J B Stoney – The Gospel really is Entrancing

James Butler Stoney

The first thing to be seen is that the gospel comes from God.  Is man’s need the measure of God’s grace?  No.  True the grace covers his need; It would not be the gospel if it did not cover man’s need; but it is far more than that.  If you came to look at what the gospel really is, it is entrancing.  In the gospel I touch the source, the very spring of God’s heart.  The rest comes after: “The mystery of God; in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge”; but the fountain of where all began is the gospel.  It is “the Beautiful gate of the temple.”

(J B Stoney, NS vol.6 p81)

Golden Nugget Number 358



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The Church and the Gospel – The Church does not Teach or Preach

The Church – the Body of Christ here on earth is to serve Him. Christians preach and teach. The Church itself does not.

Why I am Saying that the Church does not Preach

I was born in 1945 so they call me an ‘early baby boomer’.  (1945 to 1960).  I was writing a letter from my generation to Millennials, also known as Generation Y (born 1981 to 1996), but all, the intervening generation as well would be interested.

Things were very different for those of us who grew up immediately after WW2, easier times I would say, and that affected our spiritual development.  Now as we are getting older we have to see many wasted years – reminding us of that scripture:  Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.  That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten’ (Joel 1:3-4).  God in His mercy goes on,  And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God’ (ch 2:15-26).  So, we have to redeem the time because the days are evil (see Eph 5:16).  That applies to my generation, and to all, including those left of the pre-war generations.

The world is evil now – it always has been, but there are certain pressures unique to the 21st century.  On the positive side we are generally better off, and benefit from modern communications, technology and ease of travel.  When I was young mobile phones were science fiction, and the world-wide-web had not even been conceived.  We had our bikes and a lot more freedom, which I think made us happier and healthier.

We admire our Younger Brethren and their Testimony


      Peer pressure was nothing like what it is now.  You did not have to have the latest gizmo, and your status was not available for the world to see 24/7 on Facebook or Instagram.

      Social liberal attitudes had not developed: ‘Gay’ meant ‘living merrily’ (not necessarily happily), divorce and abortion were frowned upon, if not illegal, and people would be horrified by the idea of selecting one’s sex (I don’t use the word ‘gender’). Whilst you could be mocked for standing for what was right as a Christian, there was not that militant secularism.

      People regarded evolution as a theory not a fact, though most accepted it.

      You could get a good job without having to go to university (You still had to study) – and if you did go to uni, there were no tuition fees and you could get a grant towards living expenses

      It was easier to get on the property ladder.

I could go on.

Under these circumstances, I admire the way that many young brothers and sisters are applying themselves to the Lord’s things and studying the scriptures. I hear of meet-ups for prayer, study and evangelisation.  In the break at meetings I have seen (and sometimes entered) into discussion groups on spiritual matters and I witnessed a group of young sisters with their study bibles out.

Younger people in many places are enthusiastic – and for the things of the Lord they should be.  But so often the enthusiasm is ‘church-centred’ not ‘Christ centred’. 

At a recent meeting the subject was our preaching the glad tidings.  What was emphasised was that preaching was an individual, not an assembly matter.  I heard an aside remark suggesting that what we were talking about were ‘technicalities’.  Sorry, I see these things as being pretty fundamental.

In the early days preaching started in the open air.  Peter’s first preaching was such.  Paul would go into a synagogue and preach there (if he was allowed to) – not a Christian assembly.  John Wesley and others were renowned for open air preaching.  His preaching was individual – because the church as an entity does not preach.

Brian Parr Open-air ChesterThe Church and the Gospel

I fully understand the concerns of my younger brethren.  My generation was not active enough in preaching to others.  I think that we – brothers and sisters – are coming to recognise that we had gone on with a line that put the collective position, not the Lord, at the centre.  We ended up smugly in a socially happy group of white middle-class Christians, content with a stack of ministry, claiming (some would even say exclusively) to represent the assembly in a broken day.  If you ask me, that was pretty Laodicean.  Looking back, we had probably been let down by our parents’ and grandparents’ generations when we were young.  Where I was brought up, Godly influential and gifted men, whom we looked up to, tolerated the 1960’s Taylor Exclusive system.  As a result we were  coloured by it, even if as young people, we rebelled against it. 

This was not unique to one company of Christians.  Formalism and authoritarianism permeated Christendom.  Well organised, successfully managed operations, be they churches or businesses, have outward success – one may be measured in ‘converts’, the other in profit.  But who are the measurers and who is determining the criteria for success?

Some Preaching is like Entertanment

Alongside this, there has been a line which matches Christian service with worldly entertainment.   Many Catholic and Protestant establishments put on spectacular performances and processions with wonderful form, clothing, pomp and circumstance. Elsewhere the show may be more modern and charismatic, helped by the latest technology – sound and light systems, a good band (modern music) and a church hall which is more like a theatre or music-hall than anything else.  Is this to the glory of God?

So, where does that leave us?  Paul, when he came to Corinth (Maybe the entertainment hub of the Mediterranean) said, ‘And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.  And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.  And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God’ (1 Cor 2:1-5).  Paul would not have been successful by worldly standards.  Small wonder that sober Christians are not either.

I believe that in the early 1800’s there was a line of scripturally correct teaching which had a strong influence among evangelically-minded Christians worldwide.  I have little doubt that this was a movement of the Holy Spirit similar in character to the Reformation.  Brethren and other evangelicals departed from that, some institutionalising the teaching, and others taking certain aspects only. Both were wrong. 


Important Truths

Here are some of the scriptural truths to which Christians were recovered:

1.     The understanding that the church (ἐκκλησία/ekklésia/Strong 1577) is heavenly in origin and destiny.  It is not part of the world system and is here comprising all believers.  Christ is its Head (See Eph 1:22 – 2:6) – Christ has been made Head over all things to the church, and we have been made to sit in the heavenly places in Christ). 

2.     That the hope of the church is the coming of Christ to call us to be with Him (See 1 Thess 4:13-18, Rev 22:17)

3.     That the church publicly is in ruins, having departed from the Lord and the teaching of the apostles.  This was already anticipated by Paul in Acts 20:19-30, and when it had taken place, we have a path for the believer in 2 Tim 2:19-22.

Some of us who are older, and therefore more responsible, are concerned to get back to basics.  Our worlds have been turned upside down.  The more we look at our histories, the more we realise that we had departed from what we really knew (or sometimes misunderstood).  Small wonder that we want to get back to fundamentals with the Lord’s help and the direction of the Holy Spirit.


Preaching and Teaching

Now, to get back to our subject of the relationship of the church to the preaching of the glad tidings, I need to make two things clear:



Of course, this is contrary to what might be accepted generally in churches who regard themselves as authoritative corporate entities.  These bodies cannot be the church – the body and bride of Christ, whatever their intention, they are man-made organisations.  If you look at church websites, they usually emphasise what they are in the community, and include a ‘canned’ statement of faith. What is more, they usually have a single leader – pastor, vicar or whatever, and run on human management lines.  That person will have a line of teaching, partly related to his ecclesiastical hierarchy, and partly his (or her) understanding.  Hence you hear people say, ‘What does your church teach about XYZ?’.

We must be thankful that many places preach Christ as the one and only Saviour for sinners.  He bore our sins on the cross and shed His blood.  (I trust every reader of this letter is fully in the enjoyment of the certainty of these things).  You find many devout souls who love the Lord everywhere.  However, they are often defective in several ways:

Some Error in Evangelical Christendom

1.     Often (in Pentecostal, Adventist and Methodist) establishments there is Arminian error, for example – saved today and lost tomorrow, despite what the Lord says as to His sheep in John 10.

2.     In very few cases there is no real expectation of the Lord’s coming.  Many are striving to make this world a better place, with a view to the kingdom being established here (into which the Lord can come).

3.     Many deny the rapture despite its being clear in 1 Thess 4.

4.     Few understand that the church is heavenly in origin and destiny, typified in the sheet in Acts 11 – it came from heaven and went back.  It is the body of Christ here caring for His interests.  

5.     There is much confusion as to the millennium, with some thinking we are there already – not the period between the first and second resurrections (see Rev 20:4-6)

The fact they are teaching and preaching different things, often not in accordance with scripture, just emphasises this.

When a company of Christians assumes – officially or unofficially – a corporate identity, it is time to leave.  This may be painful, as my wife and I found in 2017.  But the Lord promised a hundredfold (see Matt 19:29).   We have met other Christians leaving other man-made organisations too.  The Lord knows those that are His’ ( 2 Tim 2:19).

Having left one company there is a temptation to look round and borrow things from elsewhere.  One could say ‘Where we were, we got things wrong – elsewhere they might be right’. This is the human way.  I know there are some exciting things going on in many churches, but you and your work will be truly effective if you are with the Lord individually.

I have attended several meetings recently in which the Lord has given a distinct word as to the maintenance of what has been established (the ancient landmarks) and doing things according to the due order (not like David in 2 Sam 6).  We all have to take this to heart.

Iranian Christians – from the Joel Group

Finally, I would like to reproduce something I read a few weeks ago, concerning a group of Christians with whom, I guess no reader of A Day of Small Things enjoys practical fellowship.  I get emails from the Joel Group, which I like because they give a positive view about what God is doing, in this case, in Iran.  Over the years the ayatollahs have descried churches and nominal Christians have given in.  The writer says, ‘The fastest-growing church in the world has taken root in one of the most unexpected and radicalized nations on earth, according to ‘Sheep Among Wolves’, an outstanding two-hour documentary about revival. The Iranian awakening is a rapidly reproducing discipleship movement that owns no property or buildings, has no central leadership, and is predominantly led by women.  He goes on:

Efforts by the ayatollahs to destroy Christianity have backfired but have served to refine and purify the church. “What persecution did was destroy the churches that were only about converts,” the Iranian church leader noted. “Converts run away from persecution, but disciples are willing to die for the Lord in persecution.”  Often a disciple-making movement begins the first moment someone comes into contact with an unbeliever. “Everything is founded on prayer. We find people of peace through prayer. We even find locations through prayer,” the Iranian church leader noted. “Jesus has gone faster than us. He has come in their dreams or he’s come miraculously in their lives. When we hear this, we know that Jesus has gone ahead of us.”

I can relate to this.  Read it.  Watch that video, or read George Thomas’s account.

Sosthenes Hoadelphos

January 2020 

Who can Preach the Gospel?


John Nelson Darby

They that were Scattered Abroad went Everywhere, Preaching the Word  Acts 8:4.

Paul prayed ‘that the word of the Lord may have free course’(2 Thess 3:1).  All true Christians should pray for that too.  But alas, preaching is beset by human perverseness, especially in establishments of any sect or denomination where only appointed or ordained individuals are permitted to preach.  Scripture does not support ordination or authorisation – whichever word is used.  In a world under condemnation, there are sinners ready to perish.  Ordination and the distinction between laity and clergy (which includes so-called lay preachers) was not known in the early church – nor is it scriptural.

No human qualification should be needed in order to declare to them God’s remedy in love: that Jesus died for sinners.  Man has set up restrictions: the gospel which was ‘to be preached to every creature under heaven’(Col 1:23) has been bound and shackled.  Multitudes have been shut out from the springs of life for want of hearing a clear invitation which should have been upon the lips of all who have drunk of the living waters.  The Spirit of God has been grieved.

The questions are –

  1. Do those in appointed office have the Spirit of God?
  2. Can any member of the church of God with love for souls preach if the Lord gives them the ability and opportunity?
  3. Is any human sanction needful for their doing so?
  4. Are those who are not ordained, or otherwise appointed, disqualified from preaching?

As to Christians speaking in the church, the only restriction is, ‘Let your women keep silence in the churches’ (1 Cor 13:34).  Women have other blessed services.  Many godly women have spiritual gifts, and we read elsewhere the directions for their exercise (in the home, with their heads covered – see 1 Cor 11:5).  They were not to use them in the church, because that would be out of order.

The apostle says, ‘every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation’(v. 26).   So, if God has given some men the ability to speak, they were to speak in an orderly way in the power of the Holy Spirit:  not all at once or every day, but as God led them.  Because of the presence of the indwelling Spirit is in the church, it is built up, and God is worshipped  ‘in spirit and in truth’(John 4:24).

It is most mischievous to say that times have changed.  The Spirit of God does not break His own order by systematic rules.   Christ initially gave in his church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers; ‘for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, . . . speaking the truth in love, [that we] may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love’ (Eph 4:11-16) .  Some quote to justify ordination, ‘the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2).  But the thing committed here was the doctrine: it does not appear that they were ordained for the purpose.

Human prescription regulates everything in matters of religion, as in politics, commerce, education and most other aspects of life.  The result of this is that much has been lost in the public profession: the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge, for example.    If that is true, then the effectiveness of the word is further weakened by asserting that the Spirit of God is has left the Church.  This then raises the question: ‘What are we, and where are we – are we the church of God without the Spirit?’   If the Spirit is not there, all union between Christ and His members will have been cut off, and the promise, ‘I am with you always, even unto the end of the world’ (Matt 28:20) made of no effect.  It would no longer be the church.

But present-day disciples of Jesus know that He is with them in spite of public failure; and that He said, ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matt 18:20).  His Spirit is with them for instruction and blessing.

The question becomes more critical when we consider speaking outside of the church.  We read, ‘They that were scattered abroad, went everywhere preaching the word’ (Acts 8:4). – that was all except the apostles. ’The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord’ (Acts 11:21).  The idea of ordination had never occurred to them.  Paul preached without any other mission than the Lord’s glory and His word.  He preached everywhere including synagogues and encouraged others to do the same.  He said simply, ‘I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak’(2 Cor 4:13) .  Apollos too preached very effectively, and it is said that, when Paul would have sent him from Ephesus to Corinth, he would not go.  He was not ordained, and earlier knew only the baptism of John.  Aquila and Priscilla had‘expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly’ (Acts 18:26). [Note that we have here a woman performing a very vital and authoritative service in the right way.  She was as competent as any].

In the previous dispensation, much of the order was according to birth.  Nevertheless, there was a clear distinction according to position – priests, Levites, princes, Nethinim etc.  However, even in Jewish worship, far greater liberty was permitted than in the restricted systems of the present day. ‘Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on’ (Acts 13:15).   When Eldad and Medad prophesied by the Spirit in the camp, without coming to the door of the tabernacle, Moses said, ‘Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!’ (Num 11:29).

There is therefore ample evidence from Scripture to an impartial mind.  Appropriately gifted Christian men have the liberty and right to speak, in or out of the church, without needing any human authority.   This is the dispensation of the outpouring of the Spirit qualifying for speaking of Jesus all who can do so.  The assumption of priesthood by any person is wrong (save as all believers are priests).  Priesthood and kingship belong to Christ alone.

At Pentecost, 120 were assembled together and spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance (See Acts 2:4).  And Peter, standing up, explains to the Jews that they were not drunk, but it was what was spoken of by Joel, ‘I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy’ (Joel 2:29).  The Spirit was poured on people without distinction – men and women, young and old, rich and poor, even slaves.   Subsequent history has been to create classes according to social, academic, racial, financial and ecclesiastical status.  This has been a cause of the loss of power in Christendom.  And the consequence – unrestrained irregularities in the church.

There are, of course, other services such as pastoral care.   A good shepherd will go after the scattered sheep in order to present God’s glad tidings to them, and to help them further in their souls.  One significant advantage of God’s order is that all men and women are able to fulfil their part according to the gifts that God has given them.  Those who should be teachers, shepherds or evangelists should not be hindered due to the lack of official academic and theological qualifications. This ought to be obvious: God appoints the field of their operations, in order do the Lord’s work.   Persons should not be prevented by the spirit of Diotrephes in the system.   God’s manifold grace and the gifts that He has given to the church blend together in true harmony and love in the body of Christ.

Nothing demonstrates the preference of man’s authority to the Lord’s more than the way in which the free and unrestrained proclamation of the gospel of God’s grace is discredited.  Those who should be preaching are obliged to modify their message and restrict their work, for fear they should be in breach of the authority which has placed them in their appointed position.  For example, an area of the country is destitute of the gospel, despite a lot of religious activity.  One in whose heart God has put the desire and whose mouth He has opened to speak of His love, goes and preaches there, and many souls previously in darkness are blessed.  The district is already full of men and women holding office in the various churches, but who are not shepherds and do not preach a sound gospel – replacing it with the fleshly excitement and emotional happiness of popular charismatics, or teaching doctrines which deny the deity of Christ, or telling souls that God’s love is such that they can attain salvation by their own works – or are just as the word to Sardis – dead.  What is the labourer to do in these circumstances? – Is leave souls at the mercy of these unsound church leaders, or is he to abandon them altogether?  There is no godly righteousness in either.  Faithfulness to Christ demands that he should preach to those who in need.  However, he is restricted in his activities by the systems (of whatever denomination) which have also sanctioned those appointees who harm poor souls.  The church hierarchy, even if formed of devout Christians, must recognise their officially sanctioned ministers and pastors and reject faithful men of God, working in the power and guidance of the Spirit of God, but who do not hold the appropriate office and qualifications[*].

So why does one take an ecclesiastical office – vicar in the Church of England, pastor or minister in the Baptists or Methodists etc.?  Because it is the only way to serve within the confines of the system.  One who habitually waits on the Lord is obligated to work in an organisation which is not regulated by the Lord’s headship.  The Master’s service can be undertaken in complete, unhindered dependence on the Spirit of God.  If service does not fulfil the Lord’s own time, place, and purpose, servants are what Paul calls busybodies (see2 Thess 3:11), whatever may be the apparent (defective) results of their labours.

One further observation: we ‘should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints’ (Jude v.3).  Look at the multitude of conflicting interests in the church – ‘wars and fightings’(James 4:1) amongst brethren.  So much spiritual and natural energy is spent on defending one human system against another.  Ask calmly: ‘For what are we contending?’  If the contention is for our own views or interests, or to support the system to which we owe allegiance, God cannot support us.  It is not for the things of Christ; it is not of His Spirit.

All this shows that these traditional opinions are worthless and deeply injurious to the glory of God unless based upon His word.  Let it be observed that the liberty of the believer is not the spirit of insubordination, but of entire subjection to the Spirit: not the spirit of enthusiasm, but of a sound mind – of a mind at one with God, which alone gives righteous judgment.  And let the people of God wait on Him for His guidance.  It is a time in which God is separating reality from mere outward form.  May God work abundantly fill His labourers with His spirit!  ‘The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest’(Matt 9:37-38).


Based on J N Darby: ‘Christian Liberty of Preaching and Teaching the Lord Jesus Christ’ – JND’s Collected Writings Vol 1 Ecclesiastical 1 page 68



[*]In modern times, there may be more lay preachers due to limitations of resources.  Packaged lectures, even with PowerPoint presentations, may be used to spread a word.  Such sermons, cannot be energised by st Spirit of God, meeting the needs of those who attend these preachings. [Sosthenes]

The Complete Work of Christ on the Cross – And the error as to the Abandonment

I am sure that Jim Taylor (JTJr) and his followers did not, or do not, deny Christ’s atoning work. But what does that error lead to? It leads to the making of the ‘abandonment’ the standard for separation. Instead of the work completed on the cross, they say that there was no communion until the resurrection. ‘No communion’ then is made to affect the relationships even between believers not walking in the same pathway and even in families. It is a complete despisal of God’s grace.

And we all know of the heartache that ensued.


I am aware, and have had correspondence with persons who are with the Exclusive Brethren and related systems.  I sorrow over those who have been side-tracked into sectarian error, claiming their way, and their apostolic leadership, is the one and only right Christian path.  My concern is not so much that they eschew normal relationships with other Christians, but that they adhere to a corruption of the wonderful gospel of the grace of God.  We might just feel sorry for them, but it is serious.  Paul said, ‘But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed’ (Gal 1:8-9).  I am seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and of others who are familiar with these groups of Christians, as to how to help our brethren in the spirit of grace.

It has been said that if we go astray, we start by going astray as to the gospel.  It is easy to look at a wrong system and judge it by the outward works.  Indeed, the Lord said, ‘By their fruits ye shall know them’ (Matt 7:20).  You see a system marked by legality, authoritarian leadership standing between the person and the Lord, and the rejection and despisal of others for whom the Lord paid an enormous price.  Persons caught up in that system must feel obliged to follow it in order to assuage their guilt. If so, they cannot have peace with God.  They must be defective in their appreciation of the glad tidings.

Do they believe that our sins were borne by our Lord Jesus and His whole atoning work was complete when He suffered being forsaken by God in the three hours of darkness on the cross?   Or did the ‘abandonment’ – the word used by Taylor – extend to the resurrection, three days later.  If the latter were true, then our Lord would have gone into death with sin upon Him.  He could not have therefore been the ‘offering without blemish’ (Lev 9:2).  He could not have atoned for our sins.

James Taylor Senior (1870-1953)

I believe, and this is supported by scripture – ‘His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree’ (1 Peter 2:24), that He laid down His life in communion with His Father.  James Taylor Senior (1870-1953), whose ministry was totally different from his son’s, said , ‘On the cross you can understand that the thought of relationship ceases when He was abandoned. When the abandonment is over He prayed to the Father and said, ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’ (Luke 23:46).  But during the forsaking there could be no link. You could not have atonement if there were.  That would be in the three hours.   ‘Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.  I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee’ (Psalm 22:21-22).  The answer to God hearing Him from the horns of the unicorns is resurrection. The cry would be after the three hours of darkness. God would not leave Him in the meshes of the power of evil here.  He was heard from that point.

He was completely forsaken, and this cannot be emphasised too much. He, as bearing sin, was under God’s displeasure at that time; there was total abandonment, otherwise there could not be a true dealing with sin.  At our best, none of us judges sin rightly.  The idea in atonement is that sin was measured not only by God, but by Man.  On the cross the Lord fully measured sin according to what it is in God’s account; we never could do that.  At the cross you have a Man estimating it infinitely. He estimated it according to God’s estimate of it, and removed it accordingly; so that it is only on the cross you have a true estimate and judgment of sin.’

The message is clear, even if the language is a bit difficult.

I am sure that Jim Taylor (JTJr) and his followers did not, or do not, deny Christ’s atoning work.  But what does that error lead to?  It leads to the making of the ‘abandonment’ the standard for separation.  Instead of the work completed on the cross, they say that there was no communion until the resurrection.  ‘No communion’ then is made to affect the relationships even between believers not walking in the same pathway and even in families.  It is a complete despisal of God’s grace.

And we all know of the heartache that ensued.

Christ is the Saviour of Sinners

Christ is the Saviour of sinners,
Christ is the Saviour for me;
Long I was chained in sin’s darkness,
Now by His grace I am free.
Saviour of sinners,
Saviour of sinners like me,
Giving Himself as a ransom –
This is the Saviour for me.


Christ is the Saviour of sinners,
Christ is the Saviour for me;
Long I was chained in sin’s darkness,
Now by His grace I am free.

     Saviour of sinners,
     Saviour of sinners like me,
     Giving Himself as a ransom –
     This is the Saviour for me.
Now I can say I am pardoned,
Happy and justified, free,
Saved by my blessed Redeemer –
This is the Saviour for me.
Just as I was He received me,
Seeking from judgment to flee;
Now there is no condemnation –
This is the Saviour for me.
Loved with a love that’s unchanging,
Blessed with all blessings so free,
How shall I tell out His praises!
This is the Saviour for me.
Soon shall the glory be dawning,
Then, when His face I shall see,
Sing, O my soul, in thy gladness,
This is the Saviour for me!

Dr Heyman Wreford (1850-1934)


Little Flock Hymn Book (1951(102), 1962(122), 1973(122)).



Defence of the Glad Tidings – Do our Children really know the Gospel?

A couple of Lord’s Days ago, my wife and I were at the house of Christian friends.  Their grandchildren were there, and we sang a few children’s hymns.  Of course, one was that perennial favourite, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’.  When they sang those words: ‘If I love Him when I die, He will take me home on high’, I thought ‘Wow! Are we teaching our children THAT?

Of course I would not be so narrow minded to stop children singing that hymn.  If at a tender age, our young children can speak of Jesus’ love – that’s good.  If they believe it from their hearts – that’s better.  Nor do I expect them to be judicious as to the words.  It’s taken me many years to think about them.  Indeed, the thoughts knowing the Lord’s love, of believing the Bible, and trusting Him for everything, are good.

I note the verse containing these words was not in the original poem by Anna Warner.  I am not sure whether they were in hymn lyrics by William Bradbury, there appears to be many versions.  So it is clear that many have been concerned as to the implied doctrine in this and other children’s favourites, and have sought to modify the words.

Of course we know that our salvation is not conditional on our loving Him at the moment of death.  The Lord’s work is a completed work: by accepting the Lord Jesus as my Saviour – He having died for my sins, I am saved for both time and eternity.

But I look back to my childhood in the 1950’s, and think: ‘Did I see Christianity – and more specifically the Christian meetings I attended, as a sphere of love and grace, or as a religion where I outwardly tried to keep to a level of conduct, making me believe that I was a better Christian than others?  At the same time did I have a knowledge of the Lord Jesus as my Saviour?  Was I saved?’  The answers to these were clear to me now.  I thought myself better; I did not know if I was saved or not (and I was worried about that), and I saw Christianity as a series of rules protecting me from a world which was going to be judged.  My attitude was not one of repentance. I could talk about having a personal link with the Lord, but I don’t think I really had one.  No doubt I had attended many good preachings, but the message did not sink in.  Of course God was gracious.  But I am sure I was well into my 20’s before I really had peace, the assurance of salvation and of the indwelling Spirit of God. I don’t think my experience was untypical.

Here is a challenge for Christian parents, and those with influence in local gatherings.  Do we really ensure that our young people understand the gospel of God’s grace.  Of course a young person has to learn things by experience.  But what are they getting from what they hear – and sing?

Some hymns do convey the true gospel message, for example, one that is a favourite amongst children in the company we meet with is:children-singing

Christ is the Saviour of sinners,
Christ is the Saviour for me;
Long I was chained in sin’s darkness,
Now by His grace I am free.

     Saviour of sinners,
     Saviour of sinners like me,
     Giving Himself as a ransom –
     This is the Saviour for me.
Now I can say I am pardoned,
Happy and justified, free,
Saved by my blessed Redeemer –
This is the Saviour for me.
Just as I was He received me,
Seeking from judgment to flee;
Now there is no condemnation –
This is the Saviour for me.
Loved with a love that’s unchanging,
Blessed with all blessings so free,
How shall I tell out His praises!
This is the Saviour for me.
Soon shall the glory be dawning,
Then, when His face I shall see,
Sing, O my soul, in thy gladness,
This is the Saviour for me!

Dr Heyman Wreford (1850-1934)


Little Flock Hymn Book (1951(102), 1962(122), 1973(122)).



Christ Lifted Up

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

In John 3, the Lord emphasises the fact that He came from heaven.  He works with men from that point of view.  He testifies to man as to what is of heaven, from heaven, and what is man needs to be fit for heaven.  That requires new birth.

John 3

New Birth

Nicodemus had a mere human conviction of Christ; he knew that He was a teacher come from God because of His miracles.  The Lord told him that he had to be born again.  Of course, as he looked on things according to man, albeit a religious man.  He did not understand what the Lord was talking about.

Being born again is not like some say, having a new nature.  That would again be human.  If a person has only a human conviction, his or her conscience is not affected, and has no desire to be with Jesus, because Jesus is not attractive to the natural man (see Isa. 53:2).  Indeed, he doesn’t even care; he is just interested in what is here – family, politics, sport etc.  Although he hopes to go to heaven when he dies, he does not find news from heaven interesting.  But how will he be in heaven if Christ, the very centre of heaven’s delight, has no attraction for his heart?  Unless, of course he has a totally wrong impression of heaven and thinks of it as a purely earthly paradise [Sosthenes’ addition].

On the other hand, the first thing that a person who has been born of the Spirit realises that he is lost and all wrong, like a bad tree which can never get better.  He will be very anxious about that: sin is pressing on his conscience and plaguing his heart.  But there is not a sin that Christ has not died for.  He has put Himself in the sinner’s place before God.  ‘He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him’ (2 Cor 5:21).  So the born again sinner sees Him on the cross, answering for him because he could not answer for himself.  Christ has done everything that could bar his access to God.


Christ lifted up

God gave His Son – this is the glad tidings of grace. ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up. … For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3:14,16.  Nothing but the crucifixion of the blessed Lord could meet the sinner’s case.

He had to be lifted up.  He knew everything that that would necessitate. He had came to do His Father’s will, and that will was our salvation.  Consequently He drank that cup of wrath in love and quietness in order that the sinner might not.  He made peace by the blood of His cross (see Col 1:20)

God set His seal in righteousness when He said, ‘Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool’ (Psalm 110:1Heb 1:13).  Grace now reigns through righteousness (see Rom 5:21) – righteousness having been made good before the whole universe.


Go in Peace

Let none of us doubt the efficacy of what Jesus has done.  Have we heard in His quiet voice that the ‘Son of man must be lifted up’ (John 3:14)?    Let Him tell us why.  Let us learn how blessed it is to live in the light of God, where light shows us (not just our sins) to be white as snow. (see Isa 1:18).  May we learn what it is to walk in the light of His countenance.


Summary by Sosthenes

Based on   ‘Notes of an Address on John 3’ – Collected Writings vol. 21 (Evangelic 2) page 127 ,

February 2016


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


Plymouth – 17th June 1846

To Mr B R

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours affectionately

Plymouth – 29th June 1846


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



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

[2] possibly referring to 1 Cor 1: 30

Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013

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

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

Darby on Romans – The First few Verses of Romans

The glad tidings have a double character:

The accomplishment of promise
The Person of the Son of God designated in power through resurrection.
That divine power, which raised Him from the dead, and proved Him to be Son of God, was manifested throughout His life in the holiness which never allowed sin to enter for an instant. He was quickened by the Spirit (lit. in Spirit), but His holiness, separation to God, was by the Spirit also. Resurrection was the public demonstration that He was the Son of God in power, having secured the victory over the full wages of sin. The opened eye would have seen the same power in the absolute and perfect holiness all through His sinless life.

Rome Paul’s Commission to preach the Glad Tidings

Paul had never been to Rome, so he is writing from the point of view of his universal mission to the Gentiles. He reasons out the gospel: the state of man, the place the law held, and the Jews’ position. :

The Lord had called him and given him a personal mission to the Gentiles. He was an apostle by God’s calling, separated to the gospel out from the whole human race.  He was directly connected with Christ in glory   He was a witness of the glorified Lord Jesus, unconnected with the Messiah down here or Jesus after the flesh in His earthly (Jewish) associations.  Paul witnessed to a Christ who had suffered death and accomplished redemption, and who was now the glorified Man, the Beginning and Head of creation.

Paul was sent forth into active service by the Holy Spirit from Antioch. ‘Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.’ (Acts 13:2)   He received his commission directly from the Lord, and was separated to the glad tidings of God by the Holy Spirit.

The glad tidings have a double character:

  1. The accomplishment of promise
  2. The Person of the Son of God designated in power through resurrection.

The divine power, which raised Him from the dead, proving Him to be Son of God, was manifested throughout His life of holiness.  He was quickened by the Spirit (lit. in Spirit), but His holiness, never allowed sin to enter for an instant. Resurrection was the public demonstration that He was the Son of God in power, having secured the victory over the full wages of sin.   The opened eye would have seen the same power in the absolute and perfect holiness all through His sinless life.

God, in His goodness, approached man in grace. God came to him. This is the true gospel of God.  He came in power and grace, into the place where sin and death reigned.  He is the Son; He has power to deliver, but above all He is the Son of God. Grace made Him a man, but resurrection proved Him to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness. There is One revealed to us in perfect grace, but who in grace has a perfect claim over our souls.

He is from God. In the Person of the Son, God accomplished His promise, and secured victory over death.  His righteousness is revealed, meeting the need of man. This is the general aspect: man’s responsibility and man’s need will follow. But we must first have the gospel as it is for God and before God, though all in grace to us.   God has Himself brought in grace and glory.

As Romans is foundational, the testimony that Christ is Son of God is resurrection, not glory. His ascension is assumed as is the church’s, but already in resurrection God had put His seal on Christ’s Person and His work, redemption having been accomplished, sin atoned for, death overcome and Satan’s stronghold brought to nothing. The whole case between man and God had been met and established  on a new ground.

In Romans some things are not gone into:

  1. The glories which result according to the counsels of God
  2. Our resurrection with Christ
  3. Union with Him (which follows our resurrection with Christ)

Individual justification, not union is the subject of Romans. The assembly is not even presented.  Christ is viewed as risen alone.  Romans does cover our death with Him, because this was necessary to close the old evil, and bring us into a state where we are capable of living with God as fully delivered.

Paul’s mission concerned obedience to the faith (not the law) and the subjection of men’s souls to the truth of the revelation of God’s Son, the risen Man, the Lord Jesus. This can only be in grace, for grace could not come without truth, for what would grace be about, and how else should God be revealed? But God is light, and God is love – we know these in grace and truth.

What marvellous grace it is to see the whole power of evil broken, destroyed, by Him, who was willing to enter into the gloomy chamber of death. In submitting to death, He took upon Himself all the weakness of mortal man,  completely and absolutely delivering him.

There was no difference between Jew and Greek.  To the Gentile it was the revelation of God in grace; to the Jew it was the fulfilment of the gospel that had been announced beforehand by the prophets.  It was now a time to secure people for His Name.

Now we have Paul’s own feelings for those in Rome.  The believers already in Rome were the called of Jesus Christ, beloved of God, and saints by His calling.  The love of Christ made those he had not even seen the objects of his heart, and precious to him.  He expresses his desire to see them. He is apostle by right, but in heart he is their servant; and with the most true and ardent brotherly love, desires to impart t some spiritual gift, but in unfeigned grace he would be comforted in their mutual faith.  He was a ‘debtor to Greeks and barbarians’ (v.14) and he was ready to preach the glad tidings to them. It was ‘to the Jew first, and also to the Greek’ (v. 15). It was salvation to a sinful Jew, who had to come in in mercy, by faith, just like a Gentile.

He was not ashamed of the glad tidings; they were ‘the power of God unto salvation’ (v. 15) – simple words, but how much they contain!  It is not man acting for God, but God acting for man, in man’s favour, to deliver him from the state he was in – to save him.  How marvellous is the grace that sees the whole power of evil broken, destroyed, by Him, who was willing to enter into the gloomy chamber, taking upon Himself all man’s weakness in death,  completely and absolutely delivering him whose penalty He had borne!

Thus, in the gospel, God intervened, accomplishing a salvation which was entirely His own work.   Man came to have part in it by faith without adding anything whatsoever to it.  God be praised that it is so!  Whether for righteousness or for power,  it is a perfect divine work.  The righteousness of God is revealed on the principle of faith to faith. Nothing had to be done by man; nothing was required from man. It is on the principle of faith that it might be by grace. The object is love, God’s intrinsic nature. God’s righteousness was revealed on the principle of faith, not works. The just were to live by faith.

 A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans, with additional material from JND’s Synopsis – Romans.

Darby Simplified – The First Man and the Second

The moment I, as a poor sinner, look by faith to Jesus as my divine sin-bearer, all my sins are gone – they are put out of God’s sight for ever. Christ is in heaven – He could not take my sin there. I am pardoned through His blood, peace having been made through the blood of the cross. And the glorified Man is in heaven, appearing in the presence of God for us – of His Father and our Father, of His God and our God.

A preaching on Genesis 3 by John Nelson Darby

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

After covering the basics of the gospel, Darby said that sin must be put away perfectly. The sinner brought back to God must be spotless. Christ did not enter heaven again until He had settled the whole question of our sins and of sin itself. The moment I, as a poor sinner, look by faith to Jesus as my divine sin-bearer, all my sins are gone – they are put out of God’s sight for ever.   I am pardoned through His blood, peace having been made through the blood of the cross. And the glorified Man is in heaven, appearing in the presence of God for us – of His Father and our Father, of His God and our God. No sin there

Man has a Conscience

Man is by nature a ruined sinner, shut out by sin from the presence of God with no way back in his present state. The last Adam brings us back, not to an earthly paradise, but into the very presence of God in heaven. God does not bring a sinner back to innocence, but to the “righteousness of God”.   The believer is “made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

Man has a conscience – he knows good and evil. Even if a godless man steals, his consciences tells him that he has done wrong.

Now look at Satan’s temptation. He wanted to make God’s creatures think that God had been keeping something that would be for their good back from them – that He was jealous of their becoming as Himself. Satan’s great lie was, “Ye shall not surely die.” (v.4) It is his constant aim to make men believe that the consequence of sin will not be all that God has said it would be.

The Woman’s Sin

The woman listened to Satan; she lusted. Her heart was away from God, so she followed her own way – just like men do now, trying to make themselves comfortable away from God. Would you to meet God just as you are? God would say ‘Come and be judged’. So you would hide from God, as Adam and Eve did. Not only did they hide themselves from God, they hid themselves from themselves and from one another: the covering of the fig-leaves was just to hide the shame of their nakedness. And when they were hiding away from God, they were away from the only source of blessing. The light had come in and they wanted to get as far from it as possible.

Let us look at the character of their sin. They believed that the devil had told the truth, and that God did not. Satan wanted them to think that God was keeping from them the very best thing they could possibly have. And men are still believing the devil’s lie – hoping to get into heaven their own way, when God has said that nothing defiled shall enter in. Men are looking to Satan for happiness, instead of believing God. They cannot believe that God wants to make him happy.

Now I may say, ‘I have done very little wrong.’ But I am still making God a liar. All Adam did was to eat an apple. What harm was there in eating an apple? Alas! Adam and Eve cast off God, and that was the harm. Whether it was eating an apple, or killing a man, as Cain did later, the principle was the same. It was casting aside God’s authority, and making Him a liar.

Adam hides himself from God. He wanted to get out of His presence?  But the God of love brings the knowledge of the harm into man’s conscience. He does that in love, for if He were dealing with men in judgment He would have left them under it.

God called to Adam. When God speaks, it awakes the conscience; but this is not conversion. God speaks to show man to himself, and bring him back to blessing. His conscience is awakened and that brings him back to the presence of God. You would not hide from a policeman if you have done nothing wrong. But you try to hide yourself from God, because you have done what you know He hates, and that separates you from Him. Man cannot bear to meet God. Innocence, once gone, can never be restored.

The Effect of Sin

Sin has made man get away from God, and it has forced God to drive him from His presence. Man is out of paradise: toil, suffering, sorrow, sickness and death tell us that. And there is only one way back to God, and that is through the Second Man. Christ comes in by the door into the sheepfold, so there is no getting in some other way. He is the door, and whoever enters must come by Him. The flaming sword shut every other avenue to the tree of life. There was no possibility of creeping up to it by some unguarded path.

We also try to excuse ourselves. Adam laid the blame on the woman. “The woman whom thou gavest me, etc.” (v.12) It was as much as saying, ‘Why did you give me this woman? It was your gift caused the sin’. But Adam is condemned by the very excuse. “Because thou hast hearkened etc.” (v.17). Our excuses become our condemnation.

God does not comfort Adam or his wife. He shows man his sin to convict his conscience, not to make him happy. If my child has been naughty, do I wish him to be happy about it? No, I want to forgive him, but he must first feel his sin. God must have us see that we have sinned against Him. We justify God in condemning us. To see sin as God sees it is repentance. It is “truth in the inward parts.” It is holiness and truth in the heart.

God’s Way

God did not leave these poor condemned sinners without comfort. He said to the serpent, “The seed of the woman shall bruise thy head.” It was a new thing that God was bringing in – a new person and a new way. Christ was ‘the seed’. Blessing would come by the Seed of the woman through whom the curse had entered. This was perfection of grace. If sin had come in, sin had to be put away entirely. He who shut man out from heaven has fully provided that which shall shut him in again. We brought back to God through the precious blood of Christ. Christ loved us and gave Himself for us. That is God’s grace.

God commends his love to us, in that, we being still sinners, Christ has died for us.” (Rom. 5:8 Darby) We do not want a good Adam, – but a great God and Saviour. In the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, see all the wrath of God for sin was laid upon Jesus.

Sin must be put away perfectly. The sinner brought back to God must be spotless. Christ did not enter heaven again until He had accomplished this. “When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down,” (Heb 1:3). When all was finished, He took the throne of righteousness. Adam was cast out of the earthly paradise; Christ, as the last Adam, is in the heavenly paradise.

God justifies me when He says, ‘My Son has been given for your soul, and died for sin’. I am clothed with Christ; I am become the righteousness of God. What more could I have or want? I do not know Him fully, but He has redeemed me; and I am in Him that is the life. He is in me, and I in Him; and where He is, there I shall be in due time. I am still in the body, and bear about with me the bondage of corruption; but Satan’s power is crushed. The serpent’s head is bruised. He has been overcome: Christ went down under the full power of him that had the power of death; and He came up from it triumphant, for it was not possible He should be held by death.

He has overcome

We are told, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). We are not to overcome him (we could never do that), but when he meets Christ in me, he cannot stand that, he must flee.

The Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven in love, devoted Himself to God for our salvation. He drank the cup of wrath for sin; He tasted death, shut out from God’s presence that He might bring us back into the presence of God without judgment and without sin. This makes us happy and blessed for ever. He knew what the holiness of God was, and what His wrath was; and therefore He knew what He was delivering us from. How I shall hate sin, if I have seen Christ agonising for mine upon the cross! This changes my heart.

The moment I, as a poor sinner, look by faith to Jesus as my divine sin-bearer, all my sins are gone – they are put out of God’s sight for ever.  Christ is in heaven – He could not take my sin there. I am pardoned through His blood, peace having been made through the blood of the cross. And the glorified Man is in heaven, appearing in the presence of God for us – of His Father and our Father, of His God and our God.