J N Darby Letter Why I could not be a Baptist. – Believers’ Baptism – Infant Baptism – Household Baptism – the House and the Assembly

Baptists are a sect, and enough to say, in my opinion I would not be part of it. If a brother believes he should be baptised, I would never seek to dissuade him, even though he had already been baptised and I believe him mistaken in the way he sees it. However, if he believes that it is according to the Word, he would be well, I think, to have it done. That does not break the unity of the body.

J N Darby on Household Baptism
John Nelson Darby

The following letter (Letter No 431) written in French by John Nelson Darby, outlines his position on baptism – particularly believers’ baptism as practiced by the Baptists and other Evangelical Christians.   I translated it as part of an earlier task as assisting a brother who desired to have some 475 letters of JND translated into English.  However, I feel that due to the large amount of confusion that exists as to this important subject it is as well to publish my translation (slightly edited) here.

My French is far from perfect, and whilst this translation has been revised by another, I have also included the original text as a separate posting. Click here for …  

Pourquoi je ne Pourrais être Baptiste. – Baptême des Croyants – Baptême des Enfants – Baptême des Familles – la Maison et l’Assemblée

Montpelier, 1851

To Mr L.F..

The State of the Church

In the state of confusion in which the Church finds itself, if its existence is even remembered, it is very natural that in such a matter one acts according ones individual conviction.   But when it is a question of the destruction of the unity of the Church, it is a more serious question.  The Baptists are a sect, and enough to say, in my opinion I would not be part of it.  If a brother believes he should be baptised, I would never seek to dissuade him, even though he had already been baptised and I believe him mistaken in the way he sees it.  However, if he believes that it is according to the Word, he would be well, I think, to have it done.  That does not break the unity of the body.

The Baptists quote, “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.”

Having said that, I will give you a few general principles on this subject.  I am not convinced at all by the rationale of the Baptists.  I find in their reasoning, without their suspecting it, inversion of the basic principles of Christianity, and a complete ignorance of what Christian baptism is.  They speak of the baptism of John, and that the Lord says “thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.”  Matt 3:15.  Think about it.  Does the Christian achieve righteousness in fulfilling ordinances?  Is that a Christian principle, or is it an perversion of Christianity?  Moreover the baptism of John means absolutely nothing for Christians; it was a baptism just for the Jews, a baptism, which assumed the entrance, through repentance into the privileges of the kingdom, and did not assume the death and resurrection of Christ, rather exactly the opposite.  The baptism of John was not done in His name, nor in keeping with the truths announced in the gospel.  Consequently those who had the baptism of John had to be baptised again later in the name of the Lord, as if they had never had received any baptism beforehand.(Acts 19:4-5) .  I am then urged to be baptised in obedience to an ordinance in order to fulfill righteousness (principle which inverts the fundamentals of Christianity), and a baptism which excludes the death and resurrection of Christ (only true sense of Christian baptism).  This baptism however belongs historically to a system which predated Christianity which one both Jews and heathens received.  The death and resurrection of Christ formed the basis of a new creation, to which the baptism of John did not have any bearing.  When I hear similar arguments, I am the more convinced that that those who use them (though they are very sincere) do not understand the first elements of the subject they are dealing with, and unwillingly and unknowingly invert the foundation of Christian truth.

But there are further points which make me reject the Baptist system.  That is,that I deny their principle of obedience to an ordinance and in particular to the ordinance (they say) of baptism.  Baptism is a granted privilege, and the act is that of the person who baptises, not of the person baptised.  I say that the thought of obedience to baptism is not in in the Word, or that there is a commandment addressed to men, it is that to be baptised

Baptism as a Privilege

Firstly, I say that the idea of obedience to an ordinance does not belong to the Christian system.  I recognize that Christ established baptism and the supper, but obedience to ordinances was destroyed, in principle, at the cross.  (Col 2:14 target=”_blank” Eph 2:15) target=”_blank”.  When it is a matter of the supper “This do in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19), it is a directive as to the purpose of the symbol.  Every time that we eat of it, we should do it with this purpose.  This is not a commandment to do it, but a directive to make one intelligent in doing it.

For baptism in particular, the commandment is to given to go and baptise, that is to say that the act was the act of the apostles in receiving the gentiles into the Church.  And this is so true that the apostles could not be baptised, but they did baptise those who received their teaching.

Through examining the cases presented, I find that the baptism is considered to be a privilege granted to somebody whom one admits in the house of God, and is never an act of obedience nor of testimony.  The apostle says ”Can any one forbid water that these should not be baptised, who have received the Holy Spirit as we also did?” (Acts 10:47).  ”What hinders my being baptised”, says the eunuch (Acts 8:36)  Evidently in this case it was not a matter of obedience, but an accorded privilege, an admission into the privileges that others enjoyed.  I would remark in passing, although an adult, heathen or Jew, must believe to be baptised, the words “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.”  Acts 8:37KJV as foreign to the Word by everybody who are concerned with the authenticity of texts.  The apostles received the order from the Lord to baptise.

I would add that the Baptists’ idea that baptism is a symbol of what we are is also contrary to the Word because it says “buried with him in baptism, in which ye have been also raised (Col 2:12).  That is then not based on the assumption that we are already dead and raised.  On the contrary, in figure, we die and are raised in baptism itself, that is to say that we were not that beforehand.  That is the sign of the thing through which we enter, not the sign of our state to ourselves.

I totally reject the whole Baptist system, because I have received teaching from the Word of God.  I am fully convinced that it is entirely false.  There is an order to baptise given to the apostles, but baptism is not the subject of a particular commandment to the one who is baptised.  The difference is from beginning to end in the character of the act.  If I give to my business agent an order to remit a hundred francs to such and such a person, he is obligated to obey me.  If I give a letter of title to somebody, the obedience the recipient is totally a different matter.

Baptism is the Reception of a Person into the Christian Assembly down here in this World

However to reject what is false is not the only thing one has to do.  It is a matter of knowing the truth in order to be able to glorify God; but the question has become much simpler.  Baptism is the reception of a person into the midst of the Christian Assembly down here in this world.  I do not believe that one who reads the New Testament freely could deny that.  Who then must be received into this assembly, baptism being recognized to be the means of receiving them (for I agree with the Baptists on this point)?  I accept that in regard to the persons baptised, heathen or Jewish, in a word as to any who have not received baptism (as also for a Quaker or the child of a Baptist), those who believe ought to be baptised, because one can only receive an adult (who can act of his own accord) on his won responsibility.  It is all simple so long as one does not try to push the tide back, with the big stick in his hand as Charlemagne harassed the Saxons.

But the remaining question is this – Should children of believing parents be received into the Assembly?

I should say a word as to the Assembly itself, because what has given rise to a lot of difficulties is the ignorance of what the assembly of God is on earth.  I say ‘the Assembly’ not assemblies.  Those baptised become, by baptism members of the Christian Assembly on earth, not of an assembly.  However this assembly is the house of God where the Holy Spirit dwells.  The world is the desert where Satan dwells.  The Assembly is “a habitation of God in the Spirit” Eph 2:22).  In this Assembly one is admitted by baptism, and it is true that it is the habitation of the Spirit for Hebrews 6 supposes that one can be partakers of the Holy Spirit without having been converted.  In this case the one having the Spirit thus, was not really part of the body of Christ, but he possessed the Spirit, in the sense of a gift, being in the house where the Spirit lived and acted.  So Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit.  In this case, it was in the Spirit’s presence, not the gift, but for the point we are concerned about it is the same. However it is a matter of knowing if the children of Christians can be received into this house, or are they to be left in the world where Satan reigns.  It is  not a matter of commandment.  I deny any commandment for any ordinance, baptism in particular.  There isn’t one for an adult.  It is a matter of knowing God’s will is in regard to this privilege.  However it is clear to me that according to the Word, children should be received.   It is fully evident that there would have to have been a change in God’s system of things in order not to receive them – a change which moreover has never been announced.  However, here are a few passages which makes me see in a positive way the thoughts of God in regard to this.  Before citing them I pose a recognized principle, because I believe it scriptural, that baptism is the Lord’s desired way to be received outwardly into the assembly of God, and its meaning is the death and resurrection of Christ.  But here, in passing, I must also again remark that the views of many on this point are decidedly unscriptural.  They assume that the ordinances, baptism in particular, are the sign of the state where somebody finds themselves and participates.  However this idea is opposed to the testimony of the Word.  The baptised person participates in an act of ordinance which is no sign at all that he participated beforehand.  Thus, baptism is not a sign that a man participates in the death and resurrection of Christ.  Baptism is (in figure), the participation in these things by the act itself.  The testimony of Col 2:12 is positive in this regard:  ”buried with him in baptism, in which ye have been also raised with him”.  That is an act that the participation has taken place; it is not a sign of the participation that precedes it.  It is the same in regard to the Supper.  One eats (in figure) the body that was broken (1 Cor 11:24 KJV & Martin/Osterheld, not JND or JND-French and the blood that was shed.  It is not a figure that one has done it already.  The same principle is found in Rom 6:4.  Other passages confirm the same.

Baptism and Little Children

Having made this principle clear, and having shown that the Baptist principle is not well founded, that the Word contradicts their idea that baptism is the sign that one is already dead and risen again, whereas the Word teaches that we figuratively die there and are raised.  Having, as I say, brought all this into the light, I come to the passages which authorize me to believe that children of Christians are objects of this favour, baptism being the means of their being able to enjoy it.

Matthew 18 is a striking passage, showing how God considers the children.  The Lord takes a little child (v2), not a converted person (He even distinguishes in v6 the difference between a believing child and others) and declares that one must become such, and that their angels continually see the face of their Father who is in the heavens (v10), that is to say that they are the objects of His special favour.  But the testimony is something much more exact than that.  They are lost; Christ has come, He says (v11) “to save that which was lost.”  “For it is not the will of your Father who is in the heavens that one of these little ones should perish.” (v14).  In receiving a little child in His name, I receive Christ, and I recognize that, even being children, this little being is lost; but that it is the object of the Father’s love which I know, and whom there is not other means of salvation, even for a child, than the death and resurrection of Christ.  So I introduce it into the house by this means.  The testimony is therefore very clear, we are born children of wrath.

I have already shown that baptism is not a witness rendered to the state of the individual,  but the admission that the individual is a testimony to the value of the work of Christ.  The Baptist will now say to me, I know “But you admit a little heathen child”  The Word tells me totally the opposite.  It says that if one of the parents is a Christian, the children are holy.  However they are not holy by nature, it is a relative holiness, that is to say as a right of entry into the house.  That is the sense of this word in the Bible.  They are not soiled or profane.  A Jew who married a woman from the nations was profaned, and their children profaned, and the woman was to be sent back with them.  But in Christianity it is a system of grace, and the woman, instead of making her husband profane, is sanctified and the children are holy.  And this is the proper force and the evident bearing of the passage, because it concerned the question of whether a believer should divorce his unbelieving wife.  Thus the children, being holy, have the right to enter into the house and it is a real advantage that they enjoy.

To speak of legitimate children is nonsense, because only modern laws have made a distinction in such a case.

One may perhaps ask me, why then do we not give the supper to children?  I answer:  Because the light of the word prevents me.  The supper, considered from this point of view, is a figure of the unity of the body.  We are all one body, and so we all participate of the one loaf.  For in the power of one Spirit we have all been baptised into one body, (1 Cor 12:13), that is to say that one must be baptised of the Holy Spirit to take the supper.

“Children, obey your parents” could not be said to children who were not inside.  One does not address such precepts to heathens.  I see then that Christ, who received the child, wants us to receive such in His name, and by doing that we receive Him, Himself.  Notice that in Matt 18 the Lord applies the parable of the lost sheep to the little children (or to the letter it was to a little child who was there).  I repudiate entirely any dedication to God apart from baptism.  Not only is this Baptist practice a human innovation, but (without wishing it I admit), it pretends to be able to present the children to God without the death and resurrection of Christ.  If one cold present them to God by the death and resurrection of Christ they are then subjects of baptism.  To do otherwise is to deny Christianity:  not to devote them is impossible for a Christian.  In my opinion, the Baptist deprives his child of the protection of the house of God and of the care of the Spirit and leaves it in the world where Satan reigns, instead of (though it is fortunately inconsistent) to bringing it up in the discipline of the Lord…

Summary

Finally I deny entirely that there is a commandment to be baptised, as a matter of obedience.  I say that the principle is false and that baptism is always presented in totally the opposite way from that which is the basis of the Baptist system.  Reception into the church, the enjoyment of privilege of being brought into the house where the Spirit is, by citing the baptism of John, is to be ignorant of the first principles of Christianity and of the nature itself of Christian baptism.  Baptism as the Word considers it, is a reception by the church, according to the favour of God,  because they are holy.  It is the opposite of the profanity of a Jew who had married a foreigner.   In the case of a Christian the children are holy, whereas in the case of the Jew they are profane.  I repeat this because I am seeking to use this word not to weaken the scriptural proof, whilst it only makes the truth and the bearing of these passages of scripture clearer.

Here is an outline of what, I am perfectly convinced, is the true idea according to the Word.  This Word allows absolutely nothing of the Baptist system.  Nevertheless if somebody, individually thinks that he has not been baptised, I do not blame him if he gets baptised.  Rather, I respect his conscience like the conscience of one who believes he should only eat herbs.  But if one makes a sect out of this lack of light, then I condemn it totally.  However it is obvious that the Baptist position is one of pure ignorance,  It is truly impossible that a man can speak of fulfilling righteousness, in being baptised according to the example of Jesus with John the Baptist, if he has the lest light of the ways of God in Christ.  He may be sincere but his ignorance as to the truth of the gospel is very great….

Simplified Darby – Church Unity and Sectarianism

In this paper Darby’s objective was, with God’s blessing, to show Christians how the Church can be united according to the Word of God, and how it should operate consistently. It would therefore be strengthened in its hopes and show the world clearly the power of God’s grace, leading believers to rely more on the Holy Spirit and less on human plans and co-operative schemes.

Darby looks at the way in which the public Christian Church has degenerated with worldliness, human organisation, tolerance of evil and sectarian fragmentation, running counter to the Lord’s words That they all may be one.

A summary by Sosthenes of John Nelson Darby’s

The Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ

J N Darby

In this paper Darby’s objective was, with God’s blessing, to show Christians how the Church can be united according to the Word of God, and how it should operate consistently.  It would therefore be strengthened in its hopes and show the world clearly the power of God’s grace, leading believers to rely more on the Holy Spirit and less on human plans and co-operative schemes.

Darby looks at the way in which the public Christian Church has degenerated with worldliness, human organisation, tolerance of evil and sectarian fragmentation, running counter to the Lord’s words That they all may be one.

Church unity cannot be achieved by human compromise and confederacy.  It can only be in looking to the Lord Himself, giving Him His place, by the Holy Spirit, going forth to him without the camp and being not of the world.

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me  – John 17:21

To view the complete paper – Considerations on the Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ 

To download book (JND Collected Writings – Vol 1 Ecclesiastical 1 – p20) containing this article click here

The Truth of the Gospel

All genuine Protestant churches profess the great truths of the gospel.   Receiving the gospel by faith leads to our having pure desires in love and a life for Him who died for us and rose again, a life of hope in His glory.

The Sectarian Situation of the Public Church

However, believers’ standards of unity and gathering are generally very mixed, falling far below God’s.  If unity were based on human standards, God would be acquiescing in the moral inconsistency of degenerate man, sinking below the glory of Christ, without even a testimony to His being dishonoured.

Unity in the Early Church

In the early church there was unity. “The Lord added daily such as should be saved“, was when none said anything was his own (Acts 2:43-47), and their conversation was in heaven (Phil 3:20); for they could not be divided in the common hope of that.  It knit their hearts together.

But soon division began about the goods of the church; for where there could be division, there could be selfish interests.

The Church in the Dark Ages

In the hundreds of years leading up to the Revelation, there had been judgments which dishonoured to God.  Meanwhile the church was sinking, and utterly sank in apostasy.   Indeed, apostasy and moral corruption overwhelmed the professing church.

Witnesses sighed and cried for the abominations that were done in the church.  Even without much spiritual understanding and teaching, but the redemption by the Lord Jesus, they testified against the state of the degenerated church.

The Reformation

We are therefore thankful for the Reformation.   However, this did not institute a pure form of church, but re-established “Justification by faith” in which believers might find life. Sadly, it was mixed with human activities and much of the old system remained.  Whilst those involved were excellent saints, the character of the Church remained short of that which was acceptable to God.

Non Conformist Movements and Sects

As religious and world leaders were more secularly minded and alienated from God, many recognising the authority of the Word of God, separated seeking to follow it more closely.   Hence arose all the branches of nonconformity and dissent.

So long as people pride themselves on being Church of England, Presbyterian, Baptist, Independent, or anything else, they are antichristian. How then are we to be united? –  it must be the work of the Spirit of God.  Believers should consider , “Is Christ divided? (1 Cor 1:13) whereas there is among you envying and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Cor 3:3)  Darby wrote: “There is no professed unity among you at all.”

What do we see?   Both the Established and non-conformist churches are using unbelievers to gain secular advantages and honours of that world – the very world out of which the Lord came to redeem us.  Are they behaving  like His peculiar people? What can I to do with these things? Nothing.

Because of the diversity of sects, the true Church of God has no avowed communion at all.  This is an anomaly.   Individuals of the children of God are to be found in all the different denominations, professing the same pure faith; but where is their bond of union?  Indeed, the bond of communion is not the unity of the people of God, but in fact on their differences.

If this is correct, we must conclude that one who seeks the interests of any particular denomination is an enemy to the work of the Spirit of God.   Those who believe in “the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:16) ought therefore to keep separate from such activities, otherwise they are drawing back the church to a state occasioned by ignorance and non-subjection to the word.  A most subtle and mental disease prevails amongst groups of Christians, especially those of higher orders.  This can be illustrated by what the disciples said,  “he followeth not us,” (Mark 9:38). Let us not hinder the manifestation of the church by this spirit.  This line of thinking infests groups of Christians, especially those of higher orders.

Could there be a Union of Protestant Churches?

If Protestants formed a formal union, it would be impossible that such a body could be at all recognised as the church of God.  It would be a counterpart to the Roman Church, but without the power of the word and the unity of spiritual life.

No meeting, which is not framed to embrace all the children of God in the full basis of the kingdom of the Son, can find the fullness of blessing, because it does not contemplate it – because its faith does not embrace it.

Protestants have often professed to the Roman Catholics that their unity in doctrinal faith.  Why then is there not an actual unity?  If they see error in each other, ought they not to be humbled for each other?  If there was diversity of mind, instead of disputing on the footing of ignorance, why not wait in prayer, that God might reveal this also unto them?  Yet I well know that, till the spirit of the world be purged from amongst them, unity cannot be, nor can believers find safe rest.

Unity is the glory of the Christian Church; but unity to secure and promote our own interests is not the unity of the church.  It is confederacy, and a denial of the nature and hope of the church and not the Lord’s work.

Non-sectarian Christian movements

The people of God have found a sort of remedy for this disunion in the Bible Society, and other missionary ventures, giving a sort of vague unity in the common acknowledgment of the word, or of of desire and action.  In many instances the genuine cravings of a mind actuated by the Spirit of God has been behind it, and doubtless partially afforded testimony to what the Church was.

How God sees the Disunity in the Christian Church

Sensing our immense distance from genuinely exhibiting the purpose of God in His church, we ought to be thankful that He still deals with us. It should lead us also to seek Christ’s current mind, so that our path may be according to His present will, rather than our own.

It was God’s purpose in Christ to gather into one all things in heaven and on earth; reconciled unto Himself in Him; and that the church, by the energy of the Spirit should be the witness of this on earth. Believers would know therefore that all who are born of the Spirit have substantial unity of mind, so as to know and love each other, as brothers and sisters.  What is more, they were so to be all one, as that the world would know that Jesus was sent of God.  But this is not all.  Sadly this has not been fulfilled in practice, and in this we must all confess our sad failure.

Are believers happy with the current state of the Church?  Clearly not.  Do we not believe that it has, as a body, utterly departed from Christ?  Has it been  restored so that He would be glorified in it at His appearing?   Is there not a practical spirit of worldliness at variance with the death and coming again of the Lord Jesus as Saviour.

Darby said “I shall seek to establish healthful principles: for it is manifest to me, that it must flow from the growing influence of the Spirit of God and His unseen teaching; but we may observe what are positive hindrances, and in what that union consisted.

The Self-complacent Christian Church

Christians are little aware how the spirit of the world prevails in their minds and how they seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ.  While the spirit of the world prevails spiritual union cannot subsist.  Believers think, because they have been delivered from secular dominion, that they are free from the practical spirit which gave rise to it; and because God has wrought much deliverance, therefore they are to be content.  In this state of self-complacency, the springs of grace and spiritual communion dry up.

We have learned to trust in too much in the outward ‘Temple of the Lord’, adorned with goodly stones and gifts, and have ceased to look to the Lord of the temple.  We have almost ceased to walk by faith.  The unclean spirit of idolatry may have been purged out; but the great question still remains, whether there is the effectual presence of the Spirit of the Lord.

The original State of the Christian Church cannot be restored

Those who parted the Saviour’s garments among them could not rend that inner vest – which was inseparably one in its nature.  That has fallen into the hands of those who do not care for Him, the Lord will never clothe Himself with it again.

The Christian’s Call

Should believers to correct the churches? Darby says, “I am beseeching them to correct themselves, by living up, in some measure, to the hope of their calling. I beseech them to show their faith in the death of the Lord Jesus, and their boast in the glorious assurance which they have obtained by it, by conformity to it – to show their faith in His coming, and practically to look for it by a life suitable to desires fixed upon it”. Let believers testify against the secularity and blindness of the church; but let them be consistent in their own conduct. “Let your moderation be known to all men.” (Phil 4:5)

The Practical Way for the Christian Believer

We as believers can see in ourselves things that are practically inconsistent with the power of Lord’s return.  We are conforming to the world, showing that the cross does not have its proper glory in our eyes.   However,  we can be thankful that we have a way marked out for us in the word.

Our duty as believers is to be witnesses of what we believe.  God says “Ye are my witnesses” (Isa 43:12) in His challenge to the false gods; and as Christ is the faithful and true Witness, such ought the church to be. Of what then is the church to be a witness? – against the idolatrous glory of the world. How? by its members being in practical conformity to His death, with a true belief in the cross,  crucified to the world, and the world to them.

If we are not living in the power of the Lord’s kingdom, we certainly shall not be consistent in seeking its ends.

Two or three are gathered together in His name

Where two or three are gathered together in His name, (Matt 18:20), there is blessing; because they are met in the fullness of the power of the unchangeable interests of that everlasting kingdom in which it has pleased God, the glorious Jehovah, to glorify Himself.  He has been pleased to make His name and saving grace known in the Person of the Son of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  In the name of Christ, even two or thrr enter (in whatever measure of faith) into the full counsels of God.  They are “God’s fellow-workmen.” (1 Cor 3:9).  Therefore whatever they ask is done, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13).  As we seek the Lord’s glory of the Lord we will find personal blessing.

In the Lord and His Death on the Cross we find Christian Unity

In the Lord alone we find unity.  He declares, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will drawn all men unto me: this he said signifying what death he should die.”  It is then Christ who will draw to Himself by being lifted up from the earth (John 12:32).  So we find His death is the centre of communion till His coming again. In this rests the whole power of the truth and nothing short of this can produce unity.  Otherwise He that gathereth not with him, scattereth Matt 12:30).

The Lord’s Supper is the Symbol of Christian Unity

The outward symbol and instrument of unity is the partaking of the Lord’s supper – for we being many are “One bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” 1 Cor 10:17 And “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. (1 Cor 11:26).  Therefore the essential and substantial unity, to be seen in glory at His coming, is conformity to His death, because that is how the glory was brought about. The Lord’s death is the sole foundation on which a soul is built for eternal glory.

Unity of the Spirit

There are two things in seeking unity, which we have to consider.

  • Are our objects in our work exclusively the Lord’s objects?
  • Is our conduct the witness of our objects?

Have we faith in these things? How shall we show it? By acting on these directions of our Lord:  If any man serve me let him follow me, and where I am, there shall also my servant be.  (John 12:26)

Unity of the Christian Church, is the unity of the Spirit, and can only be in the things of the Spirit.  It therefore can only exist between persons who seek to be led by the Spirit of God

So there can only be Christian unity if the Spirit of God brings God’s people together.  And it can only be achieved as they follow the Author and Completer of faith, looking for His return.

Let us go forth to Him

The children of God can but follow one thing – the glory of the Lord’s name, according to the way marked in the word.  They have nothing else left, but as He, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, “suffered without the gate, to go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” (Heb 13:!3)

But what are the people of the Lord to do? Let them wait upon the Lord, according to the teaching of His Spirit, and in conformity to the image of God’s Son, by the life of the Spirit.  Let them go in the footsteps of the flock, as the good Shepherd feeds His flock.  And if this way seem dark, remember the word of Isaiah: “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” (Isa 50:10)

A Plea for the Church

The Lord Himself says, “That they all may be one; as thou Father art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:21-23)

May we as believers consider this word, and see if the Church shining in the glory of the Lord, and fulfilling that purpose for which bit was called.  Do we look for or desire this? or are we content to sit down and say, that His promise cannot be fulfilled?

If we cannot say, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee,”  (Isa 60:1) we should say, “Awake, awake, put on thy strength, arm of the Lord; awake, as in the ancient days, as in the generations of old” (Isa 51:9)

“Surely the eye hath not seen nor ear heard what He prepareth for him that waiteth for Him”.  (1 Cor 2:9)

J.N. Darby (1800-1882) – Dublin 1828.

John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), an Anglo-Irish evangelist, was led to the fierce conclusion that all churches, as man-made institutions, were bound to fail. The believer’s true hope was  the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. With others Darby gathered in a less formal way, free of clergy and human structure, founded on a desire to be separate from unholy organisations.

Darby, after resigning his curacy in the Church of Ireland, became a tireless traveller, talented linguist and Bible translator. His influence is still felt in evangelical Christianity.

For more on this servant of the Lord please see JN Darby – Biographical Note