A. W. Pink – The Importance of Sanctification

What is “sanctification”? Is it a quality or position? Is sanctification a legal thing or an experimental? That is to say, “Is it something the believer has in Christ or in himself? Is it absolute or relative?” By which we mean, “Does it admit of degree or no? Is it unchanging or progressive?” Are we sanctified at the time we are justified, or is sanctification a later blessing? How is this blessing obtained? By something that is done for us, or by us, or both? How may one be assured he has been sanctified: what are the characteristics, the evidences, the fruits?…Are sanctification and purification the same thing? Does sanctification relate to the soul, the body, or both? What position does sanctification occupy in the order of Divine blessings? What is the connection between regeneration and sanctification? What is the relation between justification and sanctification?…Exactly what is the place of sanctification regarding salvation: does it precede or follow, or is it an integral part of it? Why is there so much diversity of opinion upon these points, scarcely any two writers treating of this subject in the same manner? Our purpose here is not simply to multiply questions but to indicate the many-sidedness of our present theme.

The great importance of our present theme is evidenced by the prominence that is given to it in Scripture: the words holy, sanctified, etc., occurring therein hundreds of times. Its importance also appears from the high value ascribed to it: it is the supreme glory of God, of the unfallen angels, of the Church. In Exodus 15:11, we read that the Lord God is “glorious in holiness” —that is His crowning excellency. In Matthew 25:31, mention is made of the “holy angels,” for no higher honor can be ascribed them. In Ephesians 5:26-27, we learn that the Church’s glory lieth not in pomp and outward adornment, but in holiness. Its importance further appears in that this is the aim in all God’s dispensations.2 He elected His people that they should be “holy” (Eph. 1:4); Christ died that He might “sanctify” His people (Heb 13:12); chastisements3 are sent that we might be “partakers of God’s holiness” (Heb 12:10).

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A. W. Pink – What is Sin?

What is sin? Ah, what man is capable of supplying an adequate answer: “Who can understand his errors?” (Ps 19:12). A volume might be written thereon and still much be left unsaid. Only the One against Whom it is committed can fully understand its nature or measure its enormity. And yet, from the light that God has furnished us, a partial answer at least can be gathered. For example, we read in 1 John 3:4, “Sin is the transgression of the law”; and that such transgression is not confined to the outward act is clear from “the thought of foolishness is sin” (Pro 24:9). But what is meant by “sin is the transgression of the law”? It means that sin is a trampling upon God’s holy commandment. It is an act of defiance against the Lawgiver. [Because] the Law [is] “holy, and just, and good” (Rom. 7:12), it follows that any breach of it is an evil and enormity1 that God alone is capable of estimating.

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A. W. Pink – Sanctification: Its Progress and Practice

Normal Christian experience is a progress in practical holiness. Where there is life there is growth, and even when growth ceases there is a development and maturing of what is grown, unto increasing fruitfulness or usefulness. We say “normal,” for even in the natural (which ever adumbrates the spiritual) there is such a thing as stunted growth and arrested development-alas that we so often see examples of this among the Lord’s people. Yet those very failures only emphasize the fact–testified to by every Christian conscience–that we ought to go on “from strength to strength” (Psa. 84:7), that we should be “changed into” the image of the Lord “from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18), that is, from one degree of it to another. That such progress is our duty is clear from many passages: “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more” (1 Thess. 4:1).

It seems strange that there are those who not only repudiate in toto any such thing as “progressive sanctification,” but who are bitterly opposed to those who contend for the same, even though our contention be scripturally and soberly conducted; stranger still that those very men belong to the same denomination as John Gill. They know quite well that those whom they condemn do not advocate any refining of the old nature or spiritualizing of the old man, nor have the slightest leanings to the evil dogma of fleshly perfection. Nevertheless, they continue to misrepresent and denounce them. It is quite true that the believer possesses a sanctification which is absolute and perfect, admitting of no degrees or improvements. Yet that does not alter the fact that there is another sense in which the believer’s sanctification is a relative and imperfect one, and that the pursuit of holiness is to be his chief quest. Why confuse two totally different aspects of the subject, and refuse to recognize they both exist?!

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A. W. Pink – The Scriptures and Christ

The Scriptures and Christ

Scripture Reveals the Mystery of Christ

The order we follow in this series is that of experience. It is not until man is made thoroughly displeased with himself that he begins to aspire after God. The fallen creature, deluded by Satan, is self-satisfied till his sin-blinded eyes are opened to get a sight of himself. The Holy Spirit first works in us a sense of our ignorance, vanity, property, and depravity, before He brings us to perceive and acknowledge that in God alone are to be found true wisdom, real blessedness, perfect goodness, and unspotted righteousness. We must be made conscious of our imperfections ere we can really appreciate the divine perfections. As the perfections of God are contemplated, man becomes still more aware of the infinite distance that separates him from the Most High. As he learns something of God’s pressing claims upon him, and his own utter inability to meet them, he is prepared to hear and welcome the good news that Another has fully met those claims for all who are led to believe in Him.

“Search the scriptures,” said the Lord Jesus, and then He added, “for they are they which testify of me” (Joh 5:39). They testify of Him as the only Saviour for perishing sinners, as the only Mediator between God and men, as the only One through whom the Father can be approached. They testify to the wondrous perfections of His person, the varied glories of His offices, the sufficiency of His finished work. Apart from the Scriptures, He cannot be known. In them alone He is revealed. When the Holy Spirit takes of the things of Christ and shows them unto His people, in thus making known to the soul He uses naught but what is written. While it is true that Christ is the key to the Scriptures, it is equally true that only in the Scriptures do we have an opening up of the “mystery of Christ” (Eph 3:4).

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A. W. Pink – The Scriptures and Obedience

THE SCRIPTURES AND OBEDIENCE

Honouring Christ in the World

All professing Christians are agreed, in theory at least, that it is the bounden duty of those who bear His name to honour and glorify Christ in this world. But as to how this is to be done, as to what He requires from us to this end, there is wide difference of opinion. Many suppose that honouring Christ simply means to join some “church,” to take part in and support its various activities. Others think that honouring Christ means to speak of Him to others and be diligently engaged in “personal work.” Others seem to imagine that honouring Christ signifies little more than making liberal financial contributions to His cause. Few indeed realize that Christ is honoured only as we live holily unto Him, and that by walking in subjection to His revealed will. Few indeed really believe that word, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam 15:22).

We are not Christians at all unless we have fully surrendered to and “received Christ Jesus the Lord” (Col 2:6). Oh, dear reader, we would plead with you to ponder that statement diligently. Satan is deceiving so many today by leading them to suppose that they are savingly trusting in “the finished work” of Christ while their hearts remain unchanged and self still rules their lives. Listen to God’s Word: “Salvation is far from the wicked; for they seek not thy statutes” (Ps 119:115). Do you really seek His “statutes?” Do you diligently search His Word to discover what He has commanded? “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4). What could be plainer than that?

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A. W. Pink – The Scriptures and God

The Scriptures and God

Knowing the God of Scripture

The Holy Scriptures are wholly supernatural. They are a divine revelation. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim 3:16). It is not merely that God elevated men’s minds, but that He directed their thoughts. It is not simply that He communicated concepts to them, but that He dictated the very words they used. “The prophecy came not in old times by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet 1:21). Any human “theory” which denies their verbal inspiration is a device of Satan’s, an attack upon God’s truth. The divine image is stamped upon every page. Writings so holy, so heavenly, so awe-producing, could not have been created by man.

The Scriptures make known a supernatural God. That may be a very trite remark, yet today it needs making. The “god” which is believed in by many professing Christians is becoming more and more paganized. The prominent place which “sport” now has in the nation’s life, the excessive love of pleasure, the abolition of home-life, the brazen immodesty of women, are so many symptoms of the same disease which brought about the downfall and death of the empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. And the twentieth-century idea of God which is entertained by the majority of people in lands nominally “Christian” is rapidly approximating to the character ascribed to the gods of the ancients. In sharp contrast therewith, the God of Holy Writ is clothed with such perfections and vested with such attributes that no mere human intellect could possibly have invented them.

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A. W. Pink – Faith as a Shield

“Above all, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one!” Ephesians 6:16

A shield is a weapon of defense, held in front of the person to prevent the missiles of the foe injuring the body. A “shield” then is a means of protection. In Scripture, it is used as a metaphor of that which affords security against the assaults of the Devil.

Varied indeed are the shifts and shields which professing Christians employ. Some trust in the sufficiency of carnal reasoning to repel the attacks which Satan makes on their souls. Some shelter behind human traditions—and poor protection they give! Some seek refuge beneath the shield of fatalism—but get sorely wounded. It is indeed blessedly true—that whatever comes to pass was eternally foreordained by God; yet, that truth was not revealed in Scripture as a rule for us to walk by.

Others attempt to hide behind an avowed inability to do anything to help themselves, though they act very differently when menaced by physical perils! Others take presumption for their shield: Heedless of warnings and reckless of dangers, they imagine themselves to be strong and armored against the attacks of Satan. Peter fell through self-confidence!

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A. W. Pink – The Scriptures and Good Works

THE SCRIPTURES AND GOOD WORKS

Dangers in the Perversion of Truth

The Truth of God may well be likened to a narrow path skirted on either side by a dangerous and destructive precipice: in other words, it lies between two gulfs of error. The aptness of this figure may be seen in our proneness to sway from one extreme to another. Only the Holy Spirit’s enabling can cause us to preserve the balance, failure to do which inevitably leads to a fall into error, for “error” is not so much the denial of Truth as the perversion of Truth, the pitting of one part of it against another. The history of theology forcibly and solemnly illustrates this fact. One generation of men have rightly and earnestly contended for that aspect of Truth which was most needed in their day. The next generation, instead of walking therein and moving forward, warred for it, intellectually, as the distinguishing mark of their party,1 and usually, in their defense of what was assaulted, have refused to listen to the balancing Truth which often their opponents were insisting upon; the result being that they lost their sense of perspective and emphasized what they believed out of its scriptural proportions. Consequently, in the next generation, the true servant of God is called on almost to ignore what was so valuable in their eyes, and emphasize that which they had, if not altogether denied, almost completely lost sight of.

It has been said: “Rays of light, whether they proceed from the sun, star, or candle, move in perfect straight lines; yet so inferior are our works to God’s that the steadiest hand cannot draw a perfectly straight line; nor, with all his skill, has man ever been able to invent an instrument capable of doing a thing apparently so simple” (T. Guthrie, 1867). Be this so or not, certain it is that men, left to themselves, have ever found it impossible to keep the even line of Truth between what appear to be conflicting doctrines: such as the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man; election by grace and the universal proclamation of the Gospel; the justifying faith of Paul and the justifying works of James. Only too often, where the absolute sovereignty of God has been insisted upon, it has been to the ignoring of man’s accountability; and where unconditional election has been held fast, the unfettered preaching of the Gospel to the unsaved has been let slip. So, on the other hand, where human accountability has been upheld and an evangelical ministry been sustained, the sovereignty of God and the truth of election have generally been whittled down or completely ignored.

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A. W. Pink – The Scriptures and Sin

Motives for Studying the Word

There is grave reason to believe that much Bible reading and Bible study of the last few years has been of no spiritual profit to those who engaged in it. Yea, we go further; we greatly fear that in many instances it has proved a curse rather than a blessing. This is strong language, we are well aware, yet no stronger than the case calls for.

Divine gifts may be misused, and Divine mercies abused. That this has been so in the present instance is evident by the fruits produced. Even the natural man may (and often does) take up the study of the Scriptures with the same enthusiasm and pleasure as he might of the sciences. Where this is the case, his store of knowledge is increased, and so also is his pride. Like a chemist engaged in making interesting experiments, the intellectual searcher of the Word is quite elated when he makes some discovery in it; but the joy of the latter is no more spiritual than would be that of the former. So, too, just as the successes of the chemist generally increase his sense of self-importance and cause him to look with disdain upon others more ignorant than himself, such, alas, is often the case with those who have investigated the subjects of Bible numerics, typology, prophecy, etc.

The Word of God may be taken up from various motives. Some read it to satisfy their literary pride. In certain circles it has become both the respectable and popular thing to obtain a general acquaintance with the contents of the Bible, simply because it is regarded as an educational defect to be ignorant thereof. Some read it to satisfy their sense of curiosity, as they might any other book of note.

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A. W. Pink – The Impregnable Rock

Christianity is the religion of a Book. Christianity is based upon the impregnable1 rock of Holy Scripture. The starting point of all doctrinal discussion must be the Bible. Upon the foundation of the divine inspiration of the Bible stands or falls the entire edifice of Christian truth: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psa 11:3). Surrender the dogma of verbal inspiration and you are left like a rudderless ship on a stormy sea — at the mercy of every wind that blows. Deny that the Bible is, without any qualifications, the very Word of God, and you are left without any ultimate standard of measurement and without any supreme authority. It is useless to discuss any doctrine taught by the Bible until you are prepared to acknowledge, unreservedly, that the Bible is the final court of appeal. Grant that the Bible is a divine revelation and communication of God’s own mind and will to men, and you have a fixed starting point from which advance can be made into the domain of truth. Grant that the Bible is (in its original manuscripts) inerrant6 and infallible,7 and you reach the place where study of its contents is both practical and profitable.

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of the doctrine of the divine inspiration of Scripture. This is the strategic center of Christian theology and must be defended at all costs. It is the point at which our satanic enemy is constantly hurling his hellish battalions. Here it was he made his first attack. In Eden, he asked, “Yea, hath God said?” (Gen 3:1), and today he is pursuing the same tactics. Throughout the ages, the Bible has been the central object of his assaults. Every available weapon in the devil’s arsenal has been employed in his determined and ceaseless efforts to destroy the temple of God’s truth. In the first days of the Christian era, the attack of the enemy was made openly — the bonfire being the chief instrument of destruction — but, in these “last days” the assault is made in a more subtle manner and comes from a more unexpected quarter. The divine origin of the Scriptures is now disputed in the name of “Scholarship” and “Science,” and that, too, by those who profess to be friends and champions of the Bible. Much of the learning and theological activity of the hour are concentrated in the attempt to discredit and destroy the authenticity and authority of God’s Word, the result being that thousands of nominal8 Christians are plunged into a sea of doubt. Many of those who are paid to stand in our pulpits and defend the truth of God are now the very ones who are engaged in sowing the seeds of unbelief and destroying the faith of those to whom they minister. But these modern methods will prove no more successful in their efforts to destroy the Bible than did those employed in the opening centuries of the Christian era. As well might the birds attempt to demolish the granite rock of Gibraltar by pecking at it with their beaks — “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89).

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