The Counsels of God and the Responsibility of Man

Rome

Introductory remarks to the Exposition to Romans

We should consider the difference between the counsels of God and the responsibility of man. The counsels of God have their accomplishment in the second Man, who is from heaven.   However, every intelligent creature has responsibility, and a believer more so than a mere child of Adam.

Purpose was before responsibility. It is a wondrous and blessed truth that God’s purpose and delight was in man – especially the Son of His love. Before the world existed, man was in God’s thoughts. Wisdom was there, and man occupied Wisdom’s (i.e. God’s) though and delight.

Human responsibility awaited the creation of a responsible creature (angels are different). This is seen in 2 Tim. 1:9, “Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works [that is responsibility], but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality [incorruptibility] to light by the gospel, whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles.”

Hence when the Word became flesh, the angels acclaimed, ‘Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good pleasure [not merely goodwill] in men’ (Luke 2:14). God used the same word when He said, ‘in thee I am well pleased’ (Luke 3:22) God’s purpose was thus in the second Man, the Son of God, the Word made flesh, the Son of God’s love, and in those in whom His delight was associated with Him.

The purpose of God was not accomplished in the first man. That came with the second Man, who dealt with the whole question of man’s responsibility.

Let us look at the history of man:

First man was innocent. He failed, tested by the simple claim of obedience without an evil lust.   But he distrusted God, and listened to Satan. Man lost God; lust and transgression came in; man became afraid of God, and was driven out by Him. When Adam failed, no promise was made to him. No promise could be made to sinful flesh – only judgment. But the woman was told that her seed would crush the serpent’s head. That was Christ.

What prevailed afterwards was utter lawlessness: then the flood and judgment came upon the earth. God established restraint and authority in Noah, but he failed and got drunk.   Though individuals such as Abel and Enoch had been dealt with in grace, no new system of grace had set up. After the flood, man rose up in rebellion to make himself a name, but God confounded his language, nations were formed, and Satan introduced idolatry (a vague consciousness of God, deified ancestors, astrology and reincarnation). God was set aside; men put demons in His place, and clothed deified lusts with His name.

Then God called Abraham out from the world and revealed Himself, making him head of a family, both naturally and spiritually.   Grace was revealed: a free unconditional promise being given to Abraham. Abraham became the father of the faithful, this being confirmed by a figure representing the death and resurrection of Christ (Gen. 22). The promise and the seed were fully united in God’s revelations.

After this came another very important aspect of God’s dealings with the fleshly seed of Abraham – the giving of the law. It raised the question of righteousness, and required it from man.   The law provided a perfect rule for Adam’s children: blessing and life dependent on obedience. We know the result: the golden calf was made even before the tables of the law could be brought into the camp.

Finally God came into this sinful world in grace, beseeching men to be reconciled to Him. The promised son of David, son of Abraham came, and when He came, not only was there sin and lawlessness everywhere, but mercy had been rejected. The promise, and the promised One, had been despised. The tree was bad; and brought no true fruit to God. It bore only leaves, and it was judged for ever. God’s one beloved Son, was cast out and slain; God’s wedding-feast invitation was despised. God had come in grace, but Man had cast Him out in hatred. Sin was complete; man was lost.

Wicked hands had slain Christ, but it was according to the pre-determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. The truth was, He had appeared at the appointed time to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.   The Lord met the consequences of man’s responsibility, bearing his sins in His own body on the tree. Propitiation was perfect; redemption was accomplished; and God was perfectly glorified in all that He is – love. In the cross of Christ (the second Man, the last Adam, the Lord from heaven), the foundation was laid in righteousness for the accomplishment of divine counsels in glorifying the redeemed,. Sins had been put away, and Christ being at the right hand of God, the righteousness of God was now on solid ground.

Thus we have these two great subjects before us: the responsibility of man and the counsels of God.

 

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

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – Romans

Outline of Bible coverRomans unfolds the gospel of God as the testimony of the righteousness of God. It testifies of God’s wrath from heaven, and begins with the depravity of the Gentiles, the hypocrisy of moralisers, and the guilt of the Jews. It concludes that all are under sin, and that our guilt is met by the blood of Christ through faith. This proves at the same time the righteousness of God in bearing with the sins of the past saints, and lays the present foundation of divine righteousness for the future.

From chapter 4 the apostle connects faith with the resurrection, Christ having been delivered for our offences. In chapter 5 he applies this to justification and peace in the assurance of God’s love, and traces all up to Adam on one side, and to Christ as head on the other, the law only coming in by the bye. In chapter 6 he applies it to a godly life, and in chapter 7 to the law. He unfolds in chapter 8 the full life and liberty the Christian obtains through the presence of the Holy Spirit.   God secures all by what He is for us, all this being made good to us through Christ. And nothing shall be able to separate us from it. There are three parts in chapter 8:

  1. The Spirit as life, going on to the resurrection of the body (v. 1-11);
  2. The Holy Spirit as a separate Person, dwelling in us for joy, and sympathy with us in infirmities (v. 12-27);
  3. God for us – life, God in us, and God for us (v. 28 to the end.

Note that except just for bringing in Christ’s intercession, you never get His ascension in Romans. Hence we do not have the unity of the body, which is only alluded in ch. 12 as to in its practical effects, but we have the relationship of the individual with God on the ground of grace reigning through righteousness – God’s righteousness being very definitely brought out in contrast with man’s, man having the law for his rule, convicting him of transgression, lust, and his powerlessness to do good, despite willing otherwise.

From chapters 9 to 11, Paul reconciles special promises to the Jews with the no-difference doctrine of divine righteousness. In chapter 9, while professing his own love to the Jews, he recognises all their privileges and the absolute sovereignty of God. This was proved in their own history by the exclusion of Ishmael and Esau, despite their being sons of Abraham and Isaac. It was only the sovereign mercy of God which had spared them at Sinai: likewise it was this sovereign mercy in God’s call of Gentiles as well as Jews, confirmed by quotations from Hosea. He then shows that the rejection of the Jews was foretold by prophets – that it is founded on a pretension to human righteousness. In chapter 10, he contrasts the righteousness of the law with that of faith, showing the title of the Gentiles to the latter.   The call involved preaching to them, Jews having rebelled, convicted, by their own scriptures.

In chapter 11, Paul raises the question, Has Israel as a people, finally and definitely, been rejected? No. He gives three proofs

  1. In his own person.
  2. The declaration that the Gentiles will be called would provoke them (Israel) to jealousy, and therefore that they would not be finally rejected.
  3. The positive declaration of scripture that the Redeemer would come to Zion, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

In connection with this, he puts the Gentiles, introduced on the principle of faith, upon their own responsibility, showing them that if they did not continue in God’s goodness, they would also be cut off from the tree of promise on the earth, as so many of the Jews then were. God could graft the Jews in again, this being the testimony to the wisdom of God. God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. (V.32)

In the subsequent part we get exhortations. Only that in chapter 15 Paul resumes the doctrine. Jesus Christ was “a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (v. 8-9)

 

Originally by JND.   Lightly edited by Sosthenes, July 2014

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

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible

Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
Joshua
Judges
Ruth
1 Samuel
2 Samuel
1 Kings
2 Kings
1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles
Ezra
Nehemiah
Esther
Job
Psalms
Proverbs
Ecclesiastes
Canticles
Isaiah
Jeremiah
Lamentations
Ezekiel
Daniel
Hosea
Joel
Amos
Obadiah
Jonah
Micah
Nahum
Habakkuk
Zephaniah
Haggai
Zechariah
Malachi
Matthew
Mark
Luke
John
Acts
Romans
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
Galatians
Ephesians
Philippians
Colossians
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1 Timothy
2 Timothy
Titus
Philemon
Hebrews
James
1 Peter
2 Peter
1 John
2 John
3 John
Jude
Revelation

lay-preachingIn addition to his Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, John Nelson Darby produced a short outline.  They were based on a series of lectures in Birmingham.   This is being reproduced here.

As time allows I will go through it, making the language clearer and up to date, only where necessary.  This will not be a summary.

Click on the appropriate book for the summary.

To download a DRAFT version of the booklet in PDF format, please click here. – Outline to the Bible

The Old Testament

Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
Joshua
Judges
Ruth
1 Samuel
2 Samuel
1 Kings
2 Kings
1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles
Ezra
Nehemiah
Esther
Job
Psalms
Proverbs
Ecclesiastes
Song of Songs
Isaiah
Jeremiah
Lamentations
Ezekiel
Daniel
Hosea
Joel
Amos
Obadiah
Jonah
Micah
Nahum
Habakkuk
Zephaniah
Haggai
Zechariah
Malachi

The New Testament

Matthew
Mark
Luke
John
Acts
Romans
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
Galatians
Ephesians
Philippians
Colossians
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1 Timothy
2 Timothy
Titus
Philemon
Hebrews
James
1 Peter
2 Peter
1 John
2 John
3 John
Jude
Revelation