Everything in Christendom is my Responsibility, from Rome Down

We are in the midst of a Christendom divided into a thousand fragments, in some of which, most, alas! Christ is dishonoured.  It is not that one wishes to speak against any, but everything in Christendom is my responsibility, from Rome down.  

 

James Taylor

Sometimes as we move along, we think of our meetings as…everything being orderly – right hymns chosen, right words used in the giving of thanks, and so forth, and we almost assume that we belong to a system of things by ourselves that God can own.  But that is an entire mistake.  We are in circumstances that are most humiliating, and we cannot get out of them.  We are in the midst of a Christendom divided into a thousand fragments, in some of which, most, alas! Christ is dishonoured.  It is not that one wishes to speak against any, but everything in Christendom is my responsibility, from Rome down.  

 

Can I get out of it?  I cannot.  I may get out of it in spirit, as we see here, (2 Samuel 15) by ascending…But how ascend?  With tears and head covered, and barefoot…Was not God delighted with (David)?  He was…He was acting suitably, humbly; he was owning things as they were, but he was finding an outlet.  What is the outlet?  The outlet is in heaven… It was spiritual power in secret; spiritual power in the full acknowledgement of the position. 

 

(James Taylor Sr. NS 28 pp 170-171)



Golden Nuggets are published by Saville Street Distribution, Venture, Princes Esplanade, Walton on the Naze, CO14 8QD  UK 

 

Brexit – What does it mean?

I have heard some say, a view I used to share, that though it would be right to leave, our continued membership of the EU was inevitable. That was because of the unstoppable trend to centralise power, especially in Europe leading to the Man of Sin and the woman riding the beast. Believing that the Lord’s coming must be soon, the pathway in Revelation must have begun.

What we have to remember though is that the church has no part whatever in prophecy and the words to discerning the signs of the times were not addressed to us.

BrexitThe United Kingdom EU referendum was a matter of earnest prayer for Christians – most Christians anyway.  From my observations more were favouring leaving the European Union, though some favoured remaining.  The reasons Christians felt the way they did reflected society as a whole.  Those against Brussels generally felt the need to take back control of matters of the economy, immigration and social justice, whatever that means.  Those for the EU considered the economic risks were too great.  Perhaps a few socially minded Christians were looking at the ‘common good’, and favoured the liberal lines of most Europeans.

But God was over everything.  I heard many prayers that His will might be done.  Personally, I believe that those prayers were answered.  It puts the four constituent counties of the UK back where they were, no longer being a party to the Treaty of Rome with all its connotations.  Of course will it make things better, or people happier?  I doubt it – man’s heart is not changed – self-will, greed and ambition still prevail.

We need to pray for our leaders.  Following the resignation of Mr Cameron, we desire one who fears God, commands respect, and has the energy and wisdom to lead the country well, employing persons who can negotiate the necessary treaties, manage the economy and maintain law, order, freedom of conscience and safety according to right principles.

I have heard some say, a view I used to share, that though it would be right to leave, our continued membership of the EU was inevitable.  That was because of the unstoppable trend to centralise power, especially in Europe leading to the Man of Sin and the woman riding the beast.  Believing that the Lord’s coming must be soon, the pathway in Revelation must have begun.

What we have to remember though is that the church has no part whatever in prophecy and the words to discerning the signs of the times were not addressed to us.  The world is carrying on its course independently of God’s work in His own at the present time.  Yes, we are in the world but not of it, and Christians are to do what is right before God and men.  In doing so they bring in relief.  They have the Spirit of God who is described as ‘He who restrains’ (2 Thess 2:7 Darby).

When the church has been raptured all restraint will be removed, and the positive establishment of evil combinations will start then.  Satan will use existing structures but they will be then totally and exclusively under his control.

We do not know who the Antichrist is.  He may be alive on the earth now.  If the Lord comes today he must be.  But what we are expecting is not see these earthly institutions, but to hear the voice of our Lord and Saviour and to see His face.

May that be today!

Darby on Romans 15 – Paul’s Service moves to Rome

In the providence of God’s ordered path, Paul witnessed to all the authorities from the Sanhedrim to the Emperor, and the Lord’s grace sustained him in it. His apostolic service was to close in unwilling captivity, and Paul is delivered by the Jews to the Gentiles to suffer in grace, like his Lord, at their hands. Of course, Paul did not face it perfectly like the Lord Himself: He did so in the calmness of unvarying perfection, drinking the cup none else could, and that, if it could be, was more perfect than anything.

RomeThe apostle sums up what he had taught, especially the gospel of the nations. Christ ‘was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers’ (v.8), but the nations had no such promises – they had to glorify God for His pure mercy. Because they had rejected Christ, the Jews also had to depend on God’s pure mercy. Paul quotes from the Old Testament, showing that this mercy to the nations was always contemplated by God – there should be a root of Jesse to reign over the nations and their hope should be in Him. (See v.12, Isa 11:10, Matt 12:21). He rests on the word hope.Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost” (v.13). Such is the Christian’s joy and peace in believing, that his spirit rises in hope, trusting in God, and looking forward to the blessed time when all shall be accomplished in light – when he will be with Jesus.

Paul now refers to the public ministry that had been confided to him by Jesus Christ. He wrote to the saints in Rome as a minister of the gospel of God to the Gentiles. He presents himself figuratively as a priest (a minister), so that he could offer up the Gentile Christians to God, consecrated, sanctified to God by the Holy Spirit. He shows how he had laboured in power, and how he had not gone where Christianity was already established, but to poor souls far away from God and light. Now this ministry was closed.

Paul had finished his service in Asia and the Greek speaking world, having laid the foundation, preaching in spite of the dangers, where no one else had.   He had formed and taught assemblies from Jerusalem to Illyricum, so now they could resist evil and false doctrine. The Greek world was Christianised: others might build, but Paul’s work was done. He had learnt to work wherever God called him to do so. Now the Latin world was before him, starting with Rome.

But now he was going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. His apostolic ministry finished, he undertakes a diaconal service to Jerusalem. He certainly did not fulfill his mission as intended (See v.31). Indeed his fears as to what might happen in Judaea are stated in verses 30-32 [and more so in Acts 20:22].

God would not allow Latin Christianity to have an apostolic foundation. There were already Christians in Rome. We do not know who founded the Roman assembly – there is no evidence that it was Peter. There had been no wise master-builder: Christianity founded itself there. He came to Rome as a prisoner after two years’ captivity in Caesarea; then he remained two years captive in his own house in Rome. Now the history closes.

As far as we know Paul never went to Spain. Subsequent history may be inferred from 2 Timothy and other scriptures. This in no way affects the moral or ecclesiastical bearing of any of the epistles.

The close of Paul’s service is deeply affecting. He was so like his Master, though at a distance. He had worked with energy and exercise. There were failures because of the materials with which he, like the Lord had to use. Nevertheless, despite the materials, God’s ultimate purpose was accomplished. Compare Rom 15 with Acts 20:29-33 and Isaiah 49:4-6.

In the providence of God’s ordered path, Paul witnessed to all the authorities from the Sanhedrim to the Emperor, and the Lord’s grace sustained him in it. His apostolic service was to close in unwilling captivity, and Paul is delivered by the Jews to the Gentiles to suffer in grace, like his Lord, at their hands. Of course, Paul did not face it perfectly like the Lord Himself: He did so in the calmness of unvarying perfection, drinking the cup none else could, and that, if it could be, was more perfect than anything.

 

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

 

Darby on Romans – The First few Verses of Romans

The glad tidings have a double character:

The accomplishment of promise
The Person of the Son of God designated in power through resurrection.
That divine power, which raised Him from the dead, and proved Him to be Son of God, was manifested throughout His life in the holiness which never allowed sin to enter for an instant. He was quickened by the Spirit (lit. in Spirit), but His holiness, separation to God, was by the Spirit also. Resurrection was the public demonstration that He was the Son of God in power, having secured the victory over the full wages of sin. The opened eye would have seen the same power in the absolute and perfect holiness all through His sinless life.

Rome Paul’s Commission to preach the Glad Tidings

Paul had never been to Rome, so he is writing from the point of view of his universal mission to the Gentiles. He reasons out the gospel: the state of man, the place the law held, and the Jews’ position. :

The Lord had called him and given him a personal mission to the Gentiles. He was an apostle by God’s calling, separated to the gospel out from the whole human race.  He was directly connected with Christ in glory   He was a witness of the glorified Lord Jesus, unconnected with the Messiah down here or Jesus after the flesh in His earthly (Jewish) associations.  Paul witnessed to a Christ who had suffered death and accomplished redemption, and who was now the glorified Man, the Beginning and Head of creation.

Paul was sent forth into active service by the Holy Spirit from Antioch. ‘Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.’ (Acts 13:2)   He received his commission directly from the Lord, and was separated to the glad tidings of God by the Holy Spirit.

The glad tidings have a double character:

  1. The accomplishment of promise
  2. The Person of the Son of God designated in power through resurrection.

The divine power, which raised Him from the dead, proving Him to be Son of God, was manifested throughout His life of holiness.  He was quickened by the Spirit (lit. in Spirit), but His holiness, never allowed sin to enter for an instant. Resurrection was the public demonstration that He was the Son of God in power, having secured the victory over the full wages of sin.   The opened eye would have seen the same power in the absolute and perfect holiness all through His sinless life.

God, in His goodness, approached man in grace. God came to him. This is the true gospel of God.  He came in power and grace, into the place where sin and death reigned.  He is the Son; He has power to deliver, but above all He is the Son of God. Grace made Him a man, but resurrection proved Him to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness. There is One revealed to us in perfect grace, but who in grace has a perfect claim over our souls.

He is from God. In the Person of the Son, God accomplished His promise, and secured victory over death.  His righteousness is revealed, meeting the need of man. This is the general aspect: man’s responsibility and man’s need will follow. But we must first have the gospel as it is for God and before God, though all in grace to us.   God has Himself brought in grace and glory.

As Romans is foundational, the testimony that Christ is Son of God is resurrection, not glory. His ascension is assumed as is the church’s, but already in resurrection God had put His seal on Christ’s Person and His work, redemption having been accomplished, sin atoned for, death overcome and Satan’s stronghold brought to nothing. The whole case between man and God had been met and established  on a new ground.

In Romans some things are not gone into:

  1. The glories which result according to the counsels of God
  2. Our resurrection with Christ
  3. Union with Him (which follows our resurrection with Christ)

Individual justification, not union is the subject of Romans. The assembly is not even presented.  Christ is viewed as risen alone.  Romans does cover our death with Him, because this was necessary to close the old evil, and bring us into a state where we are capable of living with God as fully delivered.

Paul’s mission concerned obedience to the faith (not the law) and the subjection of men’s souls to the truth of the revelation of God’s Son, the risen Man, the Lord Jesus. This can only be in grace, for grace could not come without truth, for what would grace be about, and how else should God be revealed? But God is light, and God is love – we know these in grace and truth.

What marvellous grace it is to see the whole power of evil broken, destroyed, by Him, who was willing to enter into the gloomy chamber of death. In submitting to death, He took upon Himself all the weakness of mortal man,  completely and absolutely delivering him.

There was no difference between Jew and Greek.  To the Gentile it was the revelation of God in grace; to the Jew it was the fulfilment of the gospel that had been announced beforehand by the prophets.  It was now a time to secure people for His Name.

Now we have Paul’s own feelings for those in Rome.  The believers already in Rome were the called of Jesus Christ, beloved of God, and saints by His calling.  The love of Christ made those he had not even seen the objects of his heart, and precious to him.  He expresses his desire to see them. He is apostle by right, but in heart he is their servant; and with the most true and ardent brotherly love, desires to impart t some spiritual gift, but in unfeigned grace he would be comforted in their mutual faith.  He was a ‘debtor to Greeks and barbarians’ (v.14) and he was ready to preach the glad tidings to them. It was ‘to the Jew first, and also to the Greek’ (v. 15). It was salvation to a sinful Jew, who had to come in in mercy, by faith, just like a Gentile.

He was not ashamed of the glad tidings; they were ‘the power of God unto salvation’ (v. 15) – simple words, but how much they contain!  It is not man acting for God, but God acting for man, in man’s favour, to deliver him from the state he was in – to save him.  How marvellous is the grace that sees the whole power of evil broken, destroyed, by Him, who was willing to enter into the gloomy chamber, taking upon Himself all man’s weakness in death,  completely and absolutely delivering him whose penalty He had borne!

Thus, in the gospel, God intervened, accomplishing a salvation which was entirely His own work.   Man came to have part in it by faith without adding anything whatsoever to it.  God be praised that it is so!  Whether for righteousness or for power,  it is a perfect divine work.  The righteousness of God is revealed on the principle of faith to faith. Nothing had to be done by man; nothing was required from man. It is on the principle of faith that it might be by grace. The object is love, God’s intrinsic nature. God’s righteousness was revealed on the principle of faith, not works. The just were to live by faith.

 A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans, with additional material from JND’s Synopsis – Romans.