A.W Pink on Modern Evangelism

Discussion in 'Evangelism, Missions and the Persecuted Church' started by Matthew G. Bianco, Apr 29, 2017.

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  1. Matthew G. Bianco

    Matthew G. Bianco Puritan Board Freshman

    I came across this article and read the whole thing. At the beginning I thought Pink argued a very good point about the shortcomings of evangelical evangelism, but after reading further I came across some things I haven't really heard before and to be honest kind of confused me. I believe some would call this hyper Calvinism. I definitely believe witnessing to others and sharing the Gospel in a God-centered and right way is very important. I believe Pink made some very good points about any evangelism needing to be for the glory of God alone and not just for "saving souls" - because we cannot add or subtract one soul from the election of God. I found his argument that Jesus must be "Lord and Savior" and not only "Savior" for any true Christian in light of his exegesis on the Acts verse when the person asks "what shall I do to be saved?" to be very interesting. However, I'm confused with this whole "free/well meant" offer of the Gospel stuff. How do we share the Gospel in light of the doctrines of grace and God's sovereignty? Can we tell someone for sure Christ died for them if they are living in their sins and rejecting Him?

    Anyone more well-read and knowledgeable have any thoughts? Please read first to see what I'm talking about. It seems to me as if Pink made a sudden "shift" in the focus of his argument to express the 100% sovereignty of God in light of the 100% responsibility of man. But I'm not sure I agree with his apparent claim that it's dangerous to tell lost sinners to believe (though I concur that most so-called evangelists today do it in a very unhelpful way), unless I read it wrong.

    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
  2. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    This is an article from "Studies in the Scriptures", July 1948. But it is only a small excerpt of Pink's writings and is not meant to fully explain all of the details of what he mentions. "Studies in the Scriptures" was published every month for 20 years, in addition to his many books.

    I personally find this article understandable, because I have first read other materials by Pink. And I believe the doctrines of Grace. But more importantly, after coming to believe that the doctrines of Grace are taught in the Bible I have also subjected my own views of the Gospel message back to the Scripture. This resulted in discarding most of what men commonly use as the "Gospel" message.

    As Pink said, an Arminian will focus on "God so loved the world" and God "will have all men to be saved" and not consider these in the light of the rest of Scripture. This will drastically influence the "Gospel" invitation such a man makes, while a Calvinist will not forget that "God commands all men everywhere to repent".

    I once heard a recording of a vary famous preacher from the last century say that he cannot accept the doctrines of Grace because he then cannot in good faith tell a room full of sinners God loves each and every one of them and wants each and every one of them to be saved. I have huge respect that he recognizes the difficulty even though he comes down on the wrong side.

    If would be best to consider this little article in light of his book "The Sovereignty Of God".
  3. Matthew G. Bianco

    Matthew G. Bianco Puritan Board Freshman

    I would definitely agree with you on that! Good to hear from someone more familiarized with A.W Pink!
    What would your thoughts on the idea of a free offer of the Gospel be, as Murray would argue it?
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    This article from A. W. Pink is speaking to the importance of law-preaching for conviction of sin in order that the sinner might know from what he is to be saved. A lack of law-preaching leads to vague and confused notions of the nature of sin. Because the gospel preaches salvation from sin it is of vital importance to know what sin is. By the law is the knowledge of sin. Where there is no law-work bringing conviction of sin the message of salvation will be distorted. "Easy believing" is a prime example of the type of distortion which can occur.
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  5. Matthew G. Bianco

    Matthew G. Bianco Puritan Board Freshman

    Yeah I have definitely seen that in evangelical efforts. People love to speak on God's grace and forgiveness of sin in Christ, but cringe at the idea of preaching the condemnation of sin through sharing the law. One cannot preach one part without the other and expect it to bear much lasting fruit. Thankfully I have seen some fair much better in their sharing both the law and the forgiveness Christ obtained for sinners.
  6. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    I am unfamiliar with Murray's work. I have only read a quote.

    "The full and free offer of the gospel is a grace bestowed upon all... The grace offered is nothing less than salvation in its richness and fullness. The love or lovingkindness that lies back of that offer is not anything less; it is the will to that salvation."​

    Already this goes against the 5 points of Calvinism. For some reason man always seems to want salvation to be a decision of man and not a decision made by God. So Murray here says God bestows grace on all men. And by this he means God makes salvation the decision of all men. He cannot deny that the Bible speaks of God's grace so he has to put grace in somewhere. This is logically the same as saying men are born with the ability to decide for God and man does not need God's help. In the end the decision is always in the hands of men not God. Both views effectively deny both total depravity and election.

    People whose sole understanding is that "God so loved the world" and God wants "all men to be saved" cannot reconcile that the Bible also includes election. The very idea of election is hated by men. In John 6, while Jesus explained that He is the bread of life, this little gem is slipped in.

    John 6:65-66 (KJV) And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that [time] many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.​

    They turned away because Jesus said it was not in their hands, within their own power, to follow or be right with God!

    If you believe that election really is in the Bible then there are many good teachers who explain how "God so loved the world" and God wants "all men to be saved" are rightly to be understood within the whole counsel of God. A good resource for understanding "for God so loved the world" is appendix C in Pink's "The Sovereignty of God". For excellent audio sermons on the words "world" and "all" see this post (post #4).

    But the subject is much more complicated than this and is intertwined with many other doctrines. In the end, the 5 point Calvinist has learned he must be conscious of explaining the Gospel the same way the Bible does. He must not embellish one part in a way which contradicts other parts of Scripture.
  7. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    God may have a will of desire for all men to be saved and a general love for His whole creation even if He has only ordained to elect some and has chosen (for His own purposes) to pass some by in His mercy. That is what we read in Scripture.
  8. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    We are to offer the Gospel freely to all, as only God knows whom His elect are to be saved by it, but isn't the truth that ALL christian already have Jesus as their Lord , as that is done by God Himself when Jesus saves them?
    So from our experience, Jesus wants to be Lord over all aspects of our lives now, nothing closed off to Him, but God already placed Him over us as our Lord, as that is who he already is regardless?
  9. LarryCook

    LarryCook Puritan Board Freshman

    MGB, Thank you for posting the link. This article is actually for me an answer to a prayer that I prayed 2 days ago while driving from Florida to Tennessee.
  10. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    May I ask: What you do with the "desire" God had, or has, toward those who never head of Jesus and die in their sin?
  11. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    God will make sure that each one of them whom Christ died for will somehow get the Gospel message...
  12. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    Where does the idea of God having a desire "for all men to be saved" come from?

    1 Tim. 2:3-4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.​

    This of course means "every" person, right? That is an assumption or presupposition. The word "all" must be examined in light of Scripture. But how?

    Here is information from the link I previously posted.

    The best teaching I've ever heard on the word all is by Jeff Pollard of Mount Zion Bible Church. He doesn't start with doctrine but with the English and Greek meanings of the word all, and then walks through both Old Testament and New Testament examples to consider which of the possible meanings is used in context. Considering it this way refutes the "all means all" crowd before you even start looking at particular Scriptures.

    See these two sermons:
    Doctrine of Grace: 'For God So Loved the World' 23 of 38
    Doctrine of Grace: 'A Ransom For All' 24 of 38
    Pastor Pollard walks through Scriptural examples of how the word all is used to mean 4 different things, and how to figure out by context which is meant.

    A different way to examine the word all in 1 Tim. 2:4 is to look at the Greek. A lexicon will give 2 possibilities. If the Greek word is singular then the definition is "every". If the Greek word is plural then the definition is "some of all types", not all of all types. For those of us who don't read Greek there are tools out there which can tell us which tense the word is in. In this case it is plural, therefore the Greek means God will have some men of all types to be saved.

    By the way, no doctrine of the Bible should be based on one single word. There is a lot of good teaching out there which explains the doctrine of Grace, commonly called the sovereignty of God and the 5 points of Calvinism, and can equip us to better understand these Biblical concepts.

    This cannot be answered until first establishing what God has said about man's total inability towards Him (total depravity) and election (limited atonement). Paul covers a very similar question in Romans 9 but responds by turning it around and asks, who is man that he should reply against God or find fault with Him?

    Rom. 9:19-21 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
    My personal experience was that it took a long time to transition from believing synergism to believing monergism (the doctrines of Grace).
  13. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Listen to RC Sproul on this subject.

    God has a creaturely love for all and a desire for the good of all His creatures, yet because of sin, He has not ordained the election of all of His creatures. He loves all creatures with some love, but only some creatures with all love.

  14. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

  15. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    So there are some events that God ordains to pass that are not pleasing to Him?

    VII. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.[17]

    I know you have seen the below reference before and I implore you and everyone to read it. If RC were to read this thread I would implore him also. :)

  16. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    This page from Bavinck may be useful:

    And consider the beautiful passage from Lamentations 3:32-36:

    "Though He causes grief,
    Yet He will show compassion
    According to the multitude of His mercies.
    For He does not afflict willingly,
    Nor grieve the children of men.
    To crush under one's feet
    All the prisoners of the earth,
    To turn aside the justice due a man
    Before the face of the Most High,
    Or subvert a man in his cause—
    The Lord does not approve."

    Calvin on this passage says:

    "So also God, when he adopts severity towards men, he indeed does so willingly, because he is the judge of the world; but he does not do so from the heart, because he wishes all to be innocent -- for far away from him is all fierceness and cruelty; and as he regards men with paternal love, so also he would have them to be saved, were they not as it were by force to drive him to rigor."
  17. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Prior to the quoted portion Calvin says, "God, we know, puts on, as it were, our form or manner, for he cannot be comprehended in his inconceivable glory by human minds. Hence it is that he transfers to himself what properly can only apply to men. God surely never acts unwillingly nor feignedly." Posterior to the quoted portion he says, "there is yet no doubt but that the Prophet here addresses only the faithful." The context demonstrates that Calvin (1) took the passage in Lamentations as speaking after the manner of men, (2) did not regard God as doing anything unwillingly, (3) did not consider that it properly applies to all men, and (4) specifically stated that it is speaking of the faithful.
  18. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The context of Calvin's quote is so apropos here. It is interesting how one views what is written can be taken out of context many times. I wish I were not so "interesting" so often. :)
  19. Matthew G. Bianco

    Matthew G. Bianco Puritan Board Freshman

    Praise Jesus! Thank you for this wonderful news Larry! God works in marvelous ways many times unexpected.
  20. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior


    I think that Pink has some really good points in the article. Modern evangelism often suffers from a zeal for the gospel and neglects the law, as if there was gospel without law. Modern evangelism wants to offer Christ and the world. Pink hits the nail on the head when he talks about preaching about sin.

    However, I was a little uncomfortable with his discussion about the Philipian jailer. He makes a fair point about not just saying to someone "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved," but this is a message that can be preached to the masses. This point seemed reminiscent of the Gospel standard article, though certainly not equivalent:

    As far as I know, Pink spent the last years of his life practically isolating himself from the world. He didn't even go to church on Sundays but preferred to write to people, if I understand my history properly. Honestly, I'm skeptical of a person that shuts himself up in a room for most of the time to study theology. I cannot reconcile that to Christ's mandate to be lights in a dark world. It seems that Pink-- at least later in life-- put his light under a basket.
    Last edited: May 20, 2017
  21. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, I am aware of the context. My point was to show the sense in which God's will is manifold. Since none of us would argue that God's decree is mutable, the portion of Calvin that I quoted demonstrates some of the breadth of God's will as is germane to this conversation.

    We should also be careful not to let what Calvin says about God's decree relating to His will detract from the statements like what I quoted. I fear that your understanding of Calvin's use of anthropomorphisms makes him a liar when he speaks about God's revealed will. Since this discussion concerns Pink's article, I will refrain from additional particulars relating to Calvin.

    As always, feel free to PM me!
  22. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I only quoted the full context of Calvin's statement with his own qualifications. If you disagree with Calvin's reference to anthropomorphism it only demonstrates your partiality when quoting from Calvin.
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