We Must Begin With God

“We readily acknowledge that life is a profound problem, and that we are surrounded by mystery on every side; but we are not like the beasts of the field—ignorant of their origin, and unconscious of what is before them. No! ‘We have also a more sure Word of Prophecy’, of which it is said you do well that you “take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the day star arises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). And it is to this Word of Prophecy, we indeed do well to ‘take heed,’ to that Word which had not its origin in the mind of man—but in the Mind of God, for, ‘no prophecy came not at any time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke moved by the Holy Spirit’ (2 Peter 1:21). We say again, it is to this ‘Word’ we do well to take heed. As we turn to this Word and are instructed there, we discover a fundamental principle which must be applied to every problem: Instead of beginning with man and his world—and working back to God; we must begin with God—and work down to man. “In the beginning God’ (Genesis 1:1)! Apply this principle to the present situation. Begin with the world as it is today, and try and work back to God, and everything will seem to show that God has no connection with the world at all. But begin with God and work down to the world—and light, much light, is cast on the problem. Because God is holy—His anger burns against sin. Because God is righteous—His judgments fall upon those who rebel against Him. Because God is faithful—the solemn threatenings of His Word are fulfilled. Because God is omnipotent—none can successfully resist Him, still less overthrow His counsel. Because God is omniscient—no problem can master Him and no difficulty baffle His wisdom. It is just because God is who He is, and what He is—that we are now beholding on earth, the beginning of His out-poured judgments! In view of His inflexible justice and immaculate holiness—we could not expect anything other than what is now spread before our eyes.”

– Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God, p.9-10

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God’s Word Does Not Flatter Man

“Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man . . . but he was a leper!” (2 Kings 5:1)

“Naaman was a great man . . . but he was a leper! He was the victim of a loathsome and incurable disease. He was a pitiful and repulsive object, with no prospect whatever of any improvement in his condition.

Yes, my reader, the highly-privileged and honored Naaman was a leper–and as such he portrays what you are and what I am by nature. God’s Word does not flatter man. It lays him in the dust, which is one reason why it is so unpalatable to the great majority of people. It is the Word of truth, and therefore instead of painting flattering pictures of human nature–it represents things as they actually are.

Instead of lauding man–it abases him. Instead of speaking of the dignity and nobility of human nature–it declares it to be leprous–sinful, corrupt, depraved, defiled! Instead of eulogizing human progress–it insists that ‘every man at his best state is altogether vanity!’ (Psalm 39:5)

And when the Holy Scriptures define man’s attitude toward and relationship with God, they insist that ‘There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God’ (Romans 3:10-11). They declare that we are His enemies by our wicked works (Colossians 1:21), and that consequently we are under the condemnation and curse of God’s law, and that His holy wrath abides on us! (John 3:36)

The Word of truth declares that by nature all of us are spiritual lepers–foul and filthy, unfit for the divine presence, ‘being alienated from the life of God.’ (Ephesians 4:18)

You may occupy a good position in this world, even an eminent station in the affairs of this life. You may have made good in your vocation, and wrought praiseworthy achievements by human standards. You may be honorable in the sight of your fellows–but how do you appear in the eyes of God? You are a leper–one whom His law pronounces unclean, one who is utterly unfit for His holy presence! As it was with Naaman, so it is with you: ‘He was a great man–but a leper!’

We would not be faithful to our calling were we to glide over that in God’s Word which is distasteful to proud flesh and blood. Nor would we be faithful to our readers if we glossed over their frightful and fatal natural condition. It is in their souls’ interests that they should face this humiliating and unpleasant fact–that in God’s sight, they are spiritual lepers!

But we must personalize it. Have you, my reader, realized this fact in your own case? Have you seen yourself as you are in God’s sight? Are you aware that your soul is suffering from a disease that neither you nor any human being can cure? It is so, whether you realize it or not. The Scriptures declare that from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head, there is no soundness in you. Yes, that in the sight of the holy God, you are a mass of ‘wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores!’ (Isaiah 1:6) Only as you penitently accept that divine verdict, is there any hope for you.”

Arthur W. Pink

He Is Never Taken By Surprise

“Without a doubt, a world-crisis is at hand, and everywhere men are alarmed. But God is not! He is never taken by surprise. It is no unexpected emergency which now confronts Him, for He is the One who ‘works all things after the counsel of His own will’ (Ephesians 1:11). Hence, though the world is panic-stricken, the word to the believer is, ‘Fear not!’ ‘All things’ are subject to His immediate control. ‘All things’ are moving in accord with His eternal purpose, and therefore, ‘all things’ are ‘working together for good, to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose’ (Romans 8:28). It must be so, for ‘of Him, and through Him, and to Him—are all things’ (Romans 11:36). Yet how little is this realized today even by the people of God! Many suppose that He is little more than a far-distant Spectator, taking no immediate hand in the affairs of earth. 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’ (Isaiah 9:6) existed, and before 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.”

– Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God, p.9

The Fixed and Sufficient Resting Place For the Heart and Mind

“It is in view of what we have briefly referred to above, that we say, present-day conditions call loudly for a new examination and new presentation of God’s omnipotency, God’s sufficiency, God’s sovereignty. From every pulpit in the land it needs to be thundered forth—that God still lives, that God still observes, that God still reigns! Faith is now in the crucible, it is being tested by fire, and there is no fixed and sufficient resting place for the heart and mind, but in the Throne of God. What is needed now, as never before, is a full, positive, constructive setting forth of the Godhood of God. Drastic diseases call for drastic remedies. People are weary of platitudes and mere generalizations—the call is for something definite and specific. Sweet syrup may serve for peevish children, but an iron tonic is better suited for adults, and we know of nothing which is more calculated to infuse spiritual vigor into our souls, than a scriptural apprehension of the full character of God. It is written, ‘The people who know their God shall be strong and do exploits!’ (Daniel 11:32).”

– Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God, p.8

God Must Either Rule or Be Ruled

“Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? What do the Scriptures say? If we believe their plain and positive declarations, no room is left for uncertainty. They affirm, again and again, that God is on the throne of His universe; that the scepter is in His hands; that He is directing all things “after the counsel of His own will” [Eph.1:11]. They affirm, not only that God created all things, but also that God is ruling and reigning over all the works of His hands. They affirm that God is the “Almighty” [Gen.17:1], that His will is irreversible, that He is absolute sovereign in every realm of all His vast dominions. And surely it must be so. Only two alternatives are possible: God must either rule—or be ruled; God must either sway—or be swayed; God must either accomplish His own will—or be thwarted by His creatures. Accepting the fact that He is the “Most High God” [Psalm 78:35], the only Potentate and King of kings [1 Tim. 6:15], vested with perfect wisdom and illimitable power—the conclusion is irresistible, that He must be God in fact—as well as in name!”

– Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God, p.8

One Second of Glory Will Outweigh a Lifetime of Suffering

“Finally, the apostle here weighed the ‘sufferings’ of this present time over against the ‘glory’ which shall be revealed in us, and as he did so he declared that the one is ‘not worthy to be compared’ with the other. The one is transient, the other eternal. As, then, there is no proportion between the finite and the infinite, so there is no comparison between the sufferings of earth and the glory of heaven.

One second of glory will outweigh a lifetime of suffering. What were the years of toil, of sickness, of battling with poverty, of sorrow in any or every form, when compared with the glory of Immanuel’s land! One draught of the river of pleasure at God’s right hand, one breath of Paradise, one hour amid the blood-washed around the throne, shall more than compensate for all the tears and groans of earth. ‘For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us’ [Romans 8:18]. May the Holy Spirit enable both writer and reader to lay hold of this with appropriating faith and live in the present possession and enjoyment of it to the praise of the glory of Divine grace.”

– Arthur W. Pink, Comfort for Christians, p.18-19

The Intellectual Light of the Glorified Mind

” ‘For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known’ (1 Cor. 13:12). O what an orb of intellectual light will be each glorified mind! What range of light will it encompass! What capability of understanding will it enjoy! Then will all mysteries be unraveled, all problems solved, all discrepancies reconciled. Then shall each truth of God’s revelation, each event of His providence, each decision of His government, stand yet more transparently clear and resplendent than the sun itself. Do you, in your present quest for spiritual knowledge, mourn the darkness of your mind, the weakness of your memory, the limitations of your intellectual faculties? Then rejoice in hope of the glory that is to be revealed in you—when all your intellectual powers shall be renewed, developed, perfected, so that you shall know even as you are known.”

– Arthur W. Pink, Comfort for Christians, p.17-18