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A humble mind is required in order to interpret scripture

September 30, 2014 1 comment

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

There are multitudes of unregenerate religionists who are well versed in the letter of Scripture

September 9, 2014 1 comment

Arthur PinkNor does the Holy Spirit’s teaching of the individual Christian by any means set aside or render him independent of making diligent and conscientious use of the ministry of the pulpit, for that is an important means appointed by God for the edifying of His people. There is a happy medium between the attitude of the Ethiopian eunuch who, when asked, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” replied, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” (Acts 8:30, 31), and the wrong use made of “ye need not that any man teach you” (1 John 2:27) — between a slavish reliance upon human instruments and a haughty independence of those whom Christ has called and qualified to feed His sheep. “Yet is not their understanding of the Truth, their apprehension of it, and faith in it, to rest upon or to be resolved into their authority, who are not appointed of God to be ‘lords of their faith,’ but ‘helpers of their joy’ (2 Corinthians 1:24). And therein depends all our interest in that great promise that we shall be ‘all taught of God,’ for we are not so, unless we do learn from Him those things which He has revealed in His Word” (John Owen).

“And all Thy children shall be taught of the Lord” (Isaiah 54:13, and cf. John 6:45).

This is one of the great distinguishing marks of the regenerate. There are multitudes of unregenerate religionists who are well versed in the letter of Scripture, thoroughly acquainted with the history and the doctrines of Christianity, but their knowledge came only from human media—parents, Sunday school teachers, or their personal reading. Tens of thousands of graceless professors possess an intellectual knowledge of spiritual things which is considerable, sound, and clear; yet they are not Divinely taught, as is evident from the absence of the fruits which ever accompany the same. In like manner, there are a great number of preachers who abhor the errors of Modernism and contend earnestly for the Faith. They were taught in Bible institutes or trained in theological seminaries, yet it is greatly to be feared that they are total strangers to a supernatural work of grace in their souls, and that their knowledge of the Truth is but a notional one, unaccompanied by any heavenly unction, saving power, or transforming effects. By diligent application, and personal effort one may secure a vast amount of scriptural information, and become an able expositor of the Word; but he cannot obtain thereby a heart-affecting and heart-purifying knowledge thereof. None but the Spirit of Truth can write God’s Law on my heart, stamp His image on my soul, sanctify me by the Truth.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Without the Spirit one is not lead and guided into all truth

September 2, 2014 3 comments

Arthur PinkSince the imagination of man, like all the other faculties of his moral being, is permeated and vitiated by sin, the ideas it suggests, even when pondering the Divine oracles, are prone to be mistaken and corrupt. It is part of our sinful infirmity that we are unable of ourselves to interpret God’s Word aright; but it is part of the gracious office of the Holy Spirit to guide believers into the truth, thereby enabling them to apprehend the Scriptures. This is a distinct and special operation of the Spirit on the minds of God’s people, whereby He communicates spiritual wisdom and light unto them, and which is necessary unto their discerning aright the mind of God in His Word, and also their laying hold of the heavenly things found therein. “A distinct operation” we say, by which we mean something ab extra or over and above His initial work of quickening; for while it be a blessed fact that at regeneration He has

“given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true” (1 John 5:20),

yet more is needed in order for us to

know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).

This is evident from the case of the apostles, for though they had companied and communed with Christ for the space of three years, yet we are informed that, at a later date,

“Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:45).

How what has been just alluded to should impress the Christian himself with the need for holy caution when reading the Word, lest he wrest its contents unto his own injury! How it should humble him before its Author and make him realize his utter dependence upon Him! If the new birth were sufficient of itself to capacitate the believer to grasp Divine things, the apostle had never made request for the Colossian saints that they “might be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (1:9), nor would he have said to his son in the faith, “the Lord give thee understanding in all things” (2 Timothy 2:7). There never was a more foolish notion or pernicious idea entertained than that the holy mysteries of the Gospel so lie within the province of human reason that they may be known profitably and practically without the effectual aid of the blessed Spirit of Truth. Not that He instructs us in any other way than by and through our reason and understanding, for then we should be reduced to irrational creatures; but that He must enlighten our minds, elevate and direct our thoughts, quicken our affections, move our wills, and thereby enable our understandings, if we are to apprehend spiritual things.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Much Bible reading and Bible study of the last few years has been of no spiritual profit to those engaged in it

August 26, 2014 1 comment

Arthur PinkWe will repeat here what we wrote in Studies in the Scriptures twenty years ago. “There is grave reason to believe that much Bible reading and Bible study of the last few years has been of no spiritual profit to those engaged in it. Yea, we go farther: we greatly fear that in many instances it has proved a curse rather than a blessing. This is strong language, we are well aware, but no stronger than the case calls for. Divine gifts may be misused and Divine mercies abused. That this has been so in the present instance is evidenced by the fruits produced. Even the natural man can (and often does) take up the study of the Scriptures with the same enthusiasm and pleasure as he might one of the sciences. Where this is the case, his store of knowledge is increased, and so also is his pride. Like a chemist engaged in making interesting experiments, the intellectual searcher of the Word is quite elated when he makes some new discovery, yet the joy of the latter is no more spiritual than would be that of the former. So, too, just as the success of the chemist generally increases his sense of self-importance and causes him to look down upon those more ignorant than himself, such alas, has been the case with those who have investigated the subjects of Bible numerics, typology, prophecy….”

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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