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

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

‘After These Things’ Chapter 5.5 – The Lord’s Second Coming and the Church’s Witness

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

 

 

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

Two comings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – Corinthians

In first Corinthians, we have the internal responsible ordering of the church by the guidance and power of the Spirit of God. In the second epistle he explains the power of life in Christ, connecting His work, so as to bring in the righteousness of God. He contrasts it with law in chapter 3, showing its supremacy over death in every way.

Outline of Bible cover1 Corinthians

In first Corinthians, we have the internal responsible ordering of the church by the guidance and power of the Spirit of God. Paul acts with it, asserting his own authority in case of need. He begins by owning the power of the Spirit amongst them in gift, and recognises the grace that would keep them to the end. In chaps. 1 and 2, he presses the power of that Spirit in contrast with the wisdom of the flesh, asserting that we, as believers, have the Spirit to search what the eye has not seen nor the ear heard. These things are revealed by the Spirit to whomsoever God pleases, communicated by the Spirit, and received through the Spirit. We thus have revelation, inspired communication, and reception. Also an important thing is that we have the mind of Christ.

Having shown that he had rightly laid the foundation, in chap. 3, the apostle puts the building of God’s building on the responsibility of those who carry it on. He defends his own ministry and authority (chap. 4), and then faces the matter of purity and their conduct, insisting on their exercising discipline on the wicked man. He also covers going to law, marriage, and eating things offered to idols (chaps. 5-8). He again defends his own ministry, and calls their attention to the fact that they may be partakers of sacraments and be lost after all. In connection with the Lord’s supper, he presses the point of not mixing themselves up with idolatry (chaps. 9, 10). Then, in chapter 11, he treats of comeliness in spiritual service, praying or prophesying, Christ being the Head of all men, and men subordinate. From verse 17, we have order in the assembly, especially at the Lord’s supper. He contrasts God’s discipline with condemnation.

The subject of spiritual manifestation follows: the place that gifts hold, the unity of the body, and individual membership of it (chap. 12). Note that gifts are of the Spirit; administration by them is under the Lord; the operations are of God. He shows the more excellent way – love is better than the best gifts, (chap. 13). In chapter 14, he returns to the gifts, and shows that those who have gifts and understanding are subject to one another. So all are edified. Then in chap. 15 we have resurrection, Christ’s glory, an our place in it. Lastly, chap. 16, he refers to the collection for the saints. At the close we get, in the diverse salutations, the abiding liberty of individual ministry – the principle of some giving themselves up to the Lord’s service among the saints, and that all such are to be respected and submitted to.

 

2 Corinthians

Paul had received news from Titus that his first epistle had its effect. He had just been in danger of his life, and, now speaking freely to the Corinthians, he opens up his heart at about it, and explains why he did not come to them on his way to Macedonia. In the first five chapters he explains the power of life in Christ, connecting His work, so as to bring in the righteousness of God. He contrasts it with law in chapter 3, showing its supremacy over death in every way.  In chapter 4, he shows that the practical power of life may be in earthen vessels and that this power of God. The vessel is held to be dead under the cross. Hence only eternal things are looked at; and we do not know Christ after the flesh. The Lord helps His own. Chapter 5 gives us deliverance from judgment as an occasion of fear, while it urges by the love of Christ to deal with men’s souls. We have the ministry of reconciliation, and are to be ambassadors for Christ, saying, “Be reconciled to God.”

In chapter 6, he urges entire separation from the world in order to have a relationship with the Father. He presses their perfecting holiness in the fear of God, while recognising their integrity and their repentance, the news of which had comforted his spirit (chap. 7). He next enlarges upon the collection for the saints (chaps. 8, 9), and is then, against his will, forced to legitimise his ministry by speaking of himself (chaps. 10, 11). He closes that part by reference to his being caught up to the third heaven. His strength, though, did not flow directly from that, but from the power of Christ working in his weakness. He was a little uneasy lest not all should be right, and he be forced to be what they might not like (chap. 12). Lastly, in chapter 13, he appeals to their own certainty of their being Christians as proof of Christ’s speaking by him.

 

 

Originally by JND.   Lightly edited by Sosthenes, July 2014

– Se A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible  for the original

Have the Brethren got Something Special?

Darby said ‘I do believe the Brethren have something special. But what is important is, not ‘the Brethren,’ but the truth they have. Darby says that God, though full of gracious patience, could set the Brethren aside – if they are not faithful – and spread His truth by others. Their place is to remain in obscurity and devotedness, not to think of ‘Brethren’ (it is always wrong to think of ourselves), but of souls, in Christ’s name and love, and of His glory and truth. Their place is not to press Brethrenism, but to deal with each soul according to its need for Christ’s sake.’

This is based on part of a letter written by JN Darby from America to a Mr J Leslie. The original is in his Collected Writings Volume 31 (Doctrinal 9) entitled Correspondence on recent matters. It is also in JND’s letters Vol. 51 page 339.

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

 

Darby thought that Brethren were entering into a new phase of their existence, which increased their responsibility, bringing greater dangers to them. It arose from the general feeling that Brethren have something that other Christians have not got.

What they have is often refuted, hated and opposed. It may be also often be a matter of curiosity, or there may be genuine inquiry. May there be more!  But this feeling is real. Worldly people feel it, and would use it to show the inconsistency of the public profession, citing Scripture inaccurately. Other Christians, still clinging to the professing church with partial apprehension of the truth and holding much error, boast that they can have what the Brethren have, without leaving the systems they are in.

The Brethren probably do have something special. But what is important is, not ‘the Brethren,’ but the truth they have. Darby says that God, though full of gracious patience, could set the Brethren aside – if they are not faithful – and spread His truth by others. Their place is to remain in obscurity and devotedness, not to think of ‘Brethren’ (it is always wrong to think of ourselves), but of souls, in Christ’s name and love, and of His glory and truth. Their place is not to press Brethrenism, but to deal with each soul according to its need for Christ’s sake.

But if, through grace, they possess more of the truth, they have greater responsibility. Therefore, if they are not more devoted, they would be a stumbling-block to others. Unworldliness, nonconformity to the world, self-denial, and love to others, is called for: The end of what is enjoined is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and unfeigned faith. (1 Tim 1:5). Let brethren walk in love, in the truth, humble, lowly, unworldly, holding all for Christ. May they be as little as when they began, and be content about it. Then God will bless them. If not, their candlestick may go – and, oh, after such grace, what sorrow and confusion of face that would be!

Let there be no mixing with the church-world. May the brethren show grace toward it, as beacon-lights, taking the precious from the vile. Then they will be as God’s mouth. May they be a testimony against it, with that earnest gospel of God’s free love to souls that Christ has for His own. May they do the work of evangelists, humble, lowly, devoted, and simple in ministry, devoted in heart and separated to Christ.

Brethren should rejoice in evangelical activity outside of themselves: it is one of the signs of the time. God is sovereign, and can work in love where and how He pleases, and they should rejoice in it.   But in general there is no separation from evil in many places. Indeed there is so much indifference to the truth, especially in America. They even exchange pulpits with infidels.   For a year or two, at the beginning, Darby and others would preached wherever they were invited. Though the trumpet was giving an uncertain sound, the gospel was fully preached and some were brought out. Now the testimony has to be clearer, but still the fullest preaching of the gospel and of the assurance of salvation must continue.

We should not be on the attack, but to be superior, in grace, for the truth. Peter never attacked the chief priests, but went on his own way. The high ground of the truth and a full gospel preached in grace should distinguish us.   The testimony against evil should be in our own walk and ways. Patience, truth, holiness, and love in the truth and for the truth’s sake, characterise Christ’s revelation of Himself. He influences us in the last days.

God has no need of us, but He does have need of a people who walk in the truth in love and holiness. In the Old Testament it says, ‘I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of Jehovah’ (Zeph 3:12).  The same spirit is in Jude, who speaks of the mixture which would bring on judgment: ‘But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.’ (v. 20-21) We may, and must, rejoice in the gospel. That only makes the testimony of Brethren outside the camp more necessary than ever – but the testimony must be real. May we be waiting and watching for Jesus, because we do so love Him!

      Original letter written by John Nelson Darby, New York, April 8th, 1875.

      Edited for easier reading by Sosthenes, September 2014.