One thing I would pray for, because I love the Lord’s sheep, is that there might be shepherds.
One thing I would pray for, because I love the Lord’s sheep, is that there might be shepherds. I know nothing, next to personal communion with the Lord, so blessed as the shepherds feeding the Lord’s sheep, the Lord’s flock; but it is the Lord’s flock…that changes the whole aspect of things. When it is felt to be the Lord’s flock a man has to look over, what thoughts of responsibility, what care, what zeal, what watchfulness! I do not see anything so lovely. “Lovest thou me? Feed my sheep—feed my lambs.” I know nothing like it upon earth—the care of a true-hearted shepherd, one who can bear the whole burden of grief and care of any soul and deal with God about it. I believe it is the happiest, most blessed relationship that can subsist in this world.
(J N Darby)
Golden Nugget Number 254
The rationale for this collection stems from the volume of second-hand ministry that has passed through the Editor’s hands over the years. Often, previous owners have highlighted sections they had particularly enjoyed. Add to this the need at times in these busy days to have the means to snatch some ray of Christ, His glory and the world that He fills, to sustain the soul during periods when more prolonged reading may be impossible .The Editor readily agrees that taking ministry out of its context can be dangerous. The selection has therefore been made to try and avoid this pitfall. The extracts selected are hopefully nuggets of gold that have an instant resonance in the affections of those who “love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruption” Eph 6:24
Golden Nuggets are published by Saville Street Distribution, Venture, Princes Esplanade, Walton-on-the-Naze, CO14 8QD UK
What a comfort it is to know that God thinks of us, and arranges all for us, though we fail to think of Him! There is not a day, not a moment, but God is thinking of us, and He is above all the plotting of Satan. He will take care of His people. Do they want food? He sends them manna. Guidance? There is the pillar going before them. Do they come to the Jordan? There is the ark there. Have they enemies in the land? There is Joshua to overcome for them. He deals with them in the way of discipline when they need it, as He did with Jacob. He humbled him, but gave him the blessing in the end. What a thought this ought to give us of the love of God, when we thus see His activity in goodness to us all the way through! What comfort to know He is for us, out of the spring and principle of His own love.
(J N Darby, Collected Writings vol.27, p.29
Golden Nuggets are published by Saville Street Distribution, Venture, Princes Esplanade, Walton-on-the-Naze, CO14 8QD UK
A Lecture by J N Darby on the Second Coming of Christ
A summary by Sosthenes
Back in 2014 I produced a summary of JN Darby’s series of lectures in 1840 on‘The Present Hopes of the Church’. One lecture was on the Second Coming of Christ.Later Darby gave a series of lectures on the same subject in Toronto- this is a summary of the first lecture’.The Original is ‘Lectures on the Second Coming of Christ, delivered in 1863 at Toronto, Canada. (Collected Writings Vol 11 (Prophetic 4) page 206).He outlines the way in which Christ’s second coming is presented in the New Testament.
Christ’s second coming Is the proper hope of the church. The Holy Spirit constantly brings this before us in the New Testament.It is not some vague speculation, it is a foundational truth keeping our hearts full of the love of God as we wait patiently for our Saviour to return.We are to be raised, our bodies changed, and we will be with Him. Having been quickened and justified, there will be no resurrection of judgment for us. We do not have long to wait, and it is a wait worth being patient for.
Sadly, many Christians overlook the rapture and think only in terms of the resurrection in the last day, a resurrection for judgement.They confuse what Paul said in 1 Thess 5:3 with what is in the previous chapter. The first scripture says, ‘The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them’ and ‘the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory’.This is not what we are looking for.Our expectation is, ‘For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thess 4:16-17).Those who await the final judgment, hoping that all will be well, are mistaken.
If I was comforting someone who had just lost a dear one, who had put their trust in the blood, and was therefore forgiven, cleansed and justified, and told them that their loved one would return with Jesus, they might think that think I was mad. But that is exactly the comfort that Paul gave to the Thessalonians.
So, in 1 Thes 5:23 it says, ‘I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.The world rejects His coming, and the worldly church dismisses and devalues it.But it dominated the lives of the early disciples.It should dominate ours.
Let us look at scriptures on the Lords coming:
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Matt 25:1-6
There is the essence of the church’s calling. The virgins had lost the expectation of Christ,and sank down into the comfort, pleasures and the hierarchical structure of the world.The Bridegroom tarried and they had given up watching.They had to be aroused; Behold, the Bridegroom cometh: go ye out to meet him” (v.6).Those with the Holy Spirit were able to go in.
Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
Waiting for the coming of Christ characterises the Christian. Men speak of death, but death is not ‘my lord.’
And as in the days of Noah and of Lot, they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, planted and builded, even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. Luke 17:25-27
This passage does not warn people as to sin, but as to the unholy notion that the world will go on indefinitely. As soon as Noah entered into the ark, the flood came and destroyed them all. As soon as the church is taken up, Satan will fill men’s hearts with lies.Judgment follows.
Note: This does not apply this to the Great White Throne. When Christs sits on that, the heavens and the earth flee away; there is a total destruction of everything.
And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains. . .
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.Luke 21:20-21,25-28
V. 20-21 refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70.
The rest is much later – the time of the Gentiles will have been fulfilled.The last beast’s – the Antichrist’s wickedness will be exposed.
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.John 14:1-3
Such is the promise: the comfort Christ gave to His disciples when He was leaving them.He comes to receive them to Himself.
And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Acts 1:10, 11.
This too is not the end of time. The the angels comforted them, indicating that Jesus would come again.Scripture points to His return.
It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
When the church is complete, and its last member will have been brought in, Israel will be saved as a nation. Christ will appear for their deliverance.
So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor 1:7-8
All the promises of the prophets will be fulfilled at that coming.
He now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because He hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world (i.e., this habitable earth) in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained, whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.
The distinctive resurrection of the saints will be at His coming.
Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. For our conversation is in heaven, from when also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
The apostle exhorts Timothy to go on diligently and faithfully looking for the appearing. When the word of God speaks of joy to the saints, it is referring to the rapture; when God speaks of responsibility to the world or to the saints, it always refers to His appearing.
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Love! – Do you love, can you love, that which will put a stop to everything that is pleasant in the world?
For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Hebrews 2:5, 6
The world to come is the habitable earth here. Christ is now at God’s right hand till God puts all things under His feet.
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.Hebrews 9:24
Man was tried up to the death of Christ, by the law the prophets, or finally the mission of God’s Son, but in vain. Man finds out that he is lost, and that redemption is by the cross. When sin was complete Christ appeared to put away sin by His sacrifice. Now that that work is complete, those who through grace believe await the same Saviour to come again for their final deliverance.
Be ye also patient: stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh
We are to be patient in our daily life as yet knowing what will change the whole state of the world.
Jesus Christ: whom, having not seen, ye love; on whom [though] not now looking, but believing, ye exult with joy unspeakable and filled with [the] glory, receiving the end of your faith, [the] salvation of [your] souls Concerning which salvation prophets, who have prophesied of the grace towards you, sought out and searched out; searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which [was] in them pointed out, testifying before of the sufferings which [belonged] to Christ, and the glories after these. To whom it was revealed, that not to themselves but to you they ministered those things, which have now been announced to you by those who have declared to you the glad tidings by [the] Holy Spirit, sent from heaven, which angels desire to look into.
It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is: and everyone that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
His appearing rejoices the heart and affects walk of the saints. Our blessed and assured hope is to be like Christ Himself. The present effect of this special hope is that the saint purifies himself even as He is pure, and seeks to be like Him now.
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints
The epistle looked at the decline of the professing church – the false brethren coming in unawares.It would be the object of the judgment of the Lord when He would appear.
God’s moral glory was seen at the first coming: it surpassed everything before it.But only at His second coming will the actual result be realised.Jesus will come to receive the church to Himself, a witness of sovereign grace, and then to appear setting the world in blessing subject to Him in the power of His kingdom.
Now we enjoy the full revelation of Him from whom all that blessing flows, and enjoy it here in a nature suited to it and flowing from it; but we wait for the results for ourselves and for this burdened world.We love His appearing.How is it with you?Are you linked with the world He subverts when He comes, or with Him who brings the fulness of blessing, though with judgment on what hindered it? Were He to come now, would it be your awaited joy and delight, or does it alarm and try your hearts? The Lord give you to answer before His face!
They that were Scattered Abroad went Everywhere, Preaching the Word Acts 8:4.
Paul prayed ‘that the word of the Lord may have free course’(2 Thess 3:1). All true Christians should pray for that too. But alas, preaching is beset by human perverseness, especially in establishments of any sect or denomination where only appointed or ordained individuals are permitted to preach. Scripture does not support ordination or authorisation – whichever word is used. In a world under condemnation, there are sinners ready to perish. Ordination and the distinction between laity and clergy (which includes so-called lay preachers) was not known in the early church – nor is it scriptural.
No human qualification should be needed in order to declare to them God’s remedy in love: that Jesus died for sinners. Manhas set up restrictions: the gospel which was ‘to be preached to every creature under heaven’(Col 1:23) has been bound and shackled. Multitudes have been shut out from the springs of life for want of hearing a clear invitation which should have been upon the lips of all who have drunk of the living waters. The Spirit of God has been grieved.
The questions are –
Do those in appointed office have the Spirit of God?
Can any member of the church of God with love for souls preach if the Lord gives them the ability and opportunity?
Is any human sanction needful for their doing so?
Are those who are not ordained, or otherwise appointed, disqualified from preaching?
As to Christians speaking in the church, the only restriction is, ‘Let your women keep silence in the churches’ (1 Cor 13:34). Women have other blessed services. Many godly women have spiritual gifts, and we read elsewhere the directions for their exercise (in the home, with their heads covered – see 1 Cor 11:5). They were not to use them in the church, because that would be out of order.
The apostle says, ‘every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation’(v. 26). So, if God has given some men the ability to speak, they were to speak in an orderly way in the power of the Holy Spirit: not all at once or every day, but as God led them. Because of the presence of the indwelling Spirit is in the church, it is built up, and God is worshipped ‘in spirit and in truth’(John 4:24).
It is most mischievous to say that times have changed. The Spirit of God does not break His own order by systematic rules. Christ initially gave in his church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers; ‘for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, . . . speaking the truth in love, [that we] may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love’ (Eph 4:11-16) . Some quote to justify ordination, ‘the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2). But the thing committed here was the doctrine: it does not appear that they were ordained for the purpose.
Human prescription regulates everything in matters of religion, as in politics, commerce, education and most other aspects of life. The result of this is that much has been lost in the public profession: the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge, for example. If that is true, then the effectiveness of the word is further weakened by asserting that the Spirit of God is has left the Church. This then raises the question: ‘What are we, and where are we – are we the church of God without the Spirit?’ If the Spirit is not there, all union between Christ and His members will have been cut off, and the promise, ‘I am with you always, even unto the end of the world’ (Matt 28:20) made of no effect. It would no longer be the church.
But present-day disciples of Jesus know that He is with them in spite of public failure; and that He said, ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matt 18:20). His Spirit is with them for instruction and blessing.
The question becomes more critical when we consider speaking outside of the church. We read, ‘They that were scattered abroad, went everywhere preaching the word’ (Acts 8:4). – that was all except the apostles. ’The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord’ (Acts 11:21). The idea of ordination had never occurred to them. Paul preached without any other mission than the Lord’s glory and His word. He preached everywhere including synagogues and encouraged others to do the same. He said simply, ‘I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak’(2 Cor 4:13) . Apollos too preached very effectively, and it is said that, when Paul would have sent him from Ephesus to Corinth, he would not go. He was not ordained, and earlier knew only the baptism of John. Aquila and Priscilla had‘expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly’ (Acts 18:26). [Note that we have here a woman performing a very vital and authoritative service in the right way. She was as competent as any].
In the previous dispensation, much of the order was according to birth. Nevertheless, there was a clear distinction according to position – priests, Levites, princes, Nethinim etc. However, even in Jewish worship, far greater liberty was permitted than in the restricted systems of the present day. ‘Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on’ (Acts 13:15). When Eldad and Medad prophesied by the Spirit in the camp, without coming to the door of the tabernacle, Moses said, ‘Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!’ (Num 11:29).
There is therefore ample evidence from Scripture to an impartial mind. Appropriately gifted Christian men have the liberty and right to speak, in or out of the church, without needing any human authority. This is the dispensation of the outpouring of the Spirit qualifying for speaking of Jesus all who can do so. The assumption of priesthood by any person is wrong (save as all believers are priests). Priesthood and kingship belong to Christ alone.
At Pentecost, 120 were assembled together and spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance (See Acts 2:4). And Peter, standing up, explains to the Jewsthat they were not drunk, but it was what was spoken of by Joel, ‘I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy’ (Joel 2:29). The Spirit was poured on people without distinction – men and women, young and old, rich and poor, even slaves. Subsequent history has been to create classes according to social, academic, racial, financial and ecclesiastical status. This has been a cause of the loss of power in Christendom. And the consequence – unrestrained irregularities in the church.
There are, of course, other services such as pastoral care. A good shepherd will go after the scattered sheep in order to present God’s glad tidings to them, and to help them further in their souls. One significant advantage of God’s order is that all men and women are able to fulfil their part according to the gifts that God has given them. Those who should be teachers, shepherds or evangelists should not be hindered due to the lack of official academic and theological qualifications. This ought to be obvious: God appoints the field of their operations, in order do the Lord’s work. Persons should not be prevented by the spirit of Diotrephes in the system. God’s manifold grace and the gifts that He has given to the church blend together in true harmony and love in the body of Christ.
Nothing demonstrates the preference of man’s authority to the Lord’s more than the way in which the free and unrestrained proclamation of the gospel of God’s grace is discredited. Those who should be preaching are obliged to modify their message and restrict their work, for fear they should be in breach of the authority which has placed them in their appointed position. For example, an area of the country is destitute of the gospel, despite a lot of religious activity. One in whose heart God has put the desire and whose mouth He has opened to speak of His love, goes and preaches there, and many souls previously in darkness are blessed. The district is already full of men and women holding office in the various churches, but who are not shepherds and do not preach a sound gospel – replacing it with the fleshly excitement and emotional happiness of popular charismatics, or teaching doctrines which deny the deity of Christ, or telling souls that God’s love is such that they can attain salvation by their own works – or are just as the word to Sardis – dead. What is the labourer to do in these circumstances? – Is leave souls at the mercy of these unsound church leaders, or is he to abandon them altogether? There is no godly righteousness in either. Faithfulness to Christ demands that he should preach to those who in need. However, he is restricted in his activities by the systems (of whatever denomination) which have also sanctioned those appointees who harm poor souls. The church hierarchy, even if formed of devout Christians, must recognise their officially sanctioned ministers and pastors and reject faithful men of God, working in the power and guidance of the Spirit of God, but who do not hold the appropriate office and qualifications[*].
So why does one take an ecclesiastical office – vicar in the Church of England, pastor or minister in the Baptists or Methodists etc.? Because it is the only way to serve within the confines of the system. One who habitually waits on the Lord is obligated to work in an organisation which is not regulated by the Lord’s headship. The Master’s service can be undertaken in complete, unhindered dependence on the Spirit of God. If service does not fulfil the Lord’s own time, place, and purpose, servants are what Paul calls busybodies (see2 Thess 3:11), whatever may be the apparent (defective) results of their labours.
One further observation: we ‘should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints’ (Jude v.3). Look at the multitude of conflicting interests in the church – ‘wars and fightings’(James 4:1) amongst brethren. So much spiritual and natural energy is spent on defending one human system against another. Ask calmly: ‘For what are we contending?’ If the contention is for our own views or interests, or to support the system to which we owe allegiance, God cannot support us. It is not for the things of Christ; it is not of His Spirit.
All this shows that these traditional opinions are worthless and deeply injurious to the glory of God unless based upon His word. Let it be observed that the liberty of the believer is not the spirit of insubordination, but of entire subjection to the Spirit: not the spirit of enthusiasm, but of a sound mind – of a mind at one with God, which alone gives righteous judgment. And let the people of God wait on Him for His guidance. It is a time in which God is separating reality from mere outward form. May God work abundantly fill His labourers with His spirit! ‘The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest’(Matt 9:37-38).
[*]In modern times, there may be more lay preachers due to limitations of resources. Packaged lectures, even with PowerPoint presentations, may be used to spread a word. Such sermons, cannot be energised by st Spirit of God, meeting the needs of those who attend these preachings. [Sosthenes]
Is this dispensation the last, or is it not?
What are the circumstances by which any other is to be introduced?
The testimony of Scripture must be the basis of our thoughts concerning prophecy. Otherwise, we will have wrong thoughts about God’s dealings, leading to a misunderstanding of our relationship with Him, and affecting our conduct in this dark world. If we stray from scripture, any service that we might undertake will be defective: our light will be darkness, and we may lead others astray.
What are the circumstances by which any other is to be introduced?
It is a long paper, but this short abstract gives his principal conclusions.
Is this dispensation the last, or is it not?
Paul writes, ‘Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance’(Eph 1:10).
The passage talks about a gathering: it cannot be referring to Christ’s assembly in the present or any dispensation; for the assembly never comprises all things in heaven and on earth – the saints are not ‘all things’. The saints of the church of God comprise only a small, but worthy and admired, part of the glory and purposes of God. In our dispensation, Satan is the prince and god of this world: in no way are all things in heaven and on earth gathered together in Christ. The passage is clear.
Also, ‘Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow’ (1 Peter 1:9-11).
Here we have three things:
The prophets prophesy about the grace to be brought to us,
The Holy Spirit confirms the same things.
The Christian church is waiting until the end for the glory.
Hence there must be a dispensation to come, in which the things prophesied of by the prophets will come to pass: our dispensation is not it.
In the present time, we groan in our bodies awaiting redemption (see Rom 8:23). What we have now is an earnest, something given as a sign or promise of what is to come.
Furthermore, we are told of the everlasting (universal) glad tidings (see Rev 14:16) which precedes the ‘the earth . . . full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea’ (Hab 2:14). In this dispensation preaching is not universal: the gospel Is preached in places throughout the world. In spite of this, publicly evil gets worse, not better as some would like to think.
As to the Jews, ‘all Israel shall be saved’ (Rom 11:26), that is as a body. But now Jews may be saved individually by faith in Christ’s finished work – not as a body. The word is, ‘Even so, then, at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace’(Rom 11:5). The dispensations, therefore, are essentially different in their character; the one the rescuing of the remnant, the other, the saving of the body.
What are the circumstances by which any other is to be introduced?
The next dispensation commences with judgment, especially on the Jews. ‘They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn’(Zech 12:10, John 19:37, Rev 1:7). The consequence is that the Jews will again be recognised as God’s people, and ‘The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea’ (Hab 2:14). We need to note that this will not be by means of the preaching of the gospel.
There is no prophecy or promise in Scripture that the gradual diffusion of the gospel will lead to the world being converted (the ‘kingdom’), an amillennialist line of thought which is prevalent in Christian circles.
May God in mercy and grace guide us to the right and full use of His word, receiving it with a simplicity of faith and obedience in our consciences.
Ephesians 4and 5 give us a guide to the walk of an enlightened Christian. Here are some excerpts.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ch. 4:1-6)
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with hishands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ch. 4:17-32)
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. . . . Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. (Ch5:1-2, 14).
Putting off and Putting on – Our Life, what we are
We have learned the truth as it is in Jesus. We have put off the old and put on the new – ‘created after God in righteousness and true holiness’ (ch 4:24). Darby notes – not yet love.
God has been perfectly revealed through the work of Christ. Evil has been dealt with and Christ is glorified: He is sitting at the right hand of the majesty in the heavens (see Heb 1:3) : He is the righteous One who hates evil and delights in what is pure and good: He is holy. If we are to be ‘after God’it must be in righteousness and true holiness.
God is known now not merely as a Creator, but One whose whole nature is revealed in the work of redemption. Through redemption we have new creation: we are quickened out of our state of death in sin, and are raised as Christ out of His grave. By new creation we have become partakers of the divine nature.
The Presence of the Holy Spirit
God Himself dwells in us by His Spirit. His love is shed abroad in our hearts, sealing us for the time when we shall fully enjoy Him. We are not to grieve such a holy and blessed Guest. The Holy Spirit guides, orders, reveals the things of Christ to our minds, communicates what is blessed to us, filling us with what is divine. So nothing inconsistent with His presence, where all is peaceful with holy love flowing in our hearts. This governs our walk and speech.
God is Love
God has two essential names: Love (1 John 4:16) and Light (1 John 1:5). These characterise the Christian’s walk, Christ being the model. The measure of the Christian is not what he or she ought to be, but what God is morally, in holiness and love. God is sovereign: He can love without a motive. We need a motive and an object which we find in the Lord Jesus and His work.
Imitators of God
We are to be imitators of God, as His beloved children. As we are born of Him, partaking in the divine nature, we walk in love. We are to be tender-hearted and forgive, showing grace to one another. God has forgiven and shown grace to us (See Col 3:13).
There are two evidences of divine love in man:
It says, ‘And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour’ (Eph 5:2). This means that sorrowing over the evil in myself and in the world, I offer up myself, as Jesus did, perfect in love. Our path is to follow Him in this. As in 1 John 3:16, ‘Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren’.
Christ offered Himself to God – with a motive – He did so for us, despite our worthlessness. The object and motive were perfect. Hence, we are called to add brotherly love to love (see 2 Peter 1:7), which, we are told, is the bond of perfectness. We are therefore told to present our bodies living sacrifices (see Rom 12:1) – weak and sinful they may be, but self must be given up to God.
God is Light
God is light – essentially pure in nature. Christ was the light of the world: now He is our life. We are to be shining lightsamid a crooked and perverse generation (see Phil 2:15). We were in darkness, but nowwe are shining, and we are exhorted to walk as children of light. ‘For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’(2 Cor 4:6) – The fruits of light contrast with the darkness of the world. ‘But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord,(2 Cor 3:18). We are irreproachable. But in spite of all that, the apostle has to say, ‘Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light’(Eph 5:14).
Such, then, is the true measure of Christian walk – what God is in His nature as love and light, has its true, perfect, and blessed expression on the earth, in man, in Christ. Thus we are to be followers of God as dear children, the fruit of the light and the purity of the divine nature being seen in us.
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.
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.
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.
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast itfrom thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thatthy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast itfrom thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thatthy whole body should be cast into hell.
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.
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemny againstthe HolyGhost 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 worldto come.
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
Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast themfrom 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 itfrom 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
For it isimpossible 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 himto an open shame.
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 belongethunto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It isa fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
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
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.
If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive hismark 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.
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.
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.
Wonderful and Profound Things presented in a Familiar yet Reverent Way
As we read the sayings of the Lord Jesus and the apostles in the gospels and the epistles, we cannot but be impressed with the familiar way in which wonderful things are presented. As we are near to God, we should be able to present things in a familiar way by reason of our own experience. Of course, we speak of these things very reverently, especially as we recognise our own imperfection. We can, at the same time, show reverence whilst being familiar with such blessed things. We say, ‘The Father loves the Son’. What could be simpler or profound? Apart from it being in scripture (John 3:35, John 5:20), we know it because we ‘have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things’ (1 John 2:20).
God has given us the Holy Spirit
God has revealed Himself in love and light, as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But God has given us the Holy Spirit, to indwell us, so that we become partakers of the divine nature. The Spirit assures us that we have been accepted in the Beloved (see Eph 1:6). The more we know the Holy Spirit, the more we know that He is God.
In Ephesians we are strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, and are able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height and know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge (see Eph 3:16-19).
By the Spirit we enjoy eternal life. But to fully enjoy eternal life, our thoughts and actions must be more controlled by the Spirit. Christ expressed this perfectly. He is‘declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead’ (Rom 1:4) The power of the life is in resurrection, and Christ is our life. He created a path for believers to walk like Him in wisdom and patience. We must remain in the path to do right. If I leave the path I cannot do right, however much I try. But I can return to the path.
The life of Jesus should be manifested in us. Our life should express something totally new: divine life in the midst of a world that is away from God. Only in the new man can this be done ‘the new man which after God is created in righteousness and in true holiness’ (Eph 4:24). It is not the old man reformed: the old man could never have divine motives, even if it seeks to walk correctly. It may be decent and respectable, but it never can be right. It is the nature that has departed from God, and it cannot be right before Him.
But we have spiritual knowledge. We have ‘put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him’(Col 3:10). Now we know that our bodies are not our own
they have been redeemed
They are temple of the Holy Spirit
They are members of the body of Christ
What a feeling God must have about me – to make a poor creature like me His temple – the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost, seal of His love and of the redemption. But for this we are absolutely cleansed. The Holy Spirit could not dwell in a defiled tabernacle. The Holy Spirit’s presence is the expression of God’s perfect love; for ‘the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us’ (Rom 5:5).
– We are not to sin. How can you go and sin with a body that is the temple of the Holy Ghost? We do fail, and that humbles us. If we feel our wretchedly low ways and shortcomings, so much the better.
– We have a desire to glorify God, knowing that we are not our own – my body (formerly a slave of sin) no longer belongs to my corrupt will. We have been bought with a price: we belong to God. As we walk in His Spirit, our motive is Christ, and have a power the world knows nothing of.
– We have joy of heart and thankfulness of spirit.
Easy Darby Synopsis, the 34 Volume Collected Writings, Notes & Comments, Notes and Jottings and his Letters simplified – J N Darby Simplified, Easy J N Darby
JN Darby made easy? Easy JND?
Are you like me until recently (I have more time now I am retired). You value the teaching of John Nelson Darby, but would like ‘Easy J N Darby’
The imminent coming of our Lord at the Rapture (See 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18), prior to the tribulation and His millennial appearing with His saints (‘pre-trib’ as they say).
The heavenly character of the Church or Assembly – ‘raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ (Ephesians 2:6)
The recognition of the ruin of the church publicly, with national and sectarian divisions, clergy, human organisation, and much faulty teaching, and the call for a true Christian to ‘depart from iniquity . . . but follow righteousness, faith, charity [love], peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart‘ (2 Timothy 2:19-22)
You have seen (not necessarily read) his Synopsis, the 34 Volume Collected Writings, Notes & Comments, Notes and Jottings and his Letters. Indeed you find it heavy going. Darby wrote so much, so fast that he admitted he did not try to make it readable – unlike C H Mackintosh for example,
So to help you – and it has been a help to me too – I’ve taken a lot of Darby’s writings and produced ‘Easy Darby or Darby Simplified’ – a more concise, and I trust, easier-to-read versions of some of them. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I have sought to be faithful to the original, omitting nothing salient, and conveying what that dear servant wanted.
The church of Rome says that the Lord’s supper (or rather the mass, as they call it) is the same sacrifice as that which was accomplished upon the cross. But when the Lord said, ‘This is my body … do this in remembrance of me’ (See (Matt 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19, 1 Cor 11:24) He was not yet upon the cross. His blood was not yet shed
God said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” The blood of Christ is ever before the eye of God. He never fogets it. If God does not ever forget the blood of Christ shed once for ever, He does not wish us to forget it. The Lord Jesus in His boundless grace wishes us to think of Him, to remember Him. Precious manifestation of love for us, that the Saviour should delight in our remembrance of Him, and that He has left us a touching memorial of Himself and His love. Jesus wishes us to think of Him, because He loves us! In the supper we shew forth His death till He comes.
It is important to remark that there is no sacrifice in the present time, and that the Lord is not personally present in the bread and wine. The church of Rome says that the Lord’s supper (or rather the mass, as they call it) is the same sacrifice as that which was accomplished upon the cross. But when the Lord said, ‘This is my body … do this in remembrance of me’ (See Matt 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19, 1 Cor 11:24) He was not yet upon the cross. His blood was not yet shed, and when He broke the bread He did not hold Himself in His hands. There is no such thing now as a crucified Christ: He is seated at God’s right hand, and there is no shedding of blood now. It is a blessed fact that there is a sign, a commemoration of this, but that it should be so really and substantially is impossible – there is no such thing as a dead Christ now.
We shew forth in the supper His death and His blood shed for us: but a glorified Christ cannot be a sacrifice; cannot come down from heaven to die; and if the bread be changed into His body, and there be a soul in it, it must be another soul; this is absurd. They say that the Godhead is everywhere, and that the substance of the body is there; but the soul is individual: this lives, feels, loves, is a single individual soul. According to the Roman Catholic teaching, the soul of the Lord Jesus leaves heaven; but it cannot be the same soul, and if it is another, it is absurd. The Lord says in Luke 22:20, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood’: — that is, it represents the blood — for the cup itself is not the new covenant. Thus the bread presents to us in the most striking way the body of the Lord crucified upon the cross, and the wine His blood shed for us.