How can a man be just with God? – Romans 1-8

‘How can a man be just with God?’ (Job 9:2). This is the great question in Romans. In the first eight chapters of Romans we learn the answer. Sinners want justification.

There are two aspects of justification, so there are two parts to Romans 1 to 8.

Justification ‘from sins’ – clearing me of my old state,’ (Rom 1:1-5:11)
Justification ‘of life’ – putting me into a new place before God. (Rom 5:12-8:39)

JohnNelsonDarby

How can a man be just with God?’ (Job 9:2).  This is the great question in Romans.  In the first eight chapters of Romans we learn the answer.  Sinners want justification.

There are two aspects of justification, so there are two parts to Romans 1 to 8.

  1. Justification ‘from sins’ – clearing me of my old state,’ (Rom 1:1-5:11)
  2. Justification ‘of life’  –  putting me into a new place before God. (Rom 5:12-8:39)

 

Part 1 – Justification from Sins

Chapter 1

The first thing we see in this epistle is that it concerns God’s Son Jesus Christ’ (See v. 3).  It is not primarily about ourselves.  Romans is about the claims of Christ, the ‘author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him’ (Heb 5:9).  People have lost sight of that.

In chapter 1 we see why justification is needed:  ‘The wrath of God revealed against all ungodliness’ (v. 18).  That is wrath against the sinner, because ‘all have sinned, and come short’ (Ch. 3:23).  It does not say ‘of what we ought to be’, or ‘of the law’, but ‘of the glory of God.’  The glory of God involves the light.  In Christianity we must walk in the light, or we can have nothing to do with God.  It is as simple as that.  God is in the light; He has not hidden Himself behind a veil.  We are to walk in the light, as He is in the light, and even become ‘partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light’ (Col 1:12).  Justification makes us fit for that.  Christ’s work in grace fits us for glory.

Two things are found in the first four verses: promises and revelation.

  1. People rest on promises. But the promises are fulfilled by Him. ‘For all the promises of God in him are Yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us’ (2 Cor 1:20).
  2. God’s righteousness is revealed because there was none in man. ‘Therein [i.e. in the glad tidings] is the righteousness of God revealed’ ( 17).   Faith receives God’s righteousness, whereas the law claimed righteousness from man. The gospel is the righteousness of God.

Chapters 2 & 3

In chapter 1 the righteousness of God is revealed; in chapter 2, we have the proof of this; in chapter 3, having been brought under sin, we are given righteousness.  ‘But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets’ (v. 21).  The Lord our righteousness was witnessed in the prophets who were under law.  However, He is now manifested without (or apart from) law.  Righteousness is ‘through faith in His blood’ (v. 25).  God sits as a Judge, and man is brought before Him and found guilty.  The penalty is death. But the death of a sinful man could not glorify God.  Only the death of Christ alone glorifies Him, and through it He puts away the sins of the old man.  Now we see how God makes a new man.

Under the old system the law required man to establish his own righteousness. ‘The law entered that the offence might abound’ (ch. 5:20).  It is not that sin might abound, but the offence.  The law not only made sin more manifest, but also aggravated its character.  The authority of God was despised, not because of the offence, but because of the people’s disobedience.  In ch. 2:12, what is translated sinned ‘without law,’ is the same word (ἀνομία – anomia) as in 1 John 3:4, ‘transgression of the law’ – (KJV) or ‘lawlessness’ – (Darby and others).’  The Day of Atonement was necessary:-

  • The scape-goat – ‘Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many’  (Heb 9:28) – Part 1 above (sins)
  • The sin-offering – ‘He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself’ (Heb 9:26) – Part 2 (sin).

The blood of the sin-offering was sprinkled on and before the mercy-seat.  This is now the ground of God’s invitation to the sinner.  In Leviticus 16, the sins of Israel were confessed over the head of the scape-goat.  For us, Christ has died, and the blood is on the mercy-seat.  Now I will be received if I come to Jesus.  Not only has the Lord Jesus put away my sin, but He has borne all my sins, and confessed them as if they were His own: they are all gone.  My sins are forgiven: past, present and future.

Chapter 4

In chapter 4 we have, ‘Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin’ (v. 4).  A man is faultless before God if Christ has made atonement for him.  The first part of Romans, referred to above, has to do with sins and the remedy – Christ dying for our sins.  (In Part 2 below, it is sin and the remedy, my dying with Christ).  This whole work was settled on the cross, resurrection making it complete.  In this chapter it is justification by faith.  ‘If we believe in him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead’ (v. 24).  We are justified, and Christ’s work is ratified.

Unless we see Christ in resurrection, we do not have the assurance of being justified. ‘If Christ is not risen, ye are yet in your sinsif in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable’ (1 Cor 15:17,19).

Chapter 5 v. 1-11

Chapter 5 begins, ‘Having been justified, we have peace’ (v. 1).   We get past, present, and future:

  • Justified, as to the past
  • Having peace with God, and standing in the favour of God, as to the present
  • Rejoicing in hope of the glory of God, as to the future.

What more can I want?  I may have all sorts of trouble, but what a mercy it is that God sees me as righteous!  In God’s eyes I am a righteous man.  Now I can boast in tribulation, knowing that this leads to patience, experience and hope (see v. 3).  I am not ashamed ‘because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us’ (v. 5).  I can rejoice, too, in God Himself (before whom, in ch. 3:19, I was guilty, and my mouth stopped).  Not only do I know myself, but I know God as well – God in His own absolute goodness.  Knowing that everything is settled, and that I am reconciled, I have peace.  Peace is deeper than joy: I may have joy, but not yet know myself reconciled.  The prodigal had some joy when he left the far country, but he did not have peace till he met the Father, and learned what is the Father’s heart was toward him.

Foreknown, predestinated, called, justified, glorified!  No creature power can break that chain of five golden links, for it is purely of God.

 

Part 2 – Justification ‘of Life’

Chapter 5 v. 12-21

From chapter 5:12, we come to man’s condition.  Adam ruined us all.  We are now dealing with the state of the race, not of the individual.  I have a nature away from God, and without the knowledge of the grace of God, I would be driven to despair. But grace has put away my sin.

Even if I know that my sins are forgiven, I can be extremely troubled because of the sin that is in me.  The remedy is not in the fact that Christ has died for my sins, but that I have died with Christ to sin.  I am a sinner because of Adam’s disobedience.  However by the obedience of One (Jesus) I am made righteous, with no condemnation: ‘There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus’ (ch. 8:1).  If that is the case, can I live as I like?  ‘No’, the apostle says, ‘You have died.’  How can I live in sin if I am dead?  I am justified; I have life.

Sin is never forgiven. but condemned. ‘God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and by a sacrifice for sin, condemned sin, in the flesh’ (ch. 8:3).  Sin is got rid of by death.  If a man dies, that is the end.  Adam received a commandment, and lived so long as he obeyed it.  But from Adam to Moses there was no commandment or law, and death reigned over those who had transgressed.  We find no forgiveness there.

Chapter 6

In Romans 6, I am dead and justified from sin.  I reckon myself dead.  I have had enough of ‘I.’  Now Christ is ‘I’.  ‘I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me’ (Gal 2:20).  In Romans I am cleared from what I was as a child of Adam, and get the privileges of a child of God.  I am perfectly free: what am I going to do with myself?  I was once a slave to sin: now I am to yield myself to God.

Chapter 7

In chapter 7 we have the same principle applied to law.  We have died to the law by the body of the risen Christ, so now we are connected with Him in resurrection.  We cannot have both the law and Christ. ‘We are delivered from the law, that being dead by which we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter’ (v. 6 (Darby).  The law isn’t dead; I am dead.  The law is the jailer; I am the prisoner.  The mistake people are making is that they are killing the jailer instead of the thief.  The jailer is not dead, the thief is.

In chapters 2 and 3 we saw what a man does.  In chapter 7 we see is what he is.   Many Christians do not know what verse 7 means – ‘When I was in the flesh’.  It is my previous state.  This chapter is experimental, not just a doctrine.  We must learn the truth not merely as a theory, but experimentally.  I can say that my sins are forgiven – that is doctrine, not experience, but if I tell you something about myself, that is experience.  It is not just that I have done bad things, but I have found by experience that ‘in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing’ (v. 18).

In Romans 7 the soul learns three things:

  1. That in himself, that is, in his flesh, dwells no good thing ( 18).
  2. That the flesh is not himself (he is not in the flesh) – he hates it ( 15).
  3. That the flesh is too strong for him, and he cries out for deliverance. ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ ( 24).

As to the flesh, there is no question of forgiveness.  I do not forgive an offending power; I want deliverance from it.  The more spiritual I am, the more I shall see the infinite value of the cross.  I keep the cross before myself in faith, and hold it the to the flesh (because I am not in the flesh, otherwise I could not do it).  That is what ‘Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body’ means. (2 Cor 4:10)

I have to learn what sin is.  Christ, who has met the consequences of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, becomes the tree of life to me.  Now, in Romans 5:1-11, I learn what God is in love to the sinner.

Chapter 8

Now in Chapter 8 I learn my condition as a believer with God.  The new man in Christ Jesus is in a higher place: God is for me, and I can say, ‘Abba, Father’.

Glory is certain through the promise of God. ‘Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified’ (v. 30).  The whole chain is there, from beginning to end, and depends on His faithfulness in keeping us.

 

Summary by Sosthenes

Based on   How are we Saved? Romans 1-8Collected Writings vol. 21 (Evangelic) page 193

April 2016

 

 

Romanism and True Faith

True faith is believing God, because he has said it. Faith in God believes in His word without any other authority than His word itself. If you require the church’s sanction of the word, you do not have faith in God. Anything else is human superstition.

To my dear Roman Catholic Brethren

I admire the devotion of many simple souls in the Roman Catholic church. Your sacrificial generosity is evident from buildings which, I am sure you have in good faith dedicated to the glory of God.  You also hold some correct doctrine:  the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, Christ’s atonement for sin – and more.romanism

But I am sorry for you. The teaching of your church leaves you with uncertainties, the prospect of purgatory, and a dependence on God’s word being set aside by unscriptural practices. Indeed, Christ’s true church of which you individually are members, if you have faith in the perfect work of Christ on the cross does not teach – it testifies and worships.

I have produced the following based on a paper by J N Darby entitled Superstition is not Faith; or, The True Character of Romanism. Though written in the 19th Century it is applicable to the 21st.

Forgive my using the word ‘superstition’. Darby uses it. It may have changed its meaning over the years but I am sure you will understand its use over against that of God given ‘faith’.

May you, after prayerful consideration of this, realise that your sins were born by Jesus on the cross. Your standing before Him is secure. No mass is needed, no confession to the priest, no extreme unction and certainly no purgatory is necessary for you to enjoy Christian blessings NOW. And who more tender to speak to directly than your Lord and Saviour, Jesus?

Sosthenes

May 2015

 

What do we mean by ‘Superstition’?

Superstition is the unwarranted religious subjection of the mind of man.

This may be:

  1. Man’s rational thinking
  2. Something of man’s own imagination;
  3. A real, evil and malignant satanic influence
  4. Something or some one good, but the object of worship.

There is no warrant for such worship in scripture. Faith, on the contrary, is the reception and belief of God’s testimony to the soul.

Superstitious reverence includes:

  1. Animals (the Egyptians)
  2. The earth, sun, moon, planets and stars
  3. Mythology (fauns, satyrs etc – the Greeks)
  4. Serpent (evil power) worship (Africa, American Indian)
  5. Saints and angels.

Even John nearly fell for the latter when he fell down to worship at the feet of the angel. Paul speaks of ‘a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels’ (Col 2:18).

Superstitious reverence acknowledges God, even if it does not know Him. Because it gets between the soul and God, God is hidden and usurped. It is often called faith, but really it is the opposite. Faith brings us into God’s presence – we receive God’s authoritative testimony. Faith is the revelation of a loving God, who has revealed Himself in Christ our Saviour. God gave His own Son who, on the cross, purged our sins, thus freeing us from guilty consciences, and giving us peace and reconciliation with God, so we can walk in newness of life. Hence faith is exactly opposite to superstition.

Superstition hides the true God, giving false notions of Him, attaching the authority of His name to moral degradation. Human conscience revolts against this, as it is contrary to what even an unbeliver would consider God to be. Superstition would tend to exalt man above his own religion, producing infidelity and even atheism (if such a thing exists which Darby doubted). The human will is always atheistical, for it is not subject to God’s will, and will seek to reason against the existence of whatever it does not like. But God has given man a conscience, which the will can never get over. As a result people use religion – that which bears God’s name, as an excuse for throwing off God’s authority.

 

What is Faith?

Faith must be founded exclusively on the testimony of God, otherwise it is not God who is believed. I must believe when God Himself has spoken, or I do not believe God at all. John says, ‘He that received his [the Lord’s] testimony hath set to his seal that God is true’ (John 3:33). Had God’s testimony been founded solely on the miracles, it would have been without value, since man is unchanged. ‘Many believed in him when they saw the miracles which he did; but Jesus did not commit himself to them, for he knew what was in man’ (John 2:23).

Having received the testimony of the God of love we know the Saviour, are reconciled, and have peace and communion with Him. We know the Father, through the Son, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and we approach God without fear, however poor and guilty we may be. Such is the Christian’s portion.

God has reconciled us to Himself, and we freely enjoy His perfect and gracious love, even in our weakness. Because we are reconciled, we have a direct relationship with God, so anything that is put in the way militates against the entire, perfect putting away of sin by the blessed Saviour. It is a human invention and a denial of Christianity. There is one Mediator between us sinners and God – Christ. Anything else is infidelity.

 

Why Rome is not based on Faith

Now we will see that the Roman system is not founded on faith. Romanism is in doctrine and practice, really infidel, though of course it would claim otherwise. A sincere person may believe that the liturgical worship of God is right and conform to religious habits. This is not faith. Alternatively, a poor ignorant, but pious, soul might even believe the in system, but be almost overwhelmed by its errors.

Between the Romanist and the Evangelical Christian is vast system of apostate error. Two questions are at issue:

  1. Are the doctrines that Rome teaches true?
  2. How can any one be sure of the authority of what is taught?

We shall see that the teaching is false and without authority. For example:

 

Roman Catholic Teaching The Truth
An unbloody sacrifice (the Mass) is efficacious for the remission of sins The blood of Jesus Christ his [God’s] Son cleanseth us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
Purgatory is needed to complete our cleansing (except for some special cases) We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb 10:10).
The Mass is an offering for the sins of the living and the dead. By one offering Christ has perfected for ever those that are sanctified. (Heb. 10:14.)
The saints and the Virgin Mary are more accessible and tender-hearted than Jesus We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15)

 

 

The Mass

Christ suffered and shed His blood. His perfect offering was so efficacious, that it never needed to be repeated – He did it only ONCE. The Roman Catholic Mass pretends to offer this sacrifice again and again, therefore denying the efficacy of Christ’s offering of Himself on the cross. God’s word declares that there is no more offering for sin (see Heb 10:18). Furthermore, as the Mass is an unbloody sacrifice, which Rome maintains to be efficacious for the remission of sins. However, scripture says that ‘without shedding of blood there is no remission’ (Heb. 9:22). Consequently the Catholic doctrine contradicts scripture.

 

Purgatory

Now another false doctrine, that of of purgatory, teaches that the blood of Jesus does not purge me completely, even though I have accepted the gospel, and have lived a good religious life. I must suffer in some fire in order to be fit for God’s presence. Even if I have confessed to a priest, received absolution, the last rites and extreme unction (which is supposed to wipe away the remains of sin), and have had masses said for the repose of my soul, I still need to go through purgatory and pay the last farthing. As a result I retain a guilty conscience down here, and sadly the church maintains its power over me.

But scripture says ‘He has by HIMSELF purged our sins’ (Heb 1:3). The doctrine of purgatory is infidelity as to the efficacy of Christ’s blood and God’s word. The blood of Christ has cleansed the true Christian from all sin, so that we might have peace in our souls through His Name.

 

Jesus, the Mediator

The scripture declares there is one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus. It teaches us that a divine and gracious person, the Son — one with the Father, who is God over all, blessed for evermore — came down so low in grace, that even the poorest and vilest sinner could find free access to Him. Such grace and tenderness, was in Jesus. Now to us He a merciful High Priest, bearing our infirmities, and sympathising with our sorrows, entering into them as none other could, with a heart such as none other had (Darby’s words) (See Heb 2:17).   He was without sin, so we can come boldly to a throne of grace as He intercedes for us.

 

Mary

But how does this tally with the doctrine of Mary? Can I not go to Jesus directly and count upon His tenderness? Is He too high and far off?   Has Mary a tenderer heart as being a woman, must I go to Him either through her or the saints? Did Mary, however blessed, come down from heaven to seek me in my sorrow and in my misery? Or has Christ changed, and become hard-hearted, since He ascended up on high? No; the doctrine of many mediators, including the Virgin Mary, is infidelity as to the grace of Christ. It denies His glory as a compassionate High Priest.  I trust His kindness more than that of all the Marys and all the saints, however blessed they might be. (Darby’s words)

 

The Word of God

These are just a few examples of the way in which Rome, on the authority of what is called the church, undermines the truth, taking away all the value of the precious truth of the gospel. It calls you to believe things that are not in scripture, and, in doing so, makes you disbelieve the truth of God. However, because Rome does not deny the expiation for sin made at the cross – or the Trinity , – or the incarnation, or the divinity of Christ, one would not suspect it of infidelity. But because it has denied the actual value and application of these wonderful truths, it has destroyed the them, and taken away the way of peace to the sinner’s soul.

But another point: everything in the above discussion has been based on the premise that the true believer accepts the authority of the inspired word of God. But Rome does not agree. It tells me that I cannot know the Bible, or the word of God, without the authority of the church. If God has written a book, and addressed it to men in general or to those called Christians, He has put them under the responsibility of receiving and submitting the authority of His word. If the teachings of Rome were right, no ordinary Christian could know that it is the word of God, and receive it as such. He must either deny it to be God’s revealed word, or assert that it is not binding on those to whom it is addressed. Otherwise God would have failed in His word: What blasphemous infidelity!

What kind of church it can be that makes itself more competent, and its authority more obligatory, than that God Himself?  If I need the church’s authority in order to believe the word, I do not believe God at all. I am not to judge God’s word: it judge me. The Lord said, ‘The words that I have spoken unto you, the same shall judge you in that day’ (John 12:48). Whether it is the church, the pope, or a general church council, it is something besides the word, without which God’s own word is not binding on the conscience. This is high treason against God and His truth.

 

Accepting God’s Testimony

If Paul wrote an inspired epistle to a certain church, say to Corinth, the Christians there were bound to receive it as God’s word. The church has to receive the apostle’s letter, not pronounce on it. If God gives a testimony of Himself, the church is bound to believe it. If not, it is despises the testimony of God. Woe to it if it refuses the testimony; woe to me if I do too.

Even in creation, God has given a testimony. Man is guilty if he does not see God in it. There may be many things that he cannot explain; but the testimony is sufficient to condemn those who do not believe in God the Creator.

So when the blessed Lord appeared, many infidel hearts refused to accept who He was. But He said, ‘If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins’ (John 8:24). John said that by not believing we make God a liar, and are therefore guilty of infidelity (See 1 John 1:10). So in the word God has given a testimony, and man is bound to believe it. Difficulties may be raised by infidel minds; but God’s testimony is adequate to bind men and women to believe it, and for it to govern the conscience.

True faith is believing God, because he has said it. Faith in God believes in His word without any other authority than His word itself. If you require the church’s sanction of the word, you do not have faith in God. Anything else is human superstition.

Romanism is infidelity as to the most precious and fundamental truths of Christianity: it is infidelity as to the authority of God’s own word.

 

Based on Superstition is not Faith; or, The True Character of Romanism. By John Nelson Darby (1800-82).

 

A summary by Sosthenes.

 

The original is published in Collected Writings of John Nelson Darby Volume 17 (Doctrinal 4). Kingston Bible Trust, Lancing, England. Downloadable from Stem Publishing.

For some further reading I recommend J N Darby’s Familiar Conversations on Romanism:

 

Familiar Conversations on Romanism

J. N. Darby.

Conversation  1 Faith is in God and His Word, not in the Church
Conversation  2 The Forgiveness of Sins: Purgatory 1
Conversation  3 The Forgiveness of Sins: Purgatory 2
Conversation  4 The Word of God and the Church 1
Conversation  5 The Word of God and the Church 2
Conversation  6 The Word of God and the Church 3
Conversation  7 Infallibility
Conversation  8 Infallibility
Conversation  9 Holiness
Conversation 10 Apostolicity and Succession 1
Conversation 11 Apostolicity and Succession 2
Conversation 12 Apostolicity and Succession 3
Conversation 13 Apostolicity and Succession 4
Conversation 14 The Mass
Conversation 15 Transubstantiation 1
Conversation 16 Transubstantiation 2

‘Experts in the Art of Dying’ –  Christ-like Conduct During the Armenian Genocide   

I have just read an article about this in the Barnabas Fund Magazine. They reproduced some experiences recorded shortly after this awful happening. These were put together by Sisag Manoogian in 2014, under the title above. Persons, driven from their homes, knew that survival was impossible behaved in a Christ-like way, praying for and loving their tormentors. Many of the stories – there must be thousands more – were from the memories of Turkish Muslims, some of whom doubtless turned to the Lord as a result of the conduct of these poor people.

Christians are still suffering for the Name, even in Britain, let alone the Middle East, Africa and North Korea.

armenia 1I am writing this on the day that Armenia is marking on the 100th anniversary of the terrible persecution, massacre and genocide of the Christian Armenians at the hands of the Moslem Turks. Not that the persecution was necessarily because they were Christians, but the way in which this benighted people behaved in the face of such atrocities was Christian, and a model for us all.

I have just read an article about this in the Barnabas Fund Magazine. They reproduced some experiences recorded shortly after this awful happening. These were put together by Sisag Manoogian in 2014, under the title above. Persons, driven from their homes, knew that survival was impossible behaved in a Christ-like way, praying for and loving their tormentors. Many of the stories – there must be thousands more – were from the memories of Turkish Muslims, some of whom doubtless turned to the Lord as a result of the conduct of these poor people.

Christians are still suffering for the Name, even in Britain, let alone the Middle East, Africa and North Korea.

 

One is reminded of the letter to Smyrna.

8And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;9I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (Rev 2:8-11)

Here are some extracts:

 

      • Some ferocious gendarmes marveled when seeing men and women, even children, instead of trembling in the presence of death, show calm and dignity, and instead of cursing, pray for the forgiveness of their murderers. In their defenselessness they tried to defend the weaker ones: in their hunger they shared their last piece of bread with the poorest.

 

      • The pastor of the Syrian church in Ourfa saw thousands of women and children, who were exhausted with the journey, and so had to spend one night on the ground there, and march on next morning. He said nearly all were hungry, thirsty, and literally naked. Some of them found pieces of charcoal and wrote on the rocks, ‘As Jesus did not deny us, do not deny Him: We have not denied Him, follow us’.

 

      • These women were asked to repeat a short sentence after the Turkish teacher, or lift up their testimonial finger to show that they were willing to accept Islam, which meant they could stay free in their homes, but they refused, choosing rather to suffer and die in the desert.

 

      • The Armenians gave up everything precious, but clung to their Bibles. They thanked God first before they drank water after five days‘ hot journey in the desert without anything to quench their thirst. Innocent victims showed wonderful peace and offered earnest prayers for the salvation of Turks and Turkey, before the rope was around their necks to hang them.

 

      • On one occasion Elmas saw a line of Armenian children being systematically beheaded by Turkish soldiers. Terrible thunder and lightning broke out, which the Turks relished as showing the approval of Allah for the killing of the Christian children. But when a bolt of lightning killed some of those doing the beheading, the rest of the soldiers were terrified, stopped the beheadings, and sent the remaining children away.

 

      • The Turkish authorities rounded up the elderly, the women and the children, and told them they were going to walk to Der El-Zor, near Aleppo, where they could settle and live. All of them, even the pregnant women, were forced along the route in the heat of the summer of 1915. Eventually they realised that their promised destination was an empty desert region, with no settlements, no food and no water.

 

      • The Armenian men were told by their captors, ‘Convert to Islam and you will be safe.’ The Armenians shouted, ‘We are Christians!’ In response the Turkish soldiers doused the church building [where the men were imprisoned] with flammable liquid and set it on fire.

24 April 2015

Darby – French Letter No. 148A – Getting Stronger in Faith

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

Extract from 148

Do not be discouraged, dear brother, about your dear daughter. There are hearts which close up in a crowd, which often are open only to God. Sometimes this is linked in some way to some fault. But they have confidence only when they are near God and hide amid the noise of the world where hardier souls are found. God has care of these hearts, but they must be cared for as much as others, for the flesh which is always there always tends to associate with the world. If life is there, which I do not doubt, it must be cultivated as with any other soul, leaving its manifestation to God. One has said: the grace of God in the heart of a man is a delicate plant in a bad climate. One must think about this.

When the faith of your daughter becomes firmer and leans less on its joy in Christ, or rather on the joy which flows from Him, your daughter will have more confidence to face the world. It is necessary to wait for the work of God, and, in the meantime to watch that the world does not spoil this work. There is difficulty in finding one’s first freshness again; but if it is kept, all this will be rediscovered later, more solid, and more completely Christ itself.

 

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.

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – James

He speaks of three laws –

the law of God, as to which, if we offend in one point, we are guilty of all
the royal law, “love your neighbour as yourself”
the law of liberty, by which our conduct is to be judged, and where the will of God and the our own nature run together

Outline of Bible coverIn James you get the perfect law of liberty applied to the Christian’s path. We should not act in self-will, but be patient with confidence in God, thus acquiring wisdom and strength. If there is evil, it comes from man – if good, from the unchangeable God, who of His own will begat us by the word of truth (chap. 1).

James then introduces sweeping denunciations against riches and the spirit of the world. He speaks of three laws –

  1. the law of God, as to which, if we offend in one point, we are guilty of all
  2. the royal law, “love your neighbour as yourself”
  3. the law of liberty, by which our conduct is to be judged, and where the will of God and the our own nature run together

Mere faith in the head is treated as worthless; the test of a man’s living faith, is in his works. But the works referred to are  works of faith. Any other works are bad works (chap. 2).

We do not get redemption in James; but the apostle insists on self-subjection, especially as regards the tongue: hence we are warned against being many teachers. We are to display the true character of heavenly wisdom.  The fruits of righteousness are sown in peace.

The epistle closes with a strong exhibition of the power of the prayer of faith. The letter is addressed to the twelve tribes; but faith in Christ, and the existence of the assembly, are distinctly recognised, even though the synagogue is also still in existence.

 

Originally by JND.   Lightly edited by Sosthenes,  September 2014

– Se A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible  for the original

J N Darby – Little Flock No 244 – The Road – It is not with Uncertain Step, We tread our desert way

It is not with uncertain step
We tread our desert way;
A well-known voice has called us up
To everlasting day –

C.M. 
1 It is not with uncertain step
We tread our desert way;
A well-known voice has called us up
To everlasting day –
2 The voice of Him who here has trod
Alone the trackless way
(And marked the road which leads to God)
Where once we, lost, did stray.
3 He leaves us not alone to trace
Our path across this waste;
But leads us still with living grace,
Homeward, whereto we haste.
4 See! open stands the heav’nly door,
Whence glory shines below,
To light the way He’s gone before,
The coming bliss to show.
5 In patience then we tread the road –
Our faith and courage tried–
And trust the love that bears each load,
Our hearts from grief to hide.

John Nelson Darby (1800-82)

Little Flock Hymn Book (1961/1973) No 411

J N Darby – Dans ce Désert aride, et sans Chemin tracé,

Dans ce désert aride
Et sans chemin tracé,
Mon modèle et mon guide,
Mon Sauveur a passé.
Par lui je viens au Père ;
Il est tout mon bonheur ;
Aussi rien sur la terre
N’a d’attrait pour mon cœur.

oasisCantique française écrite par M John Nelson Darby (1800-81)
Version anglaise cliquez ici

Dans ce désert aride
Et sans chemin tracé,
Mon modèle et mon guide,
Mon Sauveur a passé.
Par lui je viens au Père ;
Il est tout mon bonheur ;
Aussi rien sur la terre
N’a d’attrait pour mon cœur.

Sur lui ma foi repose.
Puis-je le suivre en vain,
Ou perdre quelque chose,
Quand lui-même est mon gain ?
Si les biens de la vie
Prétendent m’arrêter,
Sa puissance infinie
Me les fait rejeter.

Heureux, l’âme affranchie,
Avançant vers le ciel,
Déjà je m’associe
Au cantique éternel.
Douleurs, fatigue ou peine,
N’ébranlent point ma foi.
L’épreuve est toute pleine
De fruits bénis pour moi.

Dans ce trajet d’une heure
Où je suis engagé,
Si je gémis et pleure,
Suis-je découragé ?
Non, ta grâce parfaite
Est mon constant recours ;
Ton bâton, ta houlette,
Me consolent toujours.

Ô Jésus, pain de vie
Que je goûte ici-bas,
Ta vertu fortifie
Mon âme à chaque pas.
Pour t’être enfin semblable,
Bientôt je te verrai
Dans ta gloire ineffable,
Et je t’adorerai !

How do I find Peace?

How to get Peace

A summary in the same conversational style of John Nelson Darby’s article How to get Peace – click for original.  Collected Writings Volume 10 (Doctrinal 3).  The enquirer is in red; his guide is in green.

peace

The Bible says that Jesus has “made peace by the blood of the cross”, (Col 1:20) but I have not got peace in myself.   How can I have it?  I sometimes think I do not believe at all.   You are happy; how can I be?   A few who enjoy divine favour, but I don’t know how to get it.  I’m distressed; I get on from day to day as other Christians do, but I know that I am not at peace.  That is a serious thing, because it says “being justified by faith, we have peace with God,” (Rom 5:1).   Now, if I have not got peace with God, I am probably not justified either.

 You clearly do not then think it presumptuous to be at peace with God.  But, although you are in earnest, you do not have the true knowledge of justification by faith.  I do not say you are not justified in God’s sight, but in your conscience you do not possess of it.   In God’s sight, whoever believes in the Son of God is justified from all things.   But till he appreciates the value of Christ’s work, he does not have the consciousness of it in his own soul.   Sadly, Christian activity has deteriorated and become a kind of business of getting happy, so souls are not energised in the power of the Spirit.   Therefore they are not at peace.

 If a person is really serious, he cannot rest in spirit until he is at peace with God.   Christ’s work is finished. He “appeared once in the end of the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself;” (Heb 9:26)  and He finished the work which his Father gave him to do. (See John 17:4).  His work put away our sin, and is completely and for ever and accepted by God.

I recognise that, but I still sin.  I feel I am in an ungodly state and I should be holy.

Of course you need to be holy, “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb 12:14)   But in your instinctive self-righteousness, you turn from Christ’s work to your own holiness.  That is natural.   Some people are indifferent:  they have a false peace.

Are you looking for an improved state of soul to find peace?

 I am indifferent sometimes, and that troubles me.   I have not peace, and I would give anything for it.  Yes, I need a better state of soul.

Then you are on the wrong road.   Christ’s “having made peace” applies to your ungodliness.  Your desire is right, but you are putting the cart before the horse – you are looking for holiness to get Christ, instead of looking to Christ to get holiness.

 Are you lost?

I hope not.  Of course we are lost by nature; but I hope there is a work of grace in me, though I sometimes doubt it.  If I were to stand before God now, where would I be?   I hope everything would be alright.   I believe that there is a work of grace in me, but I cannot think of judgment without fear.

I do not doubt that there is a work of grace in you.  You should have no fear  how you will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ.   What really plagues an upright soul is his actual sins and his sinful nature —  in short,  the discovery of what he is.

Here is the turning-point of our inquiry:  What you need is to be in God’s presence, knowing that you are simply lost!   A sinner cannot subsist before God in judgment.  Nothing can help you.  You don’t need help; you need righteousness, and that you have not got, at lest in your own faith and conscience.

The case of the prodigal son (Luke 15) will illustrate this.  There was a work of God in him; he came to himself, found himself perishing, and set out to return to his father.  He acknowledges his sins, adding “make me as one of thy hired servants.”  That looked good:  there was uprightness, a sense of divine goodness, and a sense of sin, and he was thinking of what he could hope for when returning to his father.  You could call it a humble hope.  But he didn’t really know his father!   It is as if he had never met God, though God had worked in him.   When he did meet his father there is no word of his being like the hired servants.  He confessed his sins, and came in rags (the effect of his sins) to his father.  But the effect was that he met God.  As to his conscience, in his sins, everything was settled; his father fell on his neck — grace reigned — and he was given the best robe.   He had nothing before; he now had the righteousness of God conferred on him..

When in God’s presence, we need Christ, righteousness and justification through Him.  We do not need progress, help or improvement.  The only progress was to bring us into God’s presence.  We find Christ, who bore our sins, to be our perfect, absolute, and eternal righteousness.   And we have peace.

God condemned sin in the flesh, when Christ was made an offering for it (Rom. 8:3).   We are therefore, not “in the flesh,” but “in Christ.”  Instead of Adam and his sins, we have Christ and the value of His work.  Things have been settled once and for all, for ever, on the cross.

How then should I approach God?

Come to God like Abel, with the sacrifice in your hand.   God assesses its value; you will have the testimony that you are righteous: your offering is a witness to that.  Your acceptance before God is according to the value of Christ’s sacrifice in God’s sight.  It has nothing to do with or of any improvement in your state.   You come with your slain lamb – that is Christ.  God looks at that; He does not look at your state, because you are a sinner, and being such, otherwise shut out from God.

But must I not accept Christ?

 You keep saying,  “But must not I?”  I am not surprised; I am not criticising you; it is human nature, but you have to see that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: (Rom 7:18).  The real question is not about accepting Him, but whether God has really presented Christ to you, and you have eternal life in Him.  A simple soul would say, “Accept! I am only too thankful to have Him!” but unfortunately we are not all that simple.   God has done everything for you in grace.   God has been satisfied with the offering.  Aren’t you?

Oh! I see it now. Christ has done the whole work, and God has accepted it, and there can be no more question as to my guilt or righteousness.  He is the righteousness for me before God.  That is wonderful, and yet so simple! But why did I not see it?  How  stupid I have been!

You say you have been stupid.  But what you were looking for? — Christ, or holiness in yourself and a better state of soul?

Holiness and a better state of soul.

No wonder you did not see Christ.  You were not submitting to God’s righteousness.  Instead, in pride, you were seeking to be satisfied with your own state and find peace there.  You were just asking Christ to help you in your own self-righteousness!  Christ has not only borne our sins, He has closed the whole history of the old man in death for those who believe: they having been crucified with Him.   Furthermore, He has glorified God in this work (John 12: 31, 33; 17:4, 5), and so obtained a place of present acceptance for man in the glory of God.   That is our place before God.  We are sanctified, or set apart, to God by His blood.   We possess His life, or have Him as our life, and we have the Holy Spirit.  We are not our own, but bought with a price, and nothing inconsistent with His blood, and the price of it, and the power of it in our hearts, marks us as Christians.

In the Old Testament, when a leper was cleansed, in addition to the sacrifice, the blood was put on the tips of his ear, his thumb, and his great toe.  Every thought and action which cannot pass the test of that blood, is excluded from the Christian’s walk.   So the precious blood, and the love Christ showed in shedding His blood, is the motive, and the Holy Spirit is the power for our walking in devotion, as Christ walked.  If we are in Christ, Christ is in us; and we know it by the Comforter (John 14),  the life of Jesus is to be manifested in our mortal body.

That is a very high standard!

But that is what scripture says, “He that saith he abideth in him ought to . . . walk even as he walked.” (1 John 2:6).   God has Christ as the model.   He is the expression of what is divine in a man.  Otherwise one might say that complete grace and assurance leaves us liberty to do as we like.   If we are completely saved, what is the use of works?   That is a dreadful principle:  it is as if we have no motive but “getting saved”.   Say somebody told us that a man’s children were exempt from obligation because they were his children?  I should say that they were under obligation, because they were his children.

Before we were Christians we were not under the obligation of living as Christians. We were under the obligation to live as men ought to live, according to the law.   Now we are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  And our duties are the duties in love of God’s children.   We may fail, but here the advocacy of Christ comes in.   Advocacy is not the means of our obtaining righteousness; Christ’s has already made the propitiation for our sins.   We don’t go to Him in order for Him to advocate, because he will already have interceded for us.   Christ prayed for Peter, even before he had even committed the sin.

Let’s go further.  We know God in love, and are reconciled to Him  We have communion with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

Does that mean we have common thoughts and joys and feelings with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ?

That is communion.  We have to seek that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith, being rooted and grounded in love.  (Eph 3:17).  Even though we may be poor feeble creatures, the Holy Spirit dwells in us, so our thoughts, joys and feelings, cannot be discordant with those of the Father and the Son.

All this is new to me; I am brought into such a different world!  If this is true, where are we all?  But there is a passage which I don’t understand. We are told to  ‘Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith” (2 Cor 13:5) .  What you have said, it seems to me, sets this aside.

We are told to do no such thing, though many a sincere soul is honestly doing it.  The words are part of a sentence   The sentence starts: “Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me,” . . . then a parenthesis . . . “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith.” It is a taunt.   The Corinthians had called in question Christ’s speaking in Paul, and the reality of his apostleship, so he really says “You had better examine yourselves; how did you become Christians?

Now for something else.  We read in 1 John 5:11that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life.”  Between this life and the flesh there is no common ground.   “The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh;” (Gal 5:17) – they are totally contrary to one another.  The scripture continues, “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law”.   You had been trying to find signs of life in yourself with only a general apprehension  of the goodness of God, strengthened by the knowledge that Christ died.  It left you with a better hope; at least, when you looked at the cross you saw what you needed as a sinner.   Still you looked for something better in yourself: you could not say you possessed everything you needed in the cross.  You were fearful of judgement because of your state.  You did not really know redemption.  Life is not redemption. Both belong to the believer, but they are different things.   What unites these two truths is in the resurrection of Christ.  We are dead with Him.  Then we are raised, and then quickened.   The full power of life is seen in resurrection.   We do not have just eternal life, but deliverance out of the state we were in, and entrance into another.  The price was in redemption.

Before our conversation, you were redeemed, of course.   And God had wrought in you in grace, but you were looking at this in view of a God of judgment, with glimpses of divine love, but you had not faith in accomplished redemption.

Well, while the old foundation remains, what you have said has put Christianity in quite a different way.   I am now clear as to the ground of my peace.  But you would make us out-and-out Christians, dead, as you say, to the world and everything.

The truth is, the great body of true sincere Christians are as those without, hoping it will be all right when they get in; instead of being within and showing what is there to the world, as the epistle of Christ.  The new man cannot have his objects here.  We are crucified to the world, and the world to us; and so we have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts.

But we still have to remember that the flesh lusts against the Spirit, so we need vigilance.  We are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12).   That is not because our place is uncertain, but because God works in us.   It is a serious thing to maintain God’s cause when the flesh is in us.  Satan uses all the resources of the world to hinder and deceive us.  But do not be discouraged, for God works in you; greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4).   The secret is lowliness of heart and the sense of dependence, and looking to Christ with confidence.  He has saved us and called us with a holy calling. You cannot trust yourself too little, and you cannot trust God too much.  The true knowledge of redemption brings us into perfect peace, and a true and constant dependence on the Redeemer.

We have been taught to rely on God’s promises and trust them for our salvation.

Trusting God’s promises is right:  and there are most precious promises too.  But tell me, is it a promise that Christ shall come and die and rise again?

No: He came; He died, and is now risen at God’s right hand.

 So it cannot be a promise, because it is an accomplished fact.

To help us on our journey onward, there are many and cherished promises. “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” (Heb 13:5) God… will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able.” (1 Cor 10:13) “ No man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:29) “Who will also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 1:8).  I could cite others.

We know God Himself only through Christ.  If I know Him, I know Him as God our Saviour; as one who has not spared His Son, as one who raised Christ from the dead after He had had taken our sins.  In a word, I not only believe in Christ, but in Him who has given Christ and owned His work; who has given glory to man in Him; as a God who has come to save, not to judge me.   I believe in Him, by Christ.  I know no other God but that.  I do wait for a promise,  the redemption of the body.  That will be the full result of His work.

Christianity gives us a known relationship, in peace and love.  Love is the spring of all. He first loved us.  We find our joy in Him; we love others, as partaking of God’s nature, for Christ is dwelling in our hearts, and love constrains us.

You make a Christian a wonderful person in the world; but we are very weak for such a place.

I could never make him in my words what God has made him in His.   As to weakness, the more we feel it, the better.  Christ’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.