Christians Leaving their Comfort Zone

Abraham left his comfort zone:

 

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee’.  ‘By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. … For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God’.  ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness’ (Gen 12:1Heb 11:8,10,  Rom 4:3)

 

Ruth left her comfort zone:

 

‘Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.  Naomi and Ruth Return to Bethlehem So they two went until they came to Bethlehem’. (Ruth 1:16-19)

 

Peter left his comfort zone: 

‘But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind wascontrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

 

And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God’.  (Matt 14:24-33)

 

Our Comfort Zone 

 

We visited some brethren in Yorkshire in July.  They gave us a photocopy of an article entitled The Modern Smooth Cross    It spoke about a new comfortable type of Christianity,  pleasant, at peace with the world with an entertaining form of evangelism to go with it.  It contrasted this with the True Cross, the one about which the Lord said, ‘Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.   For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’  (Mark 8:34-36).

 

Everything around has been designed to make us comfortable.  No doubt Ur was a comfortable city.  I was told that in many ways it was more advanced than Babylon 1400 years later.   We have become accustomed to a comfortable kind of Christianity – good meetings, good social relationships, and an ecclesiastical structure we can relate to, the church or meeting where we gather, rather than Christ, being the centre of our lives.  The church, to use the modern expression, has become ‘our comfort zone’.

 

The True Cross separates us from the principles of the world – including the religious world  It is the end of man according to the flesh, worldly, intellectual, religious, political, sectarian – whatever.   But we have to leave our comfort zone to take up the cross.

 

Darby and others did just that when they separated from the organised church in the early part of the nineteenth century.   They eschewed what was sectarian, seeing fellowship based on the one body – not a voluntary association.  When two or three gathered to the Lord’s name, His presence was real and experienced, and they were greatly blessed and added to.   They gathered in simplicity around the scriptures and found a Teacher in the Lord Himself and a Guide in the Holy Spirit.

 

Many are experiencing the same things now.  They have left thier ‘comfort zone’.  They meet in smallness and dependence, and pray that others they love might share thier joy.

 

Like Abraham, Ruth and Peter, we need to leave our ‘comfort zones’.  If we do, it is a step in faith – ‘But without faith it is impossible to please him [God]’ (Heb 11:6).   Of the future, if the Lord does not come, none of us knows.  We follow Jesus – ‘the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God’ (Heb 12:2) – yes, the true cross.

 

‘But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him’. (1 Cor 2:9)

 


With greetings in Christ’s blessed Name

Sosthenes

September 2017

 he old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather it is friendly pal, and if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference.

A Classic Quote by JND – True Greatness

This is true greatness – to serve unnoticed,
And work unseen.

Learn to grapple with souls
Aim at the conscience, Exalt Christ.
Use a sharp knife with yourself,
Say little, Serve all, Pass on.

This is true greatness – to serve unnoticed,
And work unseen.

Oh, the joy of having nothing, and being nothing,
Seeing nothing but a living Christ in glory,
And being careful for nothing
But His interests down here!

 

From Miscellaneous Tracts

What did John Nelson Darby and the Brethren hold?

Darby and the brethren held to all the fundamentals of the Christian faith:

There is one God, eternally blessed – Father, Son and Holy Spirit,.
The Lord Jesus was and is human and divine. He was born of a virgin and was raised from the dead and is now glorified at the right hand of God.
The Holy Spirit, having descended on the day of Pentecost, dwells in believers who are waiting for the promised return of the Lord Jesus.
The Father in His love has sent the Son to accomplish the work of redemption and grace towards men. Jesus, the Son, finished the work on earth which the Father gave Him to do. He made propitiation for our sins, and ascended into heaven. Now He is the great High Priest, seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
As to the brethren, nobody would be received into fellowship who denied any of these fundamental truths, and any who undermined them would be excommunicated. They are essential to living faith and salvation, and to the life which all Christians live as born of God.

 

lefrancaisA summary by Sosthenes of a letter entitled ‘ A letter to the Editor of Le Français’ – published in J N D’s letters Volume 2 page 431.

In 1878 the editor of ‘Le Français’, a catholic newspaper wrote to J N Darby asking him about what he and the brethren held.  Although he did not like writing articles for newspapers, believing that they were not compatible with the Christian’s heavenly calling, Darby said, ‘I have given him in all simplicity what he asked for. He avowed himself a Catholic and devoted to Catholicism. His letter was simple and honest: I replied to him as Christian.’

 

A summary of his reply:

Darby and the brethren held to all the fundamentals of the Christian faith:

  1. There is one God, eternally blessed – Father, Son and Holy Spirit,.
  2. The Lord Jesus was and is human and divine. He was born of a virgin and was raised from the dead and is now glorified at the right hand of God.
  3. The Holy Spirit, having descended on the day of Pentecost, dwells in believers who are waiting for the promised return of the Lord Jesus.
  4. The Father in His love has sent the Son to accomplish the work of redemption and grace towards men. Jesus, the Son, finished the work on earth which the Father gave Him to do.  He made propitiation for our sins, and ascended into heaven.  Now He is the great High Priest, seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

As to the brethren, nobody would be received into fellowship who denied any of these fundamental truths, and any who undermined them would be excommunicated.  They are essential to living faith and salvation, and to the life which all Christians live as born of God.

 

Darby’s early Christian Days

After John Darby was converted he spent six or seven years under the rod of the law, feeling that although Christ was his Saviour he did not possess Him, or that he was fully saved by Him.  He fasted, prayed and gave alms, but did not have peace.  He felt that if the Son of God had Himself forgiven him, he owed Him his body, soul and means.

At length God gave him to understand that he was in Christ, united to Him by the Holy Spirit.  Though he had always accepted that the word of God was the absolute authority as to faith and practice, God had now implanted in his heart the conviction of it.  Scriptures which bore on that were:

  • At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you’ (John 14:20)
  • He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit’ (1 Cor 6:17)
  • Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost who is in you’ (1 Cor 6:19)
  • There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus’ (Rom 8:1)
  • I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also’ (John 14:3)
  • Having believed, ye have been sealed for the day of redemption’ (Eph 1:13)
  • For by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body’ (1 Cor 12:13)
  • Even when we were dead in sins, [he] hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)’ ( 2:5)
  • Our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to his body of glory’ (Phil 3:20-21)

From the above scriptures he deduced that the Holy Spirit has given us as believers the full assurance of salvation.  We have been set apart from this world, sealed to do God’s will here.  We are citizens of another world, awaiting the return of our Lord and Saviour.

 

The body of Christ is composed of those who are united by the Holy Spirit to the Head – Christ in heaven.  We are seated in the heavenly places in Christ, and are already there in spirit, just waiting to be actually place us up there, our bodies changed.

 

The Public Church

This brings us to the thought of the church and of its unity.

Let us look around we see how far we as Christians have got from what God had set up on the earth.  Where is the church?   Darby said that he gave up Anglicanism as not being it. In his early days he had been attracted to Rome.  But then he realised that the idea of a sacrificing priesthood down here was inconsistent with Heb 10:14-18  ‘For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. . . . Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin’.  As a result of the work of Christ, we have direct access to God in all confidence. ‘Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.’ (Heb. 10:19).  Rome pretended to be the whole, but that excluded half or more of Christendom.  Protestant sects were divided amongst themselves – unity was not possible.  In fact, most of those who call themselves Christians are of the world, just as much as a pagan might be.

 

The Fall of the early Church

 

The church was formed on the earth at the descent of the Holy Spirit.  It ought always to have been clearly identifiable, as something distinct, separate from the world.  Alas this has not been the case.  The Lord foresaw this: ‘The wolf catcheth them and scattereth the sheep’ (John 10:12) but, thank God the same faithful Shepherd also said,  ‘No one shall catch them out of my hand’ (v.28).

The apostle Paul, bidding farewell to the faithful of Asia, said, ‘I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock, and of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.’ (Acts 20:29-30).  Moreover, Jude noted that deceitful men had crept in among the Christians, ‘Certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men’ (Jude v.4).  This would lead to apostasy, those inside the public confession entirely abandoning the Christian faith. ‘There are there many antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last time. hey went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us’ (1 John 2:18-19).

 

What the Faithful should understand

Paul tells us, ‘Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work (2 Tim 2:19-21).

The public church is a great house with vessels of all kinds: a call comes to the faithful man to purify himself from the vessels to dishonour.  In the next chapter he speaks of perilous times.  Men will be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud etc., but also ‘Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof’ (2 Tim 3:5).  They were evidently in the professing church, not pagans as in Romans 1.  And it goes on, ‘All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse’ (2 Tim. 3:12, 13); but true believers have assurance through the scriptures, given by inspiration of God, making them wise to salvation, by the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

At the beginning, ‘the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved’ (Acts 2:47)  Soon false brethren crept in, tares were sown, the house was filled with unholy vessels, from which the faithful were to purge themselves, persons with a form of godliness without power, from which the faithful were to turn away.

Evil in the church continued.  ‘The mystery of iniquity doth already work’ (2 Thess 2:7). The wicked would be destroyed by the brightness of His coming.  Elsewhere the Lord speaks of the good grain and the tares growing together until the harvest (See Matt 13:24-30).  We must distinguish between the work of Christ, and what is done by men – heresies and schisms.

However, the gates of hell are not to prevail against that which Christ has built. The enemy will never destroy what Christ has built (the church of God).  That is the house made of living stones, and the holy temple in the Lord (See 1 Peter 2:5 and Eph 2:21.  Alongside all that, the Word declares that where two or three are gathered to the name of Jesus, He would be in their midst. (See Matt 18:20).

 

The early Brethren

This is what Darby recognised.  Initially only four met together, not in a spirit of pride or presumption, but deeply grieved at seeing the state of that which surrounded them, and praying earnestly about it. Darby said they were not thinking of forming a new sect.  Indeed, they did not believe that the thing would have gone any further. They were just satisfying the need of their souls according to the word of God and found the promised presence of the Lord.

Independently following the same road, the work extended in a way they did not expect – in the British Isles, France, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, and on through the rest of Europe, the British Colonies, the United States, Asia, Africa, and elsewhere.  As the gospel was preached, the Spirit of God acted, and produced soul yearnings that the established religious systems could not meet.

Those brethren rested on the authority of the word of God.  They saw our Saviour:

  • first as accomplishing redemption on the cross,
  • then as seated at the Father’s right hand, the Holy Ghost being down here,
  • and finally, as coming back to take His own to be with Himself.

These Christians had the full assurance of their salvation  They had faith in the efficacy of Christ’s redemption, and being sealed with the Holy Spirit, they were waiting for the Son of God to come from heaven without knowing when it would happen.  Bought with a great price, they felt bound to regard themselves as no longer belonging to themselves, but to please the Lord Jesus in everything, and to live only for Him.

 

The Brethren’s Walk

Whilst Darby had to admit that not all the brethren walked at the full height of the heavenly calling, they acknowledged the obligation to do so.  Brethren walked in a morally right way, excluding any who held heresy or engaged in immorality.  They abstained from the pleasures and amusements of the world.   Evening parties would be occasions of encouraging one another and discussing the word.  Brethren did not vote or get involved in politics.  They submitted to the established authorities, whatever they may be, so long as they were not called upon to act contrary to the will of Christ.  They took the Lord’s supper every Sunday, and those who had gift, taught from the scriptures and preached the gospel of salvation to sinners.  Everyone felt bound to seek the salvation or good of his or her neighbour, as they were able. Feeling that Christendom was corrupt, they were not of the church-world.

Asked as to how many such believers followed this course, Darby had no idea.  Brethren did not number themselves, wishing to remain in the littleness which becomes Christians. In any case, they reckoned as a brother or sister in Christ every person who had the Spirit of Christ.

 

Conclusion

What is the advantage of this course?  We acknowledge Christ as the Son of God and  know that we have been saved by Him.  In obeying Him, in spite of our weakness, faults and failures, we have as an indescribable source of joy.  Looking ahead, we have an earnest or advance of eternal happiness, with no failures, where our Lord will be fully glorified in all believers.

Sosthenes

November 2016

 

Christ is the Saviour of Sinners

Christ is the Saviour of sinners,
Christ is the Saviour for me;
Long I was chained in sin’s darkness,
Now by His grace I am free.
Saviour of sinners,
Saviour of sinners like me,
Giving Himself as a ransom –
This is the Saviour for me.

children-singing

Christ is the Saviour of sinners,
Christ is the Saviour for me;
Long I was chained in sin’s darkness,
Now by His grace I am free.
 
     Chorus.

     Saviour of sinners,
     Saviour of sinners like me,
     Giving Himself as a ransom –
     This is the Saviour for me.
 
Now I can say I am pardoned,
Happy and justified, free,
Saved by my blessed Redeemer –
This is the Saviour for me.
 
Just as I was He received me,
Seeking from judgment to flee;
Now there is no condemnation –
This is the Saviour for me.
 
Loved with a love that’s unchanging,
Blessed with all blessings so free,
How shall I tell out His praises!
This is the Saviour for me.
 
Soon shall the glory be dawning,
Then, when His face I shall see,
Sing, O my soul, in thy gladness,
This is the Saviour for me!
 

Dr Heyman Wreford (1850-1934)

 

Little Flock Hymn Book (1951(102), 1962(122), 1973(122)).

 

 

Defence of the Glad Tidings – Do our Children really know the Gospel?

A couple of Lord’s Days ago, my wife and I were at the house of Christian friends.  Their grandchildren were there, and we sang a few children’s hymns.  Of course, one was that perennial favourite, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’.  When they sang those words: ‘If I love Him when I die, He will take me home on high’, I thought ‘Wow! Are we teaching our children THAT?

Of course I would not be so narrow minded to stop children singing that hymn.  If at a tender age, our young children can speak of Jesus’ love – that’s good.  If they believe it from their hearts – that’s better.  Nor do I expect them to be judicious as to the words.  It’s taken me many years to think about them.  Indeed, the thoughts knowing the Lord’s love, of believing the Bible, and trusting Him for everything, are good.

I note the verse containing these words was not in the original poem by Anna Warner.  I am not sure whether they were in hymn lyrics by William Bradbury, there appears to be many versions.  So it is clear that many have been concerned as to the implied doctrine in this and other children’s favourites, and have sought to modify the words.

Of course we know that our salvation is not conditional on our loving Him at the moment of death.  The Lord’s work is a completed work: by accepting the Lord Jesus as my Saviour – He having died for my sins, I am saved for both time and eternity.

But I look back to my childhood in the 1950’s, and think: ‘Did I see Christianity – and more specifically the Christian meetings I attended, as a sphere of love and grace, or as a religion where I outwardly tried to keep to a level of conduct, making me believe that I was a better Christian than others?  At the same time did I have a knowledge of the Lord Jesus as my Saviour?  Was I saved?’  The answers to these were clear to me now.  I thought myself better; I did not know if I was saved or not (and I was worried about that), and I saw Christianity as a series of rules protecting me from a world which was going to be judged.  My attitude was not one of repentance. I could talk about having a personal link with the Lord, but I don’t think I really had one.  No doubt I had attended many good preachings, but the message did not sink in.  Of course God was gracious.  But I am sure I was well into my 20’s before I really had peace, the assurance of salvation and of the indwelling Spirit of God. I don’t think my experience was untypical.

Here is a challenge for Christian parents, and those with influence in local gatherings.  Do we really ensure that our young people understand the gospel of God’s grace.  Of course a young person has to learn things by experience.  But what are they getting from what they hear – and sing?

Some hymns do convey the true gospel message, for example, one that is a favourite amongst children in the company we meet with is:children-singing

Christ is the Saviour of sinners,
Christ is the Saviour for me;
Long I was chained in sin’s darkness,
Now by His grace I am free.
 
     Chorus.

     Saviour of sinners,
     Saviour of sinners like me,
     Giving Himself as a ransom –
     This is the Saviour for me.
 
Now I can say I am pardoned,
Happy and justified, free,
Saved by my blessed Redeemer –
This is the Saviour for me.
 
Just as I was He received me,
Seeking from judgment to flee;
Now there is no condemnation –
This is the Saviour for me.
 
Loved with a love that’s unchanging,
Blessed with all blessings so free,
How shall I tell out His praises!
This is the Saviour for me.
 
Soon shall the glory be dawning,
Then, when His face I shall see,
Sing, O my soul, in thy gladness,
This is the Saviour for me!
 

Dr Heyman Wreford (1850-1934)

 

Little Flock Hymn Book (1951(102), 1962(122), 1973(122)).

 

 

True Evangelisation

Darby wrote that though he was not an evangelist, he sought to do the work of one, as well as he could. But the question arises – has evangelisation enfeebled the teaching the saints? Teaching and evangelisation are clearly distinct gifts, but one should not enfeeble the other. Paul taught and evangelised; he distinguished between being a minister of the gospel, and a minister of the church.

 

From J N Darby’s Correspondence on recent matters

JohnNelsonDarbyDarby wrote that though he was not an evangelist, he sought to do the work of one, as well as he could. But the question arises – has evangelisation enfeebled the teaching the saints? Teaching and evangelisation are clearly distinct gifts, but one should not enfeeble the other. Paul taught and evangelised; he distinguished between being a minister of the gospel, and a minister of the church.

The evil is not earnest devotedness to evangelising, it is being absorbed by it. Instead of the full thought of Christianity, salvationism carries the general idea that God is love, and would have all men to be saved, which is true; but it ends in men’s’ being saved. There is no purpose of God in it, no glory to Christ in His church either. The less of Christ there is, more there is of man’s importance.

We should not weaken evangelisation; God blesses it, and a healthy assembly has hearts engaged in it. It characterised the early Brethren; maybe it still does. The love expressed in it binds saints together. We need to keep up the service, if Christ has called us to do it – it is of great importance. If we were near Christ, we should evangelise and teach well. May we be in communion with Christ, when we address the saints. We may not see much fruit, but God is above all – let us look to Him. May the Lord guide our hearts in the work and keep us in the enjoyment of Him.

The Lord is letting missionary activity such as that of Moody and Pearsall-Smith’s run over the world. It is wakening people up. God graciously allows this popular work to go on. But we should not covet popularity – it is worldly and lowers the standard of Christianity.

Brethren should keep up their testimony, preaching of the gospel of the grace of God with renewed energy. They are entering a new dangerous phase of their existence, bringing greater responsibility.  They have something which other Christians have not got.

… Continue reading this paper by clicking here —

http://adayofsmallthings.com/have-the-brethren-got-something-special/

J N Darby – Lettre No. 95

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

Dublin, 1861
A M. P.
Bien-aimé frère,
…J’en viens à vos questions :
1° Je crois qu’il est très fâcheux qu’un frère fasse part de ses pensées, en public, sur des questions ou des choses où il ne connaît pas la pensée de l’assemblée. Au reste, en général, à moins que cela ne soit nécessaire pour avertir, les questions ne devraient pas être amenées devant le public.
2° Ensuite, la question de réception est souvent mal posée. Nous ne sommes pas un corps volontairement associé, mais dans la mesure où nous pouvons l’être, un rassemblement des membres du corps de Christ, un rassemblement des siens, opéré par le Saint-Esprit. Nous ne recevons pas des personnes au milieu de nous pour prendre la cène avec nous ; Christ a dû les recevoir, nous les reconnaissons, étant responsables de garder la sainteté de la table du Seigneur et la vérité de Dieu. Les reconnaître, c’est une affaire de confiance, et qui dépend du témoignage que nous avons de leur vie. Il ne s’agit plus de délibération pour les recevoir, une fois que leur christianisme est constaté, sans en excepter la sainteté et la vérité; car l’Esprit qui conduit les enfants de Dieu est l’Esprit de vérité et l’Esprit Saint. Ils ont droit, dans ce cas, à la table. Reste encore la discipline. En des cas douteux, il est très à désirer que la conscience de toute l’assemblée soit au clair et ainsi au large; mais si l’homme est chrétien, connu comme tel, ou assez connu de quelque personne grave, pour que le témoignage de celle-ci soit une garantie du christianisme de celui qui désire prendre la cène, à mon avis il ne faut pas autre chose. Seulement, il est bon de le nommer devant l’assemblée, et en tout cas de le mentionner à quelques membres graves de la réunion, si l’on n’a pas de temps pour en parler davantage. C’est donc une affaire de témoignage suffisant, car il s’agit de maintenir un esprit de confiance entre tous. Si celui qui présente une âme nouvelle est un chrétien jeune ou léger, il vaudrait mieux que son témoignage fût appuyé par quelques chrétiens qui eussent plus de discernement. On devrait se réjouir de voir arriver de nouvelles âmes, mais on devrait veiller en même temps à ce que la vérité et la sainteté fussent sauvegardées.
3° Il me semble que, si quelqu’un qui ne rompt pas le pain parle dans l’assemblée où l’on rompt le pain, c’est un très grave désordre. Un homme qui se sépare à tort de l’assemblée de Dieu, n’est pas dans le cas de l’instruire quand elle est réunie. Cela n’empêche pas, personnellement en dehors de la réunion. Je reconnais ainsi son don comme membre du corps, mais lui renie cette position si, quand le corps est réuni, dans la mesure où cela peut se réaliser, il ne veut pas y prendre place.
Je ne trouve aucune difficulté en 1 Tim.1 v.13. Premièrement, ce passage n’affaiblit pas une foule de déclarations, voire même de préceptes, relatifs à l’exercice des dons, qui font de cet exercice un devoir pour celui qui possède le don. Ensuite, Timothée n’était nullement un ministre local, ce qu’on appelle un ministre établi ; il accompagnait l’apôtre, ou le remplaçait en des services exigeant quelqu’un qui fût pénétré de l’esprit de l’apôtre, et pleinement informé de ses voies. La prophétie, paraît-il, avait désigné Timothée (1 Tim.1 v.18) ; Paul lui avait imposé les mains (2 Tim.1 v.6) ; ensuite, le corps des anciens lui avait imposé les siennes, pour le recommander à la grâce de Dieu ; l’apôtre lui rappelle, comme motif, toutes ces choses, la prophétie par laquelle Dieu l’avait désigné, et la sanction des anciens qui, en ayant eu connaissance, l’ont ainsi recommandé à Dieu. Ainsi Paul lui-même avait été désigné par la prophétie, et ceux qui étaient les prophètes à Antioche lui avaient imposé les mains, afin de le recommander à la grâce de Dieu pour l’œuvre à laquelle il avait été appelé : telle est l’expression de la parole. Mais Timothée n’a jamais été un ministre établi sur un troupeau. Je crois pour ma part qu’il peut y avoir (et il y en a) des personnes consacrées à l’œuvre et qui exercent leur ministère régulièrement s’appliquant constamment à l’œuvre. Si quelqu’un était désigné par la prophétie pour cette tâche, je ne ferais aucune objection à l’imposition des mains des anciens, s’il y en a. Il est probable, si l’Esprit agissait de la sorte, que les anciens ne tarderaient pas à se retrouver. Je ne ferais même aucune difficulté à ce que, dans la pratique, les frères anciens le fissent – abstraction faite du clergé et de l’établissement des ministres qui est l’œuvre de l’ennemi. Je ne vois rien qui empêcherait de recommander un ouvrier à la grâce de Dieu, en lui imposant les mains en vue d’une œuvre particulière à laquelle il serait appelé. Cela pourrait se répéter chaque fois qu’il devrait entreprendre une œuvre nouvelle ; mais on en a fait une consécration pour arrêter la libre action du Saint-Esprit. Dès lors, c’est une abomination et de la rébellion contre Dieu.
Je ne suis nullement d’accord avec le Messager au sujet de 2 Cor.5 v.3, mais c’est une affaire d’interprétation, de sorte que cela ne me trouble pas. D’après ce que vous dites, l’auteur n’a pas compris le passage ; voilà tout. La force du passage est pour moi très claire. Le mot xxxx (mot en grec dans le texte) met en relief une condition, et le mot xxx y ajoute de la force : nous jouirons de ce dont nous avons parlé – pourvu que, bien entendu, nous supposions que, dans ce cas même où nous sommes revêtus [du corps], nous ne soyons pas trouvés nus [à l’égard du Christ], car dans ce dernier cas, ce serait tout autre chose que la gloire.
Dans ce pays, l’œuvre du Seigneur se poursuit d’une manière remarquable. A Dublin, le nombre des frères a beaucoup augmenté ; il y a un certain nombre d’aimables jeunes hommes, vivants et heureux, quelques-uns louent des chambres pour prêcher dans les mauvais quartiers de la ville (il y a 300’000 habitants), et il y a des conversions continuelles. Avant-hier soir, cinq auditeurs, sur une vingtaine, ont reçu la paix. Je tiens des réunions, souvent deux fois par jour ; une quantité de personnes, des messieurs et des dames aussi, sont profondément attentives ; des gens nobles et riches se convertissent à la campagne, et quittent souvent le nationalisme. Il y a un mouvement remarquable de l’Esprit de Dieu. Cela se fait en dehors des frères; mais partout les principes sur lesquels les frères ont insisté se reproduisent, et pour les grandes réunions où les âmes se convertissent, tout a été organisé sous sa forme actuelle par des frères, au moins par des personnes imbues de leurs principes, un peu trop relâchées pour être admises parmi nous, mais qui suivent en quelque mesure les mêmes principes tout en allant partout. Les livres des frères aussi sont lus. On s’aperçoit bien qu’il y a moins de ce qui est sûr et solide ; mais l’énergie de la vérité pénètre néanmoins et se fait jour.
Que Dieu nous garde près de lui, cher frère, heureux que Christ soit prêché partout, et fermes dans les principes et dans la marche que Christ enseigne, la parole de la patience. Il faut savoir être petit, et il en vaut la peine ; mais lui est toujours grand.
Saluez D. et tous les frères.
Votre tout affectionné.

J N Darby – French Letter No. 95 – Extract – Christian Assembly Order

It seems to me that, if somebody who does not break the bread speaks in the assembly where the bread is broken, it is a very serious disorder. A man who separates himself wrongfully from the assembly of God is not in the position to instruct it as to its being reunited. That does not hindering his doing so outside of the meeting. I recognise what he has as a member of the body, but this position is disavowed to him if, when the body is reunited, as far as it can be reunited, he does not want to take his place in it.

Dublin 1861

To Mr P
Beloved brother

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

It seems to me that, if somebody who does not break the bread speaks in the assembly where the bread is broken, it is a very serious disorder. A man who separates himself wrongfully from the assembly of God is not in the position to instruct it as to its being reunited. That does not hindering his doing so outside of the meeting. I recognise what he has as a member of the body, but this position is disavowed to him if, when the body is reunited, as far as it can be reunited, he does not want to take his place in it.

I find no difficulty in 1 Tim 1:13. Firstly this passage does not weaken a load of statements, and even of principles relative to the exercise of gift, more it makes the exercise of the gift a duty to the one who has it. Then, in no way was Timothy a local minister, what you would call an established minister: he accompanied the apostle and succeeded him in the necessary services being someone who was imbued with the spirit of the apostle and fully informed as to his ways. Prophecy, it would appear, had predesignated Timothy (See 1 Tim 1:18) . Paul had placed his hands on him (2 Tim 1:6) , afterwards the body of the elders had put their own hands on him, to commend him to God. The apostle reminds him, with reason, both of these things: prophecy by which God had designated him, and the sanction of the elders, who knowing him, commended him to God. Paul himself was predesignated according to prophecy, and those who were at Antioch laid their hands on him, to commend him to the grace of God for the work for which he had been called: that is the expression in the word . But Timothy was never an established minister over a flock. I believer for my part that there can be (and there are) persons consecrated to the work and who exercise their ministry constantly applying themselves to the work. If someone were designated by prophecy for this task, I would have no objection to the laying on of hands by the elders, if there are any. It is probable that if the Spirit acted in this way that the elders would soon be found. I do not have any difficulty about that which in practice the older brothers do – disregarded by the clergy who establish ministers, which is the work of the enemy. I see nothing which hinders the commending of a labourer to the grace of God in laying on of hands with a view to the particular work to which he has been called. This could be repeated each time he had to undertake a new work; but if one has made a consecration to impede the free action of the Holy Spirit, then it is an abomination and a rebellion against God.

I do not agree at all with the Messager about 2 Cor 5:3, but that is a matter of interpretation, so that does not trouble me. According to what you say, the author did not understand the passage; that’s all. The force of the passage is very clear to me. The word xxxx(Greek word in text) puts a condition into relief, and the word xxx adds strength to it – we enjoy what we have spoken about, provided that, of course we suppose that in the state itself in which we are reclothed (the body) we are not found naked (as regards Christ), for otherwise that would be something other than glory.

In this country the work of the Lord pursues a remarkable course. In Dublin the number of brethren has increased a lot, there are a number of nice young men, lively and happy, some of them renting rooms in the bad parts of the city (There are 300,000 inhabitants) and there are continual conversions. The evening before last, five listeners out of about twenty received peace. I often have two meetings a day: quite a number of people – ladies and gentlemen -are very attentive. In the country some of the nobility and well-to-do have been converted and often have left the Church of Ireland. It is a remarkable movement of the Spirit of God. This is outside of the brethren, but everywhere the principles that the brethren have upheld are being reproduced, and in large gatherings where souls are being converted, things are being organised in the actual way the brethren do it, at least by persons who are embued with their principles – maybe a bit loose to be admitted amongst us, but they follow in some way the same principles whilst going anywhere. They read the brethren’s books. One perceives at lest that there is that which is sure and solid, but the energy of the truth is nonetheless penetrating and it is as light as day.

May God keep us close to Himself dear brother, happy that Christ is preached everywhere, and firm in the principles and walk in the way that Christ teaches. We must know what it is to be small – it is worth it – but He is always great.

Greet D and all the brethren

Yours most affectionately

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.

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – John’s Epistles

John shows us the divine life and it’s characteristics, and proves it to be in the person of Christ.
Whereas in 2 John it is a question of refusing entry to one not bringing the doctrine of Christ, in 3 John the apostle urges the reception of those who go about preaching the truth

Outline of Bible cover1 John

John shows us the divine life and it’s characteristics, and proves it to be in the person of Christ. He first speaks about this life as he had known it in Christ when He was here on earth. He then shows it as the means of communion with the Father and the Son, so that our joy may be full.

But He who was, and is this life in Himself, has given us the absolute revelation of God as light. We are therefore placed here to walk in the light, as God is in the light, the blood of Christ cleansing us that we may do so. Thus we have fellowship together.

But chapter 1 shows the sin in ourselves. We have the intercession or advocacy of Christ with the Father, founded on His being the righteous One. His is the propitiation for our sin: this is the means of our being restored to communion in the light, after we have failed through weakness, in our walk down here.

John next presents in ch. 2, obedience to Christ’s commandments, practical righteousness and love of the brethren. These prove our the possession of this life. Before this though, he gives the ground of writing to the saints: that all are forgiven, and that babes in Christ have the Spirit of adoption.

He divides Christians into three classes – fathers, young men, and little children. This classification he repeats twice:

  • The fathers have but one mark; they know Him who is from the beginning.
  • The young men are strong, are in conflict, have overcome the wicked one, the word of God abiding in them. They are warned not to love the world.
  • The little children, while knowing the Father, are warned as to deceivers; but they are competent, as having the Holy Spirit, and hence they are responsible to judge the spirits.

In chapter 3, he shows them that as sons, they have the same name as Christ. They know that they will be like Him when He appears, so they purify themselves as He is pure. The contrast of the new nature and sin is brought out distinctly, sin being lawlessness (not the transgression of the law). This new nature is evidenced in their practical righteousness and love for the brethren. Moreover, the obedient person dwells in God, and God in him. The proof of God’s dwelling in us is, that He has given us the Holy Spirit.

He then gives directions to distinguish the Holy Spirit from evil spirits, by referring in chapter 4 to our owning Christ as come in the flesh.   John had introduced the Holy Spirit in connection with the new nature. He now shows that this new nature involves partaking in the divine nature, which is love. Hence, he that loves is born of God and knows God, for God is love. This love is displayed in that He first loved us; and if this is true, we love the brethren. God has commanded us to do that.

The term ‘ brethren’ includes all that are born of God but the truth of this love to the brethren is tested by love to God, which is proved by keeping His commandments. To this end faith overcomes the world.

Eternal life is given to us. This life to is in the Son, so that he that has the Son has life, and he who has not the Son has not life. The life is in Christ, not in the first Adam or his children. We therefore have a threefold witness – the Spirit, the water, and the blood: the water and the blood coming out of Christ’s side in death, and the Holy Spirit given consequent on His ascension. This gives us confidence for asking everything according to God’s will. So we can pray for a brother who has failed, provided it is not a sin to death.

The new nature that we have received is incapable of sin: he who has it keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. Finally, an absolute distinction is made between Christians and the world. “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lieth in wickedness.” (Ch. 5:19).  Further, we know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, that is, in His Son Jesus Christ, who is the true God and eternal life.

 

2 John

Written to a faithful lady, John Insists upon love being governed by the truth. Whoever does not abide in the doctrine of Christ has not God. Also, one who brings a doctrine denying Him is not to be greeted nor invited into the house.

3 John

Whereas in 2 John it is a question of refusing entry to one not bringing the doctrine of Christ, in 3 John the apostle urges the reception of those who go about preaching the truth. John denounces one who hindered the functioning of the local assembly, but he commends Gaius, and as a fellow-helper of the truth itself.

He supports the doctrine of reward to the workman engaged full-time in the Lord’s service. He commends the perseverance of his spiritual children in v. 4.

Notice that v.7 throws light on the word ‘ours’ in 1 John 2:2 (He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world)

  • Firstly, towards us, by God sending His only-begotten Son, that we might live through Him, and to make propitiation for our sins.
  • Secondly, as dwelling in love, we dwell in God, and God in us, He having given us of His Spirit. Thus His love is perfected in us. This is true of every one who really confesses that Jesus is the Son of God.
  • Thirdly, the love of God is perfected in us, so as to give us boldness in the day of judgment. Christ is our life, and the Spirit of God dwells in us. As Christ is so are we in this world. We love God because He first loved us.

Originally by JND.   Lightly edited by Sosthenes,  September 2014

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

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – 1&2 Peter

The Epistles of Peter, while referring to redemption, concentrate especially to the government of God

• In 1 Peter His government is in favour of the saints.
• In 2 Peter we have the judgment of the wicked.

Outline of Bible cover1 Peter

The Epistles of Peter, while referring to redemption, concentrate especially to the government of God

• In 1 Peter His government is in favour of the saints.
• In 2 Peter we have the judgment of the wicked.

The saints are not seen as risen with Christ, but begotten again to a living hope by His resurrection. They pursue their pilgrimage as strangers, towards an incorruptible inheritance, reserved in heaven for them. They are kept by the power of God through faith, waiting for the appearing of Christ for full deliverance, the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls.

He marks out the progress of this revelation:
1. the prophets testifying beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glories following,
2. the same things reported in the gospel preached by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,
3. patience till the revelation of Jesus Christ brought these things to them.

On this ground they are called on to walk in sobriety, obedience, and holiness, on the double ground, that He who called them is holy, and that they call on the Father, who judges without respect of persons every man’s work. But this is founded on redemption by the blood of Christ, and being born again of the incorruptible seed of the word. They believe in God through Christ, whom He had raised from the dead, and to whom He had given glory, all flesh being as grass, but the word of the Lord endures for ever.
The persons addressed are the scattered believing remnant of Israel in various countries of Asia Minor. Hence he distinguishes them as living stones, owned of God, built on the precious living Stone, a stone of stumbling and rock of offence to disobedient Israel. He then applies Exodus 19:6 and Hosea 2:23, and exhorts them to walk blameless in the midst of the Gentiles who spake against them. This would force them to glorify God in the day of their visitation. He then exhorts them to suffer patiently, seeing that, like Christ, it was the Christian’s place to do good, suffer for it patiently. This leads him to refer again to Christ bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, referring to Isaiah 53.

Then in the remainder of chap. 2 and in chap. 3 there are exhortations on details of conduct. He refers to the government of God securing us in peacefulness: if the saints suffered for righteousness’ sake they were happy, beautifully adding that Christ had suffered once for sins, and that this ought to suffice. They ought to suffer for righteousness, if they suffered at all. He then refers to His being put to death in the flesh. They were to arm themselves with the same mind, for in death sin had been done away with. He then reminds them that with God, the have ability for all things, spiritual or temporal. He encourages them in suffering reproach for Christ’s sake, an advance on suffering for righteousness’ sake. This is the only place where they are called Christians. They are to rejoice in the reproach as partakers of Christ’s sufferings, with the consciousness that the time had come for judgment to begin at the house of God.

We then get exhortations to elders and to the younger, and to humbleness under God’s hand, sobriety and diligence, and resistance to Satan. The apostle finally commends them to the God of all grace.

2 Peter

In this second Epistle, which he writes to the same persons who had received, not the Messiah in glory, but the same precious faith as the apostle had received through God’s righteousness. He shows that in the midst of evil, God’s divine power had given everything necessary to life and godliness, the saints knowing God having been called by glory and virtue. He then urges them to be diligent in everything that would give them an abundant entrance into the kingdom. With out this they would be of impaired vision as Christians. He tells them that he must shortly put off this tabernacle; and writes that they might maintain the testimony after he had gone. He showed them that the mount of transfiguration had confirmed the prophetic testimony of the kingdom they were waiting for, asserting that all scripture tended to one common purpose, the fruit of one Spirit, and not of the will of man.

Peter then warns them about false teachers, who deny the authority of Christ, though many would follow them. He names them as wicked, but shows how God can deliver the righteous, and hold the unjust to the day of judgment to be punished. He states their character, especially in the working of the will of man in immmorality and insubordination; adding to this another characteristic – their scoffing at the doctrine of the Lord’s return. He next refers to the deluge as a judgment already executed, and the day of the Lord, as a judgment by fire to come. All that nature trusted in would disappear. This urges the saints to greater holiness.

 

Originally by JND.   Lightly edited by Sosthenes,  September 2014

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