Archive for July 2010

Koinonia: Fellowship with God’s Heralders

July 15, 2010

Your fellowship in the gospel (Philippians 1:5).

Paul thanked God for the Philippians’ “fellowship in the gospel.” The word for “fellowship” here is the Greek word κοινωνία (koinonia). It is translated in the King James Version as “fellowship,” “communion,” “contribution,” “distribution” and “communication.” It actually means “partaking by sharing with.” Paul uses κοινωνία five times in connection with the stewardship of his gospel.

Stewardship has to do with the management of all that is placed into one’s trust. κοινωνία is the giving of one’s self and one’s resources – fellowshipping – with those who proclaim Paul’s Gospel – the Lord’s heralders.

Thus, the Concordant Literal Translation has,

For your contribution to the evangel (Philippians 1:5).

God’s method of calling out His ecclesia is through “heralding” by those doing “the work of an evangelist.” “Fellowship in the gospel” involves assisting with the needs of such heralders, including communicating with them financially. Paul begins his letter to the Philippians by emphasizing their continuation with him in “the fellowship in the gospel.” This is the setting of this letter to them.

The saints at Philippi recognized that it was their heavenly honor to contribute financially to Paul because he faithfully communicated the truth of the gospel. By so doing, they co-labored with him in the evangel.

In Philippians 4:10-18 Paul lists two specific effects of their “fellowship in the gospel.”

First, they had fruit abounding on their account (4:17). According to Paul, the fruit of the gospel not only accrues to the account of the heralder himself, but also to the account of those who share in his ministry. Their aid and contribution make them co-laborers in the gospel.

Paul was a celestial investment broker. It is the principle of ministering that he elsewhere calls “ministering seed to the sower.”

Now he who ministers seed to the sower both ministers bread for your food, and multiplies your seed sown, and increases the fruits of your righteousness (II Corinthians 9:10).

Many are making provision for future retirement, which is all well and good; but many miss the most glorious investment – that which has real, lasting and eternal value – “the fellowship of the gospel.”

Depositing Wealth in the Divine Treasury

A.E. Knoch writes concerning this glorious investment.

Those who are rich … are exhorted not to place their dependence on their possessions, which may desert them at any moment, but to rely on God, Who alone can make their enjoyment possible.

Their most profitable course lies in the employment of their wealth for the benefit of others. This brings them present happiness (for it is blessed to give), and at the same time deposits their wealth in the divine treasury where it will appear to their account in that day. In this way they will assure for themselves real life, both now and for the eons. – A.E. Knoch (1874-1965), Concordant Commentary, page 322.

The next effect that the Philippians’ contribution to the evangel had was a fragrance pleasing to God Himself.

I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God (4:18).

God is well-pleased with sacrificial giving to His servants’ (the heralders’) needs. Astonishingly, Paul even equated the fragrance of the Philippians’ sacrificial giving to Paul with Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary by using the same language He had used to describe the fragrance of the offering and sacrifice The Lord Jesus Christ made when He offered up Himself.

Christ … loved us, and gave Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor (Ephesians 5:2).

The Lord alone is the supply of His heralders’ needs, but He channels this provision through the sacrificial giving of His choice vessels. They are His conduit of material resources. While the heralder looks to the Lord alone for His needs, the celestial investor looks to Father for the opportunity to become His vessel of supply.

Are you called to herald? Imagine if you had lived in Paul’s day. Would you not have joined yourself with Paul in heralding the glorious evangel of the grace of God? Would you not have done so to the same abandonment as Paul did – even to the neglect of earthly things? Shall you not do so with the same passion in his absence?

What if you are not calling to herald? Imagine if you had lived in Paul’s day. Would you not have attached yourself to Paul the heralder, channeling every possible resource to him for the furtherance of the gospel? Would you have dared to miss out on the greatest opportunity of human history to co-labor in the heralding of such a glorious evangel? Shall you not do so with the same passion in his absence?

Nearly two millennia after Paul completed his own course, his glorious ministry continues – and with it an amazing opportunity. Yet for how long, we do not know. Those of us with the call to herald must “do the work of an evangelist,” we must “fully discharge our ministry.” We must not be distracted from our enormous and important duty.

Those of us who have not been so called, must not be distracted from “the contribution to the evangel.” We must attach ourselves to those who have been called, with wisdom and courage seizing the day with all that we have!

We are called by God to be heaven’s aristocracy – reigning in the celestials. In the “ages to come,” when we look back at this life of opportunity, what will have been our “contribution to the evangel”? Will we have invested wisely as good stewards of Paul’s gospel, or will we have foolishly squandered our life and resources on that which was only temporary and passing?

A.E. Knoch speaks of the opening of the divine storehouse for others:

It is the supreme privilege and imperative duty of all who love God to become closely acquainted with His revelation, to support and promote every effort which seeks to make it manifest, and especially any undertaking which brings God’s Word direct to the common people … The most precious treasure we can bring to anyone is that which puts their hearts in close touch with the heart of God … It is impossible to conceive of any better boon than to open the divine storehouse to everyone who has the heart to explore it. – A.E. Knoch (1874-1965), Unsearchable Riches, 1919.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies
© 2010

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Teaching Faithful Men

July 13, 2010

And the things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also (II Timothy 2:2).

Not only did Paul have a passion for his public ministry, but one for his private ministry as well. Paul’s commission to Timothy was to keep the divine message and method committed to him. Paul tells Timothy to teach “faithful men.” Timothy was to seek out men, “faithful men” to whom he could commit Paul’s message.

Paul’s instruction to Timothy concerning the committing of the Word to others was extremely narrow, intensely individual – “faithful men!”

The importance of faithfulness can be seen clearly in I Corinthians 4:2.

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

Paul did not want Timothy to spend his time and energy on “groups” and “congregations” of men who were not faithful to the Lord and His message. Timothy was not instructed to commit the “revelation of the mystery” to the “masses.”

What a shame to look around at all the so-called “churches” filled with unfaithful men, and see all of the energy, money, resources and programs trying to allure them into becoming “regular” attendees.

What was Timothy instructed to commit to these “faithful men?”

Ordination?
Creeds?
Articles of Faith?
Statements of Faith?
Business Meetings?
Church Polity?
Sunday School Administration?
Preparation and Delivery of Sermons?

NO!

Timothy was to commit to these “faithful men” the very truths that he had heard from Paul! Paul’s distinct message is of paramount importance. Paul says “the same commit to faithful men” (2:2). He does not say “similar.”

Timothy’s divine calling was to seek out faithful men, wherever he may have been able to find them, and instruct them individually – committing Paul’s gospel to them, that they may in turn will go out and do the same.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies
© 2010

Heralding the Word

July 12, 2010

Herald the Word; be instant in season, out of season… do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of your ministry (II Timothy 4:2, 5).

The Father’s method of out-calling is through “heralding the Word” – by doing “the work of an evangelist.”

Today we are going to focus on Paul’s public ministry. The Greek word for “publicly” as found in Acts 20:20 of the King James Version is dēmosios, meaning “in public” or “in the open.” The public proclamation of his gospel was Paul’s passion. God used the heralding of Paul’s gospel to call out His elect.

Whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (II Thessalonians 2:14).

Yet how should they be believing One of Whom they do not hear? Yet how should they be hearing apart from one heralding? Yet how should they be heralding if ever they should not be commissioned? According as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those bringing an evangel of good!” But not all obey the evangel, for Isaiah is saying, “Lord, who believes our tidings?” Consequently, faith is out of tidings, yet the tidings through a declaration of Christ (Romans 10:14-17, CLNT).

Listen to Paul’s final, passionate plea for the continuation of his public ministry (II Timothy 4:2, 5):

Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season … endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry (King James Version).

Proclaim the Word; stand upon it, conveniently and inconveniently … suffer evil, do the work of an evangelist, fully discharge your ministry (Bible Student’s Version).

Herald the Word. Stand by it, opportunely, inopportunely … suffer evil as an ideal soldier of Christ Jesus; do the work of an evangelist; fully discharge your service (Concordant Literal New Testament).

Publish thou the Word, be thou urgent seasonably unseasonably … suffer thou evil, work do thou of a proclaimer of glad tidings, the service of thee do thou fully perform (Emphatic Diaglott).

Proclaim the Word, take thy position – in season, out of season … suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, thy ministry completely fulfill (Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible).

Preach the Word; be earnest in season, out of season … suffer evil; do the work of one proclaiming good news; of thy ministration make full assurance (Young’s Literal Translation).

The Greek word for “preach” as used in the King James Version is kerusso, meaning “to herald.” Interestingly, the King James Version translates kerusso as “publish(-ed)” (Mark 1:45; 5:20; 7:36; 13:10; Luke 8:39). The Concordant Keyword Concordance defines it as “making known publicly with authority beforehand.”

We have been commissioned to make known publicly the rich and full gospel of God’s grace revealed and committed to Paul. We are to “herald the Word.” We are to publish it, we are to publicize it, we are to make it public. The sacred secret has been revealed. We must not sit on it, keeping it a secret; we must make it fully known.

With the world population nearing 7 billion, we have “a great door and effectual opened before us (I Corinthians 16:9) as never before. This is staggering. One statistic says,

Of all the people in human history who ever reached the age of 65, half are alive now” – Fred Pearce, New Scientist, April 2010.

With this fact comes astounding opportunity and responsibility to “do the work of an evangelist.”

It is a big world out there. May we be given the wisdom and courage to seize the day with all that we have! Paul did not change the world; we will not change the world – this is not Father’s current plan. If so, He would have accomplished that a long time ago. However, He will use us, as He did our apostle, to call out the elect – the first-fruit – the first-trusters. Though we have a “not many” ministry (I Corinthians 1:26), this does not mean that we are not active in our pursuit of those who have the “ears to hear,” and that it does not rejoice our hearts that they can hear.

Heralding is a divine duty, it is a divine calling.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies
© 2010

Paul’s Two-Fold Method: Public and Private

July 12, 2010

I kept back nothing that was profitable to you, but have shown you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house (Acts 20:20).

Paul was the apostle to the nations. His was an international ministry, as contrasted with the Twelve who were sent to the nation Israel. Therefore, his was quite the public ministry, EVANGELizing the nations. He was called to make public (publicize) the good news (the evangel).

We can see from Acts 20:20 that Paul had a two-fold method:

Publicly, and from house to house.

We might call this Paul’s 20/20 vision: both a (1) public and (2) private teaching ministry. He taught the nations publicly, and the called (i.e., those who responded to the call) privately.

Some fail to distinguish Paul’s “public” ministry from his “house to house” teaching ministry. They then proceed to use the phrase “house to house” as if it meant a “door to door” public ministry, with the idea of knocking on every door in a neighborhood: a type of “religious cold-calling.” This is not at all Paul’s ministry here.

Paul’s “house to house” ministry – of moving from one household of saints to another – was his method of privately instructing and establishing believers in the truth – in a very personal manner (in their homes). This was what he referred as “the ecclesia in your house.”

This can be seen even more clearly in the Concordant Literal New Testament:

Under no circumstances did I shrink from informing you of anything which was expedient, and teaching you in public and at your homes.

The recognition of this dual teaching method – “in public” and “at your homes” – is important. God uses the “in public” process to call out His ecclesia; and then the “at your homes” practice to establish them. Over the next two days we will briefly consider these two key areas.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies
© 2010

Those Whom Father Has Chosen to Hear

July 11, 2010

He who has ears to hear, let him hear (Matthew 11:15).

… Not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13).

Therefore has He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens (Romans 9:18).

Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? (Romans 9:21).

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 base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are (I Corinthians 1:27-28).

So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God Who shows mercy (Romans 9:16).

Christendom is just another world-religion. We have been called out the religious system; and those of us who have been charged with teaching, like Timothy, are called to “herald the Word” in search of “faithful men” who have the “ears to hear” their calling as outsiders (the ecclesia – God’s called-out-ones).

Our call is not for a re-awakening of some man-made “church.” Rather, the call is to individuals – those whose place in the “Christian” religious system has left them empty, stagnant and restless. It is an awakening to Father’s call to faithfully stand with Him outside of that system.

It is my prayer and desire that these efforts to herald Paul’s evangel will be used by Father to find fruit in those whom He is calling out, and that they will be used by Him to help them on their journey.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies
© 2010

Finding Faithful Men

July 10, 2010

And the things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also (II Timothy 2:2).

Paul’s instruction to Timothy is of a very personal and individual nature throughout II Timothy. Those in Asia had abandoned the teachings and practices of Paul. They had turned away from him. They were now embracing the religious system; a “Christian” religious system – “Christendom.”

Timothy therefore now finds himself on the outside of the activities of those around him. Interestingly enough, Paul never instructs Timothy anywhere in this epistle to “go in” among them and see if he could “turn the tide.” Instead of ministering to “a congregation,” “a church,” “an assembly,” or “his parishioners,” Paul tells Timothy to find “faithful men.” Timothy was to seek out men, “faithful men,” to whom he could commit Paul’s message.

Paul had no thought of Asia ever being “revived.” Instead, because of the apostasy, his instruction to Timothy concerning the ministry of the Word had now become extremely narrow, intensely individual – “faithful men!”

The importance of faithfulness can be clearly seen in I Corinthians 4:2.

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

Paul did not want Timothy to spend his time and energy on “denominations,” “conventions,” “groups” and “congregations” of men who were not faithful to the Lord and His message. Timothy was not instructed to commit his message to the “masses.”

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2010

The Days in Which We Live

July 8, 2010

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come (II Timothy 3:1).

Earlier in Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he told him that “all they who are in Asia are turned away from me” (1:15). Then in chapter 3, Paul prophesied that the “last days” of the Body of Christ would be “perilous times” (3:1), and that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (3:13). As we read 3:2-4, the correlation between Romans 1 and II Timothy 3 is extremely remarkable; so much so, that one might almost ask Paul, “So, what’s new Paul? There is nothing new here, what kind of prophecy is this?”

The difference is this: Romans 1 is a history of the Nations’ alienation from God, while II Timothy 3 is a history of Christendom’s alienation. No wonder these passages match so well, because Christianity is a part of the Gentile world-course, having the character of the world and its religions (i.e., “the mystery of iniquity”), instead of having the character of Christ manifested in their lives (i.e., “the mystery of godliness”)!

Paul uses the phrase “perilous times” to describe the condition of Christianity. Interestingly, the Greek word translated “perilous” is chalepos and is used only one other time in Scripture. It is found in Matthew 8:28 where it is translated “fierce,” and is used in connection with two men who were possessed with devils. Christendom is possessed with the “doctrines of devils” just as Paul had warned concerning the “latter times” (I Timothy 4:1).

Paul did not tell Timothy to be faithful and things would be restored. If you are looking for the restoration of “the early church” you will be continually frustrated and discouraged. All that faith can desire is that a remnant of “faithful men” will continue to come out and stand apart from the world’s religious system, and in completeness and simplicity be who and what they are in Christ. This is God’s present-day calling.

In II Timothy 3 Paul tells Timothy about the day in which we live. He tells Timothy that the conditions that he saw in Asia will only get worse. Although “church history” gives constant testimony to this fact, we need not consult it to document the spiritual decline and captivity of the Body of Christ. One needs only to read II Timothy.

The character of the last days is strongly marked here, and gives no hope for Christianity as a whole. – J.N. Darby.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2010


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