Moral Law – an unscriptural Expression

People speak about a ‘moral law’, but they have only a vague idea of what is meant by the expression. They say, ‘Live by the ten commandments’ or, ‘Do to others what you would have them do to you’ (Matt 7:12 NIV). They quote scripture, but in so doing put themselves and others under bondage. That is not Christianity. The Christian has been delivered from the law.

There are expressions which are used by Christians, which as well as being unscriptural, convey a meaning which is also contrary to the truth as presented in scripture.   One of these is ‘moral law’.

People speak about a ‘moral law’, but they have only a vague idea of what is meant by the expression.  They say, ‘Live by the ten commandments’ or, ‘Do to others what you would have them do to you’ (Matt 7:12 NIV).  They quote scripture, but in so doing put themselves and others under bondage. That is not Christianity.  The Christian has been delivered from the law.

Christians under a so-called ‘moral law’ have set aside Paul’s teaching.  They show a semblance of piety, but are effectively seeking to be justified by works.  Even if the works were good ones, they are under a curse. (see Gal 3:10).  A Christian, being of a fallen race, finds himself ruined by the law, deceived by it to his own sorrow.  The law knows no mercy.  He is spiritually dead.

Paul found that experimentally.  Paul saw that the law condemned lust.  So, because he lusted he was self-condemned.   Lust was in his nature.  The law claimed absolute obedience to God, but he found he did not have the power to keep it.  He wanted to do what was right but couldn’t.  In short, he coveted, and thus broke the law.  What was ordained to life, he found to be to death (see Rom 7:10).

 

Christ and the Law

God gave the promise to Abraham.  The law was given later.  If the law could have given life, righteousness could have been by the law.   But the law did not give either the motive or the power to do right.  That is why in Galatians the law is treated as a schoolmaster.  The law condemns sins.  More than that, it condemns sin.

In Romans 7 Paul insisted that one cannot have two husbands at the same time.  A Christian cannot cannot be under obligation to both Christ and the law.  A Christian is ‘dead to the law by the body of Christ(Rom 7:4).   If he (or she) is dead, he is no longer under the law.  ,  ‘Sin shall not have dominion over you, because ye are not under the law, but under grace’ (Rom 6:14).

Somebody might say, ‘Yes; but the flesh is still there, so I need the law, not to put away sin, but that it might not have dominion.’  That is false – The Christian is to be consciously dead in Christ.  If a person is dead, he is beyond the reach of law by death.  The Christian has died with Christ and is resurrection: he is in newness of life – in Christ, not Adam.

I am ‘dead to the law by the body of Christ’ (Rom 7:4)The death that the law sentenced me to in my conscience has fallen on another — Christ.  Otherwise I would have been left in everlasting misery.  But in love Christ put Himself in my place.  Now I am justified and have a right to reckon myself dead, because Christ has died and has risen again.  I have  received Him into my heart as life: He is really my life.

Godliness is walking with a risen Christ – that is Christian life.   The measure of that walk is Christ, and nothing else.

The Divine Law

A true believer always holds difference between right and wrong, to be an immovable and fixed moral foundation.  It is revealed by God in His word.

The Lord said ‘Keep my commandments’ (John 15:10) and John wrote ‘This is love, that we keep His commandments (1 John 5:2) .   Some are afraid of the word ‘commandment’, as if it would weaken the ideas of love, grace and new creation.  But keeping the commandments and obeying one we love is the proof of our love.   Christ Himself said, ‘I love the Father, and as the Father hath given me commandment, so I do.’ (John 14:31).   His highest act of love, in dying for us on the cross, was His highest act of obedience.

The Spirit will produce fruits against which there is no law.

  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law’ (Gal 5:22-23.
  • Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love’ (Eph 5:1-2 Darby).
  • Put on therefore, as [the] elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any should have a complaint against any; even as the Christ has forgiven you, so also do ye. And to all these add love, which is the bond of perfectness’ (Col 3:12-14 Darby).
  • A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34)

 

This is a summary of part of letter written by John Nelson Darby.  It is published in Collected Writings Volume 10 (Doctrinal 3) page 1.

This summary covers the first wrong term ‘moral law’.   A subsequent article, will, God willing, cover the second term ‘Christ’s righteousness’.

Sosthenes

December 2016

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

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

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

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

JohnNelsonDarby

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

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

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

 

Part 1 – Justification from Sins

Chapter 1

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

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

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

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

Chapters 2 & 3

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

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

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

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

Chapter 4

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

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

Chapter 5 v. 1-11

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

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

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

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

 

Part 2 – Justification ‘of Life’

Chapter 5 v. 12-21

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

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

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

Chapter 6

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

Chapter 7

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

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

In Romans 7 the soul learns three things:

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

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

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

Chapter 8

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

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

 

Summary by Sosthenes

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

April 2016

 

 

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

 

JohnNelsonDarbyHow does the New Testament distinguish between the earthly hopes and promises to Israel, and the heavenly hopes of the church?   It is absolutely impossible to set aside the promises to Israel – the church odes not replace them [as modern ‘replacement theology’ and would suggest*].  God had made promises to His people which cannot be undone – ‘The gifts and calling of God are without repentance’ (Rom 11:29).   In speaking of Israel, ‘Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers’  (Rom 15:8).  His rejection and death did not set the promises aside. Israel is now in unbelief, but after the rapture of the church, there will be a pious godly remnant owning Christ and owned by Him.

 

The Birth of Christ

In the beginning of Luke, Christ’s birth is announced to Israel.  The angel told Zacharias that many of Israel should turn to the Lord their God, a people prepared for Him (see Luke 1:16-17).  This is a people prepared for the Lord before He comes (not sovereign grace meeting sinners in their need, as it is with us).  Mary was told that Jesus (Jehovah the Saviour) should be called the Son of the Highest, and that He would be given the throne of His Father (see Luke 1:32).   The song of Zacharias (Luke 1:67-79) is wholly composed of the divinely-given celebration of God’s having visited and redeemed His people, and raised up a horn of salvation for them in the house of His servant David (see v.69).  The Jewish shepherds received the announcement of His birth.

But these persons were not typical of those of Israel – they were they believing, pious ‘remnant’.  Later, Anna and others were looking for redemption in Jerusalem: they evidently knew one another.  Simeon saw in ‘light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel’. (Luke 2:32).  It is therefore absolutely clear that this remnant, a people prepared for Jehovah, awaiting earthly deliverance.

The Gentiles come later in Luke.

 

Christ’s Rejection by Israel

Matthew’s gospel reveals the way in which Christ was presented to the Jews and rejected by them.  Following His rejection, God’s plans for the remnant were interrupted in order to accomplish something brighter and more blessed [viz. the church, the time of the Spirit, grace and the Christian dispensation*].  But to suppose that God had invalidated His thoughts as to Israel, would be to subvert divine testimonies and undermine God’s faithfulness and testimony.

The old was still in the mind of God to be fulfilled at the appropriate time.  Like the prophets, Matthew, passed over the intervening church period.  He introduced Christ as the accomplishment of prophecy and promise, giving His genealogy and showing how prophecy was being fulfilled – see Matt 1:22,  2:5 &  2:15.    ‘The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus’  (Rev 19:10).  The church does not have any part in this, already being with Christ.

In the sermon on the mount (Matt 5-7) the ‘ye’ refers to the remnant, not the self-righteous Jews – [nor does it directly refer to Christians*].  They were to expect persecution and a consequent reward in heaven.   Those who were obedient to His teaching were like the man building his house on the rock see (Matt 7:24).  On the other hand,  unbelieving Israel would be cast into prison till the uttermost farthing was paid (Matt 5:26).

 

Christ’s Teaching

In Matt 10, Christ sends out the twelve.  They were not to go to the Gentiles or to the Samaritans, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  They were to declare the kingdom of heaven to be at hand, and to enquire who was worthy, that is to seek the righteous remnant (not poor sinners).  Although they were to speak peace everywhere, the peace would rest only on the sons of peace.   They were to shake the dust off of their feet before those hostile Jews who did not receive them.  Verse 18 goes beyond the Lord’s lifetime and the church period.  The faithful would be brought before the Gentiles (enemies), and be hated of all men for Christ’s name sake.  This ministry was to Israel and would not be completed till the Son of man came.

In Matt 23 the disciples and the people are on Jewish ground.  They were to be subject to the teachers who had set themselves in Moses seat, even if those teachers had rejected the ‘prophets, and wise men, and scribes’ (v. 34).  Their forebears had stoned the prophets, and killed those sent; but still Jerusalem would never listen.  Often would Jesus (Jehovah) have gathered Jerusalem’s children together, but now the desolate city would not see her Lord until she repented, saying,  ‘Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord’ (v. 39).

In Matt 24 His disciples ask about the judgment and the end of the age (not the ‘world’). This again is in line with Jewish thought.  The temple would be destroyed, which of course happened in AD70, but the Lord spoke of what would happen at the end.  False Christs would come, saying, ‘I am the Christ’, and some would be deceived, even perhaps the elect. Many troubles would arise: there would be the abomination of desolation of which Daniel spoke, and those who were in Judea would flee to the mountains.  But before His coming, the gospel of the kingdom would be sent to all the Gentiles.  Finally, the Messiah would return and associate Himself with the godly remnant in Judea and Jerusalem.  What language could be plainer?

The whole scene is Jewish, not Christian.  Indeed, it has no direct application whatever to true Christians, because when the Lord comes, they would already have been caught up to meet the Lord in the air.  The Lord will come publicly as Judge, whereas when He comes to rapture His saints, it will be secretly in perfect grace.  A Christian who has been beguiled by thoughts of going through the tribulation, must have renounced Christian hopes or have never understood them.

 

Peter’s Ministry

On the cross the Lord interceded saying, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34).   After the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter says, ‘And now, brethren, I know that ye did it in ignorance, as also your rulers… Repent therefore and be converted, for the blotting out of your sins, so that times of refreshing may come from [the] presence of the Lord, and he may send Jesus Christ, who was foreordained for you, whom heaven indeed must receive till [the] times of [the] restoring of all things, of which God has spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets since time began’ (Acts 3:17-19 Darby).  Repentance was called for, but few repented.  Stephen witnessed to the Jews always resisting the Holy Spirit.  Finally, the most active resister of the Spirit, Saul, was converted.   When the Jews counted themselves unworthy of eternal life, he, now Paul, turned to the Gentiles and the doctrine of the church is revealed to him.

As far as we can see, Peter did not teach the doctrine of the church.  Christians remained strictly attached to Judaism, zealous of the law; priests were obedient to the faith and some even continued to be priests.  Peter never even taught Jesus to be the Son of God, even though it had been revealed to him: his doctrine was, ‘Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ’ (Acts 2:36).

 

The Church

Now God introduces the sovereign fullness of His grace, a doctrine entirely unknown in the Old Testament.  Paul speaks of the mystery, Jews and Gentiles forming one body, and says ‘The preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest and by prophetic scriptures [not ‘the scriptures of the prophets’], according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith’ (Rom 16:25-26 Darby).  The Father had revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Son of the living God (not merely the Christ).  Following that, Christ could then speak of the church, for it was to be founded on that confession.  But it was still a future thing – ‘on this rock I will build my church’ (Matt 16:18).  In Christ’s death He gathered together into one the children of God; in His resurrection He was declared Son of God with power; in His departure the Comforter came.

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

 

Paul’s Ministry

Only Paul speaks of the assembly (or church).  Also Paul is the only apostle who speaks of the rapture of the saints taking place before the appearing of Christ.  This ministry changed everything: we now have a heavenly gathering on earth. Paul’s free ministry, distinct from that of the twelve, had already been started by Stephen.   He saw a heavenly Christ, a Man in glory, and was put to death.  This was individual.

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

Before God took up the children of Israel as a nation, the saints of God walked in individual faith.  Afterwards, they were individual members of a nation owned as God’s people.  It was a unity in the flesh: the Spirit had nothing to do with it, and it excluded the Gentiles.  After the death and exaltation of Christ, both Jews and Gentiles were reconciled to God through faith, and consequently were made one by the Holy Spirit.  This was the body of Christ, the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit.

The Greek word for ‘church’ or ‘assembly’, ἐκκλησίᾳ/ekklēsia, means ‘a calling out’.  We see it in ‘The Lord added daily to the assembly’ (Acts 2:27 Darby). ‘He set some in the assembly; firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets’ (1 Cor 12:18 Darby).  It is called out to participate in the sufferings of Christ, later for Him to present it to Himself as His bride, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing (See Eph 5:27).  The word ἐκκλησίᾳ/ekklēsia is also applied to the particular assemblies of Christians in different places, because they formed the assembly of God in that place.  No other meaning is possible.

 

The Hope of the Church

The church is heavenly in its calling, and belongs to Christ in heaven.  It forms no part of the course of events of the earth.  This makes its rapture so simple and clear as we see from   Col 3:4, ‘When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’  The church’s hope and glory is Christ Himself.   He is our life; our life is hid with Him; He is our righteousness; the glory given to Him He has given us; we are members of His body; we are of His flesh and of His bones.  We suffer with Him now, but will reign with Him in a future day, conformed to His image.

 

The Rapture

The church has nothing to do on earth with Christ’s appearing or second coming.  She is already spoken of as sitting with Him in heavenly places (see Eph 1:20), so she belongs elsewhere –  she has only yet to be brought there bodily.  Her immediate outlook is her being taken physically to where He is. ‘From heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thess 4:6).

This being the case, a person who maintains that he does not go to be with Christ until His  appearing, is denying the proper hope and relationship of the church.  Ignorance is one thing, but denial is another.  Grasping the fact of our being with Him at the rapture, not the appearing, changes all our spiritual thoughts and affections.  Our hope is not even to be in glory with Him, wonderful as that is, but it is being with Him.  ‘I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also’ (John 14:3), ‘So shall we ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thess 4:17).

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

  1. The general fact: Christ will come again, and we will be with Him. The saints of our dispensation ‘have been made to our God kings and priests; and they shall reign over the earth’ (Rev 5:10 Darby).
  1. The world, evil and in confusion, will ripen into rebellion. The believer knows and believes that at Christ’s appearing and His kingdom, God will judge the the quick and the dead.  It will be an earthly kingdom and an earthly judgment.
  1. The saints of our dispensation will have, through grace, a special association with Christ. They will have met Him in the air.  They will also have been before the judgment-seat of Christ, giving an account of themselves to God, but this part of their privilege, not punitive, for they will already be like Jesus.  He will introduce them into His Father’s house, placing them in the heavenly seat of government with Himself.  This is the rapture of the saints, and it precedes the appearing.

Before the appearing certain events must have occurred.  The world will have become completely apostate, and the man of sin will have been revealed.  The church will already have gone, not being of the world, but risen with Christ.  On the other hand, the rapture does not depend on any earthly event. The Christian’s hope is therefore not a prophetic subject at all.  No one knows when the rapture will take place.

The saints leave the world and worldly religion by going out to meet the Bridegroom. The cry ‘Behold the Bridegroom cometh!’ (Matt 25:6)’ went out at midnight, but it could have been at any time.  We know that the Bridegroom did tarry, and the sense of His coming was lost.  It is the loss of the expectation of immediacy of the Lord’s coming that lays behind the public church’s departure from simplicity, and its fall into clerical authority and worldliness.   It lost its spiritual authority.  In Matthew 24, what leads the wicked servant into mischief is not the denial of the Lord’s coming, but the loss of the sense and present expectation of it.  The Christian is constantly waiting for the Lord to come.

When therefore is the Christian to expect the Lord? – Always.

 

Thessalonians

An example of those who were awaiting the Lord’s return were the newly-converted Thessalonians.  They might not have had much light, but their expectation was a divine witness to the world.  They were not waiting for any events – just waiting.  They saw themselves to amongst those who would be alive and remain at the coming of the Lord (see 1 Thess 4:15).  We need to be like that.

We know that the Thessalonians were distressed about those who had perished for Jesus’ sake, that they would not be here to enjoy His coming.  They were also troubled by false teachers alleging that that day of the Lord was already present.  Paul corrected this error, by showing that the dead would be raised, and then the living go up to meet Christ with them.  He explained that it was an absolute moral absurdity for the Lord’s people to go though the judgment, since they would already be in heaven along with the Judge.  This confirmed their expectation, enlivening their faith, and brightening their hope, despite the persecution.  The terrible persecution was but a pledge from a righteous God that they would have rest and glory, not trouble, when the kingdom came.  The Thessalonians’ minds were therefore re-established, and all was clear and peace.

 

The Tribulation

In Rev 12:10-12, it is said, ‘And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!’  This is not the rapture, because that will have taken place earlier.  This is in the subsequent seven years.  3½ years before the close (that is the last half-week of Daniel), Satan, the accuser, is cast out of heaven.  Now begins the great wrath of Satan for those living upon the earth.  For one class persecution and death had now ceased; for another it was just going to begin.

As regards our passing through the tribulation (a question which often arises on this matter) the scripture makes it very simple. How do we know that there will be a tribulation?  Scripture tells us.  But equally it makes it clear that the the Jews will in it, and the church not:

  1. I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth’ (Rev 3:10).
  2. These [clearly after the rapture] are they who come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb’ (Rev 7:14).
  3. It is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he [a faithful one of Israel] shall be saved out of it’ (Jer 3:7).
  4. ‘There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [Israel] even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book’ (Dan 12:1).

The time of temptation, referred to above, shall come to try them who dwell on the earth.  This is more general; it is not the great tribulation of Jeremiah, Daniel, and Matthew, which is exclusively Jewish.  Although the Lord is addressing Philadelphia, one of the churches, He says that they would be kept out of it.

 

Israel and the Appearing

In the epistle to the Romans, specifically chapter 11, we have the general doctrine as to the remnant in Israel.   An elect believing remnant will be grafted into their own olive tree and become one nation – ‘all Israel.’   That could not be the Christian assembly, even with Jewish believers – they had never been broken out of the Jewish olive tree.

In that future day, Israel will be blessed on earth.  ‘He shall come to be glorified in his saints [not to receive them up to Himself], and to be admired in all them that believe’ (2 Thess 1:10).   The remnant of Israel will be blessed in spite of the tribulation.  They form a separate class from unbelieving Israel and the church.  They come in after the sealing of the 144,000 – the elect of the twelve tribes of Israel (see Rev 7:4), experiencing God’s protection, nourishment, refreshment and comfort.  Their position is totally different from ours.

 

Conclusion

We should not confuse the companies or the happenings. The scripture is as plain as can be.  Anybody who confounds the day of Christ with His coming to receive the church does not understand the day we in, nor His coming, nor the church.  Confounding the day of the Lord and His coming to receive the church, is a subversion of the whole nature of the relationship between both Christ and the church, and Christ and the world.   It is far more than a mistake in terms.   The denial of the rapture brings the church down to an earthly position, destroying its whole character.

 

 

Summary by Sosthenes

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

Scripture marked ‘Darby’ are from the Darby Translation

April 2016

 

 

 

 

J N Darby – French Letter No. 116A – Romans, Corinthians, Colossians

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

Dublin – January 1878

To Mr P

You see the difference there is between the epistles to the Romans, to the Ephesians, and to the Colossians. In the epistle to the Romans, man is considered as living in sin, then we are dead to sin. It is deliverance from the old man in this epistle; one is not raised with Him. In Ephesians, we are raised with Him and seated in heavenly places in Him; we are considered as dead in our sins, and all is God’s creation. In Colossians, we find the two things: “dead with Him”, the way to be delivered, “raised with him” but not seated in heavenly places. Here, man must live in the resurrection Man on earth, having his affections on things which are above where the Christ is. The inheritance is above. In Ephesians, the inheritance is all that Christ has created. Thus, we have three different aspects of the Christian life, with very instructive teachings for our walk. At the beginning of the second [epistle] to the Corinthians, we find the realisation of the epistle to the Romans: “Always bearing about in our body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifest in our body”[10]. Then God helps us in it through the circumstances by which he makes us pass. Only, in chapter 5, we have the principle of the epistle to the Ephesians: if one has died for all, then all were dead, and we find there the new creation[11]. If we grasp the significance of these truths, we understand much better what is the true character of Christianity, and its importance also. All this has been a great deal to me. The Word is adapted to our position and our circumstances down here, but it comes from above, and it brings us above. We can take it as divine light for down here or we can indeed follow it and rise up to its source. It is thus with Christ, the living Word, perfectly adapted to poor human beings. It reveals what is in heaven. For our thoughts and our prayers can take the character of one or the other, but all spiritual affections are developed when we are with Him above. Certainly, God draws the brethren to more devotion and spirituality. The Lord is also awaited more really, I believe.

 

….

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

Darby on Romans 16 – Conclusion

Even though he had never been to Rome, Paul’s heart was at home with many there. He knew the faith and service of some, and wrote to them as an assembly. As the apostle of the nations, he had his service for Christ for those in Rome.

He had a comprehensive service, embracing all the counsels of God, bringing the elements of the gospel together, to make the saints complete in Christ. The fruit will be hereafter. The apostle cites many who served diligently in the sphere in which God had placed them – from those who were of note among the apostles, to Phoebe, the deaconess or servant of the church at Cenchrea, who had been a helper of many. God does not forget any.

RomeEven though he had never been to Rome, Paul’s heart was at home with many there. He knew the faith and service of some, and wrote to them as an assembly. As the apostle of the nations, he had his service for Christ for those in Rome.

He had a comprehensive service, embracing all the counsels of God, bringing the elements of the gospel together, to make the saints complete in Christ. The fruit will be hereafter. The apostle cites many who served diligently in the sphere in which God had placed them – from those who were of note among the apostles, to Phoebe, the deaconess or servant of the church at Cenchrea, who had been a helper of many. God does not forget any.

The apostle then tells the us to mark those self-important persons who cause divisions, exploiting their own mental abilities and acting contrary to the doctrine they had learned. We are to avoid them. Such insubject activity separates our hearts from God. True hearts, like John the Baptist, knew consciously by the Spirit that everything that is right is from God. Even if we are weak, and lack faithfulness, we have a testimony from God with more power than the pretensions of man. This preserves us. Our hearts are kept simple, while the mischievous hearts, with their fair speeches, are judged.

So Paul says, ‘I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil(v.19). God has, in His gracious wisdom, traced out a path in the world for us. We do not need to know all the evil, or even any of it: we are just to walk in the wise and holy path, conversant with what is good, lovely, and of good report. If we know the one right path across the waste, and live by God’s word, we do not need to learn from those who lost themselves. ‘By the words of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer’

Paul ends Romans 16  with salutations, for fellowship in love characterises the spirit of the gospel. Tertius, to whom Paul had dictated the letter, gives his salutation. The Roman epistle, along with the others such as Ephesians and Colossians which had the character of commandments of the Lord: accuracy was important. (See 1 Cor. 14:37). The salutation at the end came from Paul’s own hand, verifying that the whole epistle was his, and that it had inspired apostolic authority.

The apostle closes with ascription of praise to the only wise God, owning Him as the One who is able to establish them according to his gospel.   He recalls the character of the testimony contained in that gospel, of which he speaks in so many places in so remarkable a manner.

In this epistle Paul does not develop the mystery: his object is to show how a soul stood in liberty before God. Conscience and justification must be individual. Still he shows that ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus’ (Rom 8:1). We are in Christ, and in chapter 12, one body in Christ – the full scope of the counsels of God – a mystery hidden from ages, even though they were in prophetic scriptures (v.26 Darby). He does not unfold the mystery in this epistle, but preached according to the revelation of it: Christ the head of all things, Jews and Gentiles forming one body, united with Him in heaven as Head. This had been kept secret since the world began, though it was in God’s counsels before creation. The foundation for our heavenly and eternal blessings had been laid in Christ’s work. Through all the inspired epistles the truth was made known to the nations ‘according to the commandment of the everlasting God.

God, whose counsels were not confined to Judaism, commanded His message to be sent to the nations. He had His counsels and views in man, and in the Son, the Seed of the woman, and would accomplish the counsels in power. Now the original purpose of God was being made manifest for the obedience of faith to all nations.

 

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

Darby on Romans 15 – Paul’s Service moves to Rome

In the providence of God’s ordered path, Paul witnessed to all the authorities from the Sanhedrim to the Emperor, and the Lord’s grace sustained him in it. His apostolic service was to close in unwilling captivity, and Paul is delivered by the Jews to the Gentiles to suffer in grace, like his Lord, at their hands. Of course, Paul did not face it perfectly like the Lord Himself: He did so in the calmness of unvarying perfection, drinking the cup none else could, and that, if it could be, was more perfect than anything.

RomeThe apostle sums up what he had taught, especially the gospel of the nations. Christ ‘was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers’ (v.8), but the nations had no such promises – they had to glorify God for His pure mercy. Because they had rejected Christ, the Jews also had to depend on God’s pure mercy. Paul quotes from the Old Testament, showing that this mercy to the nations was always contemplated by God – there should be a root of Jesse to reign over the nations and their hope should be in Him. (See v.12, Isa 11:10, Matt 12:21). He rests on the word hope.Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost” (v.13). Such is the Christian’s joy and peace in believing, that his spirit rises in hope, trusting in God, and looking forward to the blessed time when all shall be accomplished in light – when he will be with Jesus.

Paul now refers to the public ministry that had been confided to him by Jesus Christ. He wrote to the saints in Rome as a minister of the gospel of God to the Gentiles. He presents himself figuratively as a priest (a minister), so that he could offer up the Gentile Christians to God, consecrated, sanctified to God by the Holy Spirit. He shows how he had laboured in power, and how he had not gone where Christianity was already established, but to poor souls far away from God and light. Now this ministry was closed.

Paul had finished his service in Asia and the Greek speaking world, having laid the foundation, preaching in spite of the dangers, where no one else had.   He had formed and taught assemblies from Jerusalem to Illyricum, so now they could resist evil and false doctrine. The Greek world was Christianised: others might build, but Paul’s work was done. He had learnt to work wherever God called him to do so. Now the Latin world was before him, starting with Rome.

But now he was going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. His apostolic ministry finished, he undertakes a diaconal service to Jerusalem. He certainly did not fulfill his mission as intended (See v.31). Indeed his fears as to what might happen in Judaea are stated in verses 30-32 [and more so in Acts 20:22].

God would not allow Latin Christianity to have an apostolic foundation. There were already Christians in Rome. We do not know who founded the Roman assembly – there is no evidence that it was Peter. There had been no wise master-builder: Christianity founded itself there. He came to Rome as a prisoner after two years’ captivity in Caesarea; then he remained two years captive in his own house in Rome. Now the history closes.

As far as we know Paul never went to Spain. Subsequent history may be inferred from 2 Timothy and other scriptures. This in no way affects the moral or ecclesiastical bearing of any of the epistles.

The close of Paul’s service is deeply affecting. He was so like his Master, though at a distance. He had worked with energy and exercise. There were failures because of the materials with which he, like the Lord had to use. Nevertheless, despite the materials, God’s ultimate purpose was accomplished. Compare Rom 15 with Acts 20:29-33 and Isaiah 49:4-6.

In the providence of God’s ordered path, Paul witnessed to all the authorities from the Sanhedrim to the Emperor, and the Lord’s grace sustained him in it. His apostolic service was to close in unwilling captivity, and Paul is delivered by the Jews to the Gentiles to suffer in grace, like his Lord, at their hands. Of course, Paul did not face it perfectly like the Lord Himself: He did so in the calmness of unvarying perfection, drinking the cup none else could, and that, if it could be, was more perfect than anything.

 

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

 

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

Adoss Newsletter – No 14 – November 2014

I have been working on some of Darby’s papers on Romans. The summaries currently being produced are based on his paper Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans. I have now reached Romans 8 (hopefully in experience as well as doctrine). When completed, I want to add some extra notes from a simpler paper Outline of the Epistle to the Romans. Then further items from the Synopsis and other sources can be added.

 

Zech 4:10
By Σωσθένης Ὁἀδελφὸς – Sosthenes the Brother

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord

I sometimes ask myself ‘Why I am I doing this?’ I have no need to – there is no personal profit, and I am receiving less correspondence (more about that later). But the scripture says, ‘Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him’ (2 Cor 3:17) . So we can do the work, and leave the results to Him. After all, each of us is but a humble foot-soldier in the Lord’s army. As Darby wrote:

Lord! let us wait for Thee alone:
Our life be only this –
To serve Thee here on earth, unknown;
Then share Thy heavenly bliss 
Little Flock No 411

Romans

I have been working on some of Darby’s papers on Romans. The summaries currently being produced are based on his paper Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans. I have now reached Romans 8 (hopefully in experience as well as doctrine). When completed, I want to add some extra notes from a simpler paper Outline of the Epistle to the Romans. Then further items from the Synopsis and other sources can be added.

Your Contributions, Please…

That brings me to my next point. Why should everything come from me? Add your own summaries using the ‘reply’ facility.

If you wish to post a whole article, please email it to me. It should not be a verbatim reproduction of another article already on the Web. So that is why I am keen to have correspondence.

Of course you may well put your own point of view. If I believe it to be contrary to scripture, I will tell you. If seriously erroneous, then I will have to reject it.

 

Darby’s Stand

John Nelson Darby made a courageous stand against sectarian Christendom. This did not earn him many friends, especially amongst the religious hierarchy.

Some of the things he contended with were:

From W G Turner, ‘John Nelson Darby’ published by Chapter Two

  • Apostolic Catholicism/Pentecostalism – Edward Irving
  • Oxford Movement – Edward Bouverie Pusey
  • Sceptical Modernism – Francis William Newman
  • Roman Catholicism – Cardinal John Henry Newman
  • Heresy as to the Person of Christ – Benjamin Wills Newton
  • Arminianism /Perfectionism – John Wesley
  • Free Church Calvinism – Merle d’Aubigné
  • Free Chruch of Scotland Rationalism – Robertson Smith
  • Various ideas as to the future – annihilation, non-eternity, punishment/purgatory

To this I would add:

  • Ecclesiastical Independency
  • Clericalism
  • Mysticism – Madame de Krudener etc.
  • National churches
  • Post millennialism etc.

We can be thankful to God for the stand that men like Darby, Wigram, Bellat, Mackintosh etc made.

 

No Hope

A brother recently sent me a link to a preaching which started with the words.

‘Human beings can live for forty days without food, four days without water, and four minutes without air. But we cannot live for four seconds without hope’.

This made me think. Millions of people live their whole lives without hope. You can see it in their faces. Thank God that ‘We were were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus we who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ’ (See Eph 2:12-13).

We have been made nigh. Let us keep near our Lord and Saviour!

 

God’s blessings, your brother,

Sosthenes Hoadelphos

 

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

Judgment falls on all men:

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

Rome

There are two great themes of the glad tidings:

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

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

Judgment falls on all men:

 

The Heathen

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

 

The Moraliser

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Jew

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

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

 

All have sinned

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

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

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

 

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

 

Darby on Romans – Introduction to Romans

We need to understand two aspects of man’s state of sin

Man as living in evil ways, alive to sin and lust. According to Romans, death must come in to free him from the evil – redemption by grace.
Man as dead towards God. Ephesians treats man as dead in sins and gives us new creation.

RomeBackground in Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians

It may facilitate our apprehension of the epistle to the Romans, if we briefly survey Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians.

We need to understand two aspects of man’s state of sin

  1. Man as living in evil ways, alive to sin and lust. According to Romans, death must come in to free him from the evil – redemption by grace.
  2. Man as dead towards God. Ephesians treats man as dead in sins and gives us new creation.

Galatians

Galatians brings out the following points: –

  1. Promise, in contrast with law, which brought a curse and no justification of man
  2. Redemption from that curse, by Christ’s being made a curse for us
  3. The promised Seed, come of the woman (once the source of sin), to redeem those under the law.

The law had been the school-master until Christ came. Now, as sons by faith, having the Spirit, we are consciously heirs – not servants but sons.   The flesh, our evil nature, may lust against the Spirit, but, we are not under law. There can be no law against the fruit of the Spirit – elementary, though most important teaching.

 

Ephesians

Ephesians begins with the counsels of God:

  1. Our place before God, morally like Himself
  2. Christ’s position, as gone to His Father and our Father, His God and our God
  3. God’s purposes as to the Christ Himself, head over all as Man
  4. The inheritance and the earnest of the Spirit given to us
  5. The present exaltation of Christ
  6. The working of the same power in us, so we are raised with Him
  7. The church His body associated with Him
  8. Christ as Head over all things, to the church.

Eph. 2 gives Christ’s work. God’s power comes in and raises us up into His place of glory and blessing. We are sons and heirs.   The church, Christ’s body is united to Him, something hidden from all ages and generations, impossible to exist or be revealed till the middle wall of partition had been broken down.

The gifts of the Spirit from the Man on high builds up the saints, forms the body in union with Christ, and evangelises the world. From Eph. 4:17 onward we have practical conduct.  Having been brought to God in Christ, we are to display God’s own character, Christ being the perfect pattern in man. Having put off the old man and put on the new, we love one another as Christ loves His church. Finally we are God’s warriors in Canaan – that is, in heavenly places – and have need of God’s whole armour against spiritual wickedness, walking in dependence on God.

 

Colossians

In Colossians saints are not sitting in heavenly places, but with a hope laid up for them in heaven. Their are affections are to be set on things above, where Christ sits. They are buried with Him by baptism unto death (as Rom. 6). The believer is looked at as previously alive in his sins, but now quickened with Christ (Col. 2:13). Colossians does not reach on to the full level of Ephesian doctrine, but we do not get these thoughts in Romans at all.

The fullness of the Godhead is in Christ in Colossians; in Ephesians it is the body that is His fullness. The glory of an exalted Christ is before the Christian’s eyes – the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

This should enable us to study the epistle to the Romans more intelligently. Romans does not develop the counsels of God, but lays the ground for their accomplishment. All have sinned, Jew and Gentile, and have the same fleshly nature. There is no difference: God’s righteousness is applicable to both. Sins are put away, and we have deliverance from the old man. Romans treats the responsibility of man, explains God’s righteousness, and unfolds His grace unfolded as the source and principle of God’s dealings with us.

The epistle to the Romans furnishes the eternal principles of God’s relationship with man – the way in which, by means of Christ’s death and resurrection, the believer is established in blessing.   It reconciles of these things with the promises made to the Jews, by Him whose gifts and calling are without repentance.

 

Romans comprises several parts:

 

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