Archive for June 2009

Horizoned-Off

June 30, 2009

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God (Romans 1:1 KJV).

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, a called apostle, severed for the evangel of God (Romans 1:1 CLT).

In the very first verse of Paul’s letter to the Roman saints he employs an amazingly rich word translated in the King James Version as “separated,” and in the Concordant Literal Translation as “severed.”

The actual word that Paul used was “aphorizo.” This is a Greek compound word made up of “apo” (off) and “horizo” (horizon). Paul is literally telling us that he had been horizoned-off by and for God.

The Greek word for “separated: in this passage contains the thought of “the horizon.” Paul’s whole horizon was dominated by Christ. All his boundaries in life were determined by Him. – John Phillips, Exploring Romans, Moody (1969), p. 13.

“Aphorizo” – this word is composed of “apo,” “away from” and “horizo,” “to define or set bounds.” The English reader will recognize the origin of the word “horizon.” – Charles H. Welch, The Berean Expositor, Volume 37, p. 91.

Noah Webster defines “horizon” as:

The line that terminates the view, when extended on the surface of the earth; or a great circle of the sphere, dividing the world into two parts or hemispheres; the upper hemisphere which is visible, and the lower which is hid … The visible horizon is a lesser circle of the sphere, which divides the visible part of the sphere from the invisible. It is eastern or western; the eastern is that wherein the sun and stars rise; the western, that wherein they set … – American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828

Paul was cut-off from his earlier horizon, from his sphere of life – from his former hemisphere – from his earlier point of view. God separated him out from his old life and positioned him in the circumference of a new life – the celestial circumference of Almighty God and His concerns. He was horizoned-off to the Father’s abundant Good News!

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Commentary

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The Love of God: A Dispensational Perspective

June 25, 2009

But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

God loves and values all men; but the extent to which He loves them has not always been clearly revealed to mankind.

For example, it is important for us to compare what we see in Romans chapter five with this statement of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you (15:13-14).

Ponder for just a moment these two passages. The John statement is quite different from the one that we read in Romans. Do these statements contradict each other? No, of course not! These two passages are simply lessons in contrasts.

Earthly? or Heavenly?

First, it must be understood that the quotation of Jesus Christ in John is taken from His earthly teaching ministry (as a minister of the circumcision – Romans 15:8); whereas Paul (as the minister to the Gentiles – Romans 11:13) is revealing truths from the heavenly teaching ministry of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:1-12), which had been “kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25). The difference between the passages in John and Romans is a difference between the earthly and the heavenly.

Law? or Grace?

In the book of John, Jesus said that they were His friends if they followed His commandments … “if you do.” This was the basic principle of the Old Covenant: “if”–“then.” “If” one was obedient, “then” they would receive the blessing. “If” one was disobedient, “then” they would receive the “curse” (see the “if”–“then” of Exodus 19:5; comparing that with the entire chapter of Deuteronomy 28). In Romans, our Lord Jesus Christ is revealing through Paul things never before known. They are a part of the “much more” revelation of “the Gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24), for this “dispensation of the grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2). The full extent of God’s love is one example of these “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). The difference between the passages in John and Romans is a difference between the law and grace.

Human? or Divine?

What Jesus Christ is discussing in the book of John is “greater love hath no man.” This is a record of the love of natural man. This is the extent of his value system. There is no “greater love” of man than sacrificing one’s life for their friends. However, Christ reveals through Paul that there is a Greater love than this: not a greater love known among man, but a Divine love – the love of GOD! See this contrast as we read portions of the passages together.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (John 15:13; Romans 5:8).

Human love can extend to friends, but Divine love extends to sinners, even to enemies!

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son … (Romans 5:10).

It is Paul’s gospel that reveals this wonderful truth (Romans 16:25). The difference between the passages in John and Romans is a difference between the human and the divine.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook

The Contents of the Mystery

June 25, 2009

Having seen the meaning, origin and recipient of the Mystery, we will now see the contents of this secret message.

The Formation of the Body of Christ

No other Bible author speaks of the “Body of Christ.” Until Paul’s reception of the revelation of The Mystery, Israel had been the instrument of God. Now a new group of individuals, called out from among the nations, are being formed as the instrument of God (I Corinthians 10:17; 12:27; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4, 12; Romans 12:5; Colossians 1:18; 3:15). This body of individuals is made up of Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:14-18; 3:6) and is God’s ecclesia (“the church” – Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:23; Colossians 1:18, 24). The Body of Christ is a totally new creation (Ephesians 2:15; Galatians 6:15; II Corinthians 5:17).

The Present Dispensation of the Grace of God

No other Bible author speaks of this dispensation (i.e., administration). This dispensation begins with Paul (Ephesians 3:2-3; Colossians 1:25). Grace has such control in this dispensation it is said to “reign” (Romans 5:21).

The Gospel of the Grace of God

No other Bible author speaks of this gospel. This wonderful gospel emphasizes and magnifies God’s grace. Paul uses the word “grace” over 100 times in his epistles (more than any other Bible author.) This gospel was provided for by the finished redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ, but it was not revealed until Paul (I Timothy 2:5-7; II Timothy 1:9-11).

The Temporary Setting Aside of Israel

The revelation of The Mystery gives the only scriptural answer to why God is not now dealing with the nation of Israel (Romans 11:11-15, 25). In the program of the “kingdom of heaven” the Gentiles were to be blessed by Israel’s rise (Isaiah 11:1, 10). Yet, according to The Mystery, the Gentiles are blessed through the fall of Israel (Romans 11:11, 12).

The One Baptism

There were “divers” (many) baptisms under God’s program for Israel (Hebrews 6:2; 9:10). By contrast, the revelation of The Mystery has only ONE baptism, which is a spiritual one (Ephesians 4:4; I Corinthians 12:13; Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; I Corinthians 1:17).

The Heavenly Position of the Body of Christ

Whereas Israel’s hope was an earthly one, The Mystery reveals a heavenly hope for the believers in this dispensation (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:1-3).

The Complete, Absolute and Total Forgiveness of Sins

The Mystery reveals that all sins have been forgiven entirely, thoroughly, perfectly and finally (Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 1:7; Acts 13:38-39; Titus 2:14).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook

The Mystery

June 25, 2009

Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the Revelation of the Mystery, which was kept secret since the world began (Romans 16:25).

Paul’s gospel was firmly centered in the “preaching” (i.e., proclaiming) of Jesus Christ. Yet Paul did not merely proclaim Jesus Christ based on His earthly ministry as recorded in the four “Gospels” of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Instead, he proclaimed Jesus Christ based upon an advancement in truth from God: a progression known as “the Revelation of the Mystery.”

Why Is It Called THE MYSTERY?

Because It Was Kept Secret.

… The Revelation of the Mystery, which was kept secret since the world began (Romans 16:25).

Because It Was Hid in God.

… The fellowship of the Mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God … (Ephesians 3:9).

Because It Was Hid from Ages and from Generations.

Even the Mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations … (Colossians 1:26).

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men … (Ephesians 3:5).

Because It Had Been Unsearchable.

… That I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8).

Paul’s message was “unsearchable,” i.e., it was untraceable – unlocatable – in the rest of Scripture. (For a further look at THE MYSTERY study the following references: Ephesians 1:9; 3:3-4; 6:19; Colossians 4:3; I Timothy 3:9.)

Where Did THE MYSTERY Originate?

It Came as a Direct, Divine Revelation.

I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12).

… By revelation He made known unto me the Mystery … (Ephesians 3:3).

… I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord … the abundance of the revelations … (II Corinthians 12:1, 7).

The last words of the Lord Jesus Christ are not recorded in the book of Acts (chapter one).

To Whom Was THE MYSTERY Revealed?

Paul Was the Recipient of THE MYSTERY.

… The gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me … (Galatians 2:7).

… The dispensation of the grace of God which is given me … (Ephesians 3:2).

… The dispensation of God which is given to me … (Colossians 1:25).

… The gospel which was preached of me is not after man … (Galatians 1:11).

Paul wrote down the words concerning our Lord Jesus Christ (I Timothy 6:3) for the Body of Christ in this dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 3:2). Paul was an apostle of the Lord (Galatians 1:15-16; 2:8; Acts 9:15; I Timothy 2:7; II Timothy 1:11; Acts 26:16-17; Romans 11:13; 15:16).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook

The Source and Importance of Truth

June 7, 2009

Sanctify them through thy truth: Thy Word is truth (John 17:17).

Webster defines truth as “conformity to fact.” By way of example, the government has a record of my birth. My birth is a matter of fact. Now, if I should state my age inconsistently with the record, i.e., without conformity to the facts, it would not be truth, even if I sincerely believed it to be so. It has been said that facts are stubborn things. It must also be realized that truth is simply conformity to those facts.

The Source of Truth

Truth is obtained from God (John 14:6). God’s truth is established by the facts of His Word (Isaiah 8:20). God’s Word is often called “The Word of Truth” (Psalm 119:43; II Corinthians 6:7; Ephesians 1:13; James 1:18), and in II Timothy 2:15 Paul tells us that we must search diligently to discover the facts of the Bible.

God does not always present the same facts for every dispensation. Things that are “true” about the summer are not necessarily “true” about the winter. This is why Peter spoke of “present truth” (II Peter 1:12). The simple fact is that God’s Word is “the Word of Truth” and it must be “rightly divided.”

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth (II Timothy 2:15).

The Importance of Truth

Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6).

The issue with God is truth. It is what God is looking for in man. He desires “truth in the inward parts.”

In Jeremiah 5:1 Judah faces invasion and one man, which sought truth, would have been sufficient for God to have pardoned and preserved the entire nation. We thus see the importance of “one man” seeking truth (Ezekiel 22:30).

Anyone who would suggest that right division is of no importance is either ignorant of the truth, or has no love of the truth – nor of the “the Word of Truth.”

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook

Dispensation: Its Meaning, Affect, Distribution and Importance

June 6, 2009

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward (Ephesians 3:2).

The word used to translate “dispensation” is oikonomia; Paul uses this word four times in his epistles. Surprisingly many believers are completely unaware of its meaning and importance. It has been a long neglected subject by the majority of Bible students. Just what is a “dispensation?”

What Is The Meaning of the Word “Dispensation”?

The word dispensation has to do with the act of distribution, or dealing out; it is a divine administration, economy, or stewardship. Dispensation comes from the word dispense. It can be seen in the word dispensary.

A dispensation is not, as is commonly believed, a period of time. W.C. Vine in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words gives the following definition:

A dispensation is not a period or epoch (a common, but erroneous use of the word), but a mode of dealing, an arrangement, or administration of affairs.

How Do Dispensations Affect Me?

Throughout the Bible God has had different administrations (or dispensations). In God’s dispensations, as with that of the farmer, it is very important to do the work of the present season. For example, there are truths that belong to Israel that DO NOT belong to the Body of Christ. II Timothy 2:15 plainly gives us the answer:

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

Many try to follow the dispensations of the Hebrew Scriptures (Romans 15:4) or of Christ’s earthly ministry (Romans 15:8); but Paul was given the dispensation for us (Colossians 1:25-26, Ephesians 3:2-3, Romans 15:15-16, 16:25-26).

What Does This Present Dispensation “Dispense”?

… The dispensation of the grace of God (Ephesians 3:2).

The dispensation given to Paul for us today was one of God’s grace. This is the key to God’s progressive revelation regarding Himself and His plan of the ages. It is so important for the student of the Scriptures to recognize this wonderful truth. God’s present and pinnacle purpose is one of grace. He is dispensing, or dealing out His grace. We live in God’s grace dispensary. The Father’s sole mode of dealing is in grace.

What Is the Importance of Understanding the Dispensations?

And if a man strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully (II Timothy 2:5).

A participant in any race must follow the rules for that game or they will not win the prize. How sad it is that many believers, even though they are very sincere, won’t be “approved unto God” as regarding their service and conduct of life because they did not study with the purpose to “rightly divide the Word of Truth.” They have not become a part of God’s present purpose – of being a dispensary of the Father’s grace. They neither live in grace themselves, nor with others.

God did not give Paul the administering of a stewardship of grace so that we could simply make “dispensational charts;” but so that we would be receptors and channels of “the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7; 2:7).

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8).

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward (Ephesians 3:2).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies

The Dispensations

June 6, 2009

Whereof I Paul am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the Word of God (Colossians 1:25).

The study of the Bible cannot be by a hop-skip-and-jump method. One must “rightly divide” the Word of Truth in order to correctly understand God’s plan and purpose for the ages.

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth (II Timothy 2:15).

In Genesis 2:16-17 God commands Adam not to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree; but why has God not commanded us to refrain from eating from a certain tree?

The answer is found in “rightly dividing the word of truth.”

In Genesis 1:29 God limits man to a vegetarian diet; then in Genesis 9:3 He allows man to eat “every moving thing that liveth.” Under the Law of Moses certain animals were once again forbidden as “unclean;” but under the dispensation of Grace, God once again allows “every creature of God” (I Timothy 4:3-5) to be eaten. All of this is understood only by “rightly dividing” the Word of Truth.

Under the Mosaic Law, God commanded the observance of “holy days” and “sabbaths,” yet in Galatians 4:10 Paul condemns the observance of days. The only answer to these apparent contradictions is the right division of the Word of Truth.

Without the proper, God-ordained divisions in Scripture, one will end up confused and in error. What is true in one age is not necessarily true in another (note the words “present truth” as found in II Peter 1:12).

The Scriptures are the revelation from God of Himself, as well as His plan and purpose for the ages. They were given to us in “sundry times and in divers manners” (Hebrews 1:1) over a period of 1600 years, consisting of 66 separate books written by about 40 authors, including kings, priests, prophets, herdsmen, fishermen, a tax collector, a physician, etc.

Some who are blind to right division while reading through the Bible scream “contradiction,” while others misapply the Scriptures.

A farmer sets certain tasks for his household in the winter, others in the spring and summer, and yet still other tasks in the fall. Would we consider him to be inconsistent by these changes? Why, no; he is only consistently following the proper rules and plan of agriculture. So it is with God.

To rightly divide the Scriptures there are some essential divisions that must be made (everybody divides the Bible, even if it is only between the “Old” and “New” Testaments). One of the most important divisions is the dispensational one.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies


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