Present Position

The cause of confusion to many souls is the inability to distinguish between the standing of a saint now and in any other time or era (dispensation). The differentiation cannot be seen or maintained if the Lord Jesus’ position be not clearly seen and maintained.

The simple fact that the atonement was provided for the sinner by God, proves the entire incompetence of man to meet the first need of his case. While it determines the utter inability of man, if sets forth the grace of God, providing in mercy for the sinner; and with this purpose, to bring in a new order—a new man, a new race. The trial of the first man* is over in the Cross of Christ. In crucifying the Son of God man has no cloak for his sin, for “they have both seen and hated both Me and My Father” (John 15:24). The act that proved man irretrievable brought in the sacrifice.

Now it is evident that, as the first man is no longer under trial, and as the Lord Jesus risen from the dead is the “Last Adam,” every position of the believer here must be determined by His position*. If He were on earth, the believer would be an earthly man fully and perfectly according to the mind of God for a man on earth; but if the One who is his “life” (Col 3:4) be in heaven, he lives according to that heavenly Man, with no place here.

The second Man being now in heaven, there is no link to Him but through the Holy Spirit, by whom is made known to the soul the mind and objects of the heavenly Man. Because He has been refused a place here, He now is known to His saints where He is, and thus the heavenly status is known by the saints still on earth.

Properly, the heavenly position is not fully known until we pass away from this scene; but this particular blessing came in consequence on the rejection of Christ, and is made known to us through the Spirit of Christ sent down from heaven. This then causes a great difference between the saint now and in any former or future dispensation. The believer now has to do with his Life which is in heaven; hence, through the Spirit, is constituted heavenly in nature, tastes and objects, while empowered to fill in a superior manner every claim and relationship appointed by God for the earthly man. The Christian’s blessings and position now is determined by the ascended second Man.

If the Lord Jesus were on earth, ruling in His might here, the man of the earth would be maintained here, as God had appointed, and this will be fully exhibited in the coming millennium. Then man will live here in the enjoyment of every earthly blessing; nothing to mar the ordering and favor of God and man; and he himself kept through grace in accordance with the law*, which defines the course and walk of a man in the future earthly kingdom.

The fact of the Lord Jesus’ absence involves an entirely different position for the believer now. He is not where Christ is, and Christ is not where he is*; he is not of earth but on earth; he is of Christ in heaven, but he is not in heaven. It is anomalous to find a saint where the Lord is refused*, and hence possibly only by faith to apprehend his true status in consequence. It is strange that, practically, souls go back to the dispensation before the coming of the Lord Jesus, or, more properly speaking, to His first advent.

They own His coming into the world as the Savior, and they prolong, as it were, that period indefinitely. They do not see His rejection; and while they own His death sacrificially, they adhere to the former dispensation, only adding to it the sacrifice of the Savior. This presupposes that sate of man to be just the same as before His death.

In current theology two things are thus really overlooked; first, that the trial of the first man is over in the Cross, and an entirely new man brought in*; and secondly, the fact of the Lord Jesus’ rejection. Now without seeing both, there can be no comprehending the status of the saint in this period, or dispensation.

The first pint to be settled is, whether the first man is still under trial. Is God seeking or using any methods, with a view to testing man’s ability to do anything for himself*? Has it not been proved that the old bottles cannot hold new wine, and that there is no competence in the first man to retain, or to turn to good account, the favors and ordinance of God? Man has failed in his own condition*, and in relation to God, either to enjoy and secure himself the blessing of earth, or to revere God through means of the imposing temple ritual.

But now there has been an atonement in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ for the man who has failed; and as the atonement has been provided by God for man, it testifies of the entire inability of man to do anything for himself; and as it is in God’s hand only, He does not restore that which has ever proved itself unworthy and incompetent; but He introduces, in the Lord Jesus risen from among the dead, an entirely new man*.

If man, since the sacrifice, is still under trial, one consequence or another must ensue. The trial must either be successful—and if man answered to the trial, then he is sinless—or if unsuccessful, then there must be another sacrifice; for if man is under trial again and fails, there must be another atonement, or he is lost.

Now to escape the dilemma, there are in the present day two systems of theology. One, the Romish, maintains that the sacrifice of mass is a continual one; and hence there is no room for seeing that there is an end of the old man judicially in the Cross, or that the new has come in and is before God in His Son, risen from the dead. The first Adamic man is looked at as still the one under trial.

The other—Protestantism, set on foot by the Reformers—admits that the sacrifice is one and sufficient, but with no consistency; for practically they neither own that the trial of the first man is over on the Cross, nor Christ’s rejection from the earth. Hence the law is their rule of life, and the believer seeks a position on earth as if the Lord Jesus were reigning here.

They call the sacrifice of the Savior a full and sufficient atonement, but they do not see it as brought in by God in His love, when the first man was proved utterly worthless; or that the believer is risen with Christ, in whom and from whom he receives a new life and becomes a new creation in Christ Jesus. The “Last Adam” is a life-giving spirit, and therefore everything for the saint is now determined by the position of the Lord Jesus as the second Man. “For your life is his with Christ in God” (Col 3:3).

The Father does not restore the Adam-life; He judged and condemned it on the Cross of His Son, and in Him ascended and glorified, receives every returning prodigal in a new life and nature. Hence the position of the saint now is heavenly, united to the Lord Jesus in glory by the Holy Spirit sent down to indwell; through grace he acquits himself in a superior way in every duty incumbent on the first man, as God has appointed; but he has no link or place here, as the millennial man will have; for the King will be reigning here, and the saint will be with Him where He reigns, instead of, as now, where He is refused.

- J B Stoney

Posters Opinions:

* “The trial of the first man”: I believe the sense of the word “trial” has to do with the theme of the Old Covenant, in that it was conditional-related, i.e. God’s blessings received by man (Israel) were under the trial (agreement) that man would receive from God according to the obedience of His expectations. Under the New Covenant God’s expectations are from Christ for man—not from man; and trials, of any kind, are never to reveal something to God but to us.

* “every position of the believer here must be determined by His position”: I find it pleasantly encouraging that all the favor and acceptance of the Father concerning the good the believer does is evaluated by God as coming from His Son, and God delights in us because of it. Thus the wrongs also done by the believer are used by God in teaching us the lessons He causes us to learn.

* “accordance with the law”: I believe this is more than likely referencing Israel’s “New Covenant” (Eze 31) in the “New Earth,” which involves “law” (Jer 31:33) and “statutes” (Eze 36:27), which will be unlike the prior dispensation’s law and statutes (Jer 31:32).

* “He is not where Christ is, and Christ is not where he is”: Though believers are not with Christ in presence, they are with Him in His life.

* “It is anomalous to find a saint where the Lord is refused”: Throughout earth’s history the generality of its population has never desired to be right with God (Mat 7:13, 14).

* “the trial of the first man is over in the Cross, and an entirely new man brought in”: First man—those in Adam; new man—those in Christ.

* “man’s ability to do anything for himself”: Salvation and works from it are from God through man, never from man, thus nobody can produce and maintain the work of God except Himself. The “good works” of believers is merely God’s work within them being manifested as they display it in their living.

* “Man has failed in his own condition”: Not that he wasn’t supposed to fail (it being included in God’s plan), which God of course foreknew, otherwise a conclusion must be made that He is not omniscient.

* “He does not restore that which has ever proved itself unworthy and incompetent; but He introduces, in the Lord Jesus risen from among the dead, an entirely new man”: He does not restore “that,” which is the old man or old nature; “entirely new man”—or, new nature. For the old nature “is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom 8:7).