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

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

And we all know of the heartache that ensued.

 

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

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

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

James Taylor Senior (1870-1953)

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

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

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

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

And we all know of the heartache that ensued.

The True Grace of God wherein we stand.

We have thought quite long enough about ourselves. Let us now think about Him who thought about us with thoughts of good, not evil, long before we even existed, and had any thoughts of own at all. May we see what God’s thoughts of grace about us are, and echo the words of faith in Romans 8:31, ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ I am entitled to forget myself; I am entitled to forget my sins; I am NOT entitled to forget Jesus.
True humility does not so much consist in thinking badly of myself, as in not thinking of myself at all. I am too bad to be worth thinking about.

JohnNelsonDarbyBy Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. (1 Peter 5:12)

God is the ‘God of all Grace’ (1 Peter 5:10), but how hard it is for us to believe that the Lord is gracious. Our natural feelings may be expressed by the servants’ statement ‘I know that thou art an austere [or hard] man’ (Luke 19:21). We need to understand the Grace of God.

Some think that grace implies God’s passing over sin. That is completely wrong – God cannot tolerate sin. If I could, after sinning, patch up my ways and mend myself in order to stand before God, there would be no need of grace. The Lord is gracious because I am a sinner: my state is utterly ruined and hopeless, and nothing but free grace can meet my need.

The moment I understand that I am a sinful man or woman, and that the Lord knew the full extent and how hateful my sin was to Him, and that He came to me, I understand what grace is. Faith makes me see that God is greater than my sin, not that my sin is greater than God. The Lord, who laid down His life for me, is the same Lord I have to do with every day of my life. His dealings with me are on the principle of grace. How strengthening it is to know, at this very moment, that Jesus is feeling and exercising the same love towards me as He had when on the cross.

For instance, I have a bad temper that I cannot control. I bring it to Jesus as my Friend: virtue goes out of Him and meets my need. My own effort will never be sufficient. Real strength is in the sense of the Lord’s being gracious. The natural man in us will never believe that Christ is the only source of strength and blessing. If my soul is out of communion, I think, ‘I must correct the cause of this before I can come to Christ’. But He is gracious: the way is to return to Him at once, just as I am, and then humble myself before Him. Humbleness in His presence is the only real humbleness. If I own myself to be just what I am, I shall find that He shows me nothing but grace. True humility does not so much consist in thinking badly of myself, as in not thinking of myself at all. I am too bad to be worth thinking about.

Faith never thinks about what is in me myself: it looks to Jesus to give rest to my soul. Faith receives, loves and apprehends what God has revealed, and what God’s thoughts are about Jesus. As I am occupied with Him,I will be prevented from being taken up with the vanity and sin around. This will be my strength against the sin and corruption of my own heart too. As I am alone in communion with God, I am able to measure everything according to His grace. Nothing, not even the state of the Church, will shake me. I am entitled to forget myself; I am entitled to forget my sins; I am NOT entitled to forget Jesus.

The moment I get away from the presence of God, I rest on my own thoughts, which can never reach up to those of God about me. If I attempt to know God’s grace outside of His presence, I shall only turn grace into licentiousness.

What God is towards us is LOVE. Our joy and peace are not dependent on what we are to God, but on what He is to us: this is grace. All the sin and evil that is in us has been put away through Jesus. A single sin is more horrible to God than all the sins in the world are to us. Yet, despite what we are, God is pleased to be towards us in LOVE.

In Romans 7 we find a person, though quickened, whose reasoning centres in himself. It is all “I,” “I,” “I.”  He stops short of grace, the simple fact that GOD IS LOVE. I have got away from grace if I have the slightest doubt or hesitation about God’s love. I say, ‘I am unhappy because I am not like what I want to be’. Instead I should be thinking of what God is, rather than what I am. All this looking at myself is really pride, not admitting that I am good for nothing. Till I see this I will never look away from myself to God.

Faith looks towards God, who has revealed Himself in grace. Grace relates to what GOD is, not to what I am, except that the greatness of my sins magnifies grace of God. At the same time, grace brings my soul into communion with God, knowing God and loving Him. Knowledge of grace is the true source of sanctification.

We have thought quite long enough about ourselves. Let us now think about Him who thought about us with thoughts of good, not evil, long before we even existed, and had any thoughts of own at all. May we see what God’s thoughts of grace about us are, and echo the words of faith in Romans 8:31, ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?

 

Adapted by Sosthenes from J N Darby’s tract of the same name. Similar to, perhaps extracted from, ‘Why do I groan?‘ Collected Writings volume 12 – Evangelical 1, page 186.

Darby on Romans 5:12-21 – What we are as of Adam (not what we have done) dealt with

Christ, by His obedience, demonstrated God’s grace. Because God is love and rich in mercy, grace reigned through righteousness. If it had been man’s righteousness, it would not have been grace; but because of His obedience, the many are constituted righteous, and grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life. Stated so clearly, that is the ground and way of our salvation.

 

RomeFrom Rom, 5:12, Judaism disappears, and Paul takes a wider view. He looks at the whole state of man in the light of the sin the human race before God. By one offence, Adam brought on the whole race, sin, death and alienation and exclusion from God.   Because of grace and one righteous act man could receive justification of life. Not all were justified, any more than condemned, but the act had a universal bearing on the whole race. It is the same word as ‘unto’ all, in contrast with ‘upon’ all that believe, in Rom 3:22. Adam’s work bore on all, and so did Christ’s work too.

Verse 13-17 are a parenthesis. Sin was in the world from Adam to Moses. As there was no law yet, there could be no charges – there was no law forbidding them. Yet death reigned over those who had not sinned like Adam in breaking God’s actual commandment. as Adam did). Later a formal law was given under Moses. But between the two, where there was no formal law; there was sin and death; there universal ruin. When grace came in, it dealt with a multitude man’s offences in responsibility , so that those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness would reign in life by Jesus Christ, who was in God’s counsels before the world began.

In v. 19 we have the positive efficiency or effect on those who were actually connected with these two heads (Adam and Christ). By the disobedience of Adam, many are constituted sinners; by the obedience of Christ, many are constituted righteous. This is not responsibility and imputation, but a state into which the many were brought – righteous before God. The great point here is that the Lord and Adam, by their act and conduct, bring those connected with them into their appropriate conditions.

What is important to see is that the state of men was the consequence of the conduct of the head, not the conduct of men being met by the head. The law came in that the offence might abound, so that those who contravened the law were disobedient. Sin had reigned unto death. Had righteousness reigned, because of sin, it must have led to condemnation.

Christ, by His obedience, demonstrated God’s grace. Because God is love and rich in mercy, grace reigned through righteousness. If it had been man’s righteousness, it would not have been grace; but because of His obedience, the many are constituted righteous, and grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life.  Stated so clearly, that is the ground and way of our salvation.

 

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

Darby on Romans 3:21-31 – Justification by Faith

We have the mercy-seat through faith in His blood. The value of the blood brings the witness of righteousness in the remission of past sins. It justifies us, maintaining fully the justice or righteousness of God. He is just, and the Justifier, not the condemner, of those that believe. The principle of righteousness by faith is incompatible with law: one rests on grace, the other on works; one on God’s work, the other on man’s. In grace, God’s work justifies freely; in law, man’s work in righteousness seeks to make peace, redemption and God’s work unnecessary. Law recognises the claim of righteousness, but man having failed, God has met that claim in grace. The grace that was incompatible with law, met the claim of the law, in order to justify the person who had failed under it.

Rome

God being revealed, sin is measured by the glory of God.

After demonstrating that the heathen, the moralist and the Jew had all sinned, Paul returns to the subject of the righteousness of God. Man clearly had none If he had had a righteousness it would have been by the law, so it would only be for the Jews.  But all men – Jews and Gentiles – have proved to be under sin, so God has manifested His righteousness by faith, entirely separate from the law. It is towards all, and upon all who believe. It is free, by God’s grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

In chap. 1:17, we were told that God’s righteousness is revealed in the gospel. Now in Rom. 3:21, it is wholly apart from the law, the way of man’s righteousness)  As all of us are under sin, we are justified by God’s grace, through redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

We have in Christ the atonement or propitiation for our sins, giving us a place of access to God on the ground of redemption.   The saints in Old Testament times had been subjects of God’s forbearance. God passed over the sins of the Abrahams, the Samuels, and millions of others on the basis of the propitiation that was to be wrought by Christ. God forgave sins as if Christ’s work had already been accomplished.  In His exercise of forbearance, He justified His remission of the sins committed before Christ was here.

Now for those of us who live subsequent to His work, we have God’s full present justice. Christ has been exalted. Now in righteousness God could be just and justify believers in Jesus. This is an immense truth: God’s righteousness has been revealed, justifying those who believe in Jesus and His perfectly finished work. He has gone up on high, having glorified God perfectly on the cross, revealing and declaring God’s righteousness.  Man has not accomplished it, man has not procured it. It is of God, it is His righteousness.  We participate in it through believing in Jesus Christ.

We have the mercy-seat through faith in His blood. The value of the blood brings the witness of righteousness in the remission of past sins. It justifies us, maintaining fully the justice or righteousness of God. He is just, and the Justifier, not the condemner, of those that believe.

Man cannot boast, for justification is by God’s work – God’s grace received in faith. We cannot mix gaining a thing by working, and receiving it by faith – one excludes the other.   God justifies sinners in His dealings for them, not man justifying himself by a law which he could not keep.  Sinners are justified freely by (on the principle of’) grace, through (by means of) redemption.

Justification was by faith does not set aside the law. The law brought the conviction of sin, the curse even, from which men under it had to be delivered. Christ delivered men from the curse, thus sanctioning the law to the highest degree. He bore the curse, and established the authority of law as nothing else could. The Jew just had do be convicted of the necessity of grace, redemption and the blood of Christ; he had to recognise his debt and obligations, and that Christ’s work had put an end to those.

The principle of righteousness by faith is incompatible with law: one rests on grace, the other on works; one on God’s work, the other on man’s. In grace, God’s work justifies freely; in law, man’s work in righteousness, seeks to make peace, rendering redemption and God’s work unnecessary. Law recognises the claim of righteousness, but man having failed, God has met that claim in grace. The grace that was incompatible with law, met the claim of the law, in order to justify the person who had failed under it.  Had it been a human righteousness, it would have been by the law which had been given to the Jews only. But being the righteousness of God Himself, is unto all.

Thus far the imputation of righteousness goes no farther than the forgiveness of sins. There is more farther on; but here that is all .

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 Simplified – The First Man and the Second

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. Christ is in heaven – He could not take my sin there. 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.

A preaching on Genesis 3 by John Nelson Darby

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

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

Man has a Conscience

Man is by nature a ruined sinner, shut out by sin from the presence of God with no way back in his present state. The last Adam brings us back, not to an earthly paradise, but into the very presence of God in heaven. God does not bring a sinner back to innocence, but to the “righteousness of God”.   The believer is “made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

Man has a conscience – he knows good and evil. Even if a godless man steals, his consciences tells him that he has done wrong.

Now look at Satan’s temptation. He wanted to make God’s creatures think that God had been keeping something that would be for their good back from them – that He was jealous of their becoming as Himself. Satan’s great lie was, “Ye shall not surely die.” (v.4) It is his constant aim to make men believe that the consequence of sin will not be all that God has said it would be.

The Woman’s Sin

The woman listened to Satan; she lusted. Her heart was away from God, so she followed her own way – just like men do now, trying to make themselves comfortable away from God. Would you to meet God just as you are? God would say ‘Come and be judged’. So you would hide from God, as Adam and Eve did. Not only did they hide themselves from God, they hid themselves from themselves and from one another: the covering of the fig-leaves was just to hide the shame of their nakedness. And when they were hiding away from God, they were away from the only source of blessing. The light had come in and they wanted to get as far from it as possible.

Let us look at the character of their sin. They believed that the devil had told the truth, and that God did not. Satan wanted them to think that God was keeping from them the very best thing they could possibly have. And men are still believing the devil’s lie – hoping to get into heaven their own way, when God has said that nothing defiled shall enter in. Men are looking to Satan for happiness, instead of believing God. They cannot believe that God wants to make him happy.

Now I may say, ‘I have done very little wrong.’ But I am still making God a liar. All Adam did was to eat an apple. What harm was there in eating an apple? Alas! Adam and Eve cast off God, and that was the harm. Whether it was eating an apple, or killing a man, as Cain did later, the principle was the same. It was casting aside God’s authority, and making Him a liar.

Adam hides himself from God. He wanted to get out of His presence?  But the God of love brings the knowledge of the harm into man’s conscience. He does that in love, for if He were dealing with men in judgment He would have left them under it.

God called to Adam. When God speaks, it awakes the conscience; but this is not conversion. God speaks to show man to himself, and bring him back to blessing. His conscience is awakened and that brings him back to the presence of God. You would not hide from a policeman if you have done nothing wrong. But you try to hide yourself from God, because you have done what you know He hates, and that separates you from Him. Man cannot bear to meet God. Innocence, once gone, can never be restored.

The Effect of Sin

Sin has made man get away from God, and it has forced God to drive him from His presence. Man is out of paradise: toil, suffering, sorrow, sickness and death tell us that. And there is only one way back to God, and that is through the Second Man. Christ comes in by the door into the sheepfold, so there is no getting in some other way. He is the door, and whoever enters must come by Him. The flaming sword shut every other avenue to the tree of life. There was no possibility of creeping up to it by some unguarded path.

We also try to excuse ourselves. Adam laid the blame on the woman. “The woman whom thou gavest me, etc.” (v.12) It was as much as saying, ‘Why did you give me this woman? It was your gift caused the sin’. But Adam is condemned by the very excuse. “Because thou hast hearkened etc.” (v.17). Our excuses become our condemnation.

God does not comfort Adam or his wife. He shows man his sin to convict his conscience, not to make him happy. If my child has been naughty, do I wish him to be happy about it? No, I want to forgive him, but he must first feel his sin. God must have us see that we have sinned against Him. We justify God in condemning us. To see sin as God sees it is repentance. It is “truth in the inward parts.” It is holiness and truth in the heart.

God’s Way

God did not leave these poor condemned sinners without comfort. He said to the serpent, “The seed of the woman shall bruise thy head.” It was a new thing that God was bringing in – a new person and a new way. Christ was ‘the seed’. Blessing would come by the Seed of the woman through whom the curse had entered. This was perfection of grace. If sin had come in, sin had to be put away entirely. He who shut man out from heaven has fully provided that which shall shut him in again. We brought back to God through the precious blood of Christ. Christ loved us and gave Himself for us. That is God’s grace.

God commends his love to us, in that, we being still sinners, Christ has died for us.” (Rom. 5:8 Darby) We do not want a good Adam, – but a great God and Saviour. In the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, see all the wrath of God for sin was laid upon Jesus.

Sin must be put away perfectly. The sinner brought back to God must be spotless. Christ did not enter heaven again until He had accomplished this. “When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down,” (Heb 1:3). When all was finished, He took the throne of righteousness. Adam was cast out of the earthly paradise; Christ, as the last Adam, is in the heavenly paradise.

God justifies me when He says, ‘My Son has been given for your soul, and died for sin’. I am clothed with Christ; I am become the righteousness of God. What more could I have or want? I do not know Him fully, but He has redeemed me; and I am in Him that is the life. He is in me, and I in Him; and where He is, there I shall be in due time. I am still in the body, and bear about with me the bondage of corruption; but Satan’s power is crushed. The serpent’s head is bruised. He has been overcome: Christ went down under the full power of him that had the power of death; and He came up from it triumphant, for it was not possible He should be held by death.

He has overcome

We are told, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). We are not to overcome him (we could never do that), but when he meets Christ in me, he cannot stand that, he must flee.

The Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven in love, devoted Himself to God for our salvation. He drank the cup of wrath for sin; He tasted death, shut out from God’s presence that He might bring us back into the presence of God without judgment and without sin. This makes us happy and blessed for ever. He knew what the holiness of God was, and what His wrath was; and therefore He knew what He was delivering us from. How I shall hate sin, if I have seen Christ agonising for mine upon the cross! This changes my heart.

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.  Christ is in heaven – He could not take my sin there. 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.

The Love of God 1 John 4:9 
by J. N. Darby

God presents what He is to men, so we know that He is holy, righteous and love. He is love, and love draws me. Love is the divine nature.

I need to be separate from evil: “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb 12:14). It is not said, ‘He is holiness’. Indeed I as a sinner would be repelled by mere holiness. He is holy. He is just, and He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. (Hab 1:13) He may be the God of judgment, but He blesses His own so that they might be eternally happy in holiness, for He is holy love.

A summary by Sosthenes

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

God presents what He is to men, so we know that He is holy, righteous and love.  He is love, and love draws me.  Love is the divine nature.

I need to be separate from evil:  “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb 12:14).  It is not said, ‘He is holiness’.  Indeed I as a sinner would be repelled by mere holiness.  He is holy. He is just, and He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity(Hab 1:13)  He may be the God of judgment, but He blesses His own so that they might be eternally happy in holiness, for He is holy love.

Whatever our state may be, God is perfect in His love, and He would make us learn, enjoy and walk in it now, not when we get to heaven.

Our selfish, unbelieving nature hinders us down here, but this only serves to magnify God’s grace and love.  In spite of all, He brings us to the knowledge of perfect love because “Perfect love casteth out fear, for fear hath torment” (v.18).   If, when thinking of God, we fear, we have torment.  That is the conscience.   Man may seek to bury his conscience, but only succeeds in hardening it.

If we seek peace in ordinances, it is not love but fear. The effect of true ministry is to put the soul in direct contact with God.  False ministry brings in something between the soul and God.

The soul must have the blessed consciousness of perfect peace with God.  God brings you into the joy of His perfect love in His presence; “Who shall separate us? … More than conquerors.” (Rom. 8:35)

The family character of the children of God is light and love.  It is God’s nature, and seen in both in Christ and in all God’s children.  I must have the new nature to know this; but how do I get it?  Where is it found?  In Jesus Christ Himself, image of the invisible God. (Col 1:15).   In Christ I find a perfect manifestation of His love. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us(v10).

There is no mention of anything required of us, but the simple fact of what we were “dead in trespasses and sins.” (Eph. 2:1)

Though He is a God of judgment, He brought out the means of our approach: through Christ’s sacrifice.  Abel’s faith testified how man was to approach to God, so from Abel downwards God showed mercy.

Man as man refuses to come to God “none righteous.”  (Rom. 3:10) When Christ comes, it is another thing altogether.  God now approaches man in grace; not man approaching God.  He visited men in their sins, “that they might live through him.” (v.9)  All around was darkness, degradation, and idolatry. God took them out of that condition that they might live through Christ. “God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”  (1 John 5:10). Thus we are brought into His presence.

We live through His only-begotten Son. He is bringing us into His presence, before the One in whom all His delight was from eternity.  It is the eternal enjoyment of it to know eternal life in the Son; but down here we often question it, because we do not see this love in us. He is “a propitiation for our sins.(1 John 2:2)

God has loved me not only when I wanted it, but because His knew what I wanted.  He has not mistaken my case; Christ on the cross made the propitiation for my sins.  So I can say, “Herein is love.” (v.10)  I have found God, and my soul rests there. The cloud has been taken away for ever. If you say, ‘I have committed such and such a sin’; I answer, ‘It is for the sins you had or still have that Christ died; for He died for your sins.’

He cannot bear sin, and therefore He must put the sinner in his sins away, because He cannot bear the sins.  I learn to judge sin according to God, because I am brought into the light.  I find many sins in myself. He is the propitiation for my sins. I believe this, and then I enter into communion with Him. Why do I find fear and torment when I find sin in myself?   Can I not trust that love?  Have I not believed the love God has towards me?

God does not expect fruit from man, but His grace produces fruit.  We should feel sin, and know it has been blotted out.  We are told that  “The glory thou hast given me I have given them, that the world may know that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:24)  “There is no fear in love.” (v.18).   It is a matter of communion and we live through Him. “… Perfect love casteth out fear.”

I am not honouring God, if I do not trust the work of Christ in love on the cross.  I come to Him just as I am, and then I know God.  He enables me to trust in blood of Jesus Christ His Son – the perfectness of His work in putting away sin.

 

The Righteousness of God

counter the belief, which was taught at that time that Christ became our righteousness, that is that what was due under the law from us, He took on himself. Hence He would help us walk in according to the same law here if we are to follow Him.

A Summary by Sosthenes of a Paper by John Nelson Darby

For the original paper click here – JND Collected Writings Vol 7 (Doctrinal 2)

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

In this paper Darby sought to counter the belief, which was taught at that time that Christ became our righteousness, that is that what was due under the law from us, He took on himself.  Hence He would help us walk in according to the same law here if we are to follow Him.  Personally, I have not heard this taught, nor do I know where it is still taught, but any tendency for Christians to place themselves under a legal obligation must have its root in this unscriptural teaching.  There is that favourite Easter hymn ‘There is a green hill far away’.  It goes on ‘He died to make us good’  and ‘try his works to do’.  Oh dear!

Is the righteousness of God legal righteousness?

We should bless God that Christ is our righteousness and that by His obedience we are made righteous.  It is the settled peace of our souls.

There are three stages of sin: lust, willful lawlessness (or transgression), and hatred of God. In sovereign grace Christ was made sin for me, and died to put me in a wholly new position.   He is the heavenly Man; He is my righteousness and He has set me in the righteousness of God, seated in heavenly places in Him.  Christ was the root and spring in life of the redeemed race. We are united to Christ in His new position, where He is the righteous man at the right hand of God.  The first is wholly set aside, judged, condemned, and dead.  “I am dead to the law, by the body of Christ, being married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead.” (Rom 7:4)

If, as sinful creatures, we were under the law of righteousness, we could only be condemned. “Do this and live” (Luke 10:28) is not written on the gate of heaven.  It was written on Sinai, which is not the gate of heaven.

Judaism was flesh under law, and flesh was judged.   This was what judgment was  pronounced on.  It is a mistake if I look to legal obedience, the law reaches the disposition and condition of my heart, when spiritually apprehended.  It does not only say, ‘Do’, but ‘Be’.  If I say ‘Love and do not lust’ (the two aspects of the law), righteousness is taken out of the sphere of doing.  Doing becomes evidence of my state and nature.

The Error of Substituted Righteousness

I know of no scripture which says that a doer of the law was entitled to heaven, or which promises heaven to a doer of the law.

The error put out by a Mr Molyneaux, which JND sought to counter went along the following lines:

No man can enter into the kingdom of heaven unless he is garbed in a perfect robe of righteousness.  Over the gate of heaven is written, Do this and live.  Though a man is cleansed from his sin in the blood of Christ, and sanctified by the Spirit of God, He cannot go to heaven on that basis.  He needs something more still; he must have a perfect obedience. Heaven is suspended on a perfect obedience, God said to Adam, ‘Do this and live.’ He failed. You must present a perfect obedience when you come to God. It is the active righteousness of Christ; it is not His sufferings — that blots out sin; it is not His Spirit — that sanctifies the heart; but it is His perfect righteousness.  ‘By his obedience shall my righteous servant justify many’. (Isa 53:11, misquoted)  The wedding garment is the righteousness of Christ… To enter into heaven legal righteousness is absolutely required.  It may have been very gracious of the Lord to have righteousness provided it for me, but it had to be done.

This doctrine (no doubt unintentionally) denies the extent of sin and the true character of redemption.  Nor is Christ’s righteousness a scriptural expression, though no Christian doubts He was perfectly righteous.  Law is perfect in its place.

Calvin goes a step farther: I understand, by the righteousness of God, that which can be approved before the tribunal of God; as, on the contrary, men are accustomed to the righteousness of men, what is held and esteemed righteousness in the opinion of men (Rom. 1;  2 Cor. 5) – (I cannot find this quote – Sosthenes).   His statement is very poor. He implies that to come short of the glory of God means that we can glory before God in the same shortness.  In Romans 10 he makes the righteousness of God that which God gives, and our own righteousness, that which is sought from man.

The great evil of the whole scheme is, that it is a righteousness demanded of man as born of Adam, though another may furnish it. The thing furnished is man’s righteousness. If Christ has done it for me, it is still what I ought to have done. It is meeting the demand on me — ‘Do this and live’.

The Truth of God’s Righteousness

The righteousness of faith is contrasted with that of law.  The law says ‘Do this and live’.   I do not accept the principle that the requirements of righteousness have been met by another, but righteousness on another principle altogether.   But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise . . . that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Rom 10:9).

The first Adam, the flesh, is thoroughly and wholly condemned.  God looks for nothing from the first.   Another, the last, Adam is set up — the Second Man.

To make this clearer — there are two ways I can consider the relationship between God and man.  I may take the counsels of God and begin with them. This is Ephesians. Or I may take the actual state of men as responsible children of Adam, and show how grace meets this state – this is Romans.  Romans and Ephesians confirm one another, but from a different point of view.

Ephesians

When I read in Ephesians of the counsels of God, I find nothing of the law at all.  All is God’s work, and all is in Christ.   Man is found dead in sin.  All is God’s work from beginning to end. Christ is seen — in order to bring about this blessed counsel in grace — dead; and we, as dead in sin, are brought back to God with and in Him, according to these counsels.

Romans

In Romans we have the ways of God in His moral government met by grace.  Man is proved to be dead, dying under the effects of sin and his moral condition as a living responsible being.  He is a child of the first Adam, a sinner who has ruined himself, and his responsibility is met by grace.  The curse is taken by another; it is not met by another fulfilling it.

I must have righteousness; but I am not under law.  If righteousness came by law, Christ died in vain.   I am crucified with Him; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me(Gal 2:20).   As regards walk, If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under law (Gal 5:8).   If we are led of the Spirit, we are going right, but we are not under law. We are not children of the bondwoman.

This is the view taken in the Romans — If I build law after Christ, I am a transgressor.  But I through law, am dead to law (i.e., not bound to it), that I might live unto God (which no one under law ever did: it is weak through the flesh); for by works of law shall no flesh be justified, be he Jew, or Christian, or who he may, or whoever may do them.  See Rom 3:20

Imputed Righteousness

A believer in Christ is justified through faith – he is reckoned righteous. He has Imputed righteousness.  However it is not the value or strength of his faith which is accounted as righteousness and then imputed.  Yet righteousness will be imputed if we believe.  Abraham was accounted, and we are accounted, righteousness on the ground of believing.  That is the meaning of imputed righteousness.  It is not a substantive righteousness, apart from the person, and afterwards reckoned to him, but the condition of the person in God’s sight. God views him as righteous, though nothing entitles him to it inherently.  It is righteousness reckoned to him, in his standing before God. Hence it is imputed or reckoned.

It is not merely that God does not impute the sin done, but he does not view the believer as in sin, but as in righteousness.  It is not a question of innocence.  The Greek word is not dikaioma (δικαίωμα, Strong 1345,  an act of righteousness), when imputed righteousness is spoken of, but dikaiosune (δικαιοσύνη, Strong 1343,  God’s judicial approval) — not an act or sum of things done, but a state.  He is reckoned to be in the state of dikaiosune: dikaiosune is imputed to him.

The Quality of Righteousness

The Epistle to the Romans places the individual on the ground of righteousness, and shows us liberty in life, but it does not reach the union of the body with Christ.   All the world is guilty before God, but grace meets this.   In Romans, I find the responsible man in flesh proved guilty, not dead; but with no remedy for his condition. So death is brought in, providing righteousness: God’s, not man’s.  God’s righteousness has its character, quality, and source from God, not from man.

It is not “the righteousness of God”, which is spoken of, but “righteousness of God” — the quality of righteousness.  It must first be found in God Himself; or it would not have that essential quality.  As a result, we are created in true righteousness and holiness, as to the new man, after God.

God’s Righteousness by Faith

How and why are we accounted righteous?  It is the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe (Rom 3:22) – Jew or GentileWe are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God (v.24-25).  It is plain: God who knew everything, is righteous in remitting the sins of the Old Testament believers, to whom He exercised forbearance, because of the blood of Jesus.

Our Standing

We stand in a known revealed righteousness, not in hope of forbearance, great as the mercy that we have received may be.   God is just and the justifier.  Here there is an all-important principle: the righteousness of God means just that: God’s own righteousness — He is just.  It is not man’s, or any other positive righteousness made up of legal merit.

In His Blood

The righteousness of God is declared or manifested by virtue of the blood of Christ. God is righteous in forgiving and justifying; witness the former saints, who were borne with before His blood was shed.  We appreciate it now by faith; we are justified by his blood. (Rom 5:9) Man is a sinner, without law and under law.  Now, entirely apart from law (choris nomou, χωρὶς νόμου Strong 5655, 3551), God’s righteousness is displayed in justifying the believer through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, and through faith in His propitiating blood.  God is righteous and justifies those who believe in Jesus.  We understand that God’s righteousness is the quality or character that is in God Himself.  We are justified by His grace, through redemption, and righteousness is declared in God’s act of remission.

The Doctrine of Resurrection

Justification by His blood is not all.  A very important part of Romans remains — the doctrine of resurrection.   He was raised again for our justification, as He was delivered for our offences.  How is righteousness set forth?  In the resurrection of Christ.  But there is more: God has shown His righteousness in setting Christ as Man at His right hand.   Christ had a title to be there, and He is there.  Righteousness is in heaven. He demonstrates righteousness to the world “because I go to my Father.” (John 16:10)

Christ is our life, and we have received a nature which in itself is sinless.  Looked at as born of God, we cannot sin because we are born of God.  It is a life holy in itself, as born of Him.  But we also have the flesh, though we are not in it, and even though we have this new life, we do not meet the just demands of God.  If we should pretend to present the deeds done in the body, we cannot fulfill our responsibility before God.  That is, we do not have righteousness by being born again.  We need, and have, a perfect righteousness apart from our life, though in Him who is our life.  Christ is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. (1 Cor 1:30) We cannot have settled peace any other way.  We are accepted in Christ – His perfection, with no diminution of its value. God delighted in His obedience, and we are received in that.   What we have done as children of Adam, He took on the cross in grace, and entirely put it away.  And this is our acceptance with God.  It is needed for us, for otherwise we have no righteousness.  For us it is a joy, because we enter, as objects of His grace, into the immediate delight that God has in His own Son.

Abraham believed that God was able to perform what He had promised.  We believe that God has raised up our Lord Jesus from the dead, and therefore, like Abraham, our faith is reckoned for righteousness.

The first Adam is set aside. I am not in the flesh (in the state to which the law applies).  I have an entirely new status before God in resurrection, by virtue of the work of Christ. The risen Christ is the pattern and character of my acceptance, as He is the cause of it.  As He is, so am I in this world. (1 John 4:17)

I Fail

Even though I am not under law, have I not neglected duty?  Yes, but this has been atoned for.   My responsibility is not to make good the failures of the old or first Adam: I am wholly out of that.  In absolute and perfect acceptance in the second before God, I am called to yield myself to God as one that is alive from the dead.  The old thing is gone — atoned for.

I should serve, not in the oldness of letter, but in newness of spirit.  Instead of satisfying the requirements the law in my old condition under law, I am passed out of it.  Christ has borne the curse that I merited.  I have  passed into another condition — Christ’s — before God, as one alive to God through Him, God having been perfectly glorified.

The Doctrine of Romans 5-8

This is the doctrine of Romans 5, 6 and 7, founded on chapter 4, and the results fully developed in chapter 8.  Chapter 5 applies resurrection to justification, founded on His death.  Chapter 6 applies resurrection to life.  You are justified because you are dead, and have now to walk in newness of life. How can a man dead to sin still live in it?   If he does, he is not dead.

Law has dominion over a man as long as he lives.   But we are not alive; we are dead.  In a word, Christ is alive for me before God, and I am justified, but as having died; and thus I have a place in this blessing. Hence I am dead to sin, and no longer alive in the nature to which law applied.  Therefore, Paul says, in Romans 7:5,When we were in the flesh.”  I am married to another, I cannot have two husbands at a time — Christ and law.  But, if under law, I have died under it in the body of Christ, and I am free. Through law, I am dead to law.

Law is for the first Adam, for the unrighteous.  Righteousness is in the Second man.  The law is righteous, but it was given to sinners when in their sins, and never as a law to anybody else. The law imposed the rule. “Thou shalt love” (Deut. 6:5).  That is a transcript of the divine mind – It loves sovereignly.  Christ here was love, and was perfect in holiness — holy enough in His being to love sinners as above sin, and further — what law cannot do – to give Himself up for sinners.

We are to be “imitators of God as dear children” (Eph 5:1) — “to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16).   The law knows nothing about this, and law teachers strive against the whole doctrine of Paul, and the righteousness of God.

Where, then, and what is the righteousness of God? God’s righteousness is His perfect consistency with His own perfect and blessed nature.

March 2014