True Ministry

J. N. Darby.

London, March 18th, 1871.

<52071F>p120 [From the French] DEAR BROTHER, - Very little is known of the history of what is called the church - what is the church as to its responsibility - and of the conduct of the clergy and indeed of everybody. It is happy to have only the word to follow, and to know that it is the word of God. What an immense mercy to have His word, the revelation of His grace towards us, of Jesus the perfect One, of the counsels of God, and what God has ordained for our glory. It is in His kindness towards us that, in the ages to come, He will shew forth the immense riches of His grace.

From the beginning, trusting the enemy rather than God, man was alienated from God, and the two questions: Where art thou? What hast thou done? shewed where man was as the consequence of it. Responsibility put fully to the test up to the rejection of Christ; then, God glorified in righteousness, His love, and the counsels of His grace from before the foundation of the world have been manifested - that puts the gospel in a very special place, and then shews the connection of responsibility and sovereign grace with great distinctness.

Moreover, there is no longer any veil over the glory of God. Thence, His wrath is revealed from heaven; but also, the glory of God is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ, witness that all the sins of those who behold it exist no longer before God; then, all that God is morally is fully revealed and established. We know Him according to that glory, and our relationship with God, our standing before God, are founded upon it. We are transformed from glory to glory according to that image, for we can look upon it: it is the proof of our redemption, and the proof that our sins no longer subsist before God. We are also renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created us; we are created according to God in righteousness and true holiness; for, according to that glory, He hath shined in our hearts in order to shew out this glory of Christ in the world. We are like a lantern: the light is within, but it is to shine without; but dull glass (the flesh if it interferes) will prevent the light from shining as it should. Thus, that which is given us becomes inward exercise: the treasure is in an earthen vessel, and it is necessary that this latter be only a vessel; that we should be dead, in order that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

It is not only a communication of what is in Christ, as knowledge; but if it is real, we drink of that which makes the river. It is a communication that exercises the soul, makes it grow, and judges the flesh in everything, in order that we may not mar the testimony which is thus committed to us. In Christ Himself, the life was the light of men, and the light that we receive must become life in us, the formation of Christ in us, and the flesh must be subjected to death. "Death worketh in us," says Paul, "but life in you."

This is the history of ministry, of true ministry. What we communicate is our own; it enlightens us, but it works in us morally; the glory of Christ is realised in us, and all that does not suit Him is judged: now flesh never suits Him.

The death of Christ put an end to all that was Paul; thus the life of Christ acted from him in others, and nothing but that. That is saying a great deal. Thus, in this respect there may be progress. For as to my position before God, I reckon that I am dead; for in order to live, death works in me. There is the vessel, but it must be only a vessel, and the life of Christ acting in it and by it. If the vessel acts, it spoils all. In reality, we live; but we must always bear about death, in order that the glory of Christ, the image of God, may shine for others. But all the glory of God is revealed; there is no longer any veil over it on God's side; if it be veiled, the veil is on the heart of man through unbelief - truth of all-importance!

Under the law, man could not go in; God did not come out. Now He has come out, but humbling Himself, to bring grace. Then, the work of redemption accomplished, He has gone in, and there is no veil over the glory.