Archive for September 2009

The Ascension Gifts

September 1, 2009

The Time of Their Giving

When He ascended up on high, He … gave gifts unto men (Ephesians 4:8).

This was an historic time; a place in the past when these gifts were given. The passage does not say that “he began to give gifts unto men.” It was not an ongoing process. It was during the time covered by the book of Acts … “until.”

The Time of Their Expiration

These ascension gifts were in affect until “the unity of the faith” occurred (:13).

“The Faith is that body of doctrine which Paul taught.

“Unity” is that which is complete, that which has all its parts.

The Purpose of their Existence

The purpose of these special ascension-gifts were “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, 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 in the last letter written by Paul – which completed the Scriptures – he 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.

Notice what Paul wrote in his final letter, concerning the Word of God:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (II Timothy 3:16-17).

“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.”

Paul’s term “man of God” is in no way clerical. It is in contrast to immaturity; in contrast to a “babe.” There is a significant difference between simply being a “child of God,” and becoming a “man of God.” What is it that changes one from spiritual infancy to spiritual adulthood? The Word of God.

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.”

Do not trust church history, religious tradition, or ecclesiastical edicts. Avoid turning to “church counsels” – for they are “profane and vain babblings.” Study the Bible diligently for yourself.

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness (II Timothy 2:15-16).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2004, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

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How God’s Word Was Completed

September 1, 2009

Whereof I [Paul] am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill [complete] the Word of God (Colossians 1:25).

How did the early saints know that a particular book or letter was to be a part of the Word of God? They had special divine gifts in lieu of the Word of God not being yet complete! They could accurately – beyond any doubt whatsoever – identify and assemble the Word of God with these gifts!

I Corinthians 14:37

Here is an example of how these gifts worked in the identification and assembly of the Word of God:

If any man thinks himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord (I Corinthians 14:37).

The major function of the Acts-period prophets was to acknowledge the true Word of God … so that it might be identified and assembled!

I Corinthians 13:8-10

Love never fails: but whether there are prophecies, they shall fail; whether there are tongues, they shall cease; whether there is knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away (I Corinthians 13:8-10).

The gifts were until “that which is perfect is come.” At the time of the writing of First Corinthians the knowledge and prophecy were only in part. That which was perfect is that which has reached its end; that which is complete. When the fullness of the revelation of the mystery was complete – so were the Scriptures.

Little wonder Paul said in his last letter:

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

Ephesians 4:13

Until we all come in the unity of the Faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

Notice the word “until.” The supernatural gifts and abilities of “apostles… prophets… evangelists… pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11) were:

(1) given “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12);

(2) “Until we all come in the unity of the Faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

These divine –supernatural “giftswere given at a specific time in the past, but they had an expiration date on them – “until.”

With the completion of Paul’s last epistle – II Timothy – God’s work and process of revelation and inspiration closes, the gifts cease, and the Word of God was full and completed. The so-called “canon” was sealed! This all took place some 300 years before any religious counsel made a decree.

We will look into this passage in more detail tomorrow.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2004, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

The Process of God’s Completed Word (Part 3)

September 1, 2009

The Writing of Paul the Apostle (Evidence from His Epistles)

I Corinthians 15:3-4

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

The “third day” that is “according to the Scriptures” is only found in Matthew and Luke, not in the Hebrew Scriptures. This passage shows us that the “Gospels” were already in place and in use by the Corinthians saints!

Colossians 3:16

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom … (Colossians 3:16).

The Colossian saints had the Word of God – and it was not just the “Gospels” that they had (c.f. II Corinthians 5:16). They had the Word of Christ revealed through Paul. They had Paul’s epistles!

Paul speaking to Timothy about his own writings calls them “wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Timothy 6:3).

Paul already had written from six to nine epistles by this time (depending on which timetable one uses).

Titus 1:9

Holding fast the Faithful Word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers (Titus 1:9).

Titus and the Cretian elders had the Word to which they could hold fast. It was in their possession!

II Timothy 4:2

Preach the Word (II Timothy 4:2).

Timothy had the Word of God in his possession too; and he was to “preach” it! Paul did not say “prophesy;” he said “preach the Word” – “herald the word” – “proclaim the Word.” Timothy did not need to generate, or produce the Word of God; he had it in his ownership – from Paul’s pen – and this instruction was Paul’s final letter: the Word of God was now finished and complete.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2004, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

The Process of God’s Completed Word (Part 2)

September 1, 2009

The Writing of Paul the Apostle (Evidence from the Book of Acts)

Having considered Israel’s writings in the “New Testament,” we will now look at the testimony regarding Paul’s writings.

Acts 13:49

And the Word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.

Here we see, under the ministry of Paul, the word “published” being used again. However, this is another Greek word!

Now before we go to the definition of this particular Greek word, let us look at the interesting definition of our English word by Noah Webster (American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828). He shows the root of the word “publish” to be “public (i.e., open to all), and then he defines it as, “to discover or make known to mankind or to a people in general what before was private or unknown.”

Does this not describe the distinct “mystery” ministry of Paul the Apostle?

If that was not enough, let’s look at Strong’s Greek Lexicon definition of diaphero (#1308): “to differ.” This same word is translated in the King James Version in I Corinthians 15:41 as “differ,” in Philippians 1:10 as “excellent,” in Matthew 6:26 as “better than,” in Mark 10:31 as “are of more value,” in Romans 2:18 “things that are more excellent.”

Paul’s ministry and message were different and superior to all other messages previously revealed in the Scriptures. This is what is called progressive revelation.

Acts 17:2-3, 11

… Paul … reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. … These [the Bereans] 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.

Notice carefully that the Bereans already had the “Gospel” records of Christ’s life to compare with the Old Testament prophecies contained in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Acts 19:20

So mightily grew the Word of God and prevailed (Acts 19:20).

Now we see that the Word of God grew again (auxano, Strong’s Greek Lexicon #837 – “to grow, i.e., enlarge”), and this time it grew mightily! It grew mightily because Paul has picked up the pen and has begun to write; now a different and excellent Word of God is going out! The capstone of divine revelation is being hoisted to the top!

Acts 20:32

… I commend you to God, and to the Word of His Grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified (Acts 20:32).

Paul left the Ephesian elders with God’s Scriptures! Not just Circumcision Scripture, but with “the Word of His Grace” – advanced Pauline writings!

Tomorrow we will take a look at this process directly from Paul’s epistles.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2004, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

The Process of God’s Completed Word (Part 1)

September 1, 2009

The Circumcision Portion of the Greek Scriptures

Whereof I [Paul] am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill [complete] the Word of God (Colossians 1:25).

We can go to the Bible and look for the information regarding the delivery of the completed Word of God, now that we know it exists. The reason that this normally is not done is because of the blinding power of tradition. Tradition tells us that the Bible was not complete until the fourth century. Tradition tells us that Paul was not the last Bible author. For example, it has John, the Apostle, writing Scripture some thirty years after Paul – thus undermining the ministry of Paul and his authority to complete the Scriptures. This in turn opens “God’s Word” to false additions from all fronts.

Tradition has a way of numbing one to the truth. Men no longer hold on to every “word” of God. Tradition demands that the emphasis of the “words be “downplayed.” Thus the emphasis of Bible doctrine is “downplayed,” if not altogether destroyed!

Yet we can actually see the assembly of God’s completed Word through the very testimony of the Scriptures themselves. We will begin with those portions of the Greek Scriptures that belong to Israel – the Circumcision writings.

Acts 6:2, 4, 7

Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, “It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God, and serve tables … But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word” … And the Word of God increased …

The Apostles did not want to “leave the Word of God.” They wanted to give themselves to “the ministry of the Word.” Something very significant is going on here. Israel’s Apostles are busy writing their “Gospels” and “Circumcsion Epistles.” We know this because the result was that “the Word of God increased.” What does this word translated “increase” mean? The Greek word auxano is defined by James Strong as “to grow, i.e., enlarge.” The Word of God is enlarging because books are being added to it!

Acts 10:36-37

The word which God sent unto the Children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all:) That word, I say, you know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached.

Here we see that Cornelius knew the Word of God spoken by Jesus Christ to Israel. How did he know this? Because it had been “published”!

Now this word translated “published” is an interesting one indeed. This is not the same word used throughout the “Gospels” which means to “pass the word along.” This word is Strong’s Greek Lexicon #1096 meaning “to generate; to come into being.”

The Word of God was being generated (given life – God-breathed – i.e., inspiration). It is coming into being! The Greek word for “published” is translated in Acts 15:25, in a most enlightening way, as “being assembled.”

These saints are busy assembling the Circumcision Scriptures of the “New Testament.”

Acts 12:24

But the Word of God grew and multiplied.

Here we are told that the Word of God grew. The Greek word is auxano, the same as we saw in Acts 6, meaning “to grow, i.e., enlarge.”

Not only did it grow, it also multiplied. The Scriptures are being added to (“grew”) AND copies are being made (“multiplication”)!

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2004, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

The Declaration of God’s Completed Word

September 1, 2009

Whereof I [Paul] am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill [complete] the Word of God (Colossians 1:25).

The simple fact of the mater is that God ordained a completer for His Word. Our passage clearly tells us that God chose Paul to complete the Word of God! Paul filled-full (“fulfilled”) the Word of God.

Strong defines pleroo, the word translated “fulfilled” in the King James Version, as “crammed.” The same word is translated in Colossians 2:10 as “complete.” This is the word that the Concordant Literal Translation uses in our text – “to complete the word of God.”

The Lord did not give the responsibility of completing His Word to the Council of Hippo. Mark it well! Paul’s writings filled-full God’s Word. When Paul was finished with his divinely appointed task, you couldn’t fit any more in the Scriptures! When Paul wrote his last epistle, the Word of God was completed; it was full; it was finished; and the Body of Christ had in its possession the entire Word of God! Thus anything written after Paul could not possibly be the Word of God because God commissioned Paul to complete it – regardless of what anyone may profess to the contrary.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2004, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

God Assembles His Book

September 1, 2009

Whereof I [Paul] am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill [complete] the Word of God (Colossians 1:25).

We sometimes hear about the “lost books of the Bible,” as if somehow parts of God’s Word had been lost. We will also hear of those who profess to have a “word of revelation from the Lord” again, as if God’s Word was somehow incomplete – and needed some additional words appended.

Over the next few days we well take a brief look at the divine assembly of the book that we call “The Word of God,” or “The Bible.”

How was the Bible actually assembled? How was the so-called “canon” established? How did we get the twenty-seven books of the Greek Scriptures, the so-called “New Testament”? Was it by human standards? Or did God give it to us?

We are often told by “Christian” tradition and theology that the Council of Hippo (A.D. 393) established the twenty-seven books of the Greek Scriptures and that the Council of Carthage (A.D. 397) limited it’s “canon” to those twenty-seven books.

Yet we must seriously reflect, “Is our faith to be founded upon religious councils that met some three hundred years after those books were even written?”

The Bible believer would not be satisfied with such an explanation. This would be to base our faith upon human history and reasoning. Both are, in and of themselves, valueless when it comes to matters of faith!

We need to ask ourselves, What about the saints who lived during the three hundred years prior to these councils? Where was the Bible during this period? Was there a Bible that was finished and complete that the saints possessed prior to the fourth century?

Faith requires God’s instruction on these matters!

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2004, 2009 Bible Student’s Press


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