by Mike Ratliff
Back on January 17 Dan Philips over at Pyromanics posted an article that resembled, to me, a character assassination of Dr. Arthur Pink who died in 1952. Here is the link to the post. I was busy at the time and, to be honest, I really have lost the desire to waste my valuable time over there at TeamPyro since their format changed. When this post came out I was notified of it in our CRN discussion forum, but no one really wanted to tackle it. I mean, who wanted to go defend Arthur Pink? It’s not like Dan Phillips was attacking the Gospel or being postmodern or anything like that. I let it go. However, I have a couple of Pink’s books and one of them was very important to me in the early stages of my understanding of Reformed Theology. It was his book The Sovereignty of God.
I have always been grateful to God for that book along with those of R.C. Sproul and Dr. James White in explaining that true Reformed Theology was far richer and deeper and broader than the Five Points of Calvinism. From an understanding of the Sovereignty of God and the Depravity of Man comes immense joy when we study divine election because we understand the tremendous gift that is Justification by Grace alone through Faith alone. From that perspective, when we study the blood sacrifice of our Lord to become our propitiation and then we marvel and are humbled and lift up our Heavenly Father in praise and worship for having mercy on us who deserved nothing but his wrath, but that wrath was poured out on his beloved son paying the penalty for our sin.
This evening my other book by Pink, which I have not yet read, caught my eye. At the same time I remembered Dan Phillips diatribe against Pink and wondered where this could possibly go since so many seem to look at Arthur Pink these days as somewhat untouchable. The book I am reading now by Pink is his The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross. I will review it when I am done. For this post I want to share the two “Forward Introductions.” Perhaps that will assist you in putting Dan Phillips’ article in a different light and question what motivated him to write something like that.
Forward by Warren W. Wiersbe
When I began my ministry over fifty years ago, like many other ministers of my generation I found great help in the books of Arthur W. Pink. His reverence for God’s Word, his desire to exalt Jesus Christ, and his emphasis on practical obedience all helped to keep me balanced in the study, in the pulpit, and in my personal life.
“Unless our ‘Bible Study’ is conforming us, both inwardly and outwardly, to the image of Christ,” Pink wrote, “it profits us not,” He told his close friends that his articles in his publication Studies in Scripture were “hammered out on the anvil of [his] own heart.” He carried on that publication for many years, always trusting the Lord to provide the needed finances, and he claimed that he had read over a million pages of theological literature as he prepared his messaged and articles. It was clear that he had a special love for the old Puritan divines. “Mr. Pink is Puritan in reality,” said his wife, “and often says to me that he is 200 or 300 years out of his time.” Yet he was consistently very contemporary as he applied the Word.
Pink taught us to have faith in the Scriptures. “Do your duty where God has stationed you,” he counseled his readers. “Plough up the fallow ground and sow the seed; and though there be no fruit in your day, who knows but what an Elisha may follow you and do the reaping.”
During my years of pastoral and radio ministry, I often preached messages based on the seven sayings of Jesus from the cross. I have found this volume very helpful, and I know it has been instructing and encouraging Christians for decades. Pink has a way of keeping the text in context, relating it to parallel texts, explaining it, and then applying it to everyday life.
He died in 1952, and his last words were, “The Scriptures explain themselves.” I am grateful that he left behind many books that have helped us grasp the truth of that testimony.
Forward by John MacArthur
Arthur Pink was a master of biblical exposition, carefully mining the biblical text for every ounce of true meaning, every nuance of doctrine, and every point of personal application he could discover. He always wrote with heartfelt conviction and persuasive insight. He was warm and positive yet bold and unequivocal.
This volume has long been one of my favorite works from Pink’s pen. He was at his best whenever he wrote about Christ, and he was never more focused, more thorough, or more compelling then when he proclaimed Christ crucified. In this book, he expounds the meaning of the cross through the last words of the Savior Himself. These are deeply moving glimpses of Christ in His extremity. Every chapter is a treasure.
Pink’s approach is a masterful blend of literary and sermonic styles. He expounds each of the seven last sayings of Christ in seven points, all drawn straight from the biblical text. The gospel is plainly expounded throughout, so this book is a good say to introduce unbelievers to the true meaning of Christ’s sufferings. But there’s also enough substance here to satisfy anyone’s spiritual appetite.
The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross is now nearly fifty years old–and timelier than ever. Public interest in the story of the crucifixion is approaching an all-time high, thanks to a spate of recent films, books, and television programs on the subject.
At the same time, however, many Christians today seem terribly confused about the meaning of the crucifixion. we occasionally hear evangelical leaders wondering out loud if the doctrine of substitutionary atonement is simply too medieval for this postmodern era. Some have even complained that it seems overly harsh to teach that Christ suffered to pay the penalty of sin–and that He did so in obedience to His Father’s will. At least on popular Christian book has likened the idea to “cosmic child abuse.”
Arthur Pink would have been appalled. He had no such artificial scruples. He certainly had no wish to tone down the offense of the cross just to accommodate the tastes of the contemporary culture. His chapter on “The Word of Anguish” (explaining why Jesus cried out to His Father, “Why hast thou forsaken me?”) is a masterpiece of clarity and candor. It is the kind of straightforward teaching that is desperately needed in an era when difficult biblical truths are sometimes purposely softened, made foggy, or revised to suit the gentle preferences of sophisticated postmodernity. Arthur Pink would have none of that. Nor should we (see 1 Cor. 2:1-5; Gal. 1:10).
You cannot read The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross and come away confused about the meaning of the cross our untouched by the pathos and power of Christ’s death in the place of sinners. Here is an ideal antidote to some of the superficiality and silliness of today’s prevailing spiritual climate.
I’m very grateful to see this book in a new edition and hopeful that it will be used by God to awaken a generation of readers to the real significance of what Christ said and what He accomplished–especially the eternal victory He won for sinners–during those dark hours while He hung on the cross.
Soli Deo Gloria!