Fragments

<44033E> 237

J. N. Darby.

(Notes and Comments Vol. 4.)

There is a distinct development in 1 John 5:18-20. As a general truth such is the characteristic of being born of God - such do not sin, and the wicked one has no hold on them, such being their nature. But further, 'We know that we are of God' - derive our nature from, and so are associated with Him. We affirm something about ourselves. It is not abstract as to a nature, but absolute contrast of nature and position as to ourselves - we are of God, the world is lying in the power of evil. But there is objective knowledge too - we know that the Son of God is come - we know Him that is true, and are in Him, even in His Son, and He is the true God. The contrast in verse 19, following on verse 18, is very absolute. It is not merely one born of God will not sin - a general truth - but the fact that we are of God and know it. The whole world is in exactly the opposite state - opposite essentially in condition and state. Besides that, we know the great truth of divine history, and we are in God by Him. Redemption, though clearly stated, is not the great subject of John, but life by resurrection - only we find it in resurrection.

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It is remarkable, though nature is spoken of, how mysticism is set aside in 1 John 4. Not only do verses 9, 10, do so positively, but verse 14, and again verse 16, 'the love that God hath to us.'

How exceedingly blessed is the place of Mary, in this respect, that when God is giving testimony to His rejected Son, as Son of God, Son of David, and Son of Man, she gives her testimony too. Her love has its place in doing so, and this is in its place which is very sweet. It comes before Son of David, and Son of Man, though these be God's testimonies because there are earthly glories to come. But she had tasted the power of resurrection in Lazarus, and associates herself in spirit and heart with Christ as the dying One. Not that she knew it by revelation or as knowledge, but she saw in spirit where the enmity of the Jews was tending - as their hatred, so her devoted attachment grew. The hearer of His Word, waiting for His will to go to Him, as He His Father's to come, she holds a very peculiar place here - to her act the Lord can give a voice. She was not, as it would seem, at the sepulchre - she does not come in that line of work. Bethany is neither Galilee nor Jerusalem; it stands entirely alone. It owns death when resurrection and life are there, but as estimating Christ's love in it.

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238 We have a singular specimen of Jewish, Eastern or Platonic soul's pre-existence notion, in the Book of the Wisdom of the Son of Sirach, chap. 41:9, 10, though the unspotted body is out of the way. It is very likely that the disciples, in John 9, were under the popular, unreasoning influence of this, when they asked, 'Who did sin, this man or his parents?' The Lord's words would merely be negative.

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Note both 2 Peter and Jude insist on our building up and progress, in presence of the decay of the Church and coming judgment. So that it is, as judging the outward state, a more close entering into relationship with God, in communion with what He is, and His ways in Christ as Lord. We have the precious promises as precious faith, but look forward as called by glory, and so are growing up, but that in the knowledge of God who has called us. We have all things necessary to life and godliness, but it is by that according to which we are called, that there is intelligently a partaking of the divine nature, i.e., a forming of our souls morally into what it is - its likeness. Positive evil we have escaped from.

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It is perfectly extraordinary how completely similar the Zoroastrian liturgical forms, even to particular collects on particular saints' days, are to the Roman, or Anglican system. Could it have had its origin there by any possibility through Alexandria? See as to Pantanus, and India, and Buddhist influence. The priestly source and everything, getting the prayers said for them, and the priests paid for it, in order to forgiveness. The Mithra (bread-offering), and Heoma (soma, a plant) the Fathers noticed as an invention of the devil to travesty the Lord's supper. But this was a small part. But it shows it was known in the West.

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239 The only attempt to prove the non-rapture of the Church which might seem to have Scripture to warrant it is that founded on Romans 11:25, that blindness happens to Israel till the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. But it proves nothing whatever, save that blindness is on Israel till the Church be complete. Then Israel's judicial blindness will cease. What the process is by which they are brought to be ready to own Christ, so that He comes (for He does not, till they are) is not spoken of. Other passages enlarge upon it - the sorrows, exercises, awakenings, pleadings which take place before the answer of grace, in the personal return of the Lord, comes. With these passages it proves the contrary of non-previous rapture, for, till the Church is complete, there is blindness, and these exercises of the heart according to Scripture are the proof that blindness is taken away, though the answer be not yet come. 'All Israel,' I think, results naturally enough from the fact that he speaks of blindness 'unto Israel.' In grace he had spoken only of branches broken off from the stock of promise, but, in fact, the nation, as such, was in outer darkness, for a time blindness was on it, the veil on their hearts. When the fulness of the Gentiles should be in, then this, as to the national condition, should be changed.

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Note the way in which justification and holiness are mingled with blessed affection when it is in the way of grace - when they are required, this cannot be. It is all very right. But grace will say, 'Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and' - not purify from evil - but 'purify to Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.' Compare Ephesians 5:25, 26, 27; and Revelation 21:27.

We may remark that, in the three first Churches of the Apocalypse, there is no mention of the Lord's coming. It is a present dealing spoken of. From Thyatira out, Christ's coming is spoken of till Laodicea - Thyatira, the Jezebel system, being established so that the resource was in looking out of it. In Laodicea, the case is quite changed, Christ knocks at the door, in case any one hears His voice in the midst of that which He is going to spue out of His mouth. The application of the coming is different. To the faithful under the Thyatira state, patience till He came; in the Sardis, as a thief, treating the whole as the world; in Philadelphia, cheering and encouraging the faithful to patience - He would soon be there.

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240 There are evidently three words to Peter in Matthew 16, not pursuing the chapter further now. The Father had revealed the Person of Christ - the Son of the living God. Christ also gives him a name and place, and, further, the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

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Note this beautiful circumstance in the heavenly Jerusalem. No one appears there. There is no crowd, no inhabitant. The city itself is the spouse, the Lamb's wife. But it has the glory of God, i.e., the glory of God and the Lamb is so entirely everything that the people are absorbed, as it were lost in the glory which is there, and the description becomes not of people but of the state in which they were. The divine glory was everything - the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb the temple - the Lord God Almighty the light, and the Lamb lightening it. The nations walk in its light - there we find people. In the city is, and there is nothing ever there but divine glory. In the Throne governing the world at the beginning, the elders and myriads of angels, etc., are seen surrounding the Throne - it is another scene.

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Note very particularly - to the disciples, who were looking up after Jesus, the Angels' word is, 'Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus shall so come,' etc. Stephen, being full of the Holy Ghost, gazed up steadfastly into heaven, and saw Jesus there, 'the Son of Man standing at God's right hand,' and prays his spirit may be received by Him. In Ephesians, we are sitting there together in Him, and (the Church being filled with, the habitation of God through, the Spirit) the principalities and powers now in turn look down and see the manifold wisdom of God in the Church. And now it becomes us for God's honour, that they should see comely things in us - 'because of the Angels.' Nota bene all this.

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241 Kurios (Lord) is clearly used, I apprehend, as a proper name, for Jehovah, without the article, in Matthew 27:10; Mark 13:20; Luke 1:15, 58, 76; chap. 2:9; Acts 7:49; Romans 4:8; chap. 9:28; Hebrews 7:21; chap. 12:6; and 1 Peter 1:25.

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We may note that Jesus preached, distinctively, the gospel of the kingdom.

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It is a wonderful witness of the deep and full blessing into which we are brought, that through the Holy Ghost (i.e., God dwelling in us and we in Him) we are brought to know Him and the blessedness into which no creature can enter. God dwells in the light which no one can approach unto - yet we know Him as dwelling there. We know what light is, and we understand that in that essential being and glory He must be unapproachable. Yet it is because we know what it is, He dwelling in us in love, that we know it must be unapproachable - yet know Him there.

So even Christ's present place - no one can ever be there but He. Yet it is our special blessing to know what that place is, and what He is as there, and how He is there, and went there; see John 17 and 13, as well as Hebrews 1 and other passages alluding to Psalm 110.

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For justification, we reckon ourselves dead. For practice we have the sentence of death in ourselves. To have this realised we always bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, and God delivers us to death, to meet our feebleness, where the desire is sincere, and carry it out. Paul realised this - death worked in him; and power - life - was unhindered in its operation towards and to the benefit of, the Corinthians. So if he suffered, it was for their consolation - if he was comforted, because, by his drawing his comforts immediately from Christ, he could comfort others and bring to them what was in Christ. This way of God's dealings, elsewhere remarked on, is most precious. But then he was not unsustained by them, by the weakest of them, 'Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf.' All things for the Church. God allowing the weakness of the vessel to be felt, that divine faithfulness and love, divine consolations might be known. These are experienced in one who held himself dead, and in integrity of purpose, and by the dispensation of God helping him, was made to realise it. So, in the power of these consolations, he could console, and, in the power of the life of Christ, work in others, but then they were helping him by their prayers, and were called to realise, by the ministration of life, the death to all things which gave such unhindered power of and in Christ to the Apostle, and so he saw and owned his hope was the fact that, as they partook of the sufferings they would of the consolation. As for him, his hope was in One who raised the dead. What could Satan and the murderers of this world do?

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242 Colossians 3:12 is the formal character of Christ towards others, in the consciousness of relationship - for Christ is the Elect One, Holy and Beloved - what precedes the subjective and objective condition for oneself before God. In the Psalms there is a measure of similarity in this latter part, only no sonship nor clear knowledge of grace, but integrity pleaded, righteousness claimed, only mercy put first as it must be for the Remnant. Hence when we come to dealing with others, we have the sword and judgment instead of grace. The fruit partakes of, but brings out more clearly the character of the relationship. Trust is not the Church's place, but relationship and character. Hence Peter and Hebrews take this ground, not union with Christ, but a Mediator. Here faith in the character of trust and confidence is enlarged upon.

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243 We are called upon to know the time of God's visitation morally - to judge the time - to know our adversary in the way with Him. Now the Lord gives a great means of this immediately after He says so; Luke 19:42-46. The Word of God tells what His house is in His mind. It is a house of prayer, where man is in intercourse with a God of love - where he finds a home with Him, and a refuge in his need and distress. It may have been imperfectly known, but the Lord who knew the Father's heart knew it to be such. To Him it was a house of prayer. So to the spiritual mind - to him who fears God and so has the secret of the Lord - God's house has its character from Himself. Hence it knows by the Word which reveals it, what He would have - what His house ought to be, because he knows what He who dwells there is. The passages in the Word which speak of it have their force and suggest themselves to his mind, give him the clue to judge of the character of the time. It is remarkable how this characterises the Lord. How He draws out from the Word characteristic passages which give the central points of divine truth as what the essence of the Law was, the Son of David being Lord at the moment of His departure, and even the resurrection in connection with faithfulness to promises, and the future millennial glory on earth, in His reply to the Sadducees! But the Word also describes the evil as man's heart produces it, and judges it according to the good the child of God knows, dear to him as knowing God Himself, his Father, as its Source. And thus the state of things is judged, 'It is written, My house is a house of prayer, ye have made it a den of thieves.' Men speak of respect, and a right-minded person is imbued with a spirit of respect, but I am too ignorant, too imperfect in judgment, too evil to know what to respect. The disposition may even deceive me, without the Word of God. Then guided by it, I respect, jealously respect what is of God, with affections which hold to Him, and a submission to what His Word says - what touches that, has the character of evil, is the opposite to respectable. The heart is engaged in its thoughts towards God - the judgment guided by the Word, both for good and in its judgment of evil. Thus the state of things is known, and God's heart and judgment about it.