Archive for January 2010

Others Who Have No Hope

January 25, 2010

Q. In I Thessalonians 4:13, Paul refers to “others which have no hope.” If Paul was teaching the Salvation of all, who would he be referring to as having no hope? In this passage of Scripture it is obvious he is referring to the resurrection hope, so these “others” would not have any hope of resurrection; but how could that be if “all” were to be eventually saved?

A. Let’s start by getting a definition of the word “hope.” It is the Greek word elpis (Strong’s Greek Lexicon #1680), and according to Strong it means “expectation or confidence.” Interestingly enough, it is so identified with faith that it is even translated as “faith” in the King James Version (Hebrews 10:23).

We all have neighbors who live around us who are lost. They have no faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result they have no hope beyond the grave. They believe that the grave is, or may be the end; but just believing it does not make it so. Just because they personally have no hope does not mean that there is not any hope for them beyond the grave. It simply means that they personally have not the confident expectation (hope) that we do.

Even those who are already saved can be taught incorrectly and thus be without the hope of resurrection. This was the case with some at the city of Corinth. Paul had to write to them about resurrection truth in I Corinthians 15. Here we have believers who had no resurrection hope. Obviously this did not mean that they would not be raised, or that they were “hopeless” beyond the grave.

Hope, as with faith, is a very personal thing. Just because one does not believe in resurrection, does not mean that it does not exist, or that they will not experience it. It just means that they personally have no confident expectation (hope) of it, because of their lack of faith.

Since “hope” and “faith” are both King James Version translations of elpis, our verse at hand could just as easily have been translated “others who have no faith.” The reason that they have no hope is that they have no faith.

Believers who have faith and hope in God’s promise of resurrection are saved from the hopelessness of the grave, therefore we don’t sorrow in the same way as those that do who are “without hope.”

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them who are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others who have no hope (I Thessalonians 4:13).

Just because someone has no hope or faith now does not mean that they will not have any in the future. Neither does it mean that the thing to be believed or hoped for does not exist, and that it will not come to pass – even for them.

Hope is a divine quality that is produced in stages. I have more hope now than when I first believed.

… Tribulation works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us”(Romans 5:3-5).

Hope is a process. Starting with tribulation, and then through experience, finally hope is produced in our lives. This divine process has not yet been fully developed in the lost. God is not now working with the full harvest; He is working with the first-fruit. The full harvest has no personal hope within the heart at this time; but not to worry, for the end result is not about man at all, but about God Himself,

Who works all things after the counsel of His Own will (Ephesians 1:11).

The simple fact is that God has subjected the entire creation to hope, and it shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, whether or not they apprehend it by faith (hope) now.

For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him Who has subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:20-23).

The same “creature” that “was made subject to vanity” is the exact same “creature” that “shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” This is why Paul refers to “the whole creation,” of which we are but “the first-fruits of the Spirit.”

This is the “subjection” of divine hope upon “the whole creation.”

The same “all men” who were condemned in Adam are the exact same “all men” who will be justified in Christ.

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life (Romans 5:18).

The same “many” who were made sinners in Adam are the exact same “many” who will be made righteous in Christ.

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous (Romans 5:19).

The same “all” who die in Adam are the exact same “all” who will be made alive in Christ.

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (I Corinthians 15:22).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2008, 2010

Religious Resistance to the God of Love

January 23, 2010

The history of organized religion, at least in the Western tradition, is a record of our human resistance to the proclamation that God is love, that His love extends to everyone, and that it is in no way conditioned upon human obedience or human faithfulness.

Thomas Talbott
The Inescapable Love of God

Was the “Sight” Experience of Thomas and Paul Fair?

January 23, 2010

Just reflecting on these two examples of Thomas and Paul, how can God directly intervene in the faith of some individuals by giving them sight experience for their faith while denying this to the multitudes? Is this fair and just, coming from a God Who is no respecter of men? Or are we missing a key ingredient in our understanding of God, His love and His will?

Christendom misunderstands divine judgment. It is seen as an end, instead of a means to an end. God is surely a God of judgment. This cannot be denied; but that is not the essence of WHO He is.

God is love (I John 4:8, 16).

Love never fails (I Corinthians 13:8).

Love is not just one of His attributes: it is Him, and it never fails. More succinctly, God never fails! Therefore, God’s judgment is always subject to His love. He punishes mankind, just as a father does his children, because He loves them. Yet His punishment will be effective in bringing His creation – all of them – to Himself. Divine judgment is never an end in itself, but a means to an end – and a glorious end at that!

The majority of mankind today is lost and blind; but those of us who have first trusted Christ (the First-trusters – Ephesians 1:12) are a part of the Firstfruits of Christ (Romans 8:23). We are but the beginning. God will reap the rest of His creation, and be “All in all.”

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2007, 2010

Faith and the Unbeliever

January 23, 2010

Christendom has made death the end of God’s grace and mercy.

Yet God will bring His entire creation to the place of faith, in His Own good time and way. All eventually will be brought to belief by their Creator, although not all in this lifetime. Not all will be saved by pure “faith” – it will take “sight” for some to believe. Two great examples of this readily came to mind. “Doubting Thomas” was one.

Thomas

The other disciples therefore said unto him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said unto them, ‘Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe’ (John 20:25).

To which Jesus Christ responded:

Then said He to Thomas, ‘Reach here your finger, and behold My hands; and reach here your hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said unto Him, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Jesus said unto him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed: blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed’ (John 20:27-29).

Paul

The other great example that comes readily to mind is our own Apostle, Paul.

Paul (Saul) met the resurrected Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, and there called Him “Lord” (Acts 9:6). This was all the grand work of God in reaching Paul.

Paul did not believe by simple faith. Rather, it took the dramatic “Damascus Road experience” to bring him to Christ.

During the Dispensation of Grace

Jesus said that Thomas believed by sight. “Because you have seen Me, you have believed.” Then He goes on to say, “blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Those of us today who believe by simple faith are the Firstfruit of God’s full harvest. We will enjoy the First Resurrection; but this does not exclude the rest of creation, who are awaiting our manifestation:

For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).

… ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:23).

After the Dispensation of Grace

Both Thomas and Paul met the resurrected Christ! One day, those who have not trusted Christ during this life will be resurrected and brought into the presence of the Son of God, and will with Thomas and Paul call Him “Lord.”

Oh, the extent to which God will go to reach man! God is much less limited than Christendom in His evangelism! In due course He can and will pull out all the stops.

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2007, 2010

Paul on “Hell”

January 21, 2010

Since Paul is God’s spokesman for us today, we should always consult his teaching when considering any subject. “Hell” is no exception.

We may be in for a great surprise. Have we ever stopped to consider that Paul, our Apostle, never once even used the word “hell”? He didn’t use the word “hell” in any recorded messages from the Book of Acts. He didn’t use the word “hell” in any of his epistles. Not once! Get your concordance and, like the Bereans, check to see if this is so.

How could this possibly be? How could Paul have conducted his entire teaching ministry – one that brought glory to God – and yet never even once used the word “hell”? Isn’t the traditional, orthodox doctrine of “hell” at the very foundation of our religious creeds?

How could Paul have been so negligent in his solemn teaching responsibilities? How could he have gone through his entire ministry forgetting to use such a crucial word? What was up with that?

Or, was it possible that Paul understood something Christendom doesn’t? Consider Paul’s declaration found in the Book of Acts:

Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God (Acts 20:26-27).

The plain and simple fact is that Paul was not negligent in his teaching ministry. This passage makes that abundantly clear. Paul clearly states that he was “pure from the blood of all men,” because he had declared “all the counsel of God” – a counsel which obviously did not include “hell” at all. Period!

Wasn’t Paul presented as a pattern (I Timothy 1:15-16)? Didn’t Paul tell us to follow him (I Corinthians 4:15-17; 11:1; Philippians 3:17)?

Didn’t Paul tell us to,

Hold fast the form of sound words, which you have heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus (II Timothy 1:13)?

Did we hear “hell” from Paul? Was it a Pauline form of “sound words”? Have many been duped into accepting a religious tradition contrary to the sound scriptural teachings of our Apostle?

Wouldn’t we be Pauline if, like Paul, we also excluded “hell” from our teaching? Or, more pointedly, could we possibly be truly Pauline in our teaching if we continued the use of a theological system that includes the traditional “hell”?

Why not just follow our Apostle in teaching a pure grace gospel that has no place for, nor need of a religious “hell”?

Christendom is steeped in the traditions of men, and not in the traditions of Paul.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle (II Thessalonians 2:15).

We are to hold Paul’s traditions, “whether by word, or our epistle.” Holding to Paul’s very words and epistles will remove “hell” from your teaching.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2007, 2010

The Savior of the World

January 19, 2010

Whose Savior is Christ anyway? Believers only? Or, the entire world? Clearly, He is “the Savior of the world(John 4:42) – not the “potential Savior of the world,” but was indeed, and in all actuality, “the Savior of the world” (John 4:42). He could not be the Savior of the world if He did not actually – in fact – save the world.

Jesus Christ is in full truth “the Savior of all men” (I Timothy 4:10). Paul did not say that He was “potentially the Savior of all men, but that He is the “Savior of all men.” He is, in fact, their Savior. If words mean anything, He could not be their Savior if He did not save them. Yet Paul taught clearly that He is the “Savior of all men” because He will save all men.

After all, Christ did not die for believers.

Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

The Lord Jesus Christ did not die for believers. He died for the ungodly, for sinners. His was an every-man redemptive work! Don’t confuse God’s current visible work with His finished product. It will only be in the “ages to come” that God will manifest to all creation His full plan and include them in it.

What a joy to see that God will not lose the majority of all His creation to sin, as Christendom teaches. What a joy to see that God will not lose any of all His creation to sin. He will indeed redeem them all. He will have the final victory over sin!

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2007, 2010

Another Exact Same “All”

January 18, 2010

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (I Corinthians 15:22).

This is one of the next verses that captured my heart and attention. I saw that the “all” who die in Adam are the EXACT SAME “all” who will be made alive in Jesus Christ. I realized the passage did not say what I thought it meant, that “all who are ‘in Christ’ shall be made alive.” I saw that it said, “even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” I found my heart rejoicing! Paul was teaching that God will have the ultimate victory in winning His whole creation back to Himself.

I slowly began to realize that what Paul was teaching was that the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ was for every man – not potentially, but effectually.

I was seeing the great truth that Jesus Christ “takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He did not make the arrangements that the sin of the world could be taken away. Instead, He does it. If it is taken away, it is no longer an issue. Paul echoes this truth:

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the Word of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:19).

I came to realize that the satisfaction of sin’s debt was secured by Jesus Christ for “the whole world.”

And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (I John 2:2).

It became clear to me that “the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and not hell as I had been taught; that death was a penalty that Christ paid for all. That was Paul’s gospel, “that Christ died for our sins” (I Corinthians 15:6), so that “He by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9). I had to reflect, did the Lord Jesus Christ actually die for every man? Did He actually pay the penalty for every man?

If what the Scriptures taught was true (and surely it is!), how could man be held responsible for a debt that had already been fully paid? Would there not be a duplication of indebtedness if sinners were required to make a payment for sin that the Lord Jesus Christ had already made? Would there not be double jeopardy, if the sinner were held responsible? If anyone would have to pay for their own sin, then it could not be possible that our Lord actually took “away the sin of the world.”

It was simple, He either did die for all, or He did not die for all. He either took away the world’s sin, or he didn’t.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2007, 2010


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