Archive for June 2009

Contrasting Lives

June 29, 2009

Pleasing God is the only thing that can bring real purpose and meaning to life. All else is vanity and emptiness. These are two contrasting existences – human life and divine life. Let’s see these contrasts in two verses.

The vanity of purely human life –

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

The lasting abundance of divine life –

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (I Corinthians 15:58).

Allowing God passage to live His Own life through the everyday details of life is the only way to have real and lasting purpose in life. This divine life flows through the most basic elements of our lives.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31).

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men (Colossians 3:23).

His life in us will lift us abundantly above the ordinary – to the extraordinary.

Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us (Ephesians 3:20).

Be the Real You!

Don’t settle for an imitation. God designed you to be uniquely different – not with a cookie-cutter.

Don’t measure yourself, nor allow yourself to be measured by the life of others.

They measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise (II Corinthians 10:12).

Allow God to live His divine life through the uniqueness of who God has made you to be!

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

Life is too short to miss the real thing – Enjoy it!

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.

Bible Student’s Notebook

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Seeing People as the Father Does

June 27, 2009

I see men as trees, walking (Mark 8:24).

In the Gospel According to Mark we read an interesting encounter that our Lord Jesus Christ had with a blind man. Jesus healed him, but Jesus’s first touch was only for partial sight. He could only see men as walking tress. That is, he could only see well enough to distinguish between men and trees, by the fact that the men were moving about, or walking. After a second touch of the Savior’s hand, he then “saw every man clearly.”

And He cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto Him, and besought Him to touch him. And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when He had spit on his eyes, and put His hands upon him, He asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that He put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly (Mark 8:22-25).

A Dispensational Perspective

A.E. Knoch shows us the immediate dispensational application of this miracle to the Nation Israel.

The Lord could have healed him completely in an instant, but He did not choose to do so. It is evidently another sign, and we will find its meaning in the restoration of Israel’s spiritual sight … At first the blind man’s sight was blurred. Later he saw clearly. So it was with Israel. In the past they saw that there would be a gradual growth, like a tree, until the kingdom. But it will take another application of His hands in the future to restore them. Then they will no longer be puzzled by the course of events. Throughout the past proclamation of the kingdom, especially in the Pentecostal era, the prospect of the kingdom was vague. It will not be so at the time of the end. – Concordant Commentary on the New Testament, 1968, page 71.

A Personal Application

This is not only true of God’s dealing with Israel, but it is often His method of dealing with us as well. Paul prays for those already saved, that the eyes of their understanding might be enlightened (Ephesians 1:18). Spiritually this has been the experience of many of us. It was not until God had done a greater work in our own hearts that we had our spiritual eyes fully open so that we could see “every man clearly” – for who they really are – loved of the Father.

The far-reaching, triumphant cross-work of Jesus Christ was not limited to us. He was not partial in His work and accomplishments – He was all-inclusive. Christ did His wonderful work not just for us, but for all those around us as well.

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them … (II Corinthians 5:19).

And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven (Colossians 1:20).

And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be All in all (I Corinthians 15:28).

We now see “every man clearly” in their relationship to the all-inclusive Father of reconciliation.

As Peter M. Lord has written,

As we live under the control of the Holy Spirit, we will increasingly see things and people as God does. – Bless and Be Blessed, 2004, p. 86.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
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The Dividing Line Between Saints and Sinners

June 27, 2009

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

We have already seen that God loves sinners – Calvary is the full proof of it, proof positive in fact. Nevertheless, does this mean that there is no difference at all in the value that God has for the “saint” and the value that God has for those who are still yet “sinners”? Well, let’s see.

Who Is this Christ Whom We Are “In”?

Who is this Christ? That is, who is He to the Father? Since we’re considering the subject of love, what is the Father’s love for His Son? How much does He value Him?

At the beginning of our Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry we hear a voice from heaven answering that question!

… This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17b).

Then, toward the close of His earthly ministry, again we hear the answer,

… This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased … (Matthew 17:5b).

Now, did you notice something? He did not say, “This is my loved Son.” NO! He said, “This is my BELOVED Son.” Are “loved” and “beloved” the same? Or does the prefix “be” somehow change something? What does this prefix “be” mean?

Our English prefix “be” is defined as meaning “completely, thoroughly, excessively.” The Oxford Dictionary states that the prefix be “naturally intensifies the sense of the verb.”

The English word “beloved” is a much higher from of the word “loved;” corresponding to the difference between the Greek word “agape” (love) and the word “agapetous” (beloved).

All sinners are loved by God; but the Son of God is especially beloved of the Father! He is “completely, thoroughly, excessively” loved of His Father. The Father’s love is intensified toward His Son!

Who does God the Father love more, with greater intensity? The sinner? or His Son? The answer is quite clear, is it not? The greatest value that the Father has is upon His Son.

What Does All this Have to Do With Us?

Now, we might ask ourselves this question: “What does all this have to do with us?” Well, maybe another look at the Scriptures will bring this truth to bear upon our hearts and minds.

… He hath made us accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6b).

Being “in the Beloved,” we are thus beloved! How could it be otherwise? That is why we are also now called beloved.

… Beloved of God … (Romans 1:7).

… Brethren beloved of the Lord (II Thessalonians 2:13).

God now views us (the first-trusters – those of us already in Christ – in the Body of Christ) in a totally new way! He sees us as:

… Saints in Christ Jesus … (Philippians 1:1).

How is it that we have actually become so valuable, so excessively, so completely, so thoroughly loved by the Father? It simply pleased the Father to do so!

According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy [saints!] and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children [adult sons of God!] by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:4-6).

What does all this mean? It means that every night – as a saint – when you lay your head on your pillow, you go to sleep – not merely as the “loved” of God – but as “the beloved” of God. Likewise, every morning that you wake up, you wake up as “the beloved” of God. There is never a day that you are not God’s own beloved”!

Well, I’ll “BE”!

Are You “Loved,” or “Beloved” of God?

Everyone we meet is either “loved” of the Father, or beloved” in His Son. Think of it! You will never meet anyone whom the Father does not love. You can tell everyone you meet the Good News that He loves them, and if they are members of His Son’s Body – the eccelesia – you can remind them of how especially dear they are to the Father; how “completely, thoroughly, excessively” they are loved by Him.

What an effect this truth can have on our attitudes toward others! All others!

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

Are We Sinners or Saints?

June 27, 2009

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

Currently the world is made up of saints and ain’ts. One is either saved, or still lost; righteous, or still unrighteous; a son of God, or still just a son of man; a “saint,” or still a “sinner.”

Our Old Self – Our Former Identity

Although all believers sin, we no longer find our identity before God in sin. “Sinners” is what we use to be – what we were:

But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Before God, what we were by nature has passed away in the new creation.

And were by nature the children of wrath, even as others … (Ephesians 2:3).

Our New Self – Our New Identity

God has a new identity and designation for believers, we are now His saints. Many believers are not aware that their identification and designation before God has changed.

Listen to Paul’s revelation:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature old things are passed away behold, all things are become new (II Corinthians 5:17).

Our former self (our old identity in Adam) has passed away. It died with Christ. Our new self (our new life and identity in Christ) is who we are now. We are alive in Christ.

Christ once-and-for-all dealt with our former self at Calvary. We have been liberated from our former identity. We are liberated to be our new selves – to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

Our former identity – our old “I” – was our identity as the sons of Adam. Our new identity – our new “I” – is our identity as the glorious sons of God.

I [a son of Adam] am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I [a son of God] live; yet not I [the “I” of the old creation], but Christ liveth in me [the “me” of the new creation]: and the life [the divine “life” of God] which I [the unique person that God has made me to be] now live in the flesh [my flesh, right now, this very day] I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

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

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

Jesus Loves Me This I Know

June 25, 2009

Most of us are familiar with the line from the children’s hymn, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” This phrase conveys a truth that Paul, the apostle of God’s grace, declares in his letter to the Romans:

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

Who Does God Love?

The answer to the question is really quite simple. Being that “God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” then we can clearly see that God loves sinners!

How Many Are Sinners?

Knowing that God loves sinners, it bears to ask the question, “How many are sinners?” Once again the answer is a simple one.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12).

All are sinners. Therefore God loves all mankind. No one is outside the love of God. God loves the world:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

What Is Love?

Before we can really appreciate the love of God we first must understand what “love” really is. Love is often associated with an emotion, a sensation, a passion, or a feeling. Who would question that all of these things could be associated with the love of God for sinners? His passion is surely toward us! Yet His love for sinners itself is actually more than these things. “Love” is, at its core, a value system. Notice in the following reference how Paul says that love abounds in the areas of knowledge and judgment.

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment, that ye may approve things that are excellent … (Philippians 1:9-10).

Whom Does God Value?

Love is not only a value system; it is the greatest of all value systems, for it is the Divine value system and the standard of value in God’s universe. It is not our purpose to elaborate on this Divine system at this point, but to simply stress this: God values sinners.

Sinners do not have inborn self-worth or self-value. No, it was God Himself that chose – out of His own purpose – to place value upon sinners. It was He Who made sinners so valuable.

In one sense, the actual value of anything is determined by the price someone is willing to pay for it.

Let us illustrate. Consider the price of land. Why can dirt vary so greatly in price? An acre of soil could go for millions of dollars, or it could sell for a few hundred dollars or less. All things naturally considered equal, what really makes the difference? Is it not what someone is willing to pay? Thus enters the principle of exchange-value.

Just how valuable are sinners? They are as valuable as what God was willing to spend for them!

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

… Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice(Ephesians 5:2).

… Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it(Ephesians 2:25).

… the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

What Is God’s Value of the Sinner?

Just what is God’s value of the sinner? Well, we answer that when we see the exchange-value of sinners. It is CHRIST Himself!

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the exchange rate for sinners. What an immeasurable Value!

Think of it! The Value that God places on sinners. All sinners.

God loves man. All men.

You will never see a man that God does not love, for He loves sinners. That means that when we herald the “gospel of grace” we never share the Good News with the wrong person. Ours is an everyman gospel!

This all means that every night, when you lay your head on your pillow, you go to sleep in the love of God, and every morning that you wake up, you wake up in the love of God. There is never a day that God does not love you!

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


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