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Those who preach must spend their time and energy in seeking to properly interpret scripture

October 21, 2014 1 comment

Arthur PinkCHAPTER 2 dealt with some of the more elementary yet essential qualifications which must needs be found in any who would enter into the spiritual meaning of Holy Writ. It was therefore suited to all the people of God in general. But in this we propose to treat of those things which have a more particular hearing upon those whom God has called to preach and teach His Word: those whose whole time and energies are to be devoted to seeking the spiritual and eternal welfare of souls, and the better equipping of themselves for that most blessed, solemn, and important work. Their principal tasks are to proclaim God’s Truth and to exemplify and commend their message by diligently endeavoring to practice what they preach, setting before their hearers a personal example of practical godliness. Since it be the Truth they are to preach, no pains must be spared in seeing to it that no error be intermingled therewith, that it is the pure milk of the Word they are giving forth. To preach error instead of Truth is not only grievously to dishonor God and His Word, but will mislead and poison the minds of the hearers or readers.

 

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

A holy design is required to interpret the scriptures

October 14, 2014 1 comment

Arthur PinkFifth, a holy design. Many are deceived in this matter, mistaking an eagerness to acquire scriptural knowledge for a love of the Truth itself. Inquisitiveness to discover what the Bible says is why some read it. A sense of shame to be unable to discover its teaching prompts others. The desire to be familiar with its contents so as to hold their own in an argument moves still others. If it be nothing better than a mere desire to be well versed in its details which causes us to read the Bible, it is more than likely that the garden of our souls will remain barren. The inspiring motive should be honestly examined. Do I search the Scriptures in order to become better acquainted with their Author and His will for me? Is the dominating purpose which actuates me that I may grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord? Is it that I may ascertain more clearly and fully how I should order the details of my life, so that it will be more pleasing and honoring to Him? Is it that I may be brought into a closer walking with God and the enjoyment of more unbroken communion with Him? Nothing less is a worthy aim than that I may be conformed to and transformed by its holy teaching.

In this chapter we have dealt only with the elementary side of our subject, nevertheless of what is of basic importance, and which few attend unto. Even in the palmy days of the Puritans, Owen had to complain, “the number is very small of those who diligently, humbly, and conscientiously endeavor to learn the Truth from the voice of God in the Scriptures, or to grow wise in the mysteries of the Gospel by such ways as wherein alone that wisdom is attainable. And is it any wonder if many, the greater number of men, wander after vain imaginations of their own or others?” May it not be so with those who read this chapter.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

A praying heart is required in order to interpret scripture

October 7, 2014 3 comments

Arthur PinkFourth, a praying heart. Since the Bible is different from all other books, it makes demands upon its readers which none other does. What one man has written, another man can master; but only the Inspirer of the Word is competent to interpret it unto us. It is at this very point that so many fail. They approach the Bible as they would any other book, relying on a closeness of attention and diligence of perusal to understand its contents. We must first get down on our knees and cry unto God for light:

“Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies… give me understanding, that I may learn Thy commandments… order my steps in Thy word” (Psalm 119:36, 73, 133).

No real progress can be made in our apprehension of the Truth until we realize our deep and constant need of a Divinely anointed eye.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all liberally” (James 1:5).

It is because they make use of that promise that many a Christian ploughman and simple housewife is taught of the Spirit, while prayerless scholars know not the secret of the Lord. Not only do we need to pray “that which I see not, teach Thou me,” but request God to write His Word on our hearts.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

A humble mind is required in order to interpret scripture

September 30, 2014 3 comments

Arthur PinkThird, a humble mind.

“This is an eternal and unalterable law of God’s appointment, that whoever will learn His mind and will, as revealed in Scripture, must be humble and lowly, renouncing all trust and confidence in themselves. The knowledge of a proud man is the throne of Satan in his mind. To suppose that persons under the predominancy of pride, self-conceit and self-confidence can understand the mind of God in a due manner is to renounce the Scripture, or innumerable positive testimonies to the contrary” (Owen).

The Lord Jesus declared that heavenly mysteries are hid from the wise and prudent, but revealed unto babes (Matthew 11:25). Those who assume an attitude of competency, and are wise in their own esteem, remain spiritually ignorant and unenlightened. Whatever knowledge men may acquire by their natural abilities and industry is nothing unto the glory of God, nor to the eternal gain of their souls, for the Spirit refuses to instruct the haughty. “God resisteth the proud” (James 4:6)— “He draws up against him, He prepares Himself, as it were, with His whole force to oppose his progress. A most formidable expression! If God only leaves us unto ourselves, we are all ignorance and darkness; so what must be the dreadful case of those against whom He appears in arms?” (John Newton). But, blessed be His name, He “giveth grace unto the humble”—those of a childlike disposition.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Is Your ‘Hermeneutical House’ a Safe Place to Live?

September 25, 2014 1 comment

Here is a good article that discusses hermeneutical methodology and why it is important to use a proper, sound, hermeneutical method when interpreting scripture.

 

 

by Dr. Paul M. Elliott

The principles and methodology of hermeneutics are like the unseen supports of a house – the foundation under the basement, the wood inside the walls. If we employ sound principles carefully and consistently, our system of doctrine will be sound. Spiritually speaking, our doctrine will be a house that is a safe one in which to live.

Imagine for a moment that you own a house, and have been living in it happily for many years. But something strange has happened to the house. From time to time through the years, cracks have appeared in the basement floor and walls. Perhaps you’ve had to patch them because water came in through the cracks when it rained. You’ve also noticed cracks from time to time in your living room walls. Perhaps you’ve had to plaster them and re-paint the room to keep those fissures from becoming unsightly. Or, perhaps you’ve gotten tired of patching and painting and decided to cover the whole problem with wallpaper instead.

 

 

Read the entire article here or download the PDF.

An impartial spirit is required if we are to discern and apprehend the real teaching of Holy Writ

September 23, 2014 1 comment

Arthur PinkSecond, an impartial spirit is required if we are to discern and apprehend the real teaching of Holy Writ. Nothing more beclouds the judgment than prejudice—none so blind as those who will not see. Particularly is that the case with all who come to the Bible with the object of finding passages which prove “our doctrines.” An honest heart is the first quality the Lord predicated of the good-ground hearer (Luke 8:15), and where that exists we are not only willing but desirous to have our own views corrected. There can be no advance made in our spiritual apprehension of the Truth until we are ready to submit our ideas and sentiments to the teaching of God’s Word. While we cling to our preconceived opinions and sectarian partialities, instead of being ready to abandon all beliefs not clearly taught in Scripture, neither praying nor studying can profit the soul. There is nothing which God hates more than insincerity, and we are guilty thereof if, while asking Him to instruct us, we at the same time refuse to relinquish what is erroneous. A thirst for the Truth itself, with a candid determination for it to mold all our thinking and direct our practice, is indispensable if we are to be spiritually enlightened.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The most essential qualification for understanding scripture is a mind illumined by the Spirit

September 16, 2014 1 comment

Arthur PinkHere, then, is the first and most essential qualification for understanding and interpreting the Scriptures, namely a mind illumined by the Holy Spirit. The need for this is fundamental and universal. Of the Jews we are told,

“But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart” (2 Corinthians 3:15).

Though the Old Testament be deeply venerated and diligently studied by the “orthodox” section, yet is its spiritual purport unperceived by them. Such also is the case with the Gentiles. There is a veil of ill will over the heart of fallen man for “the carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). There is a veil of ignorance over the mind. As a child may spell out the letters and learn to pronounce words the sense of which he apprehends not, so we may ascertain the literal or grammatical meaning of this Word and yet have no spiritual knowledge of it, and thus belong to that generation of whom it is said

“hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive” (Matthew 13:14).

There is a veil of prejudice over the affections.

“Our hearts are overcast with strong affections of the world, and so cannot clearly judge practical truth” (Manton).

That which conflicts with natural interests and calls for the denying of self is unwelcome. There is a veil of pride which effectually prevents us seeing ourselves in the mirror of the Word.

Now that veil is not completely removed from the heart at regeneration, hence our vision is yet very imperfect and our capacity to take in the Truth unto spiritual profit very inconsiderable. In his first epistle to the Corinthian church the apostle said,

“If any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know” (8:2).

It is a great mercy when the Christian is made to realize that fact. So long as he remains in this evil world and the corrupt principle of the flesh continues in him, the believer needs to be led and taught by the Spirit. This is very evident from the case of David, for while he declared, “I have more understanding than all my teachers,” yet we find him praying to God,

“Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law…. Teach me, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes…. Give me understanding” (Psalm 119:18, 33, 34).

Observe that the Psalmist did not complain at the obscurity of God’s Law, but realized the fault was in himself. Nor did he make request for new revelations (by dreams or visions), but instead a clearer sight of what was already revealed. Those who are the best and longest taught are always readiest to sit at the feet of Christ and learn of Him (Luke 10:39).

It is to be duly noted that the verb in Psalm 119:18, literally signifies “uncover, unveil mine eyes,” which confirms our opening sentence in the last paragraph. God’s Word is a spiritual light objectively, but to discern it aright there needs to be sight or light subjectively, for it is only by and in His light that “we see light” (Psalm 36:9). The Bible is here termed “God’s Law” because it is clothed with Divine authority, uttering the mandates of His will. It contains not so much good advice, which we are free to accept at our pleasure, but imperious edicts which we reject at our peril. In that Word are “wondrous things” which by the use of mere reason we cannot attain unto. They are the riches of Divine wisdom, which are far above the compass of man’s intellect. Those “wondrous things” the believer longs to behold or clearly discern, yet is he quite unable to do so without Divine assistance. Therefore, he prays that God will so unveil his eyes that he may behold them to good purpose, or apprehend them unto faith and obedience— i.e., understand them practically and experientially in the way of duty.

“Behold, God exalteth [elevates the soul above the merely natural] by His power: who teacheth like Him?” (Job 36:22). None; when He instructs, He does so effectually.

“I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go” (Isaiah 48:17):

that is what His “teaching” consists of—a producing of pious conduct. It is not merely an addition being made to our mental store, but a bestirring of the soul to holy activity. The light which He imparts warms the heart, fires the affections. So far from puffing up its recipient, as natural knowledge does, it humbles. It reveals to us our ignorance and stupidity, shows us our sinfulness and worthlessness, and makes the believer little in his own eyes. The Spirits’ teaching also gives us clearly to see the utter vanity of the things highly esteemed by the unregenerate, showing us the transitoriness and comparative worthlessness of earthly honors, riches and fame, causing us to hold all temporal things with a light hand. The knowledge which God imparts is a transforming one, making us to lay aside hindering weights, to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. Beholding the glory of the Lord we are

“changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The very character of Divine teaching demonstrates how urgent is our need of the same. It consists very largely in overcoming our native antipathy for and hostility to Divine things. By nature we have a love of sin and hatred of holiness (John 3:19), and that must be effectually subdued by the power of the Spirit ere we desire the pure milk of the Word—observe what has to be laid aside before we can receive with meekness the ingrafted Word (James 1:21; 1 Peter 2:1); though it be our duty, only He can enable us to perform it. By nature we are proud and independent, self-sufficient and confident in our own powers. That evil spirit clings to the Christian to the end of his pilgrimage, and only the Spirit of God can work in him that humility and meekness which are requisite if he is to take the place of a little child before the Word. The love of honor and praise among men is another corrupt affection of our souls, an insuperable obstacle to the admission of the Truth (John 5:44; 12:43), which has to be purged out of us. The fierce and persistent opposition made by Satan to prevent our apprehension of the Word (Matthew 13:19; 2 Corinthians 4:4) is far too powerful for us to resist in our own strength; none but the Lord can deliver us from his evil suggestions and expose his lying sophistries.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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