Alfred Gardiner, The Presence of the Holy Spirit

The presence with us of the Spirit is the outstanding pledge of the faithfulness of God

Alfred J Gardiner 1884-1976
I believe the presence of the Holy Spirit is one of the most outstanding examples of the faithfulness of God…He came down at Pentecost, has remained with the church all through that long period of departure from the truth…and now recovering the truth with a view to our being guided into all the truth. The presence with us of the Spirit is the outstanding pledge of the faithfulness of God and the pledge too, that if only we will hold ourselves available to Him, we can be led into all the thoughts of God.

A J Gardiner, Ilford, 1951

Golden Nugget Number 283

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A Guide to the Walk of an Enlightened Christian


Ephesians 4and 5 give us a guide to the walk of an enlightened Christian. Here are some excerpts.

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ch. 4:1-6)

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.   Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.  Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with hishands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ch. 4:17-32)

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.  . . . Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.  (Ch5:1-2, 14).


Putting off and Putting on – Our Life, what we are

We have learned the truth as it is in Jesus.  We have put off the old and put on the new – ‘created after God in righteousness and true holiness’ (ch 4:24).  Darby notes – not yet love.

God has been perfectly revealed through the work of Christ.  Evil has been dealt with and Christ is glorified: He is sitting at the right hand of the majesty in the heavens (see Heb 1:3) : He is the righteous One who hates evil and delights in what is pure and good:  He is holy. If we are to be ‘after God’it must be in righteousness and true holiness.

God is known now not merely as a Creator, but One whose whole nature is revealed in the work of redemption. Through redemption we have new creation: we are quickened out of our state of death in sin, and are raised as Christ out of His grave.  By new creation we have become partakers of the divine nature.


The Presence of the Holy Spirit

God Himself dwells in us by His Spirit.  His love is shed abroad in our hearts, sealing us for the time when we shall fully enjoy Him.  We are not to grieve such a holy and blessed Guest. The Holy Spirit guides, orders, reveals the things of Christ to our minds, communicates what is blessed to us, filling us with what is divine.  So nothing inconsistent with His presence, where all is peaceful with holy love flowing in our hearts.  This governs our walk and speech.


God is Love

God has two essential names: Love (1 John 4:16) and Light (1 John 1:5).  These characterise the Christian’s walk, Christ being the model.  The measure of the Christian is not what he or she ought to be, but what God is morally, in holiness and love.  God is sovereign:  He can love without a motive.  We need a motive and an object which we find in the Lord Jesus and His work.


Imitators of God

We are to be imitators of God, as His beloved children.  As we are born of Him, partaking in the divine nature, we walk in love.  We are to be tender-hearted and forgive, showing grace to one another.  God has forgiven and shown grace to us (See Col 3:13).

There are two evidences of divine love in man:

  1. It says, ‘And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour’ (Eph 5:2). This means that sorrowing over the evil in myself and in the world, I offer up myself, as Jesus did, perfect in love.  Our path is to follow Him in this.  As in 1 John 3:16, ‘Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren’.
  2. Christ offered Himself to God – with a motive – He did so for us, despite our worthlessness. The object and motive were perfect. Hence, we are called to add brotherly love to love (see 2 Peter 1:7), which, we are told, is the bond of perfectness. We are therefore told to present our bodies living sacrifices (see Rom 12:1) – weak and sinful they may be, but self must be given up to God.


God is Light

God is light – essentially pure in nature.  Christ was the light of the world: now He is our life.  We are to be shining lightsamid a crooked and perverse generation (see Phil 2:15). We were in darkness, but nowwe are shining, and we are exhorted to walk as children of light.  ‘For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’(2 Cor 4:6) – The fruits of light contrast with the darkness of the world.  ‘But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord,(2 Cor 3:18).  We are irreproachable.   But in spite of all that, the apostle has to say, ‘Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light’(Eph 5:14).



Such, then, is the true measure of Christian walk – what God is in His nature as love and light, has its true, perfect, and blessed expression on the earth, in man, in Christ. Thus we are to be followers of God as dear children, the fruit of the light and the purity of the divine nature being seen in us.


Based on J N Darby: ‘The True Path of a Christian’ – JND’s Collected Writings Vol 34 Miscellaneous 3 page 99






We are Temple of the Holy Spirit

Wonderful and Profound Things presented in a Familiar yet Reverent Way

As we read the sayings of the Lord Jesus and the apostles in the gospels and the epistles, we cannot but be impressed with the familiar way in which wonderful things are presented.  As we are near to God, we should be able to present things in a familiar way by reason of our own experience. Of course, we speak of these things very reverently, especially as we recognise our own imperfection.  We can, at the same time, show reverence whilst being familiar with such blessed things.  We say, ‘The Father loves the Son’. What could be simpler or profound?  Apart from it being in scripture (John 3:35, John 5:20), we know it because we ‘have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things’ (1 John 2:20).


God has given us the Holy Spirit

God has revealed Himself in love and light, as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  But God has given us the Holy Spirit, to indwell us, so that we become partakers of the divine nature.  The Spirit assures us that we have been accepted in the Beloved (see Eph 1:6).  The more we know the Holy Spirit, the more we know that He is God.


In Ephesians we are strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, and are able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height and know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge (see Eph 3:16-19).


Eternal Life

By the Spirit we enjoy eternal life.  But to fully enjoy eternal life, our thoughts and actions must be more controlled by the Spirit.   Christ expressed this perfectly.  He is‘declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead’ (Rom 1:4) The power of the life is in resurrection, and Christ is our life. He created a path for believers to walk like Him in wisdom and patience.  We must remain in the path to do right.  If I leave the path I cannot do right, however much I try.  But I can return to the path.

The life of Jesus should be manifested in us.  Our life should express something totally new: divine life in the midst of a world that is away from God.  Only in the new man can this be done ‘the new man which after God is created in righteousness and in true holiness’ (Eph 4:24).   It is not the old man reformed: the old man could never have divine motives, even if it seeks to walk correctly.  It may be decent and respectable, but it never can be right.  It is the nature that has departed from God, and it cannot be right before Him.


Spiritual Knowledge

But we have spiritual knowledge. We have ‘put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him’(Col 3:10). Now we know that our bodies are not our own

  • they have been redeemed
  • They are temple of the Holy Spirit
  • They are members of the body of Christ

What a feeling God must have about me – to make a poor creature like me His temple – the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost, seal of His love and of the redemption.  But for this we are absolutely cleansed.  The Holy Spirit could not dwell in a defiled tabernacle.   The Holy Spirit’s presence is the expression of God’s perfect love; for ‘the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us’ (Rom 5:5).


The Result:

–  We are not to sin.  How can you go and sin with a body that is the temple of the Holy Ghost? We do fail, and that humbles us.  If we feel our wretchedly low ways and shortcomings, so much the better.

– We have a desire to glorify God, knowing that we are not our own – my body (formerly a slave of sin) no longer belongs to my corrupt will.  We have been bought with a price: we belong to God.  As we walk in His Spirit, our motive is Christ, and have a power the world knows nothing of.

– We have joy of heart and thankfulness of spirit.



April 2018


Based on J N Darby: ‘Indwelling of the Holy Ghost – 1 Corinthians 6’ – JND’s Collected Writings Vol. 21 Evangelical 2 page 215.








The Woman at the Well

What is this gift, and the Giver?

The gift – a well of living water – the Holy Spirit
The Giver – Christ.
It is not a pool, which, even if full now, can dry up. It is a fountain which can never dry up. The believer has it in himself, and he has for ever. But first the believer must first get to know the Giver.

A short summary of a preaching by J. N. Darby entitled  ‘The Woman of Samaria’ – Collected Writings volume 12 (Evangelical 1) p. 1..  Click on link for original.

This was the first of series of thirteen preachings. Unlike his wrigins, the preachings are much easier to follow – so – if you have time, read the original.

John 4:1-26

John 4Three chapters in John’s gospel speak of the effects and operations of the Spirit of God.

  • John 3: New birth – the power and efficacy of the Holy Spirit in giving life
  • John 4: The Well – a well of water springing up into everlasting life
  • John 7: Rivers of living water – the internal effect of the indwelling Spirit

The Lord Jesus Christ is the giver of the Holy Spirit to them that believe.   As sinners, we have no relationship with God – that relationship had been lost forever.  However, because of Christ’s sacrifice and intercession, it has been restored for the believer.  All our blessings are through Him.   He died for our sins, and rose again.  He was made ‘sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him’ (2 Cor 5:21).  The knowledge of God’s righteousness is by the Spirit.  Knowing it we can share in God’s happiness, having fellowship with the Father and unhindered communion with God.  This is the gift of God: there is no other way

The Pharisees were jealous because Jesus was making more disciples than John. In order to follow peace with all men, Jesus left Judea for Galilee, passing through Samaria on the way.  It had been a long journey and He was weary, so He sat down by a well to recover His strength.  It was not just that journey, He had left His home of glory and of blessedness, and come down to this weary, sinful world.   There everything around would make Him weary – sin, hatred, ingratitude, ill-will, open opposition, and toil.  However, He was never weary of love.

So what do we find?  The Lord of glory, the Son of the Eternal God, sitting alone with a wicked sinner by a well, asking her for a drink of cold water – the humblest request possible.  He was to settle the great question of eternity with her, showing her what she was herself, and telling her who He was.   In love the Lord is still humbly asking people for a drink – that is, to be reconciled – ‘We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God’ (2 Cor 5:20).

Among the Jews it was considered obnoxious to have anything to do with the Samaritans, let alone to be beholden to them for a favour.  Despite what the woman asked, the Lord did not enter into argument about the prejudices of the Jews, but focused instead on her salvation.  So He says, ‘If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water’ (v. 10).  Her carnal mind could not take that in, it just did not mean anything to her, and it does not mean anything to people now: divine things appear stupid and valueless.  Nor did she know the Giver.  She said, ‘Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?’ (v. 11).

So what is this gift, and the Giver?

  • The gift – a well of living water – the Holy Spirit
  • The Giver – Christ.

It is not a pool, which, even if full now, can dry up.  It is a fountain which can never dry up.   The believer has it in himself, and he has for ever.  But first the believer must first get to know the Giver.

The woman was occupied with her worldly duties and pursuits, and could not rise to anything higher.  Satan uses these mundane things (even a waterpot) to keep souls from Christ.   Dear reader, is there any waterpot which is keeping you from knowing Christ, and seeing His great salvation?  It may be harmless, innocent or even praiseworthy – your family, your job or your pastimes.

Now, all of a sudden, the woman realised that there was something in what the Lord had been saying.  She said, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw’ (v.15).  Though she was still thinking naturally, and may even been sceptical, the Lord persevered with her in love.  The Lord is always patient: He never gets weary when it comes to souls.   He says ‘Go, call thy husband’, and follows this up with ‘Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband’ (v. 16-18).  In effect, He showed her that she did not realise the wretched, ruinous state she was in.   Her conscience vibrated.   In the presence of One who was acquainted with the hidden recesses of her heart, she was stripped of her self-disguise.  She had never really believed that she was a sinner.  Now she knew that she was, like the man who came into the assembly in 1 Cor 14:24, ‘He is convinced of all, he is judged of all; and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.’

There was some discussion as to the Lord’s being a prophet, and the arguments as to where one should worship.  The Lord bore with this.  But she was in the process of leaving her waterpot and coming to know the Saviour.  She even appeared to be looking forward to His (the Messiah’s) coming.  The Spirit lead her to say, ‘I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ; when he is come, he will tell us all things’. Jesus’ reply, ‘I that speak unto thee am he’ (v. 25-26).

The woman had wanted water and had come with her waterpot.  Now she had a well of water and had left her waterpot.   Christ had revealed Himself to her soul; the Messiah’s glory was now her aim and end.  She knew Him, not from hearsay but personally, and immediately she preached Him to others.  ‘Come, see a man that told me all that ever I did: is not this the Christ’ (v. 29).  A total revolution had taken place.

It is a process in which we are taken out of a former position, as strangers, even enemies, and are introduced to a new position, where we are brought near to God.  We no longer have a worldly but a heavenly portion – Christ’s portion.  The Spirit shows us that our new life is the life of Christ.  In fact, we are in the same position as Christ Himself!

The world’s wealth, power and distinction now has little value to us.  We find no wealth but in Christ; we find no power but by Christ; we have no distinction but from Christ.  Our joy is full.  We have a fresh spring, drawing from the Lord of glory, giving us fellowship with millions of others who have had the same experience with the Lord, and who have received the Holy Spirit.

Dear reader, how is it with your soul?  Have you asked for the living water?  Is there this well within you?  Do you have it yourself, or you relying on others? – that will not do.  Now, if you have it, what practical influence has it had?  Are you separated from the world, and separated to God?  Do you think about your high calling? – heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ!  (See Rom 8:17)  Are you imitating Him?  He was ‘holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners’ (Heb 7:26).   Are you?

Do you have this spring, this well of water?  If not, you do not yet know the gift of God.  if you have not got it in you, you’ve got nothing.  Don’t deceive yourself, nothing else will do.  When temptation, trial, or affliction comes, your pool will be dried up without any resource – a useless pool without a spring,


Summary by Sosthenes

November 2016

After the Rapture, the Jewish Remnant – Particularly from the New Testament

‘After These Things’ Chapter 5.4 – After the Rapture, the Jewish Remnant – Particularly from the New Testament

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

Click on icon to download PDF


How does the New Testament distinguish between the earthly hopes and promises to Israel, and the heavenly hopes of the church?   It is absolutely impossible to set aside the promises to Israel – the church does not replace them [as modern ‘replacement theology’ and would suggest*].  God had made promises to His people which cannot be undone – ‘The gifts and calling of God are without repentance’ (Rom 11:29).   In speaking of Israel, ‘Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers’  (Rom 15:8).  His rejection and death did not set the promises aside. Israel is now in unbelief, but after the rapture of the church, there will be a pious godly remnant owning Christ and owned by Him.

A summary of a part of a paper by J.N. Darby entitled:  The Rapture of the Saints and the Character of the Jewish Remnant:  Published in Darby’s Collected Writings –  Volume 11 (Prophetic 4) Pages 134-142 



5.4 After the Rapture, the Jewish Remnant – Particularly from the New Testament

The Birth of Christ

Christ’s Rejection by Israel

Christ’s Teaching

Peter’s Ministry

Paul’s Ministry

The Hope of the Church

The Rapture


The Tribulation

Israel and the Appearing



In reading the New Testament, we need to distinguish between the earthly hopes and promises to Israel, and the heavenly hopes of the Church.   It is impossible to set aside the promises to Israel, because the church does not replace them[1].  God’s promises to His people cannot be undone – ‘The gifts and calling of God are without repentance’ (Romans 11:29).   In speaking of Israel, ‘Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers’  (Romans 15:8).  His rejection and death did not set the promises aside. Israel is now in unbelief, but after the Rapture of the church, there will be a pious, godly remnant owning Christ and owned by Him.

The Birth of Christ

Luke commences with announcements and births of John the Baptist and then Jesus.  The angel told Zacharias that many of Israel should turn to the Lord their God, a people prepared for Him (see Luke 1:16-17).  There is a people prepared for the Lord before He comes (not sovereign grace meeting sinners in their need, as it is with us).  Mary was told that Yeshua/Jesus (Jehovah the Saviour) should be called the Son of the Highest and that He would be given the throne of His Father (see Luke 1:32).   The song of Zacharias (Luke 1:67-79) is wholly composed of the divinely-given celebration of God’s visit to His people to redeem them and to raise a horn of salvation for them in the house of His servant David (see v.69).  The Jewish shepherds received the announcement of His birth.

However, these persons were not typical of those of Israel – they were the believing, pious ‘remnant’.  Later, Anna and others were looking for redemption in Jerusalem: they evidently knew one another.  Simeon saw in ‘light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel’. (Luke 2:32).  It is therefore absolutely clear that this remnant is a people prepared for Jehovah, awaiting earthly deliverance.

The Gentiles come later in Luke.

Christ’s Rejection by Israel

Matthew’s gospel reveals how Christ was presented to the Jews and rejected by them.  Following His rejection, God’s plans for the Remnant were interrupted so as to accomplish something brighter and more blessed (viz. the church, the time of the Spirit, grace and the Christian dispensation).  But to suppose that God had invalidated His thoughts as to Israel, would be to subvert divine testimonies and undermine God’s faithfulness.

The old was still in the mind of God to be fulfilled at the appropriate time.  Like the prophets, Matthew passed over the intervening church period.  He introduced Christ as the accomplishment of prophecy and promise, giving His genealogy and showing how prophecy was being fulfilled – see Matthew 1:22,  2:5 and  2:15.    ‘The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus’  (Revelation 19:10).  The church does not have any part in this, already being with Christ.

In the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) the ‘ye’ refers to the Remnant, not the self-righteous Jews – nor does it directly refer to Christians (though we can learn from the moral teaching).  They were to expect persecution and a consequent reward in heaven.   Those who were obedient to His teaching were like the man building his house on the rock see (Matthew 7:24).  On the other hand,  unbelieving Israel would be cast into prison till the uttermost farthing was paid (Matthew 5:26).

Christ’s Teaching

In Matthew 10, Christ sends out the twelve.  They were not to go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  They were to declare the kingdom of heaven to be at hand, and to enquire who was worthy, that is to seek the righteous remnant (not poor sinners).  Although they were to speak peace everywhere, the peace would rest only on the sons of peace.   They were to shake the dust off of their feet before those hostile Jews who did not receive them.  Verse 18 (‘Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake’ etc.) goes beyond the Lord’s lifetime and the church period.  The faithful would be brought before the Gentile enemies, and be hated of all men for Christ’s name’s sake.  This ministry was to Israel and would not be completed till the Son of man came.

In Matthew 23, the disciples and the people are on Jewish ground.  They were to be subject to the teachers who had set themselves in Moses seat, even if those teachers had rejected the ‘prophets, and wise men, and scribes’ (v. 34).  Their ancestors had stoned the prophets and killed those who had been sent, but still, Jerusalem would never listen.  Often Jesus (Jehovah) would have gathered Jerusalem’s children together: now the desolate city would not see her Lord until she repented, saying,  ‘Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord’ (v. 39).

In Matthew 24, His disciples ask about the judgment and the end of the age (not the ‘world’). This again is in line with Jewish thought.  While Herod’s temple would be destroyed in AD70, the Lord was speaking of what would happen at the end.  False Christs would come, saying, ‘I am the Christ’, and even deceive the elect. There would be many troubles, culminating in the abomination of desolation of which Daniel spoke, and those who were in Judea would flee to the mountains.  But before He comes, the gospel of the kingdom would be sent to all the Gentiles[2].  Finally, the Messiah would return and associate Himself with the godly remnant in Judea and Jerusalem.  What language could be more understandable?

The whole scene is Jewish: it could not be  Christian.  Indeed, it has no direct application whatever to true Christians, because when the Lord comes, they would already have been caught up to meet the Lord in the air.  The Lord will come publicly: He will be Judge, whereas when He comes to Rapture His saints, it will be secretly in perfect grace (See Chapter 1.4 – The Rapture and the Appearing).  A Christian who has been beguiled by thoughts of going through the tribulation must have renounced Christian hopes or have never understood them.

Peter’s Ministry

On the cross, the Lord interceded saying, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34).   After the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter says, ‘And now, brethren, I know that ye did it in ignorance, as also your rulers… Repent therefore and be converted, for the blotting out of your sins, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. He may send Jesus Christ, who was foreordained for you, whom heaven indeed must receive till the times of the restoring of all things, of which God has spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets since time began’ (Acts 3:17-19 Darby).  Repentance was called for, but few repented.  

As far as we can see, Peter did not teach the doctrine of the church.  Christians remained strictly attached to Judaism, zealous of the law; priests were obedient to the faith, and some even continued to be priests.  Also, Peter never taught Jesus to be the Son of God, yet it had been revealed to him, and he had confessed ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’ in Matthew 16:16.  Peter’s message was, ‘Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ’ (Acts 2:36).

Following that, Christ could then speak of the Church, for it was to be founded on Peter’s confession.  But it was still a future thing – ‘on this rock I will build my church’ (Matthew 16:18).  In Christ’s death, He gathered together into one the children of God; in His resurrection, He was declared Son of God with power.  Christ’s death and resurrection laid the excellent foundation for all our blessings.  

When the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, came  the Church (or the assembly), was formed, and the Lord added daily such as should be saved (see Acts 2:47).  Those who previously composed the remnant became its nucleus.  It was a newly instituted body, formed by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, and united to the Head, Christ in heaven.   

However, God’s promises to Israel were not abrogated.

Paul’s Ministry

Paul is the apostle who gives us the Assembly (or Church).  Paul is also the only apostle who speaks of the Rapture of the saints taking place before the Appearing of Christ.  This ministry changed everything: we now have a heavenly gathering on earth. Paul’s free ministry, distinct from that of the twelve, had already been started by Stephen.  He had testified to a heavenly Christ, a Man in glory, and was put to death.   Saul of Tarsus, the chief persecutor of Christians would have heard that testimony.

Later, Saul, when drawing near to Damascus, was arrested by the same Man whom Stephen saw, and from the same place too.  From the glory He said, ‘‘Why persecutest thou me?’ … I am Jesus whom thou persecutest’ (Acts 9:4-5).   The Lord told him that He, Himself, was being persecuted, although the objects of that persecution were the Christians.  From this we infer that the Lord’s body was here, identified with its glorified Head in heaven.  It became the starting point for Paul’s ministry as to the Church.  Jew and Gentile were all one as He taught, ‘God hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who filleth all in all’ (Ephesians 1:22-23).

Now God introduces the sovereign fullness of His grace, a doctrine entirely unknown in the Old Testament.  Paul speaks of the mystery, Jews and Gentiles forming one body, and says, ‘The preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest and by prophetic scriptures, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith’ (Romans 16:25-26 Darby).   Both Jews and Gentiles are consequently reconciled to God through faith and made one by the Holy Spirit.  This was the body of Christ, the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit.

The Greek word for ‘church’ or ‘assembly’, ἐκκλησίᾳ/ekklēsia/Strong-1577, means ‘a calling out’.  We see it in ‘The Lord added daily to the assembly’ (Acts 2:27 Darby). ‘He set some in the assembly; firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets’ (1 Corinthians 12:18 Darby).  The Church is called out to participate in the sufferings of Christ, later to be presented to Himself as His bride, without spot or wrinkle (See Ephesians 5:27).  The same word is also applied to the particular churches or assemblies of Christians in different places because they formed the assembly of God in that place.  No other meaning is possible.

The Hope of the Church

The Church is heavenly in its calling and belongs to Christ in heaven.  It forms no part of the course of events of the earth.  This makes its Rapture so simple and clear as we see from   Colossians 3:4, ‘When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’  The church’s hope and glory is Christ Himself.   He is our life; our life is hidden with Him; He is our righteousness; the glory that has been given to Him (sonship), He has given us; we are members of His body; we are of His flesh and of His bones.  We suffer with Him now but will reign with Him in a coming day, conformed to His image.

The Rapture

The Church is not connected in any way on earth with Christ’s appearing or second coming.  She is already spoken of as sitting with Him in heavenly places (see Ephesians 1:20), so she belongs elsewhere –  she only awaits being brought there bodily.  Her immediate outlook is her being taken physically to where He is. ‘From heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thessalonians 4:6).

This being the case, a person who maintains that he does not go to be with Christ until His Appearing, is denying the proper hope and relationship of the church.  Ignorance is one thing, but denial is another.  Grasping the fact of our being with Him at the Rapture, not the appearing, changes all our spiritual thoughts and affections.  Our hope is not even to be in glory with Him, wonderful as that is, but it is being with Him.  ‘I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also’ (John 14:3), ‘So shall we ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

There are several ways in which scripture presents the return of Christ: 

  • The general fact: Christ will come again, and we will be with Him. The saints of our dispensation ‘have been made to our God kings and priests; and they shall reign over the earth’ (Revelation 5:10 Darby).


  • The world, evil and in confusion, will ripen into rebellion. The believer knows and believes that at Christ’s Appearing and His kingdom, God will judge the living and the dead.  It will be an earthly kingdom and an earthly judgment.


  • The saints of our dispensation will have, through grace, a unique association with Christ. They will have met Him in the air.  They will also have been before the judgment-seat of Christ, giving an account of themselves to God, but this part of their privilege, not punitive, for they will already be like Jesus.  He will introduce them into His Father’s house, placing them in the heavenly seat of government with Himself.  This is the Rapture of the saints, and it precedes the Appearing.

Before the Appearing, the world will have become entirely apostate, and the man of sin will have been revealed.  The Church will already have been taken, not being of the world, but risen with Christ.  On the other hand, the Rapture does not depend on any earthly event. The Christian’s hope is, therefore, not a prophetic subject at all.  No one knows when the Rapture will take place.

The saints leave the world and worldly religion by going out to meet the Bridegroom. The cry ‘Behold the Bridegroom cometh!’ (Matthew 25:6). went out at midnight, but it could have been at any time.  We know that the Bridegroom did tarry, and the sense of His coming was lost.  It is the loss of the expectation of immediacy of the Lord’s coming that lays behind the public church’s departure from simplicity, and its fall into clerical authority and worldliness.   It lost its spiritual authority.  In Matthew 24, what leads the wicked servant into mischief is not the denial of the Lord’s coming, but the loss of the sense and present expectation of it.  The Christian is constantly waiting for the Lord to come.

When therefore is the Christian to expect the Lord? – Always.


An example of those who were awaiting the Lord’s return were the newly converted Thessalonians.  They might not have had time to accumulate much teaching, but their expectation was a divine witness to the world.  They were not waiting for any earthly events – just waiting.  They saw themselves to amongst those who would be alive and remain at the coming of the Lord (see 1 Thessalonians 4:15).  We need to be like that.

We know that the Thessalonians were distressed about those who had perished for Jesus’ sake, that they would not be here to enjoy His coming.  They were also troubled by false teachers alleging that that day of the Lord was already present.  Paul corrected this error by showing that the dead would be raised, and then the living ones would go up to meet Christ with them.  He explained that it was an absolute moral absurdity for the Lord’s people to go through the judgment since they would already be in heaven along with the Judge.  This confirmed their expectation, enlivening their faith and brightening their hope despite the persecution.  The terrible persecution that they were enduring, was but a pledge from a righteous God that they would have rest and glory, not trouble when the kingdom came.  The Thessalonians’ minds were, therefore, re-established,  clear and peaceful.

The Tribulation

In Revelation 12:10-12, it is said, ‘And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!’  This is not the Rapture, because that will have taken place earlier.  These happenings are in the subsequent seven years.  3½ years before the close (that is middle of the half-week of Daniel), Satan, the accuser, will be cast out of heaven.  What follows is the great wrath of Satan for those living upon the earth.  For one class, persecution and death had now ceased; for another, it was just going to begin.

As regards our passing through the tribulation (a question which often arises on this matter) the scripture makes it very simple. How do we know that there will be a tribulation?  Scripture tells us.  But equally, it makes it clear that the Jews will live in it, and the church will not be in it:

  • I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth’ (Revelation 3:10). That was to a Christian assembly, Philadelphia.
  • These [are they who come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb’ (Revelation 7:14). This is clearly after the Rapture.
  • It is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it’ (Jeremiah 3:7). ‘He’ would refer to a faithful one of Israel.
  • ‘There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book’ (Daniel 12:1). This refers to Israel.

The time of temptation referred to above, shall come to try them who dwell on the earth.  This is more general; it is not the great tribulation of Jeremiah, Daniel, and Matthew, which is exclusively Jewish.  


Israel and the Appearing

In the epistle to the Romans, specifically chapter 11, we have the general doctrine as to the Remnant of Israel.   An elect believing remnant will be grafted into their own olive tree and become one nation – ‘all Israel.’   That could not be the Christian assembly, even with Jewish believers – they had never been broken out of the Jewish olive tree.

In that coming day, Israel will be blessed on earth.  ‘He shall come to be glorified in his saints and to be admired in all them that believe’ (2 Thessalonians 1:10).   The Remnant of Israel will be blessed despite the tribulation.  They will form a separate class from unbelieving Israel and the church.  They come in after the sealing of the 144,000 – the elect of the twelve tribes of Israel (see Revelation 7:4), experiencing God’s protection, nourishment, refreshment and comfort.  Their position is different from ours.


We should not confuse things. The scripture is as plain as can be.  Anybody who confounds the day of Christ with His coming to receive the church does not understand the day we in, nor His coming, nor the church.  Confounding the day of the Lord and His coming to receive the church, is a subversion of the whole nature of the relationship between both Christ and the Church, and Christ and the world.   It is far more than a mistake in terms.   The denial of the Rapture brings the church down to an earthly position, destroying its whole character

[1] As modern ‘replacement theology’ or supercessionism would suggest (See Chapter 4.8 above).

[2] Note – not the gospel of the grace of God.

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – Acts

The Acts of the Apostles embraces the revelation of the gift of the Holy Spirit and His workings: first, at Jerusalem, where He is rejected by Israel; next, in His free operation outside Israel; and, lastly, in Paul, connected with the revelation of the church among the Gentiles at large, closing with his being delivered by the Jews to the Gentiles and his being sent a prisoner to Rome.

Outline of Bible coverThis book follows on from the close of Luke.  We find the disciples acting in the intelligence of the scriptures, though not yet having been given the power of the Holy Spirit. The Acts of the Apostles embraces the revelation of the gift of the Holy Spirit and His workings: first, at Jerusalem, where He is rejected by Israel; next, in His free operation outside Israel; and, lastly, in Paul, connected with the revelation of the church among the Gentiles at large, closing with his being delivered by the Jews to the Gentiles and his being sent a prisoner to Rome.

The coming of the Holy Spirit, overleaps Babel in grace by the gift of tongues: the first sign of His presence. We see the moral effects of His presence in devotedness and unity, and, forming the assembly, the remnant in Israel are added to it. “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” But He still proposes to Israel the return of Christ (founded on Christ’s intercession on the cross) upon their repentance; while declaring that the heavens must receive Him till the times when all that the prophets had said should be established.   But Israel rejects His testimony. Christ is exalted and the Holy Spirit comes down. The disciples pursue their testimony in patience in spite of Israel’s opposition, and are confirmed in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is manifested in power, as God’s presence in the assembly on earth, searching the hearts of men. He ministers to unity and order even in temporal things, acting now in liberty according to faith and faithfulness in instruments of His own choice.

This free action of the Holy Spirit calls out the final judgment of Israel, on every principle of relationship of God with man, but their conduct is characterised throughout by resistance to the Holy Spirit.   This is accompanied by the opening of heaven to Stephen, who was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave the testimony that they now resisted. His thorough likeness to Christ, through seeing Him in glory, is beautifully brought out; his death on the earth, and his being received into heaven. The making good church blessings in connection with Israel plainly becomes impossible. Here it is that Saul, the enemy, first comes in.

And now, before turning to any more positive facts, you get the free action of the Holy Spirit extending the gospel outside Jerusalem, consequent on persecution. Next, we find Saul, the apostle of enmity against Christ, broken and brought down by Christ, revealed in supreme heavenly glory, but identifying all Christians with Himself, as being Himself, “why persecutest thou me?”

Peter’s testimony to Christ has been that the Messiah, the Prince of life, whom they had rejected, had been exalted by God.   Paul immediately preached that He is the Son of God. Peter never preached Him as Son of God. Paul’s preaching consequently embraces heavenly glory and the unity of the saints with Christ.

But Saul, while owned of the disciples, is laid aside for a time. Peter’s ministry continues; and the first Gentile is added to the church, whilst maintaining its constituted unity. The previous free action of the Holy Spirit outside Jerusalem at Samaria had been connected with it by Peter and John going down, and the disciples’ receiving the Holy Spirit by the laying on of their hands.

We now find the same free action of the Holy Spirit going to mere Gentiles in the great Grecian capital, Antioch. The connection with Jerusalem is still kept up by the apostles sending Barnabas there. He goes and fetches Saul. We have then the testimony through prophets (another sign of the Holy Spirit), this same connection being maintained in another way, The prophets come from Jerusalem, and in result they of Antioch send help to those in Judea. We have then the proof of the service of angels to the church. This closes this part of the Acts.

We now have Paul’s ministry. The Holy Spirit now calls, separating Barnabas and Saul for the work to which He had called them, and they are sent forth by the Holy Spirit. It is a new kind of apostle. The first thing we find is a figure of the total blinding of the Jews who resist the Holy Spirit, and the eyes of Gentiles opened to believe. Notwithstanding this, Paul (for he is now called Paul) according to the Lord’s mind always goes first to the Jews, and afterwards to the Greeks. John Mark leaves them. After having preached round, they choose elders for the churches. It is only among the Gentiles that we read of this. He then returns to Antioch, and there we find what the result of the laying on of their hands had been. They had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they had now fulfilled. “And there they abode long time with the disciples.”

The church having now been freely established on heavenly principles outside Jerusalem, Satan seeks to introduce confusion by bringing in the law. ; God, to maintain unity, causes the matter to be referred to Jerusalem, so that the apostles there, and the church, should themselves declare the Gentiles free. The points to which they were subjected were not introduced by the law, but expressed the title of God in Himself and to all life, and the maintenance of the original purity in which God had originally constituted man upon earth. I see authority here within the church in the apostles. “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us,” with perfect liberty of ministry.

They dismiss Judas and Silas; and then we get another thing: Paul gathers fellow-labourers round himself: first Silas, then Timothy, whom he circumcises. T his was completely illegal. He never rose more above the law than here. Now, we get the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit in the carrying out of his ministry; but he had to be guided by divine intimations. Then we have Paul pursuing his ministry – kept of God everywhere – the very demons forced to own him – and as competent as the other apostles to confer the Holy Spirit: free ministry, under the guidance of God’s Spirit, still going on.

As Paul, returns to Jerusalem, he intimates that it was the close of his ministry in those parts to the elders of Ephesus at Miletus. He predicted the efforts of Satan, and calling upon them to watch and labour with the same earnestness and energy as had marked his own labours amongst them. He expected the elders to maintain themselves. He now returns to Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit warning him, and the disciples telling him by the Spirit, not to go up. On the suggestion of the elders at Jerusalem, he accommodates himself to Jewish ceremonies, the believers at Jerusalem being all zealous of the law. This brings him into captivity; but the effect of the captivity is to bring him into the place of testimony before the Jews, who refuse grace to the Gentiles, and then before Lysias, Felix, Festus, Agrippa, and Nero. But he is a prisoner all the time, and as such he worked at Rome. This closes the testimony to the Jews; and thus the history of the dissemination of the gospel in apostolic times.



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 – John

In John we have the divine person of the Lord as life and light. We also have the sending of the Comforter down here in His place. Finally John gives us a brief view of the whole course of the dispensation until the millennial kingdom.

Outline of Bible coverIn John we have the divine person of the Lord as life and light. We also have the sending of the Comforter down here in His place. Finally John gives us a brief view of the whole course of the dispensation until the millennial kingdom.

Chapter 1

John 1:1-18 presents the person of the Lord Jesus. Though largely shown to be God, the Lord is, from v.14 onwards, always looked at in John as a man living on earth, manifesting the Father.

  • in verses 1-5 – abstractedly, as to His nature, and the effect of His appearing
  • verses 6-11, John’s testimony to this, and the effect of his coming
  • verses 12, 13, the effect and way of grace
  • verses 14-18, the Word made flesh;


  • verses 19-34, John’s testimony to what He would be as to His work and effectual power for man – Lamb of God, Baptiser with the Holy Ghost, owned here Son of God by the Holy Ghost descending on Him
  • verses 35-42, John’s testimony historically gathering to Him (this is the first day of active gathering)
  • verse 43 to end, the Lord’s gathering

This embraces God’s dealing with the remnant during the life of Christ’s here, and afterwards, till He is owned by the remnant at the end. This is represented by Nathanael. He is owned as Son of God, King of Israel, but takes a wider title too, that of Son of man, on whom the angels wait.

Note in v. 38-42 that Christ is the divine centre, God is manifest in flesh; and secondly we have the only path through the world when Jesus says, “Follow me”.

  • The world is condemned,
  • Christ separates His own out of it to Himself, as
  • God is revealed
  • Heaven is opened on Him, and the angels wait upon Him as Man.

Note, we have our part as Stephen had – heaven opened, and He, the Son of man, there. Note too, that Christ does not have an object to look at, but we have one – He is the object.

Chapter 2 v.1-22 gives the millennial character of the third-day concerning Israel:

  • the marriage
  • purifying judgment.

In v. 23-25 the Lord does not accept a present reception according to the intelligence of flesh.

However, in chapter 3, a man must be born again. This is true even for the earthly promises made to Israel. But the thoughts of God for man go on to heaven, for the divine Son of man came down from heaven and He speaks of it. God loves the world, and gives us to believe in Him by faith individually so as not to perish. This introduces the cross, the Son of man lifted up like the serpent – the Son of God given. Condemnation hangs on believing or not in the Son of God; for light has come into the world, but men love darkness. This is a great moral truth altogether outside Israel. Jesus has fully revealed heaven as He knows it, and made man, by believing in Him, fit for it. John then bears witness to Christ, in contrast to himself and his testimony, as divine and heavenly: the One to whom His Father has given all. Those who believe in Him have life; those who do not believe, will not see life and wrath abides on them. All this ministry was prior to His entering on His public ministry, for this took place after John had been cast into prison.

Chapter 4: The jealousy of the Jews drives Him from Judea. The woman of Samaria, who is outside and independent of Judaism is brought in. God is present there to give the living water. The Lord humbly asks her for a drink: this blessedly inspires confidence for her to ask for it, He having already given her the desire. Now she has a spiritual spring rising up to eternal life within her. But nature cannot receive spiritual things. God reaches the conscience by the word. This is recognised as of Him, and then Christ is known and owned as Saviour of the world. And though salvation be of the Jews, God, who is a Spirit, must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. And the Father (the name now revealed in grace) seeks such to worship Him, meeting a needy soul. This is Jesus’ joy in grace.

In Chapter 5 we find that law, with all its ordinances, can do nothing through the weakness of the flesh. The truth however is, that the Father and the Son are working, not man. The Jews cannot have their sabbath in sin and misery. But as the Father has life in Himself, so He has given to Jesus the Son to have life in Himself, and He quickens whom He will; and committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honour Him as they honour the Father. There is no confusion in these ways of honouring Him. He who hears His word, and believes on the Father who sent Him, has everlasting life, and does not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life. There is then a resurrection to life, and another to judgment (see v. 30-47). Jesus is presented as life to the responsible man, witnessed by John Baptist, the Lord’s works, the Father, and the scriptures. But the Jews, who rejected Moses’ writings speaking of Christ, would not receive Him or His works. When the false one comes in his own name, they will receive him.

Chapter 6 gives a picture of the order of God’s ways in Christ. Already Prophet, He would not be King, but goes on high alone to pray. During this time the disciples are toiling without Him against the wind; He rejoins them, and they are at land. This is in connection with the passover, and Christ’s proving Himself the Jehovah of Psalm 132. (Arise, Jehovah, into thy rest, thou and the ark of thy strength) v.8JND. Instead of that now, He is the bread coming down from heaven to give life to the world, and must be received spiritually and inwardly as the One incarnate, but also as dying, as there is no life in any man. Also He, the Son of man was going up to where He was before.

In chapter 7, the Jews (His brethren) do not believe on Him, and He cannot show Himself to the world. This is the feast of tabernacles. He promises the Spirit to those who believe: instead of His visible presence, as rivers of living water, springing up unto eternal life. The Jews (of Judea) and people (Galilee, etc.) are distinguished.

Chapter 8 gives the word rejected; chapter 9 the works.

In chapter 8 Christ is the light of the world and the Light to lead. He deals with conscience in contrast with the difference between gross sins and sinfulness. His word is the absolute expression of Himself. He is from above; unbelieving man is of the devil from beneath, The devil is a liar and a murderer, and abides not in the truth. Jesus is God, and the Jews reject Him.

In chapter 9 He gives eyes to see. This is by incarnation, which in itself gives no spiritual sight. However, by the Spirit and word, He is known as the sent One, there is sight. He is confessed as Prophet, and then through the word received, He is believed on as the Son.

Chapter 10 gives us His care of the sheep. They are put out, but He goes before. He comes in by, and is, the appointed way, giving salvation, liberty, and pasture. He lays down His life for the sheep; He knows them, and they Him, as His Father knew Him, and He His Father. In laying down His life, He becomes the special object and motive for His Father’s love. He has other sheep (Gentiles), and there is to be one flock (not fold), one Shepherd. He goes from His obedient lowliness to being one with His Father. Father and Son are the names of grace.

In chapter 11 He is declared Son of God by resurrection power. He is the Resurrection and the Life. When He is present, the dead live, and the living do not die. But while showing divine power, He is the dependent Son as man. He feels for and with us, but He is always heard.

In chapter 12 He is the Son of David. The time of His glory as Son of man has come. But then He must die. Before this, He is received at Bethany, where the taught remnant enter into His death. This lays the ground for the new thing, while the enmity ripens. His death, as rejected by the hopeless and judicially blinded hostility of Israel, now comes fully before us.

Chapter 13: His departure does not close His service to His disciples. He fits them to be with Him when He cannot stay with them. This is essentially necessary according to His true nature and glory. He came from God, and went to God; the Father had given all things into His hand. His human nature continued in divine purity and perfectness, whereas man was traitorously hostile. He loved His own who were in this world absolutely and He loved them through all, to the end. Having regenerated them by the word, He washes their feet as their servant, and gives them an example in service. He shows His personal love to them, the advantage of habitual nearness to Him to be able to know His mind. After Judas had gone out, He shows that the foundation of the new, but essential and everlasting, relationship with God is laid in the cross, under the title of Son of man. The Son of man is glorified in it, with all the essential attributes of God seen in Him. God is glorified in Him, but does not wait for the kingdom. He glorifies Him in Himself, and does so immediately. He then tells them to love to one another, but warns Peter he could not follow Him now. The path was through death, destruction, and wrath for man, as having only natural life. Note, in the washing: at first one is washed or bathed all over. This cannot be repeated. It is the feet which pick up dirt in the walk; but the believer is fundamentally clean, once and for all

In chapter 14, the Lord first shows that, though absent, He is an object of faith as God is.  He was not going to heaven to be at ease, and though they were distressed, He said, ‘Let not your heart be troubled’.  If that had been the end, He would have told them.  But He went to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house, and would come again and receive them.  Then we learn what they had in His presence, and what they would have after His departure.  They knew where He went, for He was going to the Father, and they had seen the Father in Him.  They knew the way, for in coming to Him they found the Father.  He could not stay, but on His going He would ask, and the Father would send, another Comforter to stay and dwell in them.  He had as yet been only among them.  Now they would know Him.  If a man kept His words, His Father would love him, and He, Jesus, would manifest Himself to Him.  If he kept His word, His Father and He would come and make their abode with him.  He left peace with them, giving them His own peace. Next, he expected in His disciples such love that they should be glad that He went, that is that they should be interested in His happiness, an immense witness of His nearness.

In chapter 15 Christ replaces Israel, the old but not the true vine on the earth; the disciples are branches, clean through the word. The Father purified the fruit-bearing, cutting off the unfruitful branches. They were to abide in Him, and He in them. If a man (not they) did not, he would be cast out and burnt. If they abode in Him, and His words abode in them, they would be endowed with power. Dependence and confidence (Christ’s words) are first; desires and thoughts come next. In bearing fruit they would resemble Him.

Next, they were to abide in His love: this by obedience, and all this that their joy might be full. They were to love one another, as He had loved them. He laid down His life for His friends: they were such (not He their friend – that He is Friend to sinners; but they are His friends) – that they might love one another. The world would hate them, as it had Him. Next, the Comforter would come, and testify of Him. As glorified, The Father would send Him; and they would testify of Christ as having been with Him.

Note that in chapter 14 the Father sends the Comforter. He brings to their remembrance that all He had said to them. Thus their witness was made good. But He would also reveal His heavenly glory, sending the Spirit from the Father.

Chapter 16 gives the Comforter, as present down here and His work in the world and in the church, in contrast with the disciples’ own state in a hostile world and with blinded Judaism. The disciples, absorbed with their loss, did not look to what God was bringing about; yet the Comforter’s presence was worth His leaving. He would demonstrate to the world sin, righteousness, and judgment:

  • Sin in rejecting Christ; for His presence proved the rejected one, gone to the Father.
  • Righteousness, as He was deservedly God’s righteousness, and the world (disciples and all), who had rejected Him, would never see Him again. The breach was absolute.
  • Judgment: the world was convinced of judgment, because its prince, who had led it against Christ, was judged. That was the proof of Christ’s power over him and his wickedness. Satan’s position was a judged one already.

The Comforter would guide the disciples into all the truth. He would show them things to come – Christ’s things, all the Father had. However soon He would see them again (that is, after His resurrection), and they would enter into the consciousness of their relationship with the Father. As yet they would be scattered, and He would be left alone; but He had the Father with Him. They might be of good cheer because He had overcome the world.

In chapter 17 Christ addresses the Father before He departs.

Verses 1-5: He lays the ground of all He has to ask. Having finished the work, He is to be glorified as Son. He establishes the glorious relationship, and our title to enter into it. He has power over all flesh, and gives eternal life to those saints that the Father had given Him. The knowledge of the Father, and of Him as sent, is eternal life.

Verses 6-8 put the disciples in their position. He manifested the Father’s name to them: so the relationship would be founded. They knew Him as having all things from the Father, not Messiah’s Jewish glory from Jehovah. All that the Father had communicated to Him in His position, He had given to them, so that they might enjoy it fully as well as having it.

In verses 9-13 He prays the disciples – those who had been given Him by the Fathe. He does not pray for the world. They are the Father’s (all is mutually possessed), and He, Christ, is glorified in them. The object is that they might have His joy complete in them.

In verses 14-19 they are put into the place of His testimony. The word (not words) was in connection with the place of relationship: not of the world. Christ was not of the world: they were not to be taken out of it, but kept from evil. They were to be morally set apart to the Father by the truth, the Father’s word. They are sent by Christ into the world as He had been sent by the Father. And He set Himself apart to the Father as the heavenly Man. The Holy Spirit might set them apart. It was Christ as well as truth, but still truth.

In verses 20, 21, He prays that those that believe through their word should be one in the Father and Son: that the world may believe.

In verses 22, 23, He has given them the glory, in order that they might be one in the display of that glory, and that the world may know it.

In verses 24-26 He would have them where He is: He who was loved before the world was. They are loved as He was. He had and would declare the Father’s name, that they might enjoy it, He being in them.

Chapter 18: We have to remark the character both of Gethsemane and the cross. It is the Son of God above the temptation, seen out of the suffering. There is no “if it be possible let the cup pass“, no “why hast thou forsaken me?” Those who had been sent to take Him go backward and fall to the ground. He puts Himself forward that the disciples might escape untouched.

In chapter 19, He heals in the garden, but Peter denies Him. In calm superiority, He answers the chief priests and Pilate, who witnessed that He was truth. Yet He submits to him as to power given from above, but Pilate leaves it to the priests to settle the matter. The Jews deny having any king but Caesar. The Jews are treated with slight, as everywhere in this Gospel.

On the cross, knowing that one scripture had yet to be fulfilled, He commends His mother to the beloved disciple, and charges him to be to her as a son. He then gives up His spirit. Of Him not a bone is broken, but He is with the rich in His death.

Chapter 20 gives us a picture of the whole time, from the remnant, through the church period and on to the converted remnant when they see the Lord. Mary Magdalene, who represents the remnant, called as a sheep by her name, is attached personally to the Lord. Then the disciples are now called brethren, in the same relationship to God and the Father as Himself. They are gathered and are told ‘Peace be unto you’ (v.19). They receive the Holy Spirit, and are sent by Christ for remission of sins. Lastly the remnant (Thomas), who did not believe at first, does on seeing. But they who have believed without seeing, are especially blessed. Twice therefore, He had shown Himself.

In Chapter 21 we have the great gathering of the millennial time: the net does not break at all. Christ had some fish on shore already; these had been brought in from the great waters. Peter, restored, has to care for Christ’s sheep, especially the Jewish flock. Thus we have the Peter’s ministry to the Jewish church. John is left to watch in his ministry over the saints and witness of God till Christ comes. This carries us on to the Apocalypse. John’s epistles and the Revelation refer to Christ’s appearing. Paul’s ministry comes in between, and speaks of the hidden mystery, the church and the rapture, before the appearing.

Originally by JND.   Lightly edited by Sosthenes, July 2014

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

Simplified Darby – God’s Love and Grace – Holiness, Unity and Christian Gathering

After maintaining that separation from evil must be the principle of unity, Darby was at pains to show that it cannot be the power to gather Christians. Holiness may attract them together, but the power to gather is grace, working in love – love through faith. If Christians gather purely out of separation from evil, they become occupied with the evil, which is not of God.

We are to be separated from evil, but separated to God. And that is in love, so we abound in love towards one another, our fellowship being with the Father and the Son, grace alone having revealed God’s heart. Active love gathers us together.

A summary by Sosthenes of John Nelson Darby’s

Grace, the Power of Unity and of Gathering

J N Darby


After maintaining that separation from evil must be the principle of unity, Darby was at pains to show that it cannot be the power to gather Christians.  Holiness may attract them together, but the power to gather is grace, working in love – love through faith.  If Christians gather purely out of separation from evil, they become occupied with the evil, which is not of God.

We are to be separated from evil, but separated to God.  And that is in love, so we abound in love towards one another, our fellowship being with the Father and the Son, grace alone having revealed God’s heart.  Active love gathers us together.

To view the complete paper – Grace, the Power of Unity and of Gathering 

To download book (JND Collected Writings – Vol 1 Ecclesiastical 1 – p366) containing this article click here

God’s Holiness, Love and Grace

In God’s nature there is both holiness and love. As Christian saints we possess these because of the life that has been given to us.  Holiness, is needed by all who approach God, but love, the spring of activity, provides the energy for us to do so.  God is holy – God is not just loving, but love.  Wherever love is found, it is of God, for God is love.  This is the blessed active energy of His being.  And God displays His love in the riches of His grace to sinners.  It is to their eternal blessing as He will show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7)

God imputes no sin to the Church. Through grace and redemption this fact is always blessedly and eternally true.

We are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. (Eph 1:4).  God is holy; God is love, and in His ways, blameless.  We are sinners. but in His love God has put sinners in the place of holiness and blamelessness.  He has shown us favour in the Beloved – In Christ the Son, the blessed one.  We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (what we need) – so we can enter where we can be to the praise of the glory of His grace – and this according to the riches of his grace (Eph 1:6-7)

Our Heavenly Position

When Christ was here He was alone; grace was rejected here, but in His death redemption was accomplished and atonement made.  Jesus has revealed God, even though His power is seen in creation, and we thus know Him to be love and light too. Blessed knowledge!

In the exercise of that love God gathers to Himself those who display that love in Christ. He is the great power and centre.

In bringing us into unity, God has the highest thoughts for us.  In Eph 1:3the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.  In John 20:17, Christ speaks of us as His brethren.  Our wonderful part in sweet and blessed grace is up there in the best and highest sphere of blessing, where He dwells.

We therefore have an inheritance.  The Holy Ghost is the earnest of the inheritance, (Eph 1:14) but not of God’s love. That is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us.  (Rom 5:5).

“Separation from Evil, God’s Principle of Unity.”

Darby’s earlier tract “Separation from Evil, God’s Principle of Unity” bore on state of the Church of God in general, and not any member in particular.  However, anybody denying the basic principles of that tract is not on Christian ground at all.  Is not holiness the principle on which Christian fellowship is based?  And the real message of that tract is simply that.

The Danger of becoming Occupied with Evil

Separation from evil, distinguishes the person who separates from the person who is separated from.  The danger when we separate we get over-occupied with our position as separate – this tends to make our position important to us.  Our treacherous human hearts being what they are, mix up our position with self.  If separation from evil becomes the gathering power, then what is in my mind is my position, and I am over-occupied by its importance.

As a Christian separates from evil, it is the evil acting on the conscience of the new man, which drives him out. He knows it to be offensive to God but if he becomes occupied with the evil, he is in a dangerous situation.  Naturally he is anxious about those he has left, to justify and demonstrate to them clearly the ground on which he left.  Meanwhile those he has left tend to cover things up in order to explain their position.  So our friend becomes occupied with proving the evil to others. This is slippery ground for the heart, to say nothing of danger to love.  This is not holiness, nor separation from evil. It harasses the mind, and cannot feed the soul.

God separates us from evil, but He does not fill the mind if we continue to be occupied with it; because God is not in the evil.  Where conflict with evil not maintained in spiritual power, communion is lost, and it becomes impossible to maintain unity.

Real Holiness is not merely Separation from Evil, but Separation to God from Evil

What is holiness?  Holiness is separation to God.  We are brought to God and to know Him.  The prodigal came to himself and said “I will arise and go to my father.” God says “If thou wilt return, return unto me.” (Jer 4:1) A soul is never really restored until it returns to God.  Even if the fruits of flesh have been confessed, forgiveness and restoration are from God in love.

God is above all. The new holy and divine nature, being exercised in life, revolts from evil when it has to face it.  Natural conscience involves the rejection of evil.  But real holiness is not merely the rejection and the separation from evil, but separation to God from evil.  God is our object.  Real holiness, then, is separation to God, as well as from evil; for only thus are we in the light, for God is light. (1 John 1:7)

So instead of the heart being occupied with the evil, which it abhors, it is filled with good.  This does not weaken separation, but puts the evil quite out of mind and sight. Hence the heart is holy, calm, apart from, and abhorring evil.  God is good, and we can be positively filled with God in Christ.  As we become occupied with good, we become  holy.  Hence we can abhor evil, without occupying ourselves with it.

The soul goes from sin to love, and goes there because love was displayed in Him that was made sin for us.  Love is the power that separates us from evil, and ends all connection with it; for  if I die then to the nature I used to live to, I live hereafter in the blessed activity in love.

Through the Holy Spirit’s working, purifying our affections our souls are  drawn to what is good.   We recognise evil, not by a mere uneasy conscience, but by sanctification.  This is all in the power of God’s grace.

Love precedes holiness

Love comes before holiness, wither mutual amongst the Christian saints , or individual in enjoying the revelation of God.  “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints,” 1 Thess. 3:1213. Also  “Ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. … God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” (1John 1:4-6).  So separation from evil involves walking in the light, in God’s revealed character in Christ, in the truth as it is in Jesus in whom the life was the light of men (John 1:4).  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.  But what makes the fellowship?

Christ therefore becomes the centre.  Jesus had won John’s heart, and was the gathering power into fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.  John knew that by the Holy Spirit. He knew that is what made the fellowship.

The true Character of Christian Fellowship – with Him, where He is, where Evil cannot come

As we have been restored to God together, we can gather to a common Christian fellowship.  We are to have fellowship in something, that is, with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus says “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me”  (John 12:32).  Now here was perfect love, entire separation from all sin and in condemnation of it.  But He is risen and ascended, so It is a heavenly place that He takes, and our gathering through the cross is to Him there, in the good where evil cannot come.  There is our communion – entering into the Father’s house in spirit.  And this is the true character of the assembly, the church, for worship in its full sense.  It remembers the cross, it worships, and all known in heaven before God.

Our fellowship or communion, is in that which is good –  heavenly, no evil being there.  Hence it is said: “If we walk in the light as God is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.”  (1 John 1:7) The only way in which we can walk out of darkness is by walking in the light, that is, with God: and God is love, and were He not, we could not walk there.

And this is true even if realised imperfectly.

Active Love Gathering Us

In love we are bought into fellowship, love acting to bring us together.  In love we have our part.  Love, while sanctifying and maintaining God’s holiness, makes us partakers of it, revealing God and gathering weary souls.

Love is active.  Jesus has revealed God, and we know Him to be love and light; He has given us eternal life.  The Lord said  : “My Father worketh hitherto and I work ”. (John5:17He gave himself . . . that he might gather into one the children of God, which were scattered abroad. (John 11:52)

It is evident to the Christian that love gathers to holiness, and on the principle of it.  Grace alone fully reveals God; without grace that to which we are to be gathered cannot be seen.  Grace reaches the heart.

Law and Grace

The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17). The law told man what he ought to be. It did not tell him what he was, nor did it tell him what God was; that remained concealed.   The truth is not what ought to be, but what is – the reality of all relationships as they are, and the revelation of Him who must be the centre of them.  And that cannot be without grace, for man is a ruined sinner, and God is love.

Through grace, God Himself, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are revealed as They are, and also what man is in perfection, in relationship with God.  We see the contrasts: obedience and disobedience, holiness and sin, God and man, heaven and earth.  With the fullest revelation of Himself, we see His counsels with Christ as the centre. Hence grace is the acting power in and is alone capable of revealing truth; for Christ’s being here is grace; His working is effective grace.

Now grace is the gathering power, gathering into unity, for it must, being divine, gather to itself.  Every renewed soul must know that all such are drawn together to Christ.

Grace reigns through righteousness.  It does it by uniting souls in the power of the Holy Spirit to Jesus, the one who was here, was on the cross, but now as Christ in heaven, where our true place is by faith.

This is love, infinite, divine; and, through the Holy Ghost, we have fellowship with Him.  We join in it.  Now that, we perceive, is the gathering power for Christians who desire to be separate from evil.

J.N. Darby (1800-1882)

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

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

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

A summary by Sosthenes – September 2013