Archive for August 2009

Paul’s Grave Apostleship

August 26, 2009

There is a seriousness about the nature of Paul’s Apostleship. It is essential for the believer to recognize and follow the divinely established doctrine delivered by Paul.

Its Biblical Importance

The importance of the apostleship of Paul cannot be overstressed; it was the Lord Jesus Christ Who sent him. That makes it a serious matter.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He who receives whomsoever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him Who sent Me (John 13:20).

Paul’s message is final and complete.

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preaches any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preaches any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill [fill-full, i.e., complete] the Word of God (Colossians 1:25).

Paul’s Gospel is the standard of divine judgment.

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel (Romans 2:16).

Its Historical Importance

To disregard the importance of Paul’s apostleship is to bring about disaster. Those in the “Asia” of biblical times turned away from Paul (II Timothy 1:15) and were themselves turned unto fables (c.f. II Timothy 4:4). Even after over nineteen centuries the people occupying this area are still in spiritual darkness. To this great danger Peter attested.

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him has written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction (II Peter 3:15-16).

Its Present Importance

The answer to the current ills and “isms” of the church are to be found in Pauline truth. Paul says to us,

Be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ (I Corinthians 11:1).

Christ is our goal; Paul is our guide.

The only hope of Christianity is in the rehabilitating of Pauline theology. It is back, back, back to an incarnate Christ and the atoning blood, or it is on, on, on to atheism and despair. – Francis L. Patton (1843-1932), president of Princeton University, 1888–1902.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2009 Bible Student’s Press

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Paul’s Grace Apostleship

August 26, 2009

Not only was Paul not one of “the Twelve” Apostles, he also was given a new message, about a new dispensation, with a new commission, resulting in the forming and building of a new people.

Paul Ministered a New Message

Paul did not preach what “the twelve” taught – he preached the gospel of the grace of God.

There are many gospels in the Bible. Paul was chosen to testify of “the gospel of the grace of God.”

… The ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24).

This gospel did not come to Paul from other; it was a 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).

So much was this a new message that Paul had to make a trip to Jerusalem to tell them of this heavenly revelation.

… I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles … for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: but contrariwise, when they saw that the Gospel of the Uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the Gospel of the Circumcision was unto Peter (Galatians 2:2-7).

Notice that Paul called this new gospel “the Gospel of the Uncircumcision.” He also called it distinctly his gospeli.e., “my gospel.”

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel (Romans 2:16).

Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel (Romans 16:25).

Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel (II Timothy 2:8).

This new message “was kept secret since the world began.”

Now to him that is of power to establish 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 Ministered in a New Dispensation

Paul’s good news was a part of a revelation of a whole new divine administration with mankind – the unreserved dispensing of God’s grace.

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

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the Word of God; even the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:25-27).

Paul Ministered with a New Commission

Paul did not labor under Israel’s so-called “Great Commission.” The commission of Paul’s Gospel was grandly different.

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel (I Corinthians 1:17).

And all things are of God, Who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the Word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be reconciled to God. For He has made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (II Corinthians 5:18-21).

Paul Ministered to a New People

Unlike “the Twelve” who ministered to Israel; Paul ministered to the newly formed Body of Christ, the heavenly creation. All earthly, fleshly distinction was now gone.

Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more. Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (II Corinthians 5:16-17).

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body, whether we are Jews or Gentiles, whether we are bond or free … Now you are the Body of Christ, and members in particular (I Corinthians 12:13, 27).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2009 Bible Student’s Press

Paul’s Gentile Apostleship

August 26, 2009

Paul was not one of “the Twelve” because he was not an apostle to the Jews. He was called to be the Apostle to the Gentiles.

Paul Was a Distinct Apostle

Paul’s apostleship was distinct from that of “the Twelve.

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles … (Romans 11:13).

Nevertheless, brothers, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles (Romans 15:15-16).

For He Who wrought effectually in Peter to the Apostleship of the Circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8).

Twelve apostles for the twelve tribes; one Apostle for the one Body.

Paul Was a Global Apostle

To make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world had been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:9).

Paul’s apostleship was not limited to the Jews or the nation of Israel. He was the Apostle to the nations, making him the world-wide Apostle.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2009 Bible Student’s Press

Paul’s Genuine Apostleship

August 26, 2009

Although Paul was not a part of the Twelve Apostles, he was nonetheless a genuine apostle.

Paul Was a Divine Apostle

Paul, an Apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, Who raised Him from the dead;) (Galatians 1:1).

Paul Was a Heavenly Apostle

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Jesus Whom you are persecuting: it is hard for you to kick against the pricks.” (Acts 9:3-5).

At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? it is hard for you to kick against the pricks.” And I said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus Whom you are persecuting. But rise, and stand upon your feet: for I have appeared unto you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of these things which you have seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto you; delivering you from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send you …” Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision (Acts 26:13-17, 19).

Paul was the spokesman for the RISEN, ascended, EXALTED CHRIST.

If any man thinks himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord (I Corinthians 14:37).

Paul calls his writings,

… Wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Timothy 6:3).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2009 Bible Student’s Press

The Gospel of John

August 18, 2009

Some believers, who understand the special message which was committed to Paul, question where the Gospel of John fits into the dispensational layout. Is this Gospel a “Gentile” gospel written to the Body of Christ or is it distinctly Jewish as are the synoptic Gospels?

The Subject of the Gospel of John

The subject of the Gospel of John is the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul gives us vital information concerning this short portion of His history:

Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers (Romans 15:8).

The Gospel of John records this ministry of Jesus Christ. It is a ministry which was limited to the nation of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6; 15:24; John 4:22).

The Purpose of the Gospel of John

The purpose of this Gospel is clearly shown:

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name (John 20:30-31).

The stated purpose was to present Jesus as the Messiah (or Christ). This was accomplished through the recording of signs. Signs are Israel’s birthright (Exodus 4:8). They belong to her: “We see not our signs …” (Psalm 74:9); “For the Jews require a sign …” (I Corinthians 1:22).

Paul’s ministry to the Body of Christ was not one of signs (II Corinthians 4:18). Paul in his epistles focuses his presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ, not on the fact that He was Israel’s Messiah, but rather that He is the Head of the Body (Colossians 1:18).

The Content of the Gospel of John

The content (i.e., doctrine, or teachings) of the Gospel of John is identical to the recorded Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is distinctly Jewish. This runs contrary to what many believe and teach; that John’s is somehow a Gentile Gospel. The Gospel often recognized as “most Jewish” is Matthew where we find Christ presented as King, but compare the following list of words and the number of times which they are used in each Gospel:

Word              Matthew             John
Jew                              0                             2
Jews                            5                           64
Jews’                           0                             4
Jewry                         0                              1
Circumcise               0                              1
Circumcision           0                              2
Messiah                      0                              2
King                             9                            15

The Gospel of John is distinctly Jewish in its subject, purpose and content. As the Scofield Reference Bible (page 1252) so aptly puts it:

In his (Paul’s) writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
©1989, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

Holy Days and the Dispensation of Grace

August 16, 2009

During the age of grace (Ephesians 3:2; Colossians 1:25) the law, as a rule of conduct, is not once applied to the believer. We find the Sabbath mentioned nine times in the book of Acts – a transitional book – in reference to the Twelve Apostles in Israel’s Kingdom Church, and without mention of the “revelation of the mystery” which was given to Paul. During this unique period Paul himself took advantage of the Sabbath to share the gospel (I Corinthians 9:20); but when you get to the Pauline Epistles, which constitute the body of truth for this age (Romans 2:16), there are only two references to the observance of days. Read these passages carefully:

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; nut the body is of Christ (Colossians 2:16-17).

… How turn you again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days, and months, and times, and years (Galatians 4:9-10).

In these two passages we learn that all holy days were simply a “shadow of things to come,” and that Paul even refers to them as “weak and beggarly elements.”

However, the Sabbaths will one day be reestablished to the divinely restored nation of Israel (Matthew 24:20; Isaiah 66:23; Exodus 31:16; Hebrews 4). The restoration will come after this age of pure, free, complete and abounding grace.

Sunday

Among the most destructive errors of our day are those that are a result of mixing law and grace. A fine example of such wresting of the Scriptures of which we are to beware (II Peter 3:16-17) is the so-called “Christian Sabbath.”

In this error it is taught that the Old Testament observance of the “seventh-day Sabbath” has somehow been transferred to a “first-day Sabbath.” This is taught and practiced in many denominations with different degrees of “bondage” attached (Galatians 4:9-10). Yet the fact established by the Pauline epistles is that believers in this age have no divinely decreed days of observance – None.

No day is holy in itself – all days are alike. A day or anything else is holy only by divine decree. No such decree appears anywhere in those epistles written by Paul. The Body of Christ has no “signs” or “covenants” and no observances of days. Paul actually feared those who observed days.

You observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain (Galatians 4:10-11).

Even though Paul encouraged the reception of those members of Christ’s Body who observed days, he said that they observed them as a result of being “weak in the faith,” and that they were not to be received “to doubtful disputations.”

Him that is weak in the faith receive, but not to doubtful disputations (Romans 14:1).

The Lord’s Day

There is also the teaching that Sunday is “the Lord’s Day.” This is clearly the religious “traditions of men” (Mark 7:13; Colossians 2:8). There is absolutely no such teaching found anywhere in the Bible! The Lord’s Day (or Day of the Lord) is actually a prophetic day starting at the end of this age. For further study on the Day of the Lord see Revelation 1:10; Isaiah 2:12; 13:6-18; 34:8; Jeremiah 46:10; Amos 5:18-20; Joel 2; Zechariah 14; Malachi 4:5-6; I Thessalonians 5:2; II Peter 3:10.

The “first-day” is by no means a day to be observed and is not subject to any special rule. This topic is essential in understanding God’s new order for today (i.e., “the dispensation of the grace of God”). We enjoy every day as unto the Lord.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 1989, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

The Sabbath: Israel’s Sign and Covenant

August 16, 2009

The Sabbath was actually a “sign” and a “covenant” between God and the nation of Israel.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, “Verily My Sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the LORD that sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you … Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel (Exodus 31:12-17).

We learn that Sabbath-keeping was a part of the Law of Moses, that it was a Jewish “sign” and “covenant” with God. It was not a “sign” or “covenant” between God and the Gentiles, or God and the Body of Christ, but God and the nation of Israel!

We must learn to make a difference where God makes a difference.

The “Sign Nation”

Israel was the “sign nation.” Signs were a divine requirement under God’s relationship with Israel.

For the Jews require a sign (I Corinthians 1:22).

By God’s design, Israel was His sign nation; signs were their birthright when He brought them out of Egypt.

And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe you, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign (Exodus 4:8).

Thus, signs belonged to Israel.

We see not our signs (Psalm 74:9).

Thus, signs belonged in Israel.

Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given Me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts (Isaiah 8:18).

The “Covenant Nation”

Israel was the “covenant nation.” Covenants were how Israel’s relationship was structured with God.

Who are Israelites; to whom pertains … the covenants, and the giving of the law … (Romans 9:4).

Divine covenants made with the nation of Israel had an accompanying sign. The Abrahamic covenant had circumcision; the Davidic covenant had water baptism; and the Mosaic covenant had the Sabbath.

Many today would seek to mix the gospel of God’s grace with Israel’s covenants and signs. If one truly was to keep the law of the Old Testament Sabbaths, one must observe many different days. Besides the weekly “seventh-day Sabbath” there were at least fifteen fixed dates that were Holy Sabbaths unto the Lord.

The Sabbath, under the law, was without a doubt a day of rest. There was to be no food preparation, no leaving home; no buying, no selling, no fire and no journeys (c.f. Exodus 16:29; 35:2-3; Numbers 15:32-36). Try that for Sabbath observance.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 1989, 2009 Bible Student’s Press


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