Monday, August 20, 2018

Book Review: The Sovereignty of God

The Sovereignty of God. Arthur W. Pink. 1917. 272 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Who is regulating affairs on this earth today--God, or the Devil? That God reigns supreme in Heaven, is generally conceded; that He does so over this world, is almost universally denied--if not directly, then indirectly.

If the average, modern-day Christian would dare to read Pink's The Sovereignty of God, then chances are they'd be shocked--shaken--by the contents. The stuff of which he writes--this "hard teaching" of the Bible is rarely the subject of preachers in the pulpit. Not in this day and age when Free Willy sermons are more prolific than Tribbles.

Does truth matter to God? If truth matters to God, shouldn't it matter equally to us? If the sovereignty of God is clearly, plainly, obviously, matter-of-factly found in Scripture, shouldn't we take note and study this doctrine? Shouldn't we allow it to have an impact on our lives? Of course this implies something fundamental: that Christians hold the Word of God--Scripture, Old and New Testaments--to be true.

I fear that the sovereignty of God has become one of those "attributes" that Christians are embarrassed about and want to apologize for much like the wrath of God.

But. Rightly understood and studied the sovereignty of God is one of the most comforting, reassuring, AMAZING doctrines. The sovereignty of God should have us singing, rejoicing, praising God. It's a THRILLING doctrine.

I loved this one.

From every pulpit in the land it needs to be thundered forth that God still lives, that God still observes, that God still reigns. (14)
It is true that man has a will, but so also has God. It is true that man is endowed with power, but God is all-powerful. It is true that, speaking generally, the material world is regulated by law, but behind that law is the law-Giver and law-Administrator. Man is but the creature. God is the Creator, and endless ages before man first saw the light, "the mighty God (Isa 9:6) existed, and ere the world was founded, made His plans; and being infinite in power and man only finite, His purpose and plan cannot be withstood or thwarted by the creatures of His own hands. (15)
Here is the fundamental difference between the man of faith and the man of unbelief. The unbeliever is "of the world," judges everything by worldly standards, views life from the standpoint of time and sense, and weighs everything in the balances of his own carnal making. But the man of faith brings in God, looks at everything from His standpoint, estimates values by spiritual standards, and views life in the light of eternity. Doing this, he receives whatever comes as from the hand of God. Doing this, his heart is calm in the midst of the storm. Doing this, he rejoices in hope of the glory of God. (17)
To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou? (Dan 4:35). To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat his counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Ps. 115:3). (19)
How different is the God of the Bible from the God of modern Christendom. (20).
To argue that God is "trying His best" to save all mankind, but that the majority of men will not let Him save them, is to insist that the will of the Creator is impotent, and that the will of the creature is omnipotent. To throw the blame, as many do, upon the Devil, does not remove the difficulty, for if Satan is defeating the purpose of God, then, Satan is Almighty and God is no longer the Supreme Being. (20)
To declare that the Creator's original plan has been frustrated by sin is to dethrone God. To suggest that God was taken by surprise in Eden and that He is now attempting to remedy an unforeseen calamity is to degrade the Most High to the level of a finite, erring mortal. To argue that man is a free moral agent and the determiner of his own destiny, and that therefore he has the power to checkmate his Maker, is to strip God of the attribute of Omnipotence. To say that the creature has burst the bounds assigned by his Creator, and that God is now practically a helpless Spectator before the sin and suffering entailed by Adam's fall, is to repudiate the express declaration of Holy Writ. In a word, to deny the sovereignty of God is to enter upon a path which, if followed to its logical terminus, is to arrive at blank atheism. (20-21)
Sovereignty characterizes the whole Being of God. He is sovereign in all of His attributes. (21)
Is it wrong for God to give grace? If it be right for Him to give it, is it wrong for Him to purpose to give it? Would you have Him give it by accident? If it is right for Him to purpose to give grace today, it was right for Him to purpose it before today--and since He changes not--from eternity. (53)
The salvation of any sinner is a matter of Divine power. By nature the sinner is at enmity with God, and naught but Divine power operating within him, can overcome this enmity; hence it is written, "No man can come unto Me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44). It is the Divine power overcoming the sinner's innate enmity which make him willing to come to Christ that he might have life. But this "enmity" is not overcome in all--why? (64)
Willingness to come to Christ is is the finished product of Divine power operating in the human heart and will in overcoming man's inherent and chronic "enmity." (65)
"The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." (Proverbs 16:4). That the Lord made all, perhaps every reader of this book will allow: that He made all for Himself is not so widely believed. That God made us, not for our own sakes, but for Himself; not for our own happiness, but for His glory; is nevertheless repeatedly affirmed in Scripture. (85)
Has God foreordained everything that comes to pass? Has He decreed that what is, was to have been? In the final analysis this is only another way of asking, Is God now governing the world and everyone and everything in it? If God is governing the world, then is He governing it according to a definite purpose, or aimlessly and at random? If He is governing it according to some purpose, then when was that purpose made? Is God continually changing His purpose and making a new one every day, or was His purpose formed from the beginning? Are God's actions, like ours, regulated by the change of circumstances, or are they the outcome of His eternal purpose? If God formed a purpose before man was created, then is that purpose going to be executed according to His original designs and is He now working toward that end? What saith the Scriptures? They declare God is One "who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. (Ephesians. 1:11) (109)
In the new birth God brings us from death unto life (John 5:24). He imparts to us His own nature (2 Peter 1:4). He delivers us from the power of darkness and translates us into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:13). Now, manifestly, we could not do this ourselves, for we were "without strength" (Rom. 5:6), hence it is written, "we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:10). (113)
To deny the "free will" of man, i.e. his power to choose that which is good, his native ability to accept Christ, is to bring on into disfavor at once, even before most of those who profess to be orthodox. And yet Scripture emphatically says, "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showery mercy" (Rom. 9:16). Which shall we believe: God, or the preachers? (127)
To will is to choose, and to choose is to decide between two or more alternatives. But there is something which influences the choice; something that determines the decision. Hence the will cannot be sovereign because it is the servant of that something. The will cannot be both sovereign and servant. It cannot be both cause and effect. (130)
Human philosophy insists that it is the will which governs the man, but the Word of God teaches that it is the heart which is the dominating center of our being. (133)
In order for any sinner to be saved three things were indispensable: God the Father had to purpose his salvation, God the Son had to purchase it, God the Spirit has to apply it. (139)
True liberty is not the power to live as we please, but to live as we ought. (149)
Upon the distinction between the sinner's natural Ability, and his moral and spiritual Inability, rests his Responsibility. (152)
God has decreed the means as well as the end, and among the means is prayer. Even the prayers of His people are included in his eternal decrees. Therefore instead of prayers being in vain, they are among the means through which God exercises His decrees. (172)
No prayer is pleasing to God unless the Spirit actuating it is, "not my will, but thine be done." (173)
Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude--an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God. Prayer is a confession of creature weakness, yea, of helplessness. Prayer is the acknowledgement of our need and the spreading of it before God. We do not say that this is all there is in prayer, it is not: but is the essential, the primary element element in prayer. (176)
It has been customary to say God loves the sinner, though He hates the sin. But that is a meaningless distinction. What is there in a sinner but sin? (200)
The fact is, that the love of God, is a truth for the saints only, and to present it to the enemies of God is to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs. With the exception of John 3:16, not once in the four gospels do we read of the Lord Jesus--the perfect Teacher--telling sinners that God loved them! In the book of Acts, which records the evangelistic labors and messages of the apostles, God's love is never referred to at all! But when we come to the Epistles, which are addressed to the saints we have a full presentation of this precious truth--God's love for Him own. Let us seek to rightly divide the Word of God and then we shall not be found taking truths which are addressed to believers and misapplying them to unbelievers. That which sinners need to have brought before them is, the ineffable holiness, the exacting righteousness, the inflexible justice and the terrible wrath of God. Risking the danger of being misunderstood, let us say--and we wish we could say it to every evangelist and preacher in the country--there is far too much presenting of Christ to sinners today (by those sound in the faith), and far too little showing sinners their need of Christ, i.e., their absolutely ruined and lost condition, their imminent and awful danger of suffering the wrath to come, the fearful guilt resting upon them in the sight of God--to present Christ to those who have never been shown their need of Him, seems to us to be guilty of casting pearls before swine. (201)
The gospel is no mere invitation, but a proclamation, a proclamation concerning Christ; true, whether men believe it or no. No man is asked to believe that Christ died for him in particular. The gospel, in brief, is this: Christ died for sinners, you are a sinner, believe in Christ, and you shall be saved. In the Gospel, God simply announces the terms upon which men may be saved (namely, repentance and faith) and, indiscriminately, all are commanded fulfill them. (209)
One of the most flagrant sins of our age is that of irreverence--the failure to ascribe the glory which is due the august majesty of God. Men limit the power and activities of the Lord in their degrading concepts of His being and character. Originally, man was made in the image and likeness of God, but today we are asked to believe in a god made in the image and likeness of man. The Creator is reduced to the level of the creature: His omnipotence is called into question, His omnipotency is no longer believed in, His absolute sovereignty is flatly denied. (232)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

Lois Tinúviel said...

I loved this one too. It was very deep and it took me a while to read but it was worth it. It was one of the best explanations of God's sovereignty that I've seen.