Extracts From Letters of J.N.D.: Holy Ghost Lord; Worship; The Body

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BELOVED BROTHER, I have no objection to call the Holy Ghost Lord as a general title in glory and Godhead, just as Jehovah our God is called Lord, regularly so, in the New Testament. The Lord said unto my Lord -Jehovah to Adonai; and thus I am quite free, and have no quarrel with those who do, because He who is God must, in a certain sense, be Lord; and I think that 2 Cor. 3:1818But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18) does connect Lord closely with the Spirit, but verse 6 gives it a peculiar force, when, after a long parenthesis, verse 17 takes it up again. The revelation of the Lord is in the present power of the Spirit of God; and that is the way in which we have even the new covenant. But He identifies this with the present power of the Spirit in saying, " Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
I do not think 2 Thess. 3:55And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:5) amounts to a very distinct testimony. It is the general expression for the ordinary guiding power of grace over His people, and without any definite distinction. It is Christ that comes, if we define, with the term Lord to the mind. In the regular use of the word, κύριος is used in two ways in the New Testament. The LXX. have always translated Jehovah by κύριος, and so it is used as a name, without any article, in the New Testament. I have given a list in my French New Testament, in the Preface. There we have Christ set as Man in the place of Lordship. God has made this same Jesus " whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." Every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. To us there is one God the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ. This truth is very distinctly taught. It is not a question of nature, but of a place He has taken. And in this character the church, or Christians, constantly address Him: all that call on the name of the Lord Jesus, theirs and ours. It is a name of relationship-theirs: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Thrice I besought the Lord that this might be removed from me.
The Holy Ghost is the accomplisher of all grace in us. In that sense He carries out the Lordship work in us. It is not a question of the Holy Ghost's nature, or being, or personality. They that lie to the Holy Ghost, lie to God. He distributes to whom He will, and as thus acting, He is practically Lord. Still, though He exercises the authority in and over us, yet He refers our hearts to Christ. There are diversities of operations, but one Spirit. There are diversities of ministrations, but one Lord. So, as to unity, one Spirit, one body, one hope of our calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Thus, in the practical sense, the Holy Spirit acts as Lord; we are led by Him. The Spirit said, " Separate me." But the title, as appropriated, is Christ's, or Jehovah, or the general divine authority and rule. The action by which Lordship is exercised in grace in us, is by the Spirit, as in 1 Cor. 12-distributing. But the title, Lord, in administration, is in Christ. If Christ direct my heart, the Holy Ghost would do it in me.
In Acts 4 it is another matter-it is δεσπότης, not κύριος-I mean in verse 24-as, "the Lord that bought them," " the only Lord God " -despot literally-bought them, being the comparison of a master buying a slave. In verse 29 it is general, but, if defined, refers to Jehovah. " Child" is " servant," Christ as man (exalted) is looked at as not δοῦλος, bondsman, but the servant of God.
But though Christ be made Lord and Christ as man, yet, through His oneness with the Father, and His being the true God, it runs up into a divine title, just as in the case with Son. He is in the place of Son, as Man, or we could not be with Him: That "holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God;" but it cannot be separated from divine and eternal Sonship. As Man He becomes and enters into-is, in so far as He is a Man, in the relationship with the Father as the divine and eternal Son. In all the works of God we find this co-operation of the Persons. The Son wrought, yet He would say, " The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works:" and " if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come among you." I know not that I can add more to make it clear. Definitions here are not man's part-he receives, thanks, and worships.
My kindest love to the brethren. I rejoice in their blessing and joy in Christ as my own: in some sense more. The love of Christ directs the eye on them He loves. All is going on very fast here, but towards what?-but the blessed Lord is as sure for this as for every other state of His saints, and the truth, and the word of truth, increasingly precious; Christ more all, at any rate, more separately and contrastedly. Peace be with you, ever dear brother.
Affectionately yours,
J. N. D.
P.S.-In reply to the fly-leaf I had not sufficiently noticed, I add, it is not any question of Person or dignity, as to the Holy Ghost, that hinders His being the object addressed in prayer, but the place He holds in the divine economy. He does govern as we are led by Him, but our communion is with (objectively) the Father and Son Jesus Christ. It is eternal life to know the Father, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. Yet, without the Spirit, and a divine Spirit, we could have no communion, and no knowledge. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given to us. Our bodies are His temples. But it is as in us He works, leading us objectively to the Father and the Son. But God dwells in us; by the Spirit we know the Son is in the Father, a divine Person thereby, we know we are in Him, and He in us. And in Rom. 8 we find Christ and the Spirit in this respect identified. The Holy Ghost is a divine Person, and in the unity of the Godhead adored and worshipped. He is the immediate agent of all that God does, immediate to the effect. But His place in the divine ways is not in the same way objective-as divine and as personal, but not in God's ways so objective.
MY DEAR BROTHER, assures me, for I had written to him, that he is quite sure that he joins heartily in praise and worship to the Lord Jesus Christ. He has only wanted the full sense of sonship to be known, and of nearness to God in Christ. Now this is right, and many fail in it, and have the feeling they can approach Christ and trust in His love, but not God. The Spirit of adoption is greatly wanting in many....
It is possible some may have objected to it really. If they will not worship a man, the angels will, and moreover every knee bow to Him, of men and infernal beings. While scripture puts us into the glory with Christ and like Christ, it carefully guards the personal glory and title of Christ. Moses and Elias were seen in the same glory as Christ, but the moment Peter would put them on a level, they disappear, and the Father's voice is heard declaring He was His beloved Son. The heavens were as open to Stephen (through Christ's death) as to Christ when He came up from Jordan, but Stephen looks at Him as an object-as Son of man, and is changed morally into His likeness; heaven looks down on Christ, and instead of conforming Him to anything, the Spirit seals Him as He is, and the Father owns Him as He is. It is down here He says the Son of Man who is in heaven.
It is He, who came in in subjection by the door, the Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep, who says, " I and my Father are one." If there is the divine and human nature in Him, there is only one person. And he who says, I will not adore a man, is, to say the least, in danger of denying the unity of the person. He who has seen Him has seen the Father. The Man who spoke to Philip and washed his feet could say, and did at the same time, " Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in Me?" Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, addressed himself to the Son of man, saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Authority is given to Him to judge because He is the Son of man, but it is that C even as they honor the Father." (John 5) Is that refusing to worship Him? See verse 18, the Jews were more consistent.
Son Jesus Christ. This [He, οῦτος] is the true God, and eternal life."
But Jesus is the name of Him who was born of the Virgin Mary; and Christ is the anointed Man. And the apostle emphatically adds in contrast, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." This is a most striking passage. In 1 John 2, 3 the inseparableness of personality and the distinction of nature is very striking-" Him at his coming," "is born of him" (chap. 2:28, 29), so that we are sons of God (chap. 3:1), and yet the world knew Him not-sons of God (var. 2), but we like Him when He shall appear. All this blessed truth is lost if we dissolve, as I have called it, Christ. And yet I must know Him as a man, that is the distinctness of the nature; for He prayed to God and died, and yet He was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death. When in the form of God. made Himself of no reputation (ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσε)-yet being thus could say, " Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." Na man knows the Son but the Father. But he who loses these things loses the Son.
Speaking of worshipping a man is losing the Person of Christ. And if the angels are to worship Him, worship is a just service as to what He is: for it is not our being exempt which is in question, but His being entitled to it. And there it is Christ, though His Godhead is brought out, yet as incarnate; for it is said, " when he had by himself purged our sins," and He is here "the first-begotten" not " the only-begotten," and Psa. 2, is quoted where He is distinctly celebrated as Messiah-Christ, or as in English " His anointed." But I fear there has been too much discussion. Refusing to worship the Lord is a very serious error, but discussion about His Person seldom leads to much fruit. I have spoken as plainly as possible, that there may be no mistake about my judgment about refusing to do it... Firmness against false doctrine is always right. But there are a great many who are in the Martha state-" whatever thou wilt ask God," who, as not really free, cannot go directly to the Father, nor worship Him rightly-cannot worship under the conviction the Father Himself loveth them; not questioning God's love in sending His only-begotten Son, but who do not enter into the present privilege of direct address to the Father, as those who are in His presence and enjoy His love there-loved as Jesus Himself is loved, wonderful as such a word is, this love being in them.
Affectionately yours in the Lord,
J. N. D.
DEAR BROTHER, There is nothing new to me in the subject you write about. I had to discuss it 25 years ago in Switzerland. It was the ground the dissenters took against me then, that it was a thing to be formed. In Switzerland the comparison of an army was presented, that when one corps was passing men said the army was passing, but nothing was really the army but the whole. I took up the simile, and said it was like recruiting and passing out into the reserve, and freedom from service, and new recruits coming in, but it was always the army. This is plain: the Holy Ghost being down here, the body is recognized of God as being down here too. The deceased saints do not enter into account as in the body, of it now in the mind and purpose of God though not actually, as having passed out of the scene where the body is, as formed by the Holy Ghost come down from heaven.
My expression, I remember; was that those who have passed away, "n'entrent pas en ligne de compte " as regards the church actually. I do not know that I should use the word "perfect" body. The danger is to deny that anything is ever the body but the present thing on earth, that is that there will be no body of Christ when He is Head. over all things de facto, so that the body is a temporary thing. It is -quite clear to me that the body recognized now is on earth united to the Head by the Holy Ghost come down here, but does union with Christ by the Holy Ghost cease when the saints all go up to meet the Lord? When they die they are individually with the Lord, but are lost, so to speak, not being raised to their actual connection with the body which is here, where as to personal place, the Holy Ghost now is. But supposing a living saint changed when Christ comes. Does he lose his union with the Head? Does the Holy Ghost as making him one with Him, and does he cease to be a member of the body? This I cannot think. The church is His body, and He is to be glorified in the church throughout all ages, world without end.
It would be a sad thought to me to cease to be a member of Christ, or that that should cease. He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit. I insisted on the present actuality of the body largely from 1 Corinthians xi., "He hath set in the church." There are no healings in heaven. That the body is a present thing by the Holy Ghost come down from heaven is as clear in scripture as possible, and to give it up at any time is to give up Christ's care for His members, as a man of his own flesh.
But further, Eph. 1:22,2322And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:22‑23) is an abstract statement for me. Now, He has put all things under His feet. This we know is not accomplished. So it is as to calling and inheritance (vers. 4, 5, 11), it is what is in the mind of God, with a statement of what is already accomplished, as verses 13, 14, 20, 21, but both parts look at the mind and purpose of God-the hope of His calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints; and then the Spirit gives the complete thing of the mind of God in verses 22 and 23, not merely what is now fulfilled. Is it not natural to hold this fast, that the thought of the body may not lose its importance by being only a temporary thing? J. N. D.