The Lord’s Coming – Is that REALLY our Expectation?

How much does the hope of the Lord’s return (the rapture) feature in our Christian meetings – an expectation – a hope.  Is it the hope of troubles being ended, of divisions being over, of our poor old bodies being changed  – or the hope of seeing our Saviour whom we love, and being with Him?  Is it also the joy of knowing that at that time, Jesus will have His bride (us!) united to Him in glory.   Is the degree of the expectation of Christ’s imminent return, the thermometer measuring our company’s spiritual warmth?

A few weeks ago, I was at a meeting for fellowship and ministry in the pleasant town of Malvern in Worcestershire England.    The brother serving gave an address on the Lord’s coming. He started with a story:

An elderly sister had spoken to him recently, and said how she woke up during the night with troubles on her mind, especially those amongst the Christian group she was with.  But there were others – the world, her family, herself – particularly her health.  Then she said “Wouldn’t it be great if I woke up thinking, ‘This is the day the Lord is going to come!’  Wouldn’t that make a great difference to the day – and to me?”

The brother serving read from:

  • Luke 12:45That bondman should say in his heart, My lord delays to come’
  • 1 Peter 5:1The elders which are among you I exhort, who am their fellow-elder and witness of the sufferings of the Christ, who also am partaker of the glory about to be revealed’
  • 1 Thess 4:17We, the living who remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall be always with the Lord’

This raises questions:

–           Am I really looking forward for Him to come?

–           Is there anything I ought to put right before He comes?

–           Is what I plan to do today according to the Lord’s will?

He quoted J N Darby: ‘The expectation of the return of Christ is the exact measure (the thermometer, so to speak) of the life of the church’ (Collected Writings vol 2 – Prophetic 1 p 292 – Lecture 3 of 11 on ; The Hopes of the Church of God) – See also A Day of Small Things summary – The Second Coming of Christ [*]

This made me think of our Christian gatherings.  How much does the hope of the Lord’s return (the rapture) feature in our meetings – an expectation – a hope.  Is it the hope of troubles being ended, of divisions being over, of our poor old bodies being changed  – or the hope of seeing our Saviour whom we love, and being with Him?  Is it also the joy of knowing that at that time, Jesus will have His bride (us!) united to Him in glory.   Is the degree of the expectation of Christ’s imminent return, the thermometer measuring our company’s spiritual warmth?

Darby wrote his poem ‘Hope’ in 1881, shortly before he was taken.  Unlike many of his poems, it was written in the plural – the company rather than the individual.

And shall we see Thy face,
And hear Thy heavenly voice,
Well known to us in present grace!
Well may our hearts rejoice.
 
We wait to see Thee, Lord!
Yet now within our hearts
Thou dwell’st in love, that doth afford
The joy that love imparts.
 
Yet still we wait for Thee,
To see Thee as Thou art,
Be with Thee, like Thee, Lord, and free
To love with all our heart.
 

Hope by J N Darby (1800-82)

Little Flock 1962/1973 editions – Hymn no 270

Many of the churches in our area have websites.  I have been looking at these, sometimes with blogs, or reproduced sermons, and often with a ‘Statement of Faith’ (either their own or that of the Evangelical Alliance, or in some cases the Nicene Creed[†].

There were traditional churches – Church of England, Baptist, Methodist

There were evangelical churches – Missions, FIEC affiliates, former Open Brethren

Many were charismatic and Pentecostal Churches with names such as: Kings Church , The Word House, King’s Treasure, New Life, Elim Pentecostal, the Incorruptible Word Ministries, The Redeemed Christian Church of God, The Redeemed Evangelical Church of Christ, Jesus Revival Ministries, Beulah Christian Fellowship, House of Favour, Peace & Love Assembly

What saddened me was that not a single one of these seemed to have any appreciation of the present living hope of the church – His imminent coming and the joy of being with Him.  Their outlook appeared totally earth-bound – helping less fortunate people, enjoying exhilarating services, music with choirs and bands, youth outreach (now using social media) etc.  I do not doubt that there are many real lovers of the Lord Jesus in those gatherings, with the full knowledge of their eternal salvation, and who have received and have the knowledge of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  They have light of the Lord’s coming to take up His glorious kingdom on earth, but it is based on a ministry that is wholly earthly.

Even those citing the Lord’s return might be hazy doctrinally.  The ‘Statements of Faith’ below†, seem not to distinguish between the rapture and the appearing and the millennium and eternity.  I guess if these things are viewed as generations in the future, they do not appear important.   Or are the church leaders wanting to avoid contention?

This does not just apply to the churches.  There are many books on prophecy which accurately portray the future, based on the Bible.  But they concentrate on events and judgments.  The joy of our Saviour’s return is often lacking.

Of course, I may be mistaken, in some ways I would like to think that I was, and if there were more who had the light, joy and hope of the rapture, I would be immensely happy.   I have not been to any services in these churches.  I have not read every book on prophecy.

We can thank God there are some places which are different.  I am aware of a couple of places who do not, nor would not, have websites, and where there is a true expectation of the Lord’s return – the meeting where we were till recently, and a nearby Gospel Hall where we know several who go there.  Maybe there are other small companies of believers meeting separately, enjoying the Lord’s support and awaiting His return.  But all this is very few in a conurbation of a quarter-million people.

May the Lord’s return be ever brighter in our hearts – and may the hope of it, and our desire to be with Him, affect our lives individually, and may it enliven our gatherings too.

May God bless you in 2018.

Sosthanes

 

[*] In ‘A Day of Small Things’, I have several articles on the rapture (mainly in summaries of J N Darby’ works – especially ‘The Present Hope of the Church’.  These cover the dispensational teaching, and the reality of the rapture, which could happen at any time, since no prophecies have to be fulfilled first.  More importantly, they also help us see the real hope – the real joy – our Lord and Saviour’s return, and our being with Him.

Some of these are:

 

 

 

[†] The new UK Evangelical Alliance’ New Statement of Faith states, ‘The personal and visible return of Jesus Christ to fulfil the purposes of God, who will raise all people to judgement, bring eternal life to the redeemed and eternal condemnation to the lost, and establish a new heaven and new earth’.  The older Worldwide Statement reads, ‘The expectation of the personal, visible return of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and glory’.   Also the ancient Nicine Creed (referenced by the Methodists) states, ‘I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come’.

The Thessalonians – Fresh in their Faith

We love His appearing, but we love Himself better. Therefore we wait for Him to take us to Himself. If our hearts have known what Himself is, we cannot confound His taking us to Himself, with His appearing. We are ‘members of his body’ (Eph 5:30). ‘Your life is hid with Christ’ (Col 3:3). He is to take us up to the Father’s house, the fullness of His own blessedness – with Christ; the blessed outshining of His Father’s love connects itself with the church’s position. All through there is an identity of blessedness with Christ in life, hope, object, all. If this hope is let into the heart, there must be a break with the world. I cannot be waiting for God’s Son from heaven if I am expecting wrath; and I cannot be waiting for God’s Son from heaven

 

 1 Thessalonians 1

When Paul wr0te to the Thessalonians who had ‘turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven’(1 Thes 1:9-10),  he amplified each statement:

  • A work of faith (v. 3)
  • A labour of love (v. 3)
  • Patience of hope (v. 3)
  • A word in power and the Holy Ghost (v. 5)
  • Received the word with affliction (v. 6)
  • Joy in the Holy Ghost (v. 6)
  • Serving the living God (v. 9)

The Thessalonians were newly converted.  They had not received much teaching, but their lives had been totally changed. No doubt they had not been satisfied with those idols from which they had turned, but now they had a hope and were happy.  They knew that wrath was to come on the earth, but they were assured that the Lord had delivered them from it.  They were really free.

 

What it means to us:

There are three ways in which scripture shows how our souls are affected by Christ’s return:

  1. As a fulfilment of our hope. Our bodies will be raised and we will be changed to be like Him.  Christ will have the church with Himself and His government will later be set up.
  2. As having the Holy Spirit. Gifts have been given now, but the result of God’s work will be seen in display.
  3. As enjoying the embrace of His love – not His outward government, but His intimate presence. See John 14:3I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also’. 

We are caught up into the Father’s house, and bear the image of the Heavenly One.   We come into the Father’s delight – loved as His Son is loved .  We enjoy His presence: ‘ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thes 4:17).

When He comes forth, the church, armies in heaven come with Him (see Rev 19:14).  They must have been raised first in order to be with Him.  It will be a display in power, and everything will be set in order.

Darby said: We love His appearing, but we love Himself better. Therefore we wait for Him to take us to Himself. If our hearts have known what Himself is, we cannot confound His taking us to Himself, with His appearing. We are ‘members of his body’ (Eph 5:30).   ‘Your life is hid with Christ’ (Col 3:3).  He is to take us up to the Father’s house, the fullness of His own blessedness – with Christ; the blessed outshining of His Father’s love connects itself with the church’s position. All through there is an identity of blessedness with Christ in life, hope, object, all. If this hope is let into the heart, there must be a break with the world. I cannot be waiting for God’s Son from heaven if I am expecting wrath; and I cannot be waiting for God’s Son from heaven if I am linked up with the world. If this world is the scene where my heart is building itself up, if I have an object in this world, Christ will spoil it all.

If He came tonight, would this be what we wanted?

 

This is a summary of paper written by John Nelson Darby.  It is entitled The Freshness of Faith 1 Thessalonians 1 published in Collected Writings Volume 21 (Evangelic 2) page 358.

Sosthenes

February 2017

 

The Things which shall be Hereafter (Rev 1:19)  – The Marriage of the Lamb

7Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb

The Marriage of the Lamb

The third in our series of forthcoming events is the marriage of the Lamb. Chronologically the Antichrist and the great tribulation probably come first, but I would like to concentrate first on the events which affect the church and the saints of our dispensation:

  1. The Rapture
  2. The Judgment Seat of Christ
  3. The Marriage of the Lamb (this note)
  4. The Millennium (to be written)

 

Revelation 19:6-9

King James Version Darby Version
6And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.7Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 6And I heard as a voice of a great crowd, and as a voice of many waters, and as a voice of strong thunders, saying, Hallelujah, for [the] Lord our God the Almighty has taken to himself kingly power.7Let us rejoice and exult, and give him glory; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready. 8And it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright [and] pure; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints.

9And he says to me, Write, Blessed [are] they who are called to the supper of the marriage of the Lamb. And he says to me, These are the true words of God.

 

The marriage is described in this passage.  I have shown the Darby version as there are expressions which he, and several modern translators, believe that the KJV rendering is inaccurate.  These are highlighted.

The Current Relationship between Christ and His Church

The church came into existence when the Holy Spirit filled the 120 or so persons who were gathered in the upper room in Acts 2:2, a number that soon grew to 5000.   From the start, she was united to Christ, and even at this early date fully capable of fulfilling her function as the wife of Christ.

The epistles often refer to the church as Christ’s body.  The body comprises only those who are alive now, not to all who will form the bride.  Nevertheless, the relationship between Christ and His assembly is clear: ‘For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church’ (Eph 5:31-32.

It is not until Revelation that we have the Church described as a bride.  His wife had made herself ready, so she was a wife before she was a bride.  The church is now the wife looking after her Husband’s affairs in His absence.  She is His trustworthy confidante. Although the marriage ceremony has not yet taken place, the relationship already exists.  There is perfect unity between Christ and His church.  Christendom publicly is something else.

When is The Marriage of the Lamb?

Before the marriage celebration of the Lamb, Babylon – the rival – will have been overthrown and judged..  It says, ‘[the] Lord our God the Almighty has taken to himself kingly power’  (v. 6 Darby).  He had taken the power, and was about to reign, but He was not actually reigning.  Hence we can say that this event would take place between the great tribulation and the millennium

The judgment seat of Christ, must precede the marriage.  No doubt ‘his wife hath made herself ready’ (v. 7would refer in part to that.  What remains is the bride’s bright clothing – the righteousnesses of the saints (v. 8 Darby).  – things that they had done which had met with God’s approval. (Note KJV appears wrong again here – most modern translations say ‘righteous deeds or acts’, which is correct – Greek δικαιώματα/dikaiōmata/Strong 1345).  What qualifications the bride has!

 

The Marriage Celebration

When a couple gets married, the persons will not have been united beforehand (at least if they have been conducting themselves according to God’s clear ordering).  Traditions might vary, but in any marriage there is generally a legal act and a celebration.  The bride is the centre of attention, beautifully dressed (hopefully comelily), and looking her best.  A new household is established, the man and the woman having both left their parental homes (see Gen 2:24 and Psalm 45:10).  The fact that the Holy Spirit introduced this concept so early in Genesis shows that the marriage relationship was always in God’s mind and purpose.

From what we have seen this will be no ordinary marriage.  We might say that legal side has already taken place.  Now it is time for a celebration of an existing relationship.  Until Satan had been overcome publicly it was not yet the time for her to be seen publicly in her beautiful radiance

It says ‘Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ v. 9.  Abraham and other Old Testament saints will be there as guests. They are children of the bridechamber, but they are not united to Christ as the church is (see Minstry of James Butler Stoney vol 6 page 116).  It has been suggested that the invitees include the king’s daughters and the daughters of Tyre in Psalm 45: 9 & 12.

  

Jerusalem as the Bride

The bride is described as a city because of her function of rule.  ‘Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.  And he [the angel] carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God…’ (Rev 21:9-11).  However, this will be seen in the millennium – the bride (or wife) of Christ, already married.

The holy Jerusalem is, of course, totally different from the millennial Jerusalem on earth, described in Ezekiel 40-44 and many other scriptures.  The city we are referring to will not be physically on the earth – indeed its foundations will be visible. Rev 21:6 describes the city as a cube 12,000 cubits (approx. 1380 miles or 2200km) in each dimension.

 

What is the difference between Christ’s heavenly and earthly bride?

The following table shows the difference between the two:

The Heavenly Bride The Earthly Bride
What The Church or Assembly Israel
Key Scriptures Rev 19:6-9 Psalm 45
Where In heaven – or at least over the earth On earth (see Ezek 40:2)
Jerusalem The holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Rev 21:2) I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain (Zech 8:3)
Relation to Christ She adores her Head She worships her Lord
When formed Starting with the Spirit’s coming, complete at the rapture Before Christ’s appearing and during the tribulation

 

Conclusion

We should guard ourselves from applying too much human logic and chronology to these holy matters.   I have not wanted to be technical, but have been feeling my way prayerfully through this holy subject.   I trust I have covered the matter justly.  If any reader feels that I have erred, please write immediately.

But it is wonderful that we are part of this beautiful bride!  Magazines are full of pictures of very beautiful women – pictures often enhanced digitally.  No such outward improvement will be required for the bride of Christ.  She will be just how Jesus wants it.

And we will be part!

God’s blessings

Sosthenes

February 2017

James Montgomery – The Lord Himself shall come

How shall we meet those eyes?
Ours on Himself we’ll cast,
And own ourselves the Saviour’s prize,
Mercy from first to last.

James Montgomery

1 The Lord Himself shall come,
And shout a quickening word;
Thousands shall answer from the tomb;
“For ever with the Lord”.

2 Then as we upward fly,
That resurrection-word
Shall be our shout of victory:
“For ever with the Lord”.

3 How shall we meet those eyes?
Ours on Himself we’ll cast,
And own ourselves the Saviour’s prize,
Mercy from first to last.

4 There with unwearied gaze
Our eyes on Him we’ll rest,
And satisfy with endless praise
Our hearts supremely blest.

5 Knowing as we are known,
How shall we love that word!
How oft repeat before the throne,
“For ever with the Lord!”

6 That resurrection-word,
That shout of victory!
Once more “For ever with the Lord,”
Amen, so let it be.

by James Montgomery (1771-1854)
v. 4 J. N. Darby 1800-82
S.M.

J N Darby – Unchanging Love – O Lord, Thy love’s unbounded, so sweet, so full, so free

O LORD, Thy love’s unbounded,
So sweet, so full, so free;
My soul is all transported
Whene’er I think of Thee!

J N Darby

O LORD, Thy love’s unbounded,
So sweet, so full, so free;
My soul is all transported
Whene’er I think of Thee!

Yet Lord, alas! what weakness
Within myself I find;
No infant’s changing pleasure
Is like my wandering mind.

And yet Thy love’s unchanging,
And doth recall my heart
To joy in all its brightness,
The peace its beams impart.

Yet sure, if in Thy presence
My soul still constant were,
Mine eye would, more familiar,
Its brighter glories bear;

And thus Thy deep perfections
Much better should I know,
And with adoring fervour
In this Thy nature grow.

Still sweet ’tis to discover,
If clouds have dimmed my sight,
When passed, eternal Lover,
Towards me, as e’er, Thou’rt bright.

Oh guard my soul, then, Jesus,
Abiding still with Thee;
And, if I wander, teach me
Soon back to Thee to flee;

That all Thy gracious favour
May to my soul be known,
And, versed in this Thy goodness,
My hopes Thyself shalt crown

John Nelson Darby (1800-82)

This is in Hymns for the  Little Flock 1962 and 1973 – No 51
Meter 7.6.7.6.

Written 1845

J N Darby – The Upward Way – Sing without ceasing, sing

SING without ceasing, sing
The Saviour’s present grace;
How all things shine
In light divine
For those who’ve seen His face.

J N Darby
SING without ceasing, sing
The Saviour’s present grace;
How all things shine
In light divine
For those who’ve seen His face.

He’s gone within the veil,
For us that place He’s won;
In Him we stand,
A heavenly band,
Where He Himself is gone.

There all’s unsullied light;
My heart lets in its rays,
And heavenly light
Makes all things bright,
Seen in that blissful gaze.

Such here on earth I am,
Though I in weakness roam;
My place on high,
God’s Self so nigh,
His presence is my home.

My heart is filled with bliss –
Heaven’s own eternal joys;
My soul at rest,
Of peace possessed,

That world its strength employs.
Thus, in divine delight
Of love so richly known,
God’s works below
With beauty glow;

His hand, His grace, I own.
And stayed by joy divine,
As hireling fills his day,
Through scenes of strife
And desert life
I tread in peace my way.

“All is a vain show around us; but that which is inside abides. When the heart gets hold of this fact, it becomes like one taken into the house to work for the day; performs the duties well, but passes through, instead of living in the circumstances . . . . The Lord keep us going on in simplicity, fulfilling as a hireling our day, till Christ shall come, and then shall every man have praise of God.”
J.N.D.

That way is upward still,
Where life and glory are;
My rest’s above,
In perfect love
The glory I shall share –

For ever with the Lord,
For ever like Him then –
And see His face
In that blest place,
My Father’s house in heaven.

John Nelson Darby (1800-82)

Written 1856
Most of the above are in Hymns for the  Little Flock 1962 and 1973 – No 12
S.M. (6.6.8.6)

The Things which shall be Hereafter (Rev 1:19)  –  The Rapture

The next event for us is the rapture. It could be at any time – today even – and applies only to the church. Because of that, there is no reference to it in the Old Testament. In scripture, the in Greek word ἁρπαγησόμεθα/harpagēsometha/Strong 726 in 1Thess 4:17. Is translated ‘caught up’. The word ‘rapture’ is a noun with the same meaning.

We should ask why is the rapture so little understood, or even accepted amongst many sincere Christians? This scripture in 1 Thess 14:13-18 is very clear:

A few weeks ago I was talking to some of my younger Christian friends regarding the various things which had happened and were yet to happen.  They had little problem with the history – creation, the fall, the flood, the Exodus, Moses receiving the law,  David, the captivity, the birth of Christ, His death and resurrection, Pentecost etc., but they had real problems with what is to come.  I thought therefore in this and a few coming letters to look at these future events so that we might be sure where we are in relation to them.

 

The Rapture

new-jerusalem-2sThe next event for us is the rapture.  It could be at any time – today even – and applies only to the church.  Because of that, there is no reference to it in the Old Testament.  In scripture, the in Greek word ἁρπαγησόμεθα/harpagēsometha/Strong 726 in 1Thess 4:17. Is translated  ‘caught up’.  The word ‘rapture’ is a noun with the same meaning.

We should ask why is the rapture so little understood, or even accepted amongst many sincere Christians?  This scripture in 1 Thess 14:13-18 is very clear: ‘But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them [Darby – are in no way to anticipate those] which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words’.  Look at a few phrases ‘the dead in Christ shall rise first’ – that encompasses all those who have been ransomed by His blood from creation onwards.  Whether we who are alive now will be taken before the rapture, none of us knows.  Paul referred to ‘we, the living’, as if he thought it would be within his lifetime.  Of course we know it was not, but he was looking forward to the Lord’s coming – we should be too.[1]

Paul also says, ‘we shall ever be with the Lord’ (v.17), and ‘them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him’.  Now when Jesus comes (the public second coming, often referred to in scripture as ‘the appearing’) the dead in Christ will be with Him – and so will be those lovers of the Lord who were alive at the rapture.  Also, ‘When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory’ (Col 3:4).  Clearly, we could not come with Him, if we were still on the earth.

The church is heavenly entity: she belongs to Christ in heaven, and her hope and glory is Christ Himself.  She looks forward to and His return to take up His rights.   Therefore the church has nothing to do with the course of events of the earth.  This makes its rapture and return with Christ so simple and clear, as we see from Col 3:4, ‘When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’ [2]

1 Cor 15:51-52 is another scripture which describes the rapture: ‘We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. ’  From this we can deduce that there will be a rallying trumpet, the whole event will be very quick, and our bodies will be changed.  The latter is also referred to in  Rom 8:23waiting for the adoption, [to wit], the redemption of our body’.

When the Lord was discoursing with his disciples immediately prior to the crucifixion, He tells them that a place was being prepared for the saints to be with Him, where He is.  ‘I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.’ (John 14:2-3).

Therefore:

  • The rapture will be sudden
  • No one knows when the rapture will be
  • The rapture will be private
  • At the rapture there will be a voice (or trumpet sound) which only Christians will hear
  • At the rapture the Lord will not come quite to the earth – just to the air
  • The rapture will affect people, whether raptured or left here: the world carries on
  • At the rapture bodies will be changed

The question often arises as to what the effect of the saints being taken will be.  Suddenly millions of people will just vanish!  Hal Lindsey, who awakened many Christians to the rapture in the 1970’s in a popular book ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’, said that there would be confusion.  I doubt it.   Christians who are ‘not of the world’ will not be missed.  Writing about future events in his second epistle to the Thessalonians Paul said, ‘God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie’ (2 Thess 2:11).  The Antichrist will conjure up a satisfactory credible explanation which will be accepted universally.

 

The Rapture and the Appearing

We must not confuse the second coming with the rapture.  At the rapture the Lord comes to the atmosphere immediately above the earth.  At the appearing He comes to the earth. Here are some differences between the rapture and the appearing:

 

RAPTURE APPEARING
No one knows when it will be It will be 7 years after the rapture
It will be private It will be very public
The Lord comes to the air The Lord comes to the earth
He comes FOR His saints He comes WITH His saints
It is followed by the great tribulation[3] It is followed by the millennium
He is the Bridegroom He is the King
He is the Morning Star He is the Sun of Righteousness
It is for the Church It is not for the Church
There is little in prophecy There is much in prophecy
The world will carry on Christ will reign
The man of sin will be revealed Satan will be bound
There will be the judgment seat of Christ[3] The world will be judged
People will be translated Nobody will be translated
People will believe a lie The truth will be acknowledged

 

Two Resurrections

Something else many Christians do not realise is the fact there will be two resurrections.  The Old Testament did not distinguish between the two.  John made the distinction very clear.  When the Lord was here, He said ‘all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 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’ (John 5:28-29).   Also in Revelation, ‘Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power’ (Rev 20:6).  The second death is to the Great White Throne – the resurrection of the dead for judgment[3].

The first resurrection (the resurrection of the just) is primarily at the rapture.  J N Darby says that it will be the consummation of our happiness[4].  Having given life to our souls, He will give life to our glorified bodies.

Satan is the author of this confusion.  He does not want Christians to burn with anticipation of the Lord’s immediate coming.  He certainly does not want us saying ‘Come Lord Jesus’ (Rev 22:20).

Dear Christian friends, may we keep near Him, and be assured as to the immediacy of His return.

 

 

Sosthenes

December 2016

 

[1] See ‘ADOSS – The Lord is Coming Very Soon’

[2] Note that this is distinct from the individuals who, though not of this world have to do with things here.

[3] This will be addressed in a later note, God willing.

[4] Lecture 4 on ‘The Hopes of the Church of God’, summarised by ADOSS asThe First Resurrection – or The Resurrection of the Just’

 

See other references in ADOSS:

 

J N Darby – Fulness of Joy – Oh, bright and blessed hope! When shall it be

OH, bright and blessed hope!
When shall it be
That we His face, long loved,
Revealed shall see?

Christian's hopeOH, bright and blessed hope!
When shall it be
That we His face, long loved,
Revealed shall see?

Oh! when, without a cloud,
His features trace,
Whose faithful love so long
We’ve known in grace;

That love itself enjoy,
Which, ever true,
Did in our feeble path
Its work pursue?

O Jesus, not unknown,
Thy love shall fill
The heart in which Thou dwell’st,
And shalt dwell still.

Still, Lord, to see Thy face,
Thy voice to hear;
To know Thy present love
For ever near;

To gaze upon Thyself,
So faithful known,
Long proved in secret help
With Thee alone;

To see that love, content,
On me flow forth,
For ever Thy delight,
Clothed with Thy worth!

O Lord, ’twas sweet the thought
That Thou wast mine;
But brighter still the joy
That I am Thine!

Thine own, O Lord, the fruit,
The cherished fruit,
Of Thine all perfect love!
No passing root

Of evil e’er will dim
Thy cloudless rays;
But a full heart pour forth
Thine endless praise!

Nor what is next Thy heart
Can we forget –
Thy saints, O Lord, with Thee
In glory met,

(Perfect in comeliness
Before Thy face –
Th’eternal witness all
Of Thine own grace),

Together then their songs
Of endless praise,
With one harmonious voice,
In joy shall raise!

O joy supreme and full,
Where sunless day
Sheds forth, with light divine,
Its cloudless ray!

 

John Nelson Darby (1800-81)

Written 1879
Parts of the above are in Hymns for the Little Flock 1962 and 1973 – No 160

 

Meter  6.4.6.4. usually sung as 6.4.6.4.D.

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

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

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

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

JohnNelsonDarby

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

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

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

 

Part 1 – Justification from Sins

Chapter 1

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

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

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

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

Chapters 2 & 3

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

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

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

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

Chapter 4

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

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

Chapter 5 v. 1-11

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

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

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

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

 

Part 2 – Justification ‘of Life’

Chapter 5 v. 12-21

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

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

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

Chapter 6

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

Chapter 7

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

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

In Romans 7 the soul learns three things:

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

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

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

Chapter 8

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

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

 

Summary by Sosthenes

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

April 2016

 

 

J N Darby – Home – Oh! bright and blessed scenes, Where sin shall never come

JohnNelsonDarbyOH! bright and blessed scenes,
Where sin shall never come;
Whose sight my longing spirit weans
From earth, where yet I roam.

And can I call my home
My Father’s house on high?
The rest of God, my rest to come,
My place of liberty?

Yes! In that light unstained
My stainless soul shall live;
My heart’s deep longings more than gained,
When God His rest shall give.

His presence there, my soul
Its rest, its joy untold,
Shall find, when endless ages roll
And time shall ne’er grow old.

My God the centre is;
His presence fills that land;
And countless myriads, own’d as His,
Round Him adoring stand.

My God whom I have known,
Well known in Jesus’ love,
Rests in the blessing of His own
Before Himself above.

Glory supreme is there,
Glory that shines through all;
More precious still that love to share
As those that love did call.

Like Jesus in that place
Of light and love supreme;
Once Man of sorrows, full of grace;
Heaven’s blest and endless theme.

Like Him! O grace supreme!
Like Him before Thy face!
Like Him – to know that glory beam
Unhindered, face to face!

O love, supreme and bright,
Good to the feeblest heart,
That gives me now, as heavenly light,
What soon shall be my part!

Be not to me, my God,
As one that turned aside
To tarry for a night, and trod
His onward path. Abide

With me as light divine,
That brings into my breast
Those gladdening scenes e’en now as mine,
Soon my eternal rest.

John Nelson Darby (1800-81)

Written 1867
Parts of the above are in Hymns for the Little Flock 1962 and 1973 – Nos 64 and 72

Full text click here

 

Meter S.M. usually sung as S.M.D.