By: John N. Darby

In the last verse of this chapter we have, in fact, the summing up of the great principles and ways of God’s dealings with man in this principle of the gospel, “grace reigning through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The result of what the apostle has been speaking of as to God’s dealings, dispensational and personal, is, that all is grace. “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly,” v. 6. “God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” v. 8. It is grace that did everything; v. 15-21. “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,” and they may have gone on sinning and setting aside the authority of God; but by Christ’s obedience “shall many be made righteous.” “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” And in the sum of the whole matter grace reigns.

That which gave the apostle so much confidence in this was, that it was consequent upon the discussion of the whole condition of man, as looked at in every way and in every shape. The blessed result was, not something that came in, and the discussion after; but after the discussion of the whole condition of man (that having been gone through), God takes His own place, and manifests what He will be and is towards the sinner in Jesus Christ. Now that is properly speaking the gospel. The gospel is not what man is, or what God requires from man, but what God is after He has thoroughly revealed what man is. When received in simplicity it leaves no possible question in the mind. It is the revelation of God made after He has estimated all our need. The gospel, we repeat, is the revelation of what God is, when what man is has been thus fully revealed. “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Peace of soul is constantly hindered through our not recognising that God has taken full cognizance of what we are. The gospel begins consequent upon His having made a full estimate. He knew from the beginning what man was and would be; but after, in his history, He had brought out and demonstrated in ways and conduct what man was under all the possible circumstances in which he could be placed – when He had demonstrated him to be entirely lost, and that He could not trust him in any way or in any measure, He begins, and says, I cannot trust in you: you must trust in Me. Hence the reason there is often a long and painful conflict, because of our not being brought down, in conscience, to the point where the gospel begins. A man may acknowledge himself to be ungodly, but then he hopes to cease to be ungodly; and God perhaps lets him struggle on thus for some time, until in his own soul he is brought to the place where the gospel begins. It is not that the gospel is not simple, but that in conscience we are not in the conditions where the gospel sees us. The work must be in the conscience. We read (Matt. 13) of a man hearing the word, and anon with joy receiving it, yet of his not having “root in himself”; evidently no work in the conscience (it is not that he is insincere) but only in the intellect; he has never been brought in guilty before God; “for,” it is added, “when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by-and-by he is offended.” Whereas, if he knew that his own soul was lost without Christ, surely he would say with the disciples, “Lord, to whom shall be go? thou hast the words of eternal life!” (John 6:69). It is a great deal harder to believe that we are “without strength” than that we are “ungodly.” Many a soul believes the one, that has not as yet been brought to believe the other. God has given us His history of the world from Adam to Christ. There was a “due time” for the death of Christ, a “due time,” that is, in the history of the world. So is there the “due time,”* of the individual heart; not that the same feelings pass through the minds of all, but each must be brought to the result given us by the history of man previously to the death of Christ.

Christ’s Cross, and God’s Time….