J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 5.)
1 Timothy 1:5. How very perfect this statement as to the result! In what an atmosphere of blessing it puts us, in contrast with the idle speculations of man's mind! The object of the commission is not idle speculation, but love (God's own nature) enjoyed and active, purity in the affections, a pure heart which sees God - the conscience, with nothing on it, happy in God's presence; and then faith, the spirit of dependence on, and confidence in God. How bright a state in God's presence!
The three points of our present walk are very clearly brought out in 2 Timothy 2, in the well-known passage - withdrawal from iniquity, as naming the name of Christ - purifying ourselves from the vessels - association with those (in the path of grace, righteousness, and peace) who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (whom I am thus called to own, as far as manifested, though owning the Lord only knows them that are His). I add then, courage and the Scriptures; and we have the special provision for the last days. The armour of God is for all times - the sense of dependence our security.
The comparison of John 1 and 1 John 1; chap. 2:1, 2, is full of interest. In John 1, the life is the light of men, but darkness comprehends it not. In 1 John 1, they have seen, looked upon, and handled the Word of life, and show the Eternal Life which was with the Father, and manifested to them; through the Word made flesh become a Word of life to them, they have fellowship with the Father and the Son - the names of grace. Then instead of the light shining in darkness, and the darkness not comprehending it, they are in the light as God is in the light, where responsibility and test comes in. I only touch on the main elements to suggest the ground of what was in my mind - the complete contrast of the Christian's place by redemption, and the world's on the presenting of Christ and His being merely in it. And I add, in chapter 2:1, 2, provision is made for failure in detail. Jesus Christ the righteous, and the propitiation remain in full force - we are in the light as God is, as to place and title. But darkness in act has necessarily totally destroyed communion, though righteousness remain, and hence He is not an Advocate with God, to restore righteousness, but with the Father, on the footing of righteousness and propitiation restoring communion. Failure is judged according to the light we are in - as God is in it. And hence on the footing of what He accepts as putting away sin, I speak as I am, an ever present now, according to that light. The full enjoyment of the out-flowing of grace in communion is re-established. The whole comparison is full of interest.
82 I think it is remarkable how Paul contemplates the introduction of false brethren from the beginning and distinguishes the sacramental system as distinct from salvation, and man's work contrasted with God's - while Peter does not, save as the fruit of positively false teachers like the false prophets of old; but as an ordinary fruit to be produced, he does not. The Christian work is Christ's work, is of God. He addresses the saints, not merely as positionally and rightly such, but as individually such; nor is any other work recorded or supposed. We may suppose such must have been, and such may have been the case in Lydda, but it is not supposed; they turned to the Lord. Simon Magus he detected, which confirms this. Paul's object, of course, was the same, but, like the fisherman's net, it gathered, and he contemplates its gathering of every kind. He contemplates wood, hay and stubble - branches being cut off - sacramental introduction and privilege - but with many God being not well-pleased. This is remarkable. It is a vast system inaugurated on the earth, which Paul commences - Peter's is a falling one there, but in its nature simply divine operation. I have already considered Matthew 16 in connection with this.
The two 'becames' in Hebrews 2:10 and Hebrews 7:26, are striking, as showing the deep truth of God's dealings in respect of Christ, and the wondrous height of our heavenly calling. - "It became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." The majesty of God was such that it became Him, if that Blessed One took up our cause, to make Him pass through the suffering to enter into glory. We can say that it became God, our sins being such, not to pass over them, or our state before Him, and Christ must suffer. Then when our calling comes, a High Priest becomes us who is separate from sinners, made higher than the heavens, for that is our place as called. Another kind of high priest, or place of exercise of his priesthood would not do, for that is our place and condition, called withal to the holy and harmless.
83 The first disciples saw and believed, but then fuller light came in. Between that fuller light and Thomas's confession, which represents Israel in the latter day, the difference is evident. In the message by Mary Magdalene, where it was faith by hearing, the testimony is of the Son of God going on high as Man, and placing His disciples in the very same position as Himself: "I ascend to my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God." Thomas's confession of Christ is a remarkable one, owning Christ as his Lord and his God; but he looks up to Him in the divinity and glory of His Person. He is not associated with Him in His own blessed position in relationship with the Father, and the place He has taken as Man before God. This latter is Christ's own communication in grace to the disciples, as giving them part with Himself - Thomas's, his recognition of His glory when it is forced upon him. And this is all in its place.
Note, Paul alone puts baptism, as far as I am aware, on the ground of death and resurrection with Christ. Thus it becomes the means of doctrinally bringing the Christian on to the point where, on the new ground and in a new position, he is united to Christ as Head. In Romans, he only carries it out to the individual position, but in Colossians he uses it not as union, of course, but as that which, by taking out of flesh into what is beyond it, is the inseparable introduction into holding the Head. It is only life, but life hid with Christ in God. But he introduces 'holding the Head' as the necessary and inseparable consequence, only the Holy Ghost is not brought in in this Epistle. The connection is in chapter 1:18, not the same, but connected, so immediately in Christ. Hence it glimmers though not unfolded, as in chapter 1:24, 25, and chap. 2:19.
84 Note in 1 John 5:18, 19, we have the opposition of the new nature to the whole trinity of evil; whosoever is born of God sinneth not - the will and nature of flesh; he that is born of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not; and, we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
Note the remarkable contrast between John 1:5, "The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not," and 1 John 2:8, "The darkness is past, and the true light now shineth." We get the full character of the living Christ in the presence of men brought in by redemption after the Lord's death. In life He was the Light of men, but men were darkness, opposite in nature, and the Light did not dispel the darkness at all. It remained, as before, darkness, and did not comprehend the Light. But redemption came in - there was a new state of things - Christ had overcome the power of darkness, and brought a new condition of men in resurrection into existence, and vivified according to the power and place of this life, which was in the light as God was in the light, and had left the darkness and the whole scene and power of it where it was, behind, the other side of the Cross. Thus those who had received Him, had received light in life in their souls - cleansed by the blood, they walked in the light, and were light. It was not the strange phenomenon of light shining and darkness remaining, but the darkness was passing and already the light shone as light, not in darkness merely. This is an immense change indeed. It is then easy to see how it connects itself with "Which thing is true in him and in you." It shows the relative place of the Gospel and Epistle very clearly, and more, it shows very powerfully the difference between Christ's position and witness on earth, and the light brought in after redemption was wrought, and He was risen. It is a very important comparison.
85 Note how carefully the Kingdom and our portion in Christ are everywhere distinguished when brought together, and both introduced so as to mark the distinction. First, in 2 Peter 1, the transfiguration is the plain manifestation of the glory of the Kingdom, indeed is so said to be in the Gospels, where it is visible and Christ appears with His saints. This is connected with prophecy. It confirms what the Prophets had said as to what the history of this world would end in - was a light in this dark world - but this is contrasted with another thing, the daydawn, and the Daystar arising in the heart. Next, in Revelation 2, we have the promise of Kingdom of Psalm 2 extended to the saints. Here in the full corruption of the Church (popery) the faithful are urged to hold fast, and the end looked at, "Till I come"; then the Kingdom of the rod of iron over the nations given (that is prophecy) but, besides that, the Morning Star, Christ, before the day comes. Then in Revelation 22, as at the beginning, the efficacy of Christ's forbearing known in the heart relationship of the saints, so when all the prophecy had been gone through, Jesus presents Himself as the Root and Offspring of David, the bright and morning Star. As the former He is the Source and Heir of promises, as the Morning Star the Hope of the Church. The Spirit who is down here animating the Church, and the Bride in the sense of her own relationship, looks for Himself to come, and the whole position of the Church meanwhile, as having the Spirit, is unfolded. And so we find it elsewhere. At the end of 1 Thessalonians 4, where it had been declared that those that slept in Jesus, God would bring with Him - this is the manifestation in glory also, which is continued in connection with the day, in chapter 5; our going up to Him, so as to be with Him for ever, which answers to the Morning Star, is unfolded in the intervening parenthesis.
I think of the account of the Passover in Luke we have the sign of the passing away of the old system, and the bringing in of the new. True love to His disciples in, for the last time, eating with them - a token of affection, but He will not eat it any more. Then the Passover cup - fellowship and communion in joy then in it - this He does not take at all. It was now to be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God, and He does not drink this cup. They are to divide it among themselves; He will not drink of it till the Kingdom of God comes. Then He institutes the new thing in His body broken, the remembrance of a new and better deliverance, and the Cross the new covenant in His blood.