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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A. W. Pink – The Rest of Christ

“Come unto Me all you that labor and are heavy laden—and I will give you rest!” Matthew 11:28

In his most excellent sermons on these words and the verses which follow, John Newton pointed out that the dispensation of the Gospel may be compared to the cities of refuge in Israel. It was a privilege and honor to the nation in general that they had such sanctuaries of Divine appointment—but the real value of them was known and felt by only a few. Those alone who found themselves in that case for which they were provided — could rightly prize them.

Thus it is with the Gospel of Christ: it is the highest privilege and honor of which a professing nation can boast—but it can be truly understood and esteemed by none except weary and heavy laden souls, who have felt their misery by nature, are tired of the drudgery of sin, and have seen the broken Law pursuing them like the avenger of blood of old. This is the only consideration which keeps them from sinking into abject despair, in that God has graciously provided a remedy by the Gospel and that Christ bids them “Come unto Me—and I will give you rest.”

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A. W. Pink – A Contrite and Humble Spirit (Isaiah 57:15)

“For this is what the high and lofty One says—He who lives forever, whose name is holy: I live in a high and holy place—but also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit.” – Isaiah 57:15

A humble spirit or heart, is an infallible sign of regeneration; for the unregenerate are proud, self-satisfied, self-righteous.

Yet the very mention of the word “humility” seems to cut off many Christians. As they examine themselves, they discover so much pride at work within, that they are quite unable to persuade themselves that they have a humble heart. It seems to them—that humility is one thing they most evidently lack. Now it will no doubt be a startling statement—but we unhesitatingly affirm that the great majority of God’s people are far more humble than they suppose!

FIRST, that the Christian reader possesses a humble heart, is plain from the fact that he confesses himself to be a Hell-deserving sinner. We do not have in mind what you say of yourself when in the company of your fellows — but rather what you feel and say of yourself when alone with God. Whatever pretenses you are guilty of before men—when in the presence of the Omniscient One—you are real, sincere, and genuine.

Now, dear reader, be honest with yourself: When on your knees before the Throne of Grace, do you freely and frankly acknowledge that if you received your lawful due, you would—even now—be suffering the dreadful fires of Hell? If so, a miracle of grace must have been wrought within you. No unregenerate person will or can honestly make such a confession to God—for he does not feel he has done anything deserving of eternal punishment.

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A. W. Pink – The Nature of God’s Love

Three things are told us in Scripture concerning the nature of God. First, “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). In the Greek, there is no indefinite article. To say God is “a” spirit is most objectionable, for it places Him in a class with others. God is spirit in the highest sense. Because He is spirit, He is incorporeal, [that is,] having no visible substance. Had God a tangible body, He would not be omnipresent, He would be limited to one place; because He is spirit, He fills heaven and earth.

Second, “God is light” (1 John 1:5), the opposite of darkness. In Scripture, “darkness” stands for sin, evil, death, and “light” for holiness, goodness, life. “God is light” means that He is the sum of all excellency. Third, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). It is not simply that God loves, but that He is love itself. Love is not merely one of His attributes, but His very nature.

There are many who talk about the love of God, who are total strangers to the God of love. The divine love is commonly regarded as a species of amiable weakness, a sort of good-natured indulgence. It is reduced to a mere sickly sentiment, patterned after human emotion. The truth is that on this, as on everything else, our thoughts need to be formed and regulated by what is revealed in Scripture. That there is urgent need for this is apparent not only from the ignorance that so generally prevails, but also from the low state of spirituality that is now so sadly evident everywhere among professing Christians. How little real love there is for God! One chief reason for this is because our hearts are so little occupied with His wondrous love for His people. The better we are acquainted with His love — its character, fullness, blessedness—the more our hearts will be drawn out in love to Him.

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A. W. Pink – Lost: The Real Condition of Human Beings

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“But if our gospel is hid — it is hid to those who are LOST! The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers!” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

What multitudes of people there are who have no concern over, in fact, no consciousness of, their woeful condition! While they do not regard themselves as perfect, yet they are not aware that there is anything seriously wrong with them. They are respectable people, law-abiding citizens, and nothing particular ever troubles their conscience. They consider that they are certainly no worse than their religious neighbors, and though they scarcely ever read the Bible or enter a church, they fully expect to go to Heaven when they die.

Some of them will indeed admit that they are sinners, but imagine that their good works far outnumber their bad ones. Some of them were sprinkled as infants, attended a Sunday school class as children, said their prayers each night, and later joined the church. Nevertheless, to this moment, they have never realized that they are the enemies of God, an abomination in the eyes of His holiness, and that Hell is their just deserts! They see no beauty or glory in the Gospel, no suitableness in it unto their case, and therefore do they despise and reject it.

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A. W. Pink – The Doctrine of Mortification

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For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.—Romans 8:13

The doctrine, which is according to godliness (1 Tim 6:3), at once defines the nature of divine doctrine, intimating as it does that its design or end is to inculcate a right temper of mind and deportment of life godwards. It is pure and purifying. The objects that are revealed to faith are not bare abstractions,1 which are to be accepted as true, nor even sublime and lofty concepts to be admired: they are to have a powerful effect upon our daily walk. There is no doctrine revealed in Scripture for a merely speculative knowledge, but all is to exert a powerful influence upon conduct. God’s design in all that He has revealed to us is to the purifying of our affections and the transforming of our characters. The doctrine of grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11-12). By far the greater part of the doctrine (John 7:16) taught by Christ consisted not of the explication of mysteries, but rather that which corrected men’s lusts and reformed their lives. Everything in Scripture has in view the promotion of holiness.

If it be an absurdity to affirm that it matters not what a man believes so long as he does that which is right, equally erroneous is it to conclude that if my creed be sound it matters little how I act. “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim 5:8), for he shows himself to be devoid of natural affection. Thus, it is possible to deny the faith by conduct as well as by words. A neglect of performing our duty is as real a repudiation of the truth as is an open renunciation of it; for the gospel, equally with the Law, requires children to honor their parents. Observe how that awful list of reprehensible characters mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:9-10 are said to be “contrary to sound doctrine” — opposed to its salutary2 nature and spiritual tendency, i.e., that conduct which the standard of God enjoins. Observe too how that the spirit of covetousness or love of money is designated an erring “from the faith” (1 Tim 6:10): it is a species of heresy, a departure from the doctrine that is according to godliness — an awful example of which we have in the case of Judas. Mortification, then, is clearly one of the practical doctrines of Holy Writ, as we hope to show abundantly in what follows.

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A. W. Pink – God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

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“Each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12

In our last chapter we considered at some length, the much debated and difficult question of the human will. We have shown that the will of the natural man is neither sovereign nor free—but, instead, a servant and slave. We have argued that a right conception of the sinner’s will—its servitude—is essential to a just estimate of his depravity and ruin. The utter corruption and degradation of human nature is something which man hates to acknowledge, and which he will hotly and insistently deny—until he is “taught of God.” Much, very much, of the unsound doctrine which we now hear on every hand—is the direct and logical outcome of man’s repudiation of God’s expressed estimate of human depravity! Men are claiming that they are “increased with goods, and have need of nothing,” and know not that they are “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked!” (Revelation 3:17). They prate about the ‘Ascent of Man,’ and deny his Fall. They put darkness for light; and light for darkness. They boast of the ‘free moral agency’ of man when, in fact, he is in bondage to sin and enslaved by Satan, “taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:26).

But if the natural man is not a ‘free moral agent,’ does it also follow that he is not accountable?

‘Free moral agency’ is an expression of human invention and, as we have said before, to talk of the freedom of the natural man—is to flatly repudiate his total spiritual ruin. Nowhere does Scripture speak of the freedom or moral ability of the sinner; on the contrary, it insists on his moral and spiritual inability.

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A. W. Pink – The Fruits of Repentance

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To help the exercised391 reader identify true repentance, consider the fruits that demonstrate godly repentance.

1. A real hatred of sin as sin, not merely its consequences. A hatred not only of this or that sin, but of all sin, and particularly of the root itself: self-will. “Thus saith the Lord God, Repent, and turn from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations” (Ezek. 14:6). He, who hates not sin, loves it. God’s demand is, “Ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed” (Ezek. 20:43). One who has really repented can truthfully say, “I hate every false way” (Ps. 119:104). He, who once thought a course of holy living was a gloomy thing, has another judgment now. He, who once regarded a course of self-pleasing as attractive, now detests it and has purposed to forsake all sin forever. This is the change of mind that God requires.

2. A deep sorrow for sin. The non-saving repentance of so many is principally a distress occasioned by forebodings of divine wrath; but evangelical repentance produces a deep grief from a sense of having offended so infinitely excellent and glorious a Being as God. The one is the effect of fear, the other of love. The one is only for a brief season; the other is the habitual practice for life. Many a man is filled with regret and remorse over a misspent life, yet has no poignant sorrow of heart for his ingratitude and rebellion against God. But a regenerated soul is cut to the quick for having disregarded and opposed his great Benefactor and rightful Sovereign. This is the change of heart that God requires: “Ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner…for godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:9-10). Such a sorrow is produced in the heart by the Holy Spirit and has God for its object. It is a grief for having despised such a God, rebelled against His authority, and been indifferent to His glory. It is this that causes us to “weep bitterly” (Mat 26:75). He who has not grieved over sin takes pleasure therein. God requires us to “afflict” our souls (Lev. 16:29). His call is, “Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful” (Joel 2:12-13). Only that sorrow for sin is genuine that causes us to crucify “the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Gal. 5:24).

3. A confessing of sin. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper” (Prov. 28:13). It is “second nature” to the sinner to deny his sins, directly or indirectly, to minimize or make excuses for them. It was thus with Adam and Eve at the beginning. But when the Holy Spirit works in any soul, his sins are brought to light; and he, in turn, acknowledges them to God. There is no relief for the stricken heart until he does so: “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long, for day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer” (Ps. 32:3-4). The frank and brokenhearted owning of our sins is imperative if peace of conscience is to be maintained. This is the change of attitude that God requires.

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