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.

J N Darby – French Letter No. 149 – God’s Testimony convinces the Soul of Sin

149

Plymouth – 17th June 1846

To Mr B R

I do not know how much you would have official news, since I am not written to in French on our side; but I am not the less aware of your goodness. Thank you very much. I am just as aware that I do not merit anything like this from my dear brethren but happily affection is not merited. It grows in the good ground of the grace of our God. I have taken up again my work on the translation[1]. But there is no lack of business which has accumulated during my illness; perhaps God has desired that this work should be interrupted.

And now, in reply to your question about evangelisation, I rejoice at the thought that you are occupied with souls; this always does us good ourselves. One would not know how to answer in a categorical way to such a demand, because I would act differently in different cases. In general, the gospel is set in its simplicity before the soul, without committing it to prayer, like our dear brother R desires it, because souls always put something between themselves and their salvation, and attach to this something of importance, as to all that they do. One would desire something in the soul before it is loved and washed; this is the case with most evangelical Christians, while it is necessary to present Christ as wisdom, justification and righteousness[2]. So that, generally speaking, I agree with R. But this is where another principle enters, not only in the case of an atheist, but rather with others. I present Christ to the soul; in consequence of which it is exercised by it, but not yet set free. Here therefore, I add something that you seem to me to leave out in what you say to me, whether on your part, or as being the views of R.

It is not only “believe and thou shalt be saved”, for God’s testimony convinces the soul of sin. This is a fact, and a fact which must be come to absolutely if the soul is truly penetrated by the gospel. It is not the presentation of faith as the means of salvation which does this, but the revelation of Christ to the conscience, of Christ who as light makes the soul aware of what is within. Faith in this sense produces the healthy, but sorrowful conviction, but not peace. Often, there is quite a long interval (I do not say there has to be; for this is not the case when the Spirit acts in power) between the conviction of sin and being set free. There is another effect of faith to present; not only the person of Jesus who has already produced the conviction of sin of which we speak, but the efficacy of His work. It is this which must always be put forward, but which still answers in this case to a need produced.   But here the effect of faith is presented to the soul, to know the propitiation and love which has been given to it. I do not urge the soul to pray for faith. But what does not seem to me to have its place in your thoughts, or in those that you give me of R, is the conviction of sin. To stop there with the teachers urging them to pray – that is bad. I agree here with dear brother R. But I seek this firm conviction in my discussions with a soul and, if it is not there, I try to produce it by the truth. It makes one cry: this soul prays (not: ‘must pray’). To this cry, the fullness of the gospel is the answer. The sins of which it weeps are not imputed to it because of the blood of Christ. What I seek with a heathen or a nominal Christian is the conviction of sin. I seek it in announcing pure free grace and the efficacy of God. Where this conviction is found, I present what grace has accomplished. It is very important to present all this as an accomplished thing on which one believes, without which it would be a question neither of prayer or anything else. But if I find some obstacle, something which hinders the soul making progress, whatever sincerity there may be (and this happens sometimes), things which the Spirit of God must drive from the heart before giving it peace – then I could urge it to pray. In the state of mixture and confusion where we are, this is what happens. Only care must be taken not to put prayers or whatever between the soul and Christ, for faith is only the view which one has of Him. ‘Faith’, in Scripture, often means the doctrine which faith embraces, or the system of faith, in contrast to law.

I therefore present Christ as He as an object of faith, and where the Holy Spirit acts in power, the knowledge of the Lord displaces and replaces every obstacle; the soul is set free.

Cases arise where I would urge one to pray, because of something which makes an obstacle. In general, one hardly needs to urge such a soul. As to election, it is not a matter of this in preaching the gospel. I preach Christ, God will act in His counsels of grace. I do not preach Christ dying for the elect, although among believers it may be important to develop the special links between His death and the elect. Without this, their thoughts about His work are vague, lacking stability and mixed with the work of the Holy Spirit in their souls. I announce Christ as propitiatory victim for sin, the glorious Son of the Father and One with Him, His sufferings and His glory, and this on account of sin. I show them perhaps the darkness of the soul, in showing them what He is, Him, [both] light and grace. And I announce to them that whoever believes is saved, pardoned, and enjoys eternal life.

I explain, as needed, efficacy for those who believe because, in nominally Christian countries, this is what is needed, and efficacy announced shows them that they do not believe it. To God’s children, election is useful to make them humble, for all is grace; to reassure them, for grace is efficacy and flows from a source that does not dry up, from a counsel which does not waver. Here the work and joys of the Holy Spirit can be preciously developed.

Here I am, dear brother, at the end of my letter for this occasion. The more there is simplicity, the more there will be blessing. It is Christ that must be preached, Christ the Saviour of souls, and of sinful souls in their needs and their sorrows, the fruit of God’s free love.

May God be blessed; I have good news in general of the work in Switzerland and France.

The difference of the preaching now is that the story is generally known; one has to announce the efficacy, and the glory, but at the beginning this story presented the glory of it to souls by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, it is necessary to attract attention. The effect of it will always be the same, where the Holy Spirit acts.

Farewell, beloved brother. May God direct you and strengthen you. Greet the elderly ones, T, G, and all our precious brethren. It is only by a letter from G that supposed I already knew that I have learned that our beloved Tapernoux has gone in peace. He is happy. I long ardently for the time; yes, ardently. However, one fulfils one’s day as a hireling. Assure his widow and his family of all my sympathy. Yes, he is happy! Oh! may that day come when we will all be reunited in the presence and glory of Jesus, without sin.

Yours affectionately

Plymouth – 29th June 1846

 

I am sending you a notebook. I fear it betrays a little haste, because in getting over illness, I have found a mass of letters and business awaiting me, and I have been a bit crushed with fatigue.

 

 

[1] the Lausanne version – see note in Letter No 147

[2] possibly referring to 1 Cor 1: 30

Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013

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

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

Darby on Romans 4 – Christ’s resurrection as sealing His work

Law requires power in man to fulfill it. A dead person has no power; resurrection is by God’s power, and Abraham believed that. If God spoke, the thing was certain. That is why his faith was imputed to him for righteousness. When man justifies God not himself, God justifies him. Abraham believed that God was able to perform what He had said; we believe that He raised Christ from the dead – delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification.

RomeThere is more in Israel’s history than the law.  Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness. (See Rom. 4:3). He was reckoned righteous because of his faith.   Also, David said, ‘Blessed is the man whose iniquity is forgiven, whose sin is covered; blessed the man to whom the Lord imputeth no sin.’ (Psalm 32:2). No sin was imputed to him. He was held to be wholly clear of it before God; it was forgiven and covered. The responsibility of man was fully met, and he knew it.

Faith was counted for righteousness to Abraham. Circumcision was only a seal of the righteousness he had already before he was circumcised.   Therefore he became the father of all who believe (including uncircumcised, believing Gentiles), and more than that, the father of those truly separated to God – circumcised in spirit, not in letter.

The promise to Abraham that he would be the heir of the world was a matter of law, but of the righteousness of faith. Promise is not law: promise and faith go together. If promise had been on the basis of law, faith would have been void – man could not have had an inheritance because of transgression. But the inheritance is of faith, not law, that it might be by grace. Faith just believes in grace.

When Abraham received the promise, as far as having offspring was concerned, he was as good as dead. But he believed what God had said as to his seed. So we have another important principle: grace and promise on the part of God, and faith, and the redemption that is in Christ, on the part of man.   God’s power comes in; God raises the dead, and makes them to be as He calls them. This applies to Abraham’s seed, to the Gentiles’ blessing, and to Christ’s physical resurrection.

Law requires power in man to fulfill it.  The law being given to the sinner, wrath was the consequence of its imposition.  A dead person has no power; resurrection is by God’s power, and Abraham believed that. If God spoke, the thing was certain.  That is why his faith was imputed to him for righteousness. When man justifies God not himself, God justifies him. Abraham believed that God was able to perform what He had said; we believe that He raised Christ from the dead – delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification. God glorifies Himself in grace by granting  divine righteousness to man, when he had no human righteousness before God.

As to ourselves, righteousness is imputed to us, as we believe on the God who raised up Christ from the dead. We do not merely own Christ’s work, but God’s acceptance of that work, and His power to quicken the dead. As John said, ‘God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.’ (Matt 3:9).   God demonstrated His power in raising up Christ from death, the state into which our sins had brought Him through grace. Of course, God could not leave Him in death, for He was satisfied as to the matter of sins, and righteously raised Him from the dead – in public testimony.

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

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.