Archive for December 2009

Religious Hirelings

December 23, 2009

He who is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep.  The hireling flees, because he is an hireling, and cares not for the sheep (John 10:12-13).

Noah Webster defines “hireling” as “one who is hired, or who serves for wages.” Truly, religious hirelings are the respected order of the day.

As believers, we are to regard our “secular” employment as divine – “as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 6:5‑8; Colossians 3:22‑24; Titus 2:9-10). Thus, each believer’s vocation is indeed a high calling of God (Ephesians 4:1). As William Carey (1761-1834) would say, “My business is preaching the gospel, and I cobble shoes to pay my expenses.”

Often the man who teaches God’s Word is disdained, as if he were not genuine, if he is not religiously “salaried.” It is amazing how the tables have turned. The fact is that Paul was not for “hire;” rather, he was the bond-slave of Jesus Christ, making his living as a humble laborer – a “tentmaker” (Acts 18:1‑3).

Witness Lee brings his own testimony,

Paul worked with his hands at making tents (18:3) in order to support both himself and those who were with him. He worked in order to help his young co-workers. This indicates that Paul’s way was not that of today’s clergy who make a profession out of preaching.[1]

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies
© 2008, 2009


[1]. Witness Lee, Life-Study of Acts, p. 479.

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God’s Outsiders: The Called-Out Ones (A Biblical Look at God’s Ecclesia), Part 39

December 10, 2009

The Personal Nature of Bible Study

The study of the Scriptures (“Bible study”) is an extremely personal matter. Paul told Timothy, “Study to show yourself approved.” He was not here advocating group, but personal Bible study.

Sometimes believers will gather together for what they call “Bible Study.” The whole concept of “Bible Study” as a meeting is as foreign to the Scriptures as having “Worship” as a meeting. “Bible Study” as a meeting is a man-made religious invention to divert from the real study of Scripture, just as “Worship” as a meeting diverts from true worship.

There are only three occurrences of the word “study” in the Bible, two of which are Paul’s. These two instructions to study could not possibly be any more personal or private in nature:

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

And that you study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you (I Thessalonians 4:11).

The divine purpose of the gathering of believers was never designed to be centered on what we commonly refer to as “Bible Study.” The study of the Scriptures is not an occasional group activity. It is an extremely personal thing.

We each have a responsibility to become acquainted with the Scriptures on a personal level. We can’t hide in a sea of faces at a “Bible Study.” Even those Bereans who gathered to hear Paul, the Apostle to the gentiles, the divinely appointed spokesman for the Body of Christ, would “prove all things” by “searching the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

This is what set the Bereans apart as noble:

These [those of Berea] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so (Acts 17:11).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2000, 2009

God’s Outsiders: The Called-Out Ones (A Biblical Look at God’s Ecclesia), Part 38

December 9, 2009

Stolen Identity

I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord (Psalm 122:1).

One of the fastest growing crimes in our day is identity theft. Larger and larger numbers are finding that their identity has been assumed by others. With this stolen identity professional thieves have been able to amass great wealth by fraud. Yet identity theft is nothing new for the church, the Body of Christ. Our true identity has been stolen from us. That’s right, human organizations and institutions, along with their brick and mortar structures, have assumed for themselves our identity “in Christ.”

The “Reformation” never did free the members of Christ’s Body from this type of religious fraud; and centuries later, in spite of all the truth to which the Body of Christ has been exposed, it is still common practice to simply surrender our true identity to the religious system:

  • “Remember that this is the Lord’s House.”
  • “Welcome to the House of God.”
  • “Be reverent when entering the sanctuary.”

Now, there was a time when these three phrases would have had legitimate meaning. Psalm 122:1, for example – “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord;” but to what was this passage referring, and to whom was this written?

First of all, we must realize that at the time this was written the Body of Christ did not, as yet, exist. If we rightly divide the Word of Truth (in accordance with II Timothy 2:15), we can understand that the audience of that particular Scripture was Israel, and it was a reference to a physical structure.

In time past, Israel had the Temple. It was God’s House in that day (c.f. II Chronicles 7:1-2, 5). It was the meeting place of God with Israel; but today, in the dispensation of grace, we – the members of Christ’s Body – are God’s house.

Yet how often have we heard Psalm 122:1 – “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord” – used in reference to some man-made structure in the dispensation of grace? This takes the passage out of its dispensational context. It is an illegitimate use of the passage. The truth of the matter is that any physical building presented as “the house of the Lord” today is a fraud. We are the church. We are the house of God. God lives in us we’re His church building!

On an even sadder note, we have been party to all of this identity fraud. We have supported and helped build such a system – with our presence and with our money – and all the while it was taking our identity from us, and using it for ill-gotten gain!

When will we wake up and realize that our identity has been taken from us? When will we understand that we have even been aiding and abetting the Adversary in this serious crime? When will we reclaim our true identity and live in the fullness of who and what we are in Christ?

It is high time that this evil crime against the Body of Christ be reported. Let’s search the Scriptures and learn of our true identity as God’s church, God’s house. Then let’s report these truths to the saints. Let’s ask them if they know that there are those out there parading under the pretense of being us. Let’s encourage others to reclaim their identity and expose this scam.

One Church – One Body – One Membership,

or,

Two Churches – Two Bodies – Two Memberships

One of the lines above represents the truth of the dispensation of grace. The other represents the methods of man. Many believers claim membership in two churches. They are professing membership in two bodies.

A man will be a member of the First Community Church, for example, while also claiming membership in the church, which is His Body. This man holds membership in two “bodies.” Thus he professes two churches, two bodies, and two memberships; but in reality, by practice, he is denying the one church, one Body, and the one membership (Colossians 1:18).

Be and enjoy who and what you are in Christ!

Help lead others to this wonderful place!

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2000, 2009

God’s Outsiders: The Called-Out Ones (A Biblical Look at God’s Ecclesia), Part 37

December 8, 2009

Belonging

Most of us have a built-in desire to “fit in.” We have a deep-seated desire to “belong” – and not just to anything – but to belong to something significant, something respectable, something big!

However, the fact is, we already belong to something! Something that is not of this world. Something that is apart from the religious and world systems. It is something that is eternal and heavenly – it is the church, the Body of Christ.

As we have already seen, from the world view, God has chosen things that are foolish, weak, base and despised. So we must always keep in mind that there are two conflicting viewpoints. Let’s not allow ourselves to be pressured by the religious and world systems. Let’s not be pressured into abandoning God’s assessment of things. Let’s not be drawn into the world’s mutual admiration societies!

High Esteem

In His ministry to Israel while on earth, the Lord Jesus Christ pointed out a profound and significant truth:

You are they who justify yourselves before men; but God knows your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:15).

We would do well to ponder this in our hearts.

True Success

Sometimes it is hard for us to estimate real value. The problem occurs because there are two viewpoints: the human and the divine. How do we measure real success? All true success will be determined at the Judgment Seat of Christ!

For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it is good or bad (II Corinthians 5:10).

On the other side of this life things will not appear as they do here.

Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not my own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but He Who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts, and then shall every man have praise of God (I Corinthians 4:2-5).

If all this is true (and it is!), then we should live our lives with a celestial view. It is only through this view – the divine viewpoint – that we are able to build that which has true success.

While we look not at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (II Corinthians 4:18).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2000, 2009

God’s Outsiders: The Called-Out Ones (A Biblical Look at God’s Ecclesia), Part 36

December 7, 2009

The Off-Scouring

In contrast to the religious system, which secures acceptability, honor, prestige and respectability before the community and the world, Paul was viewed as the “off-scouring of all things.”

Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the off-scouring of all things unto this day (I Corinthians 4:13).

Paul was viewed as “filth” and “off-scouring”! Let’s look at these words briefly:

Filth – James Strong[1] defines this word as “refuse.” Noah Webster[2] defines it as, “Dirt; any foul matter; any thing that soils or defiles; waste matter; nastiness.”

Off-scouring – now, there is an interesting word. Strong defines it as “off-scrapings (fig. scum).” Webster defines it as, “That which is scoured off; hence, refuse; rejected matter; that which is vile or despised.”

Every time I think of this passage and Paul’s use of the word “off-scouring,” I am reminded of the kitchen sink. When I grew up, my mother mainly used iron pans in her cooking. After something extra good had been fired-up in the iron skillet, inevitably the time came for cleanup. The iron skillet was placed down into a pan of clean water and a scouring pad was applied. When the job was complete, noting else could be washed in that water! In fact it was good-for-nothing water. It was one of the nastiest sinks of water one would ever want to see. It was filled with off-scouring. Anybody thirsty? Of course not! This is disgusting.

That was the world view of Paul. He was “scum.” If we are seeking to be recognized and accepted by the world, we will have to follow another course other than Paul’s.

Instead of bearing the simple names of who we are in Christ, such as saint or brother, leaders of religious movements would prefer titles that would be more acceptable to the world – titles that would identify who they are in the system, such as “Reverend,” “Doctor,” “Founder,” “Director,” “President,” etc. How impressive they all sound! They seem to make us something before the eyes of the world, and give some type of legitimate standing; but are we not already something, and do we not already have a standing? Why would we want to have something more than what we already have in Christ?

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2000, 2009


[1]James Strong, Strongs Exhaustive Concordance.
[2]Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

God’s Outsiders: The Called-Out Ones (A Biblical Look at God’s Ecclesia), Part 35

December 6, 2009

A “Not Many” Ministry

Paul’s was a “not many” ministry, and so it is with ours. The “not many” ministry is the ministry to which God has called us!

For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called(I Corinthians 1:26).

When we ask Paul, “How many …?” Paul gives us the answer: “Not many!” So, the next time you are asked one of those “How many” questions, simply reply, “Not many!”

Instead of a “many” ministry, ours is a “foolish,” “weak,” “base,” “despised,” and “things that are not”i.e., “nothing” – ministry!

For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world, and the things which are despised, has God chosen, yea, and the things which are not, to bring to nought the things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are you in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:26-31).

Let’s not allow ourselves to be carried away with the Gentile obsession of numbering people. Let’s not fight the divine plan and viewpoint! Let’s stop contending with God.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2000, 2009

God’s Outsiders: The Called-Out Ones (A Biblical Look at God’s Ecclesia), Part 34

December 5, 2009

The Few of Paul’s Ministry

In the early part of the book of Acts we read of the 3,000 and then of the 5,000. While reading on in the book of Acts, when we come to Paul and His Gentile ministry, we don’t read of specific numbers like this. How many were actually involved in Paul’s ministry? What do you usually visualize when you think of his work?

Let’s take the capital of the Roman Empire for example. How many believers were at Rome when Paul wrote to them? It would appear from Romans chapter 16 that there were as many as five households represented there (“the church in your house”). Now, how many saints could be connected with a specific household (family members, servants, friends, etc.)? Perhaps 10 to 30? These numbers multiplied by 5 household would be a total range from 50 to 150. This number would not just be men (as are the 5,000 numbered in the book of Acts), but men, women and children in 5 home gatherings in the capital of the Roman Empire. This was after some 15 years of Pauline ministry in the Empire. Impressive? It depends on one’s viewpoint; but the story grows more interesting!

Paul actually went to Rome and taught for two years. During Paul’s first Roman imprisonment he served under house arrest. This worked out to a great advantage for Paul, for we read in the Book of Acts,

And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him (Acts 28:30-31).

You would think after this two-year teaching ministry of Paul, out of his own rented house, that we might see a great influx in numbers. Yet the truth is that it got worse!

Paul wrote the Book of II Timothy from Rome, but when he writes Timothy this last time, what does he say?

All they who are in Asia are turned away from me (II Timothy 1:15).

Paul addresses the Asian problem because this was where Timothy was. This is the ruins of which Timothy was personally aware. That’s why he starts that statement,

This you know, that all they who are in Asia are turned away from me.

If the truth be known, this apostasy of the Body of Christ proliferated throughout the entire Roman Empire. While in this last Roman imprisonment Paul said, concerning his first trial date,

No man stood with me, but all men forsook me (II Timothy 4:16).

There was not one man in Rome who came and stood with Paul! This was after some 23 years of ministry in the Roman Empire. It was after writing an epistle to the saints at Rome, and it was after coming to Rome and having a two-year house teaching ministry there. What happened to the Roman saints? Now we can’t even count 5 households.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2000, 2009


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