Archive for October 2009

Laden with Sins

October 30, 2009

For of this sort are they who creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts (II Timothy 3:6).

What is the religious system’s power of manipulation over the “foolish women” (and men for that matter!)? Guilt; the guilt of heavy-laden sins.

The reason that these women are “foolish” and can so successfully be “led away” is because the religious system has “laden” them down “with sins.” These women are looking to the religious system to for a solution to their guilt; to cover it, or bury it – when in fact it is the religious system itself that has “laden” them with these sins.

Noah Webster[1] defines “laden” as “loaded, oppressed and burdened.” These women are “loaded with sins;” they are “oppressed with sins;” they are “burdened with sins.” They are futilely seeking relief from the very system that was loading them with oppression and burdens.

In fact, the phrase “laden with sins could be translated buried under sins.” Because the word that Paul used was sōreuō (Strong’s Greek Lexicon #4987), “from another form of #4673,” which is soros. Interestingly this word means “a funereal receptacle (urn, coffin).”

These women are manipulated by the religious system under such a burden from the guilt of sin that they are “buried” beneath it! This has always been the greatest tool of religion. Guilt of sin is what keeps people loyal to religion, and religion will always “increase” sin to its highest degree – even to the point of generating and manufacturing new “sins!”

The Pharisees of Jesus’s day were masters of this as well.

For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers (Matthew 23:4).

Paul described it this way,

For you suffer, if a man brings you into bondage, if a man devours you, if a man takes of you, if a man exalts himself, if a man smites you on the face (II Corinthians 11:20).

Over the centuries religion, to keep its hold on the masses, has made many more things “sinful” than they really are. By doing so, religion keeps increasing the “need” of itself. In fact, if we have had religious influence pressed upon us in our lives, many things that we have known as “sin” may indeed not be so.

Sin, in a biblical sense is that which is an assault against God (e.g. worship of other gods, the exaltation of one’s self or others equal to or above God), or against man (i.e., that which is harmful or hurtful to others). Religion always seeks to make new lists of “sins.”[2] It keeps adding to the “sin catalog.” How many things do we regard as “sin,” that in all actuality are only the chains of religious bondage? Just because something is said to be a “sin” long and hard enough, does not make it a sin.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies
© Bible Student’s Press, 2009

[1]Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

[2]I have heard strange lists of “sins” over the years, such as: window shopping, reading the newspaper, men shaking hands with women, playing cards, playing billiards, going swimming, wearing wire-rim glasses, men parting their hair down the middle, buying gas on Sunday, wearing shorts, chewing gum, watching TV, going to the movies, and wearing cowboy boots; but even some of the more popularly accepted lists of “sins” are to be made subject to the scrutiny of the Word of God.


The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 50

October 27, 2009

Suffering in the Last Days

We will conclude these brief comments on II Timothy with these words from A.E. Knoch, from his outstanding work The Purpose of Evil:

Paul’s second epistle to Timothy is concerned with the last days, so it applies to us in a very special way, for it is adapted to the conditions under which we live. It is the most perilous period in this administration. The truth is being withstood as never before. Sound teaching is not tolerated and many are turned aside to myths. Disorder is everywhere. Insubjection is rampant and even disguises itself as submission to the Lord. Yet the trials of the time give us an opportunity to endure suffering and shame, which will win a rich reward at the dais.

In some respects it is more difficult to avoid suffering in these last days than in Timothy’s time. The Scriptures declare that, in these days, men will be selfish, fond of money, ostentatious, proud, calumniators, stubborn to parents, ungrateful, malign, without natural affection, implacable, adversaries, uncontrollable, fierce, averse to the good, traitors, rash, conceited, fond of their own gratification rather than fond of God, having a form of devoutness, yet denying its power – such we are bidden to shun (II Timothy 3:1-5). Is it possible to live amongst such “saints” and not suffer? Thank God, the Scriptures do not say that all are to be like this, nor does each one have all of these traits, but we cannot help suffering from their very presence. Until we become acquainted with them we may not even know that they are included in this list. Some sins, such as selfishness, are so prevalent, that they do not impress us at first. Yet it behooves each one of us to be aware of this word, and to watch that we are not even tinged with such sins.

Few of the saints seem to be aware of the stratagems of the Adversary and the pain inflicted by his fiery arrows in case we are not shielded by faith. If they were more alive to the opposition of the world-mights of this darkness (Ephesians 6:11-17), they would not so readily yield themselves to their designs and become his tools in opposing those who are standing in the breach for the celestial truths against which the enemy is arrayed.

Whatever our lot, we can be assured with Paul of our Lord’s rescue in that day “from every wicked work.” He will indeed save His Own for His celestial kingdom, “to Whom be glory for the eons of the eons. Amen!” (II Timothy 4:18).

May we have grace to take advantage of our special privileges, and use them to glorify His Name![1]

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

[1] A.E. Knoch, The Problem of Evil, pp 276, 277ff, Concordant Publishing Concern, 2008.

The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 49

October 26, 2009

Lonely, but Never Alone

Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear … (II Timothy 4:17).

Another brother touchingly writes on this important theme.

There are many in the Body of Christ who are in transition between “going” to church and “being” the Church … The more in tune with the Lord we become, the more dissatisfied and uncomfortable we become with what is being said and done in His Name. Yet, there is an uncomfortable pause between where we used to be and where we are called to be. It is a lonely time in which we will be misunderstood by many that have not seen what we have seen.

What God is impressing upon many of us who are in-between the church as a building and the church as a lifestyle is how to walk ALONE … God would have us learn to fellowship with Christ, even if it means to take the lonely path.

Many times the desire to find other “like-minded believers” is not a spiritual desire. It is rather our emotion, which longs to be with people who understand us … [Yet we] must know Christ as Fellowship. Abiding in Him, connected to the Head, [we] maintain oneness with the rest of the Body …

Some are able to maintain a sweet spirit so long as they are in fellowship with other believers. But when God allows that fellowship to be interrupted, observe how quickly that sweet spirit turns sour. They will even acknowledge their poor state and say things like, “My temper has become awful. It is because I have been out of church. I must go back this Sunday.” Then they will go back to “church,” feel uplifted, and the sweet spirit returns. Sadly, this is the experience of a majority of people who have not learned to take Christ as their Life. Is this walking in the Spirit? It is not …

Let us remember that Christ’s Body is a spiritual Body. Being in the physical presence of other members does not make us more of a member, and being removed from the physical presence of other members does not make us any less a member. Of course, the exact opposite is true for those meeting together as an institution: without their physical presence and support they lose place as a member; but not Christ’s Body, the Church. We are not more or less of a member by reason of our physical contact or lack of physical contact with one another.

We may thirst for fellowship not so much to edify the Body as to be edified ourselves – a mindset carried over from when we used to “go to church” to “be fed” once or twice a week. If this is the case, it is no wonder that God would have us look to Him alone as our edification and learn to draw upon Him before placing us in close proximity with others. One weakness of the institutional “church” is that the majority of members are coming to receive, to be edified, to be encouraged, to be fed. It is all “take,” and very little “give.” Hence, there is little Life …

Let us press into Christ with all our heart, and not be discouraged if we find ourselves temporarily without the fellowship and comfort of our brothers and sisters. Though we are lonely, we are never alone.[1]

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

[1] Chip Brogden, Bible Student’s Notebook, Vol.7 No. 161.

The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 48

October 25, 2009

Not So Lonely After All

Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear … (II Timothy 4:17).

That no one stood with Paul when he faced his trial is only part of the story! The fact is, Paul did have someone who stood with him while he was on trial – The Lord!

If we look to men we will surely be disappointed; but if we keep our eyes on the Lord, we will always find strength. He is the one who bears the name “Faithful and True!”

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11).

This all reminds us of the promise that had been made to Israel of old.

Fear not; for I am with you: be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yea, I will help you; yea, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness (Isaiah 41:10).

Yet another wonderful promise made to the Hebrews,

… I will never leave you, nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

Of course there are Paul’s grand words to the Ephesians,

Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10).

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 47

October 24, 2009

Standing Alone

Paul was not the first of God’s servants to stand alone. M.H. Reynolds[1] has written movingly regarding this crucial point:

It is human to stand with the crowd, it is divine to stand alone. It is man-like to follow the people, to drift with the tide; it is God-like to follow a principle, to stem the tide.

It is natural to compromise conscience and follow the social and religious fashion for the sake of gain or pleasure; it is divine to sacrifice both on the altar of truth and duty.

“No man stood with me, but all men forsook me” (II Timothy 4:16), wrote the battle-scarred apostle in describing his first appearance before Nero to answer for his life of believing and teaching contrary to the Roman world.

Truth has been out of fashion since man changed his robe of fadeless light for a garment of faded leaves. Noah built and voyaged alone. Daniel dined and prayed alone. Elijah sacrificed and witnessed alone. Jeremiah prophesied and wept alone. Jesus loved and died alone.

The church in the wilderness praised Abraham and persecuted Moses. The church of kings praised Moses and persecuted the prophets. The church of Caiaphas praised the prophets and persecuted Jesus. The church of the popes praised the Savior and persecuted the saints. And multitudes now, both in the church and the world, applaud the courage and fortitude of the patriarchs and prophets, the apostles and martyrs, but condemn as stubbornness or foolishness the same faithfulness to truth today.

Wanted, today, men and women, young and old, who will obey their conviction of truth and duty at the cost of fortune, friends and life itself.

Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His Own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach (Hebrews 13:12-13).

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s

[1] Marion H. Reynolds, Jr. (1919 -1997), Standing Alone, Foundation Magazine.

The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 46

October 23, 2009

A Lonely Stand

For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me (II Timothy 4:10-11).

Timothy and Paul had lonely stands. Timothy was in Asia where all had turned away from Paul (II Timothy 1:15). Paul was in Rome where “only Luke” (II Timothy 4:11) was with him.

Demas (as well as Crescens and Titus, it would appear) forsook Paul, “having loved this present world” (II Timothy 4:10). Does this mean that they forsook Paul for what is often viewed as “worldliness?” What was it about this present age that made them forsake Paul? The context of the entire book of II Timothy would seem to indicate that this was the abandonment of Paul for this present religious age. Theirs was a wholesale abandonment for this world’s religious course.

The Faithful Five

Five men are specifically listed by name who had remained faithful. You could count them on one hand. There was of course Paul, and Luke who was with him (II Timothy 4:11). Then there was Timothy, and Mark who was with him (II Timothy 4:11); and there is Tychicus (II Timothy 4:12).

The situation was so bleak that when Paul first appeared on trial before the authorities not a single soul stood with him. He stood on trial all alone. “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge” (II Timothy 4:16).

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 45

October 22, 2009

Do the Work of an Evangelist

But watch in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of your ministry (II Timothy 4:5).

Evangelism was one of the ascension gifts. The purpose of these special ascension gifts was “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12) – all in lieu of the fact that they did not yet have the full, complete revelation of God in written form.

Now, as Paul writes his final epistle, all these things – “the perfecting of the saints,” “the work of the ministry” and “the edifying of the body of Christ” – take place by the application of the full (i.e., complete), written Word of God, finished by the hand of Paul. No “gifts” are now needed. There are no divine/supernatural gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher today.

Someone may carry out certain aspects of these – such as evangelist or teacher – but they do so not by theses special gifts, but by dedication to the written Word of God. If a man will teach, for example, he must labor in the study of the Word – learning, adjusting, growing – so that he may teach others. It is not a “gift” in any sense of the ascension gifts.

This is why Paul told Timothy,

But watch in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of your ministry (II Timothy 4:5).

Paul does not tell Timothy that he has the “gift” of “evangelist.” Nor does he say that he is “an evangelist.” He only tells him to do an evangelist’s work – “do the work of an evangelist.” He could now do so – without the divine “gifts” of the ascension – because he had in his possession the full, complete Scripture which was able to enable him to “do the work of an evangelist” thus making “full proof” of his ministry.

“Gifts” were no longer needed. The Scriptures themselves – now full and complete – were “profitable” for “doctrine [i.e., teaching],” etc. … “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Notice again the results: “that the man of God may be …” – what? – “perfect, thoroughly furnished.” That’s what the full, complete Scriptures can do! For what purpose? “Unto all good works.” This is why Paul tells Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist.”

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

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