The Counsels of God and the Responsibility of Man


Introductory remarks to the Exposition to Romans

We should consider the difference between the counsels of God and the responsibility of man. The counsels of God have their accomplishment in the second Man, who is from heaven.   However, every intelligent creature has responsibility, and a believer more so than a mere child of Adam.

Purpose was before responsibility. It is a wondrous and blessed truth that God’s purpose and delight was in man – especially the Son of His love. Before the world existed, man was in God’s thoughts. Wisdom was there, and man occupied Wisdom’s (i.e. God’s) though and delight.

Human responsibility awaited the creation of a responsible creature (angels are different). This is seen in 2 Tim. 1:9, “Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works [that is responsibility], but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality [incorruptibility] to light by the gospel, whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles.”

Hence when the Word became flesh, the angels acclaimed, ‘Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good pleasure [not merely goodwill] in men’ (Luke 2:14). God used the same word when He said, ‘in thee I am well pleased’ (Luke 3:22) God’s purpose was thus in the second Man, the Son of God, the Word made flesh, the Son of God’s love, and in those in whom His delight was associated with Him.

The purpose of God was not accomplished in the first man. That came with the second Man, who dealt with the whole question of man’s responsibility.

Let us look at the history of man:

First man was innocent. He failed, tested by the simple claim of obedience without an evil lust.   But he distrusted God, and listened to Satan. Man lost God; lust and transgression came in; man became afraid of God, and was driven out by Him. When Adam failed, no promise was made to him. No promise could be made to sinful flesh – only judgment. But the woman was told that her seed would crush the serpent’s head. That was Christ.

What prevailed afterwards was utter lawlessness: then the flood and judgment came upon the earth. God established restraint and authority in Noah, but he failed and got drunk.   Though individuals such as Abel and Enoch had been dealt with in grace, no new system of grace had set up. After the flood, man rose up in rebellion to make himself a name, but God confounded his language, nations were formed, and Satan introduced idolatry (a vague consciousness of God, deified ancestors, astrology and reincarnation). God was set aside; men put demons in His place, and clothed deified lusts with His name.

Then God called Abraham out from the world and revealed Himself, making him head of a family, both naturally and spiritually.   Grace was revealed: a free unconditional promise being given to Abraham. Abraham became the father of the faithful, this being confirmed by a figure representing the death and resurrection of Christ (Gen. 22). The promise and the seed were fully united in God’s revelations.

After this came another very important aspect of God’s dealings with the fleshly seed of Abraham – the giving of the law. It raised the question of righteousness, and required it from man.   The law provided a perfect rule for Adam’s children: blessing and life dependent on obedience. We know the result: the golden calf was made even before the tables of the law could be brought into the camp.

Finally God came into this sinful world in grace, beseeching men to be reconciled to Him. The promised son of David, son of Abraham came, and when He came, not only was there sin and lawlessness everywhere, but mercy had been rejected. The promise, and the promised One, had been despised. The tree was bad; and brought no true fruit to God. It bore only leaves, and it was judged for ever. God’s one beloved Son, was cast out and slain; God’s wedding-feast invitation was despised. God had come in grace, but Man had cast Him out in hatred. Sin was complete; man was lost.

Wicked hands had slain Christ, but it was according to the pre-determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. The truth was, He had appeared at the appointed time to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.   The Lord met the consequences of man’s responsibility, bearing his sins in His own body on the tree. Propitiation was perfect; redemption was accomplished; and God was perfectly glorified in all that He is – love. In the cross of Christ (the second Man, the last Adam, the Lord from heaven), the foundation was laid in righteousness for the accomplishment of divine counsels in glorifying the redeemed,. Sins had been put away, and Christ being at the right hand of God, the righteousness of God was now on solid ground.

Thus we have these two great subjects before us: the responsibility of man and the counsels of God.


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

Adoss Newsletter – No 13 – October 2014

‘Tis not far off-the hour
When Christ will claim His own;
We soon shall hear that voice of power;
The Lord Himself shall come!

The days are passing by,
The years flow on apace;
Lord Jesus, Thy return draws nigh,
We long to see Thy face.


Zech 4:10
By Σωσθένης Ὁἀδελφὸς – Sosthenes the Brother


Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord

2014 is almost over. When I was a boy, I was told that the Lord would have certainly come for His church by the year 2000. In the 1950’s, 2000 was a lifetime away (so it seemed then). But the years have flown by. We are nearly 2015 and the Lord hasn’t come – yet! But the Lord IS coming soon – we just don’t know when. I am reminded of the verses:


‘Tis not far off-the hour
When Christ will claim His own;
We soon shall hear that voice of power;
The Lord Himself shall come!
The days are passing by,
The years flow on apace;
Lord Jesus, Thy return draws nigh,
We long to see Thy face.


See the full spiritual song: ‘Tis not far off-the hour’


An Outline to the Bible

Outline of Bible coverOver the past few months I have been editing a booklet based on J N Darby’s Outline to the books of the Bible.’ This is 80- page summary, highlighting the Holy Spirit’s principal messages, less well known than his five volume synopsis. It is now available in draft form and you can download it by clicking here. Please feel free to circulate it, but note that it is still a draft. If you see anything that looks wrong please send me an email. I would like to put the booklet into print in due course, but I wait on God as to when and how.


The Rule Book

A year or so ago a friend of mine gathered a few young people and encouraged them to ask questions – about anything. The majority were of the lines ‘Why are we not allowed to have TV?’ , ‘Why can’t I join a rock band?’ and the like. You can imagine how sad my friend was. Christianity doesn’t have a rule book – the Bible certainly isn’t one, even though it tells us what is pleasing to God and what is not.

I trust that some came away saying ‘I don’t want a TV because of the torrent of filth on it that I cannot control’, and ‘I don’t want to be a member of a rock group, because Jesus would never have been a member.’

The Second Man, and Deliverance from Sin

This caused me to work on two articles for ADOSS based on papers by JND.

The first was based on a preaching. After covering the basics of the gospel, Darby said that sin must be put away perfectly. The sinner brought back to God must be spotless. Christ did not enter heaven again until He had settled the whole question of our sins and of sin itself. The moment I, as a poor sinner, look by faith to Jesus as my divine sin-bearer, all my sins are gone – they are put out of God’s sight for ever.   I am pardoned through His blood, peace having been made through the blood of the cross. And the glorified Man is in heaven, appearing in the presence of God for us – of His Father and our Father, of His God and our God. No sin there

The second paper shows what wonderful freedom we have. Not only as believers are we to be free of guilt, but we are to know deliverance from the law of sin and death. We still have the flesh, its will and lusts, and in our own strength there is nothing we can do. As a result of Christ’s death, the Christian can say, ‘The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death’ (Rom 8:2). As a result we can know newness of life and the liberty of sonship. I am free, because the sin I have discovered in my flesh has been condemned in the cross of Christ. By faith I am crucified with Him; I have a new place before God, beyond death, judgment and Satan’s power. That place is liberty.



It would appear that in 520BC Zechariah, Buddah and Confucius were all engaged in their work. Which one brought people back to God? Who said ‘Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you’ (Zech 1:3). Who had an idea of God’s standard (the measuring line) Zech. 2? Who saw a man’s filthy garments changed to festival robes (Zech 3 – Darby trans. – from our own righteousness to God’s)? And which could speak of the sons of oil (Zech 4 – the limitless supply from God’s Holy Spirit)?

These two wise men from the East were no more than that – giving good advice – but none changing the man which cannot be improved, however much men try!


We cry to God for the state of the Church

Up till now the Roman Catholic church, despite its idolatry, human organisation and wrong teaching, stood for some things that were right – upholding marriage, condemning homosexual activity etc. Protestantism had already bowed to the times. Now even Catholicism is following suit. Looking at prophecy, that is not surprising. Let there be a call – not to change the system – but for true hearts to follow Jesus ‘outside the camp’


asia_bibi_a_4X3And let us cry to God for those whose Lives are in Danger

The headline on an email I received this week says ‘Aasia Bibi’s appeal against death sentence rejected’. This young mother has been languishing in prison since being falsely accused by some of her co-workers of defiling the name of Mohammed. The government of Pakistan could well bow to international pressure in such a high profile case. But how many others are there? – in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, North Korea knowing the literality of the verse, ‘Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life’. (Rev 2:10).

We may not know them, but they are our brethren.

May we, like they, be kept close to the Lord.

God’s blessings, your brother,

Sosthenes Hoadelphos