The Church with No Name

The question comes up. ‘Who do you meet with?’  –
Answer – ‘We don’t have a name’.
Question ‘I see, so which of the many groups of Brethren are you?’ 
However much we try, it seems as we cannot get away from that label. 

Why do we like to Fall Back on Labels?

I am guilty of a serious thing.  This week I met a fellow believer and we enjoyed a happy conversation.  Then came up the inevitable question ‘Who do you meet with?’. My friend said something indirectly pointing to a group of Christians.  Immediately I pigeonholed him into a division of that united vessel (I wish I could think of another word) and associated this with preconceived negative thoughts and doctrinal differences.  The result – our warm and happy conversation was marred, and we went away thinking of differences, not of our Saviour, His glory and His return to rapture His saints.  I owe that brother an apology.

Why do I do such a thing?  Doubtless, Satan has us resting on this or that group of Christians.  We are comfortable with the fellowship, the structure and the part we can play.

This is so different from what we have been taught.  There is only one church – the assembly of the living God, purchased with the blood of our Lord Jesus; there is only one fellowship – the fellowship of God’s Son.  We have confused the true function of the church – something perfect, with its origin and destiny in heaven with what we as Christians can and should do down here.  In God’s grace, we may have been led to reject human organisation and church leadership, sectarianism, the building up of things here.

The question comes up. ‘Who do you meet with?’  –

Answer – ‘We don’t have a name’.

Question ‘I see, so which of the many groups of Brethren are you?’

However much we try, it seems as we cannot get away from that label.

The Church with No Name

The Church with No Name

Here is a picture of a little chapel or meeting room, about an hour’s drive from where I live.  Formerly an evangelical church, it was disused and in a bad state when a few lovers of our Lord bought it and painstakingly renovated it.  When finished they invited many from the area to join in prayer – not to bless the room or any group, but to seek the Lord’s guidance as to what they should do.  I was led to give a little word from 2 Cor 8:5 – ‘They gave them selves first to the Lord, and to us by God’s will.’ (Darby).  (See ‘Have we had it the Wrong Way Round?’)

.

There is no name.  All you can say that is where there is a gathering of a few simple Christians who seek to be true to our Lord in very confused circumstances.  They break bread in obedience to the Lord’s request ‘This do in remembrance of me’ (Luke 22:19).  Those who go there regularly know the certainty of their eternal salvation and have received the Holy Spirit.  They are not connected with any humanly organised sect – nor are they in that meeting by membership.  Collectively, they do not know who they are, apart from a collection of lovers of the Lord Jesus, and, though bound for glory, do not know where the Lord is leading them in their testimonial pathway. May it remain that way!

May you be encouraged

In God’s grace

Sosthenes

October 2018

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 Judgment Seat of Christ

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

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

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

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

 

What is the Judgment Seat of Christ?

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

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

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

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

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

James Montgomery (1771-1854)

 

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

Little Flock Hymn Book No 299

 

When is the Judgment seat of Christ.

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

Quick and blessed!

 

 

A Little more about the Rapture (See last month)

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

The Rapture

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore:

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

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

 

The Rapture and the Appearing

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

 

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

 

Two Resurrections

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

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

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

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

 

 

Sosthenes

December 2016

 

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

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

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

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

 

See other references in ADOSS:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

John Nelson Darby (1800-81)

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

 

Meter  6.4.6.4. usually sung as 6.4.6.4.D.

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

 

 

 

 

J N Darby – French Letter No. 148 – God humbles the Brethren

 

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby48

Plymouth – 13th February 1846

To Mr B R

Beloved Brother

It should not be thought that God is shown to be against the brethren. Much the contrary. What is true is that there have been very great tests. But I have never been so convinced that God loves the brethren and that He desires to keep them. What is true is that the enemy had sought to turn all their principles upside down and to test them by a touchstone, in a way which the flesh would not know how to escape; but this has been shown well, in humbling us it is profoundly true, that our principles were of fine gold. God has recognised them in humbling those who professed them all. But division has only happened in two places and, in the second, it has only occurred last week; undoubtedly in my view, however the brothers work, I do not doubt, to make a party elsewhere. But I think that God laid His hand on the work of the opposers, and that they will hardly be able to do any more, because [the matter] is known now. God was over this, in spite of all the tricks which they used. Perhaps our patience will be exercised, and it will be for our good. But God has shown His goodness to us in a way which, for me, I have never seen the like. Never have we had meetings so happy, or in such a spirit of service, however poor we are. I think I can say (while being sure that what was already sown will still be reaped here) that the plague is stayed.

God has already answered, I dare not to say to faithfulness, but at least to the desire to be faithful.

This is what I think of the affairs here. If there had been more spirituality, the thing would have been – or would have been able to be – cured outright. God has acted according to the state of the church and in this, it seems to me, much more solidly in individual consciences. I have left the thing, I believe, according to the mind of God; and I am happy about it.

[See 148A}

I do not know how to say anything, dear brother, about the Jewish resurrection, but, whatever it may be, it is here in John 11; my thought, besides, is basically yours. I think that the action of Christ as the resurrection and the life[1] answers to its position. Being on earth, He quickened Lazarus with life, which left him on the earth. Now He is only present spiritually. When He returns, He will raise those who have believed, even though they may be dead (literally), and those who live and believe on Him will not die (literally). This is the only complete sense of the passage. I do not know why one would not apply this to the resurrection of the faithful. I do not doubt at all that the Jews were mistaken in verse 36 about the tears of Jesus. The Lord had on His heart the feeling of the power of death on these poor creatures.

The passage in 2 Peter 1: 10 has never more arrested me, because the Greek word βέβαιοςbabaios – has not only the sense of making firm, but the conviction a truth of which is affirmed, as for example, in verse 19: “We have the prophetic word made surer”, a perfectly similar case. The word – no more than election (at least if you want, as God has expressed Himself in the word – would be made no firmer, but the term means that it was confirmed, known by the transfiguration. For the consciousness (the intimate or inward feeling) of our election is affirmed to us, if we walk according to God, that is certain. The Holy Spirit, God, has His liberty in our hearts and is maintained there.

As to Hebrews 12: 22, 23, the use of the word “and” (have you noticed it?) tends to make the interpretation of the passage thus: “and to myriads of angels, the universal gathering; and …”. The use of the word myriad is known in the case of angels, as in Revelation 5: 11; on the other hand, the universal gathering is used for the assembly of Israel. The use of this word in other classics is too well known for one to have needed to speak of it. It seems to me that the thought of the myriads of angels suggests to the apostle this beautiful assembly, all solemn and joyous. I have thought for a long time, without seeking to impose my idea on others, that “the assembly of the firstborn who are registered in heaven” forms the church properly speaking, and that “the spirits of just men made perfect” are the saints of the Old Testament in a special way. The absence of the article must not be forgotten in this passage, which gives a characteristic and not objective force to the phrase, so: “to a mount Zion”, in contrast with “a mountain which could not be touched”.

I hope that our dear brother R does not lack anything. Greet all the brethren very affectionately.

Yours very affectionately

 

Really, I am very happy and blessed in my work; we are more than ever, but I am busy all the time. I am obliged sometimes to defer my replies to letters which demand careful study.

 

Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013

Click here for original – If you have any comments on the translation, feel free to let me know.

[1] John 11: 25

Darby on Romans 14:1-15:7 – The Spirit in which Christians should Behave towards one another

The Christian should not put a stumbling-block in his brother’s way. It is uncharitable to lead a weaker brother to violate his conscience – that would drive him away from Christ, as if Christ made the one for whom He died lawless. We should not despise the weak brother or sister because of the scruples which they would not have, if they understood deliverance. Conversely, the weak person should not judge the strong, charging him with evil because of his freedom. God will be the Judge. ‘Every one of us shall give account of himself to God’ (v.12).

RomeIn Romans 14, we have the spirit in which Christians should behave towards one another. There are those who are weak in faith, not fully in the light and power of new creation. They love the Lord; they have been purchased by Christ’s precious blood. but like a Jew they observe days and diet. That is weakness. So we are to receiving such in grace, not doing anything which could unsettle their faith. If the heart is pure, no meats are defiled meats – ‘To the pure all things are pure’ (v.20) . But if a person defiles his conscience, even through an unfounded scruple to him, it is unclean. If somebody normally felt he should regard a certain day, or abstain from a certain food, but does not in order to feign liberty, that is sin – it is not of faith .

Each stands or falls to his own Master, and God is able to make both the weak and the strong stand. Every one is to be fully persuaded in his own mind, not acting on another’s faith. Each is responsible to the Lord and must look to Him. We are to be peaceful edifying others.

The Christian should not put a stumbling-block in his brother’s way. It is uncharitable to lead a weaker brother to violate his conscience – that would drive him away from Christ, as if Christ made the one for whom He died lawless. We should not despise the weak brother or sister because of the scruples which they would not have, if they understood deliverance. Conversely, the weak person should not judge the strong, charging him with evil because of his freedom. God will be the Judge. ‘Every one of us shall give account of himself to God’ (v.12).

Romans 15:1-7 belong to chapter 14. The strong are to bear the infirmities of the weak, and, like Christ, not to please themselves. He meekly bore the reproaches that fell on Him, walking so faithfully and perfectly that, when men were disposed to reproach God, the reproach fell on Christ.   ‘The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me’ (v. 3, Ps 69:9). The Old Testament scriptures were written for our instruction, so that we might know that God’s mind.  Our reproach is His reproach, as we serve and have part with Him in faith and confidence. It is the path of love, serving others for Christ’s sake. But God is patient, bearing with our stupid, ignorant, and often inconsistent hearts. He occupies Himself with all our little trials to comfort us in grace. So have we receive one another as Christ received us – weak in faith – that we might be here to the glory of God. This closes the exhortations of the epistle.

 

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

The Present Hope of the Church

J N Darby (1800-82), a leading interpreter of biblical prophecy, laid the basis of dispensational and premillennial and pre-trib teaching in his lectures on the Present Hope of the Church.

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

JN Darby’s Lecture 1 on The Hope of the Church of God

The Present Hope of the Church – Summary by Sosthenes

new-jerusalem-2s

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. His doctrine is 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 them “In going through the more general features of prophecy, we shall examine these three great subjects: the church; the nations; and the Jew”.  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 fulness 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.

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 and are coloured by the expectation of what is to come.  With this holy knowledge we are strangers and pilgrims here.

We need to distinguish between that which applies to the Jews, relating to the earth, and that which applies to the Church.  Being free of human objects, cares and distractions we can be dependent on the One who knows the end from the beginning.

Whilst prophecy proves the divine source of the Bible, that is not its main purpose.  Prophecy belongs to the Church now and the Jewish 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.   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 behind will experience terrible judgment.  But as I read God’s word, I am restful.  I am enlightened as I cleave to Him instead of my own understanding.  As things unfold I see the 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, in order for His government to be established in peace and blessing.

The judgment of God will 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 Sceptic as to Prophecy

The sceptic views prophecy as merely speculative, vague and uninfluential, the imaginations and vainglory of proud hearts.  The sceptic’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)

 

 

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – The Revelation

he Book of Revelation presents the return of the Holy Spirit’s witness to God’s relationship with the earth. At first we have the church, as an earthly witness, but then the saints of the heavenly calling are seen only in heaven. It sets the stage for the return of God’s First-Begotten to the world. Then we have a prophetic view of God’s judgments, the book introducing the King of kings and Lord of lords Himself to execute judgment and to set up the kingdom which shall never be removed. He is accompanied by the heavenly saints.

lay-preaching

The Book of Revelation presents the return of the Holy Spirit’s witness to God’s relationship with the earth. At first we have the church, as an earthly witness, but then the saints of the heavenly calling are seen only in heaven. It sets the stage for the return of God’s First-Begotten to the world. Then we have a prophetic view of God’s judgments, the book introducing the King of kings and Lord of lords Himself to execute judgment and to set up the kingdom which shall never be removed. He is accompanied by the heavenly saints.

At the beginning and end, we have the thoughts and feelings of the saints:

  • The first refers to the cross, and its bearing on the saints, looking back at their own part in that which laid the foundation of Christ’s title. This brought judgment on the world.
  • At the end we have the saints’ own portion with Christ Himself. They look forward to His glory. Meanwhile they are conscious of it and its present fruit.

Ch. 1 presents God as supreme and eternal. We have the Holy Spirit in His attributes of divine administration, and Christ in His glory as connected with the earth. He is coming. He calls John’s attention to His glory on earth, not in service but in judgment. He walks in the midst of the candlesticks, the place of light in the world, judging the state of the churches. We find a divine person, the Son of man having subordinate representative authority in His hand: the stars and the angels of the churches. These are the things that were seen.

Next we have ‘the things that are’. We get:

  • Ephesus – departure from first love.
  • Smyrna – persecution
  • Pergamos – the world its dwelling-place
  • Thyatira and Sardis – false teachers seducing the saints; their corruption settled there, and the saints thus to wait for Christ’s coming, who is given to them in His own heavenly unseen associations, and the visible kingdom too.
  • Philadelphia – a little power
  • Laodicea – spued out of His mouth

In the four first churches it is a question of personal fidelity od that church to Christ. Christ is walking amidst the candlesticks. In the last three, the stars are not said to be in His hand; they all refer with warnings or promises to the coming of the Lord.

The vision then switches to heaven. The world’s judgment flows from there, and the saints are viewed as enthroned and crowned there. God’s throne of judgment is set up in heaven, and the ministers of His government proclaim His glory, while the saints worship.

Ch. 4-5: The Lamb appears; His glory is celebrated. Heaven owns His title to open the book of God’s ways, and the angels stand around the inner circle of those connected with the throne (24 elders, 4 living creatures). The elders give their reasons for worship. The Lamb now opens the book.

Ch. 6: The providential history of God’s dealings in the Western Roman earth is presented. We see the martyrs who cry for judgment. There is a universal subversion of the subsisting powers, so that men are alarmed as if the day of the Lord were come.

Ch. 7: The remnant of Israel is marked out for preservation; the multitude of the Gentiles to be spared are owned.

Ch. 8: The first four trumpets are the specific judgments on earthly prosperity and the power of the Western Roman Empire.

Ch. 9-11: The next two judgments are on the men of the East. Then we get a parenthesis: the great Western beast. A testimony is given, which comes to a close before the end of the period of the second woe. At last we have the seventh trumpet, which closes the whole scene.

Ch. 12: A new vision of special dealings is now opened, more connected with the religious condition of men. The Jewish people are seen, as heaven sees them, in the counsels and purposes of God. So a Son is to be born, Christ, who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron. The whole church is united to Him. But this is taken to heaven and God’s throne, out of the way of the dragon. The woman – the Jewish people in the latter day in distress – flees from three and a half years’ persecution into the wilderness. There is war in heaven. Satan is cast down, having great rage, knowing that his time is short. His career in heaven is ended. He can no longer accuse the saints on the earth, but he persecutes the Jews. They flee, so he turns to persecute the witnesses amongst them.

Ch. 13: Next, we see the earthly agents: the beast, with seven heads and ten horns, who receives his power from Satan for 1260 days. He blasphemes what is heavenly, and persecutes the saints. Then a second beast, in the prophetic and royal character of a messiah, exercises his power, making the world worship him. He does miracles, and gives breath to the image which he has caused to be made.

Ch. 14: We now have the remnant who suffer like Christ. We also have the testimony, judgments and warnings of God. Finally, we have the judgment of the earth, and the destruction of the wicked by the Son of man.

Ch. 15: Another great sign follows, not necessarily at the same time or immediately after it. It reaches down to the the throne of the beast. The saints, who pass through the time of tribulation, are viewed as at rest. The sea of glass is mingled with fire.

Ch. 16: The vials are poured out. They are on the earth, and particularly strike the beast’s kingdom, and those who dwell in it. Then all the kings of the earth gather themselves together. The smiting does not correct them, but galls their pride. Finally, the last judgment of God is executed even on Babylon, the beast remaining to be defeated by the Lamb.

Ch. 17-18: We have a description of what the woman is: how she rides the horned beast, corrupting all nations. The Lamb overcomes both of them. Babylon is Rome.

Ch. 19: After Babylon is judged, the marriage of the Lamb takes place. He comes forth out of His heavenly seclusion, as King of kings and Lord of lords, to be revealed in the earth. As he comes out as the word of God in judgment, the saints, witnessed in righteousness in the fruit of their works, accompany Him. The beast and the false prophet (the second beast), are taken and cast to their final doom, their royal character having disappeared. The rest are slain. This is the judgment of power and war.

Note that the rapture of the church belongs to the church revelation, so it could not come into the Book of Revelation. However, we see the saints in heaven.

Ch. 20: Then Satan is bound, and shut up in the abyss for a thousand years. Sessional judgment follows. All the heavenly saints are on thrones, for this is royal judgment, and judgment is given to them – this is the first resurrection. After that we have the second resurrection, in which the dead are to be judged and condemned.

Ch. 21:1-8: Heaven and earth flee away; death and hades give up all. God is all in all in a new heavens and new earth.

Ch. 21:9-22:5: The Spirit returns to give a description of the heavenly Jerusalem during the millennium (as He had of Babylon and its relationship to the earth).

Ch. 22:6-21: After warnings to those who are in the time of the book, Christ comes forward Himself as the One who had given the revelation. This draws out in the bride, with whom is the Spirit, to express the desire of His coming. Expressed is her position – towards Christ, towards those who hear the word, and towards sinner. John seals the book with his own desires those of the church, ‘Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

The re-introduction of God’s government into this world in Christ, in this book, and the discovery of the heavenly position of the church, is full of interest and doctrine. Meanwhile judgment of the world and its course, is confided to the church which closes the book both historically and doctrinally, the church herself being above the world.

This closes the canon of scripture.

 

Originally by JND.   Lightly edited by Sosthenes,  October 2014

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