The Lord Selects Lowly Material for the Testimony

Not many Mighty, not many Noble

Golden Nugget Number 212

The Lord selects lowly material for the testimony.  The testimony of the rights of Christ is an important subject and derives its character very much from the kind of material that is taken up to carry it.  The blessed God

Charles Coates

is looking for the sort of material that will glorify Him, so He does not call the great, the wise, or the noble, but the calling is marked by a calling of persons of no account.  Not that the wise and noble are excluded, because Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:26, “not many mighty, not many noble.”  Lady Huntingdon said that she was  saved by the letter M.  But it is not the character of the testimony, for God chooses the poor of this world.  He is looking for persons of broken spirit, of humble and contrite heart – those are the ones who are attractive to Him.  That character of persons lends itself to the testimony; what is great and pretentious and proud does not suit the testimony.

 

(C.A.C. Outline of Luke p239)    

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Bind on Humility

…we are to ” walk humbly with thy God

…we are to “walk humbly with thy God, (Micah 6: 8)”. Never was the word more needed than today, when pride and ambition are even exalted as virtues. We are to bind on humility, and, again, we are reminded of Him–our Lord and Teacher–who humbled Himself as no other ever did or could, and presents Himself as our glorious Model. He ever glorified God in His lowly pathway here, and His word to us is, ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest to your souls<'/em> (Matt 11:26). There is truly rest and joy in following Him.

(W M Brown, Words of Grace and Comfort 1951) – No photo
Golden Nugget Number 188

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The True Grace of God wherein we stand.

We have thought quite long enough about ourselves. Let us now think about Him who thought about us with thoughts of good, not evil, long before we even existed, and had any thoughts of own at all. May we see what God’s thoughts of grace about us are, and echo the words of faith in Romans 8:31, ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ I am entitled to forget myself; I am entitled to forget my sins; I am NOT entitled to forget Jesus.
True humility does not so much consist in thinking badly of myself, as in not thinking of myself at all. I am too bad to be worth thinking about.

JohnNelsonDarbyBy Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. (1 Peter 5:12)

God is the ‘God of all Grace’ (1 Peter 5:10), but how hard it is for us to believe that the Lord is gracious. Our natural feelings may be expressed by the servants’ statement ‘I know that thou art an austere [or hard] man’ (Luke 19:21). We need to understand the Grace of God.

Some think that grace implies God’s passing over sin. That is completely wrong – God cannot tolerate sin. If I could, after sinning, patch up my ways and mend myself in order to stand before God, there would be no need of grace. The Lord is gracious because I am a sinner: my state is utterly ruined and hopeless, and nothing but free grace can meet my need.

The moment I understand that I am a sinful man or woman, and that the Lord knew the full extent and how hateful my sin was to Him, and that He came to me, I understand what grace is. Faith makes me see that God is greater than my sin, not that my sin is greater than God. The Lord, who laid down His life for me, is the same Lord I have to do with every day of my life. His dealings with me are on the principle of grace. How strengthening it is to know, at this very moment, that Jesus is feeling and exercising the same love towards me as He had when on the cross.

For instance, I have a bad temper that I cannot control. I bring it to Jesus as my Friend: virtue goes out of Him and meets my need. My own effort will never be sufficient. Real strength is in the sense of the Lord’s being gracious. The natural man in us will never believe that Christ is the only source of strength and blessing. If my soul is out of communion, I think, ‘I must correct the cause of this before I can come to Christ’. But He is gracious: the way is to return to Him at once, just as I am, and then humble myself before Him. Humbleness in His presence is the only real humbleness. If I own myself to be just what I am, I shall find that He shows me nothing but grace. True humility does not so much consist in thinking badly of myself, as in not thinking of myself at all. I am too bad to be worth thinking about.

Faith never thinks about what is in me myself: it looks to Jesus to give rest to my soul. Faith receives, loves and apprehends what God has revealed, and what God’s thoughts are about Jesus. As I am occupied with Him,I will be prevented from being taken up with the vanity and sin around. This will be my strength against the sin and corruption of my own heart too. As I am alone in communion with God, I am able to measure everything according to His grace. Nothing, not even the state of the Church, will shake me. I am entitled to forget myself; I am entitled to forget my sins; I am NOT entitled to forget Jesus.

The moment I get away from the presence of God, I rest on my own thoughts, which can never reach up to those of God about me. If I attempt to know God’s grace outside of His presence, I shall only turn grace into licentiousness.

What God is towards us is LOVE. Our joy and peace are not dependent on what we are to God, but on what He is to us: this is grace. All the sin and evil that is in us has been put away through Jesus. A single sin is more horrible to God than all the sins in the world are to us. Yet, despite what we are, God is pleased to be towards us in LOVE.

In Romans 7 we find a person, though quickened, whose reasoning centres in himself. It is all “I,” “I,” “I.”  He stops short of grace, the simple fact that GOD IS LOVE. I have got away from grace if I have the slightest doubt or hesitation about God’s love. I say, ‘I am unhappy because I am not like what I want to be’. Instead I should be thinking of what God is, rather than what I am. All this looking at myself is really pride, not admitting that I am good for nothing. Till I see this I will never look away from myself to God.

Faith looks towards God, who has revealed Himself in grace. Grace relates to what GOD is, not to what I am, except that the greatness of my sins magnifies grace of God. At the same time, grace brings my soul into communion with God, knowing God and loving Him. Knowledge of grace is the true source of sanctification.

We have thought quite long enough about ourselves. Let us now think about Him who thought about us with thoughts of good, not evil, long before we even existed, and had any thoughts of own at all. May we see what God’s thoughts of grace about us are, and echo the words of faith in Romans 8:31, ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?

 

Adapted by Sosthenes from J N Darby’s tract of the same name. Similar to, perhaps extracted from, ‘Why do I groan?‘ Collected Writings volume 12 – Evangelical 1, page 186.

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – 1&2 Peter

The Epistles of Peter, while referring to redemption, concentrate especially to the government of God

• In 1 Peter His government is in favour of the saints.
• In 2 Peter we have the judgment of the wicked.

Outline of Bible cover1 Peter

The Epistles of Peter, while referring to redemption, concentrate especially to the government of God

• In 1 Peter His government is in favour of the saints.
• In 2 Peter we have the judgment of the wicked.

The saints are not seen as risen with Christ, but begotten again to a living hope by His resurrection. They pursue their pilgrimage as strangers, towards an incorruptible inheritance, reserved in heaven for them. They are kept by the power of God through faith, waiting for the appearing of Christ for full deliverance, the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls.

He marks out the progress of this revelation:
1. the prophets testifying beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glories following,
2. the same things reported in the gospel preached by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,
3. patience till the revelation of Jesus Christ brought these things to them.

On this ground they are called on to walk in sobriety, obedience, and holiness, on the double ground, that He who called them is holy, and that they call on the Father, who judges without respect of persons every man’s work. But this is founded on redemption by the blood of Christ, and being born again of the incorruptible seed of the word. They believe in God through Christ, whom He had raised from the dead, and to whom He had given glory, all flesh being as grass, but the word of the Lord endures for ever.
The persons addressed are the scattered believing remnant of Israel in various countries of Asia Minor. Hence he distinguishes them as living stones, owned of God, built on the precious living Stone, a stone of stumbling and rock of offence to disobedient Israel. He then applies Exodus 19:6 and Hosea 2:23, and exhorts them to walk blameless in the midst of the Gentiles who spake against them. This would force them to glorify God in the day of their visitation. He then exhorts them to suffer patiently, seeing that, like Christ, it was the Christian’s place to do good, suffer for it patiently. This leads him to refer again to Christ bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, referring to Isaiah 53.

Then in the remainder of chap. 2 and in chap. 3 there are exhortations on details of conduct. He refers to the government of God securing us in peacefulness: if the saints suffered for righteousness’ sake they were happy, beautifully adding that Christ had suffered once for sins, and that this ought to suffice. They ought to suffer for righteousness, if they suffered at all. He then refers to His being put to death in the flesh. They were to arm themselves with the same mind, for in death sin had been done away with. He then reminds them that with God, the have ability for all things, spiritual or temporal. He encourages them in suffering reproach for Christ’s sake, an advance on suffering for righteousness’ sake. This is the only place where they are called Christians. They are to rejoice in the reproach as partakers of Christ’s sufferings, with the consciousness that the time had come for judgment to begin at the house of God.

We then get exhortations to elders and to the younger, and to humbleness under God’s hand, sobriety and diligence, and resistance to Satan. The apostle finally commends them to the God of all grace.

2 Peter

In this second Epistle, which he writes to the same persons who had received, not the Messiah in glory, but the same precious faith as the apostle had received through God’s righteousness. He shows that in the midst of evil, God’s divine power had given everything necessary to life and godliness, the saints knowing God having been called by glory and virtue. He then urges them to be diligent in everything that would give them an abundant entrance into the kingdom. With out this they would be of impaired vision as Christians. He tells them that he must shortly put off this tabernacle; and writes that they might maintain the testimony after he had gone. He showed them that the mount of transfiguration had confirmed the prophetic testimony of the kingdom they were waiting for, asserting that all scripture tended to one common purpose, the fruit of one Spirit, and not of the will of man.

Peter then warns them about false teachers, who deny the authority of Christ, though many would follow them. He names them as wicked, but shows how God can deliver the righteous, and hold the unjust to the day of judgment to be punished. He states their character, especially in the working of the will of man in immmorality and insubordination; adding to this another characteristic – their scoffing at the doctrine of the Lord’s return. He next refers to the deluge as a judgment already executed, and the day of the Lord, as a judgment by fire to come. All that nature trusted in would disappear. This urges the saints to greater holiness.

 

Originally by JND.   Lightly edited by Sosthenes,  September 2014

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

J N Darby – Nearness to Christ and Its Effect (Humility)

We need to watch ourselves, lest, after having been preserved from the corruption of the age by the very precious truths revealed to us in our weakness, we should be taken in the net of presumption, or thrown into insubordination. These are things which God can never recognise or tolerate, since we are called to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

This article by John Nelson Darby was published in JND’s Collected Writings Miscellaneous 5.

This is a more recent collection of papers by JND, and is available from Bible Truth Publishers, Addison, IL 
Lightly edited by Sosthenes
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.’ (Psalm 126:5); ‘
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.(Matthew 18:20)

 

Man’s pretensions and energy manifest themselves strongly,  But to learn to be still in a clay of grace, and know that God is God, is completely above the education of the flesh.

The spirit of the age affects many Christians, who labour to restore old things for the service of God.  They should be broken before Him with the sense of their downfall.

To confess openly that which we are in the presence of that which God is, is always the way to peace and blessing.  Even when only two or three are together before God, there will be no disappointments nor deluded hopes.  God’s word for the remnant is, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.”  (1 Peter 3:15)  He is the only centre of gathering.

The Holy Spirit does not gather saints around mere views, however true they may be.  It is not q question of what the church on the earth is, or has been,  or may yet be;  He always gathers saints around that blessed Person, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matt. 18:20.

We need to be watchful against boasting, as people do in these days.  We need to be still, in the presence of God.  There is much independence and self-will almost everywhere.

If anyone speaks of separation from evil, without being humiliated, let him take care lest his position becomes simply sectarian, and produces doctrinal heresy. Sectarianism is the most natural weed of the human heart.  (Sectarianism is getting an interest in a little circle round ourselves.)   Nearness to Christ would keep us from that.

Now I know, at the present time, of no service which is worthy of Him, if it is not done in humiliation.  This is not the time to speak of a place for ourselves.  If the church of God, so dear to Christ, is dishonoured in this world; if it is scattered, ignorant, afflicted, the person who has the mind of Christ will always take the lowest place.  True service of love will seek to give according to the need, and because of the need, he will never think of slighting the objects of the Master’s love because of their necessity.

Men taught of God, for His service, go forth from a place of strength, where they have learned their own weakness and their own nothingness.  They find that Jesus is everything in the presence of God, and Jesus is everything for them in all things, and everywhere.  Such men, in the hands of the Holy Spirit, are real helps for the children of God, and they will not contend for a place, or a distinction, or for authority, among the scattered flock.   A man in communion with God about the church will show his willingness to be nothing in himself, and he rejoice in his heart to spend and to be spent.   He is faithful in the path of separation, in sorrow, and in the conflicts he is obliged to pass through.

When persons think of the church, they would rather think of the church in power.  We can learn from the conduct of Zerubbabel, recounted in the book of Ezra.  Also, despite the position Solomon had occupied, as heir,  in days of his prosperity and glory, he did not speak of either his birth or his rights.

If we speak of our testimony upon the earth, it will soon be evident that totally in weakness.   Like the seed by the wayside, the testimony will likewise ends in shame.

Neither the anger,  prudence, or pretensions of man can do anything, in the state of confusion in which the church is now.  I freely own that I have no hope in the efforts which many make to assure themselves an ecclesiastical position.  When the house is ruined in its foundations by an earthquake, it matters little how one tries to make it an agreeable dwelling place.  We had better remain where we first discovered of the ruin of things by man’s action – with our faces in the dust.  S uch is the place which belongs to us by right,  After all, it is the place of blessing.

I have read of a time when several were gathered together in such sorrow of heart, that for a long time they could not utter a single word; but the floor of the meeting room was wet with their tears. If the Lord would grant us such meetings again, it would be our wisdom to frequent these houses of tears. “They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy.” Psa. 126:5.

This is not just true for the earthly remnant;  it is also written for us.  I would willingly take a long journey to join these afflicted ones; but I would not go a step to to receive power from men, however excellent,  to overturn the present and reconstruct the future.

J.N.D.

Lightly edited by Sosthenes – May 2014

I am indebted to our brother Jeff in Illinois for bringing this article to my attention.  S.