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.

THE ERROR OF DISPENSATIONALISM

THE ERROR OF DISPENSATIONALISM

A.W. Pink

Dispensationalism is a modern method of mishandling the Scriptures—for modern it certainly is, being quite unknown to Christendom till little more than a century ago, and only within recent years being adopted by those who are outside the narrow circle where it originated—is based upon 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Very little or nothing at all is said upon the first two clauses of that verse, but on the third one, which is explained as “correctly partitioning the Scriptures unto the different peoples to whom they belong.” These mutilators of the Word tell us that all of the Old Testament from Genesis 12 onwards belongs entirely to Israel after the flesh, and that none of its precepts (as such) are binding upon those who are members of the Church which is the Body of Christ, nor may any of the promises found therein be legitimately appropriated by them. And this, be it duly noted, without a single word to that effect by either the Lord or any of His Apostles, and despite the use which the Holy Spirit makes of the earliest Scriptures in every part of the New Testament.

So far from the Holy Spirit teaching Christians practically to look upon the Old Testament much as they would upon an obsolete almanac, He declares, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the (Old Testament) Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).

Not satisfied with their determined efforts to deprive us of the Old Testament, these would-be super-expositors dogmatically assert that the four Gospels are Jewish, and that the Epistles of James and Peter, John and Jude are designed for a “godly Jewish remnant” in a future “tribulation period,” that nothing but the Pauline Epistles contain “Church truth,” and thousands of gullible souls have accepted their ipse digit—those who decline so doing are regarded as untaught and superficial. Yet God Himself has not uttered a single word to that effect.

Certainly there is nothing whatever in 2 Timothy 2:15, to justify such a revolutionizing method of interpreting the Word: that verse has no more to do with the sectioning of Scripture between different “dispensations” than it has with distinguishing between stars of varying magnitude. If that verse be carefully compared with Matthew 7:6, John 16:12 and 1 Corinthians 3:2, its meaning is clear. The occupant of the pulpit is to give diligence in becoming equipped to give the different classes of his hearer “their portion of meat in due season” (Luke 12:42).

To rightly divide the Word of Truth is for him to minister it suitably unto the several cases and circumstances of his congregation: to sinners and saints, the indifferent and the inquiring, the babes and fathers, the tempted and afflicted, the backslidden and fallen.

While there be great variety in the teaching of the Word, there is an unmistakable unity underlying the whole. Though He employed many mouthpieces, the Holy Scriptures have but one Author; and while He “at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” and “hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son” (Heb. 1:1,2), yet He who spoke by them was and is One “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jam. 1:17), who throughout all ages declares: “I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal. 3:6).

Throughout there is perfect agreement between every part of the Word: it sets forth one system of doctrine (we never read of “the doctrines of God,” but always “the doctrine”: see Deut 32:2; Prov 4:2; Matt 7:28; John 7:17; Rom. 16:17, and contrast Mark 7:7; Col. 2:22; 1 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 13:9) because it is one single and organic whole. That Word presents uniformly one way of salvation, one rule of faith. From Genesis to Revelation there is one immutable Moral Law, one glorious Gospel for perishing sinners. The Old Testament believers were saved with the same salvation, were indebted to the same Redeemer, were renewed by the same Spirit, and were partakers of the same heavenly inheritance as are New Testament believers.

The Bible consists of many parts, exquisitely correlated and vitally interdependent upon each other. God so controlled all the agents which He employed in the writing of it, and so coordinated their efforts, as to produce a single living Book. Within that organic unity there is indeed much variety, but no contrariety. Man’s body is but one, though it be made up of many members, diverse in size, character, and operation. The rainbow is but one, nevertheless it reflects distinctly the seven prismatic rays, yet they are harmoniously blended together.

So it is with the Bible: its unity appears in the perfect consistency throughout of its teachings. The oneness yet triunity of God, the deity and humanity of Christ united in one Person, the everlasting covenant which secures the salvation of all the election of grace, the highway of holiness and the only path which leads to heaven, are plainly revealed in Old and New Testament alike. The teaching of the prophets concerning the glorious character of God, the changeless requirements of His righteousness, the total depravity of human nature, and the way appointed for restoration therefrom, are identical with the Apostles’ teaching.

If the question be raised, Since the sacred Scriptures be a strict unit, then why has God Himself divided them into two Testaments? perhaps it will simplify the matter if we ask why God has appointed two principal bodies to illuminate the earth—the sun and the moon. Why, too, is the human frame duplex, having two legs and arms, two lungs and kidneys, etc.? Is not the answer the same in each case: to augment and supplement each other?

But, more directly, at least four reasons may be suggested.

First, to set forth more distinctly the two covenants which are the basis of God’s dealings with all mankind: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace—shadowed forth by the “old” from Sinai and the “new” or Christian one.

Second, to show more plainly the two separate companies which are united in that one Body which constitutes the Church of which Christ is the Head, namely redeemed Jews and redeemed Gentiles.

Third, to demonstrate more clearly the wondrous providence of God: using the Jews for so many centuries to be the custodians of the Old Testament, which condemns them for their rejection of Christ; and in employing the papists throughout the dark ages to preserve the New Testament, which denounces their idolatrous practices.

Fourth, that one might confirm the other: type by antitype, prophecy by fulfillment.

“The mutual relations of the two Testaments. These two main divisions resemble the dual structure of the human body, where the two eyes and ears, hands and feet, correspond to and complement one another. Not only is there a general, but a special, mutual fitness. They need therefore to be studied together, side by side, to be compared even in lesser details, for in nothing are they independent of each other; and the closer the inspection the minuter appears the adaptation, and the more intimate the association. . . .The two Testaments are like the two cherubim of the mercy seat, facing in opposite directions, yet facing each other and overshadowing with glory one mercy seat; or again, they are like the human body bound together by joints and bands and ligaments, with one brain and heart, one pair of lungs, one system of respiration, circulation, digestion, sensor and motor nerves, where division is destruction” (A. T. Pierson, from Knowing the Scriptures).

So WHAT does it mean to ‘RIGHTLY divide the Word’?

TO RIGHTLY DIVIDE THE WORD OF TRUTH is for the occupant of the pulpit to give diligence in becoming equipped to give the different classes of his hearers “their portion of meat in due season” (Luke 12:42).

TO RIGHTLY DIVIDE THE WORD is for the preacher to minister it suitably unto the several cases and circumstances of his congregation: to sinners and saints, the indifferent and the inquiring, the babes and fathers, the tempted and afflicted, the backslidden and fallen.

A word from C.H. Spurgeon

“No promise is of private interpretation. Whatever God has said to any one saint, He has said to all. When He opens a well for one, it is that ALL may drink. When He openeth a granary- door to give out food, there may be some one starving man who is the occasion of its being opened, but ALL hungry saints may come and feed too.

Whether He gave the word to Abraham or to Moses, matters not, O believer; He has given it to thee as one of the covenanted seed. There is not a high blessing too lofty for thee, nor a wide mercy too extensive for thee. Lift up now thine eyes to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west, for all this is thine. Climb to Pisgah’s top, and view the utmost limit of the divine promise, for the land is all thine own. There is not a brook of living water of which thou mayst not drink. If the land floweth with milk and honey, eat the honey and drink the milk, for both are thine. Be thou bold to believe, for He hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

A SURE TEST FOR SOUND DOCTRINE

A SURE TEST FOR SOUND DOCTRINE

A.W. Pink

Alas, also, real servants of God, sound teachers, have now almost disappeared from the earth. 2Tim 4:3 is now fulfilled before our eyes, men ‘will not endure sound doctrine’. They will still tolerate what is called evangelism, they will listen eagerly to a talk on ‘the signs of the times’ (made up of sensational items culled from newspapers with a little scripture ingeniously fitted in to give respectability), they will listen to missionary addresses, but sound doctrine they will not endure!

Hence we have, in that divine declaration, an infallible test by which the poor child of god may measure things in the Babel of tongues now going on in Christendom! That test is this: anything which is endured today in the religious world cannot be sound doctrine; anything which is approved of, well attended, popular, is not ‘sound doctrine’.

Where God works, he always does so consistently with his own Word. What I mean by that is this: when he raises up, equips, and sends forth one of his servants, that servant will necessarily preach the Word, and denounce all that is opposed to the Word: hence, his message is bound to be unpopular, in fact hated by all who are not regenerated. Was it not thus with the Old Testament prophets? Would even the Israelites of their day endure sound doctrine? Would they do so when the Lord Jesus preached it? Would they when the Apostles taught it? Would they in the time of Luther and Calvin? And poor, fallen human nature is the same now!

Mark it well, my dear friend, that the people to whom the Old Testament prophets, Christ and the apostles preached were not irreligious! No, indeed far from it! They were very religious: but they were determined to have religion of their own, which suited them, and they would not tolerate anything which condemned them. So it is now. [Letter to Lowell Green, August 19, 1934]

THE ELECT ARE NOT ‘MADE’ CHILDREN BY THE NEW BIRTH, BUT ARE GOD’S CHILDREN LONG BEFORE CHRIST DIED FOR THEM.

THE ELECT ARE NOT ‘MADE’ CHILDREN BY THE NEW BIRTH, BUT ARE GOD’S CHILDREN LONG BEFORE CHRIST DIED FOR THEM.

A.W. Pink

Believers have “received the Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, Abba, Father”: they have received that unspeakable Gift which attests and makes known to them their adoption by God. Before the foundation of the world God predestined them “unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself’ (Eph. 1:5). But more-the elect were not only predestined UNTO the adoption of children-to actually and openly enjoy this inestimable favor in time-but this blessing was itself provided and bestowed upon them in the Everlasting Covenant of grace, in which they not only had promise of this relationship, but were given in that Covenant to Christ under that very character. Therefore does the Lord Jesus say, “Behold I and the children which God hath given Me” (Heb. 2:13).

It is to be carefully noted that God’s elect are spoken of as “children” PREVIOUS to the Holy Spirit’s being sent into their hearts: “Because ye ARE sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts” (Gal. 4:6). They are not, then, made children by the new birth. They were “children” before Christ died for them: “he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one THE CHILDREN of God that were scattered abroad” (John 11:51, 52). They were not, then, made children by what Christ did for them. Yea, they were “children” before the Lord Jesus became incarnate: “Forasmuch then as THE CHILDREN are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same” (Heb. 2:14). Thus it is a great mistake to confound adoption and regeneration: they are two distinct things; the latter being both the effect and evidence of the former. Adoption was by an act of God’s will in eternity-regeneration is by the work of His grace in time.

Had there been no adoption, there would be no regeneration: yet the former is not complete without the latter. By adoption the elect were put into THE RELATION of children; by regeneration they are given a NATURE suited to that relation. So high is the honor of being taken into the family of God, and so wondrous is the privilege of having God for our Father, that some extraordinary benefit is needed by us to assure our hearts of the same. This we have when we receive the Spirit of adoption. For God to give us His Spirit is far more than if He had given us all the world, for the latter would be something outside Himself, whereas the former is Himself! The death of Christ on the Cross was a demonstration of God’s love for His people, yet that was done without them; but in connection with what we are now considering, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:5).

Wondrous and blessed fact that, God manifests His love to the members of His Church in precisely the same way that He evidenced His love unto its Head when He became incarnate, namely, by the transcendent gift of His Spirit. The Spirit came upon Jesus Christ as the proof of God’s love to Him and also as the visible demonstration of His Sonship. The Spirit of God descended like a dove and abode upon Him, and then the Father’s voice was heard saying, “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”- compare John 3:34, 35. In fulfillment of Christ’s prayer, “I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be IN THEM” (John 17:26) the Spirit is given to His redeemed, to signify the sameness of the Father’s love unto His Son and unto His sons. Thus, the inhabitation of the Spirit in the Christian is both the surest sign of God’s fatherly love and the proof of His adoption.

MAKING YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE

MAKING YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE

 A.W. Pink

 “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure”! [2Pet 1:10]

This exhortation, then, is addressed to LIVING SAINTS AND NOT TO DEAD SINNERS. To teach that the unregenerate can do anything at all toward securing their calling and election, is not only colossal ignorance, but it gives the lie of God’s Word. When they are delivering a divine message, the FIRST DUTY of God’s ministers is to draw very definitely the line of demarcation between the Church and the world: it is failure at this point which causes so many children of the Devil to claim relationship with the people of God.

Attention to the context will almost always make it clear to whom a passage pertains: whether to the children of men in general or to the children of God in particular. The simplest and most effectual way of making this plain to their hearers, is for them to carefully delineate the characters (the identifying marks) of the one and of the other—note how the apostle followed this very course in the first four verses of the epistle.

To discover that God’s purpose of grace is restricted to an elect people, is alarming to one who has imagined that He loves all mankind alike. To be made to seriously wonder if I am one of those whom God chose in Christ before the foundation of the world, raises a question which it is not easy to answer satisfactorily; and to be made to diligently inquire into my actual state, to solemnly examine myself before God, is a task which no hypocrite will prosecute; yet is it one which the regenerate will not shrink from, but on the contrary will pursue it with earnest zeal and fervent prayers to God for help therein.

It is not (as some foolishly suppose) that the one who is now so seriously concerned about his spiritual condition and eternal destiny is in such alarm because he doubts God’s Word. Far from it: it is just because he believes God’s Word that he doubts himself, doubts the validity of his Christian profession. It is because he believes the Scriptures when they declare the Lord’s flock is a “very little one” (Greek, Luke 12:32), he is fearful that he belongs not to it. It is because he believes God when He says, “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness” (Prov. 30:12), and that finding so much filth in his own soul, he trembles lest that be true of him. It is because he believes God when He says “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9), that he is deeply exercised lest he be fatally deluded. Ah, my reader, the more firmly we believe God’s Word, the more cause have we to doubt ourselves.

To obtain assurance that they have received a supernatural call from God, which has brought them from death unto life, is a matter of paramount concern to those who really value their souls. Those to whom God has imparted an honest heart abhor hypocrisy, refuse to take anything for granted, and greatly fear lest they impose upon themselves by passing a more favorable verdict than is warranted. Others may laugh at their concern and mock at their fears, but this moves them not. TOO MUCH IS AT STAKE FOR SUCH A MATTER TO BE LIGHTLY AND HURRIEDLY DISMISSED. They know full well that it is one which must be settled in the presence of God, and if they are deceived, they beg Him to make them aware of it. It is God who has wounded them, and He alone can heal; it is God who has disturbed their carnal complacency, and none but He can bestow real spiritual rest.

There is a class of professing Christians who entertain no doubts whatever about their salvation, who are fond of saying, “as well look to an iceberg for heat or into a grave to find the tokens of life, as search within ourselves for proofs of the new birth”. But is it not akin to blasphemy to suggest that God the Spirit can take up His residence in a person and yet for there to be no definite evidences of His presence.

It is not the making of our calling and election sure GODWARDS, but MANWARDS. Nor is it something future which is here in view: it is the present enjoyment to ourselves of our calling and election, and of evidencing the same to our brethren. By heeding the exhortation of verses 5-7 I am to prove my calling and election, and demonstrate the same to the Church. A man may tell me he believes in election and is sure that he has been called of God, but unless I can see in his character and conduct the spiritual graces of verses 5-7 then I have to say of him (as Paul did of the Galatians) “I stand in doubt of you.” Here, then, is the meaning: make steadfast in your own conscience your calling and election, and make good to others your profession, by walking as a child of God.

HOW may a real believer ascertain that he is one of God’s elect?

Why, the very fact he is a genuine Christian evidences it, for a believing into Christ is the sure consequence of God’s having ordained him to eternal life (Acts. 13:48). But to be more specific. How may I know my election?

FIRST, by the Word of God, having come in Divine power to the soul, so that my self-complacency is shattered and my self-righteousness renounced.

SECOND, by the Spirit’s having convicted me to my woeful, guilty, and lost condition.

THIRD, by having had revealed to me the suitability and sufficiency of Christ to meet my desperate case, and by a divinely given faith causing me to lay hold of and rest upon Him as my only hope.

FOURTH, by the marks of the new nature within me: a love for God, an appetite for spiritual things, a longing for holiness, a seeking after conformity to Christ.

FIFTH, by the resistance which the new nature makes to the old, causing me to hate sin and loathe myself for it.

SIXTH, by sedulously avoiding everything which is condemned by God’s Word, and by sincerely repenting of and humbly confessing every transgression thereof. Failure at this point will most surely and quickly bring a dark cloud over our assurance, causing the Spirit to withhold His witness.

SEVENTH, by giving all diligence to cultivate the Christian graces, and using all legitimate means to this end. Thus, knowledge of election is cumulative.

[Taken from A.W. Pink’s ‘The Doctrine of Election’]

NO MAN STANDS ANY LONGER THAN HE IS UPHELD BY DIVINE GRACE

NO MAN STANDS ANY LONGER THAN HE IS UPHELD BY DIVINE GRACE

A.W. Pink

The Lord is very jealous of His honour and will not share His glory with another. His people profess to believe that as a cardinal truth, yet they are apt to forget it. They, too, are human, and prone to hero-worship, prone to idolatry, prone to render unto the creatures that to which the Lord alone is entitled. Hence it is they so frequently meet with disappointment, and discover their beloved idol is, like themselves, made of clay. For his own people, God has chosen “the foolish things of this world,” the “weak things,” the “base things” and “things which are not” (mere “nobody’s”), “that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:27-29). 

And he has called sinful though regenerated men, and not holy angels, to be the preachers of His Gospel, that it might fully appear that “the excellency of the power” in calling sinners out of darkness into His marvelous light lies not in them nor proceeds from them, but that He alone gives the increase to the seed sown by them: “so then neither is he that planteth (the evangelist) anything, neither he that watereth (the teacher), but God” (1 Cor. 3:7).

It is for this reason that God suffers it to appear that the best of men are but men at the best. No matter how richly gifted they may be, how eminent in God’s service, how greatly honored and used of Him, let His sustaining power be withdrawn from them for a moment and it will quickly be seen that they are “earthen vessels.” No man stands any longer than he is supported by Divine grace. The most experienced saint, if left to himself, is immediately seen to be as weak as water and as timid as a mouse.

“Man at his best state is altogether vanity” (Ps. 39:5). Then why should it be thought a thing incredible when we read of the failings and falls of the most favored of God’s saints and servants? Noah’s drunkenness, Lot’s carnality, Abraham’s prevarications, Moses” anger, Aaron’s jealousy, Joshua’s haste, David’s adultery, Jonah’s disobedience, Peter’s denial, Paul’s contention with Barnabas, are so many illustrations of the solemn truth that “there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Eccl. 7:20).

Perfection is found in Heaven, but nowhere on earth except in the Perfect Man.