The Thessalonians – Fresh in their Faith

We love His appearing, but we love Himself better. Therefore we wait for Him to take us to Himself. If our hearts have known what Himself is, we cannot confound His taking us to Himself, with His appearing. We are ‘members of his body’ (Eph 5:30). ‘Your life is hid with Christ’ (Col 3:3). He is to take us up to the Father’s house, the fullness of His own blessedness – with Christ; the blessed outshining of His Father’s love connects itself with the church’s position. All through there is an identity of blessedness with Christ in life, hope, object, all. If this hope is let into the heart, there must be a break with the world. I cannot be waiting for God’s Son from heaven if I am expecting wrath; and I cannot be waiting for God’s Son from heaven

 

 1 Thessalonians 1

When Paul wr0te to the Thessalonians who had ‘turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven’(1 Thes 1:9-10),  he amplified each statement:

  • A work of faith (v. 3)
  • A labour of love (v. 3)
  • Patience of hope (v. 3)
  • A word in power and the Holy Ghost (v. 5)
  • Received the word with affliction (v. 6)
  • Joy in the Holy Ghost (v. 6)
  • Serving the living God (v. 9)

The Thessalonians were newly converted.  They had not received much teaching, but their lives had been totally changed. No doubt they had not been satisfied with those idols from which they had turned, but now they had a hope and were happy.  They knew that wrath was to come on the earth, but they were assured that the Lord had delivered them from it.  They were really free.

 

What it means to us:

There are three ways in which scripture shows how our souls are affected by Christ’s return:

  1. As a fulfilment of our hope. Our bodies will be raised and we will be changed to be like Him.  Christ will have the church with Himself and His government will later be set up.
  2. As having the Holy Spirit. Gifts have been given now, but the result of God’s work will be seen in display.
  3. As enjoying the embrace of His love – not His outward government, but His intimate presence. See John 14:3I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also’. 

We are caught up into the Father’s house, and bear the image of the Heavenly One.   We come into the Father’s delight – loved as His Son is loved .  We enjoy His presence: ‘ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thes 4:17).

When He comes forth, the church, armies in heaven come with Him (see Rev 19:14).  They must have been raised first in order to be with Him.  It will be a display in power, and everything will be set in order.

Darby said: We love His appearing, but we love Himself better. Therefore we wait for Him to take us to Himself. If our hearts have known what Himself is, we cannot confound His taking us to Himself, with His appearing. We are ‘members of his body’ (Eph 5:30).   ‘Your life is hid with Christ’ (Col 3:3).  He is to take us up to the Father’s house, the fullness of His own blessedness – with Christ; the blessed outshining of His Father’s love connects itself with the church’s position. All through there is an identity of blessedness with Christ in life, hope, object, all. If this hope is let into the heart, there must be a break with the world. I cannot be waiting for God’s Son from heaven if I am expecting wrath; and I cannot be waiting for God’s Son from heaven if I am linked up with the world. If this world is the scene where my heart is building itself up, if I have an object in this world, Christ will spoil it all.

If He came tonight, would this be what we wanted?

 

This is a summary of paper written by John Nelson Darby.  It is entitled The Freshness of Faith 1 Thessalonians 1 published in Collected Writings Volume 21 (Evangelic 2) page 358.

Sosthenes

February 2017

 

James Montgomery – The Lord Himself shall come

How shall we meet those eyes?
Ours on Himself we’ll cast,
And own ourselves the Saviour’s prize,
Mercy from first to last.

James Montgomery

1 The Lord Himself shall come,
And shout a quickening word;
Thousands shall answer from the tomb;
“For ever with the Lord”.

2 Then as we upward fly,
That resurrection-word
Shall be our shout of victory:
“For ever with the Lord”.

3 How shall we meet those eyes?
Ours on Himself we’ll cast,
And own ourselves the Saviour’s prize,
Mercy from first to last.

4 There with unwearied gaze
Our eyes on Him we’ll rest,
And satisfy with endless praise
Our hearts supremely blest.

5 Knowing as we are known,
How shall we love that word!
How oft repeat before the throne,
“For ever with the Lord!”

6 That resurrection-word,
That shout of victory!
Once more “For ever with the Lord,”
Amen, so let it be.

by James Montgomery (1771-1854)
v. 4 J. N. Darby 1800-82
S.M.

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:

 

What did John Nelson Darby and the Brethren hold?

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

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

 

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

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

 

A summary of his reply:

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

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

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

 

Darby’s early Christian Days

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

The Public Church

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

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

 

The Fall of the early Church

 

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

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

 

What the Faithful should understand

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

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

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

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

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

 

The early Brethren

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Brethren’s Walk

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

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

 

Conclusion

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

Sosthenes

November 2016

 

The Complete Work of Christ on the Cross – And the error as to the Abandonment

I am sure that Jim Taylor (JTJr) and his followers did not, or do not, deny Christ’s atoning work. But what does that error lead to? It leads to the making of the ‘abandonment’ the standard for separation. Instead of the work completed on the cross, they say that there was no communion until the resurrection. ‘No communion’ then is made to affect the relationships even between believers not walking in the same pathway and even in families. It is a complete despisal of God’s grace.

And we all know of the heartache that ensued.

 

I am aware, and have had correspondence with persons who are with the Exclusive Brethren and related systems.  I sorrow over those who have been side-tracked into sectarian error, claiming their way, and their apostolic leadership, is the one and only right Christian path.  My concern is not so much that they eschew normal relationships with other Christians, but that they adhere to a corruption of the wonderful gospel of the grace of God.  We might just feel sorry for them, but it is serious.  Paul said, ‘But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed’ (Gal 1:8-9).  I am seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and of others who are familiar with these groups of Christians, as to how to help our brethren in the spirit of grace.

It has been said that if we go astray, we start by going astray as to the gospel.  It is easy to look at a wrong system and judge it by the outward works.  Indeed, the Lord said, ‘By their fruits ye shall know them’ (Matt 7:20).  You see a system marked by legality, authoritarian leadership standing between the person and the Lord, and the rejection and despisal of others for whom the Lord paid an enormous price.  Persons caught up in that system must feel obliged to follow it in order to assuage their guilt. If so, they cannot have peace with God.  They must be defective in their appreciation of the glad tidings.

Do they believe that our sins were borne by our Lord Jesus and His whole atoning work was complete when He suffered being forsaken by God in the three hours of darkness on the cross?   Or did the ‘abandonment’ – the word used by Taylor – extend to the resurrection, three days later.  If the latter were true, then our Lord would have gone into death with sin upon Him.  He could not have therefore been the ‘offering without blemish’ (Lev 9:2).  He could not have atoned for our sins.

James Taylor Senior (1870-1953)

I believe, and this is supported by scripture – ‘His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree’ (1 Peter 2:24), that He laid down His life in communion with His Father.  James Taylor Senior (1870-1953), whose ministry was totally different from his son’s, said , ‘On the cross you can understand that the thought of relationship ceases when He was abandoned. When the abandonment is over He prayed to the Father and said, ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’ (Luke 23:46).  But during the forsaking there could be no link. You could not have atonement if there were.  That would be in the three hours.   ‘Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.  I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee’ (Psalm 22:21-22).  The answer to God hearing Him from the horns of the unicorns is resurrection. The cry would be after the three hours of darkness. God would not leave Him in the meshes of the power of evil here.  He was heard from that point.

He was completely forsaken, and this cannot be emphasised too much. He, as bearing sin, was under God’s displeasure at that time; there was total abandonment, otherwise there could not be a true dealing with sin.  At our best, none of us judges sin rightly.  The idea in atonement is that sin was measured not only by God, but by Man.  On the cross the Lord fully measured sin according to what it is in God’s account; we never could do that.  At the cross you have a Man estimating it infinitely. He estimated it according to God’s estimate of it, and removed it accordingly; so that it is only on the cross you have a true estimate and judgment of sin.’

The message is clear, even if the language is a bit difficult.

I am sure that Jim Taylor (JTJr) and his followers did not, or do not, deny Christ’s atoning work.  But what does that error lead to?  It leads to the making of the ‘abandonment’ the standard for separation.  Instead of the work completed on the cross, they say that there was no communion until the resurrection.  ‘No communion’ then is made to affect the relationships even between believers not walking in the same pathway and even in families.  It is a complete despisal of God’s grace.

And we all know of the heartache that ensued.

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

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

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

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

JohnNelsonDarby

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

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

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

 

Part 1 – Justification from Sins

Chapter 1

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

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

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

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

Chapters 2 & 3

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

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

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

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

Chapter 4

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

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

Chapter 5 v. 1-11

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

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

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

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

 

Part 2 – Justification ‘of Life’

Chapter 5 v. 12-21

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

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

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

Chapter 6

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

Chapter 7

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

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

In Romans 7 the soul learns three things:

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

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

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

Chapter 8

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

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

 

Summary by Sosthenes

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

April 2016

 

 

After the Rapture, the Jewish Remnant – Particularly from the 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

J N Darby – Rest – There is rest for the weary soul

THERE is rest for the weary soul,
There is rest in the Saviour’s love;
There is rest in the grace that has made me whole –
That seeks out those that rove.

 

THERE is rest for the weary soul,
There is rest in the Saviour’s love;
There is rest in the grace that has made me whole –
That seeks out those that rove.

There is rest in the tender love
That has trodden our path below;
That has given us a place in the realms above,
But can all our sorrows know.

There is rest in the calming grace
That flows from those realms above;
What rest in the thought – we shall see His face,
Who has given us to know His love!

There is rest in the midst of grief,
For grief’s been the proof of love;
‘Tis sweet in that love to find relief,
When the sorrows of earth we prove.

There is rest in the Saviour’s heart
Who never turned sorrow away,
But has found, in what sin had made our part,
The place of His love’s display.

There is rest in the blessed yoke
That knows no will but His;
That learns, from His path and the words He spoke,
What that loving patience is.

Where He too has gone before,
Is the path which we have to tread;
And it leads to the rest where sorrow’s o’er –
To the place where His steps have led.

 

Mr Darby adds:

In this world of sin and misery Christ necessarily suffered “- suffered also because of righteousness, and because of His love. Morally, this feeling of sorrow is the necessary consequence of possessing a moral nature totally opposed to everything that is in the world. Love, holiness, veneration for God, love for man – everything is essential suffering here below.”
J.N.D.

Synopsis Vol 4 page 133 – Romans 8

John Nelson Darby (1800-82)

Wriiten 1879
Parts of the above are in Hymns for the  Little Flock 1962 and 1973 – Nos 25 and 26
Meter 8.8.11.8.

The Power, Hopes, Calling, Present Position, and Occupation of the Church

We need to understand what the church really is, and to distinguish between the kingdom and the church. In the kingdom we get the display of God’s power and government, whereas in the church it is union and fellowship

The church is Christ’s representative on earth. By one Spirit we have been baptised into one body, whose Head is at the right hand of God in heaven, united to the members, formed into a body down here on earth by the power of the Holy Spirit. Scripture calls this ‘the church.’

The hope of the church is founded on her relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. She is united to her Head there, seated in heaven in Him, waiting to be there physically. The occupation of the church ought to be in constant, incessant reference to her Head. If not, she cannot act for Him. She looks, to her Head, the only source of power, and joins with the Holy Spirit in the cry ‘The Spirit and the bride say, Come’ (Rev 22:17).

A summary of a paper by J.N. Darby entitled:

The Church – What is it? Her Power, Hopes, Calling, Present Position, and Occupation.

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

Published in Darby’s Collected Writings –  Volume 12 (Evangelical 1) Page 372.

Click here for the original text

 

Summary

We need to understand what the church really is, and to distinguish between the kingdom and the church.  In the kingdom we get the display of God’s power and government, whereas in the church it is union and fellowship

The church is Christ’s representative on earth.  By one Spirit we have been baptised into one body, whose Head is at the right hand of God in heaven, united to the members, formed into a body down here on earth by the power of the Holy Spirit. Scripture calls this ‘the church.’

The hope of the church is founded on her relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. She is united to her Head there, seated in heaven in Him, waiting to be there physically.  The occupation of the church ought to be in constant, incessant reference to her Head. If not, she cannot act for Him. She looks, to her Head, the only source of power, and joins with the Holy Spirit in the cry ‘The Spirit and the bride say, Come’ (Rev 22:17).

The Church and the Kingdom

We need to understand what the church really is, and to distinguish between the kingdom and the church. There are endless theories about the question, ‘What is the church?’ Some say it is ‘visible,’ others ‘invisible’; some, that there will be a church by-and-by, but there is none now; that there is no church on earth (there may be churches), but (when all are assembled in heaven) there will be a church.

The church is Christ’s representative on earth – the epistle of Christ (See 2 Cor 3:3). As the tables of stone represented what God demanded from man, so should the church be the revelation of what God is to man in grace and power.

The kingdom is different. In the kingdom we get the display of God’s power and government, whereas in the church it is union and fellowship. We should also distinguish ‘the gospel of the kingdom’ and ‘the kingdom,’ from ‘the gospel’ (in its full scope) and ‘the church.’   Paul preached the kingdom of God – that is very different from Christ’s reign of power on the earth, when Christ will have His bride united to Him in glory. When Paul speaks of his ministry, he distinguishes between the ministry of the gospel of salvation and the ministry of the church.

 

The Kingdom – Past, Present and Future

Up to the time of Samuel, the point of association between the people and God was through the priesthood. But the priests were unfaithful, and then the Lord wrote ‘Ichabod’ upon what had been Israel’s glory. The ark was taken by the Philistines; the priests were slain and the link between God and the people was broken. However God had a plan that Israel should have a king. But Israel set about it the wrong way: they got Saul who did not understand the signs. David did, and was the type of Christ the King.

After King David is introduced, the priesthood ceases to be the habitual link between the people and God. God says, ‘I will raise me up a faithful priest . . . and he shall walk, before mine anointed [not me] for ever’ (1 Sam. 2:35). A royal person is the link between God and the people. When Solomon dedicated the temple (as a Melchisedek priest), the priests could not stand to minister; the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God, the king praised God and blessed the people

Finally the King was presented in humiliation in the Person of Christ. John the Baptist says, ‘Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’. (Matt 3:2 – the King coming in judgment). After John was rejected and cast into prison, Christ, the mightier One, takes up the same testimony: ‘From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matt 4:17). Jesus went about Galilee, teaching and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, healing the sick. The power of God was with Him, and it was seen. Then, the King having been rejected, the apostles went out preaching the kingdom. They knew ‘the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt 13:11), and God was with them. At present it is more testimony than power, but there will be a special testimony to the coming of the kingdom before the close of this dispensation.

The kingdom is still to be set up in the Person of Jesus Christ. He must go to a far country to receive a kingdom and return (See Luke 19:11). This is the ‘world to come’ (Heb 2:5, etc.), and the power of Satan will be set aside. Heaven will be in the seat of the kingdom. We will reign with Him there, joint-heirs with Christ, siting on thrones.’

 

Paul’s Ministry as to the Church

There is another aspect to Paul’s ministry which is beyond the reach of dispensations: man is at enmity with God, Jews and Gentiles alike being known only as children of wrath. Paul preached the gospel to every creature under heaven. He was not simply a minister of the gospel; he was a minister of the church to fulfil [complete] the word of God (See Col 1:25).

Paul deduces that there is a body of which Christ is the Head, associated and connected with Him in His headship over all things. How? – ‘By one Spirit are we all baptised into one body,’ (1 Cor. 12:13). God ‘gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all’(Eph 1:23). By one Spirit we have been baptised into one body, and we have the Head and the body united together. Ministries, gifts of healing, etc., are not in heaven, nor are the ‘joints and bands’. It will be in heaven eventually no doubt, but it is now on earth. The Head is at the right hand of God in heaven, united to the members, formed into a body down here on earth by the power of the Holy Spirit. Scripture calls this ‘the church.’

 

There is something in Matt 16:18 that is often overlooked. The Lord says to Peter, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ He gives the keys to Peter – the keys of the kingdom, not of the church. The church is that body which the Holy Spirit forms into unity, with the Lord Jesus Christ as Head, He sitting at the right hand of the Father in heaven.

 

The Church – its Power and Responsibility

As to power, In Scripture it is not the power of the church, but the power that works in us – the power of God working in the church. The Head supplies what is needed. ‘Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us’ (Eph 3:20). He nourishes His church according to its need. His powerful operations are however limited by the moral condition of the church. But God is true and cannot act in the power of grace contrary to the moral condition of the church or any individual. He may bear with its state in patience, but God will never sanction publicly what He disapproves of.

When we think of the saving of souls, it is rather the sovereign operation of the Spirit of God through the gospel. But the church is a vessel of power, and miracles testify to the power of Christ as the risen Son of man.

We must understand where we are, before we can get the blessing suited to our being part of the body of Christ. Christ never alters His mind. His grace remains the same, as does what He seeks from the church in responsibility, otherwise faith could not progress. But the ways in which He acts vary. In the days of the apostles the church was adorned with all sorts of miracles. It is different now. Christ will never give up His thoughts about the church; but if we are doing what we feel to be right, He will make sad work of what we have done. ‘He that gathereth not with me scattereth.’ (Matt 12:30).

If Christ gathers, He scatters that which is not gathered in the power of unity with Himself – just like a pack of cards. This may surprise and humble us, but it does not discourage us since we look for God to act. The church’s power is in her weakness and her spirit constant, simple, unmingled dependence.

 

The Hope of the Church

When Christ leaves the Father’s throne to take the church unto Himself, it will form a glorious body in heaven. Now, while He is sitting at the right hand of God, the only thing He owns as the church is the body down here.

The hope of the church is founded on her relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. She is united to her Head there, seated in heaven in Him, waiting to be there physically. As the bride of Christ on earth, she is a pilgrim here, and desires to have no more to do with the world than Christ has. She will see things set right in the kingdom, but this is not her hope: her hope is her marriage with the well-known heavenly Bridegroom. That is how Paul knew that the church’s place was to be with Christ there. In 1 Thess 4:17, Paul says, ‘Then shall we ever be with the Lord’, our bodies changed. What follows? Nothing! A great many things may be happening now, but the church’s hope is to be with Him and like Him, for she will see Him as He is.

We have a heavenly calling, but that does not in itself convey the thought of the church. We must not confuse what we are as members of the church with the church itself. Many things are true of the members that do not apply to the church as a distinct body. As individuals, we are called, and look to be caught up into heaven; we have a heavenly portion as the brethren of Christ, even if we do not know that we are the body and bride of Christ. We are builded together for the habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph 2:22): that is the calling of the church down here.

As to our present position and occupation, one thing is very different from the early church. When the Spirit of God was working in the beginning of the gospel, the testimony had great power, producing a substantial result – a visible, identifiable gathering. There is nothing like this. The sheep have been scattered; the camp has gone wrong. As a result there are all sorts of opinions. Even unity involves separation from evil (See Darby’s Separation from Evil, God’s Principle of Unity). I must look to Christ as the Centre of truth. If my soul is not prepared to look to Him, and gather with Him, I shall be cast into the uncertain condition of the differing opinions of every saint I meet. If Christ is our common object, there will be a coalescing power. I find the church of God in a unity which attaches itself to Christ alone, as the sole centre.

The occupation of the church ought to be in constant, incessant reference to her Head. If not, she cannot act for Him. She must get beyond the crowd of Satan’s power, to the Head, the only source of power. Then she can join in the cry ‘The Spirit and the bride say, Come’ (Rev 22:17). So should the church has its own light, the light of the outside being shut .out

 

Conclusion

We should get near enough to Christ to enjoy Him, and to know Him truly, and to gather up all that is like Him. If not separated by affection from the world, we shall be separated by discipline in the world. He will vex our souls to get us separate, ‘Because thou servedst not Jehovah thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart . . . therefore thou shalt serve thine enemies which Jehovah thy God shall send against thee’ (Deut 28:47 – Darby).