J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 4.)
As to presenting Christ or Scripture. It is clear, if we love souls, we shall present Christ; so it was in the Apostles' preaching, though to Jews. They might start from, and reason on their Scriptures which they received. Scripture is what we teach from - have our standard of truth in - not what we teach as a subject, save where there is special occasion.
There is this difference between Paradise and the third heaven - the former is the place of delights, the garden of delights with which God surrounds Himself, God's Paradise - the other is approaching God Himself in the Holiest of all, where Christ is gone.
I use, but do not reduce myself to the mere import of the forms of speech of the day.
How beautifully in John 4 the Lord's perfection, in submission to His Father's will, opens out into the large sphere of blessing into which that submission introduced Him. He had been rejected in Judea - a sore trial and sorrow to Him, as to the beloved people, and had taken His way where "He must needs go," "wearied with the way," and sat, as He was, on the well. Here grace flows forth - such was the effect, in His perfect love, and rejection of promises in His Person, and then His "meat was to do the will of Him that sent Him." This opens, thereon, out for His heart into fields "already white for harvest." And it was more than Jewish promise - it broke forth into life eternal, and, in point of fact, does take up all that was of God in the previous ways of His grace - reaped what they had sown. We have other instances of this, as Matthew 11. Oh, for littleness, and lowliness of heart.
2 As regards the names of God, I quote the verses to put them together - Genesis 7:1; Exodus 6:3-6; Matthew 5:48; 2 Corinthians 6:18; then Psalms 83:18; 91:1-2, et seq.; Genesis 14:19-20; and Daniel 4:34.
It is a sorrowful circumstance that Martha does not weep at the Lord's coming to raise Lazarus; the very Jews do - she does not. There is something sad about her state - yet Jesus loved her.
It is remarkable, all through John, how the divine character of Jesus shines through, but never going out of the human, and place of receiving and obedience. If He and the Father are one, the Father who gives the sheep is greater than all. If He has power to lay down and to take again His life, He has received commandment from His Father; so everywhere.
It is interesting to compare the two characters of Mary who anointed Christ's head in Bethany, and Mary Magdalene, both so attached to the Lord, yet how different as to the way of it - one sitting at His feet, the other rescued by His power from the full dominion of demons. The first does not, that I am aware of, appear after that blessed proof of her instructive understanding of the position of Christ - to the other, who had nothing in the world but Christ, He first reveals Himself after His resurrection, and makes her the messenger of His grace to the disciples; no doubt, in this, she was a figure of the Jewish Remnant.
It is very simple, but important, to see that miracles do not necessarily imply the setting aside laws. Man produces previously unknown effects by them - change them he cannot; surely God can. The only difference is that man uses the laws themselves, and force, to produce the effect - God, the fiat of His will. God may act beyond laws, without setting aside any existing ones, because He can quicken and create. But the argument that there are laws, and God would not set aside His own, is perfectly without force.
3 I have found it necessary, in dealing with others, to distinguish between "sitting in heavenly places," and "entering into the holiest." They would have it, the latter did not apply - we were always there. This is a mistake - in Christ, we are sitting in heavenly places always. But we are, in Hebrews, always men on earth, not united to Christ as in Ephesians, but He, a Priest apart on high, and, our conscience being purged, we enter into the holiest boldly by a new and living way. It is another and very blessed thought.
It is well to remark that in John 14, the Spirit is sent by the Father on the intercession of the Son - in John 15 by the Son from His place in glory, in the Father's name - and in John 16 He is here below, Himself, in His own Person, acting.
With what deep feeling, in recollection, the Apostle Peter must have said, "Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again, when he suffered he threatened not, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously"!
How exceedingly beautiful is the unfolding of affection in Christ in the beginning of Philippians! Though the Apostle, in writing to the Corinthians, could give God thanks for them, is it quite different from Philippians. He thanks God "always," and "for all the grace shewed to them" (1 Cor. 1:4) and this is most lovely and instructive; but his heart cannot say "at every remembrance," nor can he say "with joy" (Phil. 1:3-4). Oh! why are not Christians always so walking, that their affections and communion should be fresh and unhindered?
Besides our actual sins, there are two points of our state connected with our fall in Adam. Our alienation from God in nature and will, and our alienation from God in condition, place or standing - both must be corrected; the former is by having Christ for our life, being born again, but this does not in itself take us out of law - the new nature feels the evil of the old, not only what we have done, but what we are. It is not merely we cannot say we have not sinned, but we cannot say we have no sin - "I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing"; the law is a mere means of discovering this, the remedy is not in dealing with it at all, but my place is altered - in Christ not only I have a new nature, but I have died as in the old - in Him I am not in the flesh at all, I am in Christ who has died and risen again. I have a new nature - that must be - but Christ having died and risen again, and I being in Him, I have a new place too. This is what Romans 7 and 8 teaches us. Baptism is not the sign of life-giving, but of change of place - we arise out of death, but death is the main point here. I do not take verse 2 chapter 8 as an inferential "for"; verse I is the result of what goes before, and stands by itself, verse 2 begins an explanation of the "now" of the whole matter in life. The change of state, as previously the change of place or condition - deliverance, not new life.
4 We must not confound palingenesia and anagennao; palingenesia is a change of state as Matthew 19, and used for a recovery of wealth when fortune has been lost. Anagennao is being born "again," so anablepo, anakainizo, etc., it has the sense of "up" often, but "again" or "back" - the beginning of something new, with the sense of the contrary of what it was before, so analuo, anakampto, anakalupto, etc. The other sense is pretty much our use of "up"; see 1 Peter 1:3-23; Titus 3:5.
Covenant in no way implies two parties, but the contrary, i.e., in divine things; a mediator does, but there is an object of the covenant, assurance of blessing, and the circumstances of this object may require the interposition of a mediator, righteously to obtain for, qualify, and sustain them. Christ is properly the object of the Abrahamic covenant, but then, for the Church to come in, being guilty, there must be a mediator with God for that; they are brought into the covenant through a mediator, but the covenant is not made with, or properly for them.
5 A covenant is a disposition of God, secured by His binding or obliging Himself; this - man being a sinner - must be by the meritorious death of the Covenanter. In the case of a man's covenant, it seems to me it was conventionally brought to the same point - the authority of God being interposed, and the covenanter bound in this by the same sanction, quod nota.
Diatheke is the divine interpretation of b'rith (covenant) as to these matters, so that in the divine enquiry of it I have no need to search with anxiety for the root or meaning of b'rith (covenant) as to its ordinary human force.
Prophecy is direct when the people exist. It is addressed to the people because God cannot but own them, cannot but speak to and reprove them till there is no remedy. When He has said lo-ammi (not My people), then what the Jews call, as to several books Hagiographa (holy writings) khethubhim (writings) begins, as in Daniel; he says nothing to the people - there was no people to say anything to. He is the depository for the people of the purposes of God as to them. But yet more, of what would befall the Gentiles, he could not address himself, properly speaking, to the Gentiles save in the first responsibility of the head, but he reveals and interprets dreams of God about them, and receives instructions himself as to what was to come, what the Gentile beasts would be, and what would befall his people. In the Apocalypse I find this same difference. To the Churches there is a direct address. The Spirit of God recognises the people, however low their state, but, after the Churches, not at all - He talks about the beasts, gives their character and doings, the persecution of the saints, and the resulting position of the saints at the end, but addresses nothing to them. It is as if to them also, on the earth, it was lo-ammi; there is no people on earth to address. The Church is not found there - this is remarkable; see Rev. 22:16; He testifies therein. "He that hath an ear is to hear what the Spirit saith to the Churches."
It is interesting also to remark, in a time of ruin and partial restoration, how we get the estimate of the ruin with full knowledge of God's ultimate manner of bringing in the final blessing, though owning clearly the present timeliness of service, and, on the other hand, the partial energy of restoration placing on the ground of responsibility, and revealing the circumstances, in connection with what was so restored, of the guilt that brought judgment, and the deliverance. But what I desire to remark is the two things we have to recognise - the Daniel, and Haggai, and Zechariah position, intelligence, and service. The Lord make us capable.