Know God or Know about God

Branch of Theology Darby’s Probable Position
Hermeneutics  – concerning the Biblical text Qualified-literal – Passages are literal,  figurative or symbolic, and recognised as such.   Also, that which relates to Israel and the law (OT) is distinct from that which applies to the church and grace (NT).
Soteriology – concerning salvation Classic evangelical – God-given faith in the blood.  Without the atoning work of Christ, man must bear the guilt of his sin and remain at a distance from God without knowledge of Him or of His love. More Calvinist than Arminian but claiming neither

Should there be an Introduction to a Little Basic Theology?

At a discussion about ‘A Day of Small Things’ with a few friends, the suggestion was made that there should be an introduction to a little basic theology.  This is a subject many like myself have steered clear of, even regarding the term as a dirty word, and for very good reason.

–  We read the scriptures, we have bible readings and other occasions, and we pray with a view to ‘knowing God’ and in an assembly setting it can be said that we are ‘taught of God’ and guided by the Holy Spirit.

– On the other hand, theology is the critical study of the nature of the divine.  It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. (Wikipedia) – Trying to mentally encompass the inscrutable God is futile, even profane!

However, there are times when we desire to help fellow Christians who have been subjected to a different system of teaching.  It is then useful to understand lines of thought, which we might feel are not fully in accord with, or a misinterpretation of scripture, even when they are held by seriously devout godly believers.

So recently I have been seeking to produce a short guide to some of the theological terms that we might encounter – not to make theologians of us, wasting time on ‘foolish and unlearned questions (2 Tim 2:23)’.  But it is useful to know what is meant, for example, by the difference between Calvinism (and its five points) and Arminianism, pre-, post- and a-millennial eschatology etc.  Through this we can see how we might relate to those from Baptist (Calvinist), Wesleyan/Methodist/Pentecostal (Arminian), and other backgrounds, and to be able to bring in what is positive in a meek way without giving offence.  We are exhorted: ‘In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth’  (2 Tim 2:25) – a scripture which follows the instruction as to separating from iniquity.

The Word

Love is of God, and every one that loves has been begotten of God, and knows God. He that loves not has not known God; for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8 Darby)

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent(John 17:3)

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings (Phil 3:10) 

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me (John 5:39).

Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth(2 Tim 3:7)

Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. (Eccl 12:12)

 

A Call for Help

I am no theologian – I studied economics and statistics, not theology.  So I would like to invite several to review my draft when I have done my bit.  There are two or three persons I have already contacted, but if you feel you could help please let me know.

John Nelson Darby

Meanwhile, for a start, here is what might be written about Darby theology

 

Branch of Theology Darby’s Probable Position
Hermeneutics  – concerning the Biblical text Qualified-literal – Passages are literal,  figurative or symbolic, and recognised as such.   Also, that which relates to Israel and the law (OT) is distinct from that which applies to the church and grace (NT).
Soteriology – concerning salvation Classic evangelical – God-given faith in the blood.  Without the atoning work of Christ, man must bear the guilt of his sin and remain at a distance from God without knowledge of Him or of His love. More Calvinist than Arminian but claiming neither
Eschatology – concerning prophecy ‘The Father of Premillennial Dispensationalism’ – The pre-tribulation secret rapture with the Church returning with Christ at the start of the millennium
Ecclesiology – concerning the church and church form The true church is heavenly, unified and perfect – publicly it is in ruins – the call is to depart from iniquity and gather to the Lord’s name – without form, organisation or ordained leadership.
Christology – concerning the Person of Christ None! – How can the blessed Object of our worship be studied academically?

A Warning

This is no substitute for:
  • Reading, remembering the Holy Scriptures (see 2 Tim 3:15)
  • Knowing that your sins are forgiven and rejoicing in the Saviour (see 1 John 2:12)
  • Awaiting our Lord’s return with a heart aglow (see 2 Peter 1:19)
  • Enjoying a wonderful relationship with one another, with he Lord’s presence when two or three are gathered to His Name (see Matt 18:20)
  • Worshipping our great ‘God and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (Titus 2:13 Darby and others)
This is reality – not theology!

Your comments, please

God’s blessings for the holiday season

Your brother, Sosthenes

&

 

Why this Dispensation will be Terminated prior to the Biblical Millennium

Is this dispensation the last, or is it not?
What are the circumstances by which any other is to be introduced?

The testimony of Scripture must be the basis of our thoughts concerning prophecy. Otherwise, we will have wrong thoughts about God’s dealings, leading to a misunderstanding of our relationship with Him, and affecting our conduct in this dark world.  If we stray from scripture, any service that we might undertake will be defective: our light will be darkness, and we may lead others astray.

In his paper, ‘Evidence from Scripture of the Passing Away of the Present Dispensation’(Collected Writings Volume 2, Prophetic 1, page 89), J N Darby looks at two questions regarding this dispensation.

  1. Is this dispensation the last, or is it not?
  2. What are the circumstances by which any other is to be introduced?

It is a long paper, but this short abstract gives his principal conclusions.

 

Is this dispensation the last, or is it not?

Paul writes, ‘Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance’(Eph 1:10).

The passage talks about a gathering: it cannot be referring to Christ’s assembly in the present or any dispensation; for the assembly never comprises all things in heaven and on earth – the saints are not ‘all things’.  The saints of the church of God comprise only a small, but worthy and admired, part of the glory and purposes of God.  In our dispensation, Satan is the prince and god of this world: in no way are all things in heaven and on earth gathered together in Christ.  The passage is clear.

Also, ‘Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow’  (1 Peter 1:9-11).

Here we have three things:

  1. The prophets prophesy about the grace to be brought to us,
  2. The Holy Spirit confirms the same things.
  3. The Christian church is waiting until the end for the glory.

Hence there must be a dispensation to come, in which the things prophesied of by the prophets will come to pass:  our dispensation is not it.

In the present time, we groan in our bodies awaiting redemption (see Rom 8:23).  What we have now is an earnest, something given as a sign or promise of what is to come.

Furthermore, we are told of the everlasting (universal) glad tidings (see Rev 14:16) which precedes the  ‘the earth . . . full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea’ (Hab 2:14).  In this dispensation preaching is not universal: the gospel Is preached in places throughout the world.  In spite of this, publicly evil gets worse, not better as some would like to think.

As to the Jews, ‘all Israel shall be saved’  (Rom 11:26), that is as a body.  But now Jews may be saved individually by faith in Christ’s finished work – not as a body.  The word is, ‘Even so, then, at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace’(Rom 11:5).  The dispensations, therefore, are essentially different in their character; the one the rescuing of the remnant, the other, the saving of the body.

 

What are the circumstances by which any other is to be introduced?

The next dispensation commences with judgment, especially on the Jews.  ‘They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn’(Zech 12:10, John 19:37, Rev 1:7).  The consequence is that the Jews will again be recognised as God’s people, and ‘The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea’ (Hab 2:14).  We need to note that this will not be by means of the preaching of the gospel.

There is no prophecy or promise in Scripture that the gradual diffusion of the gospel will lead to the world being converted (the ‘kingdom’), an amillennialist line of thought which is prevalent in Christian circles.

May God in mercy and grace guide us to the right and full use of His word, receiving it with a simplicity of faith and obedience in our consciences.

 

Where does Islam come into Prophecy?

I do not know the answer to that.  God has told us to be intelligent as to the signs of the times (Matt. 16:3), but also, ‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.’ (Acts 1:7). As a good teacher, who was in the meeting I attend, used to say ‘The prophetic clock has stopped’.

John said, ‘Even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” (1 John 2:18). Doubtless Mohammed was one of these, and his legacy is still around. Even now a fanatical group, ISIS, is gaining momentum in Syria and Iraq seeking to establish a caliphate uniting the entire Muslim world and rule with strict Islamic code. Where will that lead?

We read of various satanic beings in Revelation – the Antichrist, the beast, the false prophet, the harlot, all murderous and all enemies of God’s people (of course we will not be there!). Is Islam’s activity foretold in Rev. 9, Abaddon /Apollyon (the destroyer) being one of the names of Allah? Will Rome make a pact with Islam, reconciling the Sunni and Shiite factions, having successfully united apostate Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christendom?

What are your thoughts?

Of course, let us not get too hung up with prophecy. It is important, but not to be studied academically or out of curiosity. Just so we can be those waiting for the Lord’s return – ‘The Spirit and the bride say, Come’ (Rev 22:17)

Sosthenes

June 2014

 

 

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

The Great Tribulation

This is the next in our series of ‘The Things which shall be Hereafter (Rev 1:19)’. It is a subject which is spoken of extensively in scripture but is often misunderstood. Two important points:

It is future
It relates to Israel – the church has no part in it.
The notes here are largely from ‘The Scroll of Time’ by John Ashton Savage

The Great Tribulation

This is the next in our series of ‘The Things which shall be Hereafter (Rev 1:19)’.  It is a subject which is spoken of extensively in scripture but is often misunderstood.  Two important points:

  1. It is future
  2. It relates to Israel – the church has no part in it.

The notes here are largely from ‘The Scroll of Time’ by John Ashton Savage (Originally A.S. Rouse, 1893. Available from Chapter Two UK or Bible Truth USA) and various papers from J N Darby.

Plenty has been written, and there have been best seller works dramatising these happenings (e.g Hal Lindsey – this Late Great Planet Earth (Zondervan, 1970) – Amazon.  Here are just a few notes.

Thank God you and I will not be there!

 

Here are a few scriptures:

 

King James Version Darby Version
Daniel 12:1  
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be     a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even  to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of distress, such as never was since there was a nation until that time. And at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that is found written in the book.

 

Jeremiah 30:7  
Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
Matthew 24:21  
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. For then shall there be great tribulation, such as has not been from [the] beginning of [the] world until now, nor ever shall be;

 

Popular Misconceptions

 Some argue that the tribulation is past.  It occurred when the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed by the Romans in AD70.  Others would say that the Old Testament references were fulfilled in BC175 when Artitarchus Epiphanes set up an altar to Jupiter in the temple.  These were serious happenings, and many Jews were slain at those time.

There have been arguments that Daniel’s prophecy referred to 70 weeks (of years) i.e.490 years which would point to the crucifixion of Jesus, and He saying that this generation would not pass till these things had been accomplished.

This overlooks two things though:

  1. There is a lot more detail of the time in scripture (see later), and Satan is involved directly. Moreover in Revelation it is included in ‘the things which shall be hereafter’.
  2. The time we are in – the church period – forms no part of biblical prophecy. As I have said below, a brother in our meeting used to say often, ‘The prophetic clock has stopped’. The church will have been raptured (see 1 Thess 4:16), and we will be in heaven – NOT on the earth where these things take place.

 

Some features of the Tribulation

  1. Its duration is defined – 3½ years (or 42 months or 1260 days) – normally thought of as the last half-week of Daniel’s 70 week prophecy (Dan 9:27).
  2. The Roman Empire will have been re-established. True, the EU could well be a vehicle, but a true political unity will be established.  Brexit will have to be undone!
  3. The ‘lot 10 tribes’ of Israel will have to have been recovered for there to be a remnant of Israel – the 144,000.
  4. There will be political groupings:
  • King of North (Iran, Russia (Rosh), Togarmah (Armenia), Tubal (Tbilisi), Gomer (W Europe)
  • King of South (Egypt, Arabia)
  • The East (200,000,000 strong army – India, Pakistan, China etc)
  1. All restraint will have gone – ‘He who restrains – i.e. the Holy Spirit – see 2 Thess 2:7
  2. Satan, and in particular the false prophet will delude, even if it were possible, the elect (Mark 13:12)

Signs of the Times

Many things which happen now might be regarded as signs that the tribulation is imminent.  Examples:

  1. Israel established but insecure
  2. Religious systems supporting Palestine rather than Israel
  3. Establishment of a world religion
  4. Decline of Christianity in the West, but its increase in Africa and Asia.
  5. ‘Wars and rumours of wars’

However, we should not rely too much on these.  The future is in God’s hands and what is to come will not happen until the church has been raptured

 

The Personages

Three personages will dominate the world – the trinity of evil, forcing obedience.  Their subjects will have the mark of the beast.

  1. Satan – ‘the great red dragon’ – the first beast
  2. The Antichrist – the second beast
  3. The false prophet

 

Happenings on Earth

First part

  1. Great wars Rev 6:1-4
  2. Economic instability favouring the rich and harming the poor Rev 6:5-6
  3. Persecution of the Jewish faithful – more martyrs Rev 6:9-11
  4. Natural disasters Rev 6:12-17

Second part

  1. Tyranny – the beasts and kings, and the mark of the beast Rev 13
  2. Satan cast out into the earth Rev 12:9
  3. The Romish church in control over the secular power (the woman riding the beast Rev 17:3) – then this is reversed (the woman hated and the kingdom given to the beast  Rev 17:16)
  4. The army from the East released Rev 9:14-16 – Armageddon
  5. The King of the North will attack Jerusalem and then proceed through to defeat the King of the South – Dan 11

In Matt 24:22 it says, ‘Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved’ – one can deduce that nuclear bombs will be used – see Rev 16:8, 9:18, Zech 14:12)

 

God’s Testimony on Earth

In spite of everything going on, God will have His testimony on earth

  • The 144,000 faithful Rev 7:4
  • The martyrs Rev 6:11
  • The two witnesses Rev 11:3
  • The ‘man Child’ (Christ formed in the saints on the earth) Rev 12:5
  • The everlasting gospel Rev 14:6

There is no evidence, rather the contrary, that any hearts are turned to God by this testimony

 

God’s Judgment

At the point when all forces will be united against God and the holy city, God will send His angel, and Satan will be bound for 1000 years.  (Rev 20:2)

 

And Afterwards

We have the millennium.  Contrary to popular belief, we shall not be with Christ on the earth.  We are a heavenly family – we reign OVER the earth – Rev 5:10

This is our prospect – and our hope.  Is it yours?

 

Yours in Christ

Sosthenes

May 2017

 

 

 

The Things which shall be Hereafter (Rev 1:19)  – The Judgment Seat of Christ

The judgment seat of Christ will be the first thing that the believer in Jesus will experience following the rapture. It is a great blessing that we shall be with Jesus and have exactly His view on everything in our lifetime.

What’s upsets me, is that Christians sometimes confuse the judgment seat of Christ with the Great White Throne. The two things are totally different – the Greek word is also different The Great White Throne is for unbelievers – people who have refused the glad tidings.

The judgment seat of Christ will be the first thing that the believer in Jesus will experience following the rapture.  It is a great blessing that we shall be with Jesus and have exactly His view on everything in our lifetime.  As one wrote, ‘Not a cloud above – not a spot within’ (G.V. Wigram (1805-1879). – For full hymn click here.

What’s upsets me, is that Christians sometimes confuse the judgment seat of Christ with the Great White Throne.  The two things are totally different – the Greek word is also different (I will refer to that later).  The Great White Throne is for unbelievers – people who have refused the glad tidings.   They will be judged without mercy according to their works.   It says, ‘This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire’ (Rev 20:14-15).

 

What is the Judgment Seat of Christ?

2 Cor 5 tells us, ‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad’ (v.10).  The word ‘appear’ is in Greek is φανερόω/phaneroó.  This means ‘make clear or manifest’.  So it is not like appearing befor a court with prosecution and defence.  It is more, seeing everything in our lives, good and bad, just as Jesus saw it.  The thought of a judgment-seat is taken from Greek tradition.  The word used is βῆμα/bēma – a step or foot (up).  A judge, or umpire would sit on a slightly raised platform and would adjudicate.  For example he would judge the games, disqualifying cheats and giving prizes (usually a crown wreath of leaves) to the first, second and third places.  It is also like a tribunal, before which my namesake Sosthenes was beaten in Corinth (see Acts 18:17).  By way of contrast judgment at the Great White Throne is κρίμα/krima – the sort of judgment you get in a trial, from which, of course, we get our word ‘crime’.

The important thing here is that the Judge is also our Saviour, and what abounds is mercy.  Our time of responsibility will have finished.  There will be no guilt and no penalty.  Any idea of a period of purgatory is totally foreign.  Look at it from the Lord’s point of view.  He has finished the work, His church is complete, His bride is ready, He wants the marriage to take place immediately – ‘The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready’ (Rev 19:7).  We will be able to enjoy the Lord’s presence eternally, and the Lord will enjoy His bride in her perfectness.

The only other direct reference to the judgment seat of Christ is in Rom 14:10 ‘But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ’.  Here it is a question of judging our brother (or sister). The message here is that we should good relationships with the Lord and with our brethren now, so no adjustment will be necessary at the judgement seat.

A couple of hymns bring the positive aspects of the judgment seat of Christ

How shall I meet those eyes? 
Mine on Himself I’ll cast, 
And own myself the Saviour’s prize, 
Mercy from first to last

James Montgomery (1771-1854)

 

What will it be with God to dwell,
And there to gaze on Jesus’ face!
To meet the One we’ve known so well
As Priest and Saviour – in that place!
 
Before Christ’s judgment seat to stand,
With Him look back on all the way;
To learn the meaning, at His hand,
Of every deed in every day!
 
Clearer than ever shall we see
The grace which God our Saviour showed,
The love that led so faithfully
Along the pathless desert road.
 
How blessed when this time is o’er,
To find that love had all-sufficed,
As there upon the heav’nly shore
We reach the day of Jesus Christ!
Maria Carlsson-Carren (circa 1865-1955)

Little Flock Hymn Book No 299

 

When is the Judgment seat of Christ.

Scripture is not specific as to this. Clearly it must be between the rapture and the marriage of the lamb.  Personally I think of it being VERY quick – maybe as we are changed into our bodies of glory (see 1 Cor 15:52).

Quick and blessed!

 

 

A Little more about the Rapture (See last month)

I would like to thank everybody for the positive reaction to the article on the rapture.

One brother challenged me to back everything up by scripture.  Not that he disagreed, but we should be able to substantiate anything we say by the Word of God.

I wrote and spoke to several young believers and suggested they came back to me with scriptures.  Disappointingly nobody responded – so here is my attempt, based on the table showing the differences between the rapture and the appearing.  So please go through these and add to them, especially where it shows [?]

 

RAPTURE APPEARING
No one knows when it will be 2 Thes 2:3 [?] It will be 7 years (arguably 3½) after the rapture, but day unknown Matt 24:36 [?]
It will be private [?] It will be very public Matt 24:27
The Lord comes to the air 1 Thes 4:17 The Lord comes to the earth Zech 14:4
He comes FOR His saints 1 Thes 4:17 He comes WITH His saints Col 3:4
It is followed by the great tribulation Rev 3:10 It is followed by the millennium Rev 20:6
He is the Bridegroom Rev 19:7 He is the King Rev 19:6
He is the Morning Star 2 Peter 1:19 He is the Sun of Righteousness Mal 4:2
It is for the Church 1 Thes 4:15-16 It is for His earthly kingdom Rev 11:15
There is little in prophecy 1 Thess 4, 1 Cor 15 etc There is much in prophecy OT Prophets, Matt, Mark, Rev etc
The world will carry on Matt 24:37 Christ will reign Isa 32:1
The man of sin will be revealed 2 Thes 2:3 Satan will be bound Rev 20:2
There will be the judgment seat of Christ 2 Cor 5:10 The world will be judged Rev 18:10
People will be translated 1 Cor 15:51 People will not be unchanged [understood]
People will believe a lie 2 Thes 2:11 The truth will be acknowledged Zech 12:10

 

Additionally, our brother Mr K in Brisbane came back to me with a similar table that he had done.  You can see it at his blog http://hotspuds.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/scoffers-beware.html

 

 

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:

 

Some thoughts on Creation, Prophecy, the Sonship of Christ and the Lord’s Day – What does Scripture tell us – and what does it not?

I am concerned that we do not become over-focussed on certain aspects of the truth and give too much emphasis to them. They are often areas of contention, and I would seek to avoid what is contentious – ‘But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes’ (2 Tim 2:23).

lay-preaching

We are already through August – this year’s seems to be going fast – at least the Lord’s coming is fast approaching.

In the past month, through ADOSS, I have had a number of very interesting conversations with fellow believers, and I am sure God is working in many ways.  Would to God that there were more who were interested in heavenly truth!  But we can be very thankful that there are many who desire to call upon the Lord out of a pure heart, although separated into many groups ecclesiastically.  I do not believe that we will ever be together here – the public position will never be repaired – but the Lord is coming soon and we will be together then.  As the hymn put it

What will it be when all the strife is over,
And all Thy saints, now scattered far and wide,
Shall be without one shade of variation,
All like Thee, Lord, united by Thy side!
Little Flock No 421
Anne Ross Cousin (1824-1906)

 In the correspondence that I have had I am concerned that we do not become over-focussed on certain aspects of the truth and give too much emphasis to them. They are often areas of contention, and I would seek to avoid what is contentious  – ‘But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes’ (2 Tim 2:23).   I am not saying that the things that follow are of that ilk.  They are important, but are subjects where there can be a lot of unprofitable discussion.  There are areas where scripture is not clear – deliberately so I believe – so I am content to say that I do not know the answers to them, and am happy to leave that knowledge to a future day.  Of course I do not criticise those who believe that they have a clear view of the answers – maybe if I were closer to the Lord, I might see things differently.

Examples of these are as follows:

 

Creation

There has been much discussion as to whether there is a long interval between verses 1 and 2 in the first chapter of Genesis – referred to as the ‘gap theory’.  I was brought up to believe that there could have been many millions of years between the two verses.  Now I would say that I do not know, and I am content to leave the answer to that future day when things will be revealed.  In Gen 1 we read that the earth was waste and empty.  But in Isa 45:18 (Darby translation) it says ‘For thus saith Jehovah who created the heavens, God himself who formed the earth and made it, he who established it, — not as waste did he create it: he formed it to be inhabited.’  So what was there beforehand?  Darby, Schofield and others of that time had the same view.  Darby wrote, ‘Scripture, which does not reveal scientific facts, is totally silent as to them (facts of geology), but leaves a gap which may have been filled by millions of years when we were not (which no man could find out — so horribly stupid was man without a revelation), namely, that God made it. If He did not, who did?’  J.N.Darby Apologetic No.2 Vol 9 p111  – ‘And What has Geology Proved?’

Others would say, on the authority of scripture, that the earth was heavens and earth and all the rest of creation was created in a little period of six literal days.  It was created complete, along with fossils and dinosaur bones.  They say that the Hebrew word ‘yom’ refers to a day of 24 hours. Other words are used to express ‘day’ in the sense of ‘age’ or ‘era’.   I do not know which of these views is correct.  Some of my readers may have very strong views and I do not want to offend them, but I say let’s be content to wait. God will make it clear.

 

Prophecy

This is an important subject, occupying a large amount of the bible, and we are to be intelligent as to what is to come.  However I am concerned about spending too much time on this subject.  The dispensation that we are in does not come into prophecy: therefore prophetic writings do not relate directly to the church period.  We can learn from prophetic writings of course, and apply them morally, not literally, to our own time, as we pursue heavenly truth.  Most importantly is to keep near the Lord.

 

The Sonship of Christ

Sometimes I get letters and emails saying that since I am a ‘Ravenite’ (I don’t accept this term), that I must believe that the Lord Jesus was not eternally Son.  The truth is that I do not know, and again I am content to leave the answer to this to a future day.  We all agree that our Lord is eternal – He was, He is and He will be.  He is also the Son of God.  Hence I have no problem with the expression ’the eternal Son of the Father’ as He is both Son and He is eternal. Does the scripture ‘Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee’ (Psalm 2:7), signify that the relationship of ‘Son’ came about at the incarnation?  Darby seems to have thought otherwise – See ‘The Eternal Sonship of Christ’ Miscellaneous Vol p 265  (Published by BTP).  In 1929 James Taylor Sr, was asked by Samuel Carter ‘Would ‘marked out Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection of the dead’ (Rom 1:4), be His eternal sonship?’ His reply was, ‘I do not know that there is such a term in Scripture as eternal sonship.  The Son of God is announced in Scripture after the Lord Jesus was here. In Luke 1:35 it says, ‘The holy thing also which shall be born shall be called Son of God’ (Vol 29 p 361).   Note that Taylor was not dogmatic as to the relationship, though later he said that ‘sonship in Christ implies His manhood’ (Vol 49 p288) – accessible through goodteaching.org .

A hymn I like says:
What that love no thought can fathom;
Nor can human lips define
Those relationships eternal,
All inscrutable, divine!

Little Flock No 117
A G Doughty (1892-1949)

 

The Lord’s Day

I have not had much contact recently with Seventh-Day Adventists but have had in the past. They and others, believe that the Lord’s resurrection was on Saturday and therefore that is the day that we should set aside for His service.  When challenged as to which day of the week the Lord was crucified, I normally answer, ‘Probably Wednesday’.  Then, ‘Which day of the week was He raised?’ I normally answer, ‘Probably Saturday – so?’  The first day of the Passover would have been a Thursday. Three days and three nights lead to the events of action being late on Saturday in our reckoning.  But if after sunset that would be the first day of the week.  So there is no big argument here.  That they broke bread on this day in Troas is for sure (See Acts 20:7).

Maybe be balanced and keep near the Lord holding the truth in love.

 

God’s blessings

Sosthenes.

 

September 2016

 

 

J N Darby – Fulness of Joy – Oh, bright and blessed hope! When shall it be

OH, bright and blessed hope!
When shall it be
That we His face, long loved,
Revealed shall see?

Christian's hopeOH, bright and blessed hope!
When shall it be
That we His face, long loved,
Revealed shall see?

Oh! when, without a cloud,
His features trace,
Whose faithful love so long
We’ve known in grace;

That love itself enjoy,
Which, ever true,
Did in our feeble path
Its work pursue?

O Jesus, not unknown,
Thy love shall fill
The heart in which Thou dwell’st,
And shalt dwell still.

Still, Lord, to see Thy face,
Thy voice to hear;
To know Thy present love
For ever near;

To gaze upon Thyself,
So faithful known,
Long proved in secret help
With Thee alone;

To see that love, content,
On me flow forth,
For ever Thy delight,
Clothed with Thy worth!

O Lord, ’twas sweet the thought
That Thou wast mine;
But brighter still the joy
That I am Thine!

Thine own, O Lord, the fruit,
The cherished fruit,
Of Thine all perfect love!
No passing root

Of evil e’er will dim
Thy cloudless rays;
But a full heart pour forth
Thine endless praise!

Nor what is next Thy heart
Can we forget –
Thy saints, O Lord, with Thee
In glory met,

(Perfect in comeliness
Before Thy face –
Th’eternal witness all
Of Thine own grace),

Together then their songs
Of endless praise,
With one harmonious voice,
In joy shall raise!

O joy supreme and full,
Where sunless day
Sheds forth, with light divine,
Its cloudless ray!

 

John Nelson Darby (1800-81)

Written 1879
Parts of the above are in Hymns for the Little Flock 1962 and 1973 – No 160

 

Meter  6.4.6.4. usually sung as 6.4.6.4.D.

John Nelson Darby’s Prophetic Map

In 1828 or 1829 Darby drew his ‘Prophetic Map’ (see JND Notes & Comments Vol 2 – page 192).

This article looks aback over what Darby wrote in the light of various things that have happened in the world since then.

JohnNelsonDarbyIn 1828 or 1829 J N Darby drew his ‘Prophetic Map’ (see JND Notes & Comments Vol 2 – page 192).  Of course he was well versed in Daniel 11

This article looks back over what Darby wrote in the light of various things that have happened in the world since then.  For example:

  • The break-up of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of many independent states in the Middle East
  • The first and second World Wars
  • The Treaty of Rome and the European Union
  • NATO and allies
  • The United Nations and other treaty organisations
  • The rise and fall of the Russian (Soviet) Empire and its resurgent ambitions
  • Former Warsaw Pact nations aligning themselves with the West, joining NATO and the European Union
  • Colonial independence from Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands etc
  • Post WW2 political and later economic migration
  • Formation of the State of Israel and territorial disputes
  • The growing significance of Islam, and the hostility between the Sunni and Shi’ite divisions
  • Islamic jihad terrorist organisations such as ‘Islamic State’, al Qaeda and  Boko Haram
  • The wealth of the Arabs etc. due to oil
  • Increased material wealth and generally reduced poverty
  • The dominance of the United States
  • Improvements in health care
  • Legalisation and even promotion of unorthodox/immoral lifestyles
  • Modern communications, radio, TV and the internet
  • The green movement
  • The large migration of Eastern people to Europe, America and elsewhere, bringing the influence of religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.

 

I will treat the various areas of the world, citing Darby’s analysis and opinion and possible deductions in describing his Prophetic Map.  I have also noted a couple of things I do not understand.  Doubtless this could be a topic for discussion.

I might add that this does not involve the church.  However we Christians should be intelligent as to events in the world, and also know what will happen here after the rapture of the church .  Of course we will not be here!

 

JN Darby's Prophetic MapEurope, the ‘Western World’ and the Antichrist

Europeans are primarily descendants of Japheth,  Gomer (hence Germany also known as Cimmerians – from which Cimbri – Celts), and Magog (Scythians/Russians), and Madai (Medes), and Javan (Greece) , and Tubal (Tiblisi? i.e. the Caucuses), and Meshech Moschi – Armenians), and Tiras (probably Goths/Scandinavians) see Genesis 10:2-3 (and Elicott’s Ethnological Table.  However, with so much migration over the millennia, clear demarcations are impossible.

Darby believed that France, not the USA, would become the dominant Western power.  At the time France was in turmoil:  Napoleon, whose objective had been European integration, had been defeated, and there was continued unrest up to the establishment of the Second Republic in 1848.  France would not have been considered a potential leader of Europe at ay time during JND’s adult life, it being in trouble again in the 1870’s after the Franco-Prussian war.

In drawing up his Prophetic Map, Darby foresaw European unity – at least as nation states working together, and that is what we have.  At the time of writing Britain had just elected to withdraw from the European Union.  Nevertheless, it will remain in the larger political/military grouping of NATO and probably the European Economic Area.  However, it will not be in a position to lead Europe.  Indeed, in Darby’s paper England is described as a minor irritant – this must have been perceptive considering the world dominant position of the British Empire in the 1800’s.

Germany, whilst the largest economy, has never led, still being held back by the WW2 legacy.  Hitler, another prefigurement of the Antichrist had thankfully been defeated.   Darby referred to Austria.  Of course this country’s influence has become minor since the fall of the Hapsburgs, and even more so since Hitler (an Austrian) annexed the country to Germany.  It would remain part of the West European nations.  He was also critical of Poland and to date the role of this populous nation has been limited to its part in the downfall of the Soviet system, and to providing the Pope in office at the time.

Roman Catholicism will be the dominant religion, especially as so-called Protestant churches veer towards Rome.  Elsewhere Darby made it clear that this would be increasingly so despite the strength of atheistic secularism.  The large influx of Muslims, and those of Eastern religions will in time make way for the unified false Babylon religion.  Already, in the UK, Muslims represent about 10% of the religiously active population, with Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists making 5%.  There is even a trend to pre-Christian paganism.

Biblically the sphere of operations is the area covered by the Roman Empire and some extensions in Europe, Asia and Africa.  Outgoings of Europe in the rest of the world – USA, Canada, Australia, Latin America etc., are not part of the sphere or provide leadership, but can be regarded as part of the expanded Roman Empire in Revelation.

Did Darby foresee the modern advances in technology and its impact?  He saw the improvement in communications and was not ignorant of scientific thought.  What is clear from his writings is that he relates a lot to the influence of the East, embraced by the West.

So it is not impossible that France will be the dominant Western force, supporting Darby’s prediction that the Antichrist would come from that country, despite all that has happened in the last 200 years.  Who knows?

Prophetic-map

Russia and the King of the North

Darby was quite specific as to this area, drawing on Ezekiel and Daniel in particular.

On the European side we have Russia, referred to in prophecy as Rosh and Meshech (Moscow?) and Tubal.  He thought that Russia would come to dominate Turkey-in-Asia, but I believe that if it does, it will control the whole country.  Istanbul is as much Turkey as Ankara.  This is not impossible.  Whilst Turkey has been a member of NATO for decades, and would like to join the European Union, there are areas of tension with NATO and strong resistance to its joining the EU.   Like Russia it does not really have democratic government.  Having lost the Eastern European countries to the EU after the fall of communism, there is little doubt that Russia would like to extend its sphere of influence.  Russia’s influence and control would then extend from the Arctic to the Mediterranean.

The other area that Darby thought that Russia would dominate (though not control) is that of Persia (Iran) and Media the Japhetic children of Medai .  [Darby said that that Persia was a subservient Hamitic people, but their language does not bear this out.  Probably he was referring to what we now know as the Iraqis who speak Arabic, but would have been, like the Canaanites, descended from Ham – Sosthenes].   Darby’s map shows this area extending eastwards as far as the Indus River, and therefore embracing a lot of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and  south to include Syria and Lebanon.  Although those countries are mostly Sunni, Iran would like to control all the Muslim regions in that part of the world.

Significantly Darby hardly mentions Islam – just four passing references to the religion or to Mohammed.   Any review must take account of the increased profile of this religion, its divisions and the violent actions in its name.  He never referred to the two opposing Sunni and Shi’ite divisions of that religion.  The Shi’ite religion, with its observance of shrines and icons is probably more compatible with Orthodox Christendom, so there is a natural fit here.  The Assyrians are referred to a lot – basically the same people.

Finally, in this group are the descendants of Nimrod, the hunter.  These Hamites led to the Huns and the Magyars, now occupying Hungary and much of the Balkans.  Russia would have to wrest these countries from the EU and stop Serbia and the Ukraine from joining.

 

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the King of the South

The area ‘between the two rivers’ (i.e. the Euphrates and the Nile) is occupied by descendants of Shem and Ham.  Ishmael (Arabs) and Hamites – from Cush, Phut and Mizraim (Egypt and North Africa) are generally stricter, puritanical Sunni Muslims rivalling the Shi’ites to the north.  Doubtless due to financial relationships with the West, Darby’s words could be fulfilled, ‘Eastern descendants of Ham, just as the western or southern descendants of Ham will be at the steps of Antichrist or the mature apostate body, for they will be judged as Antichrist, Gog and Magog, for coming against the Jews.’ (See original paper).

J. N. Darby. – Notes and Comments Vol. 2. page 192

Available from Kingston Bible Trust (Lancing Sussex), Bibles etc. (Wheaton IL)  and elsewhere

 

The Prophetic Map: What does all this mean?

All this is very interesting, but has no direct bearing on the church.  But as Darby says, ‘There is not a more important chapter in Scripture as to the providence of God than Genesis 10.  The Noahic and Abrahamic earth under Providence leaves the will of man to act.  All the powers of the world will be brought together as they have acted within the limits of God’s known providence, and formed the subject of Scriptural statement as to kingdoms, i.e., powers in the world previous to the interposition and restoration of the four great kingdoms with the power of Ezekiel [especially ch. 38], acting as described in Joel [chs. 2 and 3]; and of other types. The Gog and Magog of Revelation includes all and runs over the whole extent of the inhabited earth, not the powers of the earth as in the formative system, for then the system is formed and it is re-action, in God’s wisdom and permission, of judgment on those not truly of it, as I am led to believe.’

 

Sosthenes

July 2016

 

Brexit – What does it mean?

I have heard some say, a view I used to share, that though it would be right to leave, our continued membership of the EU was inevitable. That was because of the unstoppable trend to centralise power, especially in Europe leading to the Man of Sin and the woman riding the beast. Believing that the Lord’s coming must be soon, the pathway in Revelation must have begun.

What we have to remember though is that the church has no part whatever in prophecy and the words to discerning the signs of the times were not addressed to us.

BrexitThe United Kingdom EU referendum was a matter of earnest prayer for Christians – most Christians anyway.  From my observations more were favouring leaving the European Union, though some favoured remaining.  The reasons Christians felt the way they did reflected society as a whole.  Those against Brussels generally felt the need to take back control of matters of the economy, immigration and social justice, whatever that means.  Those for the EU considered the economic risks were too great.  Perhaps a few socially minded Christians were looking at the ‘common good’, and favoured the liberal lines of most Europeans.

But God was over everything.  I heard many prayers that His will might be done.  Personally, I believe that those prayers were answered.  It puts the four constituent counties of the UK back where they were, no longer being a party to the Treaty of Rome with all its connotations.  Of course will it make things better, or people happier?  I doubt it – man’s heart is not changed – self-will, greed and ambition still prevail.

We need to pray for our leaders.  Following the resignation of Mr Cameron, we desire one who fears God, commands respect, and has the energy and wisdom to lead the country well, employing persons who can negotiate the necessary treaties, manage the economy and maintain law, order, freedom of conscience and safety according to right principles.

I have heard some say, a view I used to share, that though it would be right to leave, our continued membership of the EU was inevitable.  That was because of the unstoppable trend to centralise power, especially in Europe leading to the Man of Sin and the woman riding the beast.  Believing that the Lord’s coming must be soon, the pathway in Revelation must have begun.

What we have to remember though is that the church has no part whatever in prophecy and the words to discerning the signs of the times were not addressed to us.  The world is carrying on its course independently of God’s work in His own at the present time.  Yes, we are in the world but not of it, and Christians are to do what is right before God and men.  In doing so they bring in relief.  They have the Spirit of God who is described as ‘He who restrains’ (2 Thess 2:7 Darby).

When the church has been raptured all restraint will be removed, and the positive establishment of evil combinations will start then.  Satan will use existing structures but they will be then totally and exclusively under his control.

We do not know who the Antichrist is.  He may be alive on the earth now.  If the Lord comes today he must be.  But what we are expecting is not see these earthly institutions, but to hear the voice of our Lord and Saviour and to see His face.

May that be today!