J B Stoney Condensed – Establishment in Liberty

We will not make spiritual progress till we know establishment in liberty. The Corinthians and Galatians had fallen from liberty. It was the natural mind in Corinthians and religiousness in Galatians.

James Butler Stoney

We might admire truth, but we will not make spiritual progress till we know establishment in liberty. The Corinthians and Galatians had fallen from liberty. It was the natural mind in Corinthians and religiousness in Galatians.

The Natural Mind – Corinthians

Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord

2 Corinthians 3: 7 – 18

The Corinthians were led away by their natural minds, they gloried in their own wisdom, were not beholding the glory and were not in liberty.

Our Saviour is in glory, and we are drawn out of the ruin here to Christ where He is. That is the gospel of the glory. It is a ministration of righteousness from the glory. The glory of God is the expression of all His attributes. In much of Christendom the gospel does not go beyond the Passover – pardon for sins – Christ’s death on the cross. But being in the food resurrection is a step further. When I see Christ risen, I am justified and have peace with God. In Romans, the apostle brings me to the Person – that is deliverance:

As I look on the Lord’s glory we are transformed (2 Cor 3:18). Now, seeing Christ in glory, we brought into moral correspondence with Him. I cannot enjoy the gospel of the glory unless I am in liberty. The word transformed (μεταμορφούμεθα/metamorphoumetha/Strong 3339) – changed into another form or metamorphosised[i]. When I behold Him in the assembly, His things totally absorb me. It is like the queen of Sheba: when she came to Solomon and saw his glory, she was so entranced that there was no spirit left in her. So it is in beholding the Lord’s glory, self is displaced.

Merely reading the Bible will not conform me to be like Him. The two disciples going to Emmaus had a wonderful exposition of Scripture, but it was not which changed their course. Everything changed when the Lord made Himself known to them. Scripture corroborates our enjoyment.

Religiousness – Galatians

Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Galatians 4: 28 – 5: 1

In Galatians it was religiousness. They had put themselves back under the law. They had begun in the Spirit, but were now seeking to be made perfect in the flesh. That is religiousness.

When Isaac was weaned, Abraham made a feast: all in the house were doing honour to Isaac – that is all except Ishmael, a youth of fourteen, who mocked. Sarah says he must be cast out. The first great thing in is that If Christ is to have an acknowledged right to everything that I have, I have to get rid of the religious man. Nobody has liberty till he has parted with one man (Adam), and is in another (Christ). Then he is able to say, ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Gal 2:20). Nothing is more difficult than to say honestly that I have done with the old man – he is eclipsed. Man tries to improve himself, he does not like to be eclipsed.

Traditional doctrine says in effect, ‘Get Isaac to improve Ishmael’. There are beautiful traits in man but none of them acknowledge Christ. Ishmael was Abraham’s son, brought up in Abraham’s house, but he persecuted the heir of promise. Finding hat the best quality in my nature does not like Christ, is an even more painful experience than that of Romans 7,. Flesh will always be flesh: I cannot improve it . As J.G. Bellett said, ‘You may sublimate the flesh as much as you like, it will never yield spirit.’[i]

There are two things:
1. I acknowledge Christ – the true Isaac – in His place.
2. I do not tolerate Ishmael.

A person in liberty rejoices in Christ Jesus and has no confidence in the flesh; he shrinks from the flesh. Everything must come divinely. The more effective a man is, the more correctly will he quote Scripture.

I might say, If I put Ishmael out of the door he will come in at the window. However, I have the Holy Spirit within me, resisting the flesh, so as not to do fleshly things. I have a power in me that keeps the door like a policeman. It is more than self-control. It is positive: ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14). There is not a word about sins in this passage, it is pure liberty – a new creation.

Conclusion

Now I can say, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me“. And now comes the practical course – “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God“, etc. It is transcendent!


[i] I cannot find the citation of this from Bellett. According to Stem Publishing, the expression was used by Charles Mackintosh and Walter Woolston . Both must have been quotes but this was not acknowledged. John Gifford Bellett predated both of the above by 25 and 50 years respectively.

[i] Strong’s note to this word: STRONGS NT 3339: μεταμορφόω

μεταμορφόω, μεταμόρφω: passive, present μεταμορφοῦμαι; 1 aorist μετεμορφώθη; to change into another form (cf. μετά, III. 2), to transfigure, transform: μετεμορφώθη, of Christ, his appearance was changed (A. V. he was transfigured), i. e. was resplendent with a divine brightness, Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2 (for which Luke 9:29 gives ἐγένετο τόεἶδος τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ ἕτερον); of Christians: τήν αὐτήν εἰκόνα μεταμορφούμεθα, we are transformed into the same image (of consummate excellence that shines in Christ), reproduce the same image, 2 Corinthians 3:18;

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

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

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

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

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

+Romans 8:31-39

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

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

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

So, about the difficulties:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sosthenes

February 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Darby on Romans 14:1-15:7 – The Spirit in which Christians should Behave towards one another

The Christian should not put a stumbling-block in his brother’s way. It is uncharitable to lead a weaker brother to violate his conscience – that would drive him away from Christ, as if Christ made the one for whom He died lawless. We should not despise the weak brother or sister because of the scruples which they would not have, if they understood deliverance. Conversely, the weak person should not judge the strong, charging him with evil because of his freedom. God will be the Judge. ‘Every one of us shall give account of himself to God’ (v.12).

RomeIn Romans 14, we have the spirit in which Christians should behave towards one another. There are those who are weak in faith, not fully in the light and power of new creation. They love the Lord; they have been purchased by Christ’s precious blood. but like a Jew they observe days and diet. That is weakness. So we are to receiving such in grace, not doing anything which could unsettle their faith. If the heart is pure, no meats are defiled meats – ‘To the pure all things are pure’ (v.20) . But if a person defiles his conscience, even through an unfounded scruple to him, it is unclean. If somebody normally felt he should regard a certain day, or abstain from a certain food, but does not in order to feign liberty, that is sin – it is not of faith .

Each stands or falls to his own Master, and God is able to make both the weak and the strong stand. Every one is to be fully persuaded in his own mind, not acting on another’s faith. Each is responsible to the Lord and must look to Him. We are to be peaceful edifying others.

The Christian should not put a stumbling-block in his brother’s way. It is uncharitable to lead a weaker brother to violate his conscience – that would drive him away from Christ, as if Christ made the one for whom He died lawless. We should not despise the weak brother or sister because of the scruples which they would not have, if they understood deliverance. Conversely, the weak person should not judge the strong, charging him with evil because of his freedom. God will be the Judge. ‘Every one of us shall give account of himself to God’ (v.12).

Romans 15:1-7 belong to chapter 14. The strong are to bear the infirmities of the weak, and, like Christ, not to please themselves. He meekly bore the reproaches that fell on Him, walking so faithfully and perfectly that, when men were disposed to reproach God, the reproach fell on Christ.   ‘The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me’ (v. 3, Ps 69:9). The Old Testament scriptures were written for our instruction, so that we might know that God’s mind.  Our reproach is His reproach, as we serve and have part with Him in faith and confidence. It is the path of love, serving others for Christ’s sake. But God is patient, bearing with our stupid, ignorant, and often inconsistent hearts. He occupies Himself with all our little trials to comfort us in grace. So have we receive one another as Christ received us – weak in faith – that we might be here to the glory of God. This closes the exhortations of the epistle.

 

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans