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Affliction and Glory, A. W. Pink

Affliction and Glory, A. W. Pink

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

These words supply us with a reason why we should not faint under trials nor be overwhelmed by misfortunes. They teach us to look at the trials of time in the light of eternity. They affirm that the present buffetings of the Christian exercise a beneficent effect on the inner man. If these truths were firmly grasped by faith they would mitigate much of the bitterness of our sorrows. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” This verse sets forth a striking and glorious antithesis, as it contrasts our future state with our present. Here there is “affliction;” there “glory.” Here there is a “light affliction;” there a “might of glory.” In our affliction, there is both levity and brevity; it is a light affliction, and it is but for a moment; in our future glory, there is solidity and eternity! To discover the preciousness of this contrast let us consider, separately, each member, but in the inverse order of mention. (more…)

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Love for Christ and Obedience

A. W. Pink

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).

In this instance, we shall depart from our customary method of expounding the different clauses of a verse in the order in which they occur; instead, we shall treat this verse more or less topically.  That in it which is of such vital importance is the final clause, where the Savior promised to manifest Himself to the obedient believer.  Now there is nothing the real Christian desires so much as a personal manifestation of the Lord Jesus.  In comparison with this, all other blessings are quite secondary.

In order to simplify, let us ask and attempt to answer three questions: How does the Savior now “manifest” Himself?  What are the effects of such manifestation?  What are the conditions which I have to meet? (more…)

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The Fight of Faith

A. W. Pink

There are some who teach that those Christians who engage in spiritual fighting are living below their privileges. They insist that God is willing to do all our fighting for us.  Their pet slogan is, “Let go, and let God.”  They say that the Christian should turn the battle over to Christ.  There is a half truth in this, yet only a half truth, and carried to extremes it becomes error.  The half truth is that the child of God has no inherent strength of his own: says Christ to His disciples, “Without me, ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).  Yet this does not mean that we are to be merely passive, or that the ideal state in this life is simply to be galvanized automations.  There is also a positive, an active, aggressive side to the Christian life, which calls for the putting forth of our utmost endeavors, the use of every faculty, a personal and intelligent co-operation with Christ. (more…)

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It has been truly said: “Right views concerning Christ are indispensable to a right faith, and a right faith is indispensable to salvation.  To stumble at the foundation, is, concerning faith, to make shipwreck altogether; for as Immanuel, God with us, is the grand Object of faith, to err in views of His eternal Deity, or to err in views of His sacred humanity, is alike destructive.  There are points of truth which are not fundamental, though erroneous views on any one point must lead to God-dishonoring consequences in strict proportion to its importance and magnitude; but there are certain foundation truths to err concerning which is to insure for the erroneous and the unbelieving, the blackness of darkness forever” (J. C. Philpot, 1859).

(more…)

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The Friendship of Christ by A. W. Pink

How many have ever heard a sermon or read an article on this subject?

How many of God’s people think of Christ in this blessed relationship?  Christ is the best Friend the Christian has, and it is both his privilege and duty to regard Him as such.  Our scriptural support is in the following passages: (more…)

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Jacob’s Prayer A. W. Pink

There is not a little in the prayer of Jacob which is worthy of close attention, the more so as it was a prevailing prayer, and that it is the first recorded real prayer in the Bible.

“And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee; I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.” (Genesis 32:9-12.)

First, the God to whom he prayed. He approached God not merely as God the Creator, but as “the God of his father Abraham and the God of his father Isaac.” It was God in Covenant relationship. This was laying hold of the Divine faithfulness; it was the prayer of faith. It means much to approach God thus; to appeal to Him on the ground of a sure and established relationship. We come before God not as the God of our forefathers, but as the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore our “God and Father.” It is as we plead this relationship He is pleased to bless us.

Second, Jacob cast himself on the sure Word of Jehovah, pleading before Him His promise. He humbly reminded the Lord how He had said, “Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee.” Here again we do well to learn from Jacob. The Scriptures contain many promises given to believers in general, and it is our individual privilege to plead them before God in particular, the more so when, like our patriarch, we encounter difficulties and opposition in the way wherein He has directed us to walk. Jacob pleaded a definite promise; so must we. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 we read, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” Come to the Throne of Grace at the beginning of each day, reverently and believingly remind the Lord of this declaration of His, and then say with one of old, “Do as Thou hast said” (2 Samuel 7:25). Again, we read in Philippians 4:19, “My God shall supply all your need.” Tell the Lord of this in the hour of emergency, and say, “Lord, do as Thou hast said.”

Third, Jacob fully acknowledged his own utter lack of desert [worthiness]. He confessed that the Lord was in no wise his debtor. He took a lowly place before the Most High. He owned that “he was not worthy of the least of all God’s mercies.” Mark this well, dear reader, for very little teaching is heard in these days that leads to self-abasement. It has become a rarity to hear a saint of God confessing his unworthiness. There is so much said about living on a high plane of spirituality, so much Laodicean boasting, that many are afraid to acknowledge before other believers that they are “not worthy of the least of God’s mercies.” One sometimes wonders if this is the chief reason why so few of us have any real power in prayer today. Certain it is that we must get down into the dust before God if we would receive His blessing. We must come before Him as empty-handed supplicants, if He is to fill us. We must own our ill deserts, and be ready to receive from Him on the ground of grace alone if we are to have our prayers answered.

Finally, notice the motive which actuated Jacob in presenting the petition he did. That for which he made request was expressed as follows: “Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.” At first glance, it would appear that our patriarch was moved by nothing higher than the natural affections of the human heart. It would seem that this was the petition of a kind husband and a tender father. But as we re-read this request of Jacob in the light of the closing words of his prayer, we shall discover he was prompted by a far worthier and higher motive. He at once added, “And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.” In this conclusion to the prayer, we may see not only a further pleading of God’s promise, but an eye to God’s glory. Jehovah had promised to make Jacob’s seed as the sand of the sea, but if his wife and children were slain how then could God’s promise be fulfilled! Now it is natural, and by no means wrong, for us to be deeply concerned over the salvation of our loved ones; but our chief concern must center itself not in the well being of those who are united to us by the ties of blood or intimate friendship, but for the glory of God. “Whatsoever ye do (in prayer, as in everything else) do all to the glory of God” — to this everything else must be subordinated. Here, then, is a searching test: Why am I so anxious to see certain ones saved? — Simply because they are near and dear to me? Or that God may be glorified and Christ magnified in their salvation? May Divine grace purge us of selfishness and purify our motives in prayer. And may God use these few words and cause both writer and reader to cry, with ever increasing fervor, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

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The Love of God by A. W. Pink

“The Love of God” by A. W. Pink [PDF]

There are three things told us in Scripture concerning the nature of God.

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

Second, “God is light” (1 John 1:5), which is the opposite of “darkness.”  In Scripture, “darkness” stands for sin, evil, death; and “light” for holiness, goodness, life.  God is light, means that He is the sum of all excellency.

Third, “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  It is not simply that God “loves,” but that He is Love itself.  Love is not merely one of His attributes, but His very nature.

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

1. The love of God is uninfluenced. By this we mean, there was nothing whatever in the objects of His love to call it into exercise, nothing in the creature to attract or prompt it.  The love which one creature has for another is because of something in them; but the love of God is free, spontaneous, uncaused.  The only reason why God loves any is found in His own sovereign will: “The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved thee” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8).  God has loved His people from everlasting, and therefore nothing of the creature can be the cause of what is found in God from eternity.  He loves from Himself: “according to His own purpose” (2 Timothy 1:9).

“We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  God did not love us because we loved Him, but He loved us before we had a particle of love for Him.  Had God loved us in return for ours, then it would not be spontaneous on His part; but because He loved us when we were loveless, it is clear that His love was uninfluenced.  It is highly important if God is to be honored and the heart of His child established, that we should be quite clear upon this precious truth.  God’s love for me, and for each of “His own,” was entirely unmoved by anything in them.  What was there in me to attract the heart of God?  Absolutely nothing.  But, to the contrary, everything to repel Him, everything calculated to make Him loathe me—sinful, depraved, a mass of corruption, with “no good thing” in me.

“What was there in me that could merit esteem,

Or give the Creator delight?

‘Twas even so, Father, I ever must sing,

Because it seemed good, in Thy sight.”

2. It is eternal. This of necessity.  God Himself is eternal, and God is love; therefore, as God Himself had no beginning, His love had none.  Granted that such a concept far transcends the grasp of our feeble minds, nevertheless, where we cannot comprehend, we can bow in adoring worship.  How clear is the testimony of Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.”

How blessed to know that the great and holy God loved His people before heaven and earth were called into existence, that He had set His heart upon them from all eternity.  Clear proof is this that His love is spontaneous for He loved them endless ages before they had any being.  The same precious truth is set forth in Ephesians 1:4,5, “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him.  In love having predestinated us.”  What praise should this evoke from each of His children!  How tranquilizing for the heart: since God’s love toward me had no beginning, it can have no ending!  Since it be true that “from everlasting to everlasting” He is God, and since God is “love,” then it is equally true that “from everlasting to everlasting” He loves His people.

3. It is sovereign. This also is self-evident. God Himself is sovereign, under obligations to none, a law unto Himself, acting always according to His own imperial pleasure.  Since God be sovereign, and since He be love, it necessarily follows that His love is sovereign.  Because God is God, He does as He pleases; because God is love, He loves whom He pleases.  Such is His own express affirmation: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:19).  There was no more reason in Jacob why he should be the object of Divine love, than there was in Esau.  They both had the same parents, and were born at the same time, being twins; yet God loved the one and hated the other!  Why?  Because it pleased Him to do so.  The sovereignty of God’s love necessarily follows from the fact that it is uninfluenced by anything in the creature.  Thus, to affirm that the cause of His love lies in God Himself, is only another way of saying, He loves whom He pleases.

For a moment, assume the opposite.  Suppose God’s love were regulated by anything else than His will, in such a case He would love by rule, and loving by rule He would be under a law of love, and then so far from being free, God would Himself be ruled by law.  “In love having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to”—what?  Some excellency which He foresaw in them?  No; what then?  “According to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:4-5).

4. It is infinite. Everything about God is infinite.  His essence fills heaven and earth.  His wisdom is illimitable, for He knows everything of the past, present and future.  His power is unbounded, for there is nothing too hard for Him.  So His love is without limit.  There is a depth to it which none can fathom; there is a height to it which none can scale; there is a length and breadth to it which defies measurement, by any creature-standard.

Beautifully is this intimated in Ephesians 2:4: But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us: the word “great” there is parallel with the “God so loved” of John 3:16.  It tells us that the love of God is so transcendent it cannot be estimated.  No tongue can fully express the infinitude of God’s love or any mind comprehend it: it “passeth knowledge,” Ephesians 3:19).  The most extensive ideas that a finite mind can frame about Divine love, are infinitely below its true nature.  The heaven is not so far above the earth as the goodness of God is beyond the most raised conceptions which we are able to form of it.  It is an ocean which swells higher than all the mountains of opposition in such as are the objects of it.  It is a fountain from which flows all necessary good to all those who are interested in it (John Brine, 1743).

5. It is immutable. As with God Himself there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17), so His love knows neither change nor diminution.  The worm Jacob supplies a forceful example of this: “Jacob have I loved,” declared Jehovah, and despite all his unbelief and waywardness, He never ceased to love him.  John 13:1 furnishes another beautiful illustration.  That very night one of the apostles would say, “Show us the Father;” another would deny Him with cursings; all of them would be scandalized by and forsake Him.  Nevertheless “having loved His own which were in the world, He love them unto the end.”  The Divine love is subject to no vicissitudes.  Divine love is “strong as death … many waters cannot quench it” (Song of Solomon 8:6-7).  Nothing can separate from it: Romans 8:35-39.

“His love no end nor measure knows,

No change can turn its course,

Eternally the same it flows

From one eternal source.”

6. It is holy. God’s love is not regulated by caprice passion, or sentiment, but by principle.  Just as His grace reigns not at the expense of it, but “through righteousness” (Romans 5:21), so His love never conflicts with His holiness.  “God is light” (1 John 1:5) is mentioned before “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  God’s love is no mere amiable weakness, or effeminate softness.  Scripture declares, “whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6).  God will not wink at sin, even in His own people.  His love is pure, unmixed with any maudlin sentimentality.

7. It is gracious. The love and favor of God are inseparable.  This is clearly brought out in Romans 8:32-39.  What that love is from which there can be no “separation,” is easily perceived from the design and scope of the immediate context: it is that goodwill and grace of God which determined Him to give His Son for sinners.  That love was the impulsive power of Christ’s incarnation: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).  Christ died not in order to make God love us, but because He did love His people.  Calvary is the supreme demonstration of Divine love.  Whenever you are tempted to doubt the love of God, Christian reader, go back to Calvary.

Here then is abundant cause for trust and patience under Divine affliction.  Christ was beloved of the Father, yet He was not exempted from poverty, disgrace, and persecution.  He hungered and thirsted.  Thus, it was not incompatible with God’s love for Christ when He permitted men to spit upon and smite Him.  Then let no Christian call into question God’s love when he is brought under painful afflictions and trials.  God did not enrich Christ on earth with temporal prosperity, for “He had not where to lay His head.”  But He did give Him the Spirit “without measure” (John 3:34).

Learn then that spiritual blessings are the principal gifts of Divine love.  How blessed to know that when the world hates us, God loves us!

From The Attributes of God.

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