Hell is Real, Eternal and Consistent with the Love of God 

Around Easter it was reported that the Pope was unsure as to the existence of hell.  The Vatican unsurprisingly said that the Pope’s comments had been misrepresented.  Nevertheless, a survey in the USA came up with the statistic that 30% of people identifying themselves as Christians did NOT believe in hell.  (Evangelicals  – 25% not believing in hell, ‘Mainline protestant’ 40%, Mainly-black Pentecostal’ 18%, Roman Catholic 37%, Orthodox 41%).  Surprisingly 36% of those who said they had no religion DID believe in hell. (Source Pew Research Center – Belief in Heaven and Hell among US Adults 2014).
This cause me to look into what J N Darby had to say about the subject, and found he was battling with ‘universalists’ who said that God was such a loving God that everybody would be saved, even if they had to wait a bit, and ‘annihilationists’ who believed that the fire would consume souls completely, so nothing would remain.  Of course, both are wrong, and both views continue to be prevalent today.
Whether we have many old-fashioned hell-fire sermons designed to frighten souls into submission, I don’t know.  But one thing is certain ‘Hell exits; hell is eternal, and we all deserve to go there as sinners.  ‘By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God’  (Eph 2:8).  We are called on to warn souls of the consequences of rejecting God’s grace in the gospel, whilst saying, ‘Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?’  (Rom 2:8).

JND and Hell

 JN Darby did not write much about hell, but a paper met the then-current thought (and just as current now).   ‘Brief Scriptural Evidence on the doctrine of Eternal Punishment, for plain people’.  Collected Writings Vol 7 (Doctrinal 2) page 1.
This is summarised in our posting ‘Hell is Real and Eternal’
And the backup scriptures

The Lake of Fire and the Love of God

A couple of snippets from ministry:

It may be said that the lake of fire is the result of righteousness and not of love, but it is the outcome of love in God.   From Reading on 1 Cor 13 – Ministry of James Taylor Vol. 10 page 62.
The lake of fire is consistent with God’s love.  God has almighty power, and it would be inconsistent with divine love to tolerate lawlessness.  God may tolerate it for the moment, but in result He will limit it in the lake of fire.  From Righteousness and Salvation Ministry by F E Raven Vol 18 p 117

What about those 36% of who said they had no religion and who DID believe in hell.

 What must grip them. FEAR!  How do we reach them with the glad tidings?

Remember it says:   ‘But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, . . . and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Rev 21:8)
And
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;  and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Heb 2:14-15)
And
And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:  who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1 Peter 1:15-21)
What could be more eloquent than scripture?
Greetings in the Name of our blessed Saviour who has redeemed us from Hell by His blood.
 Sosthenes Hoadelphos
May 2018

Eternal Punishment – Where JND Points to it in Scripture

It is clear that in the 1800’s J N Darby and other godly men and women had to contend with those who taught that eternal punishment in hell was inconsistent with a loving God.

Darby produced a paper ‘Brief Scriptural Evidence on the doctrine of Eternal Punishment, for plain people’.  Collected Writings Vol 7 (Doctrinal 2) page 1.

This is summarised in our posting ‘Hell is Real and Eternal’

In it, Darby listed a number of scriptures to arrest believers and make them consider that is certainly the truth. Hell, the Lake of Fire, is eternal. He wrote that ‘God meant to produce on the mind of the reader the conviction that eternal misery is the portion of the wicked, and I do not believe that He meant to produce the conviction of a lie, nor frighten them with what was not true. Now I shall quote many plain passages, adding my unhesitating conviction that the attempts to undermine this doctrine of scripture (and I have been compelled to examine a good many) have entirely failed, and that the arguments used are either dishonest, some of them flagrantly so, or contradictory and fallacious, and that all of them subvert other fundamental truths.

Here are those passages:

 

Scripture: Text Notes
Matthew 3:10, 12 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. . . he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Matthew 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Matthew 5:29-30 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.  And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.
Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

 

Mark this and chapter 10:33, because it is impossible to believe that Christ could say these things of those who were redeemed and saved as much as others, though to be punished awhile.
Matthew 8:12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth
Matthew 10:28, 33 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. . . .But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. See above
Matthew 12:31-32 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemny against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.  And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
Matthew 13:40, 49-50 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. . . So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. In those two verses, 40 and 49, it will be said “world” means age or dispensation; be it so, I believe it does; but that does not affect the judgment pronounced as to that which is to follow
Matthew 18:8-9 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Here everlasting fire or hell-fire is in contrast with life; if they go into one, they do not go into the other; nor is any particular word used which. might, as they allege, make it apply to a peculiar period of happiness. Life and hell-fire are contrasted.
Matthew 22:13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  For many are called, but few are chosen.
Matthew 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

 

 

Now here in Greek “everlasting” and “eternal” are precisely the same word; and what one means for life, the other means for punishment.
Matthew 26:24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. 
Mark 3:22 And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils
Mark 8:36-37 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 

 

Mark 9:43 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.
Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 
Luke 12:4, 5, 9, 10 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. . . But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.  And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.
Luke 16:19-31 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores, and it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.  But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.  And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.  Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.  Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.  And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.  And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
John 3:3, 15 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:36 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
John 5:29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

 

Here, they will tell you, “damnation” means judgment. So it does; but it is in contrast with having life. And in judgment “no flesh living shall be justified.” The judgment is at the end of all.
John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
John 8:24  said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
Acts 1:25         That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.
Romans 2:5-16 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;  who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God.

For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) in  the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Romans 9:22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

 

God is minded to shew His wrath and make His power known. Though love, He is God, and His majesty must be maintained against rebellion and sin.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

 

Now in this, as in Mark 16:16, perishing and being damned is contrasted with being saved, so that any plain person must conclude that they are not saved. Some are saved, and others perish because they reject the cross.
Philippians 1:28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:  who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
1 Timothy 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
Hebrews 6:4-6 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
Hebrews 10:26-31 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

 

Hebrews 11:27. By faith he [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
James 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.
2 Peter 2:13, 17, 20-21 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption. . .

These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. . .For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.  For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them

2 Peter 3:7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

 

1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
Jude 7, 11-13 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of. . .

 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

Revelation 14:9-11 If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Revelation 20:9-15 And they [Satan and his army] went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.  And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever .

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

 

Revelation 21:5-8 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.  He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

 

Sosthenes

April 2018

Eternal Punishment

Christians have differed as to the subject of everlasting punishment.

Simple Bible-believing Christians accept that the consequence of rejecting the gospel is eternal punishment in hell. Unfortunately, many modern teachers proclaim lies:

Eternal does not mean ‘without end’
Everybody, including unbelievers, will be saved – Universalism
The wicked will be consumed and annihilated – Annihilationism.
Souls will return in another body – Re-incarnation

 

J N DarbyChristians have differed as to the subject of everlasting punishment.

Simple Bible-believing Christians accept that the consequence of rejecting the gospel is eternal punishment in hell.  Unfortunately, many modern teachers proclaim lies:

  • Eternal does not mean ‘without end’
  • Everybody, including unbelievers, will be saved – Universalism
  • The wicked will be consumed and annihilated –  Annihilationism.
  • Souls will return in another body – Re-incarnation

The simple believer has no doubt that persons who reject the glad tidings will suffer in hell eternally.   The English Bible leave him/her in no doubt that the punishment of the wicked is eternal.  ‘And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever … And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. …And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire’ (Rev 21:10,12,15).

However, the theological intelligentsia has created alternative arguments:

  • The Greek word αἰώνιος/aiónios/Strong 166 does not really mean ‘eternal’. For example, some confine both life and punishment to the next age, i.e. the millennium.  But that cannot be eternal.

 

  • All will be saved: God is too loving to allow such a thing as eternal misery in the lake of fire. (Universalism)

 

  • The wicked will not be saved. Their souls will no longer be immortal, for that the fire of hell will in time consume (or annihilate) them.  (Annihiliationism).

 

  • I add re-incarnation – that the soul is reborn into another being

 

These arguments are mutually exclusive.

 

The Greek Word αἰώνιος

Darby was a Greek scholar and he was perfectly satisfied that the word meant ‘without end’  God warns the reader that eternal misery is the portion of the wicked.  If that were not the case, would God frighten people with something that was not true?  Strong defines αἰώνιος as ‘age-long, and therefore: practically eternal, unending; partaking of the character of that which lasts for an age, as contrasted with that which is brief and fleeting’.

Rev 5:14 says, ‘And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.’  The worshippers worship for ever and ever.  On the other hand, ‘The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name’ (Rev 14:11).  For ever and ever is just that – eternal.

 

 

All will be Saved – Universalism

These persons call themselves Christian universalists.  The idea that all will be saved is monstrous and unscriptural lie.   Scripture makes it clear that some are saved and others are damned.  If this were not the case what would be the point of Christ’s atonement, because those who rejected Christ’s work would be saved anyway?  It would follow that even the devil would have to be saved – without Christ.  When scripture says ‘should not perish’ – they argue that none would perish; when scripture says ‘whose end is destruction’ – they have no answer since they believe that all will come into happiness, but the wicked would have to wait a little longer.  They argue that the condemned are such for a time only – like the Catholics believe in purgatory.

 

Hell will in time consume (or annihilate) the Souls of the Wicked – Annihilationism

This view, Darby said, was much in vogue in Britain during his lifetime.  I believe it still is.  Annihilationists say that death means simply ceasing to exist, as it does for the animals.  If life is to be found only in Christ – ‘He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life’ (1 John 5:12), then those who do not believe have no life.  They claim that after a certain quantity of punishment, the wicked will be turned out of existence, annihilated or consumed by the fire of hell, and exist no more.  However, if when they died they ceased to exist, how were they to be made alive (without the work of Christ) in order to exist?  Are they to be revived just to be punished?

Both of the above subvert God’s claims and the work of Christ.

 

Reincarnation

As far as I can see, there is no reference to reincarnation in Darby’s writings.  I am adding it though since, sadly many Christians have, in more recent times, borrowed this notion from Buddhism and Hinduism.  It becomes a way of avoiding having a direct experience with God and accepting the work of Christ.  ‘Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation’ (Heb 9:26-28).

The Truth

Christ endured the wrath of a majestic and holy God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.  Eternal punishment is the terrible consequence of the enmity of man’s heart against God; eternal blessedness is the result of God’s free and blessed grace. Simple-minded Christians believe this, as they believe scripture.

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.  And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son’ (1 John 5:10-11)

 

An Appeal by J N Darby

Poor sinner, you are to meet God.  Are you competent to judge how much punishment He should assign to you for your quantity of sin.  He is to judge you in love.  Love is what He is. But He is God, and does what pleases Him.  His love for His Son; His love for those who have accepted the work of His Son, obliges Him to punish you eternally if you refuse His love.  Mark this:  if the Spirit of God has touched your conscience, you know that you deserve to be shut out of the presence of God for ever.  You are conscious that you have deserved eternal wrath and punishment. You are a sinner: — What, in your own conscience, does sin deserve?  And further, if it is a question what sin deserves, it is a question of what Christ bore, what His atonement was; for He bore our sins and was made sin for us.  (Lightly edited by Sosthenes).

 

This is a summary of a paper by John Nelson Darby ‘A Brief Scriptural Evidence on the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment, for Plain People’. It is published in Collected Writings Volume 7 (Doctrinal 2) page 1. 

Sosthenes

August 2017

 

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

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 Spirit in which we should be when the Church is Forced to Exercise Discipline

We ought to remember what we are in ourselves, when we talk about exercising discipline – it is an amazingly solemn thing. When I reflect, that I am a poor sinner, saved by mere mercy, standing only in Jesus Christ for acceptance, in myself vile, it is, evidently, an awful thing to take discipline into my own hands.

Excerpts from a Paper by J N Darby entitled ‘On Discipline’

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

We ought to remember what we are in ourselves, when we talk about exercising discipline – it is an amazingly solemn thing. When I reflect, that I am a poor sinner, saved by mere mercy, standing only in Jesus Christ for acceptance, in myself vile, it is, evidently, an awful thing to take discipline into my own hands.

But the church may be forced to exercise discipline, as in the case of the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 5. I believe there is never a case of church discipline but to the shame of the whole body. In writing to the Corinthians, Paul says, “Ye have not mourned,” etc.: they all were identified with it. Like some sore on a man’s body, it tells of the disease of the body, of the constitutional condition. The assembly is never prepared, or in the place to exercise discipline, unless having first identified itself with the sin of the individual. If it does not do it in that way, it takes a judicial form, which will not be the ministration of the grace of Christ. Its priestly character in the present dispensation is one of grace.

All discipline until the last act is restorative. The act of putting outside, of excommunication, is not (properly speaking) discipline, but the saying that discipline is ineffective, and there is an end of it; the church says, “I can do no more.”

As to the nature of all this, the spirit in which it should be conducted, it is priestly; and the priests ate the sin-offering within the holy place, Lev. 10. I do not think any person or body of Christians can exercise discipline, unless as having the conscience clear, as having felt the power of the evil and sin before God, as if he had himself committed it. If that which is done is not done in the power of the Holy Ghost, it is nothing.

It is a terrible thing to hear sinners talking about judging another sinner, sinners judging sinners, but a blessed thing to see them exercised in conscience about sin come in among themselves. It must be in grace. I no more dare act, save in grace, than I could wish judgment to myself. “Judge not, that ye be not judged; for with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again,” Matt. 7:1, 2. If we go to exercise judgment, we shall get it.

 

The full paper is published in JND’s Collected Writings Vol. 1 Ecclesiastical 1 page 338.