Archive for December 2009

Citizenship

December 29, 2009

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20).

The believer’s home is in heaven. It is easy to get caught up in the crosscurrents of gentile politics, for truly “the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing (Psalm 2:1; Acts 4:25).

Paul, the apostle, told us our true place in the current course of this world when he wrote, “For our conversation is in heaven.” Interestingly, the word Paul used for “conversation” in Philippians 3:20 was the Greek word politeuma. This is the only time Paul uses this word, which Strong’s Greek Lexicon #4175 defines as “a community, i.e., citizenship.” An example of politeuma being translated according to James Strong’s definition can be seen in the following English versions:

… Our citizenship in the heavens … (Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible – 1868)

… Our citizenship is in the heavens … (Young’s Literal Translation – 1898)

… Our citizenship is in heaven … (KJV – 2000)

J.C. O’Hair (1876-1958) wrote the following in his work Ambassadors of Reconciliation:

The word “conversation” here [in Philippians 3:20] could be translated “citizenship” or even “politics” … The citizenship and politics of every representative of Christ is in heaven … The believer is in the world, but not of the world. Unto him has been committed the Word of reconciliation. To him is given the ministry of reconciliation.

Bill (William) Petri also adds his voice to this discussion in his work Government, War and the Christian (2008, p. 11):

The word “conversation” in Philippians 3:20 is an interesting word. It is the Greek word politeuma and means “the commonwealth of citizens.” It is interesting that in the English language we take our word politic from this Greek word.

Others have also shared the meaning of the word politeuma and its application to Paul’s use to the Body of Christ. As David Pack commented,

The Greek word for citizenship is politeuma. “Politics” comes from this word! Christians do have a “political agenda,” but it is not of this world. Politeuma technically can also be translated another way. It can mean a townsman. It is correct to say that citizens of men’s governments are townsmen – of particular towns on earth.

Do God’s people practice politics? The answer is, “Yes” – in a sense! I have an absolutely deep political conviction. Let me say this more clearly, so you can understand. In one sense, Christians are very political in their thinking. Is God a political being? The answer is absolutely, “Yes!” But His politics are not of this society. He has His Own view of government, His Own view of correct and right politeuma, or politics. His kingdom – His government – “is not of this world,” but He does have a government.

The word police comes from politeuma. So do policy and poll. It is not hard to understand how police, policies and polls are connected, in one way or another, to politics. The large American cities of Indianapolis and Minneapolis derive their names from politeuma. These are large towns with lots of citizens. Minnea(polis) means the major city of Minnesota and Indiana(polis) means the major city of Indiana. Mystery is often stripped away when words are broken down into their most basic meaning.[1]

Dan Haden also observes,

A Greek city-state was known as a “polis.” The original meaning was close to the idea of “town,” but eventually was used to describe the ruling political center of a district or territory. In fact polis became a rather complex word to encompass the whole idea of government, and was therefore a more extensive word than merely “town” or “city.” We get the word politics from this word – the art or science of governing a group of people.

A politician is a person engaged in running the affairs of the polis; a policy is a reflection of wisdom in governing the polis; and police are those who control and regulate the activities of the polis. As you can see, this Greek word is foundational to many of our English words related to governmental matters.

In like fashion the Greek word polis was used by the Greeks as a basis for many other Greek words related to governmental functions. A politarches was a civil-magistrate (Acts 17:6, 8); a polite was a citizen of the state (Acts 21:39); politeia was the word used for citizenship (Acts 22:28); and politeuomai was a word to describe how people were to conduct themselves as citizens of the state. Then there was the word we are considering here, politeuma – a word used to describe the state itself or a commonwealth.[2]

Thus John Nelson Darby translated Philippians 3:20:

… Our commonwealth has its existence in the heavens … (Darby Translation – 1890).

Paul teaches us that as members of Christ’s Body we already have a citizenship, and it is in heaven. Our government is there; our King is there; our politics are there.

We have been called into His Kingdom:

That you would walk worthy of God, Who has called you unto His kingdom and glory (I Thessalonians 2:12).

We have been delivered from the earthly kingdoms and translated into His:

Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son (Colossians 1:13).

He is the only Potentate,[3] the King of kings, and Lord of lords:

… Our Lord Jesus Christ: Who in His times He shall show, Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords (I Timothy 6:14-15).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2008, 2009


[1]David C. Pack, Do Christians Vote.
[2]Dan Hayden, Truth in Grace.
[3]only Ruler (Darby Translation, 1890).

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Follow Your Heart

December 26, 2009

For it is God Who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

This is one of the most important verses dealing with the life of God in you. Here is what we see in this verse:

–  God is at work in you,
–  He works in you to “will” – to “want to” – and then
–  He also works in you the “do” – the ability to do His good pleasure.

Here you can see that Father is at work in you. What a wonderful truth!

You also see He is accomplishing two things:

(1)   He is putting His will in you – your “want to”; and
(2)   He is working the do in you as well – the ability to do what He has put on your heart (the “will”).

Allow this astonishing truth to get ahold of you!

Will and Do

This is God’s work in your life in a nutshell – “to will and to do.” Your Father is working something into you (“For it is God Who works in you”); He is working into you His Own will (“to will”). He is putting His own “want to” in you. This has always been His plan – to put in the believers’ heart the desires He wills them to have, so that they will “do” His will.

Delight yourself also in the Lord; and He shall give you the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4).

Here in the Hebrew Scriptures we see these same two principles that we have been considering in Paul’s writings. First: “delight yourself also in the Lord” (keep your eyes on Him) and, Second: “He shall give you the desires of your heart” (then, follow your heart).

Someone may ask, “Can’t your heart lead you astray?” Surely, it can; but not while it is set on the Lord and the things that are above.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:2-3).

While you look to Him, setting your affection there, your Father places in you your heart’s desires. Belonging to Him, you are given a willing heart for the details of His life and purpose, making you His very vessel. Trust and acknowledge the in-working of His will. Stay close to Him and then, follow your heart!

You thus honor God and His design by being you.

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

Look to Christ

December 25, 2009

God has made you who you are as a part of His new creation. Any attempt at knowing who you really are must start here.

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 5:17).

So, who are you, really? You are a new creature in Christ.

Paul wrote,

For to me to live is Christ … (Philippians 1:21).

In Galatians 2:20 he said,

I am crucified … but Christ lives in me.

Since it is true that we no longer live, but Christ lives in us, let me ask you this question: If you want to get to know who you are, who are you going to have to get to know? Him! In other words, to discover your true identity, you will have to discover Him Who alone is your life.

It is impossible to know who you really are apart from Him – apart from knowing Him. Realizing this one simple truth frees you from the “know thyself” world-view. You are delivered from it by knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, in Whom you have your new, true identity.

Hear Paul again,

That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death (Philippians 3:10).

The call of the believer’s life is not some human, self-centered psychology of “know thyself,” but by the divine, Christ-centered spirituality of “know Him.”

E.W. Bullinger wrote,

As to the natural man, all is different. The ancient philosophy had a motto continually sounding in its ears, “Know thyself.” This saying was introduced by Solon, one of the seven wise men of Greece, and the wisest of them all. A lawgiver, a great reformer, and a great patriot, 638 years before Christ, Solon gave this as his most precious wisdom. It was carved over all the schools and seats of learning, its letters may be seen today carved in the marble ruins of Greece. It was good, so far as man’s wisdom went; it was the best that man could do! Oh, but how impossible to obey it! It is the one thing man never could do. It is the one thing none of us know. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). If we could know ourselves thus, what then? When we came to this knowledge, and saw ourselves and our ruin, would it not end in despair? No, we can only know ourselves by the knowledge of Christ.

Christianity came and brought with it a loftier motto, a heavenly wisdom, a Divine truth: “That I may know Him.”[1]

Paul also wrote,

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (II Corinthians 3:17-18).

Beholding and Becoming

Paul tells us that as we behold the glory of the Lord, we are changed into His image. This is the principle of what we might call Beholding and Becoming. As you behold Him, you are transformed into His image. This beholding and becoming is carried out and accomplished in the very details of your life. The Father is steadily at work in you, manifesting the life of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus He accomplishes this in the most difficult circumstances that life may throw at you. This is the great plan of God in your life.

Changed

The Father is transforming you, so that you are being changed into the same image.” This word “changed” is the Greek word metamorphoō from which we get our word “metamorphose,” which Webster defines as, “to change into a different form; to transform.”[2] It appears three other times in the Greek Scriptures.

It is used twice of the Lord Jesus Christ’s transfiguration:

And after six days Jesus takes with Him Peter, and James, and John, and leads them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and He was transfigured [metamorphoō] before them (Mark 9:2).

And was transfigured [metamorphoō] before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light (Matthew 17:2).

This same word is used by Paul in Romans chapter 12:

And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed [metamorphoō] by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2).

Image

Just exactly what is this “change”? We are being transformed “into the same image” of the Son. The Greek word for “image” is eikōn. Its usage by Paul the Apostle is very telling. He uses this word in reference to the Lord Jesus Christ being in the “image of God”:

… Christ, Who is the image [eikōn] of God … (II Corinthians 4:4).

… Who is the image [eikōn] of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature (Colossians 1:15).

Then Paul uses this same word in reference to believers:

For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image [eikōn] of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29).

And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image [eikōn] of the Heavenly (I Corinthians 15:49).

And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image [eikōn] of Him Who created him (Colossians 3:10).

The Lord Jesus Christ is in “the image of God,” and you are being transformed into “the image of His Son.”

The first principle of knowing who you really are is to look to Him, to know Him, to keep your eyes upon Him – for all that you are is “in Him.”

Well did the hymn writer pen,

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.[3]
Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies
© 2009

[1]. E.W. Bullinger, The Works of E.W. Bullinger, Vol, 1, Bible Student’s Press, 2008; The Christian’s Standing, Object, and Hope.
[2]. Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.
[3]. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (1922), Helen Howarth Lemmel (1863-1961).

Don’t Know Who You Really Are?

December 24, 2009

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (II Corinthians 3:17).

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in Him (Colossians 2:8-10).

Does it seem at times that you have lost your way? Does it seem like you don’t even know who you really are? Perhaps this is because others have been attempting to fulfill the role of God in your life. Maybe for years you have given way to their endless pressure and manipulation; but manipulation is not God’s method. God’s way is freedom, and He wants you to enjoy the freedom to know and be who He has made you to be.

How do you find the real you?

It may be quite different than you think.

It is not to be found in the methods and systems of man. Knowing who you really are doesn’t come from self-analysis, psychotherapy, counseling or self-help books and seminars, etc. Since God made you who you are, any attempt to “find yourself” – apart from Him – is simply futile. He alone knows who you really are. You must find yourself in Him.

Paul warned the Colossian saints of worldly philosophy, vain deceit, human traditions and worldly rudiments, which all distract you from being able to see clearly who and what you really are – “complete in Him.”

There are two simple principles given to us by Paul the Apostle that are key to knowing who we really are:

Look to Christ.

Follow your heart.

In our next two installments we will consider these crucial truths.

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

Paul the Tentmaker

December 22, 2009

Paul, our apostle (Romans 11:13), made his living as a tentmaker (Acts 18:3). He conducted his life and ministry outside of the religious system. He taught the divine value and purpose of work.

Many believe that to serve God, really, one must be religiously “employed,” but the truth of the matter is that every believer is called to “full-time” ministry (I Corinthians 10:31; II Corinthians 5:18) in the context of their individual daily lives.

“Tentmaking” will find its own unique form in how we make a living. We may be a construction worker, or a computer technician. We may farm, or do electrical work. Perhaps we are a physician, salesman, or teacher. It matters little in the eternal perspective of things what the details of our “tentmaking” involves. The important thing is that we are “tentmaking.”

No matter what the circumstances of life are around us, regardless of what earthly occupation we may use to supply our needs and those of others, we each have a divine vocation to which we have been called. Yet it is not “tentmaking” that defines us or our lives. Paul was not “Paul, the tentmaker.” No, he was defined by heaven in light of his divine calling and vocation; he was “Paul, the apostle.”

We live our lives for the Lord, serving Him, and we do so in the context of “tentmaking.” More often than not, this context can have the appearance of a monotonous, daily routine; but the very Life of God running its full course in our day-by-day circumstances will make our lives anything but monotonous and routine.

We must not confuse what we do to make a living with the purpose of our lives. Our occupations are just the contexts in which we carry out our divine calling. The circumstances of our earthly labors are the backdrop for God’s working in our lives.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

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

Being Who You Are

December 21, 2009

I will praise You; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

We are God’s wonderful creation; but we are frequently imitators of others. We, often unconsciously, pattern our lives after those whom we admire, or those who are close to us. We adopt their likes and dislikes, their habits, their viewpoints, even their routines.

This is not necessarily a bad thing for you. Those in your life are there for a reason – God uses them, both positively and negatively, as part of His molding of your life. Positively, He uses aspects of someone’s life to awaken your heart to something lacking in your own, and then He steadily develops it in you. Negatively, He uses something in the life of another to move your heart away from a certain trait, character or lifestyle – to purge something out of your life.

You are also in the lives of others as God’s influencing agent in them as well. He uses this divine placement of our lives reciprocally. Like stones in a rock tumbler; the stones actually being used as a part of the polishing process – mutually to each other in the midst of agitating circumstances, until a smooth, beautiful stone appears from an otherwise ruff and ordinary rock.

Conversely, maybe you have allowed others to overstep this mutual influence, and to actually attempt to live your life for you – or at least parts of it. In your relationship with them you have not been free to follow your own heart; thus creating apprehension, tension, anxiety, stress and heartache. Maybe your desire for “peace” and “harmony” with certain people close to you; your dread of the potential “drama” and “displeasure” that they can create; or even your fear of losing their “friendship” and “love,” or your desire to be “accepted” or “approved” by them has caused you to give way to them and to lose yourself in the process.

You must never forget that you are not only God’s handiwork by your own entrance into the first creation (your birth), but you are even more so His masterpiece-in-progress through His new creation (“in Christ”). God intends His crafting of you to be a unique expression of Himself, even in the smallest and seemingly insignificant matters of life. There is no detail of His creation that is too small for care and concern.

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

Refuse to allow anyone but God to be God in your life. Decline the attempts of others to live their lives in you – this is God’s place alone. Resist the outside pressure to conform.

God does not need two of the exact same person. Even seemingly “identical” twins are not exact mirror images of each other in every way. You are designed to be a unique manifestation of some wonderful aspect of God. Some of this may presently be in the “rough,” but He continues His steady, faithful work in you, at His Own pace as it pleases Him. God’s plan of redemption includes “rescuing” who you really are – your unique personality – from the original creation; of “cutting” and “polishing” His “diamond in the rough” until it radiates His glorious reflection, which is all His work and timing.

You are unique. You have a unique purpose. You uniquely belong to Him. Honor Him by being who you are.

For none of us lives to himself, and no man dies to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living (Romans 14:7-9).

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


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