To the Editor of "Things New and Old," April, 1881.
J. N. Darby.
I do not doubt that your whole desire is to put things scripturally, and that you will bear with me in stating that I think what you say in the article of Correspondence, entitled J.H., Fenihirst, is not scriptural. It is possible that you might find a similar statement in some of my former writings where the points were not so clear to my mind. Yet I think I ever held the Red Sea to be Christ dead and risen for us, and Jordan we dead and risen with Christ. I took this ground in the Archer Street conference and it was resisted on ground like your article, and I examined it afresh. Only, in my case, if it were so, it was merely want of being clear, while a whole system is now made to hang upon what is not correct. The theory is that the passover was Christ's dying for us, the Red Sea our death with Christ, and Jordan our death and resurrection in Him. All this, except the first, is wrong. First, there is no dying in Christ, nor such a distinction as with Him and in Him. If a person long exercised said, 'O, I see I died in Christ,' I should be delighted. He has seen his deliverance, though he expresses it wrongly. But the difference is real and practical. When we die with Christ, it is we, "I am crucified," a real experimental thing, not judicial, though we get liberty by seeing it accomplished in Christ. So we are always dead to something, dead to sin, to the rudiments of the world, dead to the law. Scripture does say that we are alive in Christ, because that is an actual, subsisting thing; He is our life, we are in Christ.
In the passover, there was one simple truth, God was passing through as a judge, and passed over, was shut out as such. The Red Sea is Christ's death, and resurrection - more than mere non-imputation; Ex. 15:13. It is redemption absolute and accomplished. God is a Saviour and deliverer; Ex. 14:13. The Egyptians were to be seen no more. It was nothing done in us, but for us; the command was, "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord." Death and judgment were for God's people's deliverance, and the result was, "Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation"; and afterwards, "Ye have seen how I bare you on eagle's wings, and brought you unto myself." As a type, all was closed for Egyptians and Israel. The latter were not in glory (Canaan), not in the wilderness, not in Egypt, but brought to God - not their subjective state, in any respect. That was experimental; this, judicial and final. This was returned to at the end, whatever the exercises and "ifs" of the wilderness. Concerning Jacob and Israel it shall be said as at this time, "What hath God wrought?" whatever Moses, that is the Spirit of God, might give the conscience of among them. But from the mountain where they came to meet God, their journey was an experimental state, to humble them, and to prove them, and know what was in their hearts. And so was the crossing of Jordan, though in another way. The priests' feet must touch the water, the ark is with them, they with it in the passage. There was association. Moses did the work of authority at the Red Sea. The people stood still and saw the salvation, and when the work was done passed over dry-shod. Death had lost its power in Jordan, but in the ark's going through it with them. It is Christ's death, but not redemption; it was going in to what was promised, not going out to God. Hence the stones of death are set up in Canaan; Gilgal comes in. It is experimental, though of faith. At any rate we have no dying in Christ, but with Him. The nearest to it is Colossians 2, where we have the true circumcision in Him, but this is in nowise the same, not even saying how, save by His circumcision, we have the true thing in Him, not the mere Jewish figure. There is a connection between the Red Sea and Jordan. Both are Christ's death and resurrection, but one is for us, where we stand still and see; the other, our having part in it, we have died with Him and risen with Him. The passages (Col. 2:12; Eph. 1 and 2) are entirely misapplied. There is no dying at all there, but sovereign power comes in, and, when we are dead in sins takes us and puts us into Christ, as it raised up Christ when He was dead, and put Him into glory. Many other truths connect themselves with these points, as the character of the wilderness, with which the conditional "ifs" of the New Testament connect themselves: and the confounding Ephesians 2 and Colossians 2:12, with Romans 6, two totally different systems of doctrine, has given rise to wild wanderings of fanaticism; but this would lead me too far.
406 I crave the forbearance of my brethren, my excuse for criticising their explanation being the immense practical importance for souls. For mark the effect, you have God shut out by the blood on the door posts, and that is all as to Him, and no redemption in the scheme at all; for if the Red Sea be our resurrection with Christ, that clearly is not redemption, that which is designated by "our" as the ones engaged in it. By redemption I do not mean here the forgiveness of sins by blood, but as used for the operation of God's power in freeing Israel from Egypt. That involves the blood-shedding and the forgiveness, but went much further. It was the accomplishment of the statement to Moses (Ex. 6:6-7), when the power and title of Pharaoh were destroyed by judgment, as Satan's for us. So Exodus 3:8. So Christ (Gal. 1) gave Himself for our sins, to deliver us from this present evil world. (1 Peter 1:18-20; Psalm 106:10.) That sin in the flesh was condemned when Christ was a sacrifice for sin, is blessedly true for us, but that was between Him and God; God sending His own Son did it; our coming into it is another thing. Its being perfectly done there when it was God's work alone, and hence perfect, is our comfort now. One is God for us, the other - our death and resurrection is wrought in us, in receiving Christ, that we may be rightly before God.
J. N. D.