Thursday, November 24, 2016

He who comes out of heaven

I changed the title of this post after the discussion in the comment thread. The new title is from John 3:31. I thought it would be better to change the title in place and keep the comment thread intact than re-publishing the post and potentially losing the comments.

We don't want to lose sight of the most astonishing fact in Scripture: the Son of God came from Heaven to die for ruined sinners. John 1:1–12 brings us face-to-face with the wonder of that when it tells who He is from the beginning. He is the Word who is God, and who was with God (John 1:1). It's important we remember both of those truths together: if we remember He was with God but we forget He is God, then we fall into Arianism. If we remember He is God, but forget He was with God, then we fall into Sabellianism.

In point of fact, I have many times sat in a meeting where someone thanked the Father for dying for us. It's not right to make a man a transgressor for a word, but at the same time we should be very careful that our words reflect what Scripture actually says.

It is the fact of who Christ is that gives value to what He has done. The Son of God came here and died for lost sinners. Is there anything more astonishing than that? John 1 keeps coming back to this central point: He was the Creator (John 1:3), having come into the world He created (John 1:10). The more we contemplate that fact, the more we find ourselves asking, "What kind of Person is this?"

I once heard a man quote Luke 15:1–2 like this: "'This Man receives sinners and eats with them', thank God He does!"

In fact, the Pharisees didn't know the half of it. He came not merely to eat with sinners, but to give His flesh to be their food and His blood to be their drink (John 6:47–58).

Isaiah 64:1–3 tells us when God comes down, He does terrible things no one looked for (Isaiah 64:3) – He does things no one could have expected. Certainly when the Son of God came, He did what no one could have expected: He gave Himself to save lost sinners (Galatians 2:19–20).


Robert Thomson said...

I have had a busy few weeks and am catching up with the blog.

I am interested in your expression,'the Man from Heaven came down'- I confess that it makes no sense to me! Are you saying that Christ brought manhood from heaven down to earth?

The only verse that I am aware of that could be construed to mean that is, 1 Corinthians 15:47 but I have long since settled in my mind that the statement refers to the future when the Lord comes to the air at the rapture.

Thomas Prato said...

John 3.13. Ponder over that verse.

I don't want to indulge in theological speculations. But I take John chapter 1:1-18 as it is. He was the Word, He was and is the Son of God, He was and is the Second Person on the Blessed Trinity. And I read in John 1.14, 'The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us'. I see Him now as the Son of God and the Son of Man. 100% God, 100% Man. I also see now a Man on the Throne, a Man in the Glory.

But the more important reason why I am commenting here is: Please tell me whether JN Darby can be read in Simpler English. I find his English to be hard reading. I have read CHM and other Brethren writers, including WM Kelly. But Darby's English is convoluted and makes hard reading. I need help!

Anonymous said...

Good insight, Robert.
Yea Thomas, reading Darby can be challenging at times.

William Kelly helps:
"Kelly labored for years collecting, editing, and at times translating Darby's Collected Writings, in thirty-four volumes, most of which had appeared in The Bible Treasury.

Kelly saw a grandeur in Darby's works, but was also honest enough to admit that Darby could be unintelligible. Those who have been helped by reading Darby can thank God that there was ever a man named William Kelly to decipher the code. Right to the end of his long life, Kelly would exhort young Bible students to "read Darby!" He had; and it had done him good. Darby once teased Kelly, "Kelly, you write to be read and understood. I only think on paper."


Rodger said...

William Kelly: "Mr. Darby was deliberate and prayerful in weighing a scripture; but he wrote rapidly, as thoughts arose in his spirit, and often with scarcely a word changed. He delighted in a concatenated sentence, sometimes with parenthesis within parenthesis, to express the truth fully, and with guards against misconception. An early riser and indefatigable worker, he yet had not time to express his mind as briefly and clearly as he could wish. 'You write to be read and understood,' he once said playfully to me; 'I only think on paper.' This made his writings, to the uninitiated, anything but pleasant reading, and to a hasty glance almost unintelligible; so that many, even among highly educated believers, turned away, because of their inability to penetrate sentences so involved. No one could be more indifferent to literary fame; he judged it beneath CHRIST and therefore the Christian. He was but a miner, as he said; he left it to others to melt the ore, and circulate the coin, which many did in unsuspected quarters, sometimes men who had no good to say of him, if one may not think to conceal the source of what they borrowed. To himself CHRIST was the centre of all, and the continual object before him, even in controversy; nor is anything more striking, even in his hottest polemics, than his assertion of positive truth to edification. He was never content to expose an adversary, where not only his unfaltering logic, but instant and powerful grasp of the moral side, and above all of the bearing of CHRIST on the question, made him the most redoubtable of doctors."

Robert said...

Thomas - the words in John 3 were said by a Man on earth. There was no manhood in heaven prior to the incarnation and virgin birth - that's not speculation! John 1:14 is proof of that, as is Philippians 2:6,7 and Hebrews 2:9,14,16,17. Praise God there is now a Man on the throne and a Man in the Glory.

clumsy ox said...

I did not mean to imply that Christ brought manhood down from Heaven. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" refers to His incarnation "come of a woman, come under the Law". And I have no doubt John 1:14 makes the connection between His becoming Man and His dwelling among "us" (properly, not us at all, but the disciples) so that both statements refer to one event.

I used the expression to draw attention to two facts: first, Christ is real Man. He wasn't always Man (He is eternally God, and became Man), but He became a real Man. Second, He came down from Heaven. I was actually thinking about John 6:33 in this connection.

I honestly didn't even think about the implication that He brought manhood down from Heaven. Nor did it occur to me that Scripture doesn't use the term "Man from Heaven".

Anonymous said...

I know what you meant, but when you used the term " when the Man from Heaven came down" that could be misunderstood as meaning God the Son was a Man in heaven before He came down instead of God the Son became a Man (God-Man) when He came down.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brother,

I do feel the expression 'MAN FROM HEAVEN' is inappropriate. Though your intentions were sincere and well meant as you have clarified, I believe that the expression when taken up by a fleshy mind can develop into pernicious doctrines as to His Incarnation.

In fact as you may be aware that even CHM was accused of reviving the OLD VALENTINIAN HERESY when he used the term" HEAVENLY HUMANITY" & "THE SECOND MAN WAS, AS TO HIS MANHOOD, THE LORD FROM HEAVEN" in his exposition of Meal Offering in Lev 2 , in his Notes on Leviticus (first ed. 1860) though he never meant any heterodox ideas but affirmed the true and holy humanity of our Lord, further down the passage. He later apologised for the unguarded expressions & changed those expression in the second edition of his Notes on JND's insistence.

So I think I it would do well for all of us here to use Scriptural expressions especially in dealing with the fundamental doctrines like Trinity & Person of Christ , which are inscrutable to our finite minds.

Your bro in Christ,

Anonymous said...

To any interested readers,

The Mackintosh controversy is given detail in Appendix 5 of this wonderful book , " PRECIOUS TRUTHS REVIVED AND DEFENDED THROUGH J.N.DARBY - vol.2 ". The book can be downloaded using the following link:

JND's defence of CHM & His take on the controversy can be read in the following articles:


clumsy ox said...

Hi Thomas,

I don't know of anything like "Darby in plain English" I agree there's a need, but I'm not aware of anything like that.

Arguably Darby doesn't use English at all, but some obscure dialect of his own...

What have you read of his?

Anonymous said...

ahhhhhhh Now we're all happy!!!

Clement said...

Dear Robert,

Could you explain why 1 cor 15:47 refers to the rapture?
The verb is in the past tense (at least in my french bible)

Robert said...


I try and leave brief comments on the blog. And may I say, as we reach the end of another year, how very encouraging and helpful Mark's comments have been in 2016.

The starting point is to see that in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 Adam and Christ are viewed as heads of races of men - federal heads. It is very important to note that Romans 5 does not teach that Adam became the head of a race when he was created, nor did Christ become the head of a race when He was born. The teaching of the passage is summed up in verse 19. It was only when Adam had committed one act of disobedience that he became head of a race of sinners. It was only when Christ made one act of obedience (at Calvary) that He became the Head of a race of righteous men. Therefore the thought of Christ as the Last Adam and the Second Man does not link with His incarnation but with His resurrection. We are linked to a Man who lives on the other side of death and who is glorified in heaven.

In 1 Corinthians 15, the thought of Adam and Christ as federal heads is explored in relation to the resurrection of the dead. The questions may be asked, 'how are the dead raised and with what body do they come?' Paul firstly explains the distinction between the earthly body and the resurrection body:

Earthly: corruption, dishonour, weakness, natural

Resurrection: incorruptible, glory, power, spiritual

In verse 45 Paul shows that these two bodies are derived from our federal heads, Adam and Christ. We began our life in this world with the natural body that links us to Adam but we shall have a spiritual body that links us to Christ. The natural body was obtained from a man who came out of the earth (Genesis 2). Our spiritual body will be given to us by a Man who comes out of heaven.

This is why I said 'out of heaven' refers to the rapture. Although, strictly speaking, I should have used the expression, at the change. For both the dead in Christ and we which are alive and remain unto His coming will be changed before we meet the Lord in the air.

I am unable to comment on the tense of the verb in the French bible. You will notice that the phrase in v.45 'was made' is not in the original Greek and the repeated word 'is' in v.47 are not in the original text, which is why translators have found these difficult verses to translate.However, as always, it is the context that determines the meaning of the text.

I think if you work through the verses as I have suggested, you will see that our resurrection body will not be linked to Christ in incarnation but to Christ in resurrection and glory.