J N Darby Letter Why I could not be a Baptist. – Believers’ Baptism – Infant Baptism – Household Baptism – the House and the Assembly

Baptists are a sect, and enough to say, in my opinion I would not be part of it. If a brother believes he should be baptised, I would never seek to dissuade him, even though he had already been baptised and I believe him mistaken in the way he sees it. However, if he believes that it is according to the Word, he would be well, I think, to have it done. That does not break the unity of the body.

J N Darby on Household Baptism
John Nelson Darby

The following letter (Letter No 431) written in French by John Nelson Darby, outlines his position on baptism – particularly believers’ baptism as practiced by the Baptists and other Evangelical Christians.   I translated it as part of an earlier task as assisting a brother who desired to have some 475 letters of JND translated into English.  However, I feel that due to the large amount of confusion that exists as to this important subject it is as well to publish my translation (slightly edited) here.

My French is far from perfect, and whilst this translation has been revised by another, I have also included the original text as a separate posting. Click here for …  

Pourquoi je ne Pourrais être Baptiste. – Baptême des Croyants – Baptême des Enfants – Baptême des Familles – la Maison et l’Assemblée

Montpelier, 1851

To Mr L.F..

The State of the Church

In the state of confusion in which the Church finds itself, if its existence is even remembered, it is very natural that in such a matter one acts according ones individual conviction.   But when it is a question of the destruction of the unity of the Church, it is a more serious question.  The Baptists are a sect, and enough to say, in my opinion I would not be part of it.  If a brother believes he should be baptised, I would never seek to dissuade him, even though he had already been baptised and I believe him mistaken in the way he sees it.  However, if he believes that it is according to the Word, he would be well, I think, to have it done.  That does not break the unity of the body.

The Baptists quote, “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.”

Having said that, I will give you a few general principles on this subject.  I am not convinced at all by the rationale of the Baptists.  I find in their reasoning, without their suspecting it, inversion of the basic principles of Christianity, and a complete ignorance of what Christian baptism is.  They speak of the baptism of John, and that the Lord says “thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.”  Matt 3:15.  Think about it.  Does the Christian achieve righteousness in fulfilling ordinances?  Is that a Christian principle, or is it an perversion of Christianity?  Moreover the baptism of John means absolutely nothing for Christians; it was a baptism just for the Jews, a baptism, which assumed the entrance, through repentance into the privileges of the kingdom, and did not assume the death and resurrection of Christ, rather exactly the opposite.  The baptism of John was not done in His name, nor in keeping with the truths announced in the gospel.  Consequently those who had the baptism of John had to be baptised again later in the name of the Lord, as if they had never had received any baptism beforehand.(Acts 19:4-5) .  I am then urged to be baptised in obedience to an ordinance in order to fulfill righteousness (principle which inverts the fundamentals of Christianity), and a baptism which excludes the death and resurrection of Christ (only true sense of Christian baptism).  This baptism however belongs historically to a system which predated Christianity which one both Jews and heathens received.  The death and resurrection of Christ formed the basis of a new creation, to which the baptism of John did not have any bearing.  When I hear similar arguments, I am the more convinced that that those who use them (though they are very sincere) do not understand the first elements of the subject they are dealing with, and unwillingly and unknowingly invert the foundation of Christian truth.

But there are further points which make me reject the Baptist system.  That is,that I deny their principle of obedience to an ordinance and in particular to the ordinance (they say) of baptism.  Baptism is a granted privilege, and the act is that of the person who baptises, not of the person baptised.  I say that the thought of obedience to baptism is not in in the Word, or that there is a commandment addressed to men, it is that to be baptised

Baptism as a Privilege

Firstly, I say that the idea of obedience to an ordinance does not belong to the Christian system.  I recognize that Christ established baptism and the supper, but obedience to ordinances was destroyed, in principle, at the cross.  (Col 2:14 target=”_blank” Eph 2:15) target=”_blank”.  When it is a matter of the supper “This do in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19), it is a directive as to the purpose of the symbol.  Every time that we eat of it, we should do it with this purpose.  This is not a commandment to do it, but a directive to make one intelligent in doing it.

For baptism in particular, the commandment is to given to go and baptise, that is to say that the act was the act of the apostles in receiving the gentiles into the Church.  And this is so true that the apostles could not be baptised, but they did baptise those who received their teaching.

Through examining the cases presented, I find that the baptism is considered to be a privilege granted to somebody whom one admits in the house of God, and is never an act of obedience nor of testimony.  The apostle says ”Can any one forbid water that these should not be baptised, who have received the Holy Spirit as we also did?” (Acts 10:47).  ”What hinders my being baptised”, says the eunuch (Acts 8:36)  Evidently in this case it was not a matter of obedience, but an accorded privilege, an admission into the privileges that others enjoyed.  I would remark in passing, although an adult, heathen or Jew, must believe to be baptised, the words “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.”  Acts 8:37KJV as foreign to the Word by everybody who are concerned with the authenticity of texts.  The apostles received the order from the Lord to baptise.

I would add that the Baptists’ idea that baptism is a symbol of what we are is also contrary to the Word because it says “buried with him in baptism, in which ye have been also raised (Col 2:12).  That is then not based on the assumption that we are already dead and raised.  On the contrary, in figure, we die and are raised in baptism itself, that is to say that we were not that beforehand.  That is the sign of the thing through which we enter, not the sign of our state to ourselves.

I totally reject the whole Baptist system, because I have received teaching from the Word of God.  I am fully convinced that it is entirely false.  There is an order to baptise given to the apostles, but baptism is not the subject of a particular commandment to the one who is baptised.  The difference is from beginning to end in the character of the act.  If I give to my business agent an order to remit a hundred francs to such and such a person, he is obligated to obey me.  If I give a letter of title to somebody, the obedience the recipient is totally a different matter.

Baptism is the Reception of a Person into the Christian Assembly down here in this World

However to reject what is false is not the only thing one has to do.  It is a matter of knowing the truth in order to be able to glorify God; but the question has become much simpler.  Baptism is the reception of a person into the midst of the Christian Assembly down here in this world.  I do not believe that one who reads the New Testament freely could deny that.  Who then must be received into this assembly, baptism being recognized to be the means of receiving them (for I agree with the Baptists on this point)?  I accept that in regard to the persons baptised, heathen or Jewish, in a word as to any who have not received baptism (as also for a Quaker or the child of a Baptist), those who believe ought to be baptised, because one can only receive an adult (who can act of his own accord) on his won responsibility.  It is all simple so long as one does not try to push the tide back, with the big stick in his hand as Charlemagne harassed the Saxons.

But the remaining question is this – Should children of believing parents be received into the Assembly?

I should say a word as to the Assembly itself, because what has given rise to a lot of difficulties is the ignorance of what the assembly of God is on earth.  I say ‘the Assembly’ not assemblies.  Those baptised become, by baptism members of the Christian Assembly on earth, not of an assembly.  However this assembly is the house of God where the Holy Spirit dwells.  The world is the desert where Satan dwells.  The Assembly is “a habitation of God in the Spirit” Eph 2:22).  In this Assembly one is admitted by baptism, and it is true that it is the habitation of the Spirit for Hebrews 6 supposes that one can be partakers of the Holy Spirit without having been converted.  In this case the one having the Spirit thus, was not really part of the body of Christ, but he possessed the Spirit, in the sense of a gift, being in the house where the Spirit lived and acted.  So Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit.  In this case, it was in the Spirit’s presence, not the gift, but for the point we are concerned about it is the same. However it is a matter of knowing if the children of Christians can be received into this house, or are they to be left in the world where Satan reigns.  It is  not a matter of commandment.  I deny any commandment for any ordinance, baptism in particular.  There isn’t one for an adult.  It is a matter of knowing God’s will is in regard to this privilege.  However it is clear to me that according to the Word, children should be received.   It is fully evident that there would have to have been a change in God’s system of things in order not to receive them – a change which moreover has never been announced.  However, here are a few passages which makes me see in a positive way the thoughts of God in regard to this.  Before citing them I pose a recognized principle, because I believe it scriptural, that baptism is the Lord’s desired way to be received outwardly into the assembly of God, and its meaning is the death and resurrection of Christ.  But here, in passing, I must also again remark that the views of many on this point are decidedly unscriptural.  They assume that the ordinances, baptism in particular, are the sign of the state where somebody finds themselves and participates.  However this idea is opposed to the testimony of the Word.  The baptised person participates in an act of ordinance which is no sign at all that he participated beforehand.  Thus, baptism is not a sign that a man participates in the death and resurrection of Christ.  Baptism is (in figure), the participation in these things by the act itself.  The testimony of Col 2:12 is positive in this regard:  ”buried with him in baptism, in which ye have been also raised with him”.  That is an act that the participation has taken place; it is not a sign of the participation that precedes it.  It is the same in regard to the Supper.  One eats (in figure) the body that was broken (1 Cor 11:24 KJV & Martin/Osterheld, not JND or JND-French and the blood that was shed.  It is not a figure that one has done it already.  The same principle is found in Rom 6:4.  Other passages confirm the same.

Baptism and Little Children

Having made this principle clear, and having shown that the Baptist principle is not well founded, that the Word contradicts their idea that baptism is the sign that one is already dead and risen again, whereas the Word teaches that we figuratively die there and are raised.  Having, as I say, brought all this into the light, I come to the passages which authorize me to believe that children of Christians are objects of this favour, baptism being the means of their being able to enjoy it.

Matthew 18 is a striking passage, showing how God considers the children.  The Lord takes a little child (v2), not a converted person (He even distinguishes in v6 the difference between a believing child and others) and declares that one must become such, and that their angels continually see the face of their Father who is in the heavens (v10), that is to say that they are the objects of His special favour.  But the testimony is something much more exact than that.  They are lost; Christ has come, He says (v11) “to save that which was lost.”  “For it is not the will of your Father who is in the heavens that one of these little ones should perish.” (v14).  In receiving a little child in His name, I receive Christ, and I recognize that, even being children, this little being is lost; but that it is the object of the Father’s love which I know, and whom there is not other means of salvation, even for a child, than the death and resurrection of Christ.  So I introduce it into the house by this means.  The testimony is therefore very clear, we are born children of wrath.

I have already shown that baptism is not a witness rendered to the state of the individual,  but the admission that the individual is a testimony to the value of the work of Christ.  The Baptist will now say to me, I know “But you admit a little heathen child”  The Word tells me totally the opposite.  It says that if one of the parents is a Christian, the children are holy.  However they are not holy by nature, it is a relative holiness, that is to say as a right of entry into the house.  That is the sense of this word in the Bible.  They are not soiled or profane.  A Jew who married a woman from the nations was profaned, and their children profaned, and the woman was to be sent back with them.  But in Christianity it is a system of grace, and the woman, instead of making her husband profane, is sanctified and the children are holy.  And this is the proper force and the evident bearing of the passage, because it concerned the question of whether a believer should divorce his unbelieving wife.  Thus the children, being holy, have the right to enter into the house and it is a real advantage that they enjoy.

To speak of legitimate children is nonsense, because only modern laws have made a distinction in such a case.

One may perhaps ask me, why then do we not give the supper to children?  I answer:  Because the light of the word prevents me.  The supper, considered from this point of view, is a figure of the unity of the body.  We are all one body, and so we all participate of the one loaf.  For in the power of one Spirit we have all been baptised into one body, (1 Cor 12:13), that is to say that one must be baptised of the Holy Spirit to take the supper.

“Children, obey your parents” could not be said to children who were not inside.  One does not address such precepts to heathens.  I see then that Christ, who received the child, wants us to receive such in His name, and by doing that we receive Him, Himself.  Notice that in Matt 18 the Lord applies the parable of the lost sheep to the little children (or to the letter it was to a little child who was there).  I repudiate entirely any dedication to God apart from baptism.  Not only is this Baptist practice a human innovation, but (without wishing it I admit), it pretends to be able to present the children to God without the death and resurrection of Christ.  If one cold present them to God by the death and resurrection of Christ they are then subjects of baptism.  To do otherwise is to deny Christianity:  not to devote them is impossible for a Christian.  In my opinion, the Baptist deprives his child of the protection of the house of God and of the care of the Spirit and leaves it in the world where Satan reigns, instead of (though it is fortunately inconsistent) to bringing it up in the discipline of the Lord…

Summary

Finally I deny entirely that there is a commandment to be baptised, as a matter of obedience.  I say that the principle is false and that baptism is always presented in totally the opposite way from that which is the basis of the Baptist system.  Reception into the church, the enjoyment of privilege of being brought into the house where the Spirit is, by citing the baptism of John, is to be ignorant of the first principles of Christianity and of the nature itself of Christian baptism.  Baptism as the Word considers it, is a reception by the church, according to the favour of God,  because they are holy.  It is the opposite of the profanity of a Jew who had married a foreigner.   In the case of a Christian the children are holy, whereas in the case of the Jew they are profane.  I repeat this because I am seeking to use this word not to weaken the scriptural proof, whilst it only makes the truth and the bearing of these passages of scripture clearer.

Here is an outline of what, I am perfectly convinced, is the true idea according to the Word.  This Word allows absolutely nothing of the Baptist system.  Nevertheless if somebody, individually thinks that he has not been baptised, I do not blame him if he gets baptised.  Rather, I respect his conscience like the conscience of one who believes he should only eat herbs.  But if one makes a sect out of this lack of light, then I condemn it totally.  However it is obvious that the Baptist position is one of pure ignorance,  It is truly impossible that a man can speak of fulfilling righteousness, in being baptised according to the example of Jesus with John the Baptist, if he has the lest light of the ways of God in Christ.  He may be sincere but his ignorance as to the truth of the gospel is very great….

The Righteousness of God

counter the belief, which was taught at that time that Christ became our righteousness, that is that what was due under the law from us, He took on himself. Hence He would help us walk in according to the same law here if we are to follow Him.

A Summary by Sosthenes of a Paper by John Nelson Darby

For the original paper click here – JND Collected Writings Vol 7 (Doctrinal 2)

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

In this paper Darby sought to counter the belief, which was taught at that time that Christ became our righteousness, that is that what was due under the law from us, He took on himself.  Hence He would help us walk in according to the same law here if we are to follow Him.  Personally, I have not heard this taught, nor do I know where it is still taught, but any tendency for Christians to place themselves under a legal obligation must have its root in this unscriptural teaching.  There is that favourite Easter hymn ‘There is a green hill far away’.  It goes on ‘He died to make us good’  and ‘try his works to do’.  Oh dear!

Is the righteousness of God legal righteousness?

We should bless God that Christ is our righteousness and that by His obedience we are made righteous.  It is the settled peace of our souls.

There are three stages of sin: lust, willful lawlessness (or transgression), and hatred of God. In sovereign grace Christ was made sin for me, and died to put me in a wholly new position.   He is the heavenly Man; He is my righteousness and He has set me in the righteousness of God, seated in heavenly places in Him.  Christ was the root and spring in life of the redeemed race. We are united to Christ in His new position, where He is the righteous man at the right hand of God.  The first is wholly set aside, judged, condemned, and dead.  “I am dead to the law, by the body of Christ, being married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead.” (Rom 7:4)

If, as sinful creatures, we were under the law of righteousness, we could only be condemned. “Do this and live” (Luke 10:28) is not written on the gate of heaven.  It was written on Sinai, which is not the gate of heaven.

Judaism was flesh under law, and flesh was judged.   This was what judgment was  pronounced on.  It is a mistake if I look to legal obedience, the law reaches the disposition and condition of my heart, when spiritually apprehended.  It does not only say, ‘Do’, but ‘Be’.  If I say ‘Love and do not lust’ (the two aspects of the law), righteousness is taken out of the sphere of doing.  Doing becomes evidence of my state and nature.

The Error of Substituted Righteousness

I know of no scripture which says that a doer of the law was entitled to heaven, or which promises heaven to a doer of the law.

The error put out by a Mr Molyneaux, which JND sought to counter went along the following lines:

No man can enter into the kingdom of heaven unless he is garbed in a perfect robe of righteousness.  Over the gate of heaven is written, Do this and live.  Though a man is cleansed from his sin in the blood of Christ, and sanctified by the Spirit of God, He cannot go to heaven on that basis.  He needs something more still; he must have a perfect obedience. Heaven is suspended on a perfect obedience, God said to Adam, ‘Do this and live.’ He failed. You must present a perfect obedience when you come to God. It is the active righteousness of Christ; it is not His sufferings — that blots out sin; it is not His Spirit — that sanctifies the heart; but it is His perfect righteousness.  ‘By his obedience shall my righteous servant justify many’. (Isa 53:11, misquoted)  The wedding garment is the righteousness of Christ… To enter into heaven legal righteousness is absolutely required.  It may have been very gracious of the Lord to have righteousness provided it for me, but it had to be done.

This doctrine (no doubt unintentionally) denies the extent of sin and the true character of redemption.  Nor is Christ’s righteousness a scriptural expression, though no Christian doubts He was perfectly righteous.  Law is perfect in its place.

Calvin goes a step farther: I understand, by the righteousness of God, that which can be approved before the tribunal of God; as, on the contrary, men are accustomed to the righteousness of men, what is held and esteemed righteousness in the opinion of men (Rom. 1;  2 Cor. 5) – (I cannot find this quote – Sosthenes).   His statement is very poor. He implies that to come short of the glory of God means that we can glory before God in the same shortness.  In Romans 10 he makes the righteousness of God that which God gives, and our own righteousness, that which is sought from man.

The great evil of the whole scheme is, that it is a righteousness demanded of man as born of Adam, though another may furnish it. The thing furnished is man’s righteousness. If Christ has done it for me, it is still what I ought to have done. It is meeting the demand on me — ‘Do this and live’.

The Truth of God’s Righteousness

The righteousness of faith is contrasted with that of law.  The law says ‘Do this and live’.   I do not accept the principle that the requirements of righteousness have been met by another, but righteousness on another principle altogether.   But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise . . . that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Rom 10:9).

The first Adam, the flesh, is thoroughly and wholly condemned.  God looks for nothing from the first.   Another, the last, Adam is set up — the Second Man.

To make this clearer — there are two ways I can consider the relationship between God and man.  I may take the counsels of God and begin with them. This is Ephesians. Or I may take the actual state of men as responsible children of Adam, and show how grace meets this state – this is Romans.  Romans and Ephesians confirm one another, but from a different point of view.

Ephesians

When I read in Ephesians of the counsels of God, I find nothing of the law at all.  All is God’s work, and all is in Christ.   Man is found dead in sin.  All is God’s work from beginning to end. Christ is seen — in order to bring about this blessed counsel in grace — dead; and we, as dead in sin, are brought back to God with and in Him, according to these counsels.

Romans

In Romans we have the ways of God in His moral government met by grace.  Man is proved to be dead, dying under the effects of sin and his moral condition as a living responsible being.  He is a child of the first Adam, a sinner who has ruined himself, and his responsibility is met by grace.  The curse is taken by another; it is not met by another fulfilling it.

I must have righteousness; but I am not under law.  If righteousness came by law, Christ died in vain.   I am crucified with Him; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me(Gal 2:20).   As regards walk, If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under law (Gal 5:8).   If we are led of the Spirit, we are going right, but we are not under law. We are not children of the bondwoman.

This is the view taken in the Romans — If I build law after Christ, I am a transgressor.  But I through law, am dead to law (i.e., not bound to it), that I might live unto God (which no one under law ever did: it is weak through the flesh); for by works of law shall no flesh be justified, be he Jew, or Christian, or who he may, or whoever may do them.  See Rom 3:20

Imputed Righteousness

A believer in Christ is justified through faith – he is reckoned righteous. He has Imputed righteousness.  However it is not the value or strength of his faith which is accounted as righteousness and then imputed.  Yet righteousness will be imputed if we believe.  Abraham was accounted, and we are accounted, righteousness on the ground of believing.  That is the meaning of imputed righteousness.  It is not a substantive righteousness, apart from the person, and afterwards reckoned to him, but the condition of the person in God’s sight. God views him as righteous, though nothing entitles him to it inherently.  It is righteousness reckoned to him, in his standing before God. Hence it is imputed or reckoned.

It is not merely that God does not impute the sin done, but he does not view the believer as in sin, but as in righteousness.  It is not a question of innocence.  The Greek word is not dikaioma (δικαίωμα, Strong 1345,  an act of righteousness), when imputed righteousness is spoken of, but dikaiosune (δικαιοσύνη, Strong 1343,  God’s judicial approval) — not an act or sum of things done, but a state.  He is reckoned to be in the state of dikaiosune: dikaiosune is imputed to him.

The Quality of Righteousness

The Epistle to the Romans places the individual on the ground of righteousness, and shows us liberty in life, but it does not reach the union of the body with Christ.   All the world is guilty before God, but grace meets this.   In Romans, I find the responsible man in flesh proved guilty, not dead; but with no remedy for his condition. So death is brought in, providing righteousness: God’s, not man’s.  God’s righteousness has its character, quality, and source from God, not from man.

It is not “the righteousness of God”, which is spoken of, but “righteousness of God” — the quality of righteousness.  It must first be found in God Himself; or it would not have that essential quality.  As a result, we are created in true righteousness and holiness, as to the new man, after God.

God’s Righteousness by Faith

How and why are we accounted righteous?  It is the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe (Rom 3:22) – Jew or GentileWe are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God (v.24-25).  It is plain: God who knew everything, is righteous in remitting the sins of the Old Testament believers, to whom He exercised forbearance, because of the blood of Jesus.

Our Standing

We stand in a known revealed righteousness, not in hope of forbearance, great as the mercy that we have received may be.   God is just and the justifier.  Here there is an all-important principle: the righteousness of God means just that: God’s own righteousness — He is just.  It is not man’s, or any other positive righteousness made up of legal merit.

In His Blood

The righteousness of God is declared or manifested by virtue of the blood of Christ. God is righteous in forgiving and justifying; witness the former saints, who were borne with before His blood was shed.  We appreciate it now by faith; we are justified by his blood. (Rom 5:9) Man is a sinner, without law and under law.  Now, entirely apart from law (choris nomou, χωρὶς νόμου Strong 5655, 3551), God’s righteousness is displayed in justifying the believer through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, and through faith in His propitiating blood.  God is righteous and justifies those who believe in Jesus.  We understand that God’s righteousness is the quality or character that is in God Himself.  We are justified by His grace, through redemption, and righteousness is declared in God’s act of remission.

The Doctrine of Resurrection

Justification by His blood is not all.  A very important part of Romans remains — the doctrine of resurrection.   He was raised again for our justification, as He was delivered for our offences.  How is righteousness set forth?  In the resurrection of Christ.  But there is more: God has shown His righteousness in setting Christ as Man at His right hand.   Christ had a title to be there, and He is there.  Righteousness is in heaven. He demonstrates righteousness to the world “because I go to my Father.” (John 16:10)

Christ is our life, and we have received a nature which in itself is sinless.  Looked at as born of God, we cannot sin because we are born of God.  It is a life holy in itself, as born of Him.  But we also have the flesh, though we are not in it, and even though we have this new life, we do not meet the just demands of God.  If we should pretend to present the deeds done in the body, we cannot fulfill our responsibility before God.  That is, we do not have righteousness by being born again.  We need, and have, a perfect righteousness apart from our life, though in Him who is our life.  Christ is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. (1 Cor 1:30) We cannot have settled peace any other way.  We are accepted in Christ – His perfection, with no diminution of its value. God delighted in His obedience, and we are received in that.   What we have done as children of Adam, He took on the cross in grace, and entirely put it away.  And this is our acceptance with God.  It is needed for us, for otherwise we have no righteousness.  For us it is a joy, because we enter, as objects of His grace, into the immediate delight that God has in His own Son.

Abraham believed that God was able to perform what He had promised.  We believe that God has raised up our Lord Jesus from the dead, and therefore, like Abraham, our faith is reckoned for righteousness.

The first Adam is set aside. I am not in the flesh (in the state to which the law applies).  I have an entirely new status before God in resurrection, by virtue of the work of Christ. The risen Christ is the pattern and character of my acceptance, as He is the cause of it.  As He is, so am I in this world. (1 John 4:17)

I Fail

Even though I am not under law, have I not neglected duty?  Yes, but this has been atoned for.   My responsibility is not to make good the failures of the old or first Adam: I am wholly out of that.  In absolute and perfect acceptance in the second before God, I am called to yield myself to God as one that is alive from the dead.  The old thing is gone — atoned for.

I should serve, not in the oldness of letter, but in newness of spirit.  Instead of satisfying the requirements the law in my old condition under law, I am passed out of it.  Christ has borne the curse that I merited.  I have  passed into another condition — Christ’s — before God, as one alive to God through Him, God having been perfectly glorified.

The Doctrine of Romans 5-8

This is the doctrine of Romans 5, 6 and 7, founded on chapter 4, and the results fully developed in chapter 8.  Chapter 5 applies resurrection to justification, founded on His death.  Chapter 6 applies resurrection to life.  You are justified because you are dead, and have now to walk in newness of life. How can a man dead to sin still live in it?   If he does, he is not dead.

Law has dominion over a man as long as he lives.   But we are not alive; we are dead.  In a word, Christ is alive for me before God, and I am justified, but as having died; and thus I have a place in this blessing. Hence I am dead to sin, and no longer alive in the nature to which law applied.  Therefore, Paul says, in Romans 7:5,When we were in the flesh.”  I am married to another, I cannot have two husbands at a time — Christ and law.  But, if under law, I have died under it in the body of Christ, and I am free. Through law, I am dead to law.

Law is for the first Adam, for the unrighteous.  Righteousness is in the Second man.  The law is righteous, but it was given to sinners when in their sins, and never as a law to anybody else. The law imposed the rule. “Thou shalt love” (Deut. 6:5).  That is a transcript of the divine mind – It loves sovereignly.  Christ here was love, and was perfect in holiness — holy enough in His being to love sinners as above sin, and further — what law cannot do – to give Himself up for sinners.

We are to be “imitators of God as dear children” (Eph 5:1) — “to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16).   The law knows nothing about this, and law teachers strive against the whole doctrine of Paul, and the righteousness of God.

Where, then, and what is the righteousness of God? God’s righteousness is His perfect consistency with His own perfect and blessed nature.

March 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Melchisedec Priesthood of Christ

The Melchisedec Priesthood of Christ

A Summary by Sosthenes of a Paper by John Nelson Darby

For the original paper click here – JND Collected Writings Vol 7 (Doctrinal 2)

J N Darby
Here are few words on this the extent and blessing of Christ’s priesthood.

The blessing of Abram, by Melchisedec, reads: “Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be the Most High God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thine hand” (Gen. 14:19) . Paul presents Melchisedec as a type of Christ, according to the word of the oath: “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Psalm 110:4).

Melchisedec in Order; Aaronic in Function

Christ the Lord is not currently exercising His Melchisedec priesthood.  Not that He is not a priest after that order – we know fully that from the Hebrews, and Psalm 110, and that He is not of any other order.  The Lord is currently exercising priesthood according to the typical character of Aaron’s on the day of atonement, as Hebrews also shows.  The whole of the present order of things answers to the day of atonement.  The High Priest has gone within the veil, with the blood of the sacrifice  – of Himself – His own blood.  So there He is, whom the heavens must receive till the time of the restoration of all things, which God hath promised by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.  The Lord, a priest in perpetuity after the order of Melchisedec, exercises priesthood practically for us according to the type of Aaron, though not according to the order of Aaron, as within the veil, on the great day of atonement.  We see this in Hebrews 8 & 9.

Christ as High Priest

He has gone within, not the typical veil, but into heaven itself (above all heavens), now to appear in the presence of God for us.  He has gone, not with the blood of bulls and goats, patterns of things to come, but with His own blood – a better sacrifice by which the heavenly things themselves could be purified.   Jesus is said to be crowned with glory, an honour compared with the consecration garments of Aaron and his sons after him.. (Compare Heb. 2:7 and Ex. 28:2, in the LXX, where the words are literally “for honour and glory.”)

Melchisedec vs. Nebuchadnezzar

in the type of Melchisedec, Christ has a glory of its own character.  It is the Lord’s glory, the glory of the Son of the Father.   The priesthood of Melchisedec is a royal dominion, representing the Most High God, and also speaking also for man to God as to praise. Nebuchadnezzar was given universal dominion, as king of Babylon, and he abused his power.  In evil and apostasy, he set up a false god – an image.  But the result was that God was owned by the king as “the Most High God”: He was punished till he learned that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will (Dan 5:21)

But there is another portion of the divine inheritance corrupted and debased, the scene of power, however, and blessing – the heavenlies.  “The saints of the Most High (that is, of the heavenlies – Heb. elionin) shall possess the kingdom.” (Dan 7:22)  But we wrestle with principalities and powers, with spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies (Eph. 6:12); that is, apostate power holding the earth, and spiritual wickedness, principalities and powers holding the heavenlies.  Therefore both the earth, and the heavenlies are possessed by a present evil power.

 The Day of the Glory of the Lamb

However, in the day of the full glory of the Lamb, there shall be one Lord, your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, … the God of all the earth (Isa 54:5).  In that day shall Jerusalem be called the throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it. (Jer 3:17).   The nations will be blessed through Him.  The Son of man, Son of David, King of the Jews, Jesus of Nazareth, will be on the throne, not on the cross.  He will be owned not just in Hebrew,  Greek and Latin, but in every language of power which despised Him.   So we find that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, He should gather together in one all things in Christ; both which are in heaven and which are upon the earth. (Eph 1:10).  We have the sure mercies of David by virtue of His resurrection. They will be made sure to the Jews (Acts 13:32-34), when He sits upon the throne of David His father, and reign over the house of Jacob for ever (Luke 1;32), all nations serving Him.

But we have a better portion.  We are to be with Him in heavenly places, as His body, the Church.  We have not merely the fruits, but the power working towards us, power that was wrought in Him, when God raised him from the dead …and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places. (See Eph. 1:19Eph. 2:7.)   We see the saints in the heavenlies, sitting there as raised with Christ, and having overcome through grace, sitting down in His throne, as He overcame and sat down in His Father’s throne.  Hence we see His universal dominion, all power given Him in heaven and on earth, – the Son of God, Son of man, Lord over all, as well as God over all, blessed for evermore.

Priest upon His Throne for Blessing

Now there is another character.  He is a Priest upon His throne (Zech. 6:13); and here we have the real full exercise of the Melchisedec priesthood.  He sits on His Father’s till His foes are made His footstool, and is now gathering all things in heaven and on earth into one.   He will sit on His own throne.

Dreadful evil came in: Satan, sitting in heavenly places, had made the poor inhabitants of earth worship demons, gods many and lords many, persecuting and degrading the children of God.  Earthly power was associated with false worship and apostasy, as we see typified in the great image set up by Nebuchadnezzar.  Now that which was specifically opposed to this was this title of the Most High God; so Nebuchadnezzar has to confess the Most High God. Now Melchisedec says, “Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth ” (Gen 14:19).    As the title of the Most High God is given here, witnessed in the priesthood of Melchisedec, so also will the blessing proceed.

Oh what blessing will be there, when there will be no principalities and powers in heavenly places to taint the very source of blessing.   There will be no corruption below to make evil what God had made good, nor any spirit of corruption and rebellion to bring the curse of opposition to the blessed God.   Oh what blessing there will be when the Most High takes possession of heaven and earth, and our High Priest is His High Priest!   Thus we have total exclusion of all other gods but one, the only One.

With the Most High as Possessor, where will the tempter be then?  Not in heaven, the Most High possesses that; not on earth, the Most High possesses that.  But Melchisedec, though priest of the Most High God, has other characters.  He is King of righteousness, for where righteousness is, there is blessing.   He is king of Salem, which is king of Peace; for the fruit of righteousness is peace; the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever.  The Melchisedec priesthood is the security of the blessing from the Most High God, with the union of heaven and earth under Him.

But we have also to look at the object of this blessing – Abram, the father of the natural seed. Then he is the father of Israel (and in Israel the blessing of many nations), blessed of the Most High God, by the King of Peace and of righteousness, the representative of the natural seed of Israel, blessed from on high. Thus, in the title of God – in the priest himself – in the object of universal blessing, we see the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ (Eph 1:9).  The Jews are the objects and channels of earthly blessing; but we are sitting in heavenly blessings, priests with Him.

Aaron Intercession;  Melchisedec Blessing

The Aaronical priesthood was a priesthood of intercession – He ever liveth to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25).   The saints of God, in our weakness are the constant object of His sure and never-failing care and intercession. He appears in the presence of God for us.

But the priestly act of Melchisedec is blessing, not intercession; blessing from the Most High God.  He is the King of righteousness and peace, and He blesses the seed of God’s acceptance.   Evil is removed, the enemies destroyed, (God’s strange work), and blessing flows unhindered, out through the great High Priest, the Priest of the Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth.  How our hearts long for the day of universal blessing from the Most High God of heaven and earth!   How heaven and earth will ring with the witness of the blessing of the heavenly creatures, and the earthly seed unfettered in its praise!  All are one in Him; one with the Father, the Most High God; and who Himself took on Him Abraham’s seed, now come forth in His kingly glory to bless us from God Most High, and God from us – the Man of blessing, the Blessing Man, the Lord Most High.

Now Melchisedec brings forth bread and wine: the bread of Salem where the King dwelt, and wine, drunk new, of the kingdom, to give the joy of deliverance and the refreshing of love.  Their Melchisedec makes them to sit down to eat, takes the yoke from off their neck, blessing always, as the less is blessed of the greater.

So we have the accomplished character of the Most High God, as to all things in heaven and earth: universal blessing, joy, the unity of all things in Christ, the priesthood of Melchisedec, and the blessing of the redeemed of God.

Conclusion

May the blessing of Melchisedec, of Christ, the Lord, the King, dwell on our spirits.  It is our  joyful portion now that He intercedes for us.  He is Head, and leader of our praise.  How imperfectly we declare the joy of all this!  May the Spirit of God teach us a more skillful tune, because the chord struck unskillfully has awakened the thoughts of praise in our hearts; and after all, our feeble notes here are but poor witnesses to that new abiding song of praise.  We have a better portion than reigning – our calling to be with Him.   His reign will be the source of sweet and rich blessings to a delivered earth.

How do I find Peace?

How to get Peace

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

peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Are you lost?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How then should I approach God?

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

But must I not accept Christ?

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

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

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

Holiness and a better state of soul.

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

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

That is a very high standard!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

DRAFT – Keeping the Faith in a Ruined Church – The Faith once Delivered to the Saints

Keeping the Faith in a Ruined Church – The Faith once Delivered to the Saints

To download the full draft booklet in PDF form please click here Faith Once Delivered-complete 

Faith once delivered - cover

 

Forward

 

This is a preliminary version of a planned publication of my summaries of ‘The Faith once Delivered to the Saints’.  It is therefore not for general distribution.

 

Readers should go through it with a critical eye and let me know where

  1. It does not make sense
  2. It does not read well
  3. There are typographical errors

 

My aim is that it should be intelligible to young and untaught believers who know the Lord Jesus as their personal Saviour and are looking for His soon return.

 

Please e-mail me at sosthenes@adayofsmallthings.com

 

This work is committed to the Lord for blessing and I trust that with the help of God, guided by the Holy Spirit there will be blessing and instruction.

 

 

Sosthenes Hoadelphos

Rochester, England

May 2014

sosthenes@adayofsmallthings.com

 

Copyright Notice

This document may be freely quoted and/or reproduced on condition that the authorship adayofsmallthings.com is acknowledged.

 

Unless John Nelson Darby is clearly quoted, it should be made clear that this is an unauthorised summary, not the original.

 

There is no copyright on the works of JND.

 

Contents

Forward…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2

Copyright Notice……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2

Easy to Read, Summaries of Papers on the Church and our Dispensation by John Nelson Darby    6

The Faith once delivered to the Saints…………………………………………………… 8

Summary of Summaries……………………………………………………………………………… 8

“The Faith once delivered to the Saints”   – or -Knowing where we are, and what God wants us to do, in the Confused State of Christendom………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 8

Church Unity and Sectarianism – or -The Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ. 8

Separation from Evil and Christian Unity- or – Separation from Evil, God’s Principle of Unity          9

God’s Love and Grace – Holiness, Unity and Christian Gathering – or Grace, the Power of Unity and of Gathering……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 9

Independent Churches, Independent Local Assemblies, Personal Judgment and Conscience – or – On Ecclesiastical Independency……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 9

The Church as the Body of Christ, the Church as the Habitation of God, and Local Churches – or – Churches and the Church…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 10

The Evil of Clericalism – or – The Notion of a Clergyman, Dispensationally the sin against the Holy Ghost                10

Knowing where we are, and what God wants us to do, in the Confused State of Christendom   12

“The Faith once delivered to the Saints”………………………………………………… 12

Trusting in God……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 12

Man spoils what God sets up………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 13

There was soon Failure in the Early Church…………………………………………………………………………….. 13

Have a Conscience about our Position in the Church…………………………………………………………….. 13

We may have to act Individually……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 14

The Church teaching? – and the Holy Scriptures…………………………………. 14

We are in the Last Days –and it is a time of Judgment…………………………………………………………….. 14

The Lord Judging the Churches………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 15

The Public Ruin of the Church…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 15

The Answer to the Church’s Condition is in Jesus……………………………………………………………………… 16

All that will live godly in Christ Jesus will be Persecuted………………………………………………… 16

Seeing the Church Here……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 16

The Work of the Holy Spirit……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 17

A Warning………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 17

Darby on Church Unity and Sectarianism……………………………………………… 19

The Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ……………………………………… 19

The Truth of the Gospel……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 19

The Sectarian Situation of the Public Church…………………………………………………………………………. 20

Unity in the Early Church…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 20

The Church in the Dark Ages…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 20

The Reformation…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 20

Non Conformist Movements and Sects…………………………………………………………………………………………… 21

Could there be a Union of Protestant Churches?…………………………………………………………………… 21

Non-sectarian Christian movements………………………………………………………………………………………………. 22

How God sees the Disunity in the Christian Church………………………………………………………………… 22

The Self-complacent Christian Church……………………………………………………………………………………….. 23

The original State of the Christian Church cannot be restored…………………………………….. 23

The Christian’s Call………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 23

The Practical Way for the Christian Believer………………………………………………………………………… 24

Two or three are gathered together in His name…………………………………………………………………… 24

In the Lord and His Death on the Cross we find Christian Unity………………………………………. 25

The Lord’s Supper is the Symbol of Christian Unity………………………………………………………………… 25

Unity of the Spirit…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 25

Let us go forth to Him………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 25

A Plea for the Church………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 26

Darby Simplified – On Separation from Evil and Christian Unity………. 27

Christians desire Unity, but how?……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 27

Partisan Sectarianism………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 28

God Himself has to be the Spring and Centre of Unity………………………………………………………….. 28

Unity in Creation…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 28

The Fall of Man………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 28

Separation from Evil necessarily becomes sole Basis of Unity………………………………………….. 29

Worldliness destroys Unity………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 29

False Unity is not of God……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 29

God is Working in the Midst of Evil to Produce a Unity of which He is the Centre and the Spring, and which owns His authority……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 29

Unity must have a sole and unrivalled Centre – It is Christ……………………………………………….. 30

The Church’s Centre………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 30

Let us go forth to Him without the Camp, Bearing His Reproach…………………………………….. 31

The Holy Spirit is the Centre and Power down here of the Unity of the Church in Christ’s name       31

The Lord’s Supper is the Symbol and Expression of Unity and Fellowship……………………. 31

Unity is maintained by the judicial function in the church…………………………………………………. 31

Let every one that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity…………………………………. 32

Darby Simplified – On God’s Love and Grace – Holiness, Unity and Christian Gathering         33

God’s Holiness, Love and Grace………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 33

Our Heavenly Position…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 34

“Separation from Evil, God’s Principle of Unity.”…………………………………………………………………….. 34

The Danger of becoming Occupied with Evil………………………………………………………………………………. 35

Real Holiness is not merely Separation from Evil, but Separation to God from Evil 35

Love precedes holiness………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 36

The true Character of Christian Fellowship – with Him, where He is, where Evil cannot come          37

Active Love Gathering Us……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 37

Law and Grace…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 37

Darby Simplified – on Independent Churches, Independent Local Assemblies, Personal Judgment and Conscience…………………………………………………………………………………………. 39

Personal Judgment and Conscience………………………………………………………………………………………………… 39

Assembly Judgment and Personal Judgment……………………………………………………………………………….. 40

One Assembly’s Act Binds Another………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 41

What is an Assembly Judgment?………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 41

What about Serious Church Matters?…………………………………………………………………………………………. 41

What the Church must Judge……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 42

What if there are Difficulties in the Assembly?………………………………………………………………………. 42

Is “Two or three Gathered Together” the Assembly of God?…………………………………………….. 43

Darby Simplified – on the Church as the Body of Christ, the Church as the Habitation of God, and Local Churches…………………………………………………………………………………. 44

What is the Church?………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 44

The Church as the Body of Christ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 44

The Church as the House (or Habitation) of God……………………………………………………………………. 45

What are Churches or Assemblies?………………………………………………………………………………………………… 45

The State of Churches Now………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 46

The Scriptural View of Churches……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 47

How should a Christian view the State of Christian Churches?……………………………………….. 48

Darby Simplified – on the Evil of Clericalism – or………………………………… 49

The Church as a Worldly Institution…………………………………………………………………………………………… 49

The Exclusive Authority of the Clergy………………………………………………………………………………………… 50

Appointment of Clergymen and Bishops……………………………………………………………………………………….. 50

Resistance to the Gospel……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 51

The Clergy in the Dark Ages and Afterwards………………………………………………………………………….. 52

The Clergy in the Reformation………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 52

The Influence of the Clergy……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 53

The Gifts to the Church……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 53

Not being Lords over God’s Heritage……………………………………………………………………………………………. 53

Speaking of “My flock”…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 53

The Clerical System vs. Individual Clergymen…………………………………………………………………………… 54

Conclusion – The clergy identifies the Church with the world, not God with the Church    54

J.N. Darby – A true Churchman…………………………………………………………………. 55

Copies of JND’s Collected Writings are available from………………………. 55


 

 

The Faith Once Delivered to the Saints

Easy to Read, Summaries of Papers on the Church and our Dispensation by John Nelson Darby

During the 1800′s, and up to the early 1900′s God gave His Church teaching which has been of great blessing to millions.  Men like John Nelson Darby (JND), Macintosh, Wigram, Stoney, Raven, Coates, Taylor (Sr), with others perhaps less known like Bellatt, Dennett etc opened up the thoughts of the Lord’s coming, the hope of the Church, deliverance from sin, eternal life, the person and glory of the Holy Spirit, the Service of God, household baptism and much else.  They also helped Christians navigate their way through the confusion caused by the public breakdown of the Church, freeing them from sectarianism and clericalism.  Words like ‘dispensationalism, pre-mellenniumism, pre-trib(ulationism)’ have been used – but their object was to be free of what dishonoured the Lord to serve Him to His glory.

Some writings, like Darby’s are convoluted long and difficult, particularly to the young believer.  Even at 68, I cannot claim to understand all myself, but for the benefit of my brethren (and my own),  I am seeking to produce simplified summaries of a number of JND’s classic papers, books and words.  This task has just been started.

I trust that God gives me the strength and resolve to continue, and I also pray that He helps me to bring out accurately and comprehensively the teaching of the papers without losing their appeal to exercised souls. Your comments are valued.

I also am happy to enter into correspondence (using my real name) with any about the truths, but will avoid contention and arguments.

In God’s grace

Sosthenes

Special Note

These are summaries, in my own words, and whilst I have sought to convey the spirit and meaning of the original, I am only too aware of my limitations.  Care should be taken, therefore, in quoting from A Day of Small Things.  Also, please do not attempt to attribute what has been written here to the original author, except where it is clearly a quotation.

  J N Darby The Faith once delivered to the Saints
  J N Darby Darby Simplified – The Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ
  J N Darby  Darby Summary – Separation from Evil, God’s Principle of Unity
   J N Darby  Darby Summary – Grace, the Power of Unity and of Gathering
   J N Darby Darby Simplified – On Ecclesiastical Independency 
   J N Darby Darby Simplified – Churches and the Church 
  J N Darby Darby Simplified – The Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ
   J N Darby Darby Simplified – The Notion of a Clergyman, Dispensationally the Sin against the Holy Ghost

 

 

 

The Faith once delivered to the Saints

Summary of Summaries

The Faith once delivered to the Saints”   – or -Knowing where we are, and what God wants us to do, in the Confused State of Christendom

 

In this paper John Darby notes that whatever God sets up perfectly, man ruins.   This applies equally to the Church and we must accept our part in its public failure.  But it remains the Church, and it is for us to be faithful to the Lord.  We are in the last days and the Lord’s coming is imminent, so we are exhorted to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude:3).

Despite the public situation, we need to have a conscience as to what is evil, and keep close to the Lord,   We must heed the Holy Spirit, judging evil, resting the word, not the teachings of men.  We must be prepared to act alone or with just a few.  Only then we can then get a view of God’s work, and know what God’s mind is for us on our path, individually and collectively.  And we can trust in God, not in our own reasoning – in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength:” (Isaiah 30:15)

Church Unity and Sectarianism – or -The Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ

 

That they all may be one; John 17:21

In this paper Darby’s objective was to show Christians how the Church can be united according to the Word of God, and how it should operate consistently.  The Church would therefore be strengthened in its hopes, showing the world the power of God’s grace.  At the same time believers would be led to rely more on the Holy Spirit and less on human plans and co-operative schemes.

Darby looks at the way in which the public Christian Church has degenerated with worldliness, human organisation, tolerance of evil and sectarian fragmentation, running counter to the Lord’s words That they all may be one.

Church unity cannot be achieved by human compromise and confederacy.  It can only be in looking to the Lord Himself, giving Him His place, by the Holy Spirit, going forth to him without the camp and being not of the world.

Separation from Evil and Christian Unity- or – Separation from Evil, God’s Principle of Unity

 

Darby observed that, despite the brokenness of the church publicly, right-minded Christians were craving for unity.  However, for Christians to be united, their union must be centred on God, who is righteous and holy.

 

But we are in a secular and religious world that is full of evil, and God cannot be united with evil.  The Christian must separate from what is evil before unity can be considered.  Christ – who died, rose again and ascended is to be the Centre, and the Lord’s Supper the symbol and expression of unity and fellowship.  Let us go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

If the Church is to be maintained separate from evil, it is called upon to judge them that are within.  Only thus can Christian unity be maintained in the power of the Holy Spirit and with an honest conscience.

God’s Love and Grace – Holiness, Unity and Christian Gathering – or Grace, the Power of Unity and of Gathering

 

After maintaining that separation from evil must be the principle of unity, Darby was at pains to show that it cannot be the power to gather Christians.  Holiness may attract them together, but the power to gather is grace, working in love – love through faith.  If Christians gather purely out of separation from evil, they become occupied with the evil, which is not of God.

We are to be separated from evil, but separated to God.  And that is in grace, so we abound in love towards one another, our fellowship being with the Father and the Son, grace alone having revealed God’s heart.  Active love gathers us together.

Independent Churches, Independent Local Assemblies, Personal Judgment and Conscience – or – On Ecclesiastical Independency

 

Darby observed the tendency of Christians to confuse their private, independent judgment with their conscience.  My individual judgment, even if well intentioned, may be as a result of my own will, and I will act independently, whereas conscience relates to God’s rights, the Word and the Lord’s authority.  If I am disobedient, I am acting independently, in self-will, and am despising God’s authority.

There is only one Church of God – the body of Christ.  An action in one gathering is binding on all, even if I personally have reservations about it.  Scripture does not support independent churches, whether in a place or universally.  Although many Christians might prefer to belong to independent assemblies, these are unscriptural, the work of Satan and positively evil, flying in the face of known truth.

If there is blasphemy in a local assembly or association with it, then I have to act.  That is not independence, but I am acting in the light of the whole:  “Because we, being many, are one loaf, one body; for we all partake of that one loaf (1 Corinthians 10:17 JND).  We profess to be one body whenever we break bread; scripture knows nothing else.

The Church as the Body of Christ, the Church as the Habitation of God, and Local Churches – or – Churches and the Church

 

In this paper, J.N. Darby introduced the thought of the local assembly and its function.

Most people, Christians included, think of churches in terms of the Anglican Church, the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Church, the Roman Catholic Church etc., and the structures, church organisations and buildings associated with them.  However, scripturally the Church is the Body of Christ, and churches the expression of that body in a place.  Teachers, shepherds, evangelists and other gifts apply to the whole Church.  Elders (or overseers) are local.  The idea of a single person, appointed or voted into a professional position is totally of man’s order and sets aside the Spirit of God.

If we believe that the public church is ruined, and governed by man, not the Holy Spirit, then we should humbly cry to the Lord.  He will meet us in our need.

The Evil of Clericalism – or – The Notion of a Clergyman, Dispensationally the sin against the Holy Ghost

 

When John Nelson Darby, a former clergyman himself, published ‘The Notion of a Clergyman, dispensationally the sin against the Holy Ghost.’ with its understandably provocative title, it was said that he was accusing every clergyman or appointed leader of committing the sin against the Holy Spirit.  He was at pains to show that this was far from the truth.

Darby’s issue was that any human appointment, whether by delegation or election, substituted the direct sovereign action of the Holy Spirit, by that of man. This is the notion of a clergyman.  The system is wrong.  It substitutes man for God.  True ministry is by the gift and the power of God’s Spirit, not by man’s appointment.

If the authority of the clergy is derived from man, it follows that anything that is of God, by the Holy Spirit must be condemned by the system and classed as evil.  This, then, is the sin against the Holy Spirit in this dispensation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing where we are, and what God wants us to do, in the Confused State of Christendom

A summary by Sosthenes of John Nelson Darby’s

“The Faith once delivered to the Saints” 

What God sets up perfectly, main ruins.  This applies equally to the Church publicly.  But it remains the Church, and it is for us to be faithful to the Lord accepting our part in its public failure.  We are in the last days and the Lord’s coming is imminent, so we are exhorted to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude:3).

We need to have a conscience about what is evil, and to keep close to the Lord, recognising the public situation. We must heed the Holy Spirit, so as to judge evil, and rest on the word, not the teachings of men.  We must be prepared to act alone or with few and then we can then get a view of what God has here.  So we should know what God’s mind is for us on our path, individually and collectively.  And we can trust in God, not in our own reasoning – in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength:” (Isaiah 30:15)

To view the complete paper – The Faith once delivered to the Saints

To download book (JND Collected Writings – Vol 32 Miscellaneous 1 – p379) containing this article click here

Trusting in God

God in grace has put us, Christians, on a path, both individually and collectively.  It is important therefore for us to know where we are on that path and what God’s mind for us on it.   Our circumstances may vary, but God’s principles never vary.  While God’s thoughts do not change, we need spiritual discernment to see where we are, and how we can go on with God, without departing from the great principles laid down for us in God’s Word.

God said to a rebellious people, under attack in Hezekiah’s time “in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength:” (Isaiah 30:15). The people were being called “not my people” (Hosea 1:9).  God’s mind never changed as to His people, but they were protected during Hezekiah’s time. Later they were to experience judgment.  Still those who trusted would be preserved.

Man spoils what God sets up

In Adam, Noah, Aaron, Solomon and Nebuchadnezzar, God set up something good.  Man spoilt it.  That is because of his poor human nature.  We must bear this in mind when assessing our position, otherwise it will become our own ruin.  We cannot plead God’s faithfulness and promises in order to sanction evil.

As God carries on, a remnant is preserved in tune with Him.  So just before the Lord came there were small numbers – Zacharias, Mary, Simeon, Anna – they were awaiting redemption.  They knew one another and were intelligent too as to the Lord’s entry.  Meanwhile Israel rejected Christ when He came.

There was soon Failure in the Early Church

If we look at the Church, God’s assembly on earth, in the early days of the Acts of the Apostles, 3000 were converted in one day.  All had one heart and one mind and they had everything in common.   The power of the Spirit of God was there and the place was shaken where they were.

Evil got in when Ananias and Sapphira made things out to be different from what they were.  But because the Spirit of God was there, these two fell dead and fear came upon all, both inside and outside.  However, that line of corruption has continued, so that even before the close of scripture the whole profession was mixed up with the world, and judgment was called for.   Just look at the church now, the Roman Catholic system included!

Have a Conscience about our Position in the Church

Due to a lack conscience, most do not have a sense of the condition that they are in, and also how God is working.   To be intelligent spiritually, as being part of the professing church, we need a sense of our condition.

We may have to act Individually

Abraham acted alone – Look to Abraham … I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him (Isaiah 51:2) .  Being little was of no consequence.  God blessed him; He will bless us still more.

The Church teaching? – and the Holy Scriptures

The Church’s teaching?  People say the church teaches this and that, but who is that? The church? What do they mean?  We never see the church teaching.  The church does not teach – it is taught; individuals teach. But remember that there is no inspired person in the church now to teach with absolute authority.  So for authority we must turn to the Word of God itself.  We must learn from Peter and Paul.

Paul reminds Timothy of the things he had learned – the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:15).

The scriptures are the direct authority of God; they determine everything.  Meanwhile we have His Spirit to communicate things.  We have ministry too, which is a help.  But it is a poor thing if we look only to men as guides.

We are in the Last Days –and it is a time of Judgment

It is on the authority of scripture that we know that we are in the last days.  Unfortunately many people do not appreciate that.  Being in them requires us to have a judgment as to the general condition around us.  What so many do, even if they have right feelings as to the condition, is to shelter in what they regard as the church’s teaching, a wrong principle as we have seen.

We see from scripture that the Church has departed from God, and ruined what He set up.  That was already happening when Jude wrote: it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude:3).

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17).   In Ezekiel judgment was to start at God’s house – begin at my sanctuary, (Ezekiel 9:6).

As to the last days John said, Even now are there many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time. (1 John 2:18).  God has borne with the state of the church for centuries: it has not improved.  Now God is calling souls to Himself in grace (as He did Israel).

Our hearts should take notice:  what was set up so beautifully in the power of God’s Spirit – what has it all come to?  It casts us on the strength that can never fail!

The Lord Judging the Churches

In Revelation 2-3, Christ addresses the seven churches in Asia.   He was not speaking to the churches as Head of the body, though He is always that, but as looking on them in their responsibility to maintain His interests down here on the earth.  This was Christ walking in the midst of the candlesticks, judging the state of the churches.  The Churches had to listen to what He had to say.  What had they made of the blessings that had been entrusted to them?   For example, to the young assembly in Thessalonica (Thessaloniki) the Bible speaks of works, labour, faith, love, patience and hope; but to mature Ephesus it is just works, labour and patience – faith and love were missing.  Indeed in Ephesus the spring was missing – judgement was needed, and the candlestick would be removed if they did not repent.  Hence the faithful were exhorted: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 2:7 etc).

The Public Ruin of the Church

Christians were losing their place. “All seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s.” (Philippians 2:21) , but they did not cease being the church.  Nevertheless it says, “In the last days perilous times shall come; for men shall be lovers of their own selves and so on; (2 Tim. 3:1-2).   Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13).  There is the professing church, such as it is, and things would return to the level of heathendom.   Mere formality was leading to infidelity or superstition and it was clear that this is how things were going.

The Church has failed publicly in being the representative of Christ.  It is not a question of apportioning blame or attacking persons, because we are all involved.   Things were set up so beautifully in the power of God’s Spirit – what have they all come to?  It has not ceased to be the church of God.  But the state of the Church has to be judged.  But grace fits the condition.

The Answer to the Church’s Condition is in Jesus

Christ is as sufficient for the Church now, as He was at when He first set up the church in its beauty and blessedness.  We have to look at His word and see what His mind is, whilst not hiding our eyes from the state we are in.  There is power to overcome in the midst of evil.

Things get mixed up – the good and the evil go on together.  The wise and foolish virgins were all asleep, but things changed at the words ‘Behold the bridegroom cometh’ (Matthew 25:6).  The Lord’s coming is imminent.  Our relationship with God is to be more than our testimony to men, otherwise we will break down and fail.  We must renew our strength.  We must remain in that which was from the beginning.  If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father (1 John 2:24).  The great secret of Christian life is our intercourse with God by the Holy Spirit.  And that makes nothing of ourselves.

When the children of Israel failed in Joshua’s time, they had to get back to Gilgal – complete separation from the world.  But the angel of the Lord went to Bochim, the place of tears.  This means that as well as being separate,  we should feel the situation.

All that will live godly in Christ Jesus will be Persecuted

It does not say that every Christian will be persecuted, but all that will live godly (2 Timothy 3:12).  The world will not stand a man showing the power of the spirit of God.  It drew out the enmity when Christ was here, and it does now.  All those who seek to be faithful to the Lord in days of departure can expect that.

Seeing the Church Here

I see what God set up; I see the unity of the body, and Christ as the Head.  That is what the Church was to be on earth.  Jesus said “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18).  It is Christ’s building, and that building is going on still.  It is not finished.  Paul says of the building, fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.  (Ephesians 2:21).  Now that is what Christ’s work is – men call it the invisible church.

We are building, and if rightly, on the foundation laid by Paul.  If I build with the wrong materials wood, hay, stubble my work will be destroyed.  But Hades gates will not prevail. 1 Corinthians 3:12 .

The Work of the Holy Spirit

As an individual I find that the secret of power of good against evil, outside or inside, is the presence of the Spirit of God, – the Word being the guide.  Paul said to some going on badly, “Do you believe, beloved friends, that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost?” 1 Corinthians 6:19).  Then what kind of persons ought we to be?

It is the same collectively, “know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians  3:16 ).  The presence of the Spirit gives power for real blessing – whether in the church or the individual.

Now, we have true and full redemption; the Holy Spirit dwells in those who believe.  We can be the expression of what Christ was Himself when He was down here.  When a person is really a Christian, God dwells in him; he is sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the power for all moral conduct. If we really believe this should not we be in subjection and not grieving the Spirit?

Things which are inconceivable to man are revealed unto us by God’s Spirit  (1 Corinthians 2:9).  The Spirit of God and the spirit of the world are always in contrast.  What God has revealed is, in spite of our state, and this includes our apprehension of the Church in these days of ruin.

In 1 Corinthians 2 the Holy Spirit is seen in three ways

  • Things are revealed by the Spirit;
  • Things communicated in teaching by the Spirit;
  • Things spiritually discerned  – received by the power of the Spirit.

 

A Warning

I cannot have my private judgment in the things of God.  The moment I get my own thoughts into divine things I start judging the Word of God.  Not accepting God’s word in Scripture is one sign of the evil of our times.  But if I own the Word of God, brought by His Spirit, I hear what God says to me: it judges me; I do not judge it.  It is the divine word brought to my conscience and heart, and who am I to judge God when God is speaking to me?  But it has to be the Word of God – what was inspired at the beginning, and nothing else.

If I were to say I understand and judge the Word of God by itself, I am a rationalist – it is man’s mind judging the revelation of God.  But where I get God’s mind communicated by the Holy Ghost, spiritually discerned, I get God’s mind.  God has given us the wisdom and power to meet the state of ruin in which we are now,  just as at first when He set up the church.  That is what I have to lean upon.

 

 

Darby on Church Unity and Sectarianism

 

A summary by Sosthenes of John Nelson Darby’s

The Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ

 

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me  – John 17:21

In this paper Darby’s objective was, with God’s blessing, to show Christians how the Church can be united according to the Word of God, and how it should operate consistently.  It would therefore be strengthened in its hopes and show the world clearly the power of God’s grace, leading believers to rely more on the Holy Spirit and less on human plans and co-operative schemes.

Darby looks at the way in which the public Christian Church has degenerated with worldliness, human organisation, tolerance of evil and sectarian fragmentation, running counter to the Lord’s words That they all may be one.

Church unity cannot be achieved by human compromise and confederacy.  It can only be in looking to the Lord Himself, giving Him His place, by the Holy Spirit, going forth to him without the camp and being not of the world.

To view the complete paper – Considerations on the Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ 

To download book (JND Collected Writings – Vol 1 Ecclesiastical 1 – p20) containing this article click here

The Truth of the Gospel

All genuine Protestant churches profess the great truths of the gospel.   Receiving the gospel by faith leads to our having pure desires in love and a life for Him who died for us and rose again, a life of hope in His glory.

The Sectarian Situation of the Public Church

However, believers’ standards of unity and gathering are generally very mixed, falling far below God’s.  If unity were based on human standards, God would be acquiescing in the moral inconsistency of degenerate man, sinking below the glory of Christ, without even a testimony to His being dishonoured.

Unity in the Early Church

In the early church there was unity. “The Lord added daily such as should be saved“, was when none said anything was his own (Acts 2:43-47), and their conversation was in heaven (Phil 3:20); for they could not be divided in the common hope of that.  It knit their hearts together.

But soon division began about the goods of the church; for where there could be division, there could be selfish interests.

The Church in the Dark Ages

In the hundreds of years leading up to the Revelation, there had been judgments which dishonoured to God.  Meanwhile the church was sinking, and utterly sank in apostasy.   Indeed, apostasy and moral corruption overwhelmed the professing church.

Witnesses sighed and cried for the abominations that were done in the church.  Even without much spiritual understanding and teaching, but the redemption by the Lord Jesus, they testified against the state of the degenerated church.

The Reformation

We are therefore thankful for the Reformation.   However, this did not institute a pure form of church, but re-established “Justification by faith” in which believers might find life. Sadly, it was mixed with human activities and much of the old system remained.  Whilst those involved were excellent saints, the character of the Church remained short of that which was acceptable to God.

Non Conformist Movements and Sects

As religious and world leaders were more secularly minded and alienated from God, many recognising the authority of the Word of God, separated seeking to follow it more closely.   Hence arose all the branches of nonconformity and dissent.

So long as people pride themselves on being Church of England, Presbyterian, Baptist, Independent, or anything else, they are antichristian. How then are we to be united? –  it must be the work of the Spirit of God.  Believers should consider , “Is Christ divided? (1 Cor 1:13) whereas there is among you envying and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Cor 3:3)  Darby wrote: “There is no professed unity among you at all.”

What do we see?   Both the Established and non-conformist churches are using unbelievers to gain secular advantages and honours of that world – the very world out of which the Lord came to redeem us.  Are they behaving  like His peculiar people? What can I to do with these things? Nothing.

Because of the diversity of sects, the true Church of God has no avowed communion at all.  This is an anomaly.   Individuals of the children of God are to be found in all the different denominations, professing the same pure faith; but where is their bond of union?  Indeed, the bond of communion is not the unity of the people of God, but in fact on their differences.

If this is correct, we must conclude that one who seeks the interests of any particular denomination is an enemy to the work of the Spirit of God.   Those who believe in “the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:16) ought therefore to keep separate from such activities, otherwise they are drawing back the church to a state occasioned by ignorance and non-subjection to the word.  A most subtle and mental disease prevails amongst groups of Christians, especially those of higher orders.  This can be illustrated by what the disciples said,  “he followeth not us,” (Mark 9:38). Let us not hinder the manifestation of the church by this spirit.  This line of thinking infests groups of Christians, especially those of higher orders.

Could there be a Union of Protestant Churches?

If Protestants formed a formal union, it would be impossible that such a body could be at all recognised as the church of God.  It would be a counterpart to the Roman Church, but without the power of the word and the unity of spiritual life.

No meeting, which is not framed to embrace all the children of God in the full basis of the kingdom of the Son, can find the fullness of blessing, because it does not contemplate it – because its faith does not embrace it.

Protestants have often professed to the Roman Catholics that their unity in doctrinal faith.  Why then is there not an actual unity?  If they see error in each other, ought they not to be humbled for each other?  If there was diversity of mind, instead of disputing on the footing of ignorance, why not wait in prayer, that God might reveal this also unto them?  Yet I well know that, till the spirit of the world be purged from amongst them, unity cannot be, nor can believers find safe rest.

Unity is the glory of the Christian Church; but unity to secure and promote our own interests is not the unity of the church.  It is confederacy, and a denial of the nature and hope of the church and not the Lord’s work.

Non-sectarian Christian movements

The people of God have found a sort of remedy for this disunion in the Bible Society, and other missionary ventures, giving a sort of vague unity in the common acknowledgment of the word, or of of desire and action.  In many instances the genuine cravings of a mind actuated by the Spirit of God has been behind it, and doubtless partially afforded testimony to what the Church was.

How God sees the Disunity in the Christian Church

Sensing our immense distance from genuinely exhibiting the purpose of God in His church, we ought to be thankful that He still deals with us. It should lead us also to seek Christ’s current mind, so that our path may be according to His present will, rather than our own.

It was God’s purpose in Christ to gather into one all things in heaven and on earth; reconciled unto Himself in Him; and that the church, by the energy of the Spirit should be the witness of this on earth. Believers would know therefore that all who are born of the Spirit have substantial unity of mind, so as to know and love each other, as brothers and sisters.  What is more, they were so to be all one, as that the world would know that Jesus was sent of God.  But this is not all.  Sadly this has not been fulfilled in practice, and in this we must all confess our sad failure.

Are believers happy with the current state of the Church?  Clearly not.  Do we not believe that it has, as a body, utterly departed from Christ?  Has it been  restored so that He would be glorified in it at His appearing?   Is there not a practical spirit of worldliness at variance with the death and coming again of the Lord Jesus as Saviour.

Darby said “I shall seek to establish healthful principles: for it is manifest to me, that it must flow from the growing influence of the Spirit of God and His unseen teaching; but we may observe what are positive hindrances, and in what that union consisted.”

The Self-complacent Christian Church

Christians are little aware how the spirit of the world prevails in their minds and how they seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ.  While the spirit of the world prevails spiritual union cannot subsist.  Believers think, because they have been delivered from secular dominion, that they are free from the practical spirit which gave rise to it; and because God has wrought much deliverance, therefore they are to be content.  In this state of self-complacency, the springs of grace and spiritual communion dry up.

We have learned to trust in too much in the outward ‘Temple of the Lord’, adorned with goodly stones and gifts, and have ceased to look to the Lord of the temple.  We have almost ceased to walk by faith.  The unclean spirit of idolatry may have been purged out; but the great question still remains, whether there is the effectual presence of the Spirit of the Lord.

The original State of the Christian Church cannot be restored

Those who parted the Saviour’s garments among them could not rend that inner vest – which was inseparably one in its nature.  That has fallen into the hands of those who do not care for Him, the Lord will never clothe Himself with it again.

The Christian’s Call

Should believers to correct the churches? Darby says, “I am beseeching them to correct themselves, by living up, in some measure, to the hope of their calling. I beseech them to show their faith in the death of the Lord Jesus, and their boast in the glorious assurance which they have obtained by it, by conformity to it – to show their faith in His coming, and practically to look for it by a life suitable to desires fixed upon it”. Let believers testify against the secularity and blindness of the church; but let them be consistent in their own conduct. “Let your moderation be known to all men.” (Phil 4:5)

The Practical Way for the Christian Believer

We as believers can see in ourselves things that are practically inconsistent with the power of Lord’s return.  We are conforming to the world, showing that the cross does not have its proper glory in our eyes.   However,  we can be thankful that we have a way marked out for us in the word.

Our duty as believers is to be witnesses of what we believe.  God says “Ye are my witnesses” (Isa 43:12) in His challenge to the false gods; and as Christ is the faithful and true Witness, such ought the church to be. Of what then is the church to be a witness? – against the idolatrous glory of the world. How? by its members being in practical conformity to His death, with a true belief in the cross,  crucified to the world, and the world to them.

If we are not living in the power of the Lord’s kingdom, we certainly shall not be consistent in seeking its ends.

Two or three are gathered together in His name

Where two or three are gathered together in His name, (Matt 18:20), there is blessing; because they are met in the fullness of the power of the unchangeable interests of that everlasting kingdom in which it has pleased God, the glorious Jehovah, to glorify Himself.  He has been pleased to make His name and saving grace known in the Person of the Son of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  In the name of Christ, even two or thrr enter (in whatever measure of faith) into the full counsels of God.  They are “God’s fellow-workmen.” (1 Cor 3:9).  Therefore whatever they ask is done, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13).  As we seek the Lord’s glory of the Lord we will find personal blessing.

In the Lord and His Death on the Cross we find Christian Unity

In the Lord alone we find unity.  He declares, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will drawn all men unto me: this he said signifying what death he should die.”  It is then Christ who will draw to Himself by being lifted up from the earth (John 12:32).  So we find His death is the centre of communion till His coming again. In this rests the whole power of the truth and nothing short of this can produce unity.  Otherwise He that gathereth not with him, scattereth Matt 12:30).

The Lord’s Supper is the Symbol of Christian Unity

The outward symbol and instrument of unity is the partaking of the Lord’s supper – for we being many are “One bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” 1 Cor 10:17 And “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. (1 Cor 11:26).  Therefore the essential and substantial unity, to be seen in glory at His coming, is conformity to His death, because that is how the glory was brought about. The Lord’s death is the sole foundation on which a soul is built for eternal glory.

Unity of the Spirit

There are two things in seeking unity, which we have to consider.

  • Are our objects in our work exclusively the Lord’s objects?
  • Is our conduct the witness of our objects?

 

Have we faith in these things? How shall we show it? By acting on these directions of our Lord:  If any man serve me let him follow me, and where I am, there shall also my servant be.  (John 12:26)

Unity of the Christian Church, is the unity of the Spirit, and can only be in the things of the Spirit.  It therefore can only exist between persons who seek to be led by the Spirit of God

So there can only be Christian unity if the Spirit of God brings God’s people together.  And it can only be achieved as they follow the Author and Completer of faith, looking for His return.

Let us go forth to Him

The children of God can but follow one thing – the glory of the Lord’s name, according to the way marked in the word.  They have nothing else left, but as He, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, “suffered without the gate, to go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” (Heb 13:!3)

But what are the people of the Lord to do? Let them wait upon the Lord, according to the teaching of His Spirit, and in conformity to the image of God’s Son, by the life of the Spirit.  Let them go in the footsteps of the flock, as the good Shepherd feeds His flock.  And if this way seem dark, remember the word of Isaiah: “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” (Isa 50:10)

A Plea for the Church

The Lord Himself says, “That they all may be one; as thou Father art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:21-23)

May we as believers consider this word, and see if the Church shining in the glory of the Lord, and fulfilling that purpose for which bit was called.  Do we look for or desire this? or are we content to sit down and say, that His promise cannot be fulfilled?

If we cannot say, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee,”  (Isa 60:1) we should say, “Awake, awake, put on thy strength, arm of the Lord; awake, as in the ancient days, as in the generations of old” (Isa 51:9)

“Surely the eye hath not seen nor ear heard what He prepareth for him that waiteth for Him”.  (1 Cor 2:9)

 

 

 

Darby Simplified – On Separation from Evil and Christian Unity

 

A summary by Sosthenes of John Nelson Darby’s

Separation from Evil, God’s Principle of Unity

 

Every right-minded Christian feels the need of unity. However if Christians are to be united, the union must be centred on God who is righteous and holy. The secular and religious world is full of evil, and God cannot be united with evil. The Christian must separate from the evil – and only then can unity be considered. Christ – who died, rose again and ascended is to be the Centre, and the Lord’s Supper the symbol and expression of unity and fellowship. Let us go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

If the Church is to be maintained separate from evil, it is called upon to judge them that are within. Thus Christian unity is maintained in the power of the Holy Spirit and an honest conscience.

To view the complete paper – Separation from Evil – God’s Principle of Unity – Click here

To download book (JND Collected Writings – Vol 1 Ecclesiastical 1 – p353)  containing this article click here

Christians desire Unity, but how?

Every right-minded Christian feels the need of unity now. Saints appreciate both grace, truth, and also the one body. However, we all feel the power of evil, in Christendom.  Christians of all types cannot be blind to that.

But there are many opinions as to how unity can be achieved.  Some people might continue to trust in their existing bulwarks in spite of the many shortcomings they find; others might trust in a particular aspect of the truth, others to a union through a compromise agreement. None of these are ever satisfactory.

Partisan Sectarianism

Some may abstain from any agreed union, generally due to existing obligations or relationships. They tend only to form a party.

If denominationalism is used as a basis of some kind of church unity, any divergence is regarded as divisive. Denominationalism attaches the name of Christian unity to what is not God’s centre and plan of unity.

God Himself has to be the Spring and Centre of Unity

God Himself has to be the spring and centre of unity, which He alone may be in power or name. Any centre of unity outside God is a denial of His Godhead and glory, an independent centre of influence and power. God is one – the righteous, true, and sole centre of true Christian unity. What is not of God is rebellion. God should be the centre in blessing and power.

Unity in Creation

The principle of unity is true in creation. It was shaped in unity with God as its only centre. It will be brought back into unity once more, centred in Christ as Head, since all things were created by him, and for him. (Colossians 1:16).

It was man’s glory to have dominion with Eve as his dependent help-mate. He was the image and glory of God. His dependence made him look up to God.

The Fall of Man

Man’s fall reversed this. Man became independent – in sin and rebellion he has become the slave of a mightier rebel than himself.  Initially, he was in innocence, a blessed but not a divine state.  But this was lost in his assertion of independence.  If man became as God, knowing good and evil, it was because he had a guilty conscience.  He knew evil and had become the slave of it.  And he could not sustain himself.  He had morally lost his dependence on God to rely on himself.

Separation from Evil necessarily becomes sole Basis of Unity

Evil then exists. The world is in wickedness, while the God of unity is the Holy God. God cannot be united with evil. Thus, separation from evil necessarily becomes the sole basis and principle of unity. As evil and consequently corruption exists, those who desire to be in God’s unity must be separate from it. Otherwise one is attaching God’s authority to evil, rebelling against His authority, and being independent of Him.  God must be the centre and power of that unity.

Worldliness destroys Unity

Worldliness always destroys unity. The flesh cannot ascend to heaven, nor go down to meet every need in love. It walks in schismatic self-importance. “I am of Paul,” etc. ” The sectarian minded Christians in Corinth were earthly-minded and unity had disappeared.

False Unity is not of God

Latitudinarianism or the maintenance of outward unity by broad religious tolerance unity might be respectable and amiable in the religious world, as it is often connected with good intentions. However it is permissive and does not exercise the conscience. Often those with liberal views will regard those who do not subscribe to these views as narrow, divisive and sectarian.

Confederacy, or the outward bringing together of different groups, is not unity. This unity is professed to be of the church of God, but it is not based on separation from evil.  Bringing companies together without evil being dealt with is a serious matter. The only way that such confederacy is held together is by the clerical principle. Indeed, the Holy Spirit cannot be its power, and clericalism takes its place, guides and rules in its place. Otherwise such a body falls apart.

God is Working in the Midst of Evil to Produce a Unity of which He is the Centre and the Spring, and which owns His authority

God is not doing this by judicially clearing away the wicked. But He cannot unite with or have a union with anything that serves the wicked. So He separates the called ones from the evil. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 2 Corinthians 6:17-18

God says “Come out from among them“. He could not have gathered true unity around Him otherwise. Since evil exists (our natural condition) there can only be union where the Holy God is the centre and power by separation from evil. Separation is the base of unity and union.

Unity must have a sole and unrivalled Centre – It is Christ

For unity to be maintained there must be an intrinsic power holding the union to its exclusive centre. When such a centre is found it denies all others. There must also be a power separating from evil from it when it arises. The answer is simple for the Christian – Christ. He is the object of the divine counsel – the manifestation of God Himself – the unique vessel of mediatorial power, entitled to unite creation as He is the one by whom and for whom all things were made.   To the church He is its Redeemer, its head, its glory, and its life.  This is a double headship – He is the head over all things to the church which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:23).

Christ becomes, as the centre of divine affections in man, the One round which Christians are to be gathered. He is the sole divine centre of unity. Hence Jesus says “he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” (Luke 11:23). Even in death He said: “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32) And more specifically, He gave Himself “not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God which were scattered abroad.” (John 11:52) But here again, we find this separation of a peculiar people, “He gave himself for us that he might . . . purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”(Titus 2:14). He was the very pattern of the divine life in man, separate from the evil around. He was the friend of publicans and sinners, displaying grace and love to men; but He was always the separate Man.

The Church’s Centre

Christ is the both centre of the church and the high-priest. “Such a high-priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” – and, it is added, “made higher than the heavens.” (Hebrews 7:26) So the centre and subject of this unity is heavenly. By His death He broke down the middle wall of partition, dividing Jew and Gentile, making them into one. Now as risen, higher than the heavens He becomes the centre and exclusive object of unity amongst Christians.

Let us go forth to Him without the Camp, Bearing His Reproach

Let us go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” (Hebrews 13:13). The Lord’s own were not to be taken out of the world, but kept from the evil, and sanctified through the truth. Accordingly, Jesus has set Himself and us apart to this end.

The Holy Spirit is the Centre and Power down here of the Unity of the Church in Christ’s name

The Holy Spirit was sent down from heaven to identify the called ones with their heavenly Head, and to separate them to Christ out of the world in which they were to remain. Hence God Himself in the Holy Spirit, as dwelling amongst them, becomes the centre and power down here of the unity of the church in Christ’s name. The saints, therefore are gathered into one, became the habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22). Indeed, the very name of Holy Spirit implies it; for holiness is separation from evil. Otherwise we would provoke the Lord to jealousy, as if we were stronger than He.

The Lord’s Supper is the Symbol and Expression of Unity and Fellowship

For we, being many, are all one bread (loaf), for we are all partakers of that one bread.(1 Corinthians 10:17).

Unity is maintained by the judicial function in the church

How will separation from evil maintain unity?  Here we must touch on mystery of iniquity, since the very nature of the Holy God cannot be put aside.  Separation from evil is the necessary result of The Holy Spirit of God’s presence.  Through holiness there is the power to reject evil.  This has a direct effect on believers’ conduct and fellowship.  When evil arises there is the power against evil because of the need to maintain the sanctity of the position.  Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)

Thus the church maintains its separation from evil.  And unity is maintained within the power of the Holy Spirit and an honest conscience.

Let every one that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity

The Lord exposes evil to the body through the word or by judgment.  In so doing it maintains the body’s spiritual energy, holding to His glory and its place.  If the church refuses to answer to God’s nature and character, by not separating from evil, it becomes a false witness for God.  Then the primary and changeless principle recurs, the evil must be separated from. “Let every one that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19).  Whatever the consequences are, it makes no difference: it is a matter of faith.

For the saint in these days who seeks to walk truly and thoroughly with God, these principles are fundamental.

J N Darby  – Summary by Sosthenes – August 2013

 

 

Darby Simplified – On God’s Love and Grace – Holiness, Unity and Christian Gathering 

A summary by Sosthenes of John Nelson Darby’s

Grace, the Power of Unity and of Gathering

 

Grace is the active power that unites and gathers saints together.  Separation from evil is necessary, but it cannot be the power to gather Christians. Holiness may attract, but the power to gather is grace, working in love – love through faith.

We are to be separated from evil, but separated to God.  And that is in love, so we abound in love towards one another, our fellowship being with the Father and the Son, grace alone having revealed God’s heart.  Active love gathers us.

If Christians gather purely out of separation from evil, they become occupied with the evil, which is not of God.

To view the complete paper – Grace, the Power of Unity and of Gathering 

To download book (JND Collected Writings – Vol 1 Ecclesiastical 1 – p366) containing this article click here

God’s Holiness, Love and Grace

In God’s nature there is both holiness and love. As Christian saints we possess these because of the life that has been given to us.  Holiness, is needed by all who approach God, but love, the spring of activity, provides the energy for us to do so.  God is holy – God is not just loving, but love.  Wherever love is found, it is of God, for God is love.  This is the blessed active energy of His being.  And God displays His love in the riches of His grace to sinners.  It is to their eternal blessing as He will show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7)

God imputes no sin to the Church. Through grace and redemption this fact is always blessedly and eternally true.

We are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. (Eph 1:4).  God is holy; God is love, and in His ways, blameless.  We are sinners. but in His love God has put sinners in the place of holiness and blamelessness.  He has shown us favour in the Beloved – In Christ the Son, the blessed one.  We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (what we need) – so we can enter where we can be to the praise of the glory of His grace – and this according to the riches of his grace (Eph 1:6-7)

Our Heavenly Position

When Christ was here He was alone; grace was rejected here, but in His death redemption was accomplished and atonement made.  Jesus has revealed God, even though His power is seen in creation, and we thus know Him to be love and light too. Blessed knowledge!

In the exercise of that love God gathers to Himself those who display that love in Christ. He is the great power and centre.

In bringing us into unity, God has the highest thoughts for us.  In Eph 1:3the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.  In John 20:17, Christ speaks of us as His brethren.  Our wonderful part in sweet and blessed grace is up there in the best and highest sphere of blessing, where He dwells.

We therefore have an inheritance.  The Holy Ghost is the earnest of the inheritance, (Eph 1:14) but not of God’s love. That is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us.  (Rom 5:5).

“Separation from Evil, God’s Principle of Unity.”

Darby’s earlier tract “Separation from Evil, God’s Principle of Unity” bore on state of the Church of God in general, and not any member in particular.  However, anybody denying the basic principles of that tract is not on Christian ground at all.  Is not holiness the principle on which Christian fellowship is based?  And the real message of that tract is simply that.

The Danger of becoming Occupied with Evil

Separation from evil, distinguishes the person who separates from the person who is separated from.  The danger when we separate we get over-occupied with our position as separate – this tends to make our position important to us.  Our treacherous human hearts being what they are, mix up our position with self.  If separation from evil becomes the gathering power, then what is in my mind is my position, and I am over-occupied by its importance.

As a Christian separates from evil, it is the evil acting on the conscience of the new man, which drives him out. He knows it to be offensive to God but if he becomes occupied with the evil, he is in a dangerous situation.  Naturally he is anxious about those he has left, to justify and demonstrate to them clearly the ground on which he left.  Meanwhile those he has left tend to cover things up in order to explain their position.  So our friend becomes occupied with proving the evil to others. This is slippery ground for the heart, to say nothing of danger to love.  This is not holiness, nor separation from evil. It harasses the mind, and cannot feed the soul.

God separates us from evil, but He does not fill the mind if we continue to be occupied with it; because God is not in the evil.  Where conflict with evil not maintained in spiritual power, communion is lost, and it becomes impossible to maintain unity.

Real Holiness is not merely Separation from Evil, but Separation to God from Evil

What is holiness?  Holiness is separation to God.  We are brought to God and to know Him.  The prodigal came to himself and said “I will arise and go to my father.” God says “If thou wilt return, return unto me.” (Jer 4:1) A soul is never really restored until it returns to God.  Even if the fruits of flesh have been confessed, forgiveness and restoration are from God in love.

God is above all. The new holy and divine nature, being exercised in life, revolts from evil when it has to face it.  Natural conscience involves the rejection of evil.  But real holiness is not merely the rejection and the separation from evil, but separation to God from evil.  God is our object.  Real holiness, then, is separation to God, as well as from evil; for only thus are we in the light, for God is light. (1 John 1:7)

So instead of the heart being occupied with the evil, which it abhors, it is filled with good.  This does not weaken separation, but puts the evil quite out of mind and sight. Hence the heart is holy, calm, apart from, and abhorring evil.  God is good, and we can be positively filled with God in Christ.  As we become occupied with good, we become  holy.  Hence we can abhor evil, without occupying ourselves with it.

The soul goes from sin to love, and goes there because love was displayed in Him that was made sin for us.  Love is the power that separates us from evil, and ends all connection with it; for  if I die then to the nature I used to live to, I live hereafter in the blessed activity in love.

Through the Holy Spirit’s working, purifying our affections our souls are  drawn to what is good.   We recognise evil, not by a mere uneasy conscience, but by sanctification.  This is all in the power of God’s grace.

Love precedes holiness

Love comes before holiness, wither mutual amongst the Christian saints , or individual in enjoying the revelation of God.  “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints,” 1 Thess. 3:1213. Also  “Ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. … God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” (1John 1:4-6).  So separation from evil involves walking in the light, in God’s revealed character in Christ, in the truth as it is in Jesus in whom the life was the light of men (John 1:4).  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.  But what makes the fellowship?

Christ therefore becomes the centre.  Jesus had won John’s heart, and was the gathering power into fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.  John knew that by the Holy Spirit. He knew that is what made the fellowship.

The true Character of Christian Fellowship – with Him, where He is, where Evil cannot come

As we have been restored to God together, we can gather to a common Christian fellowship.  We are to have fellowship in something, that is, with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus says “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me”  (John 12:32).  Now here was perfect love, entire separation from all sin and in condemnation of it.  But He is risen and ascended, so It is a heavenly place that He takes, and our gathering through the cross is to Him there, in the good where evil cannot come.  There is our communion – entering into the Father’s house in spirit.  And this is the true character of the assembly, the church, for worship in its full sense.  It remembers the cross, it worships, and all known in heaven before God.

Our fellowship or communion, is in that which is good –  heavenly, no evil being there.  Hence it is said: “If we walk in the light as God is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.”  (1 John 1:7) The only way in which we can walk out of darkness is by walking in the light, that is, with God: and God is love, and were He not, we could not walk there.

And this is true even if realised imperfectly.

Active Love Gathering Us

In love we are bought into fellowship, love acting to bring us together.  In love we have our part.  Love, while sanctifying and maintaining God’s holiness, makes us partakers of it, revealing God and gathering weary souls.

Love is active.  Jesus has revealed God, and we know Him to be love and light; He has given us eternal life.  The Lord said  : “My Father worketh hitherto and I work ”. (John5:17He gave himself . . . that he might gather into one the children of God, which were scattered abroad. (John 11:52)

It is evident to the Christian that love gathers to holiness, and on the principle of it.  Grace alone fully reveals God; without grace that to which we are to be gathered cannot be seen.  Grace reaches the heart.

Law and Grace

The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17). The law told man what he ought to be. It did not tell him what he was, nor did it tell him what God was; that remained concealed.   The truth is not what ought to be, but what is – the reality of all relationships as they are, and the revelation of Him who must be the centre of them.  And that cannot be without grace, for man is a ruined sinner, and God is love.

Through grace, God Himself, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are revealed as They are, and also what man is in perfection, in relationship with God.  We see the contrasts: obedience and disobedience, holiness and sin, God and man, heaven and earth.  With the fullest revelation of Himself, we see His counsels with Christ as the centre. Hence grace is the acting power in and is alone capable of revealing truth; for Christ’s being here is grace; His working is effective grace.

Now grace is the gathering power, gathering into unity, for it must, being divine, gather to itself.  Every renewed soul must know that all such are drawn together to Christ.

Grace reigns through righteousness.  It does it by uniting souls in the power of the Holy Spirit to Jesus, the one who was here, was on the cross, but now as Christ in heaven, where our true place is by faith.

This is love, infinite, divine; and, through the Holy Ghost, we have fellowship with Him.  We join in it.  Now that, we perceive, is the gathering power for Christians who desire to be separate from evil.

A summary by Sosthenes – September 2013 

 

 

Darby Simplified – on Independent Churches, Independent Local Assemblies, Personal Judgment and Conscience

 

A summary by Sosthenes of John Nelson Darby’s

On Ecclesiastical Independency

I must not confuse my private, independent judgment  with conscience.  My conscience relates to God’s rights, the Word and the Lord’s authority.  God has vested authority in persons, even though they are not infallible.  But if I am disobedient,  I am acting independently, in self-will, and despising God’s authority.

There is only one Church of God – the body of Christ.  An action in one gathering is binding on all, even if I personally have reservations about it.  Scripture does not support independent churches, whether in a place or universally.  Many Christians might prefer to belong to independent assemblies, but these are unscriptural, the work of Satan and positively evil, flying in the face of known truth.

If there is blasphemy in an assembly or association with it, then I have to act.  That is not independence, but I act in the light of the whole:  “Because we, being many, are one loaf, one body; for we all partake of that one loaf (1 Corinthians 10:17 JND).  We profess to be one body whenever we break bread; scripture knows nothing else.

To view the complete paper –  On Ecclesiastical Independency

To download book (JND Collected Writings – Vol 14 Ecclesiastical 3 – p301) containing this article click here

Personal Judgment and Conscience

It is a fatal mistake to confuse your private, personal and independent judgment, with conscience.  To do so leads to chaos, confusion and disintegration.  That is the trouble with Protestantism.

A father has authority.  He is not infallible.  But I have to respect his authority, and submit to it, even if I disagree with my father.  If I disobeyed my father whenever it conflicted with personal judgment, I would be despising his authority.  In fact I am putting my self-will above obedience.   Indeed, in many situations – government, employment and so on, obedience is obligatory although there is no infallibility.  Otherwise there would be no order in the world at all.  There is blessing in doing what we know in obedience.

But if Christ’s authority is a stake, a denial of the Word, or the confession of His name, then that is a matter of conscience.  I am bound to love Christ more than father or mother.

However, obeying God rather than man is not to give liberty to the human will.  Scripture does not tolerate that.  We are sanctified to the obedience of Christ.  And this principle – our doing God’s will in simple obedience, without analysing every matter that comes up – is a path of peace.  Many who consider themselves wise do not regard that, but it is the path of God’s wisdom.

Assembly Judgment and Personal Judgment

The same principle applies in the Church.  Say a Christian assembly has put somebody out for evil.  The assembly feels that he is humbled and repentant and restores him.  I think he is not.  It would be a despisal of the assembly for me to refuse to break bread with that person because of my private judgment.  The same applies if the converse is true.  If I think he is humbled and the assembly is not, then I have to continue humbly in prayer and look to the Lord to set things right.

I might disagree with something that arises in my Christian gathering.  Who am I to impose my individual way of thinking on my brethren?    If I set up my judgment as superior to that of the Assembly of God which has been entrusted to care for the Lord’s interests, I am neglecting God’s word and He will not honour me in that.   Moreover, if I leave an assembly because it does not agree with me in everything, I cannot belong to any assembly of God anywhere the world.  I am denying the presence and help of the Holy Spirit, and the faithfulness of Christ to His people.

Darby said: There is such a thing as lowliness as to self, which does not set up its own opinion against others, though one may have no doubt of being right.

One Assembly’s Act Binds Another

Scripture does not support the idea of independent Christian assemblies.  All Christians are members of the Body of Christ.  When the assembly in Corinth was called to act as to the incestuous man in 1 Corinthians 5, that assembly was responsible for maintaining things pure for the Lord, and action was taken by the whole assembly in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.   The wicked person could not have been received in Ephesus  or nearby Cenchrea.  If assemblies acted as independent churches and received independently of one another, then they would be rejecting the unity of the body.  There could then be no practical unity.

Christian unity is maintained by the headship of Christ, not by His lordship.  Christ is Lord to individuals, but Head to the whole body, – head over all things to the church.  (Ephesians 1:22).  Therefore unity is not by lordship.  Obedient, godly individuals will help to maintain it; but unity is the unity of the Spirit, in the whole body, not in multiple bodies.

As to Church unity, scripture does not speak about churches or a bond linking individual churches. Unity does not consist of union of churches.  The idea of Independent churches: one body of Christians being independent of every other but united by voluntary association, is unscriptural.  It is a simple denial of the unity of the body.

What is an Assembly Judgment?

If a judgment is made by one or a few dominant Christians in an assembly, not by the whole assembly, then the Lord’s place in the midst of an assembly is set aside. Individuals are acting in the flesh.  It cannot be called an assembly judgment.

The saying “Obedience to first Christ, then the Church” is totally unscriptural.  That is separating the two: if Christ is not in the church, then it is not the Church of Christ.  It would justify my putting private judgment above that of the assembly.

What about Serious Church Matters?

If a Christian assembly supports or associates with what is blasphemous, then that is a totally different matter.  I cannot be associated with that.  I cannot use lowliness as to self to justify my remaining in that assembly; I would be setting aside the idea of the Church of God.  I am free to act: we are a flock, not an enclosure.

What the Church must Judge

The judicial authority of the Church of God is in obedience to the word.  Paul says “Do ye not judge them that are within? Them that are without God judgeth. Wherefore put out from among yourselves that wicked person.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)  Where a person has been judged unfit for Christian fellowship,  Christians everywhere are bound to respect it.   Even if something had been done in the flesh, it is met by recognising the supreme authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the presence of the Spirit of God amongst the saints.

It is wrong for one Christian church or assembly to assume the competency to judge another.  Otherwise that would justify independent churches.  This is unscriptural and denial of the whole structure of the Church of God.  Many Christians understandably prefer to be members of independent churches; it is more comfortable, and they can choose an assembly that suits them, but that is wrong.  The Church is not a voluntary association; It is not formed of independent churches, each acting for itself.  When Antioch admitted Gentiles, there was no suggestion that Jerusalem would not.  There is one body and every Christian has the duty to maintain its unity.  Self-will might wish otherwise, but grace certainly does not.

What if there are Difficulties in the Assembly?

We do not have an apostolic centre now, as there was in Jerusalem in Acts 15.  But we do have the the Holy Spirit, acting in healing grace and helpful gift, and the faithfulness of a gracious Lord who has promised never to leave us or forsake us.  The Holy Ghost acts in the body, maintaining its unity.

But what if the flesh acts in the Christian assembly?  It may do.  But what denies the unity of the Church, and splits it up into independent churches, is unscriptural, and nothing but the flesh.  It is the dissolution of the Church of God.  The remedy is in humble, subject minds, helped by God’s Spirit in maintaining the unity of the body and the Lord’s faithful love and care.  If I cite the question of infallibility to justify my judgment over against divinely-ordained authority met by lowly grace, I am on independent lines, rejecting the whole authority of scripture in its teaching on the subject of the Church.  I am setting up a system of man instead of God.

Is “Two or three Gathered Together” the Assembly of God?

If two or three are gathered together, it is an assembly, and if scripturally assembled in the Lord’s Name, an assembly of God.  If it is the only Christian assembly in a place, it is the assembly of God in that place.  But if souls set up an assembly, and assume the exclusive title of the assembly of God, they may lose sight of the ruin of the church.  Any assembly set up by man’s will, independent of the unity of the body cannot morally claim to be the assembly of God in God’s sight.  The whole independent system is unscriptural, the work of Satan and positively evil, flying in the face of known truth.   Ignorance is one thing; opposition to the truth is something else.

It is alleged that because the Church is in ruins the unity of the body can no longer be maintained.  So if we maintain that but gather to break bread, we are in disorder and defying God’s word “Because we, being many, are one loaf, one body; for we all partake of that one loaf (1 Corinthians 10:17 JND).  We profess to be one body whenever we break bread; scripture knows nothing else.

 

 

Darby Simplified – on the Church as the Body of Christ, the Church as the Habitation of God, and Local Churches

A summary by Sosthenes of John Nelson Darby’s

Churches and the Church

Most people, Christians included, think of churches in terms of the Anglican Church, the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Church, the Roman Catholic Church etc., and the structures, church organisations and buildings associated with them.  Scripturally the Church is the Body of Christ, and churches the expression of this in a place.  Teachers, shepherds, evangelists and other gifts apply to the whole Church.  Elders (or overseers) are local.  The idea of a single person, appointed or voted into a professional position is totally of man’s order and sets aside the Spirit of God.

If we believe that the public church is ruined, and governed by man, not the Holy Spirit, then we should humbly cry to the Lord.  He will meet us in our need.

To view the complete paper – Churches and the Church – Click here

To download book (JND Collected Writings – Vol 20 Ecclesiastical 4 – p318) containing this 

What is the Church?

The Greek word ἐκκλησίᾳ / ekklēsia simply means assembly – generally of citizens or privileged persons.  God’s Church or assembly comprised all believers formed into one by the Holy Spirit. It is viewed as the Body of Christ and also the Habitation of God.

The Church as the Body of Christ

The assembly is the Body of Christ; – his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all (Ephesians 1:23).  It is by one Spirit we are baptised into one body.  The church is still being formed, and it will only be complete in heaven.

Jesus said “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it“  (Matthew 16:18).  Peter understood this and spoke of unto whom coming, as unto a living stone, ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4), and Paul “in whom the whole building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 2:21).  The Lord continues to add to the church those that are to be saved  (Acts 2:47), and He will have it in perfection.   This has resulted in what some call ‘the invisible church’.

When Christ ascended up on high, He gave gifts to men: apostles and prophets were the foundation (Ephesians 2:20); then there were evangelists, shepherds and teachers.  These were set in the whole church or assembly according to 1 Corinthians 12.  So a teacher in Corinth could teach in Ephesus.  A man with a gift of tongues spoke wherever he was, it was a gift to the whole body, to the perfecting of the saints and edifying of the body till we all grow to the stature of Christ  (Ephesians 4-12:13).  Christians were to wait on one another in prophesying or exhorting.  Women were to keep silent in the assemblies.

The Church as the House (or Habitation) of God

There is another view of the Church, that is the House, a habitation of God, but built by people in responsibility.  God did not dwell with Adam or Abraham, but  He did with Israel after it was redeemed out of Egypt.  He now dwells in the house of the living God, by the Holy Spirit, consequent on Christ’s redeeming work on the cross, His resurrection and ascension.   The house is where the Holy Spirit dwells –  a habitation of God through the Spirit,” (Ephesians 2:22).

That is in spite of the fact that man has built a lot that is not of God.  Paul says “As a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, but let every man take heed how he buildeth thereon (1 Corinthians 3:10)That means that there can be a lot of things which were not sound structurally – wood and hay and stubble, fit only to be burned.  However, God has not yet executed judgment, but this is why, when He does judgment must begin at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17)

That is how the church or assembly is depicted in scripture.

What are Churches or Assemblies?

In New Testament times, Churches were local.  Believers could not meet all in one place so there were assemblies in each town or city, each forming God’s assembly, the unity of the body, in that place.  There was one church in Corinth, one in Thessalonica, Jerusalem or Ephesus; in Galatia, a province, there were several.  Wherever there was an assembly it could be addressed as such.  Paul could write a letter unto the church of God which is at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:2), and that was to the whole assembly in that city.  It could be small or large, from ‘two or three’ to hundreds or thousands.  Elders or overseers looked after God’s flock.

They did not have church buildings – they met in houses.  The Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands (Acts 7:48).  Many houses must have been used, but there was just one assembly in the place and elders related to the whole assembly in the place.  The Christians that composed it were members of the whole body, not the local one, the only membership seen in scripture being of the whole of Christ’s body.

Elders (called bishops in KJV, but the word means ‘overseer’) were local.  Qualifications were needed:  blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach (1 Timothy 3:2) , Gift was not essential, though the ability to teach was desirable.   They were elders in the one assembly of God, in the place in which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers (Acts 14:23Titus 1; Acts 20:28

The State of Churches Now

Churches are totally different now.  Although the Lord still speaks, and those who have been raised up may minister as God has given them the word, man has organized them according to his fancy. The thought of Church of God has been forgotten save for owning some ‘invisible church’ to which the Lord is faithful.  This is sad, because if it is to be the light of the world, how can it be invisible?  It may be more visible when persecuted for there people give their testimony under extreme conditions.

Publicly the church has sunk into popery, or eastern orthodoxy, or Protestantism.  In the latter governments have set up national churches.  For some time after the reformation people were coerced into certain churches, but later there was religious liberty.  This led to the setting up of independent or non-conformist churches, but nobody thought of anything other than systems of organized churches, humanly united.  The unity of the body of which we were all members and that the Holy Spirit was here, the gifts being given by Christ, and those with them bearing responsibility for the whole church; all this was wholly forgotten and left aside.  Truth as contained in scripture as to the Church and the presence of the Holy Spirit was ignored.

In the establishment, episcopal authority is deemed to be passed on by succession.  Furthermore, they claim to make people members of Christ by baptism of water – totally unscriptural, instead of  seeing that one Spirit are we all baptized into one body(1 Corinthians 12:13).  Baptism is to the death of Christ.

Even outside the episcopal system assemblies are formed by men who appointe or vote for a man, or woman, at their head.   Sometimes this causes a division.  People regard themselves as members of this so-formed church or assembly – a body organised by man and acting humanly.  They may be members of Christ or not: what counts is that they are members of a particular assembly.  The way this is done varies but the Holy Spirit is totally left out of consideration.  From beginning to end, all action is of man.

What is more, the assembly has a single church leader, be it a vicar, pastor or minister.  That person, often salaried, will think of it has his flock, not the flock of God.  If gifted, he may be a preacher,  but he preaches in his church; his gift is constrained to one place.  He may even not even be converted, but he has been educated for the ministerial profession and ordained.   His object is to increase the congregation, especially of well-to-do people who can contribute to the church’s funds and influence.  If he does not succeed he may be dismissed or forced to resign.  God’s constitution for the church has ben substituted by man’s and the Holy Spirit’s power and order is ignored, if it is believed on at all.  The results – let us not even talk about them!  The miserable consequences are well known in the church and in the world too.

The Scriptural View of Churches

In scripture there is no thought of a membership of a particular church, or a vicar, minister or pastor of a flock peculiar to him, and no thought of a voluntary assembly with its own policies or principles.  There is God’s church or assembly, not man’s churches.  If Paul wrote a letter “To the assembly of God in x”, where would it be delivered now?  No such body exists because churches have set aside the Word, the church of God and the Holy Spirit.

There are evangelists, shepherds and teachers.  But they should exercise their God given talents wherever they happen to be, not in a nominated church where they are appointed or chosen, and certainly not amongst ‘their flock’.  Gifts are for the whole church.

How should a Christian view the State of Christian Churches?

When questioned, the answer from Christians who appreciate what is right is often, ‘That is how it is’.  Godly, conscientious people are conversant with the state of things, and may acknowledge the principles that we have seen.  Their groans are heard.  But the system makes them powerless. They are hindered by the fear of man, and the desire to be pleasing to men.  Paul said if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:10).  Exercised souls need to act in faith trusting God, by His Spirit, to rule and bless His own house.

2 Timothy 2 and 3 clearly point out the condition of the church in the last days, and the pathway for the believer who acknowledges that condition.

Darby asks the simple question:  Is the existing order of things scriptural or anti-scriptural? … Happy is he who follows the word, and owns the Spirit, if he be alone in doing so. The word of the Lord abides for ever, as does he who does His will.

 

 

Darby Simplified – on the Evil of Clericalism – or

The Notion of a Clergyman, Dispensationally the sin against the Holy Ghost

 

When John Nelson Darby, a former clergyman himself, published ‘The Notion of a Clergyman, dispensationally the sin against the Holy Ghost.’, with its understandably provocative title he was said that he was accusing any clergyman or appointed leader of committing the sin against the Holy Spirit.  He was at pains to show that this was far from the truth.

Darby’s issue was that any human appointment, whether by delegation or election, substituted  the direct sovereign action of the Holy Spirit, by that of man. This is the notion of a clergyman.  The system is wrong. It substitutes man for God. True ministry is by the gift and the power of God’s Spirit, not by man’s appointment.

If the authority of the clergy is derived from man, it follows that anything that is of God, by the Holy Spirit must be condemned by the system and classed as evil.  This, then, is the sin against the Holy Spirit in this dispensation.

To view the complete paper – The Notion of a Clergyman, Dispensationally the Sin against the Holy Ghost – Click here

To download book (JND Collected Writings – Vol 1 Ecclesiastical 1 – p36) containing this article click here

The Church as a Worldly Institution

The word ‘clergy’, or the clerical principle, has the characteristic mark of apostasy in it – that is the substitution of man’s privileged order on God’s Church.   This has resulted in the Holy Spirit’s being despised in the Church.  Instead of those who had the lot of being instructors or spiritual overseers, ministers have now made themselves lords over the people and even the very Church itself.  So people speak of “going into the Church”.

Because this power is attached to the ministry, it has become the Church itself in the eyes of the world.  The world can therefore save itself the trouble of being religious by throwing all on to the clergy, so that irreligious people can regard religion is the clergy’s business, not theirs.  The substitution of the clergy for the Church is essentially apostasy.

It may be asked whether this is not really the sin against the Holy Spirit, merely resistance to Him.  However anything that interferes with the Holy Spirit’s vicarship of Christ in the world is a direct sin against Him is pure, dreadful, and destructive evil.  It is the very cause of destruction to the church.   Alas, even if not knowingly or willingly, every clergyman is contributing to this.

The Exclusive Authority of the Clergy

The Holy Spirit gives the word by whoever and whenever He choses.  But if clergymen have the exclusive privilege of preaching, teaching, and ministering communion, which is what they claim, then in their eyes anything else must be disorder and schism.

This accusation is therefore levelled directly against the sovereign operations of the Spirit of God.  That is ascribing to the power of evil that which comes from the Holy Spirit.  This is the sin (or blasphemy) against the Holy Spirit.  – This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils…whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him (Matthew 12:24,32).

God’s truth is always profitable, and by it the testimony is maintained in the world.  But the principles of the truth were established before their being subjugated by the papal power.  Believers have now to rest on the Lord, or sink into the system.  But dependence on the Lord is by the work of the Holy Spirit.  That is not resting on the official church, so it is condemned by the clerical system.  Hence, the very notion of a clergyman is effectively apostasy and rebellion against God.

 

Appointment of Clergymen and Bishops

Are all clergymen and bishops, occupying a humanly appointed office, converted themselves?  Whilst many are truly godly, there are some who are even haters of God.  If so why are they in that position in the church?  It must be that there is honour attached to the position and that they are authorised to confer honour on others.

Most godly clergymen and bishops will admit that their appointment is not by God. Accordingly, in their position of being clergymen, they are forced either to resist God in the Holy Spirit or to resist the bishops and higher authorities from whom they derive their authority.  Darby ventured to say that the most successful clergymen were the blindest, darkest and most ignorant in the external practice of religion.

And what about the bishops?  Their appointment varies, but they may receive Letters Patent, in Britain by the Sovereign, with the support of the secular authorities.  They, with their invested authority, are not appointed by God at all, but often by godless, worldly politicians.  And if they are honest they will recognise it, even though the system must charge anybody who does not accept their authority with dissention and schism.

Resistance to the Gospel

When the gospel is preached, there is witness to the Redeemer’s love: people are bought into the communion of the Lord’s love, to bear witness to their sole dependence on His dying love.  This witness is by ordinary lay persons.  But their testimony is not accepted because they are not, nor have been brought together by – clergymen!

It will therefore be observed that where there is lay evangelical activity, which is blessed of God, opposition will come from the clergy. Some will even condemn it as evil.  In Britain this will be from the vicars and bishops, in American from the presiding bishops and clergy, in Southern Europe, Latin America and Egypt from the Catholic and Coptic priests, in the Greek church from the papas – even if their numbers fall.

Darby cited a movement at that time in Ireland known as the Home Mission.  Opposition from the Establishment was so strong that meetings were forcibly broken up, and those involved were excommunicated.  This is despite the fact that thousands flocked to hear and enjoy the gospel.  No doubt the clergy thought that it was their exclusive prerogative to preach, and therefore they should hinder any who were not ordained.

The situation is the same whether in Protestantism or Roman Catholicism.  Indeed the status is the same; they are mutually respected,  [witness the 21st century ordinariate].  If one is bound to acknowledge the one, he is bound to acknowledge the other in the same title and office. They are their own witnesses that there is no difference between them in title as clergymen.  The only difference is that one authority is passed down from the Pope, the other from the Sovereign.  In either religion, this is the notion that meets you, as the barrier to God’s truth and work.

The Clergy in the Dark Ages and Afterwards

As Christianity became the imperial religion, the church sunk into worldliness and embraced the world’s methods and standards.  The world therefore became its head.  The world cannot manage a spiritual office, but it can manage global, national, regional and local authorities.  So it set up these authorities to minister, guide and manage the church.

For a long time, due to ignorance and superstition, ecclesiastical offices wielded more power than kings and the secular nobility.   Later secular power reassumed supremacy, but the ecclesiastical structure remained the same.  The world’s geographical secular powers used the church as an instrument to manage the mass of people.  Those who desired to put themselves in Christ’s hand would be regarded as rebellious, because people were taught to rely on the Church rather than on Christ’s hand by the Holy Spirit.  Meanwhile the official church’s – not the true Church of God’s – influence declined.  The church, bound up with the world, has become merely a compound of secular influence and remaining superstition, where spiritual energies are cramped.

The Clergy in the Reformation

The reformation introduced a statement of individual faith, and broke off from the power of Rome and Popery.  But it did not separate the Church from the world.  Outward signs changed, but Christ and His Spirit did not rule.  Darby said he believed that eventually the principle of the clergyman would result in the re-introduction of the power of Popery, since in all cases the religion is based on a doctrine of succession, not on the presence of the Holy Spirit.  No Protestant minister, as a clergyman, can prove his title any more than the Pope can.  It is not a question of what doctrine is held, though in a great number of instances the clergy do not preach the truth, and many would question whether some are even Christians.

The Influence of the Clergy

As a position, the rank of clergyman has an amazing pernicious influence on the minds of people.  This has grown up though its association with the world, and a hindrance the operation of God’s Spirit.  Indeed, it charges the operations of the Spirit of God with evil, as rebellion to its authority, because it does not act within its defined territorial limits, or conform to its secular and ceremonial arrangements. Nor too does the true Church recognize ecclesiastical hierarchy.   Their godly and faithful brethren, acting under the Spirit of God are rejected, and branded divisive schismatics.

The Gifts to the Church

There are gifts: He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:5711); so in 1 Corinthians 12To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit But these are known only as gifts. The notion of a Clergyman substitutes something which cannot be said to be of God at all in the place of all these.  And is not found in Scripture either.

Not being Lords over God’s Heritage

Peter spoke of those who were elders or instructors: Neither as being lords over God’s heritage (κλήρων, kleron), but being ensamples to the flock(1 Peter 5:3).  That is the real meaning of the word kleros or lot.  The only use therefore of the word ‘clergy’ in Scripture is, as applied to the laity, contrasted with ministers, charging them to assume no lordship.

Speaking of “My flock”

How often have we heard that expression from the mouth of a minister or clergyman – “My flock,” as if it were a virtue to think of the congregation as such.  To claim that is a shocking blasphemy, even if not done so knowingly or wilfully.  Not even an apostle would have dared to claim the flock as his own. It was God’s flock which they might be given to oversee – Christ’s sheep – which they might be entrusted with a portion of, a lot (kleros), to feed and guide.  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.  For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:28-30)

Vicars, pastors or ministers who talk about their sheep, or their flock, put themselves in the place of God or His Christ.  They do so because they are clergy: they count it their title as clergy – they would effectively be as gods.  What will they say before the Righteous Judge?

The Clerical System vs. Individual Clergymen

Nevertheless, Darby, having been a clergyman once himself, had high esteem for many individuals amongst the clergy, and he did not doubt that there were many others as worthy that he did not know.  But it is not an individual question, but one affecting God’s glory and the whole order of the Church.  For the official church publicly has departed from God, and has become what it is, both in name and title.  It has become the concentration of that which, by its denial of the Holy Ghost and gratuitous blasphemy against Him, brings destruction on all to which it is attached.

Conclusion – The clergy identifies the Church with the world, not God with the Church

The clerical system identifies the church with the world, not God with the Church.  Being of the world it is of Satan, and the world denies, rejects, and even blasphemes the Holy Ghost.

JND concludes: What is the remedy? It must be the recognition of God’s Spirit wherever He operates, personally bowing to His guidance and direction.  The Christian will see as the hand of God, in the Comforter who has been sent to abide with us, and works in us by obedience.  As a result we can possess its joy in boldness, against all that grieves Him.  This we do against joining the world, which cannot own or receive Him, and which denies the truth, of which He is the witness.

May the Lord give us to discern things that are not of the Holy Spirit, and to separate the precious from the vile.

A summary by Sosthenes – September 2013 

 

 

J.N. Darby – A true Churchman

 

John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), an Anglo-Irish evangelist, was led to the fierce conclusion that all churches, as man-made institutions, were bound to fail. The believer’s true hope was the return of Jesus Christ. With others Darby gathered in a less formal way, free of clergy and human structure, founded on a desire to be separate from unholy organisations.

Darby, after resigning his curacy in the Church of Ireland, became a tireless traveller, talented linguist and Bible translator. His influence is still felt in evangelical Christianity.  He is credited with opening up the truth of the dispensational character of the ways of God with men, the Lord’s coming and the rapture of the Church – nowadays called pre-trib or pre-millennial dispensationalism

For more on this servant of the Lord please see

 

Copies of JND’s Collected Writings are available from

Kingston Bible Trust – Wembley Gardens, Lancing, West Sussex BN15 9LX Phone: 01903 764373 e-mail: sales@kingstonbibletrust.co.uk  (Malcolm Withell)

Bibles etc – Bibles, etc. Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189 USA – web:http://www.bibles-etc.com e:mail wsc@bibles-etc.com (Bill Chellberg)

ADOSS Newsletter – No. 8 – May 2014

Walking in the Light of the Assembly
Theological Seminaries
Baptism
Money, Money, Money,

Σωσθένης Ὁἀδελφὸς – Sosthenes the Brother

sosthenes@adayofsmallthings.com – 

ADOSS Newsletter No 8 – May 2014

Dear Christian Friends

Here is the latest ADOSS Newsletter

Walking in the Light of the Assembly

Special Note

Since writing this newsletter in 2014, I have come to it that much of what I had written was faulty. The biblical principles are of course right, but in the application of them we need to avoid what is sectarian.  In seeking to judge one, it is easy to slip into another.  In 2017, my wife and I had to leave the company of Christians we had met with for over 40 years – that was sad,  We have continued to seek to walk in the Light of the Assembly – but that does not need another book.  Hence I have withdrawn this publication,  Please feel free to contact me sosthenes@adayofsmallthings.com.

This subject has engaged me a lot recently, not least because Satan is doing his best to spoil what is closest to the heart of our blessed Lord.  As soon as man’s mind, with its politics and organisational ability, starts to get involved the result is sorrowful.  The service of praise continues; believers still enjoy bible readings and preachings, but is the Lord still the centre of everything?

Some years ago I was on a plane from San Francisco to Sydney.  Across the aisle from me there was a family of Taylorite Exclusives.  I cried to the Lord for a word for them.  In my bag I happened to have a volume of James Taylor Sr’s ministry (that is the older JT – not his infamous son!).  I found there something I have never found since, though I have tried with the ministry search engine.  It read ‘There comes a time when we realise that the Lord is the centre, not the system’.  So often we make the system the centre, our own sect, our little meeting, our circle of Christian friends or whatever, and we protect it in every way we can.

I am producing another booklet including a paper I have written Walking in the Light of the Assembly.  It is still a draft, so I would appreciate yourcomments and suggestions before putting it forward for publication.  I also include three helpful letters by Charles Coates, and one by J N Darby on the ‘Bethesda’ (ie Open) matter.

May we all have a greater appreciation of the infinite resources available to the Church of Christ, and be filled with grace.  We have been forgiven so much, so we are to be ‘kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you’  (Eph 4:32).

Theological Seminaries – Do we need them?

There are many sincere believers, and sound teachers who work in these institutions.  There are many earnest young Christians, men and women, desirous of serving the Lord, who attend them, and have gone on to serve Him faithfully.  But is there any scriptural basis for them?

I have looked at a few websites recently and there are some noble statements.  The Dallas Theological Seminary, for example, is very much influenced by the ministry of John Nelson Darby, and has produced some worthy alumni, such as my friend Paul Wilkinson.  It states, ‘The mission of Dallas Theological Seminary is to glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders for the proclamation of His Word and the building up of the body of Christ worldwide.’  Nobody could criticise that – in fact the church needs more and more workmen.  But what do many desire?  A Doctor of Ministry degree?  A wonderful graduation ceremony in robes?  And how much does it cost?  not that a degree should be without cost, of course.  Timothy was told ‘for those who shall have ministered well obtain for themselves a good degree, and much boldness in faith which [is] in Christ Jesus.’ (I Tim 3:13 JND).  They get their degree by ministering; they do not get their degree in order to minister.

Furthermore, like any college, it is a social institution with sports, clubs etc., and you only need to look at Facebook to see that.  Nothing wrong, of course, with sport and social activities, but are they part of the church?

There was the School of Tyrannus in Corinth.  It was a place to read and discuss the word, and for interested persons to come to the Lord.  If it was a formal school, I don’t think it was more than a place of convenience for Paul.  Then there was the home of Aquila and Priscilla.  I don’t think either had a doctorate, but they were able to take Apollos (who maybe had one) expound unto him the way of God more perfectly (Acts 18:26).

So, maybe the best place to learn is in the assembly.  We are to learn in the school of God.  There is a good book by James Butler Stoney  (1814-1897) – Discipline in the School of GodMaybe this is a good place to start.  Though we had best start on our knees first.

Baptism

This is a subject which creates quite a bit of debate.  Believers’ baptism, infant baptism, household baptism – which is right?  Baptism by water puts us on Christian ground; it puts us into the house.  It does not confer salvation on us.  It does not put us into the assembly (or church) – By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body  (1 Cor 12:13) – That is because of God’s work, and our faith, which itself is God-given.   In an earlier project, I translated a very helpful letter, which I have put on ADOSS – see Why I could not be a Baptist. – Believers’ Baptism – Infant Baptism – Household Baptism – the House and the Assembly.

ADOSS Website

Even after a few months, the ADOSS website is getting a bit unwieldy.  I am therefore reorganising it, using ‘posts’ rather than ‘pages’ and indexing using categories.  Hopefully I shall avoid dead links, but apologies if you find some.

Money, Money, Money

A song of the world, by Abba, I think!  But I really get upset when I receive messages, some in heart-breaking terms, asking for money.  Maybe there is a genuine need; I don’t know, and cannot judge.  I am happy to help a known individual who I have met, and shared Christian experiences together who have a need.  Other than that there are organisations who know what local needs are, and are worthy of financial support.

I don’t like saying ‘No’, so please do not ask.  I will just point you to our heavenly Father who knows what we need and will give us everything necessary to prove His goodness.   Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.3But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matt 6:31-33)

May you be blessed

Greetings in our Lord’s name.

Sosthenes

 

 

Simplified Darby – God’s Love and Grace – Holiness, Unity and Christian Gathering

After maintaining that separation from evil must be the principle of unity, Darby was at pains to show that it cannot be the power to gather Christians. Holiness may attract them together, but the power to gather is grace, working in love – love through faith. If Christians gather purely out of separation from evil, they become occupied with the evil, which is not of God.

We are to be separated from evil, but separated to God. And that is in love, so we abound in love towards one another, our fellowship being with the Father and the Son, grace alone having revealed God’s heart. Active love gathers us together.

A summary by Sosthenes of John Nelson Darby’s

Grace, the Power of Unity and of Gathering

J N Darby

 

After maintaining that separation from evil must be the principle of unity, Darby was at pains to show that it cannot be the power to gather Christians.  Holiness may attract them together, but the power to gather is grace, working in love – love through faith.  If Christians gather purely out of separation from evil, they become occupied with the evil, which is not of God.

We are to be separated from evil, but separated to God.  And that is in love, so we abound in love towards one another, our fellowship being with the Father and the Son, grace alone having revealed God’s heart.  Active love gathers us together.

To view the complete paper – Grace, the Power of Unity and of Gathering 

To download book (JND Collected Writings – Vol 1 Ecclesiastical 1 – p366) containing this article click here

God’s Holiness, Love and Grace

In God’s nature there is both holiness and love. As Christian saints we possess these because of the life that has been given to us.  Holiness, is needed by all who approach God, but love, the spring of activity, provides the energy for us to do so.  God is holy – God is not just loving, but love.  Wherever love is found, it is of God, for God is love.  This is the blessed active energy of His being.  And God displays His love in the riches of His grace to sinners.  It is to their eternal blessing as He will show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7)

God imputes no sin to the Church. Through grace and redemption this fact is always blessedly and eternally true.

We are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. (Eph 1:4).  God is holy; God is love, and in His ways, blameless.  We are sinners. but in His love God has put sinners in the place of holiness and blamelessness.  He has shown us favour in the Beloved – In Christ the Son, the blessed one.  We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (what we need) – so we can enter where we can be to the praise of the glory of His grace – and this according to the riches of his grace (Eph 1:6-7)

Our Heavenly Position

When Christ was here He was alone; grace was rejected here, but in His death redemption was accomplished and atonement made.  Jesus has revealed God, even though His power is seen in creation, and we thus know Him to be love and light too. Blessed knowledge!

In the exercise of that love God gathers to Himself those who display that love in Christ. He is the great power and centre.

In bringing us into unity, God has the highest thoughts for us.  In Eph 1:3the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.  In John 20:17, Christ speaks of us as His brethren.  Our wonderful part in sweet and blessed grace is up there in the best and highest sphere of blessing, where He dwells.

We therefore have an inheritance.  The Holy Ghost is the earnest of the inheritance, (Eph 1:14) but not of God’s love. That is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us.  (Rom 5:5).

“Separation from Evil, God’s Principle of Unity.”

Darby’s earlier tract “Separation from Evil, God’s Principle of Unity” bore on state of the Church of God in general, and not any member in particular.  However, anybody denying the basic principles of that tract is not on Christian ground at all.  Is not holiness the principle on which Christian fellowship is based?  And the real message of that tract is simply that.

The Danger of becoming Occupied with Evil

Separation from evil, distinguishes the person who separates from the person who is separated from.  The danger when we separate we get over-occupied with our position as separate – this tends to make our position important to us.  Our treacherous human hearts being what they are, mix up our position with self.  If separation from evil becomes the gathering power, then what is in my mind is my position, and I am over-occupied by its importance.

As a Christian separates from evil, it is the evil acting on the conscience of the new man, which drives him out. He knows it to be offensive to God but if he becomes occupied with the evil, he is in a dangerous situation.  Naturally he is anxious about those he has left, to justify and demonstrate to them clearly the ground on which he left.  Meanwhile those he has left tend to cover things up in order to explain their position.  So our friend becomes occupied with proving the evil to others. This is slippery ground for the heart, to say nothing of danger to love.  This is not holiness, nor separation from evil. It harasses the mind, and cannot feed the soul.

God separates us from evil, but He does not fill the mind if we continue to be occupied with it; because God is not in the evil.  Where conflict with evil not maintained in spiritual power, communion is lost, and it becomes impossible to maintain unity.

Real Holiness is not merely Separation from Evil, but Separation to God from Evil

What is holiness?  Holiness is separation to God.  We are brought to God and to know Him.  The prodigal came to himself and said “I will arise and go to my father.” God says “If thou wilt return, return unto me.” (Jer 4:1) A soul is never really restored until it returns to God.  Even if the fruits of flesh have been confessed, forgiveness and restoration are from God in love.

God is above all. The new holy and divine nature, being exercised in life, revolts from evil when it has to face it.  Natural conscience involves the rejection of evil.  But real holiness is not merely the rejection and the separation from evil, but separation to God from evil.  God is our object.  Real holiness, then, is separation to God, as well as from evil; for only thus are we in the light, for God is light. (1 John 1:7)

So instead of the heart being occupied with the evil, which it abhors, it is filled with good.  This does not weaken separation, but puts the evil quite out of mind and sight. Hence the heart is holy, calm, apart from, and abhorring evil.  God is good, and we can be positively filled with God in Christ.  As we become occupied with good, we become  holy.  Hence we can abhor evil, without occupying ourselves with it.

The soul goes from sin to love, and goes there because love was displayed in Him that was made sin for us.  Love is the power that separates us from evil, and ends all connection with it; for  if I die then to the nature I used to live to, I live hereafter in the blessed activity in love.

Through the Holy Spirit’s working, purifying our affections our souls are  drawn to what is good.   We recognise evil, not by a mere uneasy conscience, but by sanctification.  This is all in the power of God’s grace.

Love precedes holiness

Love comes before holiness, wither mutual amongst the Christian saints , or individual in enjoying the revelation of God.  “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints,” 1 Thess. 3:1213. Also  “Ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. … God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” (1John 1:4-6).  So separation from evil involves walking in the light, in God’s revealed character in Christ, in the truth as it is in Jesus in whom the life was the light of men (John 1:4).  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.  But what makes the fellowship?

Christ therefore becomes the centre.  Jesus had won John’s heart, and was the gathering power into fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.  John knew that by the Holy Spirit. He knew that is what made the fellowship.

The true Character of Christian Fellowship – with Him, where He is, where Evil cannot come

As we have been restored to God together, we can gather to a common Christian fellowship.  We are to have fellowship in something, that is, with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus says “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me”  (John 12:32).  Now here was perfect love, entire separation from all sin and in condemnation of it.  But He is risen and ascended, so It is a heavenly place that He takes, and our gathering through the cross is to Him there, in the good where evil cannot come.  There is our communion – entering into the Father’s house in spirit.  And this is the true character of the assembly, the church, for worship in its full sense.  It remembers the cross, it worships, and all known in heaven before God.

Our fellowship or communion, is in that which is good –  heavenly, no evil being there.  Hence it is said: “If we walk in the light as God is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.”  (1 John 1:7) The only way in which we can walk out of darkness is by walking in the light, that is, with God: and God is love, and were He not, we could not walk there.

And this is true even if realised imperfectly.

Active Love Gathering Us

In love we are bought into fellowship, love acting to bring us together.  In love we have our part.  Love, while sanctifying and maintaining God’s holiness, makes us partakers of it, revealing God and gathering weary souls.

Love is active.  Jesus has revealed God, and we know Him to be love and light; He has given us eternal life.  The Lord said  : “My Father worketh hitherto and I work ”. (John5:17He gave himself . . . that he might gather into one the children of God, which were scattered abroad. (John 11:52)

It is evident to the Christian that love gathers to holiness, and on the principle of it.  Grace alone fully reveals God; without grace that to which we are to be gathered cannot be seen.  Grace reaches the heart.

Law and Grace

The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17). The law told man what he ought to be. It did not tell him what he was, nor did it tell him what God was; that remained concealed.   The truth is not what ought to be, but what is – the reality of all relationships as they are, and the revelation of Him who must be the centre of them.  And that cannot be without grace, for man is a ruined sinner, and God is love.

Through grace, God Himself, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are revealed as They are, and also what man is in perfection, in relationship with God.  We see the contrasts: obedience and disobedience, holiness and sin, God and man, heaven and earth.  With the fullest revelation of Himself, we see His counsels with Christ as the centre. Hence grace is the acting power in and is alone capable of revealing truth; for Christ’s being here is grace; His working is effective grace.

Now grace is the gathering power, gathering into unity, for it must, being divine, gather to itself.  Every renewed soul must know that all such are drawn together to Christ.

Grace reigns through righteousness.  It does it by uniting souls in the power of the Holy Spirit to Jesus, the one who was here, was on the cross, but now as Christ in heaven, where our true place is by faith.

This is love, infinite, divine; and, through the Holy Ghost, we have fellowship with Him.  We join in it.  Now that, we perceive, is the gathering power for Christians who desire to be separate from evil.

J.N. Darby (1800-1882)

John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), an Anglo-Irish evangelist, was led to the fierce conclusion that all churches, as man-made institutions, were bound to fail. The believer’s true hope was  the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. With others Darby gathered in a less formal way, free of clergy and human structure, founded on a desire to be separate from unholy organisations

Darby, after resigning his curacy in the Church of Ireland, became a tireless traveller, talented linguist and Bible translator. His influence is still felt in evangelical Christianity.

For more on this servant of the Lord please see JN Darby – Biographical Note

A summary by Sosthenes – September 2013 

 

 

All through this desert dry My path His footsteps trace, And He doth all my need supply

oasis

Hymn by John Nelson Darby (1800-1882)

Originally in Fench – Click here for French version.

1. All through this desert dry
My path His footsteps trace,
And He doth all my need supply
In this sad, empty place.
Up to the Father there
Doth He attract my heart –
Doth make this earth a desert drear,
And draw me quite apart.

2 In Christ I find repose,
Nor follow Him in vain;
My soul no loss nor sorrow knows
When He Himself’s my gain.
Though long and hard the road,
Faith’s eyes are on the goal;
He uses trials for my good,
And thus preserves my soul.

3 Thus joyful, bright and free,
I take the heav’nly road;
My soul vibrates with melody,
My song is ever – God!
To Thee I have recourse
When sorrow fills my soul;
Thy staff and rod are my resource,
To comfort and console.

4 O what amazing grace
To know Thee here below!
To this great end my steps I trace,
And onward, upward go.
Thy face I soon shall see,
O mighty Saviour, there;
I have in Thee full victory,
And shall Thy glory share.

Little Flock Hymnbook 1962/1973 No 228
Thought to have been written by John Nelson Darby in French and translated.