Heavenly Springs, Pt 4

The Streams on earth I’ve Tasted . . . .
More Deep I’ll Drink Above
 
I reached a point some months ago where I felt my life had been shallow and lacking God’s presence. I vigorously besought Him that He might bring me into a fuller and deeper grasp of His love and person. I meant it. Then–heart attack! I was left in much weakness in most all physical areas, loss of some mental capacity, cast in a state of dependence upon others, and as I see it now, His hand of mercy in answering my prayer. In a new experience, He has enabled me through it all to have a rich, fuller experience of His presence and love. Sweeter communion amid tribulation, and increased desire to depart and be with Him. I’m thankful to be where He has brought me in these days, though through some hardness indeed. Yet His presence is sufficient in all things.
 
And you are complete in Him which is the head of all principality and power“; Oh, what glorious things upon which to think! These are beyond my comprehension in my present state, but oh, so glorious to reach for. Brother, one day we will be able to know and comprehend all the glories of His presence, heaven, yes, a new heaven and a new earth. All of Christ and His gift of life to those who were dead in sin!
Oh brother, sometimes I’m somewhat distressed in that, though I know these things and rejoice in them, yet I seem to know them in such a shallowness. Oh, that the depth of the truth might truly grip my soul, and penetrate my very being above all else, and be my strength, rejoicing, and my very substance of being.
 
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.
 
I heard Conrad Murrell once say with regard to the song, Jesus Grows Sweeter Every Daythat the Lord is not growing at all. Well, I understand what he meant. But I’m becoming more enabled to grasp the love of Jesus every day. Maybe that’s a more correct way to state it. Whatever the case, I’m thankful above measure that, in these advanced years of age 86 now, that He has and is enabling me to continue to grow in love and knowledge of Him, to love His Word, to “groan” before Him in prayer with thanksgiving and petitions, to embrace his truth, and to rejoice in hope. Can you believe such a thing? For one who has given Him no reason to pour out His love on such? Yet He has forgiven MY sins, loved me with an everlasting love, and drawn me with lovingkindness.
 
Would you believe an 86year old man, having seen God’s mercies over many years, yet trembles to stand before His people and bring them the Word of God? It does require some physical ability, and in these, I’m greatly deficient. But I am praying He will meet that need too. I’m not there yet, but praying for strength He gives to be there.
 
I had a blessed time preaching before the little group of saints, and they seemed to listen so intently.
In prayer and meditations this morning, the impact of eternity over our brief time here in this experience weighed heavily upon my mind. How absolutely ludicrous to give significance to this brief experience in time and think only occasionally of eternity! I guess realizing the brief time I have left in this experience quickens in my heart thoughts of our blessed Lord and what awaits his people on the other side. Oh joy, joy! What a glorious hope for one blest to believe on the Savior. 
 
I’m content in this realm as long as He is pleased that I should remain here.
 
– Bob Woodruff
 
 
 
 

Heavenly Springs, Pt 3

The Streams on Earth I’ve Tasted . . . .
More Deep I’ll Drink Above

I find the Word of God speaks to me more in small portions. Sometimes it seems one or two verses fill my mind full. Like looking thru a magnifying glass, it seems to zoom up so large that a few words fill the whole pane of view. And so it is this morning– “that where I am there may ye be also”. I know we have not the comprehension to grasp all the full content here. But to grasp at it brings such rejoicing.

I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner condemned, unclean.

Oh, how marvelous! Oh, how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
Oh, how marvelous! Oh, how wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!

I “AM” amazed at the fleeting passing perishing things of this world that I once thought were so significant. Oh, the glorious hope He has provided you and I and all the household of faith in the Lamb of God.
Oh yes, amazing grace, how sweet the sound!

“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

“Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and the power of His might”; Oh, how I’m so needy here. But we seek His face in all things.

Joined with family for a delayed “Thanksgiving” yesterday. I do not believe I have ever been so blessed with thanksgiving in my own heart.

I was reminded of the woman who came to Jesus, and wept before God, as I re-read the account of her petition before God for the healing of her daughter. Christ told her it was not for her, but was for the Jews. Her glorious response is mine. “Lord, even the dogs get the crumbs”. Oh yes master, just a few crumbs from your table will do me! One sweet touch of your tender mercy! I have found that; My heart soars this hour with rejoicing, I have now the bread of heaven. Oh joy, joy, joy. I’m in-firmed, aged, decrepit, weak in body, but soaring in the heavens with rejoicing. I’m one of His who are destined irrevocably to heaven with my Savior and all the saints of God.

Getting so feeble with the passing of days. But I am reminded that each day is one day closer to being with Him. Think of it my brother, NO SIN in or around Him in heaven. I will be forever thru dealing with it. Oh, what a glorious hope we do have and it is all a gift in His mercy.

You are rich beyond compare, a child of the King, robed in Christ’s righteousness, delivered from the corruption that is in the world through lust, endued from on high with spiritual knowledge, seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, kept by the power of God, loved with everlasting love, all things are working together for your good; God is for you and nothing can separate you from His love. So many recorded glorious promises, all from the absolute truth recorded in God’s Word. There’s enough there to think on for a while!

Oh, may we have the faith and boldness to walk as the apostle Paul.

Jer 31:3– “The LORD hath appeared unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Can you think of anything more wonderful?

– Bob Woodruff

Heavenly Springs, Pt 2

The Streams On Earth I’ve Tasted,
More Deep I’ll Drink Above………

Dear Brother,
I hate to sound like I’m complaining and I am really not. But the facts are–
After all the heart stints and much medication, I’m left weaker than I have ever known and more unstable than I have ever been. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, I’m not. Just before all this hit, I asked God to take me deeper into His intimacies and reveal more of His person to me. In whatever manner He chooses to do this, I have no complaints. He is helping me to empty more of self. A blessed way indeed, and by whatever means He deems necessary. It is not an easy way, but His way. I have no complaints, but just to say, “Bless His Holy Name”.

From 10-7-14 Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Morning

“Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant?” Numbers 11:11

“Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles to try our faith. If our faith be worth anything, it will stand the test. Painted gold is afraid of fire, but true gold is not; the paste gem dreads to be touched by the diamond, but the true jewel fears no test. It is a poor faith which can only trust God when friends are true, the body full of health, and the business profitable; but true faith holds to the Lord’s faithfulness when friends are gone, when the body is sick, when spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father’s countenance is hidden. A faith which can say, in the direst trouble, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him,” is heaven-born faith. The Lord afflicts his servants to glorify himself, for he is greatly glorified in the graces of his people, which are his own handiwork. When “tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope,” the Lord is honoured by these growing virtues. We should never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched; nor enjoy the juice of the grape if it were not trodden in the winepress; nor discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were not pressed and beaten; nor feel the warmth of fire if the coals were not utterly consumed. The wisdom and power of the great Workman are discovered by the trials through which his vessels of mercy are permitted to pass. Present afflictions tend also to heighten future joy. There must be shades in the picture to bring out the beauty of the lights. Could we be so supremely blessed in heaven, if we had not known the curse of sin and the sorrow of earth? Will not peace be sweeter after conflict, and rest more welcome after toil? Will not the recollection of past sufferings enhance the bliss of the glorified? There are many other comfortable answers to the question with which we opened our brief meditation, so let us muse upon it all day long.”

So good, and needed in the present hour!

Our God is precious and is Lord indeed. One day our faith will be turned to sight and we shall see Him as He is.

In these days, I am trying to hear His voice. He speaks to me through His Word and by His Spirit. “Bless The Lord Oh my soul and all that is within me, bless His holy Name.”

Struggling with this perishing flesh. It’s a difficult way to go from strength and health to weakness and infirmity. But it’s the way of man, and I am so thankful that our God has promised the unspeakable joy of ultimately coming into His presence. And to consider at what cost to our Savior this has been accomplished. Surely, “God commended His love toward us….”

Waiting on the Lord is sometimes not easy but is always profitable.

Still laboring under the aftermath of recent physical distresses. God knows and is merciful. “Bless the Lord Oh my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name.”

Always amazing is the Word of God. It’s the only thing in all our experience that never changes. Always perfect in every realm. The only thing on the planet that gives life. I’m far too unskilled to address something of such magnitude. But, “the dogs get the crumbs”, and how I rejoice above measure in this precious and glorious truth. In His mercy, “I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”

At first, it is sad when you become old and feeble; less outward service to the Lord. Out of the flow of His things more, somewhat assigned to the sidelines of the things of God.
Well, none of this is altogether true. Our God is not dependent on man’s strength or youth. He is never limited by my feebleness. I read that His strength is made perfect in my weakness. He is very capable of using an aged, weak, trembling, old man or woman as He pleases. That sure brings all the glory to Him.
I’m certainly not despising a young man’s strength, nor the wise man’s wisdom, but all things are useable to the God of all power and perfect wisdom. I do regret that I did not always serve God in the days of my strength and youth. But He knows all about that. His mercy and long suffering are most surely my strength. I know I cannot serve God with the power and strength of so many I know today but it’s surely not because I don’t want to. I guess what I’m saying is I’m not sad because I have become aged, infirmed, and not much use to God now. But He can make whatever use of me that He deems wise. My weakness in no way limits God. Jacob worshipped, leaning on his staff.
The lordship of Christ has never been more precious to me than in these days and my apparent service to Him less. But I rest in peace, that He is never surprised at anything. I’m content and I rest in the precious lordship of Christ, my blessed Redeemer. My sufficiency is totally vested in Him. Oh brother, to be a Christian is unbelievable! I praise His dear Name.

— Bob Woodruff

Heavenly Springs

[Bob Woodruff was a godly man from east Texas, loved by many, who passed away last year. He was continually praising, speaking of, and exalting Christ as his most precious possession. His life was a fragrant blessing to all who knew him. These are some miscellaneous thoughts which became heavenly springs to him from the Lord, sent by Bob to friends during his illness over the months before his advance to glory.]

I don’t know what God yet may have for me in this sojourn, but it will be good. Learning to glory in tribulation is an unspeakable gift.

Even now, I know I am in the loving care of the Lord Jesus; he has not forsaken me; he cares, I know he cares.

When one reaches my age, he realizes more perfectly that all here below is vanity, and your soul pants for the living God. Nothing else will satisfy the longing heart for reality and truth of a living Savior. Bless his holy Name!

All through the blood of Calvary- Oh, glory to God my Father!

To learn this is to learn one of the greatest treasures of the faith – these few short years, and then an entrance into absolute truth. Oh joy, joy, joy! Just think brother– no more sorrow, tears, or death!

My experience now makes me more excited about “going home” than I’ve ever been before.

I’m struggling with my memory, but God knows that. He will meet my needs and I rejoice in that. I don’t know just what he has for me in the days to come, but he has said, “I will never leave nor forsake you.” What a glorious promise!

Thoughts too high for us to fully embrace in this hour. But, oh yes, we shall fully understand in another day that will be ours through the blessed work of our Savior. The depth of these thoughts exceed our ability to plummet in this hour, but then we shall know as we are known. Oh glorious day!!! All through the blood of our blessed Redeemer. “Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”

To know and do the will of God for me in a difficult hour–to hear and obey God and please Him

The words of a hymn come to mind this morning….”And the things of this world grow strangely dim, in the light of His glorious grace.”

I plan to attempt to speak to our little gathering in the morning. Maybe 8 or so; first time in weeks. May he be pleased as we attempt to lift him up.

A great word from brother Henry– “It is by affliction that he purifies us (Isa 48:10) and by trial that he takes our affections from the objects of time and sense, and gives them a relish for the enjoyments which result from the prospect of perfect and eternal glory.”
– Matthew Henry

For the first time in weeks, I attempted to speak; there’s nothing noteworthy about that except to me. It is of God’s mercies, longsuffering, and grace upon us in our neediness.

– Bob Woodruff

A Merry Heart Does Good Like Medicine

The well-known Baptist pastor, James Whitcomb Brougher, Sr, who pastored in Los Angeles from 1910 to 1926, and then later in Boston. Brougher once had the famous Will Rogers and boxing great Jack Dempsey in a Los Angeles Bible class.

One day he announced that he would begin teaching the Epistles beginning the next week. Brougher said, “Turning to Will Rogers, I asked, ‘Will, do you know what the Epistles are?’ ”
Rogers replied, “You bet your life; they’re the wives of the apostles.” Brougher said, as the class laughed.
Turning to Jack Dempsey, Rogers said, ‘You don’t need to laugh, Jack. I’ll bet you five dollars you can’t say the Lord’s Prayer.”
Dempsey said, “I’ll bet I can.”
Rogers said, “Let’s hear you.”
Dempsey said, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep.”
When Jack finished, Will handed him five dollars and said, ‘Jack, I didn’t think you could do it.”

Life of A.W. Pink – Pt 4

HOVE AND STORNOWAY

In March 1936 the Pinks moved to Hove and enjoyed four years on the south coast of England. They worshipped in the Gospel Standard Church, Galeed, and heard some sermons from the aged pastor J.K.Popham but the church held to the articles that had caused the end of his Sydney ministry and though aspects of Popham’s ministry appealed to him he discerned a certain fatalism which chilled him. Sundays thereafter were spent in correspondence.

Once war was declared, Hove was a prime target for the bombing. In ten days of September 1940 there were 28 air-raid warnings which meant going downstairs and resting on a camp bed. They slept with their clothes on. One bomb killed fifty people, and so they resolved to make what was their last move, travelling to the Hebrides, an island of the north west coast of Scotland where they lived until their deaths. They arrived in mid-October 1940 at the Manse of Wallace B. Nicholson the Free Presbyterian minister in North Uist. They moved to a flat in Lewis Street in Stornoway and remained in that street for the next 12 years in fact until Arthur Pink died. The community was overwhelmingly Gaelic speaking with many having no spoken English. The two confessional congregations in Stornoway, the Free Church and the Free Presbyterian, had small afternoon services in English. They attended the Free Church for three months but it was unused to strangers, and there was no provision made for welcoming such people as the Pinks. The commitment to no idle chatter after the service was over meant that people went out quietly and straight home, even though they might have been deeply touched by the sermon. The Pinks thought the atmosphere was chilly and stopped attending church. Attempts were made for Kenneth MacRae, the minister, and Arthur Pink to meet but they could not find a suitable time, and perhaps the attempt was half-hearted in both cases, Mr. MacRae had never heard of Pink nor of his magazine and later came to regret that he had not been more diligent in visiting the stranger who had been visiting his church. He often went to see Mrs. Pink after the death of her husband. So for the last years of their lives the Pinks did not attend church. Arthur no longer made friends as he did when he had been a younger man and he did not encourage people to visit them though two men travelled far on different occasions to knock on the door of 28 Lewis Street and were allowed in. But in the magazine such visits were not welcomed Pink believing that more could be accomplished by letter than by a personal visit.

So there in Scotland he died quite painfully of a form of anaemia, refusing to take any drug that would dull his mind and prevent him doing his work. On July 15, 1952, he passed away into the full joy of the words he loved to quote–

He and I in one bright glory endless bliss shall share;
Mine, to be for ever with him, His that I am there.

Two days later a small group of friends gathered for the brief funeral service. He is buried in an unmarked grave in Sandwick Burial Ground. A brick marks where his body lies. Some talk of setting up a simple stone memorial. Studies in the Scripture continued to be published until the end of 1953. It is interesting to observe that twenty months later the first edition of the Banner of Truth Magazine appeared, a publication which held dear to all the major convictions of Pink and of his subscribers.

CONCLUSIONS

Iain Murray comes to three conclusions about Pink’s books.

1. His writings and teaching was self-consciously written with the authority of a man called by God to teach his word. His business was to speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority (Titus 2:15).

2. The clarity of his method of teaching was focused on one great aim of bringing people to definite conclusions concerning the truth. The presentation of the message was always aimed at instructing people in what was true.

3. His teaching was not ended in the clear explanation of the meaning of a passage. The principles learned needed to be applied to our daily walk in order to convict and stimulate, comfort and strengthen (Murray, pp.285&286).

Iain concludes splendidly thus: “It is on the practical and devotional side that Pink really comes into his own, and that he is almost uniformly uplifting, stimulating and often inspiring. Here he needs to lean on none. He speaks what he has ‘seen and heard’ when he takes up such subjects as prayer and self-denial, communion with Christ and growth in grace. His grasp of the ways of God in conversion and in spiritual experience is masterly and reveals a gift which has been exceedingly rare among preachers and writers of our times. He has sound counsel for the spiritual infant and for the mature Christian. As a spiritual physician who knows the heart in all its multiplicity of need he talks like one of the Puritans. He is able to walk, and to assist others to walk through that Valley, which says Bunyan, ‘is as dark as pitch’, where there is ‘on the right hand a very deep ditch’ and on the left ‘a very dangerous quag, into which, if ever a good man falls, he finds no bottom for his foot to stand on.’ This pastoral ability and discernment is surely Pink’s foremost strength as a teacher” (Murray, p.296).

– Geoff Thomas

Daily Thoughts: Life of A. W. Pink – Pt 3

MEMBERSHIP IN THE STRICT AND PARTICULAR BAPTISTS.

There were three such congregations in Sydney in the 1920s and the largest was Belvoir Street Church. The members rejoiced in the arrival of Arthur Pink and for six months he preached each Sunday and Wednesday. Once he had read their basis of faith he gave them assurance that he held to those convictions and so was able to be received into the church membership.

Then followed a flowering of activity. He preached 300 times in the year 1925, for rarely less than an hour and usually 75 to 90 minutes, returning home at 10 p.m. He then commenced three Bible Study Classes each week in different parts of Sydney. In the meanwhile, Mrs. Pink typed out all the articles and helped with the correspondence and office work. They worked most nights until 2 a.m. after four hours’ hard study and writing an article for the magazine. In the summer heat of 85-105 degrees, he would work with his feet in a tub of water with a cloth around his head. There was much blessing and joy in the ministry during this year. But, alas, a year later he had resigned. He preached the duty of all men to believe in Christ. He limited himself to preaching one sermon in five to the unsaved, being aware of their background. He preached two sermons in nine months on ‘Man’s Responsibility – Gospel Responsibility’ while he preached a dozen on election and particular calling and so on. But he would typically say to the non-Christian, “why not believe in him for yourself? Why not trust the precious blood for yourself, and why not tonight? Why not tonight, my friend? God is ready. God is ready to save you now if you believe on him. The blood has been shed, the sacrifice has been offered, the atonement has been made, the feast has been spread. The call goes out to you tonight, ‘Come for all things are now ready.’”

Or again, he would typically say, “In some quarters there is so much said about the inability of the natural man to perform acts of grace, there is such disproportionate emphasis laid upon the helplessness of the creature that a most deplorable and a tragic lethargy has been fostered and encouraged. And I am afraid there are some present tonight who are so obsessed with this do-nothingism that they sadly need to be shaken up and aroused to a sense of their responsibility” (Studies, 1927, p.163)

But Pink discovered that the trust deeds of two of the smaller Strict and Particular Baptist church who were linked with his church in Belvoir Street contained articles of faith which specified the very errors against which he was contending. So very regretfully he resigned after preaching for over two years in Belvoir Street. If he had been shown the articles of the other churches and told he had to be in agreement with them he would never have accepted the call, and knowing Pink’s views on gospel responsibility, they should never have invited him to occupy their pulpit. About 40 per cent of the membership of Belvoir Street also resigned. Twenty-six of them met to form a new church with Arthur Pink as a pastor and soon their numbers doubled. But once again Pink was restless with the situation. With the reasoning behind the formation of this church, his own decision to become the pastor there, his wish to avoid the ‘strife of tongues’, could there ever be peace amongst Christians in Sydney while he was there? Would any church work in Australia survive with this general opposition to free grace preaching? Soon on July 20, 1928, Arthur and Vera sailed back to England waving a good-bye to a group of friends at the quayside who sang the doxology.

BACK IN ENGLAND

For the next two years, Pink lacked a pulpit and a fixed congregation. He believed most churches had departed from the gospel and so it was a Christian duty to depart from them. He was prepared to say to some Christians, those fearful words, “Better stay at home and read God’s Word” and yet he also said, “Next to being saved the writer deems it his greatest privilege of all to belong to one of Christ’s churches” (Studies, 1927 p.281). He stayed with his brother in Seaton in Devon, and he could visit his aged parents. He had opportunity to preach in a number of places but no call was forthcoming. He preached in Seaton but soon he was told that three of the leading men in the church had taken offence at his view of God’s sovereignty and so that door was closed to him. Not a door of ministry opened to him and so, as the months went by, their thoughts increasingly turned to the USA and in May 1929 they sailed there from Southampton. The immigration officer in New York said to him, “Do you intend to pursue your calling as a minister of the gospel?” “Yes,” replied Pink, “by the grace of God.” The immigration officer said, “You are coming here to mend broken souls?” Pink replied, “No, sir,, instead as an instrument in the Lord’s hands, to bring life to those who are dead in sin.” The officer’s face lit up! “Attaboy!” he said, “That’s the talk.”

They went to Vera’s home town and were warmly welcomed and he preached here and there, but the invitations dried up. He felt there was little longing to see souls saved in confesssionally Calvinistic churches. He wrote, “As we grow older we feel the great need of a deeper experimental acquaintance with God, and some of the Holy Spirit’s applying his word with power to our hearts. More and more we are learning that there is a vast difference between a theoretical knowledge of the truth and inward experience of it . . . The general neglect of the heart is the root cause of the present state of Christendom.”

So they left Kentucky to move three thousand miles to Los Angeles. Since leaving Australia two years earlier he had done less than three weeks preaching. They were not inside any church for the whole of 1930 and saw very few Christians. They felt they had travelled the world and yet could not find any church which was scriptural in its membership, its maintenance of Discipline and in its preaching. One wishes in 1930 he had heard of Sandfields Forward Movement in Port Talbot in South Wales and the great blessings that that congregation was knowing. Many years later Martyn Lloyd-Jones commented, “If I had behaved as Pink did, I would have achieved nothing. Nothing at all. I could see that the only hope was to let the weight of truth convince the people. So I had to be very patient and take a very long-term look at things. Otherwise I would have been dismissed and the whole thing would have been finished” (Iain Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith, 1939-1981, Banner of Truth, p.232).

So the 45 year old Pink left California for the final time and headed back to Pennsylvania where they lived for a while in a house without electricity. They had fellowship with a number of people. Seventeen or so gathered with them over a week-end. They enjoyed good health. He could write the following of himself, “Though he has now read the Bible through over fifty times, and upwards of one million pages of theological literature, he has no glasses, and read the finest print as comfortably as he did twenty-five years ago. Though the editor’s wife does all her own housework, making of bread and her own clothes, looks after a garden, and has canned and preserved, jellied and pickled between two hundred and fifty and three hundred pints of fruit and vegetables; and though she does all the typing and addressing of envelopes for this magazine, yet, in spite of a frail body, God has graciously sustained and granted all needed strength” (Studies, 1932, p.286).

He still had no invitations to preach even when they moved near Philadelphia and so they came to believe it was time to move back to Britain. So they packed their belongings into three trunks and six boxes (including his books) and sailed to England in September 1934. He was born and bred in England but since 1910 he had spent less than two and a half years in the UK. They went to Cheltenham to live near some loyal friends. They tried to start a meeting in a hired hall and thirteen came to the first meeting but no more. They moved the meeting to a Monday night if that would attract more, but it did not. Pink was very discouraged, and he poured out his heart to a Free Presbyterian pastor. The minister,Wallace Nicolson invited to come to live in Scotland and so in March 1935 they moved to Glasgow to the home of a Free Presbyterian woman. They worshipped in an F.P.congregation for the next two months. One of the elders was a subscriber to Studies in the Scriptures. But he could not preach for them as he was not an F.P. member, and not even a Presbyterian. He had no invitations to preach, and so in his Annual Letter in December 1935 he wrote the following cri de coeur; “Do any of our readers know of any undenominational cause, or ‘independent’ church anywhere in Great Britain where a man of truth would be welcome, or any ‘mission’, conducted on Scriptural lines, where there would be openings for Bible Conference addresses? Our preaching is along the same lines as our magazine articles. Some readers have a wide acquaintance and may know of suitable openings, and God may use them to give us contact with places that should welcome an uncompromising and soul-edifying message. Please pray over this, and write us.” (Studies, 1935, p.382). He was invited to a Plymouth Brethren Assembly three days before Christmas and he preached on “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted”. But he asked that a solo and a harp selection might not take place and the leaders thought the request rather stiff and he was not invited back. After a year in Scotland they moved almost 400 miles to Hove on the south coast of England. He hoped that there he would find openings to speak, but there was none. Matthew Henry wrote, “God’s dearest servants are not always gratified in everything they have a mind to. Yet all who delight in God have ‘the desire of their hearts fulfilled (Psa.27:4) if not humoured.” Pink wrote, “One day we shall view life’s strange and bewildering events from another point of view and everything will be seen in its true perspective and proportions, not now, but in the coming years, it may be in the Better Land.”

When Iain Murray comes to examine Pink’s isolation during these years, he wisely pleads Pink’s lack of membership in any denominational body. He had become a Baptist though formerly a Congregationalist even if for years he refrained from presenting his view of believers’ baptism in his magazine. He was unacceptable to the Strict and Particular Baptists of the Gospel Standard, and the Plymouth Brethren were unhappy with his rejection of what they called ‘Assembly Principles’ that is a dispensationalist view of Scripture, their rejection of the office of the minister and their Arminianism. By the time of Pink’s death over two million copies of the Scofield Bible had been printed. He once believe in this system and had written two early books in 1918 and 1923 promoting those views. He came to a better understanding of the truth and knew that he had taught error and felt this deeply.

Richard Belcher, an admirer of Pink, wonders whether he was suited to the pastoral office in the local church as being insufficiently sociable and too blunt, but there is much evidence of Pink possessing a true pastor’s heart. He cared for people and after he left an area he kept in touch with the individuals there and sought to help them. He was interested in people and they loved him. One illustration Iain Murray gives is the following; “On one occasion, when the Pinks were leaving a certain area in the United States, many friends were at the station to bid them farewell. They loaded them with gifts for the journey, mainly fruit. Pink was not long on the train before he was offering the fruit to fellow passengers, to an Afro-American in particular who was overcome with this unexpected kindness, having just begun work after a prolonged illness. He was lacking any money to purchase food. Love and consideration for others was not missing in Pink’s make up” (op cit, p.169).

The facts is that the current of religious life in the 1920s and 30s was away from the truths he loved and preached, The ecclesiastical spirit of the age was overwhelmingly rationalistic and man centred. The Fundamentalist movement was overwhelmingly decisionistic. He said, “Christendom is reapinig today the evil sowings of the last two or three generations, particularly the unscriptural ‘evangelistic’ methods that have been employed – the demand for visible ‘results’ and the lusting after numbers. Thousands have been pressed into ‘making a profession’ and rushed into ‘joining the church’.” (Studies 1931, p.188). It was the same conviction that was held by A.W.Tozer, his contemporary for 55 years though the two A.W.’s never met.

So he was hemmed in to his monthly magazine, and thus great good came from that as his articles were put together and sold by a dozen publishers, small and great. He could send out his magazine to a thousand people who never sent him a donation. He supported its publication from his own meagre resources. The last salary he was to receive was way back in 1928 and he lived another 27 years on his won money and the subscriptions and gifts that readers of the magazine sent to him. 1930 was his most trying year. At the end of the financial year he was a dollar in debt and that morning there was nothing in the post, but there was an afternoon delivery and a letter arrived with three dollars so they closed the year with a credit balance of five shillings. Yet his testimony at the end of one year was a warm meditation on the words of Christ, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Besides his monthly magazine production, Pink was an inveterate letter writer. He could say in 1946 that he had hand written well over 20,000 letters. Sometimes he wrote ten a day and they were not hurried notes but letters full of thought and wisdom and good counsel, affectionately written. It would be a delight to read some to you, but time forbids and the Banner of Truth has published a book of his letters. Many of his letters, Iain Murray judges to be ‘elevated correspondence courses, with tuition in the Scriptures’ (Murray ,op cit, p.224). Letters with Harold J.Bradshaw of Norwich over ten months in 1943 ran to forty-eight closely typed foolscap pages when copied from the originals (see Murray, op cit, pp. 226-235). Pink once wrote to friends informing them that on one day earlier in that month eighteen letters arrived at his door, and as the New Year approached he was being swamped with letters from friends who wrote to him once a year. To one man who asked for his interpretation of a verse in the book of Revelation he replied, “I have long since turned my attention to more vital and practical concerns than parading my brains over the symbols of Daniel and Revelation, and only wish I had done so earlier.” Another letter asked him his opinion of the Jews’ return to Palestine. Pink replied (it was in 1946), “God will work out his own eternal purpose, though personally I don’t profess now to know what that involves regarding the Jews.” And that is precisely where we are today.

To be continued –

Geoff Thomas

The Life of A. W. Pink – Pt 2

Arthur Pink’s mind turned to the USA and in June 1910 he sailed from England to Chicago and entered the Moody Bible Institute. No record of his journey and his first experience of America survives. He survived in Moody for just six weeks. He was 24, many of the students were out of high school, still in their teens and the teaching as far as Pink was concerned was most elementary. He discussed his reaction with one of his lecturers who could sympathize with him. In fact he helped to find him a church at Silverton a small town over 9000 feet up the mountains of Colorado where he stayed for almost two years.
 
Then Pink moved to California, and whilst there he visited his home in Nottingham for five months, and returning to California wrote his first book on The Divine Inspiration of Scripture. These ten years, 1910 until 1920 were the period when he matured as a preacher, met Vera Russell a Kentucky girl and soon after their first meeting in 1916 he married her. It was a long and very blessed marriage. She loved and honoured Arthur and sought by any means to assist him in his work. During these years he discovered the Puritans and devoured them. The churches where he was the preacher were small rural congregations. In California he seems to have had a brief pastorate of a church plagued by perfectionism. He says virtually nothing about it. Then in 1913 off he went to Kentucky to rural America, the nearest railway was forty miles away, and there he served half time two little churches. He was also involved in another pastorate in Kentucky in a town called Spartanburg. Short pastorates were very common in America, as they are with the Baptists and Methodists in particular to this day. But he gradually became known increasingly amongst the growing fundamentalist movement which was led by such men as Philip Mauro, Arno Gaebelin and Harry Ironside.
 
It was from 1915 onwards that he came across Puritan writers. In 1918 he read a four volume set of Jonathan Edwards’ works. In 1919 he notes that he had read 45 books in the preceding three months. He wrote a letter to I.C.Herendeen in Swengel, Pennsylvania, the owner of a small publishing work called ‘The Bible Truth Depot’ in May of that year and he told Herendeen, “Next week, DV, I shall complete Manton’s 22 volumes, and then I expect to make a careful study of 12 large volumes by Thomas Goodwin.” In another letter, two months later, he told Herendeen, “I have just finished volume 8 of Goodwin’s 12 volumes.” That volume consists of 600 pages. A month later in another letter to Herendeen he writes, “I have just finished Goodwin’s last volume and am now ready to begin the 18 volumes of John Owen.” But three and a half months later in another letter he wrote, “Owen is wearisome. I am not half way through the sixteen volumes of his works.”
 
Iain Murray comments, “That no Puritan would have commended such an intensity of reading does not seem to have occurred to Pink. We may admire his enthusiasm while questioning his wisdom. From painful experience he would give better advice to young men in later years. He wrote to one Robert Harbach in 1944, ‘I would advise you to go slow in reading Owen . . . You are likely to find him more helpful in another ten years’ time, if you are spared, when your own spiritual life has further matured (Letters to a Young Pastor, p. 9)” (Iain Murray, The Life of Arthur W. Pink, Banner of Truth, 2004, p.53)
 
Besides the books that he was reading Pink continued to develop as a writer in what eventually was to become 53 books. Three books following his first on the Divine Inspiration of Scripture, namely, The Redeemer’s Return, The Godhead of God and the Seven Sayings on the Cross. But he was placing too great a strain on himself with so much reading and writing and this in addition to his pastoral and preaching duties in the little Spartanburg church. He lost weight and experienced severe headaches, his blood pressure was considerably below normal and he was in a generally run down condition. Vera Pink wrote to Herendeen in June 1919, “I am quite worried about my husband. The work here is so discouraging and the strain of waiting for something else to open up is telling upon him. He is quite despondent, nervous and irritable and unable to sleep . . . It seems to me the Lord would have him devote more and more of his time to writing books.”
 
THE 1920s IN CALIFORNIA
 
The next twelve months was a wonderful period in the life of Arthur Pink. He had been invited in the summer of 1920 to preach in Garden Grove, California (where he had preached seven years earlier). A group were awaiting the arrival of a new minister and he was to fill the pulpit until he arrived. After he had preached for them he took the trans-continenntal train back and fore to New York and then an evangelist named Thompson beseeched him for help. He was preaching in San Francisco to vast crowds. He spoke of 150 genuine converts. “I am no teacher,” he told Pink, “and they are hungry for the word.” So Pink went along to the tent and found the place packed out with all 1000 seats taken. Pink preached to them for 65 minutes on the way of salvation and they listened “with breathless interest throughout.” And so through the week he preached each night to 700 people with a thousand attending each Saturday and Sunday nights. He wrote to Herendeen of the wonderful works of God he was observing and gave to that astonished man a long list of names and addresses of people who had ordered all four books that he written. He should have been writing his revision of The Sovereignty of God at this time but had to lay it aside.
 
Pink was invited to continue to work with Thompson but felt he must dedicate some of his time to writing. He moved back to his new home in Pennsylvania for a while and then early in 1921 returned to these meetings in California. The numbers attending had shrunk because of a difference of opinion between Thompson and Harry Ironside. The crowds had preferred the ministry of Thompson, which Ironside did not like, and he had deepened the breach between the two men by questioning whether Thompson was ‘living by faith’ and then someone showed Ironside Pink’s The Sovereignty of God so that the author’s Calvinism had become another point at issue. Pink continued to preach powerfully in the tent, and numbers again rose to 700 people. He got on well with the evangelist Thompson – Pink generally go on well with people. Finally Pink returned to his new home in Swengel, Pennsylvania.
 
THE LAUNCH OF ‘STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES’
 
In the early 1920s Moody Press published Pink’s Gleanings in Genesis. I found it marginally useful in a couple of places. There are better books on Genesis. And also his first volume on John’s gospel was published which is a more helpful book. But the most important ministry of his life began in 1922 when Herendeen was successful in his exhortations that Pink should start a magazine. In January Studies in the Scriptures was launched, at first twenty pages in length, fourteen of which were written by him including one on John’s gospel and then other articles including some by Plymouth Brethren writers which are found just in these first years of the magazine. The rest are extracts from John Brown, Andrew Fuller, Ralph Erskine, Jonathan Edwards, Spurgeon and Andrew Bonar. It was a magazine which reminds me of two of today’s fine magazines which adopt an identical format, The Free Presbyterian Magazine and The Gospel Standard, though one’s eyes do linger over the contemporary writings that they contain.
 
Of the Puritans Pink’s favourites appear to have been Matthew Henry, John Owen, Thomas Manton, John Flavel, Thomas Goodwin and John Bunyan. Gurnall he considered spiritual and helpful but it needed to be read slowly with meditation. His favourite Flavel book was the Fountain of Life. Howe was the driest, and Trapp he considered a poor expositor. He liked the German Hengstenburg, and the Scot he quoted from most of all was Thomas Boston but he knew and read Fairbairn, Smeaton and Cunningham. Alexander Maclaren, he thought, was ‘always worth reading with caution.’ From the USA Thornwell did not impress him while in England Spurgeon was ‘always good.’ But he was unhappy with Huntingdon’s repudiation of the free offer and his denial of ‘duty repentance’ and ‘duty faith’ and also that the ten commandments were not the Christian’s rule of life. Pink though widely read Philpot who also held those views and Pink quoted him favourably.
 
Pink introduces the new magazine and concludes as following, “The title of this magazine implies that it is designed not for lazy people, or for those who are so busily occupied with the things of this world, that they have no time (in reality no heart) for the things of God. No, it is published for the benefit of those who are or who wish to become, students of Scripture. The articles herein call for study, thoughtful perusal, prolonged meditation. Finally, let not this magazine become a substitute for your own daily study of God’s Word: rather let it be an incentive for further search on your part to discover the priceless treasure hidden therein.” For the rest of his life he had the monthly deadline of all 24 pages to fill, the proofs to be checked for printing errors, the subscriptions to collect and bank, the bills to be paid, and he never failed to do those things. The first year finished with 1,000 subscribers and a small credit balance and so they temporarily increased the size of the magazine to 32 pages and a larger print and still charged $1 a year. But they soon reduced it to 24 pages as the number of subscribers dropped.
 
As well as that Herendeen resigned and moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio and Pink had few invitations to preach anywhere. The pressures resulted in another breakdown. Pink was susceptible to depression, like David Brainerd and other ministers. The Pinks moved to live in Philadelphia, but soon they were to receive an invitation to preach in Australia which they accepted. The disciplined Pink prepared four further issues of Studies in the Scriptures before he set sail. They travelled across to California and had some great encouragements on the way through the large numbers attending their meetings and also being introduced to people who had been converted and helped by his ministry in preaching and writing. One woman had been a medium who had been converted through Pink’s ministry.
 
They sailed from San Francisco in March 1925 and arrived in Australia towards the end of the month. Sixty years later, when Iain Murray pastored a church in Sydney, he met older folk who remembered Pink’s visit and his preaching as one outstanding spiritual time. Pink had preached six campaigns each one of three weeks’ duration, and gained several hundred new subscribers to Studies in the Scriptures. He did not meet any other minister who believed and preached the sovereignty of God and particular redemption. The local fraternal asked him to address them on the subject the ‘responsibility of man’, and he leaped at the opportunity and preached on it powerfully, but the fraternal of Baptist ministers in Sydney sent a statement to the Australian Baptist magazine announcing to the Baptist churches that it could not endorse his ministry.
 
Pink described the situation he faced thus: “Today it is true almost everywhere that we are far more concerned about the results of the gospel than we are about the purity of it! We are more concerned in the blessing of man than we are about the glory of Christ! Isn’t that true? Isn’t it true that the first great question asked everywhere today is, ‘What are the ‘results? What is the fruitage? How many people have been saved in your church the last year?’ I am not saying that the question has no importance, but I do say that if that is the first question you are asking then it only shows what a low level we are living on. The first question we ought to be asking is, how scripturally is the gospel being preached in your church? Is the preacher magnifying  Christ? Is the preacher emphasizing the absolute sufficiency of his finished work? Does the preacher make it plain that God does not ask the sinner to do anything, that he has asked Christ to do it all and the Lord has finished the work his Father gave him to do . . . we are not saved by our giving but by God giving his Son.”
 
“A lot of our so called Christian work today reminds me of little children when they first witness father or mother doing some gardening. The ground is prepared and then the seed is sown, but every day the child goes into the garden and he looks around to see if the seed is beginning to sprout, and if it doesn’t show any signs, and he wanted to make sure that the seed is going to sprout, he just scratches around amongst the soil. He wants to see something. My friends that is what a lot of us are doing in connection with so called Christian work today. We have so little confidence in the power and in the sufficiency of the divine ‘seed’ to bring about the harvest that God has ordained it shall do” (Studies in the Scriptures, 1926, pp.111&112).
 
to be continued-
Geoff Thomas

An Unworldly Heart

“Be on your guard, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of life–or that day will come on you unexpectedly like a trap!” Luke 21:34-35 
 
The exhortation before us should teach us the great importance of an unworldly heart. The “cares of this life” are placed side by side with carousing and drunkenness. 
 
Excess in eating and drinking is not the only excess which injures the soul. There is an excessive anxiety about the innocent things of this life–which is just as ruinous to our spiritual prosperity, and just as poisonous to the soul. 
 
Never, never let us forget–that we may make spiritual shipwreck on lawful things, just as really and truly as on open vices! Happy is he who has learned to hold the things of this world with a loose hand and to believe that seeking first the kingdom of God, “all other things shall be added to him!” Matthew 6:33
 
– J. C. Ryle

Faith and Repentance: Which Comes First?

When the gospel is proclaimed, it seems at first sight that two different, even alternative, responses are called for. Sometimes the summons is, ‘Repent!’ Thus, John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”‘ (Matt. 3:1-2). Again, Peter urged the hearers whose consciences had been ripped open on the day of Pentecost, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ’ (Acts 2:38). Later, Paul urged the Athenians to ‘repent’ in response to the message of the risen Christ (Acts 17:30).
 
Yet on other occasions, the appropriate response to the gospel is, ‘Believe!’ When the Philippian jailer asked Paul what he must do to be saved, the Apostle told him, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31).
 
But there is no mystery or contradiction here. Further on in Acts 17, we discover that precisely where the response of repentance was required, those who were converted are described as believing (Acts 17:30, 34).
 
Any confusion is surely resolved by the fact that when Jesus preached ‘the gospel of God’ in Galilee, he urged his hearers, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’ (Mark 1:14-15). Here repentance and faith belong together. They denote two aspects in conversion that are equally essential to it. Thus, either term implies the presence of the other because each reality (repentance or faith) is the sine qua non of the other.
 
In grammatical terms, then the words repent and believe both function as a synecdoche — the figure of speech in which a part is used for the hole. Thus, repentance implies faith and faith implies repentance. One cannot exist without the other.
 
But which comes first logically? Is it repentance? Is it faith? Or does neither have an absolute priority? There has been prolonged debates in Reformed thought about this. Each of three possible answers has advocates:
 
First, W. G. T. Shedd insisted that faith must precede repentance in the order of nature: ‘Though faith and repentance are inseparable and simultaneous, yet in the order of nature, faith precedes repentance’ (Dogmatic Theology 2.536). Shedd argues this on the grounds that the motivating power for repentance lies in faith’s grasp of the mercy of God. If repentance were to precede faith, both repentance and faith would be legal in character, and they would become prerequisites for grace.
 
Second, Louis Berkhof appears to have taken the reverse position: ‘There is no doubt that, logically, repentance and the knowledge of sin precede the faith that yields to Christ in trusting love’ (Systematic Theology, p.492).
 
Third, John Murray insisted that this issue raises ‘an unnecessary question and the insistence that one is prior to the other is futile. There is no priority. The faith that is unto salvation is a penitent faith and the repentance that is unto life is a believing repentance… saving faith is permeated with repentance and repentance is permeated with saving faith’. (Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, p.113)
 
This is, surely, the more biblical perspective. We cannot separate turning from sin in repentance and coming to Christ in faith. They describe the same person in the same action, but from different perspectives. In one instance (repentance), the person is viewed in relation to sin; in the other (faith), the person is viewed  in relation to the Lord Jesus. But the individual who trusts in Christ simultaneously turns away from sin. In believing he repents and in repenting believes. Perhaps R. L. Dabney expressed it best when he insisted that repentance and faith are ‘twin’ graces (perhaps we might say ‘conjoined twins’).
 
But having said this, we have by no means said everything there is to say. Entwined within any theology of conversion lies a psychology of conversion. In any particular individual, at the level of consciousness, a sense of either repentance or trust may predominate. What is unified theologically may be diverse psychologically. Thus, an individual deeply convicted of the guilt and bondage of sin may experience turning from it (repentance) as the dominant note in his or her conversion. Others (whose experience of conviction deepens after their conversion) may have a dominant sense of the wonder of Christ’s love, with less agony of soul at the psychological level. Here the individual is more conscious of trusting in Christ than of repentance from sin. But in true conversion, neither can exist without the other.
 
The psychological accompaniments of conversion thus vary, sometimes depending on the dominant gospel emphasis that is set before the sinner (the sinfulness of sin or the greatness of grace). This is quite consistent with the shrewd comment of the Westminster Divines to the effect that faith (that is, the trusting response of the individual to the word of the gospel) ‘acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof [of Scripture] containeth’ (WCF 16.2).
 
In no case, however, can real conversion take place apart from the presence of both repentance and faith, and therefore both joy and sorrow. A ‘conversion’ that lacks all sorrow for sin, that receives the word with only joy, will be temporary.
 
Jesus’ parable of the sower is instructive here. In one type of soil, the seed sprouts quickly but dies suddenly. This represents ‘converts’ who receive the word with joy — but with no sense of fallow ground being broken up by conviction of sin or any pain in turning from it (Mark 4:5-6, 16-17). On the other hand, a conversion that is only sorrow for sin without any joy in pardon will prove to have been only ‘worldly grief’ that ‘produces death’ (2 Corinthians 7:10). In the end, it will come to nothing.
 
This, however, raises a final question: Does the necessity of repentance in conversion constitute a kind of work that detracts from the empty-handedness of faith? Does it compromise grace?
 
In a word, no. Sinners must always come empty-handed. But this is precisely the point. By nature, my hands are full (of sin, self, and my own ‘good deeds’). However, hands that are full cannot hold onto Christ in faith. Instead, as they take hold of him, they are emptied. That which has prevented us from trusting him falls inevitably to the ground. The old way of like cannot be retained at hands that are taking hold of the Savior.
 
Yes, repentance and faith are two essential elements in conversion. They constitute twin graces that can never be separated. As John Calvin well reminds us, this is true not only of the beginning but of the whole of our Christian lives. We are believing penitents and penitent believers all the way to glory.
 
– Sinclair Ferguson