God never rebuilds what has failed but rather falls back on His promises – FER

Frederick Raven

The position that confronts each one of us now is what are we to do as involved in the sorrowful scattering and breakdown of a testimony we had so learned to value and love.  To find a way out of it, I cannot.  I am part of it and contributed to it.  But to find a way through it is my whole concern and that Christ may be my object and motive.  While not wishing to speak of myself, my experience found me quite alone and cut off from my brethren – my beloved wife and family…I had nothing.  But, thank God, in His sovereign mercy and exceeding grace I had Christ – my Lord and Saviour.  It is easy to say it, but it has to be proved that therein lies the precious inward secret that alone can make one superior to the most testing of circumstances.  It is just, “Thou remainest when all else is gone”…I then remembered that from the divine side there is no failure – the unity of the Spirit remains.  Does not F E Raven say that God never rebuilds what has failed but rather falls back on His promises?  While many were claiming to have the Lord with them, I just longed for the experience through contrition and repentance, of being with Him in what He is doing currently.

(Extracted from a letter by Brian Deck, NZ  1979)

Golden Nugget Number 19
Golden Nuggets are published by Saville Street Distribution, Venture, Princes Esplanade, Walton on the Naze, CO14 8QD  UK

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

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

JND and Hell

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

The Lake of Fire and the Love of God

A couple of snippets from ministry:

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

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

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

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

Eternal Punishment – Where JND Points to it in Scripture

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

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

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

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

Here are those passages:

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Sosthenes

April 2018

Malcolm Biggs: Principles Relating to Christian Fellowship

INTRODUCTION

 

This booklet by Malcolm W. Biggs (1875-1941) was referred to, in some meetings in Northern Ireland, published in my ‘Today if ye will hear His Voice’ series (Not yet on-line).  Also referred to was a book by the same author ‘Fellowship, its Nature and Possibilities’.   Neither are available on-line.  The former is published by Kingston Bible Trust – 2015 Catalogue .

The latter is out of print, and unavailable through normal channels.

As neither of these publications are on line, I have digitised the shorter one, and it is beliv made available here.  I would value an offer of assistance to digitise the other.

 

PRINCIPLES RELATING TO CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP

 

If a path of a collective character pleasing to the Lord is to be taken by us, not only must the moral features consistent therewith be maintained—such as righteousness, holiness, faith and love—but the principles carried out in practice. It will be profitable, therefore, to consider some of these principles and note their practical application.

No believer has a right to regard himself purely as an individual. He has been called to the fellowship of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord; and if we seek to walk in the path pleasing to the Lord, the Christian’s path, it is imperative that we regard our relations one with another. We have been called into the great partnership of Christian fellowship.

The principles therefore, to which we shall first refer are those which govern Christian fellowship.  From 1 Corinthians 1:9, it is clear that all believers are called to the fellowship of God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Hence in 1 Corinthians 1:2 the epistle is addressed not only to the assembly which is at Corinth, but to ‘all that in every place call the name of Jesus Christ our Lord both all theirs and ours’.  Whether all have responded to, or answered to the responsibilities is another matter, but from the passage quoted it is evident that all believers are called to it

The fellowship being that of God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, the Lord Himself is the bond of our fellowship.  To us Christians there Is one Lord.   We must be true to his name. This is a matter of immense importance.   We must ever remember the necessity of confessing Christ as our Lord and owning His authority over every department of our lives. If the reader knows of anything of his own life, his personal conduct, habits, etc., business or domestic which does not please the Lord, let him judge himself, for until he does so it is useless, indeed damaging, for him to attempt to take up the question we are about to consider.  To discuss church questions when we know there is something in our lives individually that is not pleasing to the Lord, is damaging to a degree.  If we are to speak about ‘our Lord’, and His will for us, each of us must recognise Him as Lord, and do His will in our personal lives individually.  We cannot be right collectively, unless we are right individually; but in addition to our individual history with the Lord, we have a collective responsibility as forming part of the assembly which He loved and for which He gave Himself.  It is to this side of our spiritual exercises, obviously, that our inquiry applies.

 

TO US THERE IS ONE LORD

It is very evident that anyone whose life is moulded on the On the principles inculcated by the word of God, of obeying the Lord Jesus, will find little real companionship with those whose life is fashioned according to the world; the whole principle of life is different, and practically there will little or nothing in common.  The believer, however, is by no means to lead a life of isolation.  He may find himself very isolated from the mere worldling, from worldly-minded Christians also. They may separate him from their company; he may be despised and rejected, as was his Master before him.  But although isolated as to the world, the believer can say, as the Psalmist did, ‘I am a companion of all them that fear thee’ Psalm 119:63. It is here that fellowship comes in.

There is no part between him that believeth and an unbeliever; but there is a very great deal in common, and a very real and vital bond between all believers, and if our lives are what they should be in practice, we shall find real companionship in those that do the will of God.  The One we obey is the One they obey ; and obedience to that one Lord will blend our lives together.  Not only does each individual believer know Jesus as Lord, but as together in the same path of obedience to His will we can say, ‘Jesus Christ our Lord’. To us there is ‘to us there is … one Lord, Jesus Christ,(1 Cor 8:6).  The fact of every believer owning the same Lord, establishes a bond between them.  We are called into the Fellowship of God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. We must be true to this bond and His fellowship.  Fellowship is only practically realised as we recognise in our conduct and in our associations what is in keeping with the Lord’s name.

Hence, before fellowship becomes realisable the believer must be true to the name of the Lord not only in his personal conduct, but in all his associations.  It is important to see that we may be defiled by our associations as well as by actual conduct.  Numbers 19:22, makes this very clear : ‘And whatever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean; and the soul that toucheth it shall be unclean until even  See also Lev 13 & 14 and Hag 2:11-14  This same principle of defilement by association is seen in the New Testament: see Gal 5:9, 1 Cor 5:6-7, 2 John v.10-11.

If a believer’s personal conduct is inconsistent with the name of the Lord, who is the Holy and the True—he is by that very fact morally, or spiritually, unclean.  It is not always seen, however, that if others associate with such a one, that is to say, if he ‘touches’ them, or they ‘touch’ him, they also unclean.   Further, if a believer, whose personal conduct may be otherwise consistent, identifies himself with those who are associating with the unclean person, he also becomes unclean This fact is very exercising and sobering.  We may have opportunity again to refer to this important matter.

Each of us is to own the Lord and be consistent with His name in every sphere of our lives.  If we own Him thus, fellowship ceases to be a mere term, and becomes a practical reality.  Clearly, if things are otherwise, and man does what is right in his own eyes, fellowship is impossible.  One Lord is to control all.  What is consistent with His name is to be recognised by each of us.  So only can the expression, ‘To us There is one Lord (1 Cor 8:6), have vital meaning.

 

THE COMMUNION OF THE BLOOD OF CHRIST

Christian fellowship is also the fellowship of Christ’s death, the communion of the blood of Christ, of which the Lord’s supper is the repeated expression, and to which we commit ourselves by partaking of the Supper, by drinking of that one cup.

As an Israelite who ate of the sacrifices was professedly in communion with the altar of Jehovah, so a believer who partakes of the Lord’s supper avows his communion, or fellowship, with the death of Christ.  Nothing inconsistent with the death of Christ can ever be allowed.  Christ in His death has become our altar—the basis of fellowship for all believers—at once severing us Judaism, or that which answers to it today; that is, any system of worship of a material or formal kind, and from idolatry, whether in its past or present-day forms.  How really exclusive Christian fellowship is!  The more we consider the communion of the death of Christ, the more we shall see how necessarily it shuts out all that is of the world, religious or profane

We may well speak of the cup as ‘the cup of blessing which we bless’, but we must remember equally that it is the communion of the blood of Christ.  If we are partakers of the benefit secured by the death of Christ, we must be true to that which that death witnesses, and to which we are committed. The death of Christ forbids any link with the world.  This is involved in our baptism.  It is again forced upon our attention, as we partake of the Lord’s supper.  He who is a friend of the world is an enemy of God. To be one with the world would be virtually to deny the death of Christ of which the blood of Christ ” is the witness. The cup of blessing is the communion of the blood of Christ.  How great the blessing secured thereby!  How great the love expressed therein!  It was a love that gave up all for us, so that endless and measureless blessing might be ours.  We are sharers together in that cup of blessing; we must together, as one, refuse the world.  Any worldliness would provoke the Lord to jealousy.  His love is so great He can have no rival, no idol in our hearts.  We must not allow another to share our hearts with Christ. To do this after committing ourselves to such a bond of fellowship, would provoke Him to jealousy, and we should find ourselves, typically speaking, under the curse (See Numbers 5).  here is a suggestion of this type in 1 Corinthians 10:22 and 16:22. Worldliness among God’s people is very serious

The world has a religious form as well as a profane one.  Judaism has its present-day features in much that is current in the professed circles of Christianity.  ‘Sodom and Egypt’ are typical of the profane world; ‘where also our Lord was crucified speaks of the religious world. See (Revelation 11:8).  Worldliness is most seductive when it wears religious clothing. Idolatry is most deceptive when linked with a feast to the Lord. (See Exodus 32:4,5).  May the Lord keep us clear of such unholy associations, ever remembering that by the Lord’s s upper we are professedly in the ‘communion of the blood of Christ’.

 

THE COMMUNION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

‘The communion of the Holy Spirit is a remarkable expression ; it is found in Corinthians 13:14.  We have been baptised by one Spirit into one body.  We may have occasion to develop this side of our subject a little later on.  Here we may remark that, since the Holy Spirit is the power of Christian fellowship, anything of the world or the flesh, anything in the way of mere human arrangements in the assembly of God, or maintenance of merely social links one with another, must necessarily greatly hinder the fellowship.  It need scarcely be remarked that the setting aside practically of the liberty of Spirit described in 1 Corinthians 12-14 by appointment of a minister, or any attempt to arrange the service or of God, must greatly grieve the Holy Spirit and thus hinder and prevent what is normal to our collective experience. Moreover, in the measure in which we in our assembly life, friendships on basis of what is merely natural, links of social kind, etc., in that measure fellowship is hindered, yea, it is impossible.

Our links as Christians are not in the flesh or according to what we are naturally, socially, nationally or racially, but according to what we are ‘in (the) Spirit.’  Here we have a power, the Holy Spirit, that binds us all together, that gives us spiritual tastes in common one with another, spiritual sensibilities and perception.  And in the measure in which we recognise what is of the Spirit in a practical way, we shall prove what is ‘the communion of the Holy Spirit’. Many practical considerations flow from these facts.  May we not each ask himself the questions:

  • Am I minding the things of the Spirit?
  • Am I walking in the Spirit?
  • Am I endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit?

To do these things we must, surely, refuse the flesh in its many subtle forms, and make room for the Holy Spirit and for what is spiritual. To the Corinthians the apostle had to write, ‘I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal (1 Cor 3:1).  Were he writing to us now would he have to say the same thing?  Are there not schools of thought?  Are there not some Christians who are definitely boasting in following the ideas propounded by some Christian leader of so-called thought?  Let abandon those fleshly habits, dear reader, and seek only to be led by the Spirit, and thus answer to the beautiful type of Rebecca of whom it is written, ‘the servant [a type of the Holy Spirit] took Rebecca, and went his way’ (Gen 24:61)

To summarise, then, what has been before us: the Lord is the bond of Christian fellowship, the death of Christ is the basis thereof, and the Holy Spirit is the power of this fellowship, making it subjectively real.

Now it is obvious that the character of Christian fellowship being such, it must of necessity be universal in its bearing.

 

THE UNIVERSAL CHARACTER OF CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP

The universal character of fellowship is a fact of wide and practical bearing.  Whether in Europe, Asia, Africa, America or Australasia, the fellowship is one, and wherever we are we must be true to it.  Conduct suitable to it in one place, is suitable to it in any other place; and what is unsuitable to it in one place is unsuitable to it in any other.  Locality can make no difference in a matter of this kind, for the considerations are moral, and therefore universal, in their application.  Let us ever remember this fact.

Moreover, the same principle has its application to persons.  If anyone is suitable or fellowship in one locality, he is obviously suitable for it in any other locality.  Hence, in the early days of the assembly, letters of commendation were customary, which enabled a believer going from one place to another to be received suitably by those into whose district he might going.  See 2 Cor 3:1, Rom 16:1, Acts 18:27. Similarly, if the conduct or associations of anyone are such that he is rendered unfit for fellowship in one place, he is unfit for it in any other place.  If we seek to be true to Christian fellowship, we must always and everywhere recognise this principle.  How often it is, and has been, overlooked by believers.  To do so is to deny the character of fellowship.

The principle applies equally to actions of a collective nature.  If evil exist in one locality, unless dealt with according to God, those in any other locality acknowledging bonds of fellowship with those allowing such evil are identified therewith and are responsible as to the matter, as being involved in the evil by association.  Any discipline that might be necessary as to dealing with evil, would have to be exercised in the locality in which it is, as the apostle shows in 1 Corinthians 5; but nevertheless, the acknowledgment of the bonds of fellowship carries with it all that fellowship implies, which is complete association, and, let us remember, association with evil defiles.

Moreover, fellowship being universal, nothing relating thereto can have a purely local character or effect.  This fact entirely forbids anything in the nature of an independent or local fellowship.  Hence, in like manner this principle necessitates that the action of any one gathering walking consistently with Christian fellowship involves every other gathering acknowledging the bonds of fellowship therewith; and similarly, if a gathering refuse to judge evil in their midst, this involves in its guilt those in fellowship with it.  No action can be purely local in its character or effect.

We would ask the thoughtful reader to consider how seriously these principles have been overlooked or ignored by many Christians, however unwittingly.  It is not uncommon to find believers meeting together in a place to take the Lord’s supper and maintaining that their fellowship is purely local, and that they are an independent local company of Christians. This is, in practice, to deny the very fellowship professedly expressed in their assumed action of taking the Supper.  The Supper cannot rightly be taken apart from recognising the fact of ‘one body’ being here on earth, and nothing is clearer than the apostle’s words in the 1 Corinthians 10:17, ’Because we, being many, are one loaf, one body; for we all partake of that one loaf’.  This ‘we’ is what may termed the Christian ‘we’, that is to say it embraces the universal ‘one body’ of all believers, the one fellowship of which is normally expressed in taking the Lord’s supper.  To attempt to take the Lord’s supper and at the same time profess to be an independent local company, is to deny the first principle of Christian fellowship; for Christian fellowship is universal.  It may be replied, however,’ But we are in fellowship with all Christians!’  Yet this, surely, cannot really meant.  Do such mean to that they are in fellowship with every professing Christian, whatever his conduct or associations, be he immoral or a blasphemer or in fellowship with such, or be he linked with some antichristian, or religious system, which they who so speak would denounce as wrong?  If so, this is evil indeed!  It is true that all Christians are called to Christian fellowship, the fellowship of God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and we should be true to this fellowship, as we have already seen.  But are all Christians true to it?  If not we cannot say we are in fellowship with them.  Were the Corinthians in fellowship with the man whom they were told to remove from among themselves?  Clearly not.  They had to cut their links of fellowship and not even to eat with the incestuous person.  No, dear reader, fellowship means partnership, and this involves identification, and for any to be identified with evil means that they are evil too.

Now that the assembly, so far as its outward profession is concerned, is in confusion, and all manner of evil exists in the sphere of Christian profession, it becomes increasingly necessary to adhere to divine principles. we are to take a path of a collective character, the Christian’s path in days of difficulty, we must recognise the principles governing Christian fellowship; we must also constantly remind ourselves that, as believers on our Lord Jesus, we are not merely so many individuals.

 

THERE IS ONE BODY

However separate from evil and from evil associations we each must be individually, since we have received the Holy Spirit, we are vitally linked with all believers on earth; ‘We all have been baptised by one Spirit into one body (1 Cor 12:13).  Therefore, in addition to the principles already considered as governing Christian fellowship, we must also consider the principles governing the assembly as ‘one body’.

The fact of assembly being one body has both a local and a universal application. Though local assemblies are recognised, Scripture makes it abundantly plain that the assembly is one universally.  Those who composed local assemblies, as having been baptised with all other believers by ‘one Spirit’, made but ‘one body’; though the local assembly was to have the character of Christ’s body as we may see farther on.

Whatever breakdown may have taken place in the public profession of Christianity, the assembly Of God, as already remarked, has in no way ceased or changed in its vital existence and character.  The apostle addresses Christians thus in 1 Corinthians 1.  Let the reader pay attention to this epistle.  The manner of address shows that although the epistle was written to the particular assembly in Corinth, its bearing was universal.  Hence we find such expressions as, ‘so ordain I in all churches (1 Cor 7:17). ‘We have no such custom, neither the churches of God (ch. 11:16), and again, ‘as in all churches of the saints’ (ch. 14:33).

Moreover, the manner in which the apostle addressed the assembly in Corinth also shows it was identified, or associated with ‘all that in every place upon the name Of Jesus Christ our Lord,’ (1 Cor 1:2)  who, indeed, was Lord both to them and to all other believers; for to us, Christians, there is but one Lord

 

THE BODY ONE UNIVERSALLY

Other scriptures show equally that the assembly as ‘one body’ is considered as one whole existing on earth at any given time. Ephesians 4:4 tells us that there is ‘one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling’. For there to be the hope of our calling, the one body must be here. Ephesians 4:15-16 again speaks of the assembly as the ‘whole body’ increasing and growing, Christ being the Head. To increase and grow the body must be here. Then again in Colossians 3:15 we read that ‘we are called in one body’.  From the nature of the exhortations given in these passages, it is clear that they could not possibly apply to us when we are in heaven; they refer to us here and speak about what has been brought about on earth.   Jew and Gentile have been formed into one body, which clearly refers to what has taken place on earth; and this is confirmed by exhortation in Ephesians 4:3-4, to maintain the unity of the Spirit, because ‘There and one Spirit, even as ye have been called in one hope of your calling.

1 Corinthians 12:13, however, very emphatically asserts this unity as existing on earth, having been brought about by all believers having been baptised by ‘one Spirit’. The ‘we’ of verse 13 is clearly a universal ‘we’, and include every believer on earth, since all have been baptised by ‘one Spirit’. Whereas the ‘ye’ of verse 27, refers to those in Corinthian assembly. ‘Now ye are Christ’s body, and members in particular. Let the reader carefully note this fact : the assembly is one body on earth at this present time: one body universally. Fellowship is one, and the assembly is one: ‘one body’.

 

LOCAL ASSEMBLIES

Yet we must equally observe that local assemblies existed.   We have seen this to be so in Corinth. Those who composed each local assembly were not only ‘one body’ with all other believers on earth, as we have already seen, but local assembly which they composed was to have the character of the whole; characteristically it was ‘Christ’s body’, as seen  from 1 Corinthians 12:27.  Notice the change of pronoun: ‘we all’ (verse 13), ‘ye’ in verse 27.

The writer of the of book of Acts refers to many such local assemblies as having been established by Barnabas and the apostle Paul, chapters 14:23, and 16:5, as well as those previously existing in Judea, ch. 9:31. These local assemblies, however, were not independent bodies, but were bound together by the common bond of Christian fellowship, and by the fact that all believers had been baptised by ‘one Spirit into one body’;hence, as remarked, the ‘we’ of 1 Corinthians 12:13, is undoubtedly a universal ‘we’.  The local assemblies were to have the features of the whole.  ‘Now ye are Christ’s body, and members in particular(verse 27).

It is to be regretted that a great number of believers are allowing the idea of independent assemblies.  It is difficult to conceive anything more contrary to the teaching of the epistles. We scarcely imagine the apostle Paul, who insists so strongly on the unity ofthe assembly as one body on earth in his epistles to the Colossians and the Ephesians, establishing local assemblies and teaching them that they were not

independent.  The assembly is not an aggregate of a number of independent bodies; It is not a confederation of a multitude of local assemblies; it is one whole, as Scripture most plainly asserts, ‘There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling (Eph 4:4).

 

LOCAL ADMINISTRATION

However, it is necessary to see that the administration of the assembly is not carried out universally; that is to say, by any central body or authority governing the whole, but is out in the several localities, bearing in mind that their actions have a universal effect, inasmuch as their bonds of fellowship are universal.

This being the case, it is necessary that we take up our places locally in the recognition of what we are as forming with all other Christians ‘one body’ universally.  In other words, we approach our local exercises from a universal standpoint.  As already remarked, it was God’s desire that the assembly should not be a universal organisation governed by some metropolitan centre such as Jerusalem was, or such as, alas, Rome assumes to be.  It was His will that though one universally, it should find characteristic local expression in whatever place believers might be.  It was to be truly catholic, that is ‘universal’ (for word ‘catholic’ means ‘universal’), a vital organism, ‘one body’ universally; yet to have administrative powers locally, which were to be exercised in the consideration of what was universal. Hence, as we have noticed, the address at the beginning of the epistle to the Corinthians is not ‘unto the church of God which is at Corinth with all that call upon the name Of Jesus Christ our Lord’, but ‘with all that in every place call the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  That is to say, there was the definite recognition of locality in regard of believers as constituting the assembly in the place in which they lived; yet they were not independent, for they were all bound together in the bonds of one universal fellowship, and by the fact that all believers form but ‘one body’ on earth.

The Lord has greatly helped of His beloved people, not only to recognise that dry are vitally linked with every believer on earth as forming with them one body, but to recognise equally their place locally, and to seek to carry out in their own localityprinciples which govern the assembly universally.

 

THE EFFECT OF ACTION OF ASSEMBLY CHARACTER

From the foregoing remarks it is evident that action of any one assembly in the early days of the Christian epoch would not have had a purely local bearing.  If the command of the Lord was carried out in Corinth it would necessarily have to regarded by all who in place called on the name of that Lord.  Moreover, the ‘body’ being one universally, those who composed the local assembly were part of the one whole; therefore, their action in carrying out administration in their locality; that is to say, the action of the local assembly, affected the whole, and had a universal bearing

This principle is of the utmost importance, but, it is to be feared, very much overlooked. If we would seek to walk in a path pleasing to the Lord in this day of difficulty, if we today seek to walk in the light that Scripture affords us regarding the assembly, and to depart from all that is contrary to divine principles, we must recognise, at least, that the assembly is one universally, ‘one body’.

The action of any local gathering of such who so walk, therefore cannot have only a local bearing.  If today an individual is under discipline as an evildoer, and is so judged by those who act in their locality in the light that Scripture affords regarding the assembly, so that he cannot be allowed to partake of the Lord’s with them, he cannot rightly be received anywhere else. For another gathering to receive him would be an act of independence, and a denial of Christian fellowship and of the fact that the assembly is one universally.  As another has said, ‘If a person is to be received in one place when he is rejected in another, it is evident there is an end to unity and common action.  The assembly being ‘one body’ universally, and fellowship being universal also, the action of any one gathering of believers walking in the light that Scripture affords regarding the assembly and acting on divine principles, involves all others who are also walking in the bonds of fellowship.

Similarly, if a gathering refuses to judge evil in its midst, it involves in its guilt those in the bonds of fellowship with it.  There is no warrant in Scripture for independent assemblies or purely local fellowship.  The assembly is one body universally.

It may be added here that owning these great spiritual realities and principles, would lead us to recognise that a believer is local in the place where he resides.  Hence if anyone were under discipline by an assembly and were, while in that state, to move into another locality, if or when the Lord graciously brings about recovery, his case would have to be dealt with by saints in the gathering in the locality in which he is at the time of his recovery. If he is living in Corinth, so to speak, he is local there; if in Colosse, he is local there.

All administration, whether of discipline or recovery, must be carried out locally.

  • ‘Now ye (Corinthians) are (the) body of Christ.’ (1 Cor 12:27)
  • ‘Do not ye judge them that are within?’ (1 Cor 5:12)
  • ‘Ye ought rather to forgive him.’ (2 Cor 2:7)

These passages put this question beyond controversy. The person is recovered in the place where he resides at the time of recovery.

In dealing with such a case, the few who desire to act according to principles proper to the assembly, would rightly get all the help they could from those who had to deal with the person when the discipline was exercised; they could in the Lord’s name call upon any one anywhere to give evidence to them; but clearly those in the locality Where the person resides would have the responsibility of handling the matter, and the Lord would support them in the discharge of their responsibility.   It is well that this fact should ever be remembered.  The present state of a person is only known in the place where he lives; and the Lord supports those in that place in discerning matters, for it is their responsibility.

M. W. BIGGS.

 

 

 

 

Eternal Punishment

Christians have differed as to the subject of everlasting punishment.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

However, the theological intelligentsia has created alternative arguments:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

These arguments are mutually exclusive.

 

The Greek Word αἰώνιος

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

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

 

 

All will be Saved – Universalism

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

 

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

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

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

 

Reincarnation

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

The Truth

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

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

 

An Appeal by J N Darby

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

 

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

Sosthenes

August 2017

 

If God be for us, who can be against us? Rom 8:31-39

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

+Romans 8:31-39

J N DarbyIn the end of Romans 8, Paul sums up the exercises of our hearts, and the work of grace.  We are brought to realise that, in spite of the conditions in the world, and in ourselves, he shows how God is for us.  Indeed God had seen all these tests before we even existed.

Earlier in the chapter, we are told that ‘the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be’ (v. 7).  But God has given His own blessed Son.   We are to enjoy full liberty with God, knowing Him as the Giver.  The prodigal thought the status of a humble hired servant would be more in keeping with his failure, but the father had other things in mind.  The more we have a conviction of sin, the greater we appreciate God’s giving.  Conversely the more we know God, the more we see the evil in sin, and the more we glory in Him, and what our Lord has done.

The accuser is Satan.  ‘It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us’ (v. 34).  We are told that nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ. Why the love of Christ, not the love of God?  It is the love of God in Christ.  He was down here suffering in the difficulties, and now He is at the right hand of God.

So, about the difficulties:

  • Principalities and powers? Christ was tempted by these, and overcame them for me: they are not going to stop me.
  • Life? He went through that too. He had plenty of sorrow in it; and I grow through all the sorrow that I might have. The trials of life cannot separate me from Christ – “to me to live is Christ’ (Phil 1:21).
  • Death? This cannot separate me either. Indeed, it will bring me to Him: ‘to die is gain’ (Phil 1:21).
  • Persecutions? I triumph in them, because Christ is with me in them.

When the children of Israel were in Egypt, they witnessed the judgment. Then God brought them out via the Red Sea – redemption.  He looked after them in the wilderness, giving them the manna (but they had to collect it diligently).  The real conflict began when they reached the land.  Then the Lord presented Himself to Joshua as captain of the Lord’s host (Jos 5:15). He was with them.

 God has brought us to Himself.  We are called to fellowship with God, and fellowship means common happiness, common thoughts and common feelings.  The Father’s delight is in His Son; and we have fellowship with Him in that. Christ’s delight is in the Father; and we have fellowship with Him in that. So our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Christ Jesus (see 1 John 1:3). ‘If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin’ (1 John 1:6-7).

The psalmist asked God to search him (see Ps 139:23)  – not to condemn or impute, but to cleanse. Christ has gone through all the difficulties, and now He is suiting me for the place where He is. May we know perfect redemption, and be consciously in fellowship with the Father and the Son, so that everything contrary to His holiness may be judged and put away.

Based on the notes of a lecture by John Nelson Darby entitled, ‘God for us’   It is published in Collected Writings Volume 12 (Evangelical 1) page 165.

 

Sosthenes

February 2017

 

 

 

 

 

The Error as to Christ’s Righteousness

Many reformers, puritans and theologians seem to believe that Christ makes up for our defects, in effect saying that Christ kept the law for us. But the WORD OF GOD is clear, and tells me that if we are justified by law we are fallen from grace (see Gal 5:4). If Christ kept the law for us, and righteousness imputed to us because of that, we are justified by law. Of course the Lord kept the law, but where in scripture do we find that He kept it for us? According to the WORD OF GOD this doctrine is FALSE, it is legal fiction.

J N DarbyIn 1862 J N Darby wrote to the Christian Examiner about an article in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review.  Teaching which was very prevalent in the established churches was that the Lord had fulfilled the law on our behalf.  Looking at various current sermons and writings on the internet, it would appear that this error is still held by many.

The Truth is needed to keep souls in progress and subjection to God. Scripture, the WORD OF GOD, must have its authority.  The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, forms the unity of Christ’s body on earth and dwells in the believer.  The Lord is about to take the saints to Himself, and then appear with them, his Church, to judge the world and reign for 1000 years.  These teachings will protect us from some of the unscriptural and erroneous doctrine that abounds in Christendom – in Romanism, Protestantism and even amongst evangelicals.

 

What is Righteousness, and what was the Law?

Righteousness is living as we ought and fulfilling our relationships rightly towards others and towards God.  When it says, ‘The righteous Lord loveth righteousness’ (Psalm 11:7) or, ‘Grace might reign through righteousness’ (Rom 5:21) the word is used abstractedly;  when it says, ‘the righteousness of God’ or ‘the righteousness of faith’ (Rom 10:3,6), the expression is more specific.  We ought to love God with all our heart; we ought to love our neighbour as ourselves.  That is the law in its clearest terms.  It would also have been our righteousness had we kept it. But as sinners, we did not, nor could not keep the law.  And since we have a conscience, the sense of good and evil we know we are guilty, unrighteous and lawless.

 

Did the Lord keep the Law for us?

My righteousness under the law is absolutely zero.  In God’s sight, my efforts are evil and nothing else.   Therefore Christ died for me.  I am born again, and I receive Him as eternal life.  Does Christ make up for defects in my righteousness?  What defects?  Is my righteousness patched up by Christ’s acts, when I have acted after the flesh?  Is that what is meant by Christ being made unto us righteousness?  Of course not.

Many reformers, puritans and theologians seem to believe this, in effect saying that Christ kept the law for us.  But the WORD OF GOD is clear, and tells me that if we are justified by law we are fallen from grace (see Gal 5:4).  If Christ kept the law for us, and righteousness imputed to us because of that, we are justified by law.  Of course the Lord kept the law, but where in scripture do we find that He kept it for us?  According to the WORD OF GOD this doctrine is FALSE, it is legal fiction.

We are accounted, imputed or reckoned (the same word in Greek λογισθῆναι/ logisthēnai/Strong 3049) righteous (See Rom 4:11).  Christ has born the sin of each of us, and put it away.  This is no fiction: sin has been dealt with.

 

Applying the Law to a Child of Adam

Those going on with this error pretend that the defects of the old man are somehow made good, so that man, a child of Adam, might appear righteousness before God. He ought to walk in accordance with the law and according to this doctrine, when we fail Christ makes our defects good.  That is not Christianity.

This false doctrine leads to an absurdity.  It confuses practical sanctification, with righteousness before God.  It makes Christ establish our standing as alive before God in the old man.

The truth is that the life which we receive is Christ.  This does not make my flesh good.  As a child of Adam, there is no good in me.  Christ died to put away my sin, so I reckon myself dead, my flesh condemned.  I find myself in Christ, Christ being in me.  I have put on the new man, and that is what I am before God.  In that Christ died, He died unto sin once; in that He lives, He lives unto God (See Rom 6:10). I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.   I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Gal 2:19-20).  I am dead to law by the body of Christ (See Rom 7:4).

 

What Sort of Law or Righteousness?

These people measure the righteousness of God and divine justice by the law. But they contradict themselves.  On one side righteousness is said to be of the law, but at the same time righteousness is a gift’ (See Rom 5:17).

It is nonsense to say that we are living by a personal law.  Indeed they even talk about a person redeeming him/herself.   Grace, not law, is towards a sinner.  Law does not forgive, it condemns.  Satan’s deception is to set aside Christ’s death. He died that we might live, our sin being atoned for by Him.

They might cite James.  But James merely said ‘faith without works is dead’ (James 2:20).  That cannot be as a result of Christs’s law-keeping.

 

Legal Righteousness

Some would give the impression of a God who is incensed (or vengeful or full of wrath) at our disobeying the law, but at the same time, a God who acts in grace rather than judgment.  This is the doctrine of legal righteousness.  This might appear plausible, but it destroys the thought of a righteous God who reconciles us to Himself and justifies us.  God is just in justifying.  his is the essence of the gospel.

 

We know who bore the wrath for us.  Let us never forget the cross, the cup that Jesus had to drink, His sweat in Gethsemane, His being made sin, and crying ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Mark 15:34).  He was perfectly obedient.

 

Conclusion

But how can we have righteousness?  We need a new righteousness, by faith, fit for the throne of God.  If we are to be accepted, the righteousness must meet all that God is His own infinite excellency.

Christ revealed God’s nature, and glorified Him when He was made sin for us. Hence we are made the righteousness of God in Him.  Christ finished the work His Father gave Him to do.  Now the ground of our acceptance and righteousness, is complete.  Christ becomes our life.

The law does not, nor cannot do this.

This is a summary of a paper  by John Nelson Darby.  The Pauline Doctrine of the Righteousness of Faith. It is published in Collected Writings Volume 7 (Doctrinal 2) page 349. 

Sosthenes

January 2017

Being free of Defilement – the Red Heifer

The blood of the unblemished heifer, represents Christ who knew no sin. The blood was sprinkled before the tabernacle (the place of communion) seven times. But the body of the heifer was reduced to ashes. This shows that we still have to understand the seriousness of sin, and what the Lord had to bear.

 

In Numbers 19 we learn about being free of defilement.  We are in the world but not of it – we belong in the sanctuary.  If we come into contact with evil, a remedy is required, otherwise communion will be hindered.

The blood of the unblemished heifer, represents Christ who knew no sin.  The blood was sprinkled before the tabernacle (the place of communion) seven times.  But the body of the heifer was reduced to ashes.  This shows that we still have to understand the seriousness of sin, and what the Lord had to bear.

The person who had been defiled had to wait seven days for communion to be restored fully.  He had to gather up the ashes – making him realise the horror of sin.  In grace we get a sense of God’s perfect holiness that necessitated the sacrifice.  We had been careless, and found ourselves outside of God’s presence.  Now communion was restored.

This is a summary of a short article by John Nelson Darby.  It is published in Collected Writings Volume 19 (Expository 1) page 292. 

Sosthenes

January 2017

Maria Carlsson-Carren – What will it be with God to dwell,

Before Christ’s judgment seat to stand,
With Him look back on all the way;
To learn the meaning, at His hand,
Of every deed in every day!

What will it be with God to dwell,
And there to gaze on Jesus’ face!
To meet the One we’ve known so well
As Priest and Saviour – in that place!
 
Before Christ’s judgment seat to stand,
With Him look back on all the way;
To learn the meaning, at His hand,
Of every deed in every day!
 
Clearer than ever shall we see
The grace which God our Saviour showed,
The love that led so faithfully
Along the pathless desert road.
 
How blessed when this time is o’er,
To find that love had all-sufficed,
As there upon the heav’nly shore
We reach the day of Jesus Christ!
Maria Carlsson-Carren (circa 1865-1955)

Little Flock Hymn Book No 299

The Things which shall be Hereafter (Rev 1:19)  – The Judgment Seat of Christ

The judgment seat of Christ will be the first thing that the believer in Jesus will experience following the rapture. It is a great blessing that we shall be with Jesus and have exactly His view on everything in our lifetime.

What’s upsets me, is that Christians sometimes confuse the judgment seat of Christ with the Great White Throne. The two things are totally different – the Greek word is also different The Great White Throne is for unbelievers – people who have refused the glad tidings.

The judgment seat of Christ will be the first thing that the believer in Jesus will experience following the rapture.  It is a great blessing that we shall be with Jesus and have exactly His view on everything in our lifetime.  As one wrote, ‘Not a cloud above – not a spot within’ (G.V. Wigram (1805-1879). – For full hymn click here.

What’s upsets me, is that Christians sometimes confuse the judgment seat of Christ with the Great White Throne.  The two things are totally different – the Greek word is also different (I will refer to that later).  The Great White Throne is for unbelievers – people who have refused the glad tidings.   They will be judged without mercy according to their works.   It says, ‘This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire’ (Rev 20:14-15).

 

What is the Judgment Seat of Christ?

2 Cor 5 tells us, ‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad’ (v.10).  The word ‘appear’ is in Greek is φανερόω/phaneroó.  This means ‘make clear or manifest’.  So it is not like appearing befor a court with prosecution and defence.  It is more, seeing everything in our lives, good and bad, just as Jesus saw it.  The thought of a judgment-seat is taken from Greek tradition.  The word used is βῆμα/bēma – a step or foot (up).  A judge, or umpire would sit on a slightly raised platform and would adjudicate.  For example he would judge the games, disqualifying cheats and giving prizes (usually a crown wreath of leaves) to the first, second and third places.  It is also like a tribunal, before which my namesake Sosthenes was beaten in Corinth (see Acts 18:17).  By way of contrast judgment at the Great White Throne is κρίμα/krima – the sort of judgment you get in a trial, from which, of course, we get our word ‘crime’.

The important thing here is that the Judge is also our Saviour, and what abounds is mercy.  Our time of responsibility will have finished.  There will be no guilt and no penalty.  Any idea of a period of purgatory is totally foreign.  Look at it from the Lord’s point of view.  He has finished the work, His church is complete, His bride is ready, He wants the marriage to take place immediately – ‘The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready’ (Rev 19:7).  We will be able to enjoy the Lord’s presence eternally, and the Lord will enjoy His bride in her perfectness.

The only other direct reference to the judgment seat of Christ is in Rom 14:10 ‘But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ’.  Here it is a question of judging our brother (or sister). The message here is that we should good relationships with the Lord and with our brethren now, so no adjustment will be necessary at the judgement seat.

A couple of hymns bring the positive aspects of the judgment seat of Christ

How shall I meet those eyes? 
Mine on Himself I’ll cast, 
And own myself the Saviour’s prize, 
Mercy from first to last

James Montgomery (1771-1854)

 

What will it be with God to dwell,
And there to gaze on Jesus’ face!
To meet the One we’ve known so well
As Priest and Saviour – in that place!
 
Before Christ’s judgment seat to stand,
With Him look back on all the way;
To learn the meaning, at His hand,
Of every deed in every day!
 
Clearer than ever shall we see
The grace which God our Saviour showed,
The love that led so faithfully
Along the pathless desert road.
 
How blessed when this time is o’er,
To find that love had all-sufficed,
As there upon the heav’nly shore
We reach the day of Jesus Christ!
Maria Carlsson-Carren (circa 1865-1955)

Little Flock Hymn Book No 299

 

When is the Judgment seat of Christ.

Scripture is not specific as to this. Clearly it must be between the rapture and the marriage of the lamb.  Personally I think of it being VERY quick – maybe as we are changed into our bodies of glory (see 1 Cor 15:52).

Quick and blessed!

 

 

A Little more about the Rapture (See last month)

I would like to thank everybody for the positive reaction to the article on the rapture.

One brother challenged me to back everything up by scripture.  Not that he disagreed, but we should be able to substantiate anything we say by the Word of God.

I wrote and spoke to several young believers and suggested they came back to me with scriptures.  Disappointingly nobody responded – so here is my attempt, based on the table showing the differences between the rapture and the appearing.  So please go through these and add to them, especially where it shows [?]

 

RAPTURE APPEARING
No one knows when it will be 2 Thes 2:3 [?] It will be 7 years (arguably 3½) after the rapture, but day unknown Matt 24:36 [?]
It will be private [?] It will be very public Matt 24:27
The Lord comes to the air 1 Thes 4:17 The Lord comes to the earth Zech 14:4
He comes FOR His saints 1 Thes 4:17 He comes WITH His saints Col 3:4
It is followed by the great tribulation Rev 3:10 It is followed by the millennium Rev 20:6
He is the Bridegroom Rev 19:7 He is the King Rev 19:6
He is the Morning Star 2 Peter 1:19 He is the Sun of Righteousness Mal 4:2
It is for the Church 1 Thes 4:15-16 It is for His earthly kingdom Rev 11:15
There is little in prophecy 1 Thess 4, 1 Cor 15 etc There is much in prophecy OT Prophets, Matt, Mark, Rev etc
The world will carry on Matt 24:37 Christ will reign Isa 32:1
The man of sin will be revealed 2 Thes 2:3 Satan will be bound Rev 20:2
There will be the judgment seat of Christ 2 Cor 5:10 The world will be judged Rev 18:10
People will be translated 1 Cor 15:51 People will not be unchanged [understood]
People will believe a lie 2 Thes 2:11 The truth will be acknowledged Zech 12:10

 

Additionally, our brother Mr K in Brisbane came back to me with a similar table that he had done.  You can see it at his blog http://hotspuds.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/scoffers-beware.html