4.4 – The Rapture

Heir of all things, of the church as co-heir with Him, and of the coming of Christ to reign before the thousand-year millennium.

In this lecture, Mr Darby distinguishes between the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the wicked. The first takes place before the millennium; the other afterwards. The first resurrection, the resurrection from among the dead was a thing that really gripped the early church.

The truth of the resurrection of the church should become bound up in our minds, with the precious truths of our salvation.

‘After These Things’ Chapter 4.4 – The Rapture

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

The Truth and Reality of Resurrection

A summary of the Fourth Lecture by J N Darby on the Present Hope of the Church – Geneva 1840 entitled ‘The First Resurrection – or The Resurrection of the Just’.

4.4  The Rapture

The Truth and Reality of Resurrection

What the Greeks Taught – Resurrection vs Reincarnation

The Two Resurrections

The Resurrection of the Just (or The Resurrection of the Church Apart)

The Judgment of the Wicked

Those who Sleep in Jesus

Conclusion

 

The Truth and Reality of Resurrection

The resurrection of Christ was the foundation of the preaching of the apostles,  In Acts 1:22, they said,  ‘One must be with us a witness of his resurrection’.  Peter said, ‘This Jesus hath God raised, whereof we all are witnesses.’ (v.32).

Resurrection is therefore at the core of Christianity: it was the seal of Christ’s ministry.  Romans 1:4 says He was, ‘declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead[1]’ – The Jews had no difficulty – they accepted a general resurrection but did not understand resurrection from among the dead.   Resurrection links our hopes to Christ and the whole church, to the counsels of God in Christ; it makes us understand that we are entirely set free in Him.  We are united to Him by the Holy Spirit, so He is also the source of our strength: we can glorify Him now.  We are introduced into a new creation: the power of God places us, in the second Adam, beyond the sphere of sin, of Satan, and death.

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.’ (Colossians 2:12).  Our union with Jesus raised gives us acceptance with God. We ought to see ourselves already as beyond the tomb.

The word of God is simple, clear, and convincing; but preconceived ideas often rob us of its natural sense. We have habits of thinking apart from Scripture.  Sadly, prejudices and human teachings have taken the place of the word of God, and the power and expectation of the resurrection have ceased to be the habitual state of the church.

What the Greeks Taught – Resurrection vs Reincarnation

In Athens, Paul announced, among the learned Gentiles, the doctrine of resurrection (Acts 17:18-30).   This was the stumbling-stone of their carnal wisdom. Socrates, Plato and other philosophers believed, after a fashion, in the immortality of the soul (metempsychosis or reincarnation).   The idea of the immortality of the soul, although recognised in Luke 12:5 and 20:38, is not, in general, a gospel topic[2].

When these scientifically minded men heard of the resurrection of the dead, they mocked.  An unbeliever can discuss immortality; but if he hears about the resurrection of the dead, he turns the subject into derision.  And why?  Because in talking of the immortality of the soul, he may exalt himself and elevate his self-importance and power.

God can reconstitute a body that has been reduced to dust into a living and glorified man because nothing is hidden from His power.  The leading truth, however, is the resurrection of the body, not the immortality of the soul.

 

The Two Resurrections

The Lord says, ‘The hour is coming, in the which 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)

Paul says, ‘There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust’ (Acts 24:15).  But they are not the same, though accomplished by the same power.

The resurrection of the just[3] is altogether distinct from the resurrection of the unjust.  The resurrection of the just, which we await, precedes the Millennium.  It takes place at the ‘Rapture’.  The church will participate in the coming of Christ to reign.  There will be a resurrection of life for those who have been already quickened in their souls; and a resurrection of judgment for those who have rejected Jesus.

We must not confuse the resurrection of the just with that of the unjust, and the judgment before the Great White Throne.  The resurrection of the unjust will not take place until after the Millennium.

None of the passages concerning the resurrection speak of a simultaneous rising of just and unjust; and those which refer to the resurrection of the just always talk of it as a distinct thing.  All will rise. There will be a resurrection of the just and a resurrection of the unjust, but they will not take place together[4].

Because Jesus said that those who are in the graves shall hear his voice, it may be alleged that the wicked and the just will rise together.  But three verses earlier it said, ‘they that hear shall live.’ So evidently, there is a time of quickening and a time of judgment; there is a period during which souls are quickened, and a period when bodies shall be raised.

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead’ (Phil 3:10-11).   Paul would not speak thus if the good and bad rose together, and in the same manner. This resurrection from among the dead is the first resurrection that Paul had in mind.  The resurrection from among the dead was a thing that concerned the church exclusively.  We should say, like the apostle, ‘I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’ (v.14).

The Resurrection of the Just (or The Resurrection of the Church Apart)

In the work of making alive or vivification, the Father and Son act together.  Those to whom life is given are put into communion with the Father and Son.  The bodies of the children of God will participate in the life that has already been communicated to their souls (the life of Christ Himself).

Several scriptures bear on this, making this resurrection clear to all:

  • 1 Corinthians 15 sets forth very clearly the connection which exists between the coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead. The sequence of events is precise.
  • Christ is become the firstfruits of them that slept’ (v. 20).
  • The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible (v.52).
  • We shall be changed (v.52).
  • This mortal shall have put on immortality (v 54).
  • Death is swallowed up in victory (v 54).

The Appearing of Christ will therefore take place before the end;

  • Also, 1 Thessalonians 4 – The Lord himself shall descend from heaven (v. 16).
  • With a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God (v. 16).
  • The dead in Christ shall rise first(v. 16).
  • We which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds (v. 17)
  • We shall meet the Lord in the air (v. 17).
  • So shall we ever be with the Lord. (v. 17).

God is the ‘God who raiseth the dead’ (2 Corinthians 1:9) – or  ’quickeneth the dead’ (Romans 4:23-25).  We are called upon to believe that the resurrection of Jesus is the power, or the efficacy, of our justification.  The resurrection of Jesus was the great proof.

In Colossians 2:12, it says ‘Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.’ The Church is raised now because Christ is raised as its Head.

Our resurrection is the consequence of the abiding of the Holy Spirit in us ‘if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you’  (Romans 8:11).  It therefore is on account of the Holy Spirit who is in us, that we shall be raised.  The presence of the Holy Spirit in the church is that which characterises our position before God.

– The world does not receive the Holy Spirit, ‘because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him,’ (John 14:27) – an essential difference.

What to do?

Our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost’ (1 Corinthians 6:19).  Therefore, our souls are filled, or at least it ought to be, with the glory of Christ.  Our bodies will be raised through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. This can never be said of the wicked.

The Judgment of the Wicked

Scripture presents two acts of Christ as the attributes of His glory:

  1. to make alive.
  2. to judge.

All who are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall go forth; those that have practised good, to resurrection of life, and those that have done evil, to resurrection of judgment.’ (John 5:28 Darby).

All judgment is entrusted to Christ, so that all, even eventually the wicked, should honour the Son, confessing Him Lord to the glory of God the Father (see Philippians 2:11).

Jesus was treated shamefully down here.   Therefore, the way of obliging the wicked to recognise the rights of Jesus is place the process of judgment in the hands of Jesus Himself.    The Father does not judge: it was not He who was wronged, but the Son.  For the wicked, the time of the judgment will be at the Great White Throne.

Those who Sleep in Jesus

Christ has become the firstfruits of them that slept…. They that are Christ’s shall rise at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father’ (1 Corinthians 15:23).  When He comes, He will take the kingdom; at the end, He will deliver it up.  The Appearing of Christ will therefore take place before the end; it will be for the destruction of the wicked. He will come to purify His kingdom.

Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him’; ‘and the dead in Christ shall rise first.’ (1 Thessalonians 4:14-16).  It is the fulfilment of our hopes;  the fruit of our justification and the consequence of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.

The resurrection of the just will be the consummation of our happiness; after having given life to our souls, He will give life to our bodies.   We never read in the word of God of glorified spirits, but always of glorified bodies.  There is the glory of God, and the glory of those who will be raised.

In the Lord’s answer to the Sadducees, He said, ‘They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:  neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels[5]; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection’. (Luke 20:36). This proves a resurrection which concerns the children of God alone – we have a title in sonship.

Conclusion

Darby concludes, ‘ The knowledge of this truth, by the power of Christ, will strengthen us in our hearts.  For this knowledge is that to which the scripture applies the word ‘perfection.’  (i.e. being fit, or qualified for an office).  Christ was thus made perfect as to His state and position before God; so we, ourselves, are now made perfect by faith.

‘May our bodies, souls, and spirits, be preserved blameless until the coming of our Well-beloved!  May the truth of the resurrection of the church become bound up, in our minds, with all the precious truths of our salvation.’

 

 

 

 

[1] νεκρῶν/nekron/Strong-3498 – this is plural so indicates ‘dead persons’; or as in Mark 9:9, – f’rom among the dead.

[2] In the expression ‘Brought life and immortality to light’ (2 Timothy. 1:10),  ‘immortality’ signifies the incorruptibility of the body and not the immortality of the soul.  The Saviour adds, ‘Neither can they die any more … for they are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.’

It was just when the coming of Christ was denied in the church or at least began to be lost sight of, that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul came into displacing that of the resurrection about the time of Origen (d. c253).

[3] JND refers to this as ‘the resurrection of the church apart’

[4] Note that in scripture, as in Darby’s writings the term ‘resurrection of (or from among) the dead’ refers to Christians who have died in Christ – or who have fallen asleep, their resurrection is at the resurrection of the just, (or the resurrection of the church apart).

 

[5] Note they do not become angels, as some would teach.

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4.3 – The Second Coming of Christ

Acts 1, The promise of the Lord’s return is set forth as the only hope of the church. The disciples desired to know when and how God would restore the kingdom of Israel, but the answer was going to be hidden in God, as times and seasons belonged to the Father who had put them in His own power.

Additionally, the Holy Spirit was about to come, and because of that, they were to expect the return of Christ. So Christ’s return ruled the intelligence, sustained the hope and inspired the conduct, of the apostles.

‘After These Things’ Chapter 4.3 – The Second Coming of Christ

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

A summary of the Third Lecture by J N Darby on the Present Hope of the Church – Geneva 1840 entitled ‘The Second Coming of Christ’

4.3  The Second Coming of Christ

In Acts 1,

The Lord will return to the Earth

The State of the Church

The Joy of the departed Soul

God will gather together all things in Christ

We (the Church) will come with the Lord

Asleep in Jesus

The Mystery of Iniquity

An Appeal – Darby’s own Words

 

In Acts 1,

  1. The Holy Spirit was about to come.
  2. The Lord was going to return.
  3. The kingdom of Israel would be restored to Israel, but the answer as to when going to be hidden in God. Times and seasons belonged to the Father who had put them in His power.

The promise of the Lord’s return is the hope of the Church.   Christ’s return ruled the intelligence, sustained the hope and inspired the conduct, of the apostles.  Sadly, the expectation of the Saviour’s return has been lost sight of in the church. Hence the public position has declined spiritually.

The Lord will return to the Earth

Most of Old Testament prophecy, and therefore the disciples understanding, centred around the Lord’s actual return to earth and the redemption of Israel.  It is not surprising, therefore, that this was the question that they asked the Lord after the resurrection.

According to Matthew 24:30, His coming will be a great public event.

  • The Son of man will come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
  • The tribes of the earth shall mourn.
  • The Jews ‘shall look on him whom they pierced’ (John 19:37; see also Zachariah 12:10 and Revelation 1:7).

In one of the first preachings, Peter said, ‘Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord … whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things’ (Acts 3:19-21). Both the initial preaching of Peter and the Lord’s words in Matthew 24 and 25 (correspondingly in the other synoptic gospels) relate to Israel.  Darby makes this clear in his ‘Synopsis[1]’, though in his ministry he applied it to the poor state of Christendom.

The State of the Church

Let us now see how both the Lord Himself first, then the Holy Spirit, have continuously directed our attention to His return.

The degree of expectation of the Lord’s return is gauged (as with a thermometer, so to speak) as an indicator of the life of the Church.  In Matthew 24, the evil servant was not prepared for the Lord to return. ‘My lord delayeth his coming;  And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;  The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,  And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites’ (v. 49-51).  ‘Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh’ (v. 44).

After appeals at the start of the church period, Stephen, the first martyr had to tell the religious leaders that they would not repent and continued to resist the Holy Spirit; See Acts 7:51.

All the virgins in Matthew 25 were in the same state; the wise ones (the true saints) as well as the foolish ones, who lacked the oil of the Holy Spirit, slept and forgot the immediate return of Christ. What woke them up was the midnight cry that He was coming[2].

Christendom is in a state worse than that of the Jews or pagans, in that it has had more advantages.  The evil which Satan has caused by heresies, false doctrines and false religions, continues to increase, and ripen.

The Joy of the departed Soul

This is seen in four scriptures:

  1. ‘To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.’  (Luke 23:43).
  2. ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’; (Acts 7:59)
  3. ‘To be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 5:8).
  4. ‘For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better’ (Philippians. 1:22, 23).

It is far better to expect the glory and to be present with Christ, than to remain here below[3]:

The Lord says, ‘If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself.’ He, Himself will come for His church, so that the church may be there, where He is.

God will gather together all things in Christ

In the early preaching, Peter said, ‘He [God] may send Jesus Christ … whom the heavens must receive until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.’ (Acts 3:20-21)   The work of the Holy Spirit is not to re-establish all things here below, to rebuild creation (which sadly many Christians are trying to do) but to announce the return of Jesus, to whom every knee must bow.

We (the Church) will come with the Lord

‘For our commonwealth has its existence in the heavens, from which also we await the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to his body of glory’ (Philippians 3:20, 21 Darby).  This scripture demonstrates that our relationship with the Lord is in heaven – that is where our citizenship is.  We are aliens here. I have added this.

‘When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’ (Colossians 3:4.) – Obviously, in order to come with Him, we shall have had already to have been taken to be with Him.

The two epistles to the Thessalonians focus on the coming of Christ.  It is remarkable that this church, one of the most flourishing of those to which Paul wrote, should be the one to which the Lord chose to reveal, with the most detail, the circumstances of His coming. ‘The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.’ (Psalm 25:14.).  Such was the faith of the Thessalonians that it was spoken of in all the world.  They expected the Lord from heaven.  May we have this same faith that the Thessalonians had!

We, pre-millennialists, expect the Lord before the thousand years.  If Paul had not been a pre-millennialist too, and had expected a Millennium of the Holy Spirit before the coming of Jesus, how could he ever have said, ‘We who remain until the coming of Christ’?  There was, then, in his soul, a continual expectation of the coming of Christ.  He did not know the moment, but he expected it imminently.

The believers in Thessalonica (modern Thessaloniki) had the hope of the return of Christ to such a degree that they did not think of dying before that event; and when one of them departed, his friends were afraid that he would not be present at that happy moment.  Paul reassures them by asserting that those who sleep in Jesus will be brought back with Him.

Asleep in Jesus

In passing, we should note that when somebody is taken, we often hear it said, ‘He/she has gone to glory’.  Paul did not see it that way.  The person was ‘asleep in Jesus’ or ‘With Christ’.  Our outlook is to be with Him if we are taken before the Rapture.  It is not to ‘go to heaven when we die’.

Therefore we are always confident; knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.’ (2 Corinthians 5:6) .  I have already the life of Christ: if I depart, I shall be with Him.  Paul will enjoy the fruits of his waiting.

The Mystery of Iniquity

The mystery of iniquity, which was already working in the time of Paul, was to go on until the manifestation of the man of sin.  He will be destroyed at the glorious Appearing of Christ Himself[4].

The Appearing of Christ is not at the end, for at the end, He will have delivered up the kingdom.  In reality, the kingdom takes place at His Appearing.

We shall only be like Him when He appears for us (i.e. at the Rapture), not before[5].  ‘But we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.   And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.’  (1 John 3:2)     A heart that is full of this hope conducts himself accordingly – he purifies himself.  Knowing that when Jesus appears, I shall be like Him. I ought to like Him now.

An Appeal – Darby’s own Words

‘May the Lord apply these truths to our hearts, on one side, to detach us from the things of the world, and, on the other, to attach us to His coming – to Himself in Person; and we shall purify ourselves even as He is pure.  There is nothing more practical, nothing more powerful to disentangle us from a world that is to be judged, and to knit us to the One who will come to judge it.

Certainly, there is nothing that can serve better to show us where our purification comes from.  There is nothing which can console us, invigorate us, and identify us more with the One who has suffered so that we might reign with Him, co-heirs in glory.  Surely, if we were expecting the Lord any day, there would be seen in us a self-renunciation rarely seen among the Christians of the present age.  May none of us be found saying, ‘My Lord delayeth his coming’! (Matthew 24:4).

 

 

[1] IN the Synopsis on Matthew 24, Darby writes as to verse 30, ‘The Lord gives the history of the testimony in Israel, and that of the people themselves, from the moment of His departure until His return; but the length of time, during which there should be neither people nor temple nor city, is not specified. It is this which gives importance to the capture of Jerusalem. It is not here spoken of in direct terms the Lord does not describe it; but it put an end to that order of things to which His discourse applies, and this application is not resumed until Jerusalem and the Jews are again brought forward’.

 

[2] Note that Darby makes it clear that this applies to the Lord’s second coming (the Appearing).  It is not:

Death (that is not the Bridegroom),

The coming of the Spirit (not the Bridegroom either).

The aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 (The Bridegroom did not come then).

 

[3] Really our expectation is to be with Him. We are out of the reach of sin, and we enjoy the Lord apart from it.

 

[4] Now, in such a state of things where is the place for such a post-tribulation Millennium?  Indeed, where is the scriptural justification for suggesting that the church will still be here when the man of sin is revealed?

[5] Note that we are not told what a body of glory will be like (See also Philippians 3:21).  Scripture is not to satisfy our curiosity.

 

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4.2 What the Father has done in Grace for the Church’s Glory

Christ is exalted, sitting on the “right hand of the majesty on high”, waiting for the resurrection of the Church. The Church has already been reconciled to Christ, the earnest of this being in the presence of the Holy Spirit in us believers. Reconciliation of all things to Him is future.

In the dispensation that will start at the Saviour’s coming, the heirs will have the enjoyment of their inheritance. All things will be subjected to Christ, and to His church, united to Him and manifested with Him.

‘After These Things’ Chapter 4.2 – What the Father has done in Grace for the Church’s Glory

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

The Name of the Father

A summary of the Second Lecture by J N Darby on the Present Hope of the Church – Geneva 1840 entitled ‘The Church and its Glory’

Our Inheritance

The Name of Father

Ephesians  1

The Resurrection of the Church

Jesus Exalted

Reconciliation of all Things to Christ

Heavenly Places

Conclusion

Our Inheritance

Christ is exalted, sitting on the ‘right hand of the majesty on high’, waiting for the resurrection of the Church.   The Church has already been reconciled to Christ, the evidence of this being in the presence of the Holy Spirit in us believers.  Reconciliation of all things to Him is future.

In the dispensation that will start at the Saviour’s coming, the heirs will have the enjoyment of their inheritance.  All things will be subjected to Christ, and to His Church, united to Him and manifested with Him.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ…and has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the assembly, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.’  Ephesians 1 (see the whole chapter)

The Name of Father

Our hope goes far beyond escaping the wrath to come).  It involves our participating in the glory of the Son, as it is said in John 17:22, ‘And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them’.  In this scripture, there is a message to the world that the Father loves us as He loves Jesus.  By the Holy Spirit, we are full of joy and intelligence as to those riches in glory.

Considering the Church and its glory leads us to the name of Father – how God has revealed Himself to us.  The Father has given the Church to Christ as His bride, with a view to its full participation in all His glory.  In adopting us as His children, the Father has bestowed on us nothing less than the dignity and glory of the Son, ‘firstborn among many brethren’ (Romans 8:29).  As the bride of Jesus, we enjoy all the privileges that belong to Him, because of His incomparable love to us.

Ephesians  1

God presents Himself as ‘our Father’ (v. 2), and ‘the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (v. 3).  In v.4-8, we have salvation, ‘accepted in the beloved’.  We are predestined to be the Father’s children having redemption through Christ’s blood.  How great are the riches of God’s grace!

In v. 8-10, we see the actual power of grace, introducing us into the knowledge of the purpose (or decree) of God.  God treats us as His friends and calms our souls to see the end of all man’s agitated efforts.  God will ‘gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth.’ (v.10).

Furthermore, we have the sealing by the Spirit and our future participation in the glory: ‘Sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory’ (v. 13).

The remainder of the chapter is a prayer for the faithful to understand their hope in an exalted Christ, to whom the church is united, and that they might appreciate the power that works towards them as believers.

The Resurrection of the Church

Christ is sitting on the ‘right hand of the majesty on high’ (Hebrews. 1:3), waiting for the resurrection of the Church. He does not even know (as Man) when this should take place since as a Servant He waits entirely upon His Father.

Currently, Christ is glorified.  But as yet, all things are not yet subjected to Him.  We acknowledge His rights as Creator, as Heir of all things, as Head of the body, the Church.  He is both Firstborn of every creature and Firstborn from the dead.

Christ will take the inheritance of all things as a Man, so that the Church, bought with His blood, and purified, should inherit all things with Him.

There are two fundamental points:

  • Christ possesses all things.
  • The Church, the bride of Christ, participates in all that He has, and in all that He is, except in His eternal divinity.

Jesus Exalted

We see in Ephesians 1:23:

  • Jesus as the Head of the Church, His body.
  • Jesus highly exalted at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
  • All things under His feet.
  • The Church introduced into the same glory.

We see in 1 Corinthians 15:

  • The glorification of Jesus.
  • All things subjected to Him.
  • Head of a kingdom which He will possess as Man and which He will eventually deliver up to God the Father, with God all in all.
  • The time for His being invested with royal power will have arrived, God having put His enemies as a footstool under His feet.

Reconciliation of all Things to Christ

We see in Romans 8:19-23 that the deliverance of creation will take place at the same time as the manifestation of the sons of God.  Christ will be sitting at the right hand of God.  He becomes Possessor of the heavens and the earth in fact, as He is that now by right.  Were there, for example, a blade of grass that was not subjected to His power in blessing, Satan would have got an advantage over Christ, His rights, and His inheritance.  Clearly, ‘all things’ relates to things in heaven and earth, not to sinners in unbelief.

The things of earth and heaven will be reconciled later, by the efficacy of His blood.  ‘And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven. And you … now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh, through death’ (Colossians 1:20),

The present creation is in misery and bondage.  We sigh and groan because of that.  All may be in disorder here, but we know Him who has redeemed us and made us heirs of all things. He has introduced us into the enjoyment of the love of the Father, enjoying the privileges as heirs.

When He comes, Christ will be the source of joy to all creation.  All the righteous titles of Christ will be vindicated.

Heavenly Places

One of the spiritual blessings that we have now is to find our abode in the ‘heavenly places’. What we enjoy now in hope, though hindered in many ways, will be for us in actuality.  The earth will feel the effect of that.  ‘Wicked spirits in heavenly places[1] (see margin, Ephesians 6:12), will cease to be the continual cause of misery and chaos of a sinful world made by sin, the ruin and of the iniquity of the first Adam.  Their place will be filled by Christ and His Church, reflecting His glory.  She will beam upon the earth in blessing, and the nations will walk by her light.  She will be the worthy and happy instrument of His blessings, the living demonstration of their success.   God has done these things, ‘that in the ages to come, he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus’ (Ephesians 2:7).  The earth will enjoy the fruits of the victory of the Christ, the last Adam.  The joy of joys will be the communion of the Father and the Bridegroom for ‘God is love.’

Conclusion

Darby concludes ‘I have detailed to you, briefly and feebly, what is the destiny of the church.   We live under the dispensation during which the heirs are gathered together.  In the dispensation which will start at the coming of the Saviour, the heirs shall have the enjoyment of the inheritance of all things.  All things shall be subjected to Christ, and to His church, united to Him and manifested with Him.

What is to follow that is not our business now.  In that last period, God will be all in all, and Christ Himself, as Man, will be subject to God; and Chief, of a family, eternally blessed in the communion of God.  God has loved that family, and His tabernacle will be in the midst of it – God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, eternally blessed. Amen.

[1] The KJV translation is ‘spiritual wickedness in high places’, whereas the Darby version ‘spiritual power of wickedness in the heavenlies’.  I cannot find a reliable translation which says ‘wicked spirits’ but Darby and others (Stoney, Raven etc) use the expression ‘wicked spirits’ in ministry.  The Greek is ‘τὰ πνευματικὰ/ta pneumatika (spiritual things) τῆς πονηρίας/tes ponerias (of evil)  ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις/en tois epouraniais (in heaven, or the celestial sphere) – See Strong.  I cannot find the margin reference to which Darby refers.

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The Present Hope of the Church

J N Darby gave a series of eleven significant lectures in Geneva in 1840 on the Hope of the Church (L’attente actuelle de l’église). These established his reputation as a leading interpreter of biblical prophecy, and the basis of dispensational and premillennial and pre-trib teaching. The beliefs he disseminated then are still being propagated (in various forms) at such places as Dallas Theological Seminary and by authors and preachers such as Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye.

To download a DRAFT version of this series in .pdf, Apple or Kindle format please click here.

 Lecture 1   –  The Hope of the Church of God

The Present Hope of the Church – An easy-to-read Summary

new-jerusalem-2s

J N Darby gave a series of eleven significant lectures in Geneva in 1840 on the Present Hope of the Church (L’attente actuelle de l’église). These established his reputation as a leading interpreter of biblical prophecy, and the basis of dispensational and pre-millennial tribulation (or ‘pre-trib’) teaching.  Central to this is the rapture – Chriist’s coming momentarily to call His own who  are alive on the earth, when the dead in Christ are raised.  This is clearly described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 , and   The beliefs he disseminated then are still being propagated (in various forms) at such places as Dallas Theological Seminary and by authors and preachers such as Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye.

JND said as to prophecy: “In going through the more general features of prophecy, we shall examine these three great subjects: the church; the nations; and the Jews.” (JN Darby Collected Writings vol 2 Prophetic 1 page 281).  God made Himself known as Jehovah to the Jews.  The prophets showed God’s character as Jehovah.  Jesus is presented as the Messiah, the centre of God’s promises and blessings to the Jewish nation.  To the Church, God presents Himself as ‘Father’ and Jesus as the ‘Son of God’.  We are His brethren – children of God and members of His family.  He, the Firstborn, is the expression of all the glory of the Father.

In the dispensation of the fullness of times, when God will gather together all things in Christ, that name under which He has been celebrated by Melchisedec (a type of the Royal Priest), God will be known as “the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.” (Gen 14:19)

‘…We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.’    (  2 Peter 1:19-21.)

Summary of Lectures

  1. The Present Hope of the Church
  2. The Church and its Glory
  3. The Second Coming of Christ
  4. The First Resurrection – or The Resurrection of the Just
  5. The Judgment of Evil
  6. Ecclesiastical Apostasy and Civil Apostasy
  7. The Judgment of the Nations
  8. God’s Promises to Israel
  9. What God in His Goodness will yet do for Israel – and what it Means for Us
  10. The Remnant of Israel
  11. The Importance of Prophecy

The Christian’s Assurance as to Prophecy

Every Christian should not only be sure of his salvation in Christ, but also know its results.  He should not only know he is in the Father’s house with all its privileges but be happy there too.  In prophecy God treats us as His friends, and reveals the things He is occupied with.  As our hearts are associated with Him, they realise His love and confidence.  Our lives therefore are coloured by the expectation of what is to come.  With this holy knowledge they would be strangers and pilgrims here.  Being free of human objects, cares and distractions we can be dependent on the One who knows the end from the beginning.

We need to distinguish between that which applies to the Jews, relating to the earth, and that which applies to the Church.

 

 

Whilst prophecy proves the divine source of the Bible, that is not its main purpose.  Prophecy belongs to the Church now and the Remnant in a future day, as a light or torch before things take place.  God tells us the truth; Satan does not.  Do we doubt  God?  Surely we do not need witnesses to persuade us that God is telling the truth.

 

Satan has deceived many by introducing the thought that partially fulfilled prophecies, were in fact complete.  They miss — no scope of prophecy.

 

Most, if not all prophecy is to be fulfilled after the end of this dispensation.  Then it will be too late to be convinced as to the truth.  Those left will experience terrible judgment.  But I read God’s word am restful.  I am enlightened as I cleave to Him instead of my own understanding.  As things unfold I seethe purposes of the most High, opening up His character – His faithfulness, justice, long-suffering.  But He will certainly judge proud iniquity and execute vengeance on these who corrupt the earth, so that His government may be established in peace and blessing.

The judgment of God is to come upon the nations; the church is informed of this; and, thanks to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, understands it, believes it, and escapes the things which are coming.

The Skeptic as to Prophecy

The skeptic views prophecy as merely speculative, vague and uninfluential, the imaginations and vainglory of proud hearts.  The skeptic’s own thoughts are the most speculative.  How Satan deceives!  But prophecy reveals God’s thoughts as to things to come. And the Christian rejoices that “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab 2:14).  And God will show how.

Communion with God as to Prophecy

Through communion, which is eternal, God comforts and sanctifies us to prevent our hopes being vague.  Thank God “we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:  Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:16-21)

 

 

The Resurrection

The Church’s hope in Christ, founded on the certainty of the word, brings out the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection. Its proof forms the basis of the Christian religion.

The resurrection throws its bright light even into the dark tomb of Christ, the only righteous One, exposing the emptiness of the apparent victory of the prince of this world.

Fundamental Truth  – a Summary by Sosthenes on John Nelson Darby’s Article ‘The Resurrection, the Fundamental Truth of the Gospel’.

To view the complete paper, click here.

 To download book (JND Collected Writings – Vol 3 Doctrinal 1 – p147) – click here 

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

The Church’s hope in Christ, founded on the certainty of the word, brings out the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection.  Its proof forms the basis of the Christian religion.

The resurrection throws its bright light even into the dark tomb of Christ, the only righteous One, exposing the emptiness of the apparent victory of the prince of this world.

1 Cor. 15 shows us the importance of the resurrection of believers as well as  Christ Himself — two truths indissolubly united. “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” (v.17)

The misery of the slumbering Church was mitigated by the recovery of the truth of the completeness of Christ’s work.  Unfortunately though, many Christians stop there, missing the full light of the resurrection, or rather the hope of having a part in it.

True Christians hunger and thirst after God, rejoicing in Christ, His resurrection, and all the glory which is His.

The Person of Christ and His Resurrection

The fundamental truth of Christianity concerns the Person of Christ.  He is declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4).  So the Christian finds, in the resurrection, not only the foundations of his faith (Rom. 1:4), and the proof of the satisfaction for sin (1 Cor. 15:17), but much more besides.  The resurrection was, to Paul as to Peter, the object and source of a living hope, the power of the life within.  Despite sufferings, Paul sought to know the power of the resurrection.   So the glory of the risen Christ is the object of our hope too: ” He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29)

Justification by Faith

In Galatians 5:5 it says, “We, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”  We do not wait for righteousness, we have it already in Christ, being justified by faith.  We see in Christ, the glory and the recompense consequent upon it.  We are filled with the Spirit through which we behold Christ — the Spirit whose presence is the seal of that righteousness.

Faith in the power of “God who quickeneth the dead,” justified Abraham. “It was imputed to him for righteousness; and not to him only, but to us also, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” (Rom 4:17,24)

The Work of Christ

Amazing love led our Saviour to become the Church’s substitute in meeting the pains of death for the sins that she had committed.  It was not

the triumph of the prince of darkness, but the display of his defeat.  Satan had had to meet, not men captive in his power in the first Adam, but the Captain of our salvation.  “Through death he destroyed him who had the power of death,” Heb. 2:14.

The resurrection shone upon the world, like the rising of the sun.  Faith alone beheld it, the faith of those whose eyes were opened to see the great and sure result of that combat, the consequences of God’s judgment.  The victory was gained by Christ alone; but the Church, as the object of it, participates in all its results.   She is blessed with Christ; she is the companion of His glory, the co-heritor of all the promises.

Buried and Risen with Him

Now the saints are also looked at as risen with Christ, living before the Father in the life of Christ.  They are chastised by the Father (who loves them perfectly as He loves the Son Himself) when they turn aside from the ways which please Him.  But if we have been raised with Christ, it is because we were dead in our sins. The doctrine of our entire misery, our complete fall, flows from, and (so to speak) springs out of, this truth.

We are buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. The Spirit continues, “Were dead in sins , hath he quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved), and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” Eph. 2:5, 6.   The saints, then, are regarded by God as risen with Christ, and  perfectly justified from all their sins.

As a consequence, we share in the righteousness of God, being quickened with the life in which Christ was raised from the dead, coming up out of the grave, all our trespasses forgiven.   So we partake of that life, in the power of Christ risen.

We acknowledge the grace that redeemed us, and are convinced that our life is not of us but of God. It is in the power of life that we seek the things which are above, things that are both in and belong to Christ.   Our affections are towards God, and we are truly sanctified, the old man being judged as dead, because Christ has died on account of it.

We cannot rightly estimate sin but by the resurrection, and for this reason, it is the doctrine of the resurrection, and of our being raised with Christ, which teaches us that we were dead in sin.  Otherwise it might be be a message of healing, or an amelioration of man such as he is.

Sonship

Another consequence is the feeling of the favour of God attached to the idea of being a son: “the grace in which we stand(Rom. 5:2).  Having entered by the cross, we stand in the favour of God in the holy place.   having received not the spirit of bondage, but the Spirit of adoption, we cry, “Abba, Father!” (Rom. 8:15).  Our participation in the resurrection is our being born of God.  As delivered, we stand before God as His children, accepted and holy. Love is manifested towards us in that we are in Him.   As sons we have been purified from sin and joyously clothed with the righteousness.  We have become children of God, not servants.

The Church United to Christ

The resurrection of Christ is the firstfruits, that of the saints the harvest. There is an intimate connection between the resurrection of the saints and the resurrection of Christ, on account of the union of the Church with Him, because of the one Spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ, and which dwells in Him and in all the members of His body.

The actual resurrection belongs to the saints.  It is a full result, of their union with Christ.   It is not as a preliminary to our judgment; indeed Christ has already been judged for them and suffered the penalty of all our sins.

Jesus said, “I will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3).  This is the judgment of the Church at the return of Christ. We will be manifested before His judgment seat, but we have been glorified already.

Two Resurrections – the Living and the Dead

The resurrection of the Church as entirely distinct from the resurrection of the wicked.  As well as being separated by 1000 years, these two resurrections are as different, in their objects and character, as in the persons who will take part in them.  The first resurrection, the redemption of the body, applies to our bodies in the power of the life of Christ who saved us, in order to accomplish His word, toward us.  The other demonstrates the vindication of His glory in judgment, and the exercise of the justice of the living God against all those who have sinned.

Martha did not understand this truth when she said,  “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  (John 11:24).  She had faith, and had learned this much.  She was not a Sadducee.  This is the faith of the Church generally.   However the same thing might also be said of the most wicked man, rising after the millennium.  “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?(v.23-27).   She made a good confession: all those who are saved believe it.  But here, in fact, the faith of the greatest part of the Church stops.  “I am the resurrection and the life” was too deep for her; her heart was not at ease in the company of Jesus speaking thus.   Mary was different.  She had sat at Jesus’ feet and heard his word.  She understood what had proceeded from the heart of Jesus and was more capable of maintaining communion with Him.

Darby’s Prayer for the Church

Poor Church — yes, poor every one of us! May the love of Jesus shine upon you!

If the Church is weak, strengthen her; if she has turned aside, O God, she loves Thee. Bring her, O bring her back to Thyself, even to Thyself — her blessedness and her joy, her eternal joy, her Saviour, and her strength. Bring her near to Thee. Where can she find that which shall renew her strength, if not in Thee, who art the resurrection and the life?

Darby’s Word to the Christian

Christian, do you know the power of the resurrection of Christ?   Are your thoughts those of one who is risen with Him, set on things above where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God?  (Col 3:2).  Is your salvation a thing accomplished for your soul, so that in the perfect confidence of a new life before God, you can, under the conduct of the good Shepherd, as sheep known of the Lord, go in and out and find good pasture in the fields of His delight?   Are you, as being raised up with Him, dead to sin, dead to the pleasures, to the greatness, to the fading glory of the world which crucified the Lord of glory?   Do the things of the world exercise no longer an influence over your thoughts — over your life; those things which, as far as man was concerned, caused the death of Jesus?   Do you not desire to be something in the world?   Ah! you do not hold yourselves for dead. The darkness which surrounded the cross is still upon your hearts.  You do not breathe the fresh air of the resurrection of Jesus, of the presence of your God.  Oh! dull and senseless people of God — people ignorant of your real treasures, of your real liberty!   Yes, to be alive with Christ is to be dead to all that the flesh desires.

But if the risen life of Christ, the joy of the light of His presence, the divine and tender love of which Jesus is the expression and the object, beam on you, mortify your members which are upon the earth.  Friendship of the world is enmity with God (James 4:4).   Christian, do you believe this?

Christian, Christian, death has written its sentence on all things here: by cherishing them you only fill his hand.   The resurrection of Christ gives you a right to bury them, and to bury death itself with them in the grave, the grave of Christ; that “whether we live, we may live unto God,” (Rom 14:8) and become inheritors with Him in a new life of all the promises.   Remember, that, if you are saved, you are risen with Christ.  May He, from whom all grace and every perfect gift proceed, grant you this!

 

All through this desert dry My path His footsteps trace, And He doth all my need supply

oasis

Hymn by John Nelson Darby (1800-1882)

Originally in Fench – Click here for French version.

1. All through this desert dry
My path His footsteps trace,
And He doth all my need supply
In this sad, empty place.
Up to the Father there
Doth He attract my heart –
Doth make this earth a desert drear,
And draw me quite apart.

2 In Christ I find repose,
Nor follow Him in vain;
My soul no loss nor sorrow knows
When He Himself’s my gain.
Though long and hard the road,
Faith’s eyes are on the goal;
He uses trials for my good,
And thus preserves my soul.

3 Thus joyful, bright and free,
I take the heav’nly road;
My soul vibrates with melody,
My song is ever – God!
To Thee I have recourse
When sorrow fills my soul;
Thy staff and rod are my resource,
To comfort and console.

4 O what amazing grace
To know Thee here below!
To this great end my steps I trace,
And onward, upward go.
Thy face I soon shall see,
O mighty Saviour, there;
I have in Thee full victory,
And shall Thy glory share.

Little Flock Hymnbook 1962/1973 No 228
Thought to have been written by John Nelson Darby in French and translated.