Arthur W. Pink and The Sovereignty of God

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I stepped right into the middle of a great revival in the 1970s.  I didn’t realize it at the time.  I thought I was veering off the main road onto an obscure, overgrown, largely unused country road.  At the time, it seemed lonely, odd, and extreme.  Marching to a different drummer had long been a practice in my life, or rather a disposition.  So, embracing a theology that was little known, little understood, and yet often vehemently opposed was not that hard to do.  But it take a cost.  It was not without some sacrifices and some life changes.  Some were good, and some were painful both then and now.

Around 1972, I had become a Christian.  Before that, my beliefs were foggy, undefined, mildly theistic, prudishly moralistic, works-oriented (I thought I was a good person–even better than most), and not very Bible based.  Little by little, through an experience while watching a movie, by listening to Jerry Falwell, by attending an outdoor revival with an evangelical Methodist, I became–to use my term then–more religious.

Then I confronted Calvinism.  It was easy enough to dismiss Calvinism with a few easy swats, thinking it was a gnat.  But have you ever tried casually swatting at an elephant?  To improve upon the image, have you ever tried swatting a charging elephant?

I think it is funny that God used two men with less than formidable sounding names to turn me from a spiritual jellyfish to a Christian man.  One man bore the given name of Loraine and the other bore the surname Pink.  Think of the sound of it:  Pink and Loraine.  Doesn’t sound exactly like a devastating spiritual tag team.  But it was.

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Loraine was Loraine Boettner.  He was a rather shy, retiring fellow who wrote 5 or 6 books, lived his retirement years on a farm in rural Missouri, and sold his books for a pittance to eager young students of theology.  My first Boettner book was Studies in Theology.  It wasn’t one of the five points of Calvinism or the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God that did a mental and spiritual make-over for me, however.  Instead, it was the chapters in that book on the authority of the Bible, followed by an in-depth study and description of the Trinity, and another in-depth study of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

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I think I was a believer before I read–consumed!–those chapters, but they constituted a conversion experience as well.  My mother, knowing I was a history major (and I was in college at the time), saw Boettner’s Studies in Theology on my desk.  “Are you changing your major?”  I don’t know what I answered (and graduated as a history major), but I knew something was changing that meant that everything was changing.

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I next read Boettner’s block-buster book The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination.  I still remember thinking that the title sounded promising.  To my mind, I wasn’t sure what this lady named Loraine did to it, but I was glad that someone had re-formed the doctrine of predestination.  But, to borrow from Batman, “Pow” and “Bam.” There wasn’t much left to me after I finished the second of the Boettner books.

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This revolution of thought and theology was all going on during the summer of 1976–the year of America’s Bicentennial.  It was during this time that I met my second Calvinist–Pastor Jimmy DeMoss.  A small man who is a tightly wound bundle of energy and an ex-Marine, Pastor DeMoss recommended The Sovereignty of God by Pink.  I think he just called him Pink.

It was many books later when I first acquired The Sovereignty of God by Pink.  Over the years, I ended up with quite a few books by Arthur W. Pink.  In many cases, his innumerable articles have been patched together to form a large number of collections.  He did several books in a series known as Gleanings, for example, Gleanings in Genesis, Gleanings in the Scriptures, and so on.  His little work Profiting from the Word is a classic “rip the layers off your heart” kind of searching and convicting work.  I rather grew to enjoy–and grow–from the cutting edge of the Reformation/Calvinistic/Reformed/Puritan approach of using the Bible to sear into the sins of the heart.  Pink’s book The Attributes of God ranks among his best.  As the title indicates, it tells us who the God of the Bible is.

I even have a volume of Pink’s works on order right now.  Hearing George Grant preaching on 1 John lead me to my usual question, “What are the best books on 1 John?”  To which Dr. Grant responded by mentioning a couple of authors, and then he said,  “The real treasure trove for this book (1 John) may be found in Arthur Pink’s massive work.  It is fantastic—as you might expect from Pink.”

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With quite a few Pink books scattered throughout my library, I am convinced of his worthiness as an expositor, commentator, and preacher of God’s Word.  At the same time, he has his limitations.  He recognized that due to the voluminous amount of writing that he did, that his views sometimes changed as the years went by.  Also, Pink could often spiritualize narrative portions of the Bible and draw good lessons from them that are not actually present in the text.  And he could jab, and I mean jab hard.  In his day, the Puritan works lay hidden in old libraries and book stores.  The works of Spurgeon were ignored.  The teachings of the Reformers were unheeded.  The pulpits of the lands (for Pink labored in many English speaking domains) were captured by theological liberals and higher critics in the worst cases.  In the best cases, the pulpits poured forth Arminian theology and messages designed to salve the emotional aspects of hearers.

God gave Arthur W. Pink a tough personality, a cutting edge, and a stubborn streak.  A milder man, a gentler message, and a smoother approach would not have carried in his day.

Arthur Pink’s greatest work and most abiding book is The Sovereignty of God.  Some years ago, Baker Book House published the book in hard cover, and quite a few copies were sold over the years, especially after Pink’s views became more acceptable (again) and interest rose in learning about the sovereignty of God.  Then Banner of Truth published a slightly abridged version of the book in paperback.  As usual, Banner did a fine job of putting together the more user friendly edition of the book, which excluded a couple of more difficult to digest chapters.  Banner of Truth also published Gleanings from Paul (in hardback), The Life of Elijah, Profiting from the Word, and some Pink titles translated into Spanish.

Life of Arthur W. Pink

Another Banner of Truth work is Iain H. Murray’s fine biography of Arthur Pink.  I am always partial to Iain Murray’s biography, and even though it has been many years since I read the book (which has since been revised and enlarged), I still remember it as a great read.

Often the word “dated” is applied to older books.  Perhaps that word is descriptive of much of Pink’s works, for he lived from 1886 to 1952.  The theological issues and battles have changed; the reception to Reformed theology is much improved; and the availability of good books has vastly increased.  I am sure that Mr. Pink would be amazed at the popularity of writers like R. C. Sproul, Tim Keller, and John Piper.  Going against the grain, as Pink did; adhering to a theology out of favor, as Pink did; and stubbornly standing alone, as Pink did, is not as necessary as it was in his day.  Besides, some of the more recent writers are better able to convey the great doctrines that are often opposed without being disagreeable sorts of preachers.

We are living in a new age as far as Reformed theology is concerned, especially as it relates to the Doctrines of Grace.  But there is a need to go back to the sources.  We need to read and promote the books and authors that carved out a niche for Calvinism back when Calvinism wasn’t cool.

The great Martyn Lloyd-Jones gave this advice to a young man in ministry:  “Don’t waste your time reading Barth and Brunner. You will get nothing from them to aid you with preaching. Read Pink.”  I do believe there is profit in Barth and Brunner, but for the best and most direct spiritual benefit, I agree, “Read Pink.”

Kyle Shepherd is a young man in a hurry.  He wants to see yet more good resources available to Christians, Christian families, homeschoolers, and others engaged in directly confronting and toppling the culture.  As the founder of a publication ministry called Visionarion Press,  Kyle promised several months ago to reveal a major publishing venture that would make a foundational work in Christian worldview thinking available again.

My mind was racing through a number of great books that could be secret reprint, but I guessed wrong every time.  Kyle Shepherd then announced that the book was Arthur W. Pink’s The Sovereignty of God.  Even if you already have the book, you will want to get copies (plural) of this book for your library and others.  The new edition includes the following features:

Hardback, smythe-sewn binding to last for decades
Scripture & Topical Indexes
Unabridged
Modern typesetting for easy reading

Put this book high on your want list.  No, go ahead and put it in your cart and get this classic work today.

One thought on “Arthur W. Pink and The Sovereignty of God

  1. We were both born again in the 70’s. So since we are brothers, I thought I’d share my testimony, and some thoughts.

    MY STORY

    I came from a violent home, (drugs, alcohol, gun shots, being chased with knives, people thrown thru picture pane windows), in fact I was born three months early because my father kicked my mother in the stomach, and I weighed two pounds nine ounces.

    As early as 7yrs old I was out on the streets till 3-4am, I was put in three orphanages… once my father snuck into our house, he put a loaded pistol in my hand and told me too shoot my sisters and my mother, it was crazy.
    Thru all of this, (which I wouldn’t change), I came out a fairly normal kid, I was involved in sports and didn’t do drugs, or drink. I thought I was a survivor, wanting only too make it thru another day.

    At age 16 (in 1974) I started too sense a need in my life, an emptiness that I couldn’t explain.
    I knew I had to find God/Jesus, but who was HE? I had no idea where to find HIM, so I went to the local library to find books concerning world religions, God, and the occult.

    At the library I met an ex-hippie (Gary Osborn) he saw my books and decided to share the message with me. Gary invited me to pray in the back of his V.W. so I did, I remember saying “God forgive me for my sins, and whatever you have for me I want it all”. Well at first nothing happened I expected, lightening or something. Gary said, “Just go home and praise God” I said, “What’s that, mean” Gary said, “Just thank him” So I did just that.

    The remaining is sacred to me, before I asked Jesus into my heart, I never heard voices, I never drank, and I never did drugs, but one week after meeting Jesus while in the middle of my last class (during high school) A voice, just as clear, as someone standing next to you, spoke, and as the voice spoke it said to me, “rod tell them about Jesus” I was surprised, but unafraid.

    I put my hand over my mouth, since I didn’t want anyone to think I was talking too myself, I said (to whoever spoke to me) “I don’t know what to say” the voice said “don’t be afraid, I’ll give you the words to say” To this day I don’t remember my words, but I spoke to those kids about Jesus and salvation, their mouths just dropped open and then, class was over, I walked out of that room, feeling like I had never felt before.

    The next day was Saturday; I slept in the living room on an old couch. When I woke it was early and I decided to turn on the TV, to watch my favorite cartoon, the roadrunner.

    As I sat there watching the TV, I got up and looked outside, everything was so beautiful, (I never appreciated nature, I just wanted to make it thru another day). BUT now it was so pretty, I sat back down on the couch, and as I did I was somewhere else.

    I was sitting at a long roughhewn table, to my right was Jesus, straight ahead was the father, I couldn’t see him, to my left was Satan, him I could see (he looked like a man only very big) then in front of each of us, but not Satan three bowls appear, filled with what looked like porridge. Now the father spoke and said Satan dismiss yourself, Satan stood and screamed, then vanished. Three bites were taken out of the bowl.

    Then all at once I was watching myself from a distance, walking with Jesus up a grassy pathway. Jesus was speaking to me but from a distance I couldn’t hear him, I could see myself shaking my head (like I understand) then thru my eyes I saw the house where I had been sleeping.

    I didn’t know what had happened; I’d never experienced anything like that, but I knew two things, I had to find a pastor to talk too, and I KNEW GOD loved me and wanted something from me…my total surrender, my life totally under his control, every second, moment by moment, and I was consumed with this one desire, to live too PLEASE HIM.
    Let me give you an example: When a friend from school would come over and say, “Hey rod.” “Let’s go to a show” I’d say, “hold on.” Then I’d go in the bathroom and pray, “Lord should I go?”

    Sometimes the Lord would say “go”, sometimes “no” At times He was silent, when this happened I would look inside, to my heart, (Spirit), (see Colossians 3:15) if I had peace I would go, If not, I’d stay home.
    As I practiced this new desire, (surrender), I noticed the voice of the Lord became more frequent and clearer, (John 10:27). It always had to agree with scripture. The word of the Lord will always agree with the true meaning and / or the true interpretation of scripture).

    I needed to get a bible, I went to a bookstore and I got the largest family bible I’d ever seen, with pictures and everything. I was so happy. That night the voice of the lord said, “Read Matthew 5.” I had to look in the contents; I didn’t know where Matthew was. When I found it and started to read, the words became a (“Word of the Lord to me”) they just jumped off the page, they seemed to come alive, and they filled me, with hope, love and peace.

    Now I knew God loved me, and my sins were gone, I was forgiven…
    As time passed I grew, sometimes I’d walk into a busy office or building (like a D.O.L) and the Lord would say go sit by that guy, I would strike up a conversation, then say “you don’t know me but I’m a Christian and God is going to share with me about your life” I don’t mean simple things like “you have the flu” or “Headaches”, but deep, personal things that others couldn’t know or even guess. People would usually start to cry and ask “how did you know?” I’d say “I didn’t but God knew”.

    One of the best lessons from the Lord concerning trusting Him happened like this; I was traveling from Philly to Atlantic city, I got on the road, and started to hitch a ride, (it wasn’t illegal at that time) within one hour and twenty minutes I was in Atlantic city (which was a one hour drive!) I got 4 different rides, as I stepped into each vehicle I boldly proclaimed “Hi I’m a child of the King, and God’s going to bless you for picking me up!” God gave me very personal details about each of those people and all but one came to Christ.

    When I got to Atlantic City, God said “Rod, when you get to the prayer meeting tonight I want you to give all your money, to Johnnie Diaz”. I said “Lord that’s all I’ve got?” (About 300.00) God replied; “you take care of your brothers and sisters in the Lord and I’ll take care of you.” So upon arriving in Atlantic City, I secretly gave all my money to Johnnie, (this was to cover something for Johnnie that was very personal, so I know he didn’t share this with anyone).

    That night I asked myself “how am I going to get back to work, tomorrow? I didn’t have a penny, not even enough for bus fare, and in my spirit I knew I wasn’t to hitch hike, but instead the Lord wanted me on the bus. After sleeping that night and leaving the brothers house the next day, (where the meeting had been held).

    I started walking to the bus station. As I got closer and closer, I was imagining, “is the drivers going to just “know” he’s supposed to let me ride for free?” But as I approached the depot, a brother named “Chicky” came out of his house and said “rod I think the Lord wants me to give this to you.” It was exactly what I needed for bus fare!
    This has been a short summary of my life.

    Some Thoughts:

    So what is Sin?

    The bible, the words of Jesus, and the writings of Paul explain this for us. The concept is whatever makes YOU feel that you have something between you and God is wrong.

    This is a thing that effects the conscience, where Paul says for a weaker brother, I would NOT eat meat sacrificed to an idol, although an idol is nothing to me.

    Paul then goes on to say (after he matured in Christ) that ALL things were legal for him to do, but that they may not be beneficial to him.

    Jesus looks at it from another angle and stated that unbelief is the greatest sin, since the unbelief in HIM, would cut you off from the remedy, which was Jesus himself.

    Jesus mission was not that we be good enough, for God knew, and wanted us to know we could NEVER be good enough, and would never keep His commandments.

    So the remedy was to forget the flesh; (the human body, sin, desires…i.e. this flesh and bones, that we live in), and concentrate on a NEW creation (vehicle), which was SPIRIT, (as in, we are spirit, soul, and body). For the spirit was willing and able to please God, because the flesh was made weak after the transgression, in the garden.

    So god, so to speak, told everyone who would believe in Him…We are moving our focus to “The Spirit”, for it is the only thing that can inherit eternal life, for the flesh goes into the grave, but the spirit after regeneration (being given new life, lives forever).

    So God no longer focuses on the human body (flesh), but instead on a gift he gives you, this gift is the new spirit, and eternal life.

    I Went To See The Son of God Movie… When All of a Sudden…As I Was Watching Jesus Die… I heard myself say “Oh that is why Jesus died, as it dawned on me that Jesus was right when he said “You must be born again.

    In all of Paul’s writings concerning:

    The Spirit,
    The Flesh,
    Death,
    Sin,
    Lust of the flesh,
    The 1st Adam,
    The 2nd Adam,
    and walking in the Spirit…

    That these things are all tied to the death of Jesus.

    It’s as if God decided to give up on “The flesh” since the flesh was never able to abide by His commands, nor please Him, and move to the Spirit, as a new creation. Kind of like changing trains, or modes of transportation…

    That is why Jesus said “You must be born again”. Born of Spirit. A new creation. Jesus died; literally killed the vehicle of sin, and death, by dying in the flesh. So when we are born again, we really are NEW creatures. Old things have passed away. This is why that seed remains sin free. Because sin worked through the flesh…

    Adam was in the flesh, and sinned in the flesh.

    Sin can’t work in the Spirit…It’s not the right vehicle (seed) for sin…

    Many Years Later:

    1). I had a sin, that plagued me most of my adult life, even after my meeting Jesus.

    I always had a very high sex drive. Lust was a big problem. For years I prayed, fasted, wrote pastors, talked with friends, got prayer ETC. NOTHING helped. Every hour of every day I was assaulted.

    One night I’m invited to a church, they were having a guest speaker, a pastor from Poland. At the end of the service, he asks if anyone wants prayer. I go forward, and when he prays for me he leans close to my ear, and tells me my sins. Then he says the most amazing things, he speaks first person, as if he is God speaking, and says “I see your sin, but I also see your heart. I have not forsaken you, nor have a forgotten you”. I weep.

    These words blew my mind. I didn’t know how to comprehend these words. I mean my sins sent Jesus to the cross, now He is saying He sees my heart? I drive home confused, not able to understand the truth I have heard, this went on for 30 years. Then one day I understand, and I become FREE, not only from my sins, sins in general, but from sin itself. For we are free of it’s power and penalty.

    Let me share how my freedom came to me.

    One day I’m driving my car to work, I see, and I lust, the same as the last 30 years. All of a sudden I hear myself scream at God, “When are you going to help me with this”…Suddenly I hear, “When are you going to tell me the truth”. I say “What truth”… Then I suddenly know what He wants, as if someone pours it into my head…He wants me to agree with Him.

    So I say “Lord I love my sin, I don’t want you to interfere in anyway, leave me alone with my sin, for I love it.

    Almost immediately I find myself free. This was years ago now. Now I no longer live under the bondage of sin…

    2).One day (a few years ago) I’m sitting at the kitchen table, all alone, no one else is in the house. It was raining outside, and I was looking out the window, when all of a sudden I hear, a voice say:

    Rod do you notice the rain drops, that they are all different from one another. I said I suppose so Lord. And do you know that you’re different. I start to weep, thinking He is speaking about my face. Sternly, but without anger He says “NOT LIKE THAT!”

    Rod you are like a piece of fruit in a bowl, with many other pieces of fruit (Christians), but you are the worse piece of fruit in the bowl. And that is why I will use you for my glory.

    Some people, I put in the palm of my hand, I look at them, then I look away, but with you, I never take my eyes off of you.
    Then He asks me, why do you believe, what you believe, and who taught you. I said Lord I don’t know, I guess I just picked things up from others, along the way.

    He says do you think truth goes from the mind of one man and into another? I say no. I believe it comes from revelation.
    Then several things rush into my mind, as if someone is pouring them into me, things about the bible and God start to come together.

    Rod I don’t ever want you to put your sins above my love and grace for you. I don’t want you to look for things in yourself to improve, or try and change… I’m the vine dresser, I’m the shepherd, I am the one who washes. I Cleanse and teach you.
    I will bring things to your attention when I want to change things, then you just agree with me, and turn those things over to me, then I will change those things, not you… You are not to shine or polish the cup. You just abide in me, and rest in me, do not try to establish your own righteousness.

    I had spent years in a spiritual wilderness that seemed God had died or left me completely alone, as if He hated me for disobeying Him. (Of course, none of this was true, I know that now). I was crushed, I confessed my sins to God and anyone who would listen. I felt for sure I was on my way to hell. I even fasted for 30 days one time, I wrote men of God, I cried, shouted, pleaded with God, got angry, desperate, I just can’t share enough what this did to me. The silence was killing me.
    But never once was I unaware of things God wanted to change, one was the fact that I wasn’t trusting Him as I went thru this wilderness and trial.

    Trust… I just couldn’t do it, I agreed I needed to, but I just couldn’t find it, I had no emotional connection to this issue of trust.

    Oh, I could say the words “I trust you Lord”. But not with emotion, not from the heart. You know what I mean, about an emotional connection, so they just weren’t empty words right? It’s like a man saying to a woman “yea sure I love you” she knows he doesn’t mean it. BUT if he says “I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART” and If I live, and I live without you, then I will surly die. My day begins with you, and it ends with you. Life is nothing without you. That is a statement with emotion behind it, and it’s real.

    Anyway so How did God fix this issue of knowing what love was, and trusting Him? (You see IF YOU don’t know what Love is, and what God means, when He says He loves you, You CANNOT trust Him).

    It happened like this, I was driving, and was once again all alone. I was listening to a CD (Led Zeppelin) it was blaring loud.
    I heard Him speak. He said “You still aren’t trusting me”. I said “I know it Lord, I just can’t find it, and I don’t have the strength or will” ALL of a sudden, it’s as if something was poured into me and I understood. *Remember I hated this empty spiritual wilderness I was in, I just HATED IT with a passion.

    To my surprise I hear myself say “Lord this place, this wilderness, it is the perfect place for me, and it was the best choice that you made for me” (yes, I sinned, and it was my fault… But I needed to learn to trust him, by going thru this).

    I finished by saying “Lord I just trust you, with all my heart”

    So that is what God did for me, he removed these mountains out of my life, when I could not.

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