Hell is Real, Eternal and Consistent with the Love of God 

Around Easter it was reported that the Pope was unsure as to the existence of hell.  The Vatican unsurprisingly said that the Pope’s comments had been misrepresented.  Nevertheless, a survey in the USA came up with the statistic that 30% of people identifying themselves as Christians did NOT believe in hell.  (Evangelicals  – 25% not believing in hell, ‘Mainline protestant’ 40%, Mainly-black Pentecostal’ 18%, Roman Catholic 37%, Orthodox 41%).  Surprisingly 36% of those who said they had no religion DID believe in hell. (Source Pew Research Center – Belief in Heaven and Hell among US Adults 2014).
This cause me to look into what J N Darby had to say about the subject, and found he was battling with ‘universalists’ who said that God was such a loving God that everybody would be saved, even if they had to wait a bit, and ‘annihilationists’ who believed that the fire would consume souls completely, so nothing would remain.  Of course, both are wrong, and both views continue to be prevalent today.
Whether we have many old-fashioned hell-fire sermons designed to frighten souls into submission, I don’t know.  But one thing is certain ‘Hell exits; hell is eternal, and we all deserve to go there as sinners.  ‘By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God’  (Eph 2:8).  We are called on to warn souls of the consequences of rejecting God’s grace in the gospel, whilst saying, ‘Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?’  (Rom 2:8).

JND and Hell

 JN Darby did not write much about hell, but a paper met the then-current thought (and just as current now).   ‘Brief Scriptural Evidence on the doctrine of Eternal Punishment, for plain people’.  Collected Writings Vol 7 (Doctrinal 2) page 1.
This is summarised in our posting ‘Hell is Real and Eternal’
And the backup scriptures

The Lake of Fire and the Love of God

A couple of snippets from ministry:

It may be said that the lake of fire is the result of righteousness and not of love, but it is the outcome of love in God.   From Reading on 1 Cor 13 – Ministry of James Taylor Vol. 10 page 62.
The lake of fire is consistent with God’s love.  God has almighty power, and it would be inconsistent with divine love to tolerate lawlessness.  God may tolerate it for the moment, but in result He will limit it in the lake of fire.  From Righteousness and Salvation Ministry by F E Raven Vol 18 p 117

What about those 36% of who said they had no religion and who DID believe in hell.

 What must grip them. FEAR!  How do we reach them with the glad tidings?

Remember it says:   ‘But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, . . . and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Rev 21:8)
And
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;  and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Heb 2:14-15)
And
And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:  who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1 Peter 1:15-21)
What could be more eloquent than scripture?
Greetings in the Name of our blessed Saviour who has redeemed us from Hell by His blood.
 Sosthenes Hoadelphos
May 2018

Eternal Punishment – Where JND Points to it in Scripture

It is clear that in the 1800’s J N Darby and other godly men and women had to contend with those who taught that eternal punishment in hell was inconsistent with a loving God.

Darby produced a paper ‘Brief Scriptural Evidence on the doctrine of Eternal Punishment, for plain people’.  Collected Writings Vol 7 (Doctrinal 2) page 1.

This is summarised in our posting ‘Hell is Real and Eternal’

In it, Darby listed a number of scriptures to arrest believers and make them consider that is certainly the truth. Hell, the Lake of Fire, is eternal. He wrote that ‘God meant to produce on the mind of the reader the conviction that eternal misery is the portion of the wicked, and I do not believe that He meant to produce the conviction of a lie, nor frighten them with what was not true. Now I shall quote many plain passages, adding my unhesitating conviction that the attempts to undermine this doctrine of scripture (and I have been compelled to examine a good many) have entirely failed, and that the arguments used are either dishonest, some of them flagrantly so, or contradictory and fallacious, and that all of them subvert other fundamental truths.

Here are those passages:

 

Scripture: Text Notes
Matthew 3:10, 12 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. . . he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Matthew 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Matthew 5:29-30 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.  And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.
Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

 

Mark this and chapter 10:33, because it is impossible to believe that Christ could say these things of those who were redeemed and saved as much as others, though to be punished awhile.
Matthew 8:12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth
Matthew 10:28, 33 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. . . .But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. See above
Matthew 12:31-32 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemny against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.  And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
Matthew 13:40, 49-50 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. . . So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. In those two verses, 40 and 49, it will be said “world” means age or dispensation; be it so, I believe it does; but that does not affect the judgment pronounced as to that which is to follow
Matthew 18:8-9 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Here everlasting fire or hell-fire is in contrast with life; if they go into one, they do not go into the other; nor is any particular word used which. might, as they allege, make it apply to a peculiar period of happiness. Life and hell-fire are contrasted.
Matthew 22:13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  For many are called, but few are chosen.
Matthew 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

 

 

Now here in Greek “everlasting” and “eternal” are precisely the same word; and what one means for life, the other means for punishment.
Matthew 26:24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. 
Mark 3:22 And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils
Mark 8:36-37 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 

 

Mark 9:43 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.
Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 
Luke 12:4, 5, 9, 10 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. . . But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.  And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.
Luke 16:19-31 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores, and it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.  But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.  And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.  Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.  Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.  And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.  And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
John 3:3, 15 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:36 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
John 5:29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

 

Here, they will tell you, “damnation” means judgment. So it does; but it is in contrast with having life. And in judgment “no flesh living shall be justified.” The judgment is at the end of all.
John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
John 8:24  said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
Acts 1:25         That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.
Romans 2:5-16 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;  who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God.

For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) in  the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Romans 9:22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

 

God is minded to shew His wrath and make His power known. Though love, He is God, and His majesty must be maintained against rebellion and sin.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

 

Now in this, as in Mark 16:16, perishing and being damned is contrasted with being saved, so that any plain person must conclude that they are not saved. Some are saved, and others perish because they reject the cross.
Philippians 1:28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:  who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
1 Timothy 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
Hebrews 6:4-6 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
Hebrews 10:26-31 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

 

Hebrews 11:27. By faith he [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
James 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.
2 Peter 2:13, 17, 20-21 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption. . .

These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. . .For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.  For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them

2 Peter 3:7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

 

1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
Jude 7, 11-13 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of. . .

 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

Revelation 14:9-11 If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Revelation 20:9-15 And they [Satan and his army] went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.  And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever .

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

 

Revelation 21:5-8 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.  He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

 

Sosthenes

April 2018

Christians Leaving their Comfort Zone

Abraham left his comfort zone:

 

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

 

Ruth left her comfort zone:

 

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

 

Peter left his comfort zone: 

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

 

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

 

Our Comfort Zone 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


With greetings in Christ’s blessed Name

Sosthenes

September 2017

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

Eternal Punishment

Christians have differed as to the subject of everlasting punishment.

Simple Bible-believing Christians accept that the consequence of rejecting the gospel is eternal punishment in hell. Unfortunately, many modern teachers proclaim lies:

Eternal does not mean ‘without end’
Everybody, including unbelievers, will be saved – Universalism
The wicked will be consumed and annihilated – Annihilationism.
Souls will return in another body – Re-incarnation

 

J N DarbyChristians have differed as to the subject of everlasting punishment.

Simple Bible-believing Christians accept that the consequence of rejecting the gospel is eternal punishment in hell.  Unfortunately, many modern teachers proclaim lies:

  • Eternal does not mean ‘without end’
  • Everybody, including unbelievers, will be saved – Universalism
  • The wicked will be consumed and annihilated –  Annihilationism.
  • Souls will return in another body – Re-incarnation

The simple believer has no doubt that persons who reject the glad tidings will suffer in hell eternally.   The English Bible leave him/her in no doubt that the punishment of the wicked is eternal.  ‘And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever … And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. …And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire’ (Rev 21:10,12,15).

However, the theological intelligentsia has created alternative arguments:

  • The Greek word αἰώνιος/aiónios/Strong 166 does not really mean ‘eternal’. For example, some confine both life and punishment to the next age, i.e. the millennium.  But that cannot be eternal.

 

  • All will be saved: God is too loving to allow such a thing as eternal misery in the lake of fire. (Universalism)

 

  • The wicked will not be saved. Their souls will no longer be immortal, for that the fire of hell will in time consume (or annihilate) them.  (Annihiliationism).

 

  • I add re-incarnation – that the soul is reborn into another being

 

These arguments are mutually exclusive.

 

The Greek Word αἰώνιος

Darby was a Greek scholar and he was perfectly satisfied that the word meant ‘without end’  God warns the reader that eternal misery is the portion of the wicked.  If that were not the case, would God frighten people with something that was not true?  Strong defines αἰώνιος as ‘age-long, and therefore: practically eternal, unending; partaking of the character of that which lasts for an age, as contrasted with that which is brief and fleeting’.

Rev 5:14 says, ‘And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.’  The worshippers worship for ever and ever.  On the other hand, ‘The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name’ (Rev 14:11).  For ever and ever is just that – eternal.

 

 

All will be Saved – Universalism

These persons call themselves Christian universalists.  The idea that all will be saved is monstrous and unscriptural lie.   Scripture makes it clear that some are saved and others are damned.  If this were not the case what would be the point of Christ’s atonement, because those who rejected Christ’s work would be saved anyway?  It would follow that even the devil would have to be saved – without Christ.  When scripture says ‘should not perish’ – they argue that none would perish; when scripture says ‘whose end is destruction’ – they have no answer since they believe that all will come into happiness, but the wicked would have to wait a little longer.  They argue that the condemned are such for a time only – like the Catholics believe in purgatory.

 

Hell will in time consume (or annihilate) the Souls of the Wicked – Annihilationism

This view, Darby said, was much in vogue in Britain during his lifetime.  I believe it still is.  Annihilationists say that death means simply ceasing to exist, as it does for the animals.  If life is to be found only in Christ – ‘He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life’ (1 John 5:12), then those who do not believe have no life.  They claim that after a certain quantity of punishment, the wicked will be turned out of existence, annihilated or consumed by the fire of hell, and exist no more.  However, if when they died they ceased to exist, how were they to be made alive (without the work of Christ) in order to exist?  Are they to be revived just to be punished?

Both of the above subvert God’s claims and the work of Christ.

 

Reincarnation

As far as I can see, there is no reference to reincarnation in Darby’s writings.  I am adding it though since, sadly many Christians have, in more recent times, borrowed this notion from Buddhism and Hinduism.  It becomes a way of avoiding having a direct experience with God and accepting the work of Christ.  ‘Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation’ (Heb 9:26-28).

The Truth

Christ endured the wrath of a majestic and holy God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.  Eternal punishment is the terrible consequence of the enmity of man’s heart against God; eternal blessedness is the result of God’s free and blessed grace. Simple-minded Christians believe this, as they believe scripture.

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.  And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son’ (1 John 5:10-11)

 

An Appeal by J N Darby

Poor sinner, you are to meet God.  Are you competent to judge how much punishment He should assign to you for your quantity of sin.  He is to judge you in love.  Love is what He is. But He is God, and does what pleases Him.  His love for His Son; His love for those who have accepted the work of His Son, obliges Him to punish you eternally if you refuse His love.  Mark this:  if the Spirit of God has touched your conscience, you know that you deserve to be shut out of the presence of God for ever.  You are conscious that you have deserved eternal wrath and punishment. You are a sinner: — What, in your own conscience, does sin deserve?  And further, if it is a question what sin deserves, it is a question of what Christ bore, what His atonement was; for He bore our sins and was made sin for us.  (Lightly edited by Sosthenes).

 

This is a summary of a paper by John Nelson Darby ‘A Brief Scriptural Evidence on the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment, for Plain People’. It is published in Collected Writings Volume 7 (Doctrinal 2) page 1. 

Sosthenes

August 2017

 

The Things which shall be Hereafter (Rev 1:19)  –  The Rapture

The next event for us is the rapture. It could be at any time – today even – and applies only to the church. Because of that, there is no reference to it in the Old Testament. In scripture, the in Greek word ἁρπαγησόμεθα/harpagēsometha/Strong 726 in 1Thess 4:17. Is translated ‘caught up’. The word ‘rapture’ is a noun with the same meaning.

We should ask why is the rapture so little understood, or even accepted amongst many sincere Christians? This scripture in 1 Thess 14:13-18 is very clear:

A few weeks ago I was talking to some of my younger Christian friends regarding the various things which had happened and were yet to happen.  They had little problem with the history – creation, the fall, the flood, the Exodus, Moses receiving the law,  David, the captivity, the birth of Christ, His death and resurrection, Pentecost etc., but they had real problems with what is to come.  I thought therefore in this and a few coming letters to look at these future events so that we might be sure where we are in relation to them.

 

The Rapture

new-jerusalem-2sThe next event for us is the rapture.  It could be at any time – today even – and applies only to the church.  Because of that, there is no reference to it in the Old Testament.  In scripture, the in Greek word ἁρπαγησόμεθα/harpagēsometha/Strong 726 in 1Thess 4:17. Is translated  ‘caught up’.  The word ‘rapture’ is a noun with the same meaning.

We should ask why is the rapture so little understood, or even accepted amongst many sincere Christians?  This scripture in 1 Thess 14:13-18 is very clear: ‘But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them [Darby – are in no way to anticipate those] which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words’.  Look at a few phrases ‘the dead in Christ shall rise first’ – that encompasses all those who have been ransomed by His blood from creation onwards.  Whether we who are alive now will be taken before the rapture, none of us knows.  Paul referred to ‘we, the living’, as if he thought it would be within his lifetime.  Of course we know it was not, but he was looking forward to the Lord’s coming – we should be too.[1]

Paul also says, ‘we shall ever be with the Lord’ (v.17), and ‘them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him’.  Now when Jesus comes (the public second coming, often referred to in scripture as ‘the appearing’) the dead in Christ will be with Him – and so will be those lovers of the Lord who were alive at the rapture.  Also, ‘When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory’ (Col 3:4).  Clearly, we could not come with Him, if we were still on the earth.

The church is heavenly entity: she belongs to Christ in heaven, and her hope and glory is Christ Himself.  She looks forward to and His return to take up His rights.   Therefore the church has nothing to do with the course of events of the earth.  This makes its rapture and return with Christ so simple and clear, as we see from Col 3:4, ‘When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’ [2]

1 Cor 15:51-52 is another scripture which describes the rapture: ‘We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. ’  From this we can deduce that there will be a rallying trumpet, the whole event will be very quick, and our bodies will be changed.  The latter is also referred to in  Rom 8:23waiting for the adoption, [to wit], the redemption of our body’.

When the Lord was discoursing with his disciples immediately prior to the crucifixion, He tells them that a place was being prepared for the saints to be with Him, where He is.  ‘I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.’ (John 14:2-3).

Therefore:

  • The rapture will be sudden
  • No one knows when the rapture will be
  • The rapture will be private
  • At the rapture there will be a voice (or trumpet sound) which only Christians will hear
  • At the rapture the Lord will not come quite to the earth – just to the air
  • The rapture will affect people, whether raptured or left here: the world carries on
  • At the rapture bodies will be changed

The question often arises as to what the effect of the saints being taken will be.  Suddenly millions of people will just vanish!  Hal Lindsey, who awakened many Christians to the rapture in the 1970’s in a popular book ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’, said that there would be confusion.  I doubt it.   Christians who are ‘not of the world’ will not be missed.  Writing about future events in his second epistle to the Thessalonians Paul said, ‘God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie’ (2 Thess 2:11).  The Antichrist will conjure up a satisfactory credible explanation which will be accepted universally.

 

The Rapture and the Appearing

We must not confuse the second coming with the rapture.  At the rapture the Lord comes to the atmosphere immediately above the earth.  At the appearing He comes to the earth. Here are some differences between the rapture and the appearing:

 

RAPTURE APPEARING
No one knows when it will be It will be 7 years after the rapture
It will be private It will be very public
The Lord comes to the air The Lord comes to the earth
He comes FOR His saints He comes WITH His saints
It is followed by the great tribulation[3] It is followed by the millennium
He is the Bridegroom He is the King
He is the Morning Star He is the Sun of Righteousness
It is for the Church It is not for the Church
There is little in prophecy There is much in prophecy
The world will carry on Christ will reign
The man of sin will be revealed Satan will be bound
There will be the judgment seat of Christ[3] The world will be judged
People will be translated Nobody will be translated
People will believe a lie The truth will be acknowledged

 

Two Resurrections

Something else many Christians do not realise is the fact there will be two resurrections.  The Old Testament did not distinguish between the two.  John made the distinction very clear.  When the Lord was here, He said ‘all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation’ (John 5:28-29).   Also in Revelation, ‘Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power’ (Rev 20:6).  The second death is to the Great White Throne – the resurrection of the dead for judgment[3].

The first resurrection (the resurrection of the just) is primarily at the rapture.  J N Darby says that it will be the consummation of our happiness[4].  Having given life to our souls, He will give life to our glorified bodies.

Satan is the author of this confusion.  He does not want Christians to burn with anticipation of the Lord’s immediate coming.  He certainly does not want us saying ‘Come Lord Jesus’ (Rev 22:20).

Dear Christian friends, may we keep near Him, and be assured as to the immediacy of His return.

 

 

Sosthenes

December 2016

 

[1] See ‘ADOSS – The Lord is Coming Very Soon’

[2] Note that this is distinct from the individuals who, though not of this world have to do with things here.

[3] This will be addressed in a later note, God willing.

[4] Lecture 4 on ‘The Hopes of the Church of God’, summarised by ADOSS asThe First Resurrection – or The Resurrection of the Just’

 

See other references in ADOSS:

 

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

 

JohnNelsonDarbyHow 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 odes 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.

 

The Birth of Christ

In the beginning of Luke, Christ’s birth is announced to Israel.  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).  This 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 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 having visited and redeemed His people, and raised up 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.

But these persons were not typical of those of Israel – they were they 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, a people prepared for Jehovah, awaiting earthly deliverance.

The Gentiles come later in Luke.

 

Christ’s Rejection by Israel

Matthew’s gospel reveals the way in which Christ was presented to the Jews and rejected by them.  Following His rejection, God’s plans for the remnant were interrupted in order 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 and testimony.

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 Matt 1:22,  2:5 &  2:15.    ‘The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus’  (Rev 19:10).  The church does not have any part in this, already being with Christ.

In the sermon on the mount (Matt 5-7) the ‘ye’ refers to the remnant, not the self-righteous Jews – [nor does it directly refer to Christians*].  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 (Matt 7:24).  On the other hand,  unbelieving Israel would be cast into prison till the uttermost farthing was paid (Matt 5:26).

 

Christ’s Teaching

In Matt 10, Christ sends out the twelve.  They were not to go to the Gentiles or to the Samaritans, but to 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 goes beyond the Lord’s lifetime and the church period.  The faithful would be brought before the Gentiles (enemies), and be hated of all men for Christ’s name sake.  This ministry was to Israel and would not be completed till the Son of man came.

In Matt 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 forebears had stoned the prophets, and killed those sent; but still Jerusalem would never listen.  Often would Jesus (Jehovah) have gathered Jerusalem’s children together, but 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 Matt 24 His disciples ask about the judgment and the end of the age (not the ‘world’). This again is in line with Jewish thought.  The temple would be destroyed, which of course happened in AD70, but the Lord spoke of what would happen at the end.  False Christs would come, saying, ‘I am the Christ’, and some would be deceived, even perhaps the elect. Many troubles would arise: there would be the abomination of desolation of which Daniel spoke, and those who were in Judea would flee to the mountains.  But before His coming, the gospel of the kingdom would be sent to all the Gentiles.  Finally, the Messiah would return and associate Himself with the godly remnant in Judea and Jerusalem.  What language could be plainer?

The whole scene is Jewish, not 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 as Judge, whereas when He comes to rapture His saints, it will be secretly in perfect grace.  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, and 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.  Stephen witnessed to the Jews always resisting the Holy Spirit.  Finally, the most active resister of the Spirit, Saul, was converted.   When the Jews counted themselves unworthy of eternal life, he, now Paul, turned to the Gentiles and the doctrine of the church is revealed to him.

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.  Peter never even taught Jesus to be the Son of God, even though it had been revealed to him: his doctrine 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).

 

The Church

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 [not ‘the scriptures of the prophets’], according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith’ (Rom 16:25-26 Darby).  The Father had revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Son of the living God (not merely the Christ).  Following that, Christ could then speak of the church, for it was to be founded on that confession.  But it was still a future thing – ‘on this rock I will build my church’ (Matt 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; in His departure the Comforter came.

Christ’s death and resurrection laid the great foundation for all our blessings, in particular the church.  When the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, came down the church (or the assembly), was formed, and the Lord added daily to the church such as should be saved (see Acts 2:47). Those who previously formed the remnant, became the nucleus of it.  It was a newly instituted body, formed in unity by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, and united to the Head, Christ in heaven.   However, His promises to Israel remained sure.

 

Paul’s Ministry

Only Paul speaks of the assembly (or church).  Also Paul is 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 saw a heavenly Christ, a Man in glory, and was put to death.  This was individual.

Now Saul, the chief persecutor, when drawing near to Damascus, was arrested by the same Man whom Stephen saw.  From the glory He said, ‘‘Why persecutest thou me?’ … I am Jesus whom thou persecutest’ (Acts 9:4-5).   Lord’s 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.  This became the starting-point for Paul’s ministry as to the church.  Jew and Gentile were all one; they were all one in Him.  He taught, ‘God hath put all things under his [Christ’s] feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church [assembly], which is his body, the fulness of him who filleth all in all.’ (Eph 1:22-23).

Before God took up the children of Israel as a nation, the saints of God walked in individual faith.  Afterwards, they were individual members of a nation owned as God’s people.  It was a unity in the flesh: the Spirit had nothing to do with it, and it excluded the Gentiles.  After the death and exaltation of Christ, both Jews and Gentiles were reconciled to God through faith, and consequently were 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, 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 Cor 12:18 Darby).  It is called out to participate in the sufferings of Christ, later for Him to present it to Himself as His bride, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing (See Eph 5:27).  The word ἐκκλησίᾳ/ekklēsia is also applied to the particular 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   Col 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 hid with Him; He is our righteousness; the glory given to Him 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 future day, conformed to His image.

 

The Rapture

The church has nothing to do on earth with Christ’s appearing or second coming.  She is already spoken of as sitting with Him in heavenly places (see Eph 1:20), so she belongs elsewhere –  she has only yet to be 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 Thess 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 Thess 4:17).

There are several ways in which the return of Christ are presented in Scripture:

  1. 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’ (Rev 5:10 Darby).
  1. 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 the quick and the dead.  It will be an earthly kingdom and an earthly judgment.
  1. The saints of our dispensation will have, through grace, a special 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 certain events must have occurred.  The world will have become completely apostate, and the man of sin will have been revealed.  The church will already have gone, 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!’ (Matt 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.

 

Thessalonians

An example of those who were awaiting the Lord’s return were the newly-converted Thessalonians.  They might not have had much light, but their expectation was a divine witness to the world.  They were not waiting for any events – just waiting.  They saw themselves to amongst those who would be alive and remain at the coming of the Lord (see 1 Thess 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 go up to meet Christ with them.  He explained that it was an absolute moral absurdity for the Lord’s people to go though 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 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, and all was clear and peace.

 

The Tribulation

In Rev 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.  This is in the subsequent seven years.  3½ years before the close (that is the last half-week of Daniel), Satan, the accuser, is cast out of heaven.  Now begins 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 the Jews will in it, and the church not:

  1. 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’ (Rev 3:10).
  2. These [clearly after the rapture] 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’ (Rev 7:14).
  3. It is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he [a faithful one of Israel] shall be saved out of it’ (Jer 3:7).
  4. ‘There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [Israel] even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book’ (Dan 12:1).

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.  Although the Lord is addressing Philadelphia, one of the churches, He says that they would be kept out of it.

 

Israel and the Appearing

In the epistle to the Romans, specifically chapter 11, we have the general doctrine as to the remnant in 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 future day, Israel will be blessed on earth.  ‘He shall come to be glorified in his saints [not to receive them up to Himself], and to be admired in all them that believe’ (2 Thess 1:10).   The remnant of Israel will be blessed in spite of the tribulation.  They 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 Rev 7:4), experiencing God’s protection, nourishment, refreshment and comfort.  Their position is totally different from ours.

 

Conclusion

We should not confuse the companies or the happenings. 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.

 

 

Summary by Sosthenes

Based on   ‘The Rapture of the Saints and the Character of the Jewish Remnant’ – Collected Writings vol. 11 (Prophetic 4) page 142 

Scripture marked ‘Darby’ are from the Darby Translation

April 2016

 

 

 

 

After the Rapture, the Jewish Remnant – Particularly from Isaiah

Isaiah gives us we the Jewish remnant in the latter day. Christ’s personal service on the earth when He first came bore on and spoke of remnant. The blessing is earthly, Jewish, and millennial. Christ, the great Prophet on the earth, to whom Israel was to hearken, the minister of the circumcision, was rejected. The Gentiles are introduced to prove God’s patience with Israel.

 

JohnNelsonDarbyIsaiah gives us we the Jewish remnant in the latter day. Christ’s personal service on the earth when He first came bore on and spoke of remnant.  The blessing is earthly, Jewish, and millennial.  Christ, the great Prophet on the earth, to whom Israel was to hearken, the minister of the circumcision, was rejected. The Gentiles are introduced to prove God’s patience with Israel.

God will not destroy all Israel: those who forsake Him and are judged.   Those who hated God’s servants, who trembled at Jehovah’s word, are cast them out.

Meanwhile His servants sing for joy of heart.  They are righteous, so when Christ appears, He gives them the earthly blessing, they inherit the mountains, enjoying peace like a river (Isa 66:12).

The prophecy does not relate to the church.

 

Numerous Old Testament scriptures refer prophetically to the Jewish remnant. The Spirit of Christ enters into their thoughts, feelings, hopes and even fears.  Prophetic scripture place this remnant in time before the Lord’s appearing.  Those of the remnant will be waiting for that appearing.

At the present time, the church has a special and peculiar character and relationship with Christ.  It was formed into one body by the descent of the Holy Spirit from heaven.  The remnant is totally distinct from the church.  The Lord will have raptured His church when the spirit of God works sovereignly in righteous, godly Jews.  These will recognise their Messiah, rest on His sacrifice for their salvation, and testify to the glory of Christ amid terrible persecution.  But they will have a totally different relationship to Him compared with that of the church.

Unfortunately, many Christians deny the existence of the Jewish remnant.  This is a serious error because it connects the Spirit of Christ with the ungodly and unconverted proud, self-righteousness Jews.  It is hard to allege that the Lord should connect the breathings of Christ’s Spirit, and the piety flowing from it, with this self-righteousness.  Really, those who deny the secret rapture of the saints before Christ’s appearing, and, consequently, the existence of a Jewish remnant, are doing just that.

There are four points on which have the clear testimony of Scripture:

  1. The true church of God is being formed at the present time.
  2. The church will be raptured at the end of this time.
  3. There will be a distinct suffering Jewish remnant after this.
  4. Then Christ will appear and the Millennium will commence.

Here are some scriptures which support  the truth as to the Jewish remnant.   It will come to light after the Lord’s coming,  delivered and blessed by the Him on the earth.  However, this remnant will have neither the church’s heavenly blessings nor the church’s hope.

Firstly as to the Jews:

And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God’ (Zech 13:8-9).

Then as regards the ten tribes of Israel,

And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face . . . . And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: and I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the Lord. (Ezek 20:33-38)

Then united:

Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand(Ezek 37:19).

The Remnant:

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, … shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God’ (Isa 10:20-21).

Their gatherings:

Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him’ (Mal 3:16-17).

The last word in the Old Testament:

‘For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth [land] with a curse.’ (Malachi 4).

Here is a vital matter for Christians.  The error is promulgated is that this is a Christian rather than a Jewish remnant.  But it is clear that the blessings of the remnant are earthly, not heavenly.  Satan’s work is to deny a distinct Jewish remnant, having Jewish faith, Jewish hopes, and resting on Jewish promises.  It reduces the church to the level of these; and denies and loses the value and power of our spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, and the union of Christ’s with Him.   Those Christians who hold this have been deceived by the enemy, though they may be unaware of it.

But Scripture shows us that this honoured and glorified remnant is blessed by the Lord, for they have been waiting on Him, and that He recognises those of it as Israel.   Some scriptures speak of the intervention of God to deliver or gather Israel, blessing the nation.   Other passages refer explicitly to the despised remnant and its state prior to God’s intervention in power.  Thus article focusses on the latter.  This truth rests not just on a few casual texts, but on the consistent teaching throughout Scripture.

We need to understand the chronology.  The prophets refer to  ‘the day,’ or ‘that day,’ with without any supposed interruption or interval (i.e. of the church period).  The godly people looked forward to Christ, who is viewed as the great Prophet of Israel: by His Spirit alone the prophets prophesied.   The prophetic witness is continued in connection with a waiting remnant during His life, and afterwards.  However, He warned His disciples as to the pending destruction of Jerusalem (AD 70), and the consequent judgment of the nation.  This judgment broke all connection of God’s testimony with the nation, and left the exclusively heavenly church (principally Gentile) the only acknowledged witness until the rapture.

Although the scripture in Malachi above can be applied to to Christ and John the Baptist  (Elijah), this passage has a Jewish character and application and refers to the days following the rapture.  The godly Jewish remnant, who fear Jehovah’s name, is contrasted with the wicked.  Like the godly in Israel in the prophet’s time, they speak often one to another His.  They triumph judicially over their wicked oppressors, and and God will spare them in that day.

The Remnant in Isaiah

We have already seen that the Old Testament scriptures relate directly to Israel and God’s government of the world, but they may be applied to the church, and to God’s sovereign grace.  This grace must be in Christ, for He is the centre of all God’s ways – the Messiah of the Jews and the King that is to reign in righteousness.  The kingdom was not set up, but the King was there.  Although John the Baptist having preached about its imminence.  But the kingdom will not be established on the earth until the King returns from heaven.

In the gospels we see Christ’s relationship with Israel.  We have God’s dealings in grace, but the refusal of God’s grace exposed the state of the nation.  As a result God separates the remnant, and judges Israel as a nation.  After sending the prophets to seek fruit, the Lord of the vineyard said, ‘I have yet one Son: it may be they will reverence my Son when they see Him.  But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others.(Luke 20:13-16).  We know the result: judgment came upon the nation but a remnant clung to Him through grace.  It is important to see, though, that this remnant is future.  The disciples were Jews, but they did not form part of the remnant.

Let us examine the testimony of Isaiah as to the remnant. The prophet (i.e., the Spirit of Christ), says as to state of Judah: ‘Why should ye be stricken any more? . . . Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and made like unto Gomorra.’ (Isa 1:5, 9).  According to the prophet, the nation must be restored and purified by judgment (see ch. 1:27).  There will be just a remnant left (10% according to ch. 6:13),  full of glory and holiness and protected by Christ (see ch. 4:2-6), with with Jerusalem on earth as its centre.

Isaiah 7 and 8 unfold this more fully in connection with Emmanuel.  Assyria will overrun Judah and there will be a confederacy of nations against it.  Israel’s enemies are set aside, but they are not to lean on human sources of strength.  A sign was given: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’ (ch. 7:14).  The Lord of hosts would be in the sanctuary.  The Lord of hosts separates the remnant, being a stone of stumbling to the nation.  The period of the church is passed over.

The prophecy that follows from ch. 9 onwards takes up the general history of Israel in the prophet’s time, its chastisements and hardness of heart.   The  Assyrian becomes the instrument of God’s anger, but  Israel is encouraged not to be afraid of him, for His indignation would soon cease when the Assyrian is destroyed.   This has its parallel with the remnant.  Israel will suffer under the Antichrist.  But the word is to to be kept at peace, with a mind stayed on the Lord, until the indignation be overpast.  (Se ch. 26:3, 20).  They say, ‘Lo! this is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him; we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation‘ (ch 25:9)   Things will be turned:  ‘In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people’ (Isa 28:5).  God weighs the path of the just (see ch. 26:7).    These chapters is show the character and glory of the remnant before judgment is executed on the nation.

In Chapter 33 we have the last day of trouble righteous remnant in Zion.   Its security is announced on the ground that they walk righteously.  ‘Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.  Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you’ (Ch. 35:3, 4). The feeble remnant is encouraged while waiting for the Lord.  When  He comes with vengeance, the ransomed of the Lord come to Zion with song.  It is a Jewish deliverance.

That part of Isaiah which extends from chapter 40 to the end has quite another character:   God reasons with His people.  In  ch. 40-48  we have the general restoration of the nation and the futility of the Babylonish idols.  Cyrus is introduced by name, and Christ takes the place of Israel as servant; He is the true vine

In chapter 49 we have the remnant, the preserved of Israel (see v.6), ‘they fear the Lord, and listen to the voice of his servant’.  On the other hand, God had laboured in vain for Israel.  In chapter 51:1, they know and follow after righteousness, and have the law in their heart.  At first the the comfort of Zion has not yet come, nor has His arm put on strength. But later this happens, and the redeemed of the Lord return to Zion.  The whole chapter follows the the appeals of Jehovah to the righteous remnant, and their deliverance by Him.

Afterwards, in ch. 52, the exalted servant is introduced, and the Lord bares His arm in the eyes of all the nations.   All the ends of the earth see the salvation of the God of Israel.   The remnant recognises that the despised and rejected Christ had been bruised for their iniquities (see ch. 53).  Then comes the full blessedness of Jerusalem: her Maker is her husband (ch. 54:5).  In ch. 57, some of the righteous perish like the Righteous One, but the wicked never have peace.  In ch. 58 we see the spirit in which the godly Jew should walk; being part of suffering remnant, in the midst of an ungodly nation.   Jehovah comes in in righteousness in ch. 60.   Ch. 61 is remarkable in that the Lord quotes from  the this scripture in Luke 4, applying it to Himself, but stops before the part which speaks of the day of vengeance.   Yet in the future time, the day of vengeance comes ‘to comfort them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified’ (ch 61:3).

Through these prophecies we understand the doctrine of a Jewish remnant.  The remnant is owned by Jehovah, piously and confidently waiting for Him to deliver them.  This is not a matter of speculation, nor of the interpretation of some difficult or obscure text, but the clear, consistent testimony of the Spirit of God.  This remnant is directly connected with the earth, at the time of Christ’s return presence on the earth, though meanwhile, for other purposes, the Lord may hide His face from the house of Jacob.

Summary by Sosthenes

Based on   The Rapture of the Saints and the Character of the Jewish Remnant’ – Collected Writings vol. 11 (Prophetic 4) page 118 ,

March 2016

The World cannot Continue the Way it is.

 

Based on John Nelson Darby’s paper ‘What is the World, and What is its End? A serious question for those who are of it.’ – by Sosthenes

Note – This paper was written in 1862. Though much of what Darby wrote has relevance today, circumstances, especially in technology, have changed, and these have been reflected in this summary. Changes I have made are shown in blue.

judgment-dayDespite Christianity, the world has not changed since Adam. Things have progressively deteriorate, but man’s worst sin was the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus. Men fear what might come, but the Christian is restful, trusting in God. Some might try and loosen human restraints, whilst others tighten them. Some say that commerce or education is the answer. Religious superstition and extremism, and infidelity may oppose one another, but the world is the same. It is under judgment. God is patient and merciful, but evil will not prevail. Flee the wrath to come.

 

The World is Unchanged

Men are apt to think that have continue unchanged in this world since creation (or since the so-called ‘big bang’). Man has been more prosperous and civilised, making great strides in technology, travel, communications, ammunitions and medicine. All the time, though, man himself is unchanged, his passions remain, and the essential differences in the world since biblical times are not so great as is supposed. Children are not more obedient; families are not more united; the relationship between employer and employee is no better. The world thinks itself better, and vaunts its progress – but is it progress? Underneath the veneer, it recognises that things cannot go on long as they are; we are heading for yet another a crisis of the world’s history, which must result in great disruption.

Christianity has made a difference. But if we look beneath the surface, even that is not much. The world is not Paradise, as God made it. Since Adam, the world has developed through man’s departure from and independence of God.  Men posture their solutions, some advocating democracy and others authoritarianism.  But though judgment is inevitable, God is patient – and over all.

Throughout history men have worried about the future of the world, but their fears, are the fruit of the restless working of principles beyond their control. The world is inherently unstable: regimes have ended violently because man’s passions were stronger than that which controlled them. The bonds of society are either too tight or too weak. Power is not in them, but in the force beneath them. As a result, some would slacken the bonds to give people more independence, whilst others would tighten them through repression. Furthermore, others just give up in fear, hoping for the best.

Man desires to be in control, or at least, control what is within his reach. This can be seen in modern times in the matter of climate change. Despite his fear, man has an exaggerated estimate of his self-importance. The true Christian, on the other hand, he does not fear in this way: he knows that God is over everything. He is more calm and clear-sighted, more interested in the needs of his fellow men, and less interested in politics. In spite of this though, many Christians are deluded into believing that they can meet the world’s needs by their own good works. They even worship them!

 

What is the World?

What is, then, the world? It is a vast system, grown up after man had departed from God, nd Satan is the god and prince of it. At the fall, Man was driven out of the place in which God had set him in innocence and peace. God had made him a vagabond, and barred His way back to the tree of life. Man gave up God for his own lusts and, under the influence of Satan, built a city, Enoch (Gen 4:17), adorning it with art and music. Left without law, the world became so bad that God had to destroy mankind by the deluge, leaving just eight persons. Then under law, man plunged into idolatry, ignoring every prophetic warning. Ultimately God sent His Son, but man would not have Him: He was cast out of the vineyard and slain. Man turned God out of the world, as far as he could, when He had come into it in mercy.

Now when we look at the principles and motives which characterise the world, are they “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16) – pleasure, gain, vanity, ambition, etc. When we speak of men getting on in the world, is it not ambition and gain which motivates? There cannot be much difference in what Cain did in his city, and what men are now doing in theirs. If, say, a Chinese person came to London to see what Christ and Christianity was, he or she would find men governed by the same motives that govern the masses back home in Beijing or Guangzhou. In short, he would find a system in which men honour one another more than God. The world rejected the Son of God when He was here, but the Father set Him at His right hand . Jesus said, “Oh, righteous Father, the world hath not known thee...” (John 17:25). Then, “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).

There is no point in looking to heathenism or Islam for the world; we must look to Christendom. What characterises its state is pleasure, gain, ambition, vanity, without conscience, like the Pharisees. A man is morally what he pursues: if gain, He is covetous: if power, he is ambitious; if pleasure, he is hedonistic, and so on. At the beginning, of Christianity, God’s grace and power of the Holy Spirit raised people above normal human values, and united them in the enjoyment of heavenly things, displaying a care for one other in a way the world never knew. They were dead to the world, pure in walk and unselfish in their ways, so the church got the attention of a hostile, yet admiring, world. Now for centuries, what in infidelity calls itself the church, is marked by ambition, crime and deceit, haughty power and worldly luxury. It makes no difference whether we are looking at Catholicism, Greek orthodoxy or Protestantism. Of course the Spirit of God is active, and that, thank God, good is done in the midst of all this. However, that is not the world, but a distinct power which works in the midst of the world, influencing it and its government. The world is far more guilty,  having had Christianity in its midst – it has not ceased to be the world.

Remember that it was at the death of Christ that the devil received the title of prince of this world, and as to his religious influence, is called the god of this world, When God’s throne was at Jerusalem this was impossible; but, when the true Ruler of the world was rejected, it became plain that Satan was its prince. No doubt the cross gave Satan’s power its death-blow in the sight of God, but not in the in the sight of the world.

Satan’s worst reign is his religious one, as we see from the beasts in Revelation. He reigns only by the corrupt motives of man’s heart, the fears of a bad conscience being the means of his power. He leads men astray by their lusts, and then gives them religion to assuage their consciences, for he cannot cleanse them. Hence wickedness becomes religious wickedness, and the conscience even thinks it is doing God service, while Satan craftily directs all this to his own end, the governance of the world – the Christian world – by men’s lusts. In unbelief and defiance of Christ, the pursuit of gain and pleasure is more ardent and unrestrained than ever. War rages as it ever did.

What, then, is its end? Judgment, speedy judgment. Of the day and the hour, no man knows: it comes as a thief in the night. The self-confident thoughts that men have of improving the world by human development and energy are evil in the extreme. Man sees himself and the world as getting better. He views Christianity as only a phase of man’s history; better is to come. Where from, and how?

 

Commerce and Education

Commerce, we are told, civilises. Commerce appears to have made the world less violent; but gain is its selfish motive. It has not elevated the tone of society, but the contrary. Fraud and corruption are major problems. It has not stopped exploitation and wars; it has caused many, especially where oil is concerned.

What has education done? It certainly has enlargesd the mind, but has it changed man’s values?  People are more educated than they used to be; but to what end? Has the influence of superstition really diminished? The infidelity produced by dependence on man’s mind has forced men, who are not personally established in divine truth, back into a different type of superstition. They call it liberalism, which is bound by no truth, knows no truth, and doubts all truth. It is simply destructive. Go anywhere and everywhere, to India, England, Italy, Russia or America: deliverance from superstition is not by truth, but by disbelief of all known truth. Even Christians rely, not on the Spirit, the gospel and word of God, but on human progress.

 

Superstition and Infidelity

The present conflict is between superstition and infidelity – the mere pretensions of man’s mind.  Neither superstition nor infidelity know or respect truth. One recognises authority; the other rejects it. One is the church, so called (with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, I would venture to include this – Sosthenes); the other, free thought. Faith in the truth is known to neither. Where it is no one knows; the business of man’s mind being to disprove any claim to it.

It is a striking phenomenon that liberalism or infidelity prefer Popery to truth. Truth is divine, Popery is human, and liberalism will be liberal as to it. So governments, pander to Popery, because it is a strong, unscrupulous political power, not concerned with the truth. When centralised power fails, it falls back on modifications, witness Liberation Theology in Latin America, and formal protestant religion which has given up scripture and all moral values.

Even if we turn to America, which many would regard as the most attractive part of the new world, what do we see? There is a large profession and much religious activity, even large-scale tele-evangelism, but Christians are often the most worldly of all.   Money is the number one influence; overrun with alcoholism, immorality and family breakdown.

 

So where is God in all this?

The world, then, has been evil from its origin. Christianity has been corrupted by man.   It has not reformed the world, more it has become the seat of its greatest corruption. Commerce, a partial civiliser of men, absorbs them with the basest of motives – avarice, indifferent to truth and morality.  Education has not improved man’s motives or morals either, nor has it freed him from the bonds of superstition. It has merely set aside all positive truth, by infidelity.

So where is God in all this? God is patient with men, a testimony to His grace. He continues to testify, so long as souls can be won and delivered. But He will not allow the power of evil to last for ever. He declares that evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse; filling up the cup of wrath for themselves. He is patient till no more can be done. God says, “The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Gen 15:16). Finally He will remove all evil and bless the earth.

 

Judgment of the World

The object here is not to enter into prophecy in any detail; that has been amply done elsewhere. But the course of the world’s history points to judgment, the removal of the power of evil by power being the only remedy. This is clearly stated in scripture. This is not the judgment of the dead before the Great White Throne, but the judgment of this visible world. ‘Because he [God] hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him [Jesus] from the dead’ (Acts 17:31). Sin will increase till judgment comes. But the world’s greatest sin  was the rejection and crucifixion of Christ.  However, He whom the world rejected, God has raised from the dead, and committed all judgment to Him. Every knee will bow to Him; and the more boldly men have rejected and opposed Him, the more terrible will be their judgment.  All man’s pride, vanity and pretension must come to nought.

Read:

Such is the end of the world as we know it. Its profession of Christianity will only have increased the severity of its judgment. They that have known their Master’s will, and not done it, will be beaten with many stripes. (See Luke 12:47). Christendom fell from the heavenly state in the early chapters of the Acts. Now it will wax worse and worse, ripening for the judgment that so surely awaits it. Flee from the wrath to come.

April 2015

J N Darby – French Letter No. 143 – The Sheep and the Goats

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

Very dear brother

I am happy that the end of my labour on Matthew should be more pleasurable than the beginning, and I bless God for it. It will thus be evidently useful. I believe that, in the present state of the church, it is necessary to act according to the reasoning in Hebrews 5 and 6. However, it is a blessing that this is suited to the simple.

As to Matthew 25: 31-46, I do not understand how you apply this to the Jews, and that for the very simple reason that He speaks of Gentiles. Perhaps you will tell me that κα άφοριεί ατος άπ’ άλλήλων – kai aphoriei autous ap allelon, “And He will separate them[1] does not agree with πάντα τά έθνη – panta ta ethne “All the nations”; but I agree, as to the sense, there is nothing else with which it agrees. Look therefore at the passage: “But when the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit down upon his throne of glory, and all the nations shall be gathered before him; and he shall separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats”. This is not here an allusion to a prophetic testimony, but to an act of the job of a shepherd. Earlier, he uses the expression: “he will set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left”, but he abandons it at once in saying: “Then shall the King say to those on his right hand …”. The sheep are no longer named; He is speaking of people without using an image. Finally, I do not see here any other subject than the Gentiles (as the nations); they will be gathered and He will separate them; there is no other antecedent. You are right when you say that, according to my division, the “brethren” of verse 40 are not “the blessed of my Father” of v 34. I do not doubt that, if a sheep had done good to another sheep, this would have been recognised by Jesus, but in fact the sheep or those who are at his right are the righteous and the blessed of the Father. This is the division –

King

arrow

Sheep                       Goats

The “brethren” of whom He speaks do not find their place in this parable. The Lord leaves it to the spiritual intelligence of these servants to discern who they are. As to myself, I do not doubt that they are the Jews, messengers of the kingdom, according to the whole education of the Lord in these passages, but I am very willing to accept new light.

You would be wrong to insist on Ezekiel 34: 17, 22, because the Hebrew word translated ‘sheep’ indicates rather the race of goats than those of sheep (see for example Deut 14: 4). I do not understand either why you say that, in verses 4, 6 and 8 ‘the goats they have led astray’ are the bad shepherds. I also believe that you will find that in this passage, v 22, the rams and the goats are not put in contrast one with the other, but the weak animals in contrast with those they have defiled, called rams and goats. God will make the difference between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats (v 17).

The energy which goes forward to seek the truth is very precious. May it be tempered with the prudence which thinks of the result; this is a grace given to you. Charity thinks of souls and not only of ideas, although it remains true that God’s ideas are the only means of blessing for souls; but it must be “food in season[2]” …

As to the sympathy of Christ, it is a very important subject. It is evident to me that when Paul speaks of filling up what was lacking of the sufferings of Christ[3], he speaks of the sufferings which remain to be fulfilled, after those that Christ has accomplished on the earth. Paul is charged in turn with suffering. If he spoke of a Christ who still suffered, I do not see that he could say what was lacking of the sufferings of Christ” These words seem to me to be in contrast with what Christ has already suffered; Paul took his place to continue. Do not think that I thereby deny the sufferings of Christ as Head of the body, for I do believe it, and it is for me the sweetest possible thought. I believe only that it is important that the idea should be thought through to become a subject of edification and not of controversy. It is for me too precious and too near to the affections for this. There are subjects which have to be touched delicately. I do not therefore deny the sufferings of Christ in sympathy: I believe in them fully, only I doubt that one can apply Colossians 1: 24 to what Christ may suffer in heaven. (To sympathise is not, as you seem to believe, to suffer in the same way as you do. I could be called, as you say, to cut your arms; certainly, I would weep more than you, but my arms are not cut. I would sympathise, but I would not suffer in myself the thing done; I would suffer to see another suffer. I do not say at all that one would suffer less, but one suffers differently.)

As to your article, it has interested me much, and I believe that it could yield blessing for souls. The editing would need to be reviewed; there are passages which do not read well. I would like very much that it should be published, but it seems to me that you will do well to weigh and to develop the expression of your thoughts. It is a question for us of manoeuvring in the presence of the enemy and of not lending a flank to his attacks.

I repeat that I do not believe that this passage: “that which remains to be suffered of the afflictions of the Christ” can speak of a Christ suffering with Paul, although other passages prove (and I believe) his sufferings in sympathy with Him. I only express the principles here; for the details, I would have to re-read your article.

Your affectionate brother

[1] JND uses various Greek words in this letter (and the following letter) which are marked with spaces in the French version from which this translation is taken. Evidently, however, in some cases, the following words in inverted commas or the scriptural references supply the French translation of the Greek (translated here into English); in which case, the sense is complete, and the Greek word has been supplied accordingly from a Concordance. Otherwise, the space for the unknown Greek word is marked [….Ω….].

[2] Psalm 104: 27 or Matt 24: 45

[3] See Col 1: 24 – ‘ce qui manque aux souffrances de Christ’, ie ‘what was lacking of the sufferings of Christ’, is as translated by some, but not by JND (or Martin/Osterheld or KJV) in either French – ‘ce qui reste encore à souffrir des afflictions du Christ’ (‘that which still remains to suffer of the afflictions of the Christ’); or English (‘that which is behind of the tribulations of Christ’). But the French Roman Catholic version is exactly the wording of the former, whilst the NIV uses the same as the literal English translation of JND’s letter. Strong also uses ‘lacking’.

Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013
Click here for original – If you have any comments on the translation, feel free to let me know.

Darby on Romans 1:18 to 3:20 – All have sinned – the Heathen, the Moraliser and the Jew

Judgment falls on all men:

On the heathen – Rom 1:18-32
On the moraliser – Rom 2:1-16
On the Jew – Rom 2:17-3:20

Rome

There are two great themes of the glad tidings:

  • The revelation of the Person of the Lord Jesus, the Deliverer, the Son of God claims the obedience of faith
  • The righteousness of God on the principle of faith forms the ground on which man could have a part in blessing through grace and God’s purpose.

In Rom 1:18, Paul turns to what makes this righteousness of God necessary to us: God reveals a positive righteousness on His part. ‘For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness.’ This is a most important principle. It is not governmental wrath, such as Israel suffered when taken captive to Babylon – God was still hidden behind the veil. Instead it is God Himself fully revealing Himself according to His own nature, abhorrent of evil, exercising wrath against it. God’s nature is incompatible with evil and ungodliness. Wrath was revealed from heaven; Gentile, Jew, men in every condition, come under the judgment

Judgment falls on all men:

 

The Heathen

The heathen Gentile is condemned for disregarding God’s testimony in creation (see v.19-20) and because of his not retaining God in his knowledge (v.21).   He dishonoured God by imaginatively turning the glory of the incorruptible God into images of men, birds, beasts, and reptiles. So God gave them up too: they degraded themselves in vileness as they had degraded God in idolatry. Yet they were aware of the judgment of God.

 

The Moraliser

God’s testimony in creation rendered moralisers such as Socrates inexcusable. They did the things they judged and thus incurred God’s judgment. Doing evil and judging others was not the way of escaping God’s judgment. They despised God’s mercy which would have led them to repentance, thus heaping up wrath on themselves for the day of judgment. This is not dispensational government on those near or those far off, but God revealing His judgment of evil because of who He is.

Here the light of Christianity is thrown on the grounds of judgment. When Christ is revealed, evil is dealt with. The Jews may have a special advantage, if they have sinned under law, they will be judged by law. God is God, and evil is evil, whether in a Jew or a Gentile, for there is no respect of persons with God.

As well as law and natural conscience, obedience to the truth becomes the moral test of man. Hence, in Rom 2:7-8, we have what Christianity has brought to light (glory, honour, immortality and eternal life) ; and in v. 9-10, we see tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that does evil, but glory, honour, and peace on every soul of man that does good – first to the Jew, then to the Greek.

God deals with realities: a godly Gentile was more to His delight than an ungodly Jew, despite the privileges of the latter. The doer of the law would be justified, not he who had and broke it. Conscience shows what is right and wrong, so where there was no law, conscience becomes the law to a man who not under the law of Moses, man having got the knowledge of good and evil by the fall.

Even without law, conscience knows it is wrong to murder or steal. But there is a difference: law imposes a rule by authority – God’s authority; conscience, on the other hand, takes notice of right and wrong in itself, as God does. ‘Man is become as one of us, knowing good and evil’ (Gen 3:22). Hence the secrets of men’s hearts are judged: men come out such as they really are, however much they try to hide things. As a result they that had sinned without law would perish without it.

 

The Jew

From Rom 2:17-3:8, the apostle deals with the Jew. The truth is the same truth, but it the converse of what Paul had said of the Gentile. A Jew who boasted in the law and broke it was as bad as the heathen who had none: the name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles through him. He was a Jew who only was so inwardly; whose heart was circumcised in spirit, not in letter; whose praise was not of men, but of God. (see v.29)

We come now to a very important principle in the ways of God: where there was no renewal of heart one was not agreeable to God, despite what the Jew pretended., As the Jew had the scriptures, ‘the oracles of God’ (Ch. 3:2), his privileges added to his responsibility. The apostle recognises the Jews’ privileges, but their unbelief would make the faith – the faithfulness of God – of no effect. God would be true if every man were a liar: He would fulfill His word. He was the more glorified through man’s unfaithfulness, He would judge the evil, otherwise He would not be able to judge the world at all. It is a general principle that man’s unrighteousness proves God’s righteousness in judgment. The Jews’ falseness made God’s faithfulness to His promises more glorious, so that he had not to find fault or reason; but simply says, ‘whose damnation is just (Ch. 3:8).’

 

All have sinned

Though the Jews had advantages, they were no better than the Gentiles.   Both were under sin. The Jew boasted that the scriptures were for him, and for him alone. So the apostle says that we know that what the law says, ‘There is none righteous, no, not one’ (See Ps 53:1). The Gentiles were sunk in corruption and idolatry; the Jews were the privileged race, having the oracles of God, but they disbelieved. The Jew was condemned by his own plea, as the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son.

When tried, None without exception was righteous; none had any spiritual intelligence; none sought after God, none did good. There may be amiable characters (there are even amiable animals), but there was not a single heart seeking or fearing God. Every mouth was stopped, and all the world was guilty before God: the Gentiles were lawless and reprobate, working uncleanliness with greediness, the Jews were condemned out of their own mouths by the law in which they boasted. Sin was everywhere.

In this we have the proof of that state which gave occasion to the wrath of God revealed from heaven.

 

 A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans , with additional material from the Synopsis.