to festival robes (Zech 3 – Darby trans. – from our own righteousness to God’s)? And which could speak of the sons of oil (Zech 4 – the limitless supply from God’s Holy Spirit)?

These two wise men from the East were no more than that – giving good advice – but none changing the man which cannot be improved, however much men try!

 

We cry to God for the state of the Church

Up till now the Roman Catholic church, despite its idolatry, human organisation and wrong teaching, stood for some things that were right – upholding marriage, condemning homosexual activity etc. Protestantism had already bowed to the times. Now even Catholicism is following suit. Looking at prophecy, that is not surprising. Let there be a call – not to change the system – but for true hearts to follow Jesus ‘outside the camp’

 

asia_bibi_a_4X3And let us cry to God for those whose Lives are in Danger

The headline on an email I received this week says ‘Aasia Bibi’s appeal against death sentence rejected’. This young mother has been languishing in prison since being falsely accused by some of her co-workers of defiling the name of Mohammed. The government of Pakistan could well bow to international pressure in such a high profile case. But how many others are there? – in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, North Korea knowing the literality of the verse, ‘Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life’. (Rev 2:10).

We may not know them, but they are our brethren.

May we, like they, be kept close to the Lord.

God’s blessings, your brother,

Sosthenes Hoadelphos