Extracts From Letters of J.N.D.: Sealing of the Holy Spirit; Sealing on the New Birth

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VERY DEAR BROTHER, On beginning your letter, I soon thought that you had met these false teachers of whom you speak. It is true that we are only sealed by the Holy Spirit after having believed. But it is not then that we are born of God. If the presence of the Holy Spirit were life, every Christian would be an incarnation of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit that we have of God. Being born of God is another thing. We have not received, as to the state in which we find ourselves, the state purposed for us:in the counsels of God; but we have all subjectively to be able to enjoy it. We have, undoubtedly, eternal life. When it is said, This is the promise that He has made us, it is no question of whether we have it or have it not, but, what is the promise of God? But the testimony of God is, that He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son, has life; and he who has not the Son, has not life. Christ is eternal life come down from the Father. Life eternal is indeed spoken of as at the end (Rom. 6), because eternal life, such as God means by it in His fixed purpose, is in the glory, when we shall be like Christ, but we are already quickened. John 5:2424Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24): he has life, he is passed from death unto life, and the hour had come already. (Ver. 25; also John 3:3636He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36).) We are bound to reckon that we are alive unto God by Jesus Christ. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, but it is no longer I that live, but Christ who liveth in me. When we were dead, He quickened us with Christ. We are seated only in Christ, and it is according to the power that worketh in us. God does not quicken in heaven wicked people who arrive there dead in sin! and the soul is not in the grave with the body. That whichi s born of the Spirit, is spirit. " Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me hath everlasting life." (John 6) And here it is by faith, and down here; he who eateth of this bread shall live eternally; if one does not eat it, one has not life in oneself. " He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." That is to say, resurrection is another thing; he has life, and made sure to him for eternity; he will be raised up at the last day. He that eateth of this bread shall live forever. Nothing appears to me clearer than the doctrine of the word on this subject, under various forms; born of the Spirit, quickened by Christ, by faith in receiving Him as bread of life.
It ought to make the believer perfectly assured on this point. "He who has the Son, has life." Christ is my life. The gift of the Spirit is quite another thing-the seal of faith. After having believed, I have been sealed. We are sons of God, by faith in Christ Jesus, and because we are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into the heart, crying, Abba, Father. Another question, if this faith is of me, or of God-which I by no means doubt-in me, but in that which grace has wrought in me. " He who has established us with you in Christ, and who has anointed us, is God." Grace by faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. (Eph. 2:88For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8).) I know well it is said that that does not agree grammatically with faith; be it so, but not with grace either; and to say that grace is not of ourselves is nonsense, for grace means of another, yet one might say to oneself, without doubt, But faith is on our part, as is said: this is why the apostle asserts, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. As to the rest, it is another question. One is a child, born of God before being sealed. Of His own will He begat us by the word of truth, that we might be as firstfruits of His creatures. God has begotten us of His own will. One does not beget oneself. One does not believe in a life communicated, when one does not believe that it is grace that communicates it. Wesleyans do not believe in a real life communicated. A result is produced by the operation of the Spirit, and this result can disappear and re-appear. He who is born of God, having received this life, inasmuch as born of God, sinneth not; the wicked one also toucheth him not. In this life there is no sin, within it is the divine seed. There is no allurement for it in the things that Satan presents. As for deliverance, and the seal of the Holy Spirit, it is not only having life that delivers me; it is, indeed, the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ that has set me free-further proof that I have life-but there is also redemption and the Holy Spirit.
Here is the order of these things as I see them in the word. The well-beloved Savior died for my sins; I believe it by grace, and I possess the remission of sins. (I may have had life before, by faith in His Person, without understanding the efficacy of His death.) Thereupon, being washed in the blood of Jesus, I am sealed by the Holy Spirit. Then there is strength and liberty, as in the Old Testament the leper was washed with water, then he was sprinkled with blood, and then anointed with oil. So says Peter, Be baptized for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Thus, with Cornelius, as soon as Peter spoke of the remission of sins by Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended on those who heard. We also find it in Rom. 5 There is liberty. But for a solid state of soul, there is another truth necessary-that we have died with Christ. It is no longer a question of sins, but of the old man-not of what we have done, but of what we are as children of Adam. That begins with Rom. 5:1919For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Romans 5:19): " By the disobedience of one," it is said, we " are constituted sinners." But having died with Christ, I am no longer in the flesh; not only are the sins of the old man blotted out, but I am in a new position-I am in Christ, instead of being in Adam. There, there is no condemnation. Then he chews the state-what that means, the law of the Spirit, &c.; and then, what the law could not do, because it was weak through the flesh, God, in sending His Son in the likeness of flesh of sin, and (as a sacrifice) for sin, has condemned sin in the flesh; but it is in death that this has taken place. Thus condemned, it exists no longer for faith. I can say so, because Christ risen having become my life, I recognize no longer the flesh as living, since He has really died for me, He who only is my life; I do not recognize the flesh; His death is valid for me to this result. (Chapter 6:10,11.)
One arrives at it by the experimental knowledge that no good exists in me, then that sin in me is not I, but that it is too strong for me. Having learned it, redemption and the power of the Spirit deliver me, and I know that I am in Christ. The apostle, in order to give it all its force, recounts this experience as made under the law (and it is always legal). It may be made after having learned the remission of sins. I have life, then, very really as soon as I believe, as I receive Christ, and I shall never perish-a sheep quickened by Christ, never to be plucked out of His hand; for again John 10 demonstrates it. I am made free by redemption, and the power of the Spirit of God, by whom I am sealed by virtue of this redemption, and I reckon myself for dead as to the flesh.
Yours very affectionately, J. N. D.
MY DEAR BROTHER, Sealing on the new birth is a mistake in principle-it leaves out the sprinkling with blood for forgiveness. I know of no ground for delay, save knowing this. (See Acts 2:3838Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38); x. 43, 44.) As to eternal life, in the full sense of it, it is Christ Himself, and that revealed as Man in glory. (1 John 5:2020And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. (1 John 5:20).) But its essence is divine life in the Person of Christ. (1 John 5:11,1211And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (1 John 5:11‑12).) In Him was life, and that life He has in manhood. (John 5:2626For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; (John 5:26).) But this has a double character; the Son quickens as Son (ver. 21), and then we are, when dead in sins, quickened together with Christ; in one, as the Son of God, a divine Person; in the other, as a dead man, whom God raises. Now life and incorruptibility were brought to light by the gospel. For eternal life was manifested in the Person of the Son, and, when He was risen and glorified, shone out in its new, full character in man. If we be risen with Christ, when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall appear with Him in glory. Now, till He came, this never was displayed, nor, according to God's full purpose in man, till He was glorified. But I have no doubt the Old Testament saints were quickened, and they will be glorified. Still, it was as much in Christ humbled, as in Christ glorified. 1 John 1 was before the world, and that is its essence, only now brought to light in connection with the incorruptibility of the body in resurrection (or changed), a spiritual body. Paul never speaks of it as ours now, that I remember-John does, for he always speaks of things in their essence. But it comes in the knowledge of the Father sending the Son, and Jesus Christ, as so sent of Him; and the Father, Son, and
life come in the Son, and the Father revealed in Him, runs all through John's teaching, connecting us with Him in life. (1 John 4. -9;5, 11, 12.) We live, but Christ is our life. But the revelation of the Father in the Son, and that as giving eternal life in Him, is the essence of John's doctrine along, with propitiation and forgiveness in his epistle, not in his gospel. But it is not necessary that it should be in the heavenly glory to be eternal life, but redemption through Christ is. In Matt. 25 they go away into life everlasting. The places in the Old Testament where it is spoken of, are, Psa. 133 and Dan. 12 The essence is Christ as life, but in its full thought as to us, is being like Him in glory. But there is quickening by Him as Son, and being quickened and raised with Him, in both cases life; in the latter known in heavenly glory as the result. God has reserved some better thing for us, but the Old Testament saints will be perfected with us. No one who has not life can have to say to God really.
The Pharisees had got hold of the expression, as they had of resurrection. But the Lord goes down to the ground they were upon: If thou wilt enter into life, [keep] God's commandment. But in the Lord's unfolding the subject in John 6, you find having eternal life as a present thing-as constantly in John-but directly connected, four times over, with His raising us in the last day. Its full development is in the sphere it came from, and in the power of Him who has it in connection with man, and so immortality [incorruptibility] the body brought in. Nor, though they have it down here, is this shut out from the final result in Matt. 25, Dan. 12, and Psa. 133 You cannot separate eternal life and new birth, but though the essence of divine life is there, yet eternal life in Christ as Man; and, finally in glory, as accomplished in Christ glorified, does go further than being quickened. It is the gospel which has brought it to light.
Affectionately yours in the Lord, J. N. D.
The moral subjective effect was produced by being quickened-obedience, dependence, reference of heart to God, delight in His will. Hence the saint now can delight in the Psalms, though there is no knowledge of the Father.
MY DEAR BROTHER, It has been a good while now since I have exchanged a line with you; and, in fact, I have been laid up, so that I could do, for some time, little or nothing-entirely down, so that I did not know whether I should be raised up at all again. It is now near three months that I have been unable to pass the night stretched in my bed-at first, not at all. Now I sit up in bed about a third of the night, but I sleep rather better then than lying down. All this of the poor body, but it makes its being left, if not glorified, nearer to us. God may give higher apprehensions of the joys before us, and if all
be not habitually and honestly purged before God, there may be exercises of conscience, even if we know the remedy. I hardly came so near to going away as that; but I was surprised, in at least looking it in the face, how little difference there was; Christ with me for the way, and Christ at the end for full and perfect joy. It is a difference to go. It is what is eternal, but faith is not sight. But -the word is ever precious which brings what is of God, and God Himself, to us, in the power of His own Spirit, and so as from Himself, and this gives it a peculiar and blessed character. Soon it will be better still; not from Himself, but Himself. But it is suited to us here, just like Christ Himself, which is of God, and heavenly, but suited to us here, with a divine flexibility which suits itself to all circumstances and to everything that is in our hearts, but to take us up where it comes from.
I have written a tract on the " Sealing of the Spirit." I felt its being muddled, as it was, a good deal, and this was the case everywhere; it was a sign of the state of souls. But dear—was never, I think, clear; I have often told him so, never really out of Rom. 7 But how many are there! Yet very many take for granted they are out of it, while full, perfect, simple redemption is not really known. Ask, not in Palestine, but in Boston and New York, what it is to have no more conscience of sins, and they cannot tell; and then " God for us" is not known. This side, in the public teaching, was wanting at the Reformation. They saw Christ's work meeting our need before God, but " God so loved" was hardly a part of their gospel; on assurance they largely insisted, indeed, justifying faith was, to them, the personal appropriation of Christ's work in an assuring way. It was not sufficiently the object of faith, though it was there, but the state of the soul. But when it pleases God to do so, He works with very imperfect truth, provided it be Christ; it is one of the present difficulties. At the first, full truth flowed from the center, and drew souls up to it; now it works where all is confusion, to bring in divine order and faith through the word-I mean order as to the truth. But I close. In general, throughout the country, there is a real appetite for the word-a happy sign-and brethren are blessed. In some parts of London, though there is nothing outward, the effect of local troubles remains. But the Lord loves His church, and does not cease His care for it. Nothing will fail of His purposed grace. Peace be with you, dear brother, and •constant guidance, keeping near enough to hear His voice through grace.
Your affectionate brother in Christ,
1881. J. N. D.