Millions dying through Famine (or Coronavirus)

Dreadful straits; millions dying through [the Sudan] famine. [like the Coronavirus epedemic in 2020 – Sosthenes]  Is God unmindful?  He is not.  You may be assured, He will get His harvest through grace

…the masses of humanity, everyone needing a Saviour…and let our hearts share God’s feelings for men.  Dreadful straits; millions dying through [the Sudan] famine. [like the Coronavirus epidemic in 2020 – Sosthenes]  Is God unmindful?  He is not.  You may be assured, He will get His harvest through grace in all these calamities; it must be, in all things he has the pre-eminence; it is a great comfort to think of that.  God allows these things to happen and we should not do other than reflect His feelings.  We should never live remote from the needs of men.  A calamity should bring out in us sympathies and express God in them.

Oh, the relief of a living faith in a living Man who bore that load for me.  Why did He do it?  Oh that “why”;  “why hast Thou forsaken me?”  Who can answer that “why”?  We would have to tell you of the ocean of the love that lay behind the reason why Jesus died.  Love held Him there.  He could have come down.  He could have called on all those angels.  He did not.  He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross…But more than that, as my substitute He bore the judgement  due to me because of my sins. Oh, do you not know and love a Saviour like that?  Thank God I do and I commend Him to you.

 

(Extracts from a preaching by Brian Deck, Adelaide,

1986)

From

The Love of the Truth and Other Ministry

Edited by Andrew Burr – available from Lulu

Golden Nugget Number 278

Golden Nuggets are published by Saville Street Distribution, Venture, Princes Esplanade, Walton-on-the-Naze, CO14 8QD  UK

God never rebuilds what has failed but rather falls back on His promises – FER

Frederick Raven

The position that confronts each one of us now is what are we to do as involved in the sorrowful scattering and breakdown of a testimony we had so learned to value and love.  To find a way out of it, I cannot.  I am part of it and contributed to it.  But to find a way through it is my whole concern and that Christ may be my object and motive.  While not wishing to speak of myself, my experience found me quite alone and cut off from my brethren – my beloved wife and family…I had nothing.  But, thank God, in His sovereign mercy and exceeding grace I had Christ – my Lord and Saviour.  It is easy to say it, but it has to be proved that therein lies the precious inward secret that alone can make one superior to the most testing of circumstances.  It is just, “Thou remainest when all else is gone”…I then remembered that from the divine side there is no failure – the unity of the Spirit remains.  Does not F E Raven say that God never rebuilds what has failed but rather falls back on His promises?  While many were claiming to have the Lord with them, I just longed for the experience through contrition and repentance, of being with Him in what He is doing currently.

(Extracted from a letter by Brian Deck, NZ  1979)

Golden Nugget Number 19
Golden Nuggets are published by Saville Street Distribution, Venture, Princes Esplanade, Walton on the Naze, CO14 8QD  UK

If God be for us, who can be against us? Rom 8:31-39

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

+Romans 8:31-39

J N DarbyIn the end of Romans 8, Paul sums up the exercises of our hearts, and the work of grace.  We are brought to realise that, in spite of the conditions in the world, and in ourselves, he shows how God is for us.  Indeed God had seen all these tests before we even existed.

Earlier in the chapter, we are told that ‘the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be’ (v. 7).  But God has given His own blessed Son.   We are to enjoy full liberty with God, knowing Him as the Giver.  The prodigal thought the status of a humble hired servant would be more in keeping with his failure, but the father had other things in mind.  The more we have a conviction of sin, the greater we appreciate God’s giving.  Conversely the more we know God, the more we see the evil in sin, and the more we glory in Him, and what our Lord has done.

The accuser is Satan.  ‘It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us’ (v. 34).  We are told that nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ. Why the love of Christ, not the love of God?  It is the love of God in Christ.  He was down here suffering in the difficulties, and now He is at the right hand of God.

So, about the difficulties:

  • Principalities and powers? Christ was tempted by these, and overcame them for me: they are not going to stop me.
  • Life? He went through that too. He had plenty of sorrow in it; and I grow through all the sorrow that I might have. The trials of life cannot separate me from Christ – “to me to live is Christ’ (Phil 1:21).
  • Death? This cannot separate me either. Indeed, it will bring me to Him: ‘to die is gain’ (Phil 1:21).
  • Persecutions? I triumph in them, because Christ is with me in them.

When the children of Israel were in Egypt, they witnessed the judgment. Then God brought them out via the Red Sea – redemption.  He looked after them in the wilderness, giving them the manna (but they had to collect it diligently).  The real conflict began when they reached the land.  Then the Lord presented Himself to Joshua as captain of the Lord’s host (Jos 5:15). He was with them.

 God has brought us to Himself.  We are called to fellowship with God, and fellowship means common happiness, common thoughts and common feelings.  The Father’s delight is in His Son; and we have fellowship with Him in that. Christ’s delight is in the Father; and we have fellowship with Him in that. So our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Christ Jesus (see 1 John 1:3). ‘If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin’ (1 John 1:6-7).

The psalmist asked God to search him (see Ps 139:23)  – not to condemn or impute, but to cleanse. Christ has gone through all the difficulties, and now He is suiting me for the place where He is. May we know perfect redemption, and be consciously in fellowship with the Father and the Son, so that everything contrary to His holiness may be judged and put away.

Based on the notes of a lecture by John Nelson Darby entitled, ‘God for us’   It is published in Collected Writings Volume 12 (Evangelical 1) page 165.

 

Sosthenes

February 2017

 

 

 

 

 

The Error as to Christ’s Righteousness

Many reformers, puritans and theologians seem to believe that Christ makes up for our defects, in effect saying that Christ kept the law for us. But the WORD OF GOD is clear, and tells me that if we are justified by law we are fallen from grace (see Gal 5:4). If Christ kept the law for us, and righteousness imputed to us because of that, we are justified by law. Of course the Lord kept the law, but where in scripture do we find that He kept it for us? According to the WORD OF GOD this doctrine is FALSE, it is legal fiction.

J N DarbyIn 1862 J N Darby wrote to the Christian Examiner about an article in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review.  Teaching which was very prevalent in the established churches was that the Lord had fulfilled the law on our behalf.  Looking at various current sermons and writings on the internet, it would appear that this error is still held by many.

The Truth is needed to keep souls in progress and subjection to God. Scripture, the WORD OF GOD, must have its authority.  The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, forms the unity of Christ’s body on earth and dwells in the believer.  The Lord is about to take the saints to Himself, and then appear with them, his Church, to judge the world and reign for 1000 years.  These teachings will protect us from some of the unscriptural and erroneous doctrine that abounds in Christendom – in Romanism, Protestantism and even amongst evangelicals.

 

What is Righteousness, and what was the Law?

Righteousness is living as we ought and fulfilling our relationships rightly towards others and towards God.  When it says, ‘The righteous Lord loveth righteousness’ (Psalm 11:7) or, ‘Grace might reign through righteousness’ (Rom 5:21) the word is used abstractedly;  when it says, ‘the righteousness of God’ or ‘the righteousness of faith’ (Rom 10:3,6), the expression is more specific.  We ought to love God with all our heart; we ought to love our neighbour as ourselves.  That is the law in its clearest terms.  It would also have been our righteousness had we kept it. But as sinners, we did not, nor could not keep the law.  And since we have a conscience, the sense of good and evil we know we are guilty, unrighteous and lawless.

 

Did the Lord keep the Law for us?

My righteousness under the law is absolutely zero.  In God’s sight, my efforts are evil and nothing else.   Therefore Christ died for me.  I am born again, and I receive Him as eternal life.  Does Christ make up for defects in my righteousness?  What defects?  Is my righteousness patched up by Christ’s acts, when I have acted after the flesh?  Is that what is meant by Christ being made unto us righteousness?  Of course not.

Many reformers, puritans and theologians seem to believe this, in effect saying that Christ kept the law for us.  But the WORD OF GOD is clear, and tells me that if we are justified by law we are fallen from grace (see Gal 5:4).  If Christ kept the law for us, and righteousness imputed to us because of that, we are justified by law.  Of course the Lord kept the law, but where in scripture do we find that He kept it for us?  According to the WORD OF GOD this doctrine is FALSE, it is legal fiction.

We are accounted, imputed or reckoned (the same word in Greek λογισθῆναι/ logisthēnai/Strong 3049) righteous (See Rom 4:11).  Christ has born the sin of each of us, and put it away.  This is no fiction: sin has been dealt with.

 

Applying the Law to a Child of Adam

Those going on with this error pretend that the defects of the old man are somehow made good, so that man, a child of Adam, might appear righteousness before God. He ought to walk in accordance with the law and according to this doctrine, when we fail Christ makes our defects good.  That is not Christianity.

This false doctrine leads to an absurdity.  It confuses practical sanctification, with righteousness before God.  It makes Christ establish our standing as alive before God in the old man.

The truth is that the life which we receive is Christ.  This does not make my flesh good.  As a child of Adam, there is no good in me.  Christ died to put away my sin, so I reckon myself dead, my flesh condemned.  I find myself in Christ, Christ being in me.  I have put on the new man, and that is what I am before God.  In that Christ died, He died unto sin once; in that He lives, He lives unto God (See Rom 6:10). I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.   I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Gal 2:19-20).  I am dead to law by the body of Christ (See Rom 7:4).

 

What Sort of Law or Righteousness?

These people measure the righteousness of God and divine justice by the law. But they contradict themselves.  On one side righteousness is said to be of the law, but at the same time righteousness is a gift’ (See Rom 5:17).

It is nonsense to say that we are living by a personal law.  Indeed they even talk about a person redeeming him/herself.   Grace, not law, is towards a sinner.  Law does not forgive, it condemns.  Satan’s deception is to set aside Christ’s death. He died that we might live, our sin being atoned for by Him.

They might cite James.  But James merely said ‘faith without works is dead’ (James 2:20).  That cannot be as a result of Christs’s law-keeping.

 

Legal Righteousness

Some would give the impression of a God who is incensed (or vengeful or full of wrath) at our disobeying the law, but at the same time, a God who acts in grace rather than judgment.  This is the doctrine of legal righteousness.  This might appear plausible, but it destroys the thought of a righteous God who reconciles us to Himself and justifies us.  God is just in justifying.  his is the essence of the gospel.

 

We know who bore the wrath for us.  Let us never forget the cross, the cup that Jesus had to drink, His sweat in Gethsemane, His being made sin, and crying ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Mark 15:34).  He was perfectly obedient.

 

Conclusion

But how can we have righteousness?  We need a new righteousness, by faith, fit for the throne of God.  If we are to be accepted, the righteousness must meet all that God is His own infinite excellency.

Christ revealed God’s nature, and glorified Him when He was made sin for us. Hence we are made the righteousness of God in Him.  Christ finished the work His Father gave Him to do.  Now the ground of our acceptance and righteousness, is complete.  Christ becomes our life.

The law does not, nor cannot do this.

This is a summary of a paper  by John Nelson Darby.  The Pauline Doctrine of the Righteousness of Faith. It is published in Collected Writings Volume 7 (Doctrinal 2) page 349. 

Sosthenes

January 2017

Moral Law – an unscriptural Expression

People speak about a ‘moral law’, but they have only a vague idea of what is meant by the expression. They say, ‘Live by the ten commandments’ or, ‘Do to others what you would have them do to you’ (Matt 7:12 NIV). They quote scripture, but in so doing put themselves and others under bondage. That is not Christianity. The Christian has been delivered from the law.

There are expressions which are used by Christians, which as well as being unscriptural, convey a meaning which is also contrary to the truth as presented in scripture.   One of these is ‘moral law’.

People speak about a ‘moral law’, but they have only a vague idea of what is meant by the expression.  They say, ‘Live by the ten commandments’ or, ‘Do to others what you would have them do to you’ (Matt 7:12 NIV).  They quote scripture, but in so doing put themselves and others under bondage. That is not Christianity.  The Christian has been delivered from the law.

Christians under a so-called ‘moral law’ have set aside Paul’s teaching.  They show a semblance of piety, but are effectively seeking to be justified by works.  Even if the works were good ones, they are under a curse. (see Gal 3:10).  A Christian, being of a fallen race, finds himself ruined by the law, deceived by it to his own sorrow.  The law knows no mercy.  He is spiritually dead.

Paul found that experimentally.  Paul saw that the law condemned lust.  So, because he lusted he was self-condemned.   Lust was in his nature.  The law claimed absolute obedience to God, but he found he did not have the power to keep it.  He wanted to do what was right but couldn’t.  In short, he coveted, and thus broke the law.  What was ordained to life, he found to be to death (see Rom 7:10).

 

Christ and the Law

God gave the promise to Abraham.  The law was given later.  If the law could have given life, righteousness could have been by the law.   But the law did not give either the motive or the power to do right.  That is why in Galatians the law is treated as a schoolmaster.  The law condemns sins.  More than that, it condemns sin.

In Romans 7 Paul insisted that one cannot have two husbands at the same time.  A Christian cannot cannot be under obligation to both Christ and the law.  A Christian is ‘dead to the law by the body of Christ(Rom 7:4).   If he (or she) is dead, he is no longer under the law.  ,  ‘Sin shall not have dominion over you, because ye are not under the law, but under grace’ (Rom 6:14).

Somebody might say, ‘Yes; but the flesh is still there, so I need the law, not to put away sin, but that it might not have dominion.’  That is false – The Christian is to be consciously dead in Christ.  If a person is dead, he is beyond the reach of law by death.  The Christian has died with Christ and is resurrection: he is in newness of life – in Christ, not Adam.

I am ‘dead to the law by the body of Christ’ (Rom 7:4)The death that the law sentenced me to in my conscience has fallen on another — Christ.  Otherwise I would have been left in everlasting misery.  But in love Christ put Himself in my place.  Now I am justified and have a right to reckon myself dead, because Christ has died and has risen again.  I have  received Him into my heart as life: He is really my life.

Godliness is walking with a risen Christ – that is Christian life.   The measure of that walk is Christ, and nothing else.

The Divine Law

A true believer always holds difference between right and wrong, to be an immovable and fixed moral foundation.  It is revealed by God in His word.

The Lord said ‘Keep my commandments’ (John 15:10) and John wrote ‘This is love, that we keep His commandments (1 John 5:2) .   Some are afraid of the word ‘commandment’, as if it would weaken the ideas of love, grace and new creation.  But keeping the commandments and obeying one we love is the proof of our love.   Christ Himself said, ‘I love the Father, and as the Father hath given me commandment, so I do.’ (John 14:31).   His highest act of love, in dying for us on the cross, was His highest act of obedience.

The Spirit will produce fruits against which there is no law.

  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law’ (Gal 5:22-23.
  • Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love’ (Eph 5:1-2 Darby).
  • Put on therefore, as [the] elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any should have a complaint against any; even as the Christ has forgiven you, so also do ye. And to all these add love, which is the bond of perfectness’ (Col 3:12-14 Darby).
  • A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34)

 

This is a summary of part of letter written by John Nelson Darby.  It is published in Collected Writings Volume 10 (Doctrinal 3) page 1.

This summary covers the first wrong term ‘moral law’.   A subsequent article, will, God willing, cover the second term ‘Christ’s righteousness’.

Sosthenes

December 2016

How can a man be just with God? – Romans 1-8

‘How can a man be just with God?’ (Job 9:2). This is the great question in Romans. In the first eight chapters of Romans we learn the answer. Sinners want justification.

There are two aspects of justification, so there are two parts to Romans 1 to 8.

Justification ‘from sins’ – clearing me of my old state,’ (Rom 1:1-5:11)
Justification ‘of life’ – putting me into a new place before God. (Rom 5:12-8:39)

JohnNelsonDarby

How can a man be just with God?’ (Job 9:2).  This is the great question in Romans.  In the first eight chapters of Romans we learn the answer.  Sinners want justification.

There are two aspects of justification, so there are two parts to Romans 1 to 8.

  1. Justification ‘from sins’ – clearing me of my old state,’ (Rom 1:1-5:11)
  2. Justification ‘of life’  –  putting me into a new place before God. (Rom 5:12-8:39)

 

Part 1 – Justification from Sins

Chapter 1

The first thing we see in this epistle is that it concerns God’s Son Jesus Christ’ (See v. 3).  It is not primarily about ourselves.  Romans is about the claims of Christ, the ‘author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him’ (Heb 5:9).  People have lost sight of that.

In chapter 1 we see why justification is needed:  ‘The wrath of God revealed against all ungodliness’ (v. 18).  That is wrath against the sinner, because ‘all have sinned, and come short’ (Ch. 3:23).  It does not say ‘of what we ought to be’, or ‘of the law’, but ‘of the glory of God.’  The glory of God involves the light.  In Christianity we must walk in the light, or we can have nothing to do with God.  It is as simple as that.  God is in the light; He has not hidden Himself behind a veil.  We are to walk in the light, as He is in the light, and even become ‘partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light’ (Col 1:12).  Justification makes us fit for that.  Christ’s work in grace fits us for glory.

Two things are found in the first four verses: promises and revelation.

  1. People rest on promises. But the promises are fulfilled by Him. ‘For all the promises of God in him are Yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us’ (2 Cor 1:20).
  2. God’s righteousness is revealed because there was none in man. ‘Therein [i.e. in the glad tidings] is the righteousness of God revealed’ ( 17).   Faith receives God’s righteousness, whereas the law claimed righteousness from man. The gospel is the righteousness of God.

Chapters 2 & 3

In chapter 1 the righteousness of God is revealed; in chapter 2, we have the proof of this; in chapter 3, having been brought under sin, we are given righteousness.  ‘But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets’ (v. 21).  The Lord our righteousness was witnessed in the prophets who were under law.  However, He is now manifested without (or apart from) law.  Righteousness is ‘through faith in His blood’ (v. 25).  God sits as a Judge, and man is brought before Him and found guilty.  The penalty is death. But the death of a sinful man could not glorify God.  Only the death of Christ alone glorifies Him, and through it He puts away the sins of the old man.  Now we see how God makes a new man.

Under the old system the law required man to establish his own righteousness. ‘The law entered that the offence might abound’ (ch. 5:20).  It is not that sin might abound, but the offence.  The law not only made sin more manifest, but also aggravated its character.  The authority of God was despised, not because of the offence, but because of the people’s disobedience.  In ch. 2:12, what is translated sinned ‘without law,’ is the same word (ἀνομία – anomia) as in 1 John 3:4, ‘transgression of the law’ – (KJV) or ‘lawlessness’ – (Darby and others).’  The Day of Atonement was necessary:-

  • The scape-goat – ‘Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many’  (Heb 9:28) – Part 1 above (sins)
  • The sin-offering – ‘He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself’ (Heb 9:26) – Part 2 (sin).

The blood of the sin-offering was sprinkled on and before the mercy-seat.  This is now the ground of God’s invitation to the sinner.  In Leviticus 16, the sins of Israel were confessed over the head of the scape-goat.  For us, Christ has died, and the blood is on the mercy-seat.  Now I will be received if I come to Jesus.  Not only has the Lord Jesus put away my sin, but He has borne all my sins, and confessed them as if they were His own: they are all gone.  My sins are forgiven: past, present and future.

Chapter 4

In chapter 4 we have, ‘Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin’ (v. 4).  A man is faultless before God if Christ has made atonement for him.  The first part of Romans, referred to above, has to do with sins and the remedy – Christ dying for our sins.  (In Part 2 below, it is sin and the remedy, my dying with Christ).  This whole work was settled on the cross, resurrection making it complete.  In this chapter it is justification by faith.  ‘If we believe in him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead’ (v. 24).  We are justified, and Christ’s work is ratified.

Unless we see Christ in resurrection, we do not have the assurance of being justified. ‘If Christ is not risen, ye are yet in your sinsif in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable’ (1 Cor 15:17,19).

Chapter 5 v. 1-11

Chapter 5 begins, ‘Having been justified, we have peace’ (v. 1).   We get past, present, and future:

  • Justified, as to the past
  • Having peace with God, and standing in the favour of God, as to the present
  • Rejoicing in hope of the glory of God, as to the future.

What more can I want?  I may have all sorts of trouble, but what a mercy it is that God sees me as righteous!  In God’s eyes I am a righteous man.  Now I can boast in tribulation, knowing that this leads to patience, experience and hope (see v. 3).  I am not ashamed ‘because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us’ (v. 5).  I can rejoice, too, in God Himself (before whom, in ch. 3:19, I was guilty, and my mouth stopped).  Not only do I know myself, but I know God as well – God in His own absolute goodness.  Knowing that everything is settled, and that I am reconciled, I have peace.  Peace is deeper than joy: I may have joy, but not yet know myself reconciled.  The prodigal had some joy when he left the far country, but he did not have peace till he met the Father, and learned what is the Father’s heart was toward him.

Foreknown, predestinated, called, justified, glorified!  No creature power can break that chain of five golden links, for it is purely of God.

 

Part 2 – Justification ‘of Life’

Chapter 5 v. 12-21

From chapter 5:12, we come to man’s condition.  Adam ruined us all.  We are now dealing with the state of the race, not of the individual.  I have a nature away from God, and without the knowledge of the grace of God, I would be driven to despair. But grace has put away my sin.

Even if I know that my sins are forgiven, I can be extremely troubled because of the sin that is in me.  The remedy is not in the fact that Christ has died for my sins, but that I have died with Christ to sin.  I am a sinner because of Adam’s disobedience.  However by the obedience of One (Jesus) I am made righteous, with no condemnation: ‘There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus’ (ch. 8:1).  If that is the case, can I live as I like?  ‘No’, the apostle says, ‘You have died.’  How can I live in sin if I am dead?  I am justified; I have life.

Sin is never forgiven. but condemned. ‘God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and by a sacrifice for sin, condemned sin, in the flesh’ (ch. 8:3).  Sin is got rid of by death.  If a man dies, that is the end.  Adam received a commandment, and lived so long as he obeyed it.  But from Adam to Moses there was no commandment or law, and death reigned over those who had transgressed.  We find no forgiveness there.

Chapter 6

In Romans 6, I am dead and justified from sin.  I reckon myself dead.  I have had enough of ‘I.’  Now Christ is ‘I’.  ‘I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me’ (Gal 2:20).  In Romans I am cleared from what I was as a child of Adam, and get the privileges of a child of God.  I am perfectly free: what am I going to do with myself?  I was once a slave to sin: now I am to yield myself to God.

Chapter 7

In chapter 7 we have the same principle applied to law.  We have died to the law by the body of the risen Christ, so now we are connected with Him in resurrection.  We cannot have both the law and Christ. ‘We are delivered from the law, that being dead by which we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter’ (v. 6 (Darby).  The law isn’t dead; I am dead.  The law is the jailer; I am the prisoner.  The mistake people are making is that they are killing the jailer instead of the thief.  The jailer is not dead, the thief is.

In chapters 2 and 3 we saw what a man does.  In chapter 7 we see is what he is.   Many Christians do not know what verse 7 means – ‘When I was in the flesh’.  It is my previous state.  This chapter is experimental, not just a doctrine.  We must learn the truth not merely as a theory, but experimentally.  I can say that my sins are forgiven – that is doctrine, not experience, but if I tell you something about myself, that is experience.  It is not just that I have done bad things, but I have found by experience that ‘in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing’ (v. 18).

In Romans 7 the soul learns three things:

  1. That in himself, that is, in his flesh, dwells no good thing ( 18).
  2. That the flesh is not himself (he is not in the flesh) – he hates it ( 15).
  3. That the flesh is too strong for him, and he cries out for deliverance. ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ ( 24).

As to the flesh, there is no question of forgiveness.  I do not forgive an offending power; I want deliverance from it.  The more spiritual I am, the more I shall see the infinite value of the cross.  I keep the cross before myself in faith, and hold it the to the flesh (because I am not in the flesh, otherwise I could not do it).  That is what ‘Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body’ means. (2 Cor 4:10)

I have to learn what sin is.  Christ, who has met the consequences of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, becomes the tree of life to me.  Now, in Romans 5:1-11, I learn what God is in love to the sinner.

Chapter 8

Now in Chapter 8 I learn my condition as a believer with God.  The new man in Christ Jesus is in a higher place: God is for me, and I can say, ‘Abba, Father’.

Glory is certain through the promise of God. ‘Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified’ (v. 30).  The whole chain is there, from beginning to end, and depends on His faithfulness in keeping us.

 

Summary by Sosthenes

Based on   How are we Saved? Romans 1-8Collected Writings vol. 21 (Evangelic) page 193

April 2016

 

 

After the Rapture, the Jewish Remnant – Particularly from the Psalms

The Psalms connect Christ with and Israel, and with the remnant in particular. It would be impossible to enter into the detail of all 150 Psalms here, but what we cannot fail to see is that there is, in the latter day, a godly pious Jewish remnant – tried, oppressed and all but overwhelmed. Jehovah owns and encourages His people and rewards them with Jewish blessings according to promise, Christ having entered into their sorrows and borne their sins. Christ, as Jehovah, comes to judge. The Son of man and King in Zion enters into the temple with all things under His feet, subjecting all the nations to Himself.

 

JohnNelsonDarbyIn the Psalms we have Jehovah’s sympathetic thoughts and feelings for the Jewish remnant. God and God’s purpose regarding Christ, His anointed, ar erevealed.  We see this clearly in the first two psalms.

The Psalms connect Christ with and Israel, and with the remnant in particular.  It would be impossible to enter into the detail of all 150 Psalms here, but what we cannot fail to see is that there is, in the latter day, a godly pious Jewish remnant – tried, oppressed and all but overwhelmed.  Jehovah owns and encourages His people and rewards them with Jewish blessings according to promise, Christ having entered into their sorrows and borne their sins.  Christ, as Jehovah, comes to judge.  The Son of man and King in Zion enters into the temple with all things under His feet, subjecting all the nations to Himself. 

There is much more method than is supposed in the five books of Psalms.   Christ enters in spirit into the remnant’s position.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit arouses godly feelings; at other times He enters personally and sympathetically in grace into their trials.

 

First Book

Psalm 1 distinguishes the righteous person from the rest of nation, thus marking out the remnant morally.  ‘The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous’ (v. 5).  Not only this, the godly righteous Jew, who delights in the law, is promised present blessings.

In Psalm 2, the heathen and Jewish rulers rise in rebellion against Jehovah and His Anointed. Son of God sits upon the throne of Zion, and calls upon the kings and judges of the earth to submit to Him.

In Psalms 3-7 the godly man is under constant attack.  His faith is tested, and the enemy taunts him, beckoning him to desert.  He is in distress as to the wicked and appeals to God, the righteous Judge.  Christ, the true godly one, enters in spirit into all the sorrows of the righteous remnant.  Their deliverance wrought by judgment, because heir blessings and the character of their righteousness are Jewish (which is not the case of the raised or heaven-born saints).  As they wait on God, their cry is heard and they are exhorted to persevere and depend.  The earth is their portion.

Then, in Psalm 8, the remnant own Jehovah their Lord as having made His name excellent in all the earth, while the Son of man, (rejected when He came as Messiah), is given universal dominion.  The result is blessing for Israel when the Son of man takes His place in glory.

In  Psalms 9 and 10, we have the trial and judgment of the last days: the poor and oppressed are not forgotten.  The heathen perishes out of the land (Ps 10:16).

In Psalms 11-15 the thoughts, feelings, and apprehensions of the remnant are further developed. Those walk uprightly, work righteousness, speak truth without backbiting or doing evil to his neighbour will dwell in God’s holy hill (see Ps 15:1-3).

Psalm 16: Christ’s takes His place with the godly remnant, as He did historically when He was baptised with John’s baptism.  God’s delight was in Christ, who surely needed no repentance.  But He says ‘unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee; but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight’ (Ps 16:2-3).  That corresponds to the New Testament: ‘Both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one’ (Heb 2:11).  In the Psalm, Christ says that he takes the place of a servant to Jehovah (not His divine place).   He follows the path of life, does not see corruption, and finds His eternal joy as Man in God’s presence at the right hand of Jehovah.

In Psalm 17 Christ will behold God’s face in righteousness and be satisfied, awaking up in His likeness, the true eternal image of the invisible God.  (See v. 15).

In Psalm 18 we see what God has done and will do for the people – from their deliverance o from Egypt, to their final deliverance under David.

In Psalm 19 we have the testimony of creation and the law.

Psalm 20:  We have God’s sympathetic help for the remnant.

Psalm 21 Christ’s sorrows and desires culminate in His glory.  His days are for ever and ever as man and right hand finds out all His enemies.   The consequence of His suffering at the hands of man is that He will make His enemies ‘as a fiery oven in the day of His wrath’ (Ps 21:9).

In Psalm 22 we have, not just the sorrows of sorrows from man, but His forsaking by God,  bearing His wrath.  The result is all grace, which He exercises in making known His name to His brethren, and associating the remnant, then all Israel, with Himself in praise   The fruit is unmingled blessing, nothing else.

Psalm 23 shows Jehovah’s faithful shepherd care through every difficulty.  It is now exercised in our favour by Christ- the portion of every believe.  He knows His sheep and is known of them.  Restoration is not exclusively from sin, though He does restore us for that, but from sorrow and oppression of heart.

In Psalm 24, the Lord of Hosts walks with the sheep in grace.  In the last day will take His place in glory in His hill and in the house of Jehovah’s glory.  Both the remnant and the gentiles are brought in.

From this point to the end of Psalm 41 we have every kind of practical exercise which the remnant will be subjected to in joy or sorrow.  But these Psalms always speak of the godly, even when sins are confessed and forgiveness is sought.   Christ gives them confidence: ‘This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him’  (Ps 34:6),

Psalm 25: From here on sins are referred to, and forgiveness; for, after all, the remnant had sins, and Christ took them on Himself.

Psalm 26 is their trial and appeal.

Psalm 27 is their separation from the ungodly.

Psalm 31 reassures the saints.  They have confidence founded on Jehovah’s ways with the poor man.

Psalm 37: The full heart is guided and encouraged by God.  The inheritance of the earth is promised to those blessed of Jehovah.

In Psalm 40 we have the source of all the blessings in the counsels of God.  Christ undertakes to accomplish God’s will.

Psalm 41 speaks of the the poor man.  Christ is the supreme example even in the face of treachery.   What is done to the least of His brethren is done to Him. The Lord God of Israel will accomplish His purposes in blessing.

 

Second Book

psalmsThe remaining four books give the position of the remnant, and the place Christ has taken in relation to the sorrows of the poor and needy.  Jehovah delivers them.  The seed of His servants inherit Zion, and they that love His name dwell there.

In Psalm 45 the Messiah appears, and the remnant’s full deliverance is celebrated at the end of Psalm 48.

Psalm 49 is the world’s instruction by the judgment.  We see the price of redemption.

Psalm 50 gives the general judgment of Israel.

In Psalm 51 we have Israel’s confession of Christ’s death now that their Messiah has appeared.

Psalms 52-72: The people are cast out and the power of Antichrist is established

Psalms 65, 66 & 67 sounds out the praise of God’s deliverance, bursting forth in Zion.  The nations are glad.

In Psalm 68, an ascended Christ is the real secret.

Psalm 69: Christ suffers and ascends up in glory, securing the poor and needy in Zion.

Psalms 70 and 71, whilst speaking of David’s faltering hope, may be applied to the remnant rather than Israel.

Psalm 72 describes the full reign of peace.

 

Third Book

The third book, Psalms 73-89, goes out to all Israel, not simply the Jews, and gives God’s government and His dealings with them.  This goes on till the latter days: the glory and blessing of Zion, and the certainty of mercy by God’s infallible promises.

 

Fourth Book

The fourth book  shows God’s faithfulness to both Israel and the nations.  God’s First-begotten comes into the world.  Christ suffers and Zion is restored.  He is the Eternal Creator in Psalm 102.

 

Fifth Book

In the closing book, the fifth, we have some of the consequences and effects of the bringing back of Israel.   There are explanatory Psalms of the scheme of God such as as Psalm 110, and the law is written on Israel’s heart in Psalm 119.   The Songs of Degrees (Psalms 120 to 134) comment on God’s ways.  The book ends with the praise of God, pursued in view of millennial blessedness.

Such is the testimony of the Psalms.

Note

The name of the Father and the thought of the church do not appear, though He calls the saints brethren (See Ps 22:22).  The Holy Spirit’s work is suggested in the form of gifts in man: Israel will have them in the last day.

 

Summary by Sosthenes

Based on   The Rapture of the Saints and the Character of the Jewish Remnant’ – Collected Writings vol. 11 (Prophetic 4) page 134 

April 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)).

 

 

Christ Lifted Up

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

In John 3, the Lord emphasises the fact that He came from heaven.  He works with men from that point of view.  He testifies to man as to what is of heaven, from heaven, and what is man needs to be fit for heaven.  That requires new birth.

John 3

New Birth

Nicodemus had a mere human conviction of Christ; he knew that He was a teacher come from God because of His miracles.  The Lord told him that he had to be born again.  Of course, as he looked on things according to man, albeit a religious man.  He did not understand what the Lord was talking about.

Being born again is not like some say, having a new nature.  That would again be human.  If a person has only a human conviction, his or her conscience is not affected, and has no desire to be with Jesus, because Jesus is not attractive to the natural man (see Isa. 53:2).  Indeed, he doesn’t even care; he is just interested in what is here – family, politics, sport etc.  Although he hopes to go to heaven when he dies, he does not find news from heaven interesting.  But how will he be in heaven if Christ, the very centre of heaven’s delight, has no attraction for his heart?  Unless, of course he has a totally wrong impression of heaven and thinks of it as a purely earthly paradise [Sosthenes’ addition].

On the other hand, the first thing that a person who has been born of the Spirit realises that he is lost and all wrong, like a bad tree which can never get better.  He will be very anxious about that: sin is pressing on his conscience and plaguing his heart.  But there is not a sin that Christ has not died for.  He has put Himself in the sinner’s place before God.  ‘He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him’ (2 Cor 5:21).  So the born again sinner sees Him on the cross, answering for him because he could not answer for himself.  Christ has done everything that could bar his access to God.

 

Christ lifted up

God gave His Son – this is the glad tidings of grace. ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up. … For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3:14,16.  Nothing but the crucifixion of the blessed Lord could meet the sinner’s case.

He had to be lifted up.  He knew everything that that would necessitate. He had came to do His Father’s will, and that will was our salvation.  Consequently He drank that cup of wrath in love and quietness in order that the sinner might not.  He made peace by the blood of His cross (see Col 1:20)

God set His seal in righteousness when He said, ‘Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool’ (Psalm 110:1Heb 1:13).  Grace now reigns through righteousness (see Rom 5:21) – righteousness having been made good before the whole universe.

 

Go in Peace

Let none of us doubt the efficacy of what Jesus has done.  Have we heard in His quiet voice that the ‘Son of man must be lifted up’ (John 3:14)?    Let Him tell us why.  Let us learn how blessed it is to live in the light of God, where light shows us (not just our sins) to be white as snow. (see Isa 1:18).  May we learn what it is to walk in the light of His countenance.

 

Summary by Sosthenes

Based on   ‘Notes of an Address on John 3’ – Collected Writings vol. 21 (Evangelic 2) page 127 ,

February 2016