GO FORWARD! A MESSAGE FOR THE NEW YEAR 2023

GO FORWARD! A MESSAGE FOR THE NEW YEAR 2023

by A.W. Pink [January, 1947]

Though the writer has passed the sixtieth milestone of life and completed a quarter of a century’s hard but happy work on this magazine—yet he feels that “GO FORWARD!” [Exodus 14:15] is the Lord’s pressing word unto him at this time. If he should have acquired any laurels, he certainly does not wish to rest upon them; nor does he—while health and strength are granted—intend to moderate his own studies or relax in his efforts.

It has long been his desire to WEAR out—rather than RUST out; or, to express it in Scripture language, to “very gladly spend and be spent” [2 Corinthians 12:15] in endeavoring to serve the Lord and minister to His beloved people. Nor could he warrantably look for any measure of realizing that desire, if he slackened; rather should he seek to “Go forward” with increased earnestness and diligence, “redeeming the time, because the days are evil” [Ephesians 5:16]. The more evil the days—the grander the opportunity for proving the sufficiency of God’s grace, and the greater the privilege in serving His children.

GO FORWARD!” Is not this a TIMELY WORD for each of us as we enter a new year? Is not this a suitable motto for us to keep in mind as we journey through [if God permits] 1947? We need to clearly realize there is no such thing as remaining STATIONARY in the spiritual life: if we do not progress—we inevitably retrograde. How that solemn fact should search our hearts! Christian friend, your history this year will be either one of going forward—or backsliding. This New Year will mark either an increased fruitfulness in your soul and life—to the glory of Him whose name you bear; or increased leanness and barrenness—to His reproach! It will witness either a growing in grace—or a decline in your spirituality. It will record either an increased love for the Word, use of the Throne of Grace, strictness of walk and closer communion with Christ—or a growing coldness and a following of Him afar off.

O Christian reader, before reading any further, will you not now close your eyes and lift up your heart in earnest prayer for yourself and for all your brethren and sisters in Christ?

GO FORWARD!” The HISTORIC OCCASION on which those words were uttered is noteworthy, and a brief consideration of the same the better enables us to make application of them unto ourselves. The situation confronting Israel was a hopeless one, so far as they were concerned; and had not the Lord intervened, they had undoubtedly perished. After their exodus from Egypt, Pharaoh at the head of a great military force pursued and overtook them. With impassable obstacles on either side, the Red Sea in front, and the enemy in the rear—that company of ex-slaves with their wives and children were in a truly desperate plight, and death was all they expected [Exodus 14:10, 12]. Then it was that Moses said, “Do not be afraid. Stand still—and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today—you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” [Exodus 14:13-14].

Those words, “stand still—and you will see the deliverance of the Lord,” have been grossly carnalized and grievously wrested by those who foster a FATALISTIC INERTIA. “Stand still” obviously has the force here of “be not dismayed, do not panic, keep calm,” as the “you need only to be still” shows. Then followed, “and you will see the deliverance of the Lord,” which signified, Lift up your hearts and eyes in the exercise of faith. But faith must have a foundation to rest upon, even the Word of Him who cannot lie; and hence, the sure promise was given, “which the LORD will bring you today…The Lord shall fight for you.” Previously, they had “lifted up their eyes” and beheld Egyptians [Exodus 14:10]; and in consequence, were sore afraid. But there was something else and some One else for faith to “see”—namely, the promised salvation or deliverance of Jehovah, which was not yet visible to outward sight! If their faith were steadfastly occupied with that, their trembling hearts would be stilled, and strength obtained for the performance of duty or the discharge of their responsibility.

Then came the Divine order to Moses, “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they GO FORWARD” [Exodus 14:15]. That was a challenge to faith. To carnal reason, compliance appeared suicidal. To “Go forward” meant walking into the Red Sea—which, at that time, presented an unbroken mass of water. Ah—but they had been promised Divine deliverance. Yes—but God required them to lay hold of that promise and act on it. And they did: “By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land” [Hebrews 11:29]. If “by faith,” then certainly not “by sight”—the two things being opposed the one to the other [2 Corinthians 5:7]. Not until they stepped out with confidence in God’s Word—did He appear for them and begin to open the waters; and as they continued onward—He continued to open a way for them. It is in response to the actings of faith, that God works, for He never sets a premium on unbelief. Here—then, is the first signification of this word for us: “Go forward” with your heart resting on the sure promises of God—and with the eyes of faith steadfastly fixed upon Him.

“Go forward!” Second, this was a call to obedience—namely, the obedience of “faith” [Romans 1:5].

There was a COMMAND annexed to the promise—to prove them and show whether or not they had received the promise sincerely. There are certain grand benefits which God gives to His people without imposing any condition—such as the providing of a Redeemer who took our nature, fulfilled the Law, satisfied God’s provoked justice on our behalf, and merited grace sufficient for our salvation. But having laid this glorious foundation, God treats with us as MORAL AGENTS, propounds to us a covenant which requires our cordial consent or agreement. Repentance and faith are required of us—in order to the forgiveness of our sins. All through the Christian life, our concurrence is necessary. God requires from us FAITH in each of His promises—and OBEDIENCE to the commands annexed to them. Obedience is the path He has appointed, and in which His blessing is to be found. We must follow the course He has prescribed, if we would have Him show Himself strong on our behalf. If we honor His precepts, He will honor us. “Go forward,” then, in complete subjection to His revealed will, and walking according to His Word.

“Go forward!” Third, this was a command to advance. It was so to Israel; it is so unto us. Onward Christian soldiers! Steadfastly persevere along the path of duty, walking in that narrow way which the Divine precepts have marked out for us. No matter what is your condition and circumstances, what obstacles may confront you, what RED SEA OF DIFFICULTY OR DANGER is before you, “Go forward” is your marching orders.

Raise no objections. “The slothful man says: There is a lion outside, I shall be slain in the streets!” [Proverbs 22:13], let no such idle excuse issue from your lips. Rather say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” [Philippians 4:13]. When your heart fails, when your soul is well-near overwhelmed by the problem or task facing you, do not panic, but lift up the EYES OF FAITH unto the Lord, realize He it is who bids you advance. Go forward depending on His promise—and you will not be confounded.

Christ’s oft-repeated “follow me” is but another form of “Go forward.” So too is every exhortation for us to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord” [2 Peter 3:18]. We are ever in need of such a word of exhortation, for we are prone to relax and take things easy—the more so as old age creeps upon us. Rest not satisfied with your present knowledge and apprehension of the Truth—but seek for a deeper and fuller one. Be not content with your present spiritual attainments, for “there remains yet very much land to be possessed!” [Joshua 13:1].

The manna you gathered yesterday—will not suffice for today. “Be not weary in well doing” [2 Thessalonians 3:13]. “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back—is fit for the kingdom of God” [Luke 9:62]. Let the prayerful resolve of each of us be: “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!” [Philippians 3:13-14]. Beg God to write this word in your heart!

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THE ‘NATURAL MAN’ OR THE ‘SPIRITUALLY DEAD MAN’ CANNOT COMPREHEND THE GOSPEL

THE ‘NATURAL MAN’ OR THE ‘SPIRITUALLY DEAD MAN’ CANNOT COMPREHEND THE GOSPEL

A.W. Pink

To savingly believe in Christ is a supernatural act and is the DIRECT PRODUCT of a supernatural work of grace in the soul. Fallen and depraved man has no more power to come to Christ evangelically than he has merit of his own to entitle him to God’s favour. He is as completely dependent on the Spirit’s gracious operation within him as he is upon Christ’s worthiness without him. Fallen man is spiritually DEAD (Eph. 2:1), and a dead soul cannot “co-operate,” any more than a physical corpse can with an undertaker.

“The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are SPIRITUALLY discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).


The “things Of the Spirit” signify contents of the Word of Truth, for they were penned under His immediate inspiration. The “natural man” is man in his fallen and unrenewed state while the sinner remains unregenerate, he “receiveth not” either the Divine Law or the Gospel. That requires a word of explication: the natural man can, and often does, receive the things of the Spirit in THE LETTER of them as so many propositions or statements, but he cannot apprehend them as does one who has been made the subject of a miracle of grace. They are “foolishness”—absurd, unattractive, distasteful to him.

Yea, he “CANNOT KNOW THEM“— he is disqualified to perceive their verity and value; “because they are SPIRITUALLY discerned,” and spiritual discernment he has none. The sinner has to be transformed from a natural into a SPIRITUAL man before he has any spiritual perception!

THE END OF A THING BETTER THAN THE BEGINNING THEREOF

THE END OF A THING BETTER THAN THE BEGINNING THEREOF

A.W. Pink

“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit” (Ecclesiastes 7:8).

The Christian is to “endure” chastisement believingly. This was how Job endured his: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Heb. 1:21). Ah, he looked BEHIND all secondary causes, and perceived that above the Sabeans and Chaldeans was Jehovah Himself. But is it not at this point we most often fail? Only too frequently we see only the injustice of men, the malice of the world, the enmity of Satan, in our trials: THAT is walking by sight. Faith brings GOD into the scene. “I had fainted, UNLESS I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps. 27:13).

It is an adage of the world that “Seeing is believing:” but in the spiritual realm, the order is reversed: there we must “believe” in order to “see.” And what is it which the saint most desires to “see”? Why, “the goodness of the Lord,” for unless he sees that, he “faints.” And how does faith see “the goodness of the Lord” in chastisements? By viewing them as proceeding from God’s love, as ordered by His wisdom, and as designed for our profit.

As the bee sucks honey out of the bitter herb, so faith may extract much good from afflictions. Faith can turn water into wine, and make bread out of stones. Unbelief gives up in the hour of trial and sinks in despair; but faith keeps the head above water and hopefully looks for deliverance. Human reason may not be able to understand the mysterious ways of God, but faith knows that the sorest disappointments and the heaviest losses are among the “ALL things” which work TOGETHER for our good. They do not work singly but TOGETHER!

Carnal friends may tell us that it is useless to strive any longer; but faith says, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15). What a wonderful promise is that in Psalm 91:15, “I will be with him in trouble: I will deliver him.” Ah, but faith alone can feel that Presence, and faith alone can enjoy now the assured deliverance. It was because of the joy set before Him (by the exercise of faith) that Christ “endured the cross,” and only as WE view God’s precious promises will we patiently endure OUR cross.

“Hope” in Scripture is far more than a warrantless wish: it is a firm conviction and a comforting expectation of a future good. Now inasmuch as chastisement, patiently and believingly endured, is certain to issue in blessing, hope is to be exercised. “When He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10): that is the language of confident expectation.

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us! [Rom 5:5]

“Behold, we count them happy which ENDURE. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord . . . ” [James 5:11]

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless AFTERWARD it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” [Heb 12;11]

May the Lord’s grace be sufficient for each one of us! Amen!

GOD’S PREDESTINATION IS TO BE PREACHED BECAUSE IT IS FOUND ALL THROUGH THE SCRIPTURES!

GOD’S PREDESTINATION IS TO BE PREACHED BECAUSE IT IS FOUND ALL THROUGH THE SCRIPTURES!

A.W. Pink


Election is to be preached and published, first, because it is brought forward all through the Scriptures. There is not a single book in the Word of God where election is not either expressly stated, strikingly illustrated, or clearly implied. Genesis is full of it: the difference which the Lord made between Nahor and Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, and His loving Jacob and hating Esau are cases to the point. In Exodus we behold the distinction made by God between the Egyptians and the Hebrews.

In Leviticus the atonement and all the sacrifices were for the people of God, nor were they bidden to go and “offer” them to the surrounding heathen. In Numbers Jehovah used a Balaam to herald the fact that Israel were “the people” who “shall dwell alone, and shall not be numbered among the nations” (23:9); and therefore was he constrained to cry “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, 0 Israel” (24:5). In Deuteronomy it is recorded “The Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (32:9).

In Joshua we behold the discriminating mercy of the Lord bestowed upon Rahab the harlot, while the whole of her city was doomed to destruction. In Judges the sovereignty of God appears in the unlikely instruments selected, by which He wrought victory for Israel: Deborah, Gideon, Samson. In Ruth we have Orpah kissing her mother-in-law and returning to her gods, whereas Ruth cleaves to her and obtained inheritance in Israel—who made them to differ?

In 1 Samuel David is chosen for the throne, preferred to his older brethren. In 2 Samuel we learn of the everlasting covenant “ordered in all things, and sure” (23:5). In 1 Kings Elijah becomes a blessing to a single widow selected from many; while in 2 Kings Naaman alone, of all the lepers, was cleansed. In 1 Chronicles it is written “Ye children of Jacob, His chosen ones” (16:13); while in 2 Chronicles we are made to marvel at the grace of God bestowing repentance upon Manasseh. And so we might go on. The Psalms, Prophets, Gospels and Epistles are so full of this doctrine that he who runs may read.

Second, the doctrine of election is to be prominently preached because the gospel cannot be Scripturally proclaimed without it. Alas, so deep is the darkness and so widespread the ignorance which now prevails, that few indeed perceive that there is any vital connection between predestination and the evangel of God. Pause, then, for a moment and seriously ponder these questions: Is the success or failure of the gospel a matter of chance? or, to put it in another way, are the fruits of the most stupendous undertaking of all—the atoning work of Christ—left contingent upon human caprice? Could it be positively affirmed that the Redeemer shall yet “see of the travail of his soul, and. .. be satisfied” (Isa. 53:11) if all is left dependent upon the will of fallen man? Has God so little regard for the death of His son that He has left it uncertain as to how many shall be saved thereby?

“The gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1) can only be Scripturally presented as the Triune God is owned and honored therein. The attenuated “gospel” of our degenerate age confines the attention of its hearers to the sacrifice of Christ, whereas salvation originated in the heart of God the Father and is consummated by the operations of God the Spirit. All the blessings of salvation are communicated according to God’s eternal counsels, and it was for the whole of election of grace (and none others) that Christ wrought salvation.

The very first chapter of the New Testament announces that Jesus “shall save His people from their sins:” not “MAY,” but “SHALL”; not shall offer to or try to, but actually “save” them. Again; not a single soul had ever benefited from the death of Christ if the Spirit had not been given to apply its virtues to the chosen seed. Any man, then, who omits the Father’s election, and the Spirit’s sovereign and effectual operations, preaches not the gospel of God, no matter what be his reputation as a “soul winner.

We have exposed the senselessness of those objections which are made against doctrinal preaching in general and the arguments which are leveled against the proclamation of predestination in particular. Then we pointed out some of the reasons why this grand truth is to be published. First, because the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, are full of it. Second, because the gospel cannot be Scripturally preached without it. The great commission given to the public servants of Christ, duly called and equipped by Him, reads thus, “preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15): not parts of it, but the whole of it. The gospel is not be preached piecemeal, but in its entirety, so that each person in the Godhead is equally honored. Just as far as the gospel is mutilated, just so far as any branch of the evangelical system is suppressed, is the gospel not preached. To begin at Calvary, or even at Bethlehem, is to begin in the middle: we must go right back to the eternal counsels of divine grace.

Rightly did a renowned reformer put it, “Election is the golden thread that runs through the whole Christian system . . . it is the bond which connects and keeps it together, which, without this, is like a system of sand ever ready to fall to pieces. It is the cement which holds the fabric together; nay, it is the very soul that animates the whole frame. It is so blended and interwoven with the entire scheme of gospel doctrine that when the former is excluded, the latter bleeds to death. An ambassador is to deliver the whole message with which he is charged. He is to omit no part of it, but must declare the mind of the sovereign he represents, fully and without reserve. He is to say neither more nor less than the instructions of his court require, else he comes under displeasure, perhaps loses his head. Let the ministers of Christ weigh this well” (J. Zanchius, 1562).

IF THE ELECT ARE ETERNALLY SECURE . . . WHY ARE THERE WARNINGS AGAINST APOSTASY IN SCRIPTURE?

IF THE ELECT ARE ETERNALLY SECURE . . . WHY ARE THERE WARNINGS AGAINST APOSTASY IN SCRIPTURE?

A.W. Pink


Concerning the imperativeness of perseverance C.H. Spurgeon said in the introductory portion of his sermon on “The righteous shall hold on his way” (Job 17:9), “The man who is righteous before God has a way of his own. It is not the way of the flesh, nor the way of the world; it is a way marked Out for him by the Divine command, in which he walks by faith. It is the king’s highway of holiness, the unclean shall not pass over it: only the ransomed of the Lord shall walk there, and these shall find it a path of separation from the world. Once entered upon the way of life, the pilgrim must persevere in it or perish, for thus saith the Lord ‘If any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.’ Perseverance in the path of faith and holiness is a necessity of the Christian, for only ‘he that endureth to the end shall be saved.’ It is in vain to spring up quickly like the seed that was sown on the rock, and then by-and-by to wither when the sun is up; that would but prove that such a plant has no root in itself, but ‘the trees of the Lord are full of sap’ and they abide and continue and bring forth fruit, even in old age, to show that the Lord is upright.

“There is a great difference between nominal Christianity and real Christianity, and this is generally seen in the failure of the one and the continuance of the other. Now, the declaration of the text is, that the truly righteous man shall hold on his way: he shall not go back, he shall not leap the hedges and wander to the right hand or the left, he shall not lie down in idleness, neither shall he faint and cease to go upon his journey; but he ‘shall hold on his way.’ It will frequently be very difficult for him to do so, but he will have such resolution, such power of inward grace given him, that he will hold on his way’ with stern determination, as though he held on by his teeth, resolving never to let go. Perhaps he may not always travel with equal speed; it is not said that he shall hold on his pace, but he shall hold on his way. There are times when we run and are not weary, and anon when we walk and are thankful that we do not faint; ay, and there are periods when we are glad to go on all fours and creep upwards with pain; but still we prove that ‘the righteous shall hold on his way.’ Under all difficulties the face of the man whom God has justified is steadfastly set towards Jerusalem, nor will he turn aside till his eyes shall see the King in his beauty.”

Christians are indeed “KEPT BY THE POWER OF GOD” (1 Peter 1:5), yet it needs to be pointed out that they are not preserved mechanically, as a child is kept in the nursery from falling into the fire by a tall metal fender or guard, or as the unwilling horse is held in by bit and bridle; but spiritually so by the workings of Divine grace in them and by means of motives and inducements from without which call forth that grace into exercise and action. We quite miss the force of that declaration unless we complete the verse: “Who are kept by the power of God through faith, unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” It is not “for” or “because of faith” but “THROUGH FAITH” yet not without it, for faith is the hand which, from a sense of utter insufficiency and helplessness, clings to God and grasps His strength—not always firmly, but often feebly; not always consciously, but instinctively. Though the saint be “KEPT BY THE POWER OF GOD” yet he himself has to fight every step of the way. If we read of “THIS GRACE WHEREIN YE STAND” (Romans 5:2), we are also told “FOR BY FAITH YE STAND” (2 Corinthians 1:24).

Viewing the event from the standpoint of the Divine decree it was not possible that Herod should slay Christ in His infancy, nevertheless God commanded Joseph to use means to prevent it, by fleeing into Egypt. In like manner, from the standpoint of God’s eternal purpose it is not possible that any saint should perish, yet He has placed upon him the necessity of using means to prevent apostasy and everything which has a tendency thereto. True, he must not trust in the means to the exclusion of God, for those means are only efficacious by His appointment and blessing; on the other hand, it is presumption and not faith which talks of trusting God while the means are despised or ignored. Nor have we said anything in this section which warrants the inference that Heaven is a wage that we earn by our own industry and fidelity, rather do the means appointed by God mark out the course we must take if we would reach the desired Goal. It is “through faith and patience” we “inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12) our glorification will not be bestowed in return for them, yet there can be no glorification to those devoid of these graces.

“Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist steadfast in the faith” (1 Pet. 5:8, 9).

Obviously such a warning would be meaningless if the Christian were not threatened with a most deadly danger. “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” (2 Pet. 3:17). This warning looks back to the false prophets of (2:1, 2) and what is said of them in vv. 18-22. The “error of the wicked” here cautioned against includes both doctrinal and practical, especially the latter—forsaking of the “narrow way,” the highway of holiness which alone leads to Heaven. “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev. 3:11)—cling tenaciously to the Truth you have received, the faith which has been planted in your heart, to the measure of grace given you.

But how do you reconcile the Christian’s danger with his safety? There is nothing to reconcile, for there is no antagonism. It is enemies and not friends who need reconciling, and warnings are the Christian’s friend, one of the safeguards which God has placed around the truth of the security of His people, preventing them from wresting it to their destruction. By revealing the certain consequences of total apostasy Christians are thereby cautioned and kept from the same: a holy fear moves their hearts and so becomes the means of preventing the very evil they denounce.

A lighthouse is to warn against recklessness as mariners near the coast, so that they will steer away from the fatal rocks. A fence before a precipice is not superfluous, but is designed to call to a halt those journeying in that direction. When the driver of a train sees the signals change to red he shuts off steam, thereby preserving the passengers under his care. The danger signals of Scripture to which we have called attention are heeded by the regenerate and therefore are among the very means appointed by God for the preservation of His people, for it is only by attending to the same they are kept from destroying themselves.

The sun shines into our rooms through their windows: those windows contribute nothing whatever to our comfort and enjoyment of the sun, yet are they necessary as means for its beams to enter. The means and mediums which God has designed for the accomplishment of His ends concerning us are not such as to be “conditions” on which those ends are suspended in uncertainty as to their issue, but are the sure links by which He has connected the one with the other.

Exhortations and warnings are not so much the means whereby God’s promises are accomplished, as the means by which the things promised are wrought. God has promised His people sufficient grace to enable and cause them to make such a use of the means that they will be preserved from fatal sins or apostasy, and the exhortations, consolations, admonitions of Scripture are designed for the stirring up into exercise of that grace. The certainty of the end is assured not by the nature or sufficiency of the means in themselves considered, but because of God’s ordination in connection therewith.

Let us give reverent attention to the faithful words of Adolph Saphir on this life-or-death subject:

“There is a one-sided and un-scriptural forgetfulness of the actual position of the believer (or professing believer) as a man who is still on the road, in the battle; who has still the responsibility of trading with the talent entrusted, of watching for the return of the Master. Now there are many bypaths, dangers, precipices on the road, and we must persevere to the end. Only they who overcome and are faithful to death shall be crowned. It is not spiritual but carnal to take the blessed and solemn doctrines of our election in Christ and of the perseverance of the saints, given us as a cordial for fainting hours and as the inmost and ultimate secret of the soul in its dealings with God, and place them on the common and daily road of our duties and trials, instead of the precepts and warnings of the Divine Word. It is not merely that God keeps us through these warnings and commandments, but the attitude of soul which neglects and hurries over these portions of Scripture is not childlike, humble, and sincere.

The attempts to explain away the fearful warnings of Scripture against apostasy are rooted in a very morbid and dangerous state of mind. A precipice is a precipice, and it is folly to deny it. “If we live after the flesh,” says the apostle, “we shall die.” Now, to keep people from falling over a precipice, we do not put up a slender and graceful hedge of flowers, but the strongest barrier we can; and piercing spikes or cutting pieces of glass to prevent calamities. But even this is only the surface of the matter. Our walk with God and our perseverance to the end are great and solemn realities. We are dealing with the living God, and only life with God, and in God, and unto God, can be of any avail here. He who brought us out of Egypt is now guiding us; and if we follow Him, and follow Him to the end, we shall enter into the final rest.”

God has assured His people that His grace shall be all-sufficient and that His strength shall be made perfect in their weakness, but nowhere has He promised a continuance of His love and favor unto dogs returning to their vomit or to sows which are content to wallow in the mire. If our thoughts on this subject be formed entirely by the teaching of God’s Word (and not partly by carnal reason), then we shall expect perseverance only in that way wherein God has promised it, and that is by availing ourselves of the helps and advantages He has provided, especially the study of and meditation upon His Word and the hearing or reading the messages of His servants. Though God has promised grace unto His people, yet He requires them to—sincerely, believingly, earnestly—seek it:

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

And that grace we are constantly in need of as long as we are left here:— “Day by day the manna fell, O to learn that lesson well.”

Much confusion has resulted on this and other points through failure to distinguish between impetration and application, or what Christ purchased for His people and God’s actually making over the same unto them according to the order of things He has established. As faith is indispensable before justification so is perseverance before glorification, and that necessarily involves the use of means. True, our faith adds nothing whatever to the merits of Christ in order to our justification, yet until we believe, we are under the curse of the Law; nor does our perseverance entitle us to glorification, yet only those who do persevere unto the end will be glorified. Now as God requires obedience from all the parts and faculties of our souls, so in His Word He has provided motives to the obedience required, motives suited unto “all that is within us” — that love, fear, hope, etc. may be called into action. Of ourselves we are not sufficient to make a good use of the means, and therefore we beg God to work in us that which He requireth: Colossians 1 :29.

God has promised to repair the spiritual decays of His people and to heal their backslidings freely, yet He will do so in such a way as wherein He may communicate His grace righteously to the praise of His glory. Therefore are duties, especially that of confession of sins to God, prescribed to us in order thereto. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov. 28:13). “I will heal their backsliding” (Hos. 14:4): there is the promise and the end. But first “Take with you words and turn to the Lord: say unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously” (v. 2): there is the duty and the means unto that end. Although repentance and confession be not the procuring cause of God’s grace and love, from whence alone our healing or recovery proceeds, yet are they required in the appointed method of God’s dispensing His grace.

It must be insisted upon that the Christian’s concurrence with the Divine will by no means warrants the horrible conclusion that he is entitled to divide the honors with God. How could this possibly be, seeing that if he does what he is bidden he remains but an “unprofitable servant?” How could it be, when to whatever extent he does improve the means it is only the power of Divine grace which so enabled him? How could it be, when he is most sensible in himself that far more of failure than success attends his efforts? No, when the redeemed have safely crossed the Jordan and are safely landed on the shores of the heavenly Canaan they will exclaim with one accord “Not unto us, 0 Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, for Thy Truth’s sake” (Ps. 115:1).

To sum up. The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, in the pursuit and practice of holiness as it is set forth in God’s Word, provides no shelter for either laziness or licentiousness: it supplies no encouragement for us to take our regeneration and glorification for granted, but bids us “give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10). Exhortations and threatenings are not made unto us as those already assured of final perseverance, but as those who are called to the use of means for the establishment of our souls in the ways of obedience, being annexed to those ways of grace and peace which God calls His saints unto. Perseverance consists in a continual exercise of spiritual graces in the saints, and exhortations are the Divinely appointed means for stirring those graces into action and for a further increase of them. Therefore those preachers who do not press upon the Lord’s people the discharge of their duties and are remiss in warning and admonishing them, fail grievously at one of the most vital points in the charge committed to them.

GOD’S WORD A LAMP AND A LIGHT

GOD’S WORD A LAMP AND A LIGHT

A.W. Pink


“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

The metaphor used here is taken from a man walking along a dangerous road on a dark night, in urgent need of a lantern to show him where to walk safely and comfortably, to avoid injury and destruction. The same figure is used again in the New Testament.

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19).

The dark place is this world, and it is only as we take heed to the Word, to the light God has given us, that we shall be able to perceive and avoid “the broad road which leadeth to destruction,” and discern the narrow way which alone “leadeth unto Life.”

It should be observed that this verse plainly intimates God has placed His Word in our hands for an intensely practical purpose, namely, to direct our walk and to regulate our deportment. At once this shows us what is the first and principal use we are to make of this divine gift. It would do a traveler little good to diligently scrutinize the mechanism of a lamp, or to admire its beautiful design. Rather he is to take it up and make a practical use of it.

Many are zealous in reading “the letter of Scripture,” and many are charmed with the evidences of its divine Authorship. But how few realize the primary purpose for which God gave the Scriptures, how few make A PRACTICAL USE of them — ordering the details of their lives by its rules and regulations. They eulogize the lamp, but they do not walk by its light.

WANT TO START SOME SERIOUS READING BUT DON’T KNOW WHICH BOOK TO START WITH? TRY – A.W. Pink’s Masterpiece – THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD.

WANT TO START SOME SERIOUS READING BUT DON’T KNOW WHICH BOOK TO START WITH? TRY – A.W. Pink’s Masterpiece – THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD.

– it’s the Book that taught me and many others about God’s Absolute Sovereignty and Man’s Total Depravity.

Brother A.W. Pink has had a great influence in my life and through his writings, he being dead yet speaketh! In Pink I found a ‘like-minded brother’. Here was finally someone who not only preached the doctrines of Grace FAITHFULLY but also RENOUNCED the existing Christendom of his day as APOSTATE. It grieves my heart that in our day even many who claim to love Pink’s writings and have even made them available on the Web are themselves part of the Great Whore!

I came to understand the Reformed Faith a few years after the Lord saved me. But I truly did not really understand it like I should have until I read A.W. Pink’s ‘The Sovereignty of God’! I was first given the compromised condensed form of this book published by the ‘Banner of truth’, and I was so blessed. But sadly I had not eaten the whole meal until I read the complete book published by The Bakers!

I said this then, and I’ll say it again – There is no writer who is familiar with the Scriptures and is faithful to it as A.W.Pink! HE STANDS IN A CLASS OF HIS OWN and has an insight into the scriptures which is second to none!

Unlike most writers of our day, Pink never wrote anything just to be writing. He really had something to say. Not only that, but what sets Pink apart from the rest is that He saw the present Christendom of his day for what it really was …. APOSTATE! And in obedience to his Lord he steered clear of it and admonished others to do so.

He was no half-baked, pusillanimous, milquetoast, string for a backbone ‘panty waist’ like the majority of the ‘Reformed’ preachers today! Like His Master and His Apostle Paul, he could care less what people thought of him as long as he was faithful to His God!

A lot of folks who read Pink and quote him today do not really know him. They ought to read his letters to understand where he really stood!

Oh may God give us more men like A.W. Pink!

Michael Jeshurun

Reviews from Amazon. com by those whose lives were changed after reading this book –

“When first published in 1918 this book was very controversial. The reason for this is probably due to the fact that in Pink’s day the doctrine of God’s sovereignty was almost completely ignored, misunderstood or rejected. Why read or study a book on the doctrine of God’s sovereignty? The author believed that this doctrine is the second most important doctrine taught in the Bible, the first being the Divine inspiration of the Bible, which is the title of Mr. Pink’s first book that was published. Pink has this to say about the importance of this Biblical truth on p.19 “It is… the key to history, the interpreter of providence,…and the foundation of Christian theology, (p.215) …it is designed as the sheet anchor for our souls amid the storms of life.

The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is a divine cordial to refresh our spirits. It is designed and adapted to mould the affections of the heart and to give a right direction to conduct. …It affords comfort for the present and a sense of security respecting the unknown future.” A right understanding of this doctrine places God on the throne where he belongs and under His blessing produces humility in His people. The Sovereignty of God is the most comforting doctrine in the Bible to a Christian in the midst of trials. This reviewer is convinced that ‘The Sovereignty of God’ by A.W. Pink is one of the most important and influential books that has been written in this century.” [J. Adrian]

“There’s nothing like the doctrine of God’s sovereignty that can cause a man to be humble and yet at the same time confident of his salvation. When I first read this book, I must admit that I found it hard to accept the doctrine of Calvinism. Like many Christians in the charismatic churches, I was taught that I could lose my salvation, that Jesus Christ died for every person, and that free-will triumphs over God’s sovereign will.

Even so, this precious book has made me reconsidered my Arminian beliefs until finally I began to see that salvation is from the Lord from the beginning to the end. How God has caused this book to impact my spiritual life is beyond measure to me. My whole outlook of life has changed dramatically, now that I know that He is in control of my life and my salvation. To Him alone then, be all the glory.” [Alcaff Surjadi]

“This book is full of the wonderful ways of God. Our Lord is an awesome God and this book helps anyone to understand just who God truly is. I gained such insight on God.” [Betty Jo Nelson]

“This is an excellent book. A great exegetical examination of the Sovereignty of God! A.W. Pink does a wonderful job of showing how you cannot deny the Sovereignty of God in Scripture. I was convicted from reading this book at just how little I have made God in my theology.

I highly recommend this book to anyone. It will change the way you think about God’s Sovereignty!” [Stearns7]

“A. W. Pink is an incredible gift of God. What truth. This is without a doubt the springboard of all his other books. Words are inadequate, but God has used this man to put words together in ways that are so revealing and vital for our appreciation and exaltation to GOD Almighty” [Sharon Oliphant]

THE DIVIDING LINE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL – THE NEW-BIRTH

THE DIVIDING LINE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL – THE NEW-BIRTH

A.W. Pink

Regeneration is solely the work of God and man has no part or lot in it. This from the very nature of the case. Regeneration is termed a new birth, or birth from above (Joh 3:3), and birth excludes altogether any effort or work on the part of the individual who is born. Personally, we have no more to do with our spiritual birth than we had with our physical.

Again, regeneration is likened unto a SPIRITUAL RESURRECTION (Eph 2:1; Joh 5:24). Clearly, resurrection is outside man’s province. No corpse can quicken itself. No man and no number of men can reanimate a dead body. Only the living God can speak the word which will call forth a Lazarus from the tomb; and He alone can quicken into newness of life one who, spiritually, is dead in trespasses and sins. Once more, regeneration is denominated a new creation (2Co 5:17; Gal 6:15). Here again we enter God’s domain. He alone can bring into being that which previously had no existence. We repeat, regeneration is solely the work of God, and man has no part or hand in it.

Because regeneration is the work of God it is a MIRACULOUS THING. The new birth is no mere outward reformation, no mere turning over a new leaf and endeavoring to live a better life. The new birth is very much more than going forward and taking the preacher’s hand. The new birth is a supernatural operation of God upon man’s spirit. It is a transcendent wonder. All God’s works are wonderful. Physical birth is a marvel. The world in which we live is filled with things that amaze us. But from several standpoints the new birth is more remarkable still. It is a marvel of divine grace. It is a marvel of divine wisdom. It is a marvel of divine beauty. It will prove an eternal marvel, for it is a miracle performed upon and within ourselves, and of which we are personally cognizant. It is a miracle which is being repeated all around us every day.

Because regeneration is the work of God it is a MYSTERIOUS THING. All God’s works are shrouded in impenetrable mystery. Life, natural life, in its origin, its nature, its process, baffles the most careful investigator. Much more is this the case with spiritual life. The Existence and Being of God transcend the finite grasp. How then can we expect to be able to understand the process by which we become His children? Our Lord, Himself, declared that the new birth was a thing of mystery: “the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (Joh 3:8). The wind is something about which the most learned scientists know next to nothing. Its nature, the laws which govern it, its causation, all lie beyond the purview of human inquiry. So it is with the new birth. It is profoundly mysterious.

Regeneration is an intensely SOLEMN THING. The new birth is the dividing line between heaven and hell. In God’s sight there are but two classes of people in this world—those who are dead in sins, and those who are walking in newness of life. In the physical realm there is no such thing as being between life and death. A man is either dead or alive. The vital spark may become very dim, but while it exists life is present. Let that spark go out altogether, and, though you may dress the body in beautiful clothes and deck it out with all imaginable finery, it is, nevertheless, nothing more than a corpse. So it is in the spiritual world.

We are either sinners or saints; spiritually alive or spiritually dead; children of God or children of the Devil. In view of this solemn fact, how momentous is the question, HAVE I BEEN BORN AGAIN? The answer to this question settles our eternal destiny. And in love we would say to all who never have been born again, that if you die in your present condition, the day is coming when you will wish that you had never been born at all.

THE GOD OF THE AVERAGE PULPIT

THE GOD OF THE AVERAGE PULPIT

A.W. Pink

“Men imagine the Most High is moved by sentiment, rather than by principle. They suppose His omnipotency is such an idle fiction that Satan can thwart His designs on every side. They think that if He has formed any plan or purpose at all, then it must be like theirs, constantly subject to change. They openly declare that whatever power He possesses must be restricted, lest He invade the citadel of man’s free will and reduce him to a machine. They lower the all-efficacious atonement, which redeems everyone for whom it was made, to a mere remedy, which sin-sick souls may use if they feel so disposed. They lessen the strength of the invincible work of the Holy Spirit to an offer of the Gospel which sinners may accept or reject as they please. The god of this century no more resembles the Sovereign of Holy Writ than does the dim flickering of a candle the glory of the midday sun.

The god who is talked about in the average pulpit, spoken of in the ordinary Sunday school, mentioned in much of the religious literature of the day, and preached in most of the so-called Bible conferences, is a figment of human imagination, an invention of maudlin sentimentality. The heathen outside the pale of Christendom form gods of wood and stone, while millions of heathen inside Christendom manufacture a god out of their carnal minds. In reality, they are but atheists, for there is no other possible alternative between an absolutely supreme God, and no God at all. A god whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to deity, and far from being a fit object of worship, merits nothing but contempt.”  [A.W. Pink]

 “And so the way is prepared for that caricature of gospel preaching, that consists chiefly in begging the sinner to come to Jesus before it is too late, leaves the false impression that it is quite in his power to come today or tomorrow, or whatever time may be convenient to him, and that presents a very willing but powerless Jesus, that would ever be pleased to save the sinner, but is incapable to do so unless the sinner gives his consent. The “whosoever will may come” is presented as meaning: “All men can will to come whenever they please.” And instead of the truth of the gospel that no man can come to Christ unless the Father draw him, we now hear; “No, Christ cannot come to the sinner, unless the sinner permit him!”

Here is a fair example of it: “God is ready, God is willing, God is eager, God is anxious, God is pleading for the privilege of washing away the sins of every soul in the precious blood of His son and heir. But His hands are tied, His power is limited, His grace is constrained by you. If you want to be saved, God is willing to save you. If you don’t want to be saved, there isn’t anything that even God can do to rescue you from that pit of eternal burning.” That is what becomes of the preaching of the gospel when the truth of God’s sovereign grace is either forgotten or denied. Call it the gospel, if you like; to me it is nothing short of blasphemy of the name of the living God! An anxious and pleading God, whose power is limited, and whose hands may be tied by the proud and stubborn sinner, who is less than dust of the balance, is no God, but a miserable idol!”  (Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965) in “Whosoever Will”).

ELECTION AND PREDESTINATION IS TO BE PREACHED BECAUSE IT IS FOUND ALL THROUGH THE SCRIPTURES

ELECTION AND PREDESTINATION IS TO BE PREACHED BECAUSE IT IS FOUND ALL THROUGH THE SCRIPTURES

A.W. Pink

Election is to be preached and published, first, because it is brought forward all through the Scriptures. There is not a single book in the Word of God where election is not either expressly stated, strikingly illustrated, or clearly implied. Genesis is full of it: the difference which the Lord made between Nahor and Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, and His loving Jacob and hating Esau are cases to the point. In Exodus we behold the distinction made by God between the Egyptians and the Hebrews.

In Leviticus the atonement and all the sacrifices were for the people of God, nor were they bidden to go and “offer” them to the surrounding heathen. In Numbers Jehovah used a Balaam to herald the fact that Israel were “the people” who “shall dwell alone, and shall not be numbered among the nations” (23:9); and therefore was he constrained to cry “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, 0 Israel” (24:5). In Deuteronomy it is recorded “The Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (32:9).

In Joshua we behold the discriminating mercy of the Lord bestowed upon Rahab the harlot, while the whole of her city was doomed to destruction. In Judges the sovereignty of God appears in the unlikely instruments selected, by which He wrought victory for Israel: Deborah, Gideon, Samson. In Ruth we have Orpah kissing her mother-in-law and returning to her gods, whereas Ruth cleaves to her and obtained inheritance in Israel—who made them to differ?

In 1 Samuel David is chosen for the throne, preferred to his older brethren. In 2 Samuel we learn of the everlasting covenant “ordered in all things, and sure” (23:5). In 1 Kings Elijah becomes a blessing to a single widow selected from many; while in 2 Kings Naaman alone, of all the lepers, was cleansed. In 1 Chronicles it is written “Ye children of Jacob, His chosen ones” (16:13); while in 2 Chronicles we are made to marvel at the grace of God bestowing repentance upon Manasseh. And so we might go on. The Psalms, Prophets, Gospels and Epistles are so full of this doctrine that he who runs may read.

Second, the doctrine of election is to be prominently preached because the gospel cannot be Scripturally proclaimed without it. Alas, so deep is the darkness and so widespread the ignorance which now prevails, that few indeed perceive that there is any vital connection between predestination and the evangel of God. Pause, then, for a moment and seriously ponder these questions: Is the success or failure of the gospel a matter of chance? or, to put it in another way, are the fruits of the most stupendous undertaking of all—the atoning work of Christ—left contingent upon human caprice? Could it be positively affirmed that the Redeemer shall yet “see of the travail of his soul, and. .. be satisfied” (Isa. 53:11) if all is left dependent upon the will of fallen man? Has God so little regard for the death of His son that He has left it uncertain as to how many shall be saved thereby?

“The gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1) can only be Scripturally presented as the Triune God is owned and honored therein. The attenuated “gospel” of our degenerate age confines the attention of its hearers to the sacrifice of Christ, whereas salvation originated in the heart of God the Father and is consummated by the operations of God the Spirit. All the blessings of salvation are communicated according to God’s eternal counsels, and it was for the whole of election of grace (and none others) that Christ wrought salvation.

The very first chapter of the New Testament announces that Jesus “shall save His people from their sins:” not “MAY,” but “SHALL”; not shall offer to or try to, but actually “save” them. Again; not a single soul had ever benefited from the death of Christ if the Spirit had not been given to apply its virtues to the chosen seed. Any man, then, who omits the Father’s election, and the Spirit’s sovereign and effectual operations, preaches not the gospel of God, no matter what be his reputation as a “soul winner.

We have exposed the senselessness of those objections which are made against doctrinal preaching in general and the arguments which are leveled against the proclamation of predestination in particular. Then we pointed out some of the reasons why this grand truth is to be published. First, because the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, are full of it. Second, because the gospel cannot be Scripturally preached without it. The great commission given to the public servants of Christ, duly called and equipped by Him, reads thus, “preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15): not parts of it, but the whole of it. The gospel is not be preached piecemeal, but in its entirety, so that each person in the Godhead is equally honored. Just as far as the gospel is mutilated, just so far as any branch of the evangelical system is suppressed, is the gospel not preached. To begin at Calvary, or even at Bethlehem, is to begin in the middle: we must go right back to the eternal counsels of divine grace.

Rightly did a renowned reformer put it, “Election is the golden thread that runs through the whole Christian system . . . it is the bond which connects and keeps it together, which, without this, is like a system of sand ever ready to fall to pieces. It is the cement which holds the fabric together; nay, it is the very soul that animates the whole frame. It is so blended and interwoven with the entire scheme of gospel doctrine that when the former is excluded, the latter bleeds to death. An ambassador is to deliver the whole message with which he is charged. He is to omit no part of it, but must declare the mind of the sovereign he represents, fully and without reserve. He is to say neither more nor less than the instructions of his court require, else he comes under displeasure, perhaps loses his head. Let the ministers of Christ weigh this well” (J. Zanchius, 1562).

THE NECESSITY OF THE NEW-BIRTH

THE NECESSITY OF THE NEW-BIRTH

A.W. Pink

“Except a man be born-again he CANNOT SEE the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

The most fearful and fatal delusion now so prevalent in most sections of so-called “evangelical” Christendom is that a saving belief in Christ lies within the power of the natural man, that by performing what is naively termed “a simple act of faith,” he becomes a new creature. That is to make the sinner the BEGINNER of his own salvation!

HE takes “the first step,” and God does the rest; HE believes, and then God renews him—which is a blatant denial of the imperative NECESSITY of the work of the Holy Spirit. The fact is, if there is one time more than another when a man is absolutely dependent upon the Spirit’s power, it is at the BEGINNING, for the most formidable difficulty lies THERE.

To savingly believe in Christ is a supernatural act and is the DIRECT PRODUCT of a supernatural work of grace in the soul. Fallen and depraved man has no more power to come to Christ evangelically than he has merit of his own to entitle him to God’s favour. He is as completely dependent on the Spirit’s gracious operation within him as he is upon Christ’s worthiness without him. Fallen man is spiritually DEAD (Eph. 2:1), and a dead soul cannot “co-operate,” any more than a physical corpse can with an undertaker.
“The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are SPIRITUALLY discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

The “things Of the Spirit” signify contents of the Word of Truth, for they were penned under His immediate inspiration. The “natural man” is man in his fallen and unrenewed state while the sinner remains unregenerate, he “receiveth not” either the Divine Law or the Gospel. That requires a word of explication: the natural man can, and often does, receive the things of the Spirit in THE LETTER of them as so many propositions or statements, but he cannot apprehend them as does one who has been made the subject of a miracle of grace. They are “foolishness”—absurd, unattractive, distasteful to him. Yea, he “CANNOT KNOW THEM“— he is disqualified to perceive their verity and value; “because they are SPIRITUALLY discerned,” and spiritual discernment he has none. The sinner has to be transformed from a natural into a SPIRITUAL man before he has any spiritual perception.

“Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Only in God’s light can we see light (Ps. 3 6:9), and in order to do that, we must be brought out of that darkness in which sin has enveloped the soul.

The natural man, by reading and hearing, is competent to receive the things of God in their grammatical sense and to acquire an accurate mental notion of them, but is quite incapable of receiving a spiritual image of them in his understanding, of taking them into his affections, of cordially accepting them with his will. They are neither discerned by him in their Divine majesty and glory, delighted in by him, nor obeyed. The things of the Spirit are not only addressed to the intellect as true, but to the conscience as obligatory, to the affections as good and lovely, to the will to be yielded unto.

The unregenerate are entirely unable to recognize by an inward experience their surpassing weight and worth. They may indeed receive the Truth of God into their brains, but they never receive “the LOVE of the Truth” (2 Thess. 2:10) in their affections. The natural man is insensible alike to the authority and the excellence of the things of the Spirit of God, because his whole inward state is antagonistic to them. There must be congeniality between the perceiver and the thing perceived: only the pure in heart can see God. We not only need the Spirit objectively to reveal unto us the things of God, but He must make us subjectively spiritual men before we can receive them into our hearts.

As the eye is fashioned to take in sights, and the ear, sounds—as the faculties of the mind are fitted to think, reason, and retain concepts, so God must make the heart of fallen man SUITABLE UNTO spiritual things ere he can receive them. There must be a correspondence between the object apprehended and the subject apprehending, as there is between the qualities of matter and the senses of the body which cognize them. As I cannot truly appreciate in oratorio—no matter how acute my hearing—unless I have a musical ear and refined taste, neither can I delight in spiritual things until I BE MADE SPIRITUAL.
Between God and fallen man there is no living relation, no agreement. The “beauty of holiness” CANNOT be perceived by one who is in love with and blinded by sin. There is no harmony between the sinner’s spirit and the Holy Spirit. No matter how simply and clearly the things of God be set before the natural man, nor how logically and accurately he may reason about them, he cannot receive them in their actuality and spirituality, for he has no SPIRITUAL sight to discern their wisdom and goodness, no taste to relish their loveliness and sweetness, no capacity to take in their desirability and glory.

“The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). Though “the Light of the world” stood before them, they saw in Him no beauty that they should desire Him. Something more than an external revelation of Him is necessary, even such as that described in: “For God who [in the beginning] commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). The unregenerate have their “understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Eph. 4:18), and they have no more ability or power of their own to dispel the same than had the deep to dissipate the darkness which abode upon it (Gen. 1:2).
In the darkness of a heart which, in its native condition, is a chamber of spiritual death, God shines with a light that is none other than Himself. The One who is light irradiates the benighted soul, and in His light it now sees the fullness of truth and grace shining in the face of Jesus Christ. By sovereign fiat and miraculous power the soul is now enabled to discern the glory of the Divine perfections manifested in and through the Redeemer.

For several generations past there has been a woeful ignoring of what has been pointed out above. There has been little recognition of the fact, and still less acknowledgment of it, that all which the Father has purposed and contrived, all that the Son has done and suffered for the redemption of His people, is unavailable and ineffective to their souls until the HOLY SPIRIT APPLIES the same. The inestimable blessings of the Father’s love, through the Son’s mediation, are only brought home to the souls of the elect by the testimony, power and operations of the Spirit. But during the last century, the majority of “evangelists” displayed a zeal which was not according to knowledge.

In their efforts to show the SIMPLICITY of “the way of salvation,” they ignored the DIFFICULTIES of salvation (Luke 18:24; 1 Pet. 4:18); and in their pressing the responsibility of men to believe, repudiated the fact that none can do so savingly until the Spirit imparts faith. One of His titles is “the Spirit of faith” (2 Cor. 4:13), because He is the Author and Communicator of it. Faith is “the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8): not offered for MAN ‘S ACCEPTANCE, but actually BESTOWED: “the faith of the operation [not of man’s will, but] of God” (Col. 2: 12)—”who BY HIM do believe in God” (1 Pet. 1:21).

The work of the Spirit in the heart is as indispensable as was the work of Christ on the Cross. The necessity for the Spirit’s inward and effective operations are from the darkness, depravity and spiritual emptiness of fallen human nature. He alone can discover to us our dire need of Christ, convict us of our lost and ruined condition, create within us a hatred and horror of sin, bring us to consent to Christ’s sceptre, and make us willing in the day of His power to take Christ’s yoke upon us. By nature we are totally averse to holiness, and from birth have been accustomed to doing evil only.

It is impossible for us to take into the arms of our affection a holy Christ until the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus first takes hold of us. Moreover, there is a transcendency in spiritual things which far exceeds the highest flight of natural reason. Nature stands in need of grace in order for the heart to be rightly DISPOSED to receive the things of God, and no human culture or education can effect that. A Gospel which comes to us from Heaven can only be savingly known by an inward revelation from Heaven.

The Gospel is a revelation of Divine grace, such as had never entered the heart of man to conceive, still less is it capable of comprehending it—their Author must apply it to the heart.

IT TAKES A RADICAL CHRISTIAN TO SAY NO TO PAGAN CHRISTMAS

IT TAKES A RADICAL CHRISTIAN TO SAY NO TO PAGAN CHRISTMAS

A.W. Pink


“For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ!” [Galatians 1:10]”

And WHO is it that celebrates “Christmas?” The whole “civilized world.” Millions who make no profession of faith in the blood of the Lamb, who “despise and reject Him,” and millions more who while claiming to be His followers yet in works deny Him, join in merrymaking under the pretense of honoring the birth of the Lord Jesus. Putting it on it’s lowest ground, we would ask, is it fitting that His friends should unite with His enemies in a worldly round of fleshly gratification? Does any true born again soul really think that He whom the world cast out is either pleased or glorified by such participation in the world’s joys? Verily, the customs of the people are VAIN; and it is written, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” (Ex. 23:2).

Some will argue for the “keeping of Christmas” on the ground of “giving the kiddies a good time.” But why do this under the cloak of honoring the Savior’s birth? Why is it necessary to drag in His holy name in connection with what takes place at that season of carnal jollification? Is this taking the little one with you OUT of Egypt (Ex. 10:9-10) a type of the world, or is it not plainly a mingling with the present day Egyptians in their “pleasures of sin for a season?” (Heb. 11:25) Scripture says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Scripture does command God’s people to bring up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4), but where does it stipulate that it is our duty to give the little one a “good time?” Do we ever give the children “a good time” when we engage in anything upon which we cannot fittingly ask THE LORD’S blessing?

There are those who DO abstain from some of the grosser carnalities of the “festive season,” yet are they nevertheless in cruel bondage to the prevailing custom of “Christmas” namely that of exchanging “gifts.” We say “exchanging” for that is what it really amounts to in many cases. A list is kept, either on paper or in memory, of those from whom gifts were received last year, and that for the purpose of returning the compliment this year. Nor is this all: great care has been taken that the “gift” made to the friend is worth as much in dollars and cents as the one they expect to receive from him or her. Thus, with many who can ill afford it, a considerable sum has to be set aside each year with which to purchase things simply to send them out in RETURN for others which are likely to be received. Thus a burden has been bound on them which not a few find hard to bear.

But what are we to do? If we fail to send out “gifts” our friends will think hard of us, probably deem us stingy and miserly. The honest course is to go to the trouble of notifying them – by letter if at a distance – that from now on you do not propose to send out any more “Christmas gifts” as such. Give your reasons. State plainly that you have been brought to see that “Christmas merrymaking” is entirely a thing OF THE WORLD, devoid of any Scriptural warrant; that it is a Romish institution, and now that you see this, you dare no longer have any fellowship with it (Eph. 5:11); that you are the Lord’s “free man” (1 Cor. 7:22), and therefore you refuse to be in bondage to a costly custom imposed by the world.

What about sending out “Christmas cards” with a text of Scripture on them? That also is an abomination in the sight of God. Why? Because His Word expressly forbids all unholy mixtures; Deut. 22:10-11 typified this. What do we mean by an “unholy mixture?” This: the linking together of the pure Word of God with the Romish “Christ-MASS.” By all means send cards (preferably at some other time of the year) to your ungodly friends, and Christians too, with a verse of Scripture, but NOT with “Christmas” on it. What would you think of a printed program of a vaudeville having Isa. 53:5 at the foot of it? Why, that it was altogether OUT OF PLACE, highly incongruous. But in the sight of God the circus and the theater are far less obnoxious than the “Christmas celebration” of Romish and Protestant “churches.” Why? Because the latter are done under the cover of the holy name of Christ; the former are not.

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto perfect day” (Prov. 4:18). Where there is a heart that really desires to please the Lord, He graciously grants increasing knowledge of His will. If He is pleased to use these lines in opening the eyes of some of His dear people to recognize what is a growing evil, and to show them that they have been dishonoring Christ by linking the name of the Man of Sorrows (and such He WAS, when on earth) with a “MERRY Christmas,” then join with the writer in a repentant confessing of this sin to God, seeking His grace for complete deliverance from it, and praise Him for the light which He has granted you concerning it.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). How solemn and searching! The Lord Jesus declared that “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36). If every “idle word” is going to be taken note of, then most assuredly will be every wasted energy, every wasted dollar, every wasted hour! Should we still be on earth when the closing days of this year arrive, let writer and reader earnestly seek grace to live and act with the judgment seat of Christ before us. HIS “well done” will be ample compensation for the sneers and taunts which we may now receive from Christless souls.

Does any Christian reader imagine for a moment that when he or she shall stand before their holy Lord, that they will regret having lived “too strictly” on earth? Is there the slightest danger of His reproving any of His own because they were “too extreme” in “abstaining from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11)? We may gain the good will and good works of worldly religionists today by our compromising on “little (?) points,” but shall we receive His smile and approval on that day? Oh to be more concerned about what HE thinks, and less concerned about what perishing mortals think.

“Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” (Ex. 23:2). Ah, it is an easy thing to float with the tide of popular opinion; but it takes much grace, diligently sought from God, to swim against it. Yet that is what the heir of heaven is called on to do: to “Be not conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2), to deny self, take up the cross, and follow a rejected Christ. How sorely does both writer and reader need to heed that word of the savior, “Behold, I come quickly; hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev. 3:11). Oh that each of us may be able to truthfully say, “I have refrained my feet from EVERY evil way, that I might keep THY WORD” (Psa. 119:101).

Our final word is to the pastors. To you the Word of the Lord is, “Be THOU AN EXAMPLE of believers in word, in deportment, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). Is it not true that the most corrupt “churches” you know of, where almost every fundamental of the faith is denied, will have their “Christmas celebrations?” Will you imitate them? Are you consistent to protest against unscriptural methods of “raising money,” and then to sanction unscriptural “Christmas services?” Seek grace to firmly but lovingly set God’s truth on this subject before your people, and announce that you can have no part in following Pagan, Romish, and worldly customs.

THE LORD JESUS CHRIST – THE ONLY WAY!

THE LORD JESUS CHRIST – THE ONLY WAY!

A.W. Pink


“I am the way.” Christ spans the distance between God and the sinner. Man would fain manufacture a ladder of his own, and . . . climb up to God. But that is IMPOSSIBLE. That is the way which seems right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Prov. 14:12). It is Satan who would keep the exercised sinner on his self-imposed journey to God. What faith needs to lay hold of is the glorious truth that Christ has come all the way down to sinners. The sinner could not come to God, but God in the person of His Son has come out to sinners. He is the Way, the Way to Heaven, the Way to eternal blessedness.

I am the truth.” Christ is the full and final revelation of God. Adam believed the Devil’s lie, and ever since then man has been groping amid ignorance and error. “The way of the wicked is as darkness; they know not at what they stumble” (Prov. 4:19). “Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Eph. 4:18). A thousand systems has the mind devised. . . “There is NONE that understandeth” (Rom. 3:11). . . Truth is not to be found in a system of philosophy, but in a Person – Christ is “THE TRUTH;” He reveals God and exposes man. In Him are hid “All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). What tremendous folly to ignore Him! . . . . with all your learning have you bowed before Him who is the Truth?”

“I am the life.” Christ is the Emancipator from death. The whole Bible bears solemn witness to the fact that the natural man is spiritually lifeless. He walks according to the course of this world; he has no love for the things of God. The fear of God is not upon him, nor has he any concern for His glory. Self is the center and circumference of his existence. He is alive to the things of the world, but he is dead to heavenly things. The one who is out of Christ exists, but he has not spiritual life. . . . The one who believes in Christ has passed out of death unto life (John 5:24). “He that believes on the Son HAS everlasting life” (John 3:36). Then turn to Him who is the Life.

“I am the way.” Without Christ men are Cains – wanderers. “They are all gone out of the way” (Rom. 3:12). CHRIST IS NOT MERELY A GUIDE who came to show men the path in which they ought to walk: HE IS HIMSELF THE WAY to the Father. “I am THE TRUTH.” Without Christ men are under the power of the Devil, the father of lies. Christ is not merely a Teacher who came to reveal to men a doctrine regarding God: He is Himself THE TRUTH about God. “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” “I am the life.” Without Christ men are dead in trespasses and sins. Christ is not merely a Physician. . . “I am come,” said He, “that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

“No man comes unto the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). Christ is the only way to God. It is utterly impossible to win God’s favor by any efforts of our own.

(A.W. Pink – ‘Exposition of the Gospel of John’, p. 212-214).

AN EXHORTATION TO PERSEVERE

AN EXHORTATION TO PERSEVERE

A.W. Pink


“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” [Galatians 6:9]

Regeneration is but the commencement of the saving operations of the Holy Spirit, and those who are the favored subjects of them are assured that, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the Day of Jesus Christ” [Phi 1:6], causing them to grow in grace and become fruitful branches of the Vine. Yet the divine work of grace in a soul is not carried forward MECHANICALLY without any concurrence on the part of its subjects. It is a fatal error to conclude that because the work of salvation and sanctification is a divine one — that WE have no responsibility in connection therewith. Scripture teaches the very OPPOSITE: we are exhorted to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling — BECAUSE it is God who works in us [Phi 2:12-13].

Grace is bestowed not to encourage IDLENESS — but to energize unto holy activity. The Spirit of God does not produce APATHY — but stirs those He indwells unto a diligent use of means. The one who was loudest in owning, “But by the grace of God I am what I am,” hesitated not to add, “but I labored more abundantly than they all!” [1 Corinthians 15:10].

God always deals with His people as rational and accountable creatures. Unto those who believed on Him, the Lord Jesus said, “If you CONTINUE in my word, then are you my disciples indeed” [John 8:31], and not merely by lip profession. The apostles returned to their converts, “confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them TO CONTINUE in the faith,” warning them that they “must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” [Act 14:22].

Walking that “narrow” way, which is the ONLY ONE “which leads unto life” [Mat 7:14], is not the easy matter which so many vainly imagine. Rather does it call for self-denial, godly fear, circumspection, and persevering effort. “AS you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord — SO walk in him” [Col 2:6] must be heeded by us if we are to make a good continuance. HOW did we “receive Christ Jesus the Lord”? By ceasing to fight against Him, and throwing down the weapons of our rebellion. By determining to end a life of self-will, giving ourselves up to Him freely and wholly, consenting to be His forever. By penitently confessing our sins and trusting in His redeeming blood. By coming empty-handed to draw upon His fullness.

How did we “receive” Him? As He is freely offered in the Gospel: “able also to save them to the uttermost all who come unto God by him” [Heb 7:25]. As a whole Christ: a PROPHET to teach, a PRIEST to atone, a KING to reign over us. As a COMPLETE Savior: to deliver from the penalty of sin, cleanse from its pollution, free from its power; to sanctify as well as justify, purify, and ultimately glorify. “SO walk you in him”: continue as you began — in subjection to, in dependence upon Him.

A Gospel FAITH — must issue in Gospel PRACTICE. “Walking in Christ means living OUT OF SELF, in conformity to Him. Only thus do we obtain evidence of having SAVINGLY “received” Him.

The GENUINENESS of faith is always seen in what it PRODUCES. Alas, the WALK of most professing Christians gives the lie to their TALK. A good continuance is only made possible by our regular use of those means of grace which God has appointed for His people.
If the WORD is neglected — the soul will be starved. . . .

If MEDITATION is not practiced — the heavenly manna will not be digested.

If PRAYER be omitted, or performed formally and mechanically — fresh supplies of grace will not be obtained.

Unless the love of God is kept constantly before the heart — the affections will soon cool.

Unless we draw daily upon Christ’s mediatorial fullness — we shall be feeble and incapable of wrestling with our foes.

Unless we tread the path of obedience — Satan will quickly overcome us.

There must also be a RIGHT USE of the means, or they will profit us nothing. The Word itself does not nourish — unless faith be mixed with it [Heb 4:2]. They must be used in a spirit of humble dependence on God, for they avail not apart from His BLESSING upon them. Put them not in the stead of Christ. Trust not in the mere use of them, as though your diligence therein ensured success. Yet they MUST BE USED patiently and perseveringly: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” [Gal 6:9]. Amen!

WHAT DOES THE PASSING OF ANOTHER YEAR MEAN? THIS – THAT OUR SALVATION IS NEARER THAN WHEN WE FIRST BELIEVED

WHAT DOES THE PASSING OF ANOTHER YEAR MEAN? THIS – THAT OUR SALVATION IS NEARER THAN WHEN WE FIRST BELIEVED

In the N. T. the salvation of God is presented under three tenses: past, present and future. As a work “begun” (Phil. 1:6), but not completed in a moment of time. “Who hath saved us” (2 Tim. 1:9), “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12), “now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11).

These verses do not refer to THREE DIFFERENT SALVATIONS, but to THREE DISTINCT PHASES and stages of salvation: salvation as an accomplished fact, as a present process, and as a future prospect. First, God saves from the PLEASURE OF SIN, causing the heart to loathe what it formerly loved. That which is displeasing to God is made bitter to the soul, and sin becomes its greatest grief and burden. Next, faith is communicated by the Spirit and the penitent sinner is enabled to believe the Gospel, and thereby he is saved from THE PENALTY OF SIN. Then it is he enters upon the Christian life, wherein he is called upon to “fight the good fight of faith”, for there are enemies both within and without which seek to bring about his destruction.

For that “fight” God has provided adequate armor (Eph. 6:11), which the Christian is bidden to take unto himself. For that fight he is furnished with effective weapons, but these he must make good use of. For that fight spiritual strength is available (2 Tim. 2:1), yet it has to be diligently and trustfully sought. It is in this fight, a lifelong process, a conflict in which no furloughs are granted, the Christian is being saved from the power of sin. In it he receives many wounds, but he betakes himself to the great Physician for healing. In it he is often cast down, but by grace he is enabled to rise again. Finally, he shall be saved from THE PRESENCE OF SIN, for at death the believer is forever rid of his evil nature.

Now it is that third aspect of salvation which concerns us in this present series of articles, namely, the believer’s perseverance: his perseverance in the fight of faith. The doctrine which is to be before us relates to the Christian’s being saved from the power of indwelling sin during the interval which elapses between his being saved from its penalty and the moment when he will be saved from its presence.

Between his being saved from Hell and his actual entrance into Heaven HE NEEDS SAVING FROM HIMSELF, saving from this evil world in which he is still left, saving from the devil who as a roaring lion goes about seeking whom he may devour. The journey from Egypt to Canaan lies not for the most part through green pastures and by the still waters but across an ARID DESERT WITH ALL ITS TRIALS AND TESTINGS, and FEW who left that House of Bondage reached the Land of milk and honey: the great majority fell in the wilderness through their unbelief—types of numerous professors who begin well but fail to endure unto the end.

There are multitudes in Christendom to-day deluded with the idea that a mere HISTORICAL FAITH IN THE GOSPEL ensures their reaching Heaven: who verily suppose they have “received Christ as their personal Savior” simply because they believe that He died on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of all those who repudiate their own righteousness and trust in Him. They imagine that if under the influence of religious emotion and the pressing appeals of an evangelist, and assured that “John 3:16 means what it says”, they were persuaded to “become Christians”, that therefore all is now well with them: that having obtained a ticket for Glory they may, like passengers on a train, relax and go to sleep, confident that in due time they shall arrive at their desired destination.

By such deceptions Satan chloroforms myriads into Hell. So WIDESPREAD is this deadly delusion that one who undertakes to expose its sophistry is certain to be regarded by many as a heretic.

[A.W. Pink in his Introduction to ‘Eternal Security]

WHY ALL ARE NOT SAVED

WHY ALL ARE NOT SAVED

A.W. Pink

Why is it that all are not saved, particularly all who hear the Gospel? Do you still answer, Because the majority refuse to believe? Well, that is true, but it is only a part of the truth. It is the truth FROM THE HUMAN SIDE. But there is a DIVINE SIDE too, and this side of the truth needs to be stressed or God will be robbed of His glory.

The unsaved are lost because they refuse to believe; the others are saved because they believe. But why do these others believe? What is it that causes them to put their trust in Christ? Is it because they are more intelligent than their fellows, and quicker to discern their need of salvation? Perish the thought—

“WHO maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not RECEIVE? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).

It is GOD HIMSELF WHO MAKETH THE DIFFERENCE between the elect and the non-elect, for of His own it is written,

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true” (1 John 5:20).

Now all will acknowledge that from the foundation of the world God certainly fore-knew and fore-saw who would and who would not receive Christ as their Savior, therefore in giving being and birth to those He knew would reject Christ, He necessarily created them unto damnation. All that can be said in reply to this is, No, while God did foreknow these ones would reject Christ, yet He did not decree that they should. But this is a begging of the real question at issue. God had a definite reason why He created men, a specific purpose why He created this and that individual, and in view of the eternal destination of His creatures, He purposed either that this one should spend eternity in Heaven or that this one should spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. If then He foresaw that in creating a certain person that that person would despise and reject the Savior, yet knowing this beforehand He, nevertheless, brought that person into existence, then it is clear He designed and ordained that that person should be eternally lost.

Again; faith is God’s gift, and the purpose to give it only to some, involves the purpose not to give it to others. Without faith there is no salvation—

“He that believeth not shall be damned”— hence if there were some of Adam’s descendants to whom He purposed not to give faith, it must be because He ordained that they should be damned.

[A.W. Pink. Sovereignty of God, Baker Publications not Banner!]

OUR GLORIOUS SALVATION

OUR GLORIOUS SALVATION

“Elect according to the foreknowledge of GOD THE FATHER, through SANCTIFICATION OF THE SPIRIT, unto obedience and sprinkling of the BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST: Grace unto you, and peace be multiplied.” [1Pet 1:2]

In one verse, we see that the Holy Trinity works together for the salvation of God’s Elect.

God thought it, Jesus bought it, the Holy Spirit wrought it . . . or in other words – the blood bought it, the Bible taught it, the devil fought it, love sought it, faith caught it, and happy is the person who can say, “I’ve got it!”

THE CAUSE OF SALVATION

A.W. Pink

It may be shown from scripture that the CAUSE of salvation is not a single one, as so many suppose– the blood of Christ.

Here, too, it is necessary to distinguish between things which differ.

First, the ORIGINATING cause of salvation is the eternal purpose of God, or, in other words, the predestinating grace of the Father.

Second, the MERITORIOUS cause of salvation is the mediation of Christ, this having particular respect to the legal side of things, or, in other words, His fully meeting the demands of the law on the behalf and in the stead of those He redeems.

Third, the EFFICIENT cause of salvation is the regenerating and sanctifying operations of the Holy Spirit, which respect the experimental side of it, or, in other words, the Spirit works IN us what Christ purchased FOR us. Thus, we owe our personal salvation equally to each Person in the Trinity, and not to one (the Son) more than to the others.

Fourth, the INSTRUMENTAL cause is our faith, obedience, and perseverance; though we are not saved because of them, equally true is it that we cannot be saved (according to God’s appointment) without them.

GOD CAN ONLY BE KNOWN BY SUPERNATURAL REVELATION

GOD CAN ONLY BE KNOWN BY SUPERNATURAL REVELATION

A.W. Pink


God can only be known by means of a supernatural revelation of Himself. Apart from the Scriptures, even a theoretical acquaintance with Him is impossible. It still holds true that “the world by wisdom knew not God” (1 Cor. 1:21). Where the Scriptures are ignored, God is “the unknown God” (Acts 17:23). But something more than the Scriptures is required before the soul can know God, know him in a real, personal, vital way.

This seems to be recognized by few today. The prevailing practice assumes that a knowledge of God can be obtained through studying the Word, in the same way as a knowledge of chemistry may be secured by mastering its textbooks. An intellectual knowledge of God maybe; not so a spiritual one. A supernatural God can only be known supernaturally (i.e. known in a manner above that which mere nature can acquire), by a supernatural revelation of Himself to the heart. “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). The one who has been favoured with this supernatural experience has learned that only “in Thy light shall we see light” (Psa. 36:9).

God can only be known through a supernatural faculty. Christ made this clear when He said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The unregenerate have no spiritual knowledge of God. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). Water, of itself, never rises above its own level. So the natural man is incapable of perceiving that which transcends mere nature. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God” (John 17:3). Eternal life must be imparted before the “true God” can be known. Plainly is this affirmed in 1 John 5:20, “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true.” Yes, an “understanding,” a spiritual understanding, by new creation, must be given before God can be known in a spiritual way.

If God has revealed Himself to you dear reader, He has given you a sight of yourself, for in His light we “see light.” A most humbling, painful, and never-to-be-forgotten experience this is. When God was revealed to Abraham, he said, “I am but dust and ashes” (Gen. 18:27). When He was revealed to Isaiah, the prophet said, “Woe is me for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5). When God revealed Him-self to Job, he said, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6)—note, not merely I abhor my wicked ways, but my vile self. Is this your experience, my reader? Have you discovered your depravity and lost condition? Have you found there is not a single good thing in you? Have you seen yourself to be fit for and deserving only of hell? Have you, truly? Then that is good evidence, yea, it is proof positive that the Lord God has “found” you.

DIVINE CHASTISEMENT – THE EVIDENCE OF YOUR SONSHIP

DIVINE CHASTISEMENT – THE EVIDENCE OF YOUR SONSHIP

As strange as it may sound I have at times prayed for God to chasten me, because there have been times when I have prolonged in sin without divine intervention and THAT is a frightening place to be. A fear grips you in the back of your mind and you begin to wonder if God has ‘left you’ for good. One of the most frightening verses in scripture is “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone!” [Hos 4:17]

And when the child of God begins to fear that such could be his case, he prays with Jeremiah, “O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in Thine anger, lest Thou bring me to nothing.” [Jer 10:24]

A true child of God would rather feel the rod of God’s displeasure than His scary silence. “Unto Thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.” [Ps 28:1]

But though it may appear that God has forgotten His backslidden children for a while, as sure as He is their Father and they His children, He WILL go after them with His chastening rod!

Whoever may get away with sin on this side of eternity, true CHRISTIANS CANNOT! Since they are HIS children, God uses the rod, chastises them, brings them to their senses and grants them the power to forsake sin! [see Psalm 89:30-35]

A saved Christian is a member of God’s household, and God sets His own house in order before He goes after the heathen!

“For the time is come that JUDGMENT MUST BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God”? [1Peter 4:17] And again – “if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But WHEN WE ARE JUDGED, WE ARE CHASTENED OF THE LORD, that we should not be condemned with the world”. [1Cor 11:31,32]

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent”! [Rev 3:19]

It is of first importance that we learn to draw a sharp distinction between DIVINE PUNISHMENT and DIVINE CHASTISEMENT: important for maintaining the honor and glory of God, and for the peace of mind of the Christian.

The distinction is very simple, yet is it often lost sight of.

GOD’S PEOPLE CAN NEVER BY ANY POSSIBILITY BE PUNISHED FOR THEIR SINS, FOR GOD HAS ALREADY PUNISHED THEM AT THE CROSS.

The Lord Jesus, our Blessed Substitute, suffered the full penalty of all our guilt, hence it is written “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Neither the justice nor the love of God will permit Him to again exact payment of what Christ discharged to the full.

The difference between punishment and chastisement lies not in the nature of the sufferings of the afflicted: it is most important to bear this in mind. There is a threefold distinction between the two.

FIRST, the character in which God acts. In the former God acts as JUDGE, in the latter as FATHER. Sentence of punishment is the act of a judge, a penal sentence passed on those charged with guilt. Punishment can never fall upon the child of God in this judicial sense because his guilt was all transferred to Christ: “Who his own self bear our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24)

But while the believer’s sins cannot be punished, while the Christian cannot be condemned (Rom. 8:3), yet he may be chastised.

THE CHRISTIAN OCCUPIES AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT POSITION FROM THE NON-CHRISTIAN: HE IS A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY OF GOD.

The relationship which now exists between him and God is that of parent and child; and as a son he must be disciplined for wrongdoing. Folly is bound up in the hearts of all God’s children, and the rod is necessary to rebuke, to subdue, and to humble.

THE SECOND DISTINCTION between Divine punishment and Divine chastisement lies in the recipients of each. The objects of the former are HIS ENEMIES. The subjects of the latter are HIS CHILDREN. As the Judge of all the earth, God will yet take vengeance on all His foes. As the Father of His family, God maintains discipline over all His children. The one is judicial, the other parental.

A THIRD DISTINCTION is seen in the design of each: the one is RETRIBUTIVE, the other REMEDIAL. The one flows from HIS ANGER, the other from HIS LOVE. Divine punishment is never sent for the good of sinners, but for the honoring of God’s law and the vindicating of His government. But Divine chastisement is sent for the well-being of His children: “We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Heb. 12:9-10).

The above distinction should at once rebuke the thoughts which are so generally entertained among Christians. When the believer is smarting under the rod let him not say, God is now punishing me for my sins. THAT CAN NEVER BE. That is most dishonoring to the blood of Christ. God is correcting thee in love, not smiting in wrath. Nor should the Christian regard the chastening of the Lord as a sort of necessary evil to which he must bow as submissively as possible. No, it proceeds from God’s goodness and faithfulness, and is one of the greatest blessings for which we have to thank Him.

CHASTISEMENT EVIDENCES OUR DIVINE SON-SHIP!

The father of a family does not concern himself with those on the outside: but those within he guides and disciplines to make them conform to his will. Chastisement is designed for our good, to promote our highest interests. Look beyond the rod to the All-wise hand that wields it!

[The 5th paragraph and following is quoted from A.W. Pink’s ‘Divine Chastisement’]

ACTUAL POSSESSORS AND EMPTY PROFESSORS – THE DIFFERENCE

ACTUAL POSSESSORS AND EMPTY PROFESSORS – THE DIFFERENCE

A.W. Pink


Recently a brother in the Lord wrote calling our attention to the comparisons and contrasts between the wise and foolish virgins of Matthew 25. The substance of his remarks was as follows.

They have seven things in COMMON:
 First, all the virgins were in “the kingdom of heaven”—by which we understand, the sphere of Christian profession.
Second, they were all of them “virgins”—not five virgins and five harlots—by which we understand, they all claimed to belong unto Christ.
Third, they all “went forth to meet the Bridegroom”—they were one in purpose, having a single end in view.
Fourth, they all had “lamps,” the same sort of lamps.
Fifth, they all “slumbered and slept.”
Sixth, they all heard the cry “Behold, the Bridegroom comes.”
Seventh, they all “arose and trimmed their lamps.”
 

There are six points of DIFFERENCE between them:
First, five of them were “wise” and five of them were “foolish.”
Second, the wise “took oil in their vessels with their lamps” (v. 4)—but the foolish ones did not do so.
Third, at the crucial moment the foolish virgins had to acknowledge “our lamps are (slowly but surely) gone out” (v. 8 margin).
Fourth, the foolish virgins “went to buy” oil (v. 10), the wise ones had no need to do so.
Fifth, the wise were shut in with the Bridegroom—but the foolish were shut out (v. 10.)
Sixth, the foolish virgins were disowned by the Lord (vv. 11, 12).
 
Commenting upon the above our friend pointed out that, “There is a certain class today who differ not from the children of God as to their testimony—its purity, its orthodoxy, its sincerity. These are not Spiritists, Russellites (Jehovah’s Witnessess), or the daughters of the Mother of Harlots—but ‘virgins’.  Doctrinally they are pure. They are pictured as going forth ‘to meet the Bridegroom,’ not one to the ‘desert’ and another to the ‘secret chambers’ (Matt. 24:26), seeking a false Christ. The Object of their service was the same Person which the wise virgins were occupied with.
 
The vital point in their ‘foolishness’ was not that they ‘slumbered and slept’ but that they had no oil in their VESSELS. There was oil in their ‘LAMPS’ — their testimony or doctrine—but none in their ‘VESSELS’ or souls.”
 
The above has deeply impressed the editor once more with the great importance of making sure individually whether there be oil in MY vessel—the “vessel” is the soul, the “oil” is Divine grace in it. Whatever may be the precise signification of “behold the Bridegroom comes” — whether it refers to the hour of death, the “return of Christ,” or the Day of Judgment—one thing is clear—it points to the crucial testing time.
 
As our friend further points out—Balaam had oil in his “lamp,” as also had Judas when Christ sent him forth with the other Apostles to “preach” (Matt. 10:5-7)—yet their hearts were destitute of the saving grace of God! What a terrible discovery for the foolish virgins to make, “our lamps are gone out”—a discovery made too late to do them any good.
 
This parable of the “virgins” is indeed a searching and solemn one. It has deeply exercised many a sincere soul. It has caused not a few genuine saints to wonder if, after all, the “root of the matter” were in them. It has given real point to that exhortation “Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Cor. 13:5). On the other hand, vast numbers of professing Christians are quite unmoved by its pointed message, complacently assuming that they ARE numbered among the “wise” virgins, and taking no trouble to seek PROOF that the oil is in THEIR vessels. Strangest of all, perhaps, some of the Lord’s own people scarcely know HOW to set about the task of ascertaining their state, and are so suspicious of themselves, that they readily conclude that their vessels are devoid of the vital oil.
 
The key passage for the significance of this Scriptural figure is, “Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows” (Psalm 45:7), where the reference is to the Mediator, for God “gives not the Spirit by measure unto Him” (John 3:34); in consequence thereof, He is “fairer than the children of men – grace is poured into Thy lips” (Psalm 45:2). The holy “oil” was first poured upon the antitypical Aaron, and then it ran down to all the “skirts of His garments” (Psalm 133:2), that is, to the lowest and feeblest Christians. Just as the little finger or toe is animated by the same life and vitality as actuates the head and heart of a person – so every Christian is vitalized by the same Spirit as was given to Christ, the Head. As the Spirit sanctified the human nature of Christ by fitting and enriching it with all grace, so His grace is communicated to all His members.
 
The “oil,” then, in the vessels of the wise virgins—refers to the life of the Spirit in the soul of a Christian. It is the presence of Divine grace in the heart—in contrast from knowledge in the head, or correctness of outward deportment; which distinguishes the actual possessor from the empty professor. How important then is it that we spare no efforts to ascertain whether or not that Divine grace resides IN US! Yet at this very point Christians encounter a real difficulty—as they honestly and diligently look within, they perceive such a sea of corruption, ever casting up mire and dirt, they are greatly distressed, and ready to conclude that Divine grace surely cannot be present in such evil hearts as theirs. But this is a serious mistake; as genuine oil is distinguishable from counterfeits by its properties, so grace in the soul may be known by its characteristics and effects.
 
But the exercised soul should begin his search for indwelling grace with it definitely settled in his mind, that, in every heart where grace resides there is also an ocean of sin; and just as oil and water will not mix—but continue to preserve their distinct properties even when placed together in the same vessel, so the flesh and spirit will not combine in the Christian—but remain in opposition to each other unto the end. Admitting, then, a sea of depravity within, my object is to find out if there is any “oil” at all which the surgings of sin are unable to destroy. When I see smoke, I must infer fire (however flickering), and if I can discern in my heart any spiritual grace (however feeble) I MUST infer the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
 
Be not unduly discouraged, then, dear Christian friend, because you discover so much filthy water in your “vessel” (the editor does the same)—but rather confine your attention unto searching for the “oil” within you, and remember that the presence of the same is to be determined by its properties and effects. Let us name a few of these.
 
First, oil illumines, therefore are the blinded Laodiceans bidden to go to Christ for eye-salve (anointing oil) that they may see (Rev. 3:18). Now where Divine grace has been bestowed, that soul is enlightened. True, says a serious reader—but the point which exercises me so much is—Is my enlightenment a spiritual and supernatural one, or merely a natural and intellectual one, acquired by the mind being instructed through sitting under sound teaching? Those mentioned in Hebrews 6:4 were “once enlightened,” yet no saving work of grace had been wrought in them!
 
Some of our readers may be total strangers to all such distressing experiences, and wonder why any real Christian should call into question the exact character of his or her illumination, troubling themselves not at all whether  their  enlightenment is natural or supernatural. Poor souls, it is greatly to be feared that a crude awakening is awaiting them from their Satan-induced sleep. But what shall we say to those who ARE awake and deeply concerned about their eternal interests? How are such to determine the matter? We answer, TEST the point.
 
 Was there not a time when you “saw no beauty in Christ that you should DESIRE Him?” Is it so with you now? Or has He become in your eyes, the “altogether lovely” One? You may be afraid to call Him YOURS, yet if your heart truly yearns for Him, then you MUST have been spiritually enlightened, the “oil” IS in your vessel.
 
Second, oil SOFTENS. Oil was much used by the ancients for medicinal purposes, and we moderns might well take a leaf out of their books. It will melt caked wax in the ear; it will make tender a calloused bunion. It is very useful for tumors—repeated applications softening, then causing to burst, and then healing. Thus it is in the operation of the Holy Spirit. He finds the elect hard and obdurate by nature, and swollen with pride and self-conceit; but Divine grace softens them, melting their flinty hearts, bursting the tumors of self-righteousness, and imparting a contrite spirit. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you—and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh” (Eze. 36:26).
 
 When Divine grace has been imparted—the heart is supernaturally softened. But right here the sincere soul experiences still greater difficulty, and is ready to exclaim emphatically, Then I must still be in an unregenerate state, for my heart is as hard as the nether millstone! Wait a moment, dear friend, and TEST the matter. What are THE MARKS of a “hard heart” as given in Scripture? Are they not a total absence of a FEELING sense of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, an utter unconcern whether God be pleased or displeased with my conduct, no mourning in secret when Christ has been dishonored by me? Is that true of YOU, who are so ready to conclude that you are still in a state of nature? If it is not, if sin is your BURDEN and your soul GRIEVES over your lack of conformity to Christ, then your heart MUST have been spiritually softened—the “oil” IS in your vessel.
 
Third, oil HEALS. Hence we find the great Physician, under the figure of the good Samaritan, having compassion on the assaulted traveler, binding up his wounds and “pouring in OIL and wine” (Luke 10:34); and He is still caring thus for His people through the gracious ministry of the Spirit. How often the blessed Comforter applies “the balm of Gilead” to the sin-afflicted people of God. What horrible bruises and putrefying sores—do sin and Satan inflict upon the souls of the saints—yet how frequently and tenderly does the Spirit mollify and relieve them. First, He works REPENTANCE in the heart, which is a purging grace, carrying away the foul and poisonous love of sin. Then He strengthens hope, which is a comforting grace so that the joy of the Lord once more becomes his strength. Divine grace removes the load of guilt from the conscience, applies the cordial of the promises, and gives the weary pilgrim a lift by the way—”Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him” (Luke 10:34).
 
Here, then, is another property and effect of Divine grace—it heals the soul. We can well imagine some fearful reader exclaiming, Alas, that cuts off my hope, for there is no soundness in me! Listen, dear friend, no Christian is completely and perfectly healed from the disease of sin in this life—but he IS delivered from the most fearful and fatal effects of it; and it is at THIS point you are to examine yourself. What are the WORST things which the Fall has produced in man? Enmity against God, the love of sin, the idolizing of self. TEST yourself by these things. Do you still hate GOD? If so, would you repine because you love Him so feebly! Are you still in love with sin? If so, why do you grieve over its workings! Is SELF now your idol? If so, why do you, at times, loath yourself! Sin has not been eradicated—but its wounds are being healed—the “oil” IS in your vessel.
 
The limited space now at our disposal, prevents us doing more than barely mentioning a number of other features.
Oil makes the joints FLEXIBLE and nimble, and therefore was much used by athletes; so grace enables the Christian to “serve in newness of spirit” (Romans 7:6) and run the race set before him. It is an excellent thing for those who have stiff joints, for it penetrates to the bones (Psalm 109:18).
 
Oil makes the countenance fresh and LOVELY (Psalm 104:15)—what is more attractive to the spiritual eye than a gracious character.
 
Oil SWEETENS our persons, so that we are unto God a “sweet savor of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:15), whereas the wicked are a “smoke in His nostrils” (Isaiah 65:5).
 
Oil GLADDENS, and thus we read of “the oil of joy” (Isaiah 61:3)—the heart is exhilarated when grace is active.
 
 Oil is an aid to DIGESTION; so, only as grace is active within us, can we assimilate our spiritual food.
 
 Oil and water will not INTERMINGLE—the old man is not bettered by the new, nor is the new corrupted by the old. Oil cannot be made to sink beneath the water—but always floats on top; so grace in the believer is indestructible, and at the end it will be seen to have fully triumphed over sin. Oil is a super-eminent liquid, for it will not incorporate itself with anything lighter; it will have the highest place above all other liquids. Just so, the graces of the Spirit are of a superior character—as far above the gifts of nature as spiritual blessings excel earthly things.
 
 Oil QUIETS troubled waters, giving relief to a ship in a storm—so grace often subdues the turbulent workings of sin. What a blessed promise is that in Psalm 92:10, “I shall be anointed with FRESH oil”—new supplies of grace, blessed revivings are granted God’s tried people. Yes, there IS “oil in the dwellings of the WISE” virgins (Proverbs 21:20. The Lord be pleased to add HIS blessing to this little Meditation.
 

THE GOD OF NOMINAL CHRISTENDOM NOT THE GOD OF THE BIBLE

THE GOD OF NOMINAL CHRISTENDOM NOT THE GOD OF THE BIBLE

A.W. Pink
 
“Men imagine the Most High is moved by sentiment, rather than by principle. They suppose His omnipotency is such an idle fiction that Satan can thwart His designs on every side. They think that if He has formed any plan or purpose at all, then it must be like theirs, constantly subject to change. They openly declare that whatever power He possesses must be restricted, lest He invade the citadel of man’s free will and reduce him to a machine. They lower the all-efficacious atonement, which redeems everyone for whom it was made, to a mere remedy, which sin-sick souls may use if they feel so disposed. They lessen the strength of the invincible work of the Holy Spirit to an offer of the Gospel which sinners may accept or reject as they please.

The god of this century no more resembles the Sovereign of Holy Writ than does the dim flickering of a candle the glory of the midday sun. The god who is talked about in the average pulpit, spoken of in the ordinary Sunday school, mentioned in much of the religious literature of the day, and preached in most of the so-called Bible conferences, is a figment of human imagination, an invention of maudlin sentimentality.

The heathen outside the pale of Christendom form gods of wood and stone, while millions of heathen inside Christendom manufacture a god out of their carnal minds. In reality, they are but atheists, for there is no other possible alternative between an absolutely supreme God, and no God at all. A god whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to deity, and far from being a fit object of worship, merits nothing but contempt.”  [A.W. Pink]
 
 “And so the way is prepared for that caricature of gospel preaching, that consists chiefly in begging the sinner to come to Jesus before it is too late, leaves the false impression that it is quite in his power to come today or tomorrow, or whatever time may be convenient to him, and that presents a very willing but powerless Jesus, that would ever be pleased to save the sinner, but is incapable to do so unless the sinner gives his consent. The “whosoever will may come” is presented as meaning: “All men can will to come whenever they please.” And instead of the truth of the gospel that no man can come to Christ unless the Father draw him, we now hear; “No, Christ cannot come to the sinner, unless the sinner permit him!”
 
Here is a fair example of it: “God is ready, God is willing, God is eager, God is anxious, God is pleading for the privilege of washing away the sins of every soul in the precious blood of His son and heir. But His hands are tied, His power is limited, His grace is constrained by you. If you want to be saved, God is willing to save you. If you don’t want to be saved, there isn’t anything that even God can do to rescue you from that pit of eternal burning.” That is what becomes of the preaching of the gospel when the truth of God’s sovereign grace is either forgotten or denied. Call it the gospel, if you like; to me it is nothing short of blasphemy of the name of the living God! An anxious and pleading God, whose power is limited, and whose hands may be tied by the proud and stubborn sinner, who is less than dust of the balance, is no God, but a miserable idol!”  (Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965) in “Whosoever Will”).

NATURAL AND SOUL THIRST

NATURAL AND SOUL THIRST

– by A.W. Pink

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink”. [John 7:37]

Here is the Gospel in a single short sentence. Three words in it stand out and call for special emphasis—”thirst,” “come,” “drink.” The first tells of a recognized need. Thirst, like hunger, is something of which we are acutely conscious. It is a craving for that which is not in our actual possession. There is a soul thirst as well as a bodily. The pathetic thing is that so many thirst for that which cannot slake them. Their thirst is for the things of the world: pleasure, money, fame, ease, self-indulgence; and over all these Christ has written in imperishable letters, “Whosoever drinketh of this water SHALL THIRST AGAIN.”

But in our text Christ is referring to a thirst for something infinitely nobler and grander, even for Himself. He speaks of that intense longing for Himself which ONLY THE SPIRIT OF GOD CAN CREATE IN THE SOUL. If a poor sinner is convicted of his pollution and desires cleansing, if he is weighted down with the awful burden of conscious guilt and desires pardon, if he is fully aware of his weakness and impotency and longs for strength and deliverance, if he is filled with fears and distrust and craves for peace and rest,—then, says Christ, let him “come unto Me.” Happy the one who so thirsts after Christ that he can say, “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God” (Ps. 42:1).

“Let him come unto Me.” “Come” is one of the simplest words in the English language. It signifies our approach to an object or person. It expresses action, and implies that the will is operative. To come to Christ means, that you do with your heart and will what you would do with your feet were He standing in bodily form before you and saying, “Come unto me.” It is an act of faith. IT INTIMATES THAT YOU HAVE TURNED YOUR BACK UPON THE WORLD, AND HAVE ABANDONED ALL CONFIDENCE IN EVERYTHING ABOUT YOURSELF, AND NOW CAST YOURSELF EMPTY-HANDED, AT THE FEET OF INCARNATE GRACE AND TRUTH. But make sure that nothing whatever is substituted for Christ. It is not, come to the Lord’s table, or come to the waters of baptism, or come to the priest or minister, or come and join the church; but come to CHRIST HIMSELF, and to none other.

“And drink.” It is here that so many seem to fail. There are numbers who give evidence of an awakened conscience, of heart-exercise, of a conscious need of Christ; and there are numbers who appear to be seeking Him, and yet stop short at that. But Christ not only said, “Come unto Me,” but He added, “and drink.” A river flowing through a country where people were dying of thirst, would avail them nothing unless THEY DRINK OF IT. The blood of the slain lamb availed the Israelite household nothing, unless the head of that household had applied it to the door. So Christ saves none who do not receive Him by faith. “Drinking” is here a figurative expression, and signifies making Christ your own. In all ages God’s saints have been those who saw their deep need, who came to the Lord, and appropriated the provision of grace.

“If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.”

Let us not forget where these words were first uttered. THE SPEAKER WAS NOT IN A PENITENTIARY (PRISON OR JAIL), BUT IN THE TEMPLE. Christ was not addressing a company of profligates, but a RELIGIOUS CROWD who were observing a Divinely-instituted Feast! What an example for each of His servants!

Brother preacher, take nothing for granted. Do not suppose that because those you address are respectable people and punctual in their religious exercises they are necessarily saved. Heed that word of your Master’s, and “preach the gospel to EVERY CREATURE,” cultured as well as illiterate, the respectable as well as the profligate, the religious man as well as the irreligious!

“For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God!” [Rom 3:23]

GOD IS LIGHT, MAN IS DARKNESS!

GOD IS LIGHT, MAN IS DARKNESS!

[Gleaned and paraphrased from the works of A.W. Pink by Michael Jeshurun]

“God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” and consequently He cannot have fellowship with darkness. God is light, that is purity: and as the thrice Holy One He can hold no communion with iniquity. God is light, that is knowledge, for all things are known unto the Lord, and with ignorance He has no affinity. God is light, that is truth, for He can neither err, nor break His Word, and therefore He cannot smile on anything that is false.

We are constantly erring, first on this side and then on that, not only is there is darkness in us, but we are darkness personified; God is light essentially, and it is not possible for His nature to be affected by either impurity or error. Out of this attribute of His nature arises the fact that the Lord always deals with things as they are. Man invents fictions, but God creates facts. We conceive of things as they appear, but God sees them as they exist. “Man looketh at the outward appearance, but God looketh at the heart.” The dress of things impresses us, but all things are naked and open before Him.

Scripture designates Christ as the Light. Not just light but ‘the GREAT Light’ – “The people which sat in darkness saw GREAT LIGHT; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up!” [Matt 4:16] In fact none of the Old Testament prophets claimed to be ‘the light’ and when the last of the prophets came on the scene it states, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the TRUE LIGHT, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” [John 1:6-9]

No, John himself was not “that light,” for “light” like “life” is to be found only in God. Apart from God all is darkness, profound and unrelieved. Even the believer has no light in himself. What saith the Scriptures? “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye the light in the Lord” [Eph 5:8]. There is a statement found in John 5:35 which, as it stands in the A.V, conflicts with what is said here in John 1:8. In verse 35 when speaking of John , Christ said, “He was a burning and shining light,” but the Greek word used here is entirely different from that translated “light” in John 1:8, and in the R.V. it is correctly translated “He was the LAMP that burneth and shineth.” This word used of John , correctly translated “lamp,” points a striking contrast between the forerunner and Christ as “the light.” A lamp has no inherent light of its own—it has to be supplied! A “lamp” has to be carried by another! A “lamp” soon burns out: in a few hours it ceases to shine. But not so the true and great Light who is God manifest in the flesh!

“In the Greek language there are two different but related words that are almost always translated “true” in our Bibles. The first is the word ‘alethes’ which means “true” as opposed to “false.” That is, if you were to make a statement in a court of law, it would be either true or false, right or wrong. But that is not the word that John uses here. Here John uses the word ‘alethinos’. This word means “true” as opposed to “partial” or, as we would say, “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” as opposed to part of it. A better way of translating this word would be by use of the terms “real” or “genuine.” Thus, we should say that the light of the Lord Jesus Christ was the real light beside which all other lights were imperfect or misleading.” [James Montgomery Boice]

Bishop Ryle in his most excellent notes on John’s Gospel, has suggested that the adjective “true” has here at least a fourfold reference. . . .

FIRST, Christ, is the “true light” as the UNDECEIVING LIGHT. Satan himself, we read, “is transformed into an angel of light” [2Cor. 11:14], but he appears as such only to deceive. But Christ is the TRUE LIGHT in contrast from all the false lights which are in the world.

Second, as the “TRUE LIGHT,” Christ is the REAL LIGHT. The real light in contrast from the dim and shaded light which was conveyed through the types and shadows of the Old Testament ritual.

THIRD, as the “TRUE LIGHT” Christ is the UNDERIVED LIGHT: there are lesser lights which are borrowed and reflected, as the moon from the sun, but Christ’s “light” is His own essential and underived glory.

FOURTH, as the “true light,” Christ is the SUPEREMINENT LIGHT, in contrast from all that is ordinary and common. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another of the stars; but all other lights pale before Him who is “the light.”

Another older divine has an interesting comment on the TRUE LIGHT – The “true Light” should be taken with the “true bread” [John 6:32], the “true vine” [Jn 15:1], and “the truth” [Jn 14:6]. There had been physical manna provided by God in the wilderness, and there was plenty of falseness around, and light could be darkness [Luke 11:35]. The “TRUE LIGHT” and the “TRUE BREAD” are the spiritual counterparts in Christ to the LIGHT [cf Ex 26:35, 27:20] and BREAD [cf “bread of the Presence” Ex 25:30, Lev 24:5-6, Nu 4:7] in the holy place in the tabernacle, while the light of glory and the golden pot of manna [Ex 16:33, Heb 9:4] were to be found in the Holiest of all. When light falls on a surface, it shows up its reflective power. Moreover, light is sometimes absorbed, and is re-emitted. In Moses’ case, after having been in the glory of God’s presence, his face shone; namely he absorbed the glory falling upon him and then re-emitted it [Ex 34:29-35; 2 Cor 3:13]. On the other hand, if Light falls upon dark and evil hearts then they could not reflect anything of Christ. This is the open manifestation of the effect of Christ upon men; but the Light would possess the complete spectrum, including, for example, X-rays. Visible light touches upon that which is outward, but X-rays touch upon that which is inward. Thus the Lord had the power of introspection, as in the case of Nathanael [Jn 1:47], of men in general [Jn 2:25], of the Samaritan woman and her past history [Jn 4:18, 29]; truly, “the Lord looks at the heart” [1Sa 16:7; Heb 4:12-13]. Moreover, it is internally that the Light has “shined in our hearts” to grant us spiritual knowledge [2 Cor 4:6]

Now in contrast to this great and true light consider the great darkness of fallen man. Scripture personifies every lost son of Adam not as ‘living in darkness’ but as darkness itself. Even of the now regenerated saint the apostle says, “FOR YE WERE SOMETIMES DARKNESS, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light!” [Eph 5:8] And admonishing the Corinthian Christians not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, the apostle asks the rhetoric question, “what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion HATH LIGHT WITH DARKNESS?

“And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” [Jn 1:5] All other darkness yields to and fades away before light, but here “the darkness” is so impenetrable and hopeless, it neither apprehends nor comprehends the Light. What a fearful and solemn indictment of fallen human nature! And how evident it is that nothing short of a miracle of saving grace can ever bring one “out of darkness into God’s marvelous light.”

But a few do ‘comprehend’ this Light and receive it. And is this left to chance? Far from it. As the following verse goes on to state, “which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man , but of God” [ John 1:13]. This explains to us WHY the few “receive” Christ. It is because they are born of God. Just as verse 12 gives us the human side, so verse 13 gives us the Divine. The Divine side is the New-birth: and the taking place of the new birth is “not of blood,” that is to say, it is not a matter of heredity, for regeneration does not run in the veins; “nor of the will of the flesh,” the will of the natural man is opposed to God, and he has no will God-ward until he has been born again; “nor of the will of man,” that is to say, the new birth is not brought about by the well-meant efforts of friends, nor by the persuasive powers of the preacher; “but of God.”

The new birth is a Divine work! It is accomplished by the Holy Spirit applying the Word in living power to the heart. The reception Christ met during the days of His earthly ministry is the same still: the world “knows him not;” Israel “receives Him not;” but a little company do receive Him, and who these are Acts 13:48 tells us—”as many as were ordained to eternal life believed!” And here we must stop.

BEHOLDING THE CRUCIFIED CHRIST


BEHOLDING THE CRUCIFIED CHRIST

A.W. Pink, (1911)


Preface:

It is a sad truth that Christians in our day shy away from long sermons and articles. They just do not have the time for such. They find it much easier to scroll down their Instagram or Twitter feed than to sit down and ponder a Christian post that exceeds two short pages, let alone pour through the works of a Jonathan Edwards or a John Owen.
 
So as much as lieth in me I try and paraphrase, condense and compress doctrinal truths and faith-building writings of the Reformers and godly men gone by and present their writings in short posts for the ‘busy’ Christian. But some classic sermons and lectures can only be condensed so much, to chop off any more would not only do injustice to the original writer, but in most cases it would not convey the whole message as it was initially intended.
 
THIS is one such post. Please make the time to read and meditate on the truth presented here and other such posts of ours. It will prove to be an immense blessing to your souls as it was to us.

Your servant for His sake
Michael Jeshurun

 
“They crucified Him …. and sitting down they WATCHED Him there.” (Matthew 27:35, 36)

The reference is to the Roman soldiers, as is clear from John 19:23, confirmed by Matthew 27:54. They were the ones authorized to carry out the death sentence which had been passed by Pilate, and into their hands the governor had delivered the Savior (Matthew 27:26, 27).

My divisions will be simple—


what THEY saw;
what I see;
what do YOU see?
 
I. What THEY saw.
1. They beheld the most amazing event of all history, the most awe-inspiring spectacle ever set before the eyes of men, the most TRAGIC and yet the most GLORIOUS deed ever performed. They beheld God incarnate taken by wicked hands and slain—yet at the same time the Redeemer voluntarily laying down His life for those who have forfeited every claim upon Him. To those soldiers it was an ordinary event—the execution of a criminal. And thus it is with most of those who hear the Gospel—it falls upon their ears as a religious commonplace. To those Roman soldiers, at least for awhile, Christ appeared to them only as a dying Jew. Thus it is with the multitude today—to them the Lamb of God possesses neither form nor loveliness, and when He is set before them in the mirror of the Word—they see in Him no beauty that they should desire Him. His peerless Person has no attraction for them—His righteous claims are disregarded—His scepter is flouted—for His atoning blood, they feel no need.
 
2. They beheld the incomparable perfections of the crucified One. How immeasurably different the deportment of the suffering Savior—from what they had witnessed from others in similar circumstances! No cursing of His lot, no reviling of His enemies, no maledictions upon themselves. The very reverse—His lips are engaged in prayer! “Father,” He says, “forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). How amazed they must have been—as they heard that Blessed One on the tree making “intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12). The two thieves who were crucified with Him mocked the Redeemer (Matthew 27:44), but at the eleventh hour one of them was “granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18) and turning to Jesus he said, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). The Lord did not decline his appeal and say he had sinned beyond the reach of mercy but answered, “Truly, I say unto you, Today shall you be with Me in Paradise” (v. 43). Thus they witnessed an unparalleled display of SOVEREIGN GRACE unto one of the greatest of sinners.
 
3. They beheld most mysterious phenomena. They had sat down to “watch Him,” but after a while they were no longer able to do so. At midday—it suddenly became as midnight, “At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock” (Matthew 27:45). It was as though the sun refused to shine on such a scene, as though nature itself was mourning over such a sight! During those three hours, there a transaction took place between Christ and God, which was infinitely too sacred for finite eyes to gaze upon—a mystery which no mortal mind can fully enter into. As soon as the Savior committed His spirit into the hands of the Father, “At that moment the curtain in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened!” (Matthew 27:51). No ordinary sufferer was this. It was the Creator of Heaven and earth expiring—and Heaven and earth here expressed their sympathy.
 
4. They beheld and heard that which was blessed to their conviction and conversion. Pharaoh witnessed the most remarkable display of God’s power in the plagues which He sent upon Egypt—but so far from inclining him to repentance, he continued to harden his heart. Thus it ever is with the unregenerate, while then are left to themselves—neither the most astonishing tokens of God’s goodness nor the most awe-inspiring of His judgments melt or move them. But in the case before us, God was pleased to soften the callous hearts of these Roman soldiers and illumine their heathen minds, for we are informed, “The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, ‘Truly, this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54).
 
Personally we regard this as another of the miracles which took place at Calvary—a miracle of amazing grace, and it is our expectation to meet in Heaven—the very man who hammered the nails into the Savior’s hands and feet, and thrust the spear into His side—God’s answer to Christ’s prayer, “Father, forgive them.” Thus there is hope for the vilest sinner out of Hell—if he will surrender to the Lordship of Christ and trust in His all-sufficient blood.

 
II. What I see.

1. I perceive here, an unveiling of the CHARACTER OF MAN. 

“But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.” Or in today’s English “everything exposed by the light becomes visible” (Eph. 5:13). Now Christ is “the true light” (John 1:9), the essential, Divine, all-revealing light; consequently all men and all things stood exposed in His presence. The worst things predicated in Scripture of fallen human nature, were verified and exemplified in the days of Christ. God says that the heart of man is “desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9), and it was demonstrated to be such by the treatment meted out to His beloved Son. Scarcely was He born into this world—than a determined effort was made to slay Him. Though He constantly went about doing good, relieving the distressed and ministering to both the souls and bodies of the needy—yet so little was He appreciated that He had to say, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air nests—but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20). On one occasion, “they pleaded with him to leave their region” (Matthew 8:34).
 
But not only was Christ unwelcome here—men hated Him—and that “without a cause” (John 15:25). He gave them every reason to admire and adore Him—but they had an inveterate detestation of Him. The Word of Truth declares, that “the carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). Men do not believe it—in fact most of them pretend the very opposite. Nevertheless, at Calvary—they gave proof of their hatred of God. Multitudes go through the form of paying homage to God—but it is a “god” of their own imagination. They hate the true and living God, and were it possible—they would rid the universe of His existence. This is clear from their treatment of Christ, for He was none other than “God manifest in flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16) and Him they hated and hounded to death, and nothing short of His cruel death by crucifixion would appease them. Here at Calvary the real character of man was revealed and the desperate wickedness of his heart laid bare. There it was shown that he was capable of the blackest of all crimes. Then let us not be surprised that the history of mankind is written in tears and blood.
 
2. I perceive here, an unveiling of SIN. Sin! that “abominable thing” which the Lord hates (Jer. 44:4), but which is regarded so lightly by those who commit it. Sin! which caused our first parents to be banished from Eden and which is responsible for all the WANT and WOE that is in the world. Sin! which produces strife and bloodshed and has turned this “land of the living” into a mammoth cemetery! Sin! that hideous monster we so much dislike hearing about—and which we are so ready to gloss over and excuse. Sin! over which Satan employs all his subtle arts to render attractive, setting it forth in the most appealing colors and winsome garbs.
 
One of the great designs of the Incarnation was to bring to light the hidden things of darkness. The personal presence here of the Holy One acted like a brilliant light being turned on in a long-neglected room, revealing its squalor and filth. “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin—but now they have no cloak for their sin” (John 15:22).
 
In the passage just quoted Christ was speaking comparatively. As evil as man had shown himself all through his history—the coming of Immanuel to this earth brought sin to such a head—that all that which had gone before, was relatively but a trifling thing when compared with the monstrous wickedness which was done against Love incarnate. In the treatment which the Son of God received at the hands of men—we see sin in its true colors, stripped of a disguise, exposed in its hideous reality, revealed in its true nature as contempt of God, and rebellion against Him. Here at Calvary we behold the climax of sin—and the fearful and horrible lengths to which it is capable of going! That which germinated in Eden—culminated in the crucifixion! The first sin occasioned spiritual suicide; the second sin took the form of fratricide (Cain murdering his brother), but here at Calvary—we see sin at its apex—Deicide—in the slaying of the Lord of Glory! We see also the fearful wages which sin pays—death, departure from God. Since Christ hung there as the Sin-bearer of all who believe in Him—He received the punishment which was due unto them.
 
3. I perceive an unveiling of the character of GOD. The heavens declare His glory and the firmament shows His handiwork—but nowhere are His perfections more solemnly and illustriously displayed, than at the Cross.
 
See here His ineffable holiness. The holiness of God is the delight He has in all that is pure and lovely, and therefore does His nature abominate and burn against whatever is evil. God hates sin wherever it is found and He made no exception of Christ when He beheld it lying by imputation upon His beloved Son. There God had “laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6), that is, all His people—He dealt with Him accordingly, pouring out His holy wrath upon Him. God is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity” (Hab. 1:13) and therefore did He turn His back upon the Sin-bearer. “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” the suffering Savior cried, and then answered His own query, “Thou art holy” (Psalm 22:1, 3).
 
See here God’s inflexible justice. The pronouncement of His Law is, “the soul that sins—it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4), and no deviation from it can be made, for Jehovah has expressly declared that He, “will by no means clear the guilty” (Exo. 34:7). But will He not make an exception of that One whom He testifies is the Lamb “without spot and without blemish” (1 Peter 1:19)? No, for though Christ was sinless both by nature and by action—yet because the sins of His people had been laid upon Him, God “spared not His own Son” (Romans 8:32). Because sin was transferred to Him, punishment must be visited upon Him, and therefore did God cry, “awake O sword against My Shepherd, against the Man who is My Fellow, says the Lord Almighty, smite the Shepherd” (Zech. 13:7). God would not abate one iota of His righteous demand or allow sentiment to sully the fair face of His government. He claims to be par excellence the Judge who is “without respect of persons” and fully was that demonstrated at Calvary by refusing to exempt the Person of His Beloved, the One in whom His soul delighted (Isaiah 42:1), when occupying the place of the guilty.
 
See here God’s amazing grace! “God commends His love toward us (His people) in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Had He so pleased, God could have consigned the whole of Adam’s race to everlasting woe. That is what each of us richly deserve. And why should He not do so? By nature we are depraved and corrupt; by practice incorrigible rebels—with no love for Him and no concern for His glory. But out of His own goodness and graciousness, He determined to save a people from their sin, to redeem them by Christ, “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph. 1:6). He determined to pluck them as brands from the burning, that they might be the eternal monuments of His mercy. And because it was wholly outside of their power to make atonement for their fearful crimes, He Himself provided an all-sufficient Sacrifice for them. He is “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10) and innumerable tokens and proofs has He given of this—but nowhere were the “riches of His grace” so lavishly and so wondrously displayed as at Calvary.
 
See here God’s manifold wisdom. The Word of Truth declares, “There shall never enter into it, anything that defiles, neither works abomination” (Rev. 21:27), then how is it possible that I can ever gain admittance into the heavenly Jerusalem? How can it be that one so completely devoid of righteousness as I am, and so filled with unrighteousness, could ever receive the Divine approbation? The Law says, “The soul that sins—it shall die” and I have sinned and broken the Law—how then can I escape its penalty? Since I am a spiritual pauper—how can the necessary ransom be procured?
 
Those are problems that no human intelligence can solve. Nor is the knot to be cut by an appeal to the bare mercy of God, for His mercy is not an attribute which overrides His justice and integrity. But at the Cross, the Divine perfections shone out in glorious unity like the blending of the colors in the rainbow—there “mercy and truth met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10). God’s JUSTICE was satisfied by Christ—and therefore His MERCY flows freely to all who repent and believe. God’s grace reigns “through righteousness,” and Christ’s blood can cleanse the foulest. The wisdom of God appears in CREATION and PROVIDENCE; but nowhere so grandly as at the CROSS.
 
4. I see MYSELF. What? Yes, as I turn my gaze to the Cross—I behold myself, and so does each man who looks with the eyes of faith. Christ hung there as the Sponsor and Surety of His people, and there cannot be representation without identification. Christ identified with those whose sins He bears—believers identified with Him. In the sight of God, they are one. Christ took my place—and faith appropriates that fact. In the Person of my Substitute I satisfied every requirement of God’s Law. In the Person of Christ I paid the full price which Divine justice demanded. In the Person of Christ I stand approved before God, for I am clothed with His meritorious perfections (Isaiah 61:10). The whole ransomed Church of God can say of Christ, “He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5), “Who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). And faith individualizes it and declares, “I am crucified with Christ….who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). Hallelujah! What a Savior!
 
III. What do YOU see?
 
I mean those of you who are unsaved.

1. You behold One whom you DESPISE and REJECT. Perhaps you deny it, saying your attitude is merely negative—indifference. You err. If you are not the FRIEND of Christ—you are His ENEMY. There is no third class. “He who is not with Me—is against Me” (Matthew 12:30) is His own verdict, and from that there is no appeal. You have despised His authority, flouted His laws, treated His claims with contempt. You reject His yoke and scepter, refusing to be ruled by Him. Thus you unite with those who cast Him out and hounded Him to death.
 
2. You behold One who is presented as SAVIOR. Yes, despite your wicked treatment of Him hitherto. He is set before you in the Gospel as One willing and able to heal the wounds that sin has made, and save your souls from eternal death. If you will throw down the weapons of your warfare against Him, surrender to His Lordship and trust in His redeeming blood—He will accept you now, “him that comes to Me—I will never cast out” (John 6:37). But if you refuse to do so, then —
 
3. You behold the One who is to be your JUDGE. Come to Him now as a repentant sinner, as a spiritual pauper, casting yourself upon His grace—and He will pardon your iniquities and give you a royal welcome. “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden—and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28) is His own invitation and promise. But continue turning your back upon Him and He shall yet say to you, “Depart from Me, ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
 
 
 

THE UNPARDONABLE SIN

THE UNPARDONABLE SIN

A.W. Pink


We do not agree with those writers who, while allowing that “the unpardonable sin” may be committed during this present dispensation, yet affirm it is a very rare occurrence, a most exceptional thing, of which only one or two isolated cases may be found. On the contrary, we believe that the Scriptures themselves dearly intimate that MANY have been guilty of sins for which there was no forgiveness either in this world or the world to come.

We say “sins,” for a careful and prolonged study of the subject has convinced us that “the unpardonable sin” is not one particular act of committing some specific offense, like maliciously ascribing to Satan the works of the Holy Spirit (which, no doubt, is one form of it), but that it varies considerably in different cases. Both of these conclusions of the present writer will receive illustration and confirmation in what follows.

The first human being who was guilty of unpardonable sin was Cain. He was a professor or outward worshipper of God, but because Abel’s offering was accepted and his own rejected, he waxed angry. The Lord condescended to expostulate with him, and went so far as to assure him that if he did well he would not lose his pre-eminence as the firstborn. But so far from doing well, he persisted in wickedness, and his enmity against God was evidenced by his hatred of His child, ending in the murder of him. Whereupon the Lord said unto him, “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth… A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth” (Gen. 4:10-12). To which Cain answered, “Mine iniquity is greater than it may be forgiven” (Gen. 4:13, margin).

The record of Genesis 6 makes it clear that a whole generation of the world’s inhabitants had transgressed beyond all hope of remedy or forgiveness. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts if his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth” (Gen. 6:5-7), which was duly accomplished by the Flood. The whole of mankind in the days of Nimrod sinned so grievously (Rom. 1:21-23) that “God gave them up” (Rom. 1:24-26), for His Spirit “will not always strive with men.”

A whole generation of the Hebrews were also guilty of “the great trangression.” In Exodus 23:20, 21, we read, “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him, and obey His voice, provoke Him not; for He will not pardon your transgressions: for My Name is in Him.” Alas they heeded not this solemn word: “our fathers would not obey, but thrust Him from them, and in their hearts turned back into Egypt” (Acts 7:39). Consequently the Lord said, “Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart, and they have not known My ways. So I sware in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest” (Heb. 3:10, 11).

It seems evident to the writer that there have been some in every age who have gone beyond the bounds of Divine mercy. Passing by such individual cases as Pharaoh, Balaam, and Saul, we would observe that the Pharisees of Christ’s day—the bulk of them at least—were guilty of sin for which there was no forgiveness. It is clear from John 3:2 that they recognized Him as “a Teacher come from God” and from John 11:47 that they could not gainsay His miracles. Nay more, it is plain from Mark 12:7 that they knew the righteousness of His claims: “But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the Heir: come, let us kill Him.” Thus they acted with their eyes wide open, sinning against their own confession, against light and knowledge, against the strong conviction His miracles produced, and against His holy life spread before them. Therefore did Christ say to them, “I go My way, and ye shall seek Me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come” (John 8:21).

“Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me; then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression” (Ps. 119:13). Here the unpardonable sin is denominated “the great transgression.” It is called such because this is what a bold and audacious defiance of God necessarily culminates in, unless sovereign grace intervenes. “Presumptuous” sins are committed by those who, while professing God’s name and avowing a claim upon His mercy, persist in a known course contrary to His Word. Such rebels, presuming upon God’s patience and goodness, are mocked by Him, being suffered to go beyond the bounds of His forgiveness. It is also called “blasphemy against the Spirit” (Matthew 12:31), “resisting the Spirit” (Acts 7:51), “doing despite unto the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:29). The “new testament” or “covenant” is “the ministration of the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:8), which far exceeds in glory the legal dispensation. To be guilty of the great transgression is to sin willfully against and to speak maliciously of the Holy Spirit, who is revealed and promised in the Gospel; it is a quenching of His convictions, resisting His enlightenment, defying His authority.

It is called “a sin unto death” (1 John 5:16) because its perpetrator is now out of the reach of the promise of eternal life, having made the Gospel, which is a proclamation of Divine grace unto those who will submit themselves to its requirements, a “savor of death unto death” to himself. He was convicted by it that he was legally dead, and because of his impenitence, unbelief, hardheartedness, and determination to go on having his own way, he is left spiritually dead. Unto others God grants “repentance unto life,” (Acts 11:18), but when once “sin unto death” has been committed, it is “impossible to renew again unto repentance” (Heb. 6:4-6). By his opposition to the Gospel and refusal to receive Christ’s “yoke,” the guilty rebel has trampled under foot the blood of God’s Son, and as that alone can procure forgiveness, there is now no pardon available for him.

The very fact that it is designated “a sin unto death” rather than “the sin unto death” confirms what we said in a previous paragraph, namely, that it is not some specific offense but rather that the particular form it takes varies in different cases. And herein we may perceive how the sovereignty of God is exercised in connection therewith. God allows some to go to greater lengths of wickedness than others: some evil-doers He cuts off in youth, while other workers of iniquity are permitted to live unto old age. Against some He is more quickly and more strongly provoked than others. Some souls He abandons to themselves more readily than He does others. It is this which renders the subject so unspeakably solemn: no man has any means of knowing how soon he may cross the line which marks the limits of God’s forebearance with him. To trifle with God is hazardous to the last degree.

That the sovereignty of God is exercised in this matter appears very clearly from the cases of those whom He is pleased to save. What fearful crimes Manasseh was guilty of before Divine grace renewed him! What dreadful sins Saul of Tarsus committed ere the Lord Jesus apprehended him! Let the writer and the reader review their own unregenerate days: how dreadfully did we provoke the Majesty on high; how long did we persevere in a course of open rebellion; against what restraints, privileges, light and knowledge, warnings and entreaties, did we act! How many of the godless companions of our youth were cut off in their guilt, while we were spared. Was it because our sins were less crimson? No, indeed; so far as we can perceive, our sins were of a deeper dye than theirs. Then why did God save us? and why were they sent to Hell? “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight” must be the answer.

A sovereign God has drawn the line in every life which marks the parting of the ways. When that line is reached by the individual, God does one of two things with him: either He performs a miracle of grace so that he becomes “a new creature in Christ Jesus,” or henceforth that individual is abandoned by Him, given up to hardness of heart and final impenitency; and which it is, depends entirely upon His own imperial pleasure. And none can tell how near he may be to that line, for some reach it much earlier in life than others—according as God sovereignly decreed. Therefore it is the part of wisdom for each sinner to promptly heed that word “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found” (Isa. 55:6), which plainly denotes that soon it may be too late—as Proverbs 1:28-31 and Matthew 25:8-12 plainly show.

In view of all that has been before us, how softly we should tread, how careful we should be of not provoking the Holy One! How earnestly we should pray to be kept back from “presumptuous sins”! How diligently should the young improve their privileges: how they should heed that warning, “He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Prov. 29:1)! How careful we should be against adding sin to sin, lest we provoke God to leave us unto final impenitency. Our only safeguard is to heed the voice of the Lord without delay, lest he “swear in His wrath” that we “should not enter into His rest”! How we need to beg God to write those words upon our hearts, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12), for there is no hope whatever for the apostate!

A word now unto those with tender consciences that fear they may have committed sin for which there is no forgiveness. The trembling and contrite sinner is the farthest from it. There is not one instance recorded in Scripture where any who was guilty of “the great transgression” and had been given up by God to inevitable destruction, ever repented of his sins, or sought God’s mercy in Christ; instead, they all continued obstinate and defiant, the implacable enemies of Christ and His ways unto the end.

While there be in the heart any sincere valuing of God’s approbation, any real sense of His holiness which deters from trifling with Him, any genuine purpose to turn unto Him and submit to His requirements, any true fearing of His wrath, that soul has not been abandoned by Him. If you have a deep desire to obtain an interest in Christ, or become a better Christian; if you are deeply troubled over sin, if your heart grieves over its hardness, if you yearn and pray for more tenderness of conscience, more yieldedness of will, more love and obedience to Christ, then you have no cause to suspect you have committed “the unpardonable sin.”

“Lest there by any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who, for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears” [Hebrews 12:16,17].

The apostle was here addressing professing Christians, and the fearful case of Esau is set before them (and us!) as a warning against departing from the Narrow Way, of exchanging the high privileges of the faithful for the temporary advantages of a faithless world. The doom of the apostate is irretrievable. To lightly esteem, and then despise, sacred things, will be followed “afterward” by bitter regret and unavailing anguish. To reject the terms of the Gospel in order to gratify the lusts of the flesh for a brief season, and then suffer forever and ever in the Lake of Fire, is the height of madness.

No excuse could palliate Esau’s profanity, and nothing can extenuate the wickedness of him who prefers the drudgery of Satan to the freedom there is in Christ. Esau’s rejection by Isaac was the evidence of his reprobation by God. May it please the Lord to use this article to search the heart of every reader.