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Distinguish between things that differ: Example 3

In order to understand certain passages it is absolutely needful to recognize that there is a twofold “will” of God spoken of in the Scriptures, by which we do not mean His decretive will and His permissive will, for in the final analysis that is a distinction without a difference, for God never permits anything which is contrary to His eternal purpose. No, we refer to the very real distinction which there is between His secret and His revealed will, or, as we much prefer to express it, between His predestinating and His preceptive will. God’s secret will is His own counsels which He has divulged to no one. His revealed will is made known in His Word, and is the definer of our duty and the standard of our responsibility. The grand reason why I should follow a certain course or do a certain thing is because it is God’s will that I should do so—made known to me in the rule I am to walk by. But suppose I go contrary to His Word and disobey, have I not crossed His will? Assuredly. Then does that mean that I have thwarted His purpose? Certainly not, for that is always accomplished, notwithstanding the perversity of His creatures. God’s revealed will is never performed perfectly by any of us, but His secret or foreordinating will is never prevented by any (Psalm 135:6; Proverbs 21:30; Isaiah 46:10).

What has just been referred to above is admittedly a great deep, which no finite mind can fully fathom. Nevertheless, the distinction drawn must be made if we are not to be guilty of making the Scriptures contradict themselves. For example, such passages as the following evince the universality and invincibility of God’s will being accomplished.

“But He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (Job 23:13).

“But our God is in the heavens. He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3).

“He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, “What doest Thou?” (Daniel 4:35).

“For who hath resisted His will?” (Romans 9:19). On the other hand, such passages as the following have reference to the revealed or preceptive will of God which may be withstood by the creature.

“And that servant, which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to His will” (Luke 12:47).

“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). God’s secret will is His eternal and unchanging purpose concerning all things which He has made, and is brought about by means and through agencies which He has appointed to that end, and which can no more be hindered by men or devils than they can prevent the sun from shining.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Distinguish between things that differ: Example 2

In like manner we must distinguish sharply between two totally different kinds of fear: the one which is becoming, spiritual, and helpful; the other carnal, worthless, hurtful. Believers are bidden to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), that is with a conscientious horror of displeasing the One who has been so gracious to them. Conversely, “perfect love casteth out fear” (John 4:18), namely that slavish dread which causes torment, those terrifying thoughts which make us look forward to the day of judgment with dismay. “God is greatly to be feared” (Psalm 89:7): that is, held in the highest esteem and reverence, the heart deeply impressed with His majesty, awed by His ineffable holiness. When we read of those who “feared the Lord, and served their own gods” (2 Kings 17:33), it means that out of a dread of His vengeance they went through the outward form of worshipping Him, but that the love of their wicked hearts was set upon their idols. Thus a filial fear inspires with a grateful desire to please and honor God, but a servile fear produces terror in the mind because of a guilty conscience, as was the case with Adam (Genesis 3:9, 10), and is so now with the demons (James 2:19). The one draws to God, the other drives from Him; the one genders to bondage and leads to despair; the other works humility and promotes the spirit of adoration.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Distinguish between things that differ: Example 1

20. Distinguish between things that differ, for if we do not the Bible will at once appear to contradict itself, and our minds will be in a state of hopeless confusion. If we carelessly generalize and confound things apart, not only shall we form a vague conception of them, but in many instances a thoroughly erroneous one. Most necessary is it that the expositor attend diligently to this rule: only so will he be able to give the true explanation of many a verse. Not only is it important to discriminate between two diverse things, but often to draw distinctions between various aspects of the same subject. Take, first, the word “care.” In Luke 10:41, we find our Lord rebuking Martha because she was “careful and troubled about many things,” and His servant wrote, “I would have you without carefulness” (1 Corinthians 7:32); while in Philippians 4:6, Christians are exhorted to “be careful for nothing.” On the other hand, we are exhorted that there should be no division in the local church,

“but that the members should have the same care one for another” (1 Corinthians 12:25),

and the apostle commended penitent saints for the “carefulness” it wrought in them and expressed his own concern for their welfare by referring to “our care” for them (2 Corinthians 7:11, 12). Thus there is a “care” which is forbidden and a care that is required. The one is a godly and moderate solicitude, which moves to watchfulness and the taking of pains in the performing of duty; the other is a destructive and inordinate one that produces distraction and worry.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The Holy Spirit’s use of words:Example 4

Many suppose when they read of the “foreknowledge” of God (Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:2) that the expression simply means His cognizing beforehand. It imports very much more, expressing infallible certainty because based upon His eternal decree. God foreknows what will be because He has purposed what shall be. In its verbal form the word is actually rendered “foreordained” rather than “foreknown” in 1 Peter 1:20. Some Arminians, in their inveterate opposition to the Truth, have insisted that the word “elect” means a choice or excellent person, rather than a selected one, appealing to Christ’s being termed God’s “elect” in Isaiah 42:1. But the Holy Spirit has anticipated and refuted that wretched shift by defining the term in Matthew 12:18 (where He cites Isaiah 42:1), “Behold My servant, whom I have chosen.” Mark 13:20, settles the meaning of “elect” once for all: “the elect’s sake, whom He hath chosen.” In common speech “prince” signifies one who is inferior to the king, but not when Christ is called “the Prince of peace” and “the Prince of life,” as is clear from His being “Prince of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5). Many have been puzzled over mustard being called “the greatest among herbs” (Matthew 13:22), and love being greater than faith (1 Corinthians 13:13), when in fact faith is its root: but “greatest” does not mean largest in the former, or superior in the latter, but the most useful—the “best gifts” of 1 Corinthians 12:31, and “greater” in 1 Corinthians 14:5, signify more useful.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Resolving Problems in Colossians 2:16-17

by James M. Renihan

Colossians 2:16 (NKJV): So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

This passage is, at first glance, the strongest that speaks against a ‘sabbath’ in the New Testament, and we must give to it the full weight it deserves.We have no right to make it less direct than it is; we must treat it carefully, and follow wherever it leads us. Any other treatment undermines our claims of respect for the inspired and inerrant word of God.

At first glance, it appears to indicate that there is no Sabbath-keeping for New Covenant believers, and this is a problem for all of us who profess to believe that there is a day to be kept holy unto the Lord. We cannot pretend that this text does not exist; we cannot blink our eyes when reading the chapter; we cannot skip over…

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

The Holy Spirit’s use of words:Example 3

What has just been before us leads us to point out that the only sure and satisfactory way of settling the old controversy between the Protestant and popish theologians as to whether the word “justify” means to make just or to pronounce just is to ascertain how the term is used by the sacred writers, for an appeal to Holy Writ does not leave the issue in the slightest doubt. In the first place, when we are said to “glorify God” we do not render Him glorious, but announce that He is so. When we are bidden to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts (1 Peter 3:15), we do not make Him holy, but assert that He is so. Equally, when it is said

“that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest” (Psalm 51:4),

the force of it is that Thou mightest be pronounced righteous in Thy judicial verdicts. In none of these instances is there the least ambiguity or uncertainty, in none is there any transformation wrought in the object of the verb—to suggest so would be horrible blasphemy. When wisdom is said to be “justified of her children” (Matthew 11:19) it obviously signifies that she is vindicated by them. Nor does the word have any different force when it is applied to the sinner’s acceptance with God.

In the second place, it is to be noted that in many passages justification is placed over against condemnation. The meaning of a term is often perceived by weighing the one that is placed in opposition to it—as “destroy” is over against “fulfill” in Matthew 5:17.

“If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked” (Deuteronomy 25:1).

“He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 17:15).

“For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:37).

Thus the forensic sense of the term is definitely established, for in those and similar passages two judicial sentences are mentioned which are exactly the reverse of each other. As to condemn a man “is not to make him unrighteous”, but is simply the pronouncing of an adverse sentence against him, so to justify is to not to effect any moral improvement in his character, but is simply declaring him to be righteous. The word is still further explained by Romans 3:19, 20:

“that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become [be brought in] guilty before God: Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight,”

where guilt and non-justification are synonymous.

But in all generations Satan and his agents have labored to make men believe that when Scripture speaks of God’s justifying sinners it signifies the making of men righteous by means of something which is infused into them, or else produced by them; thereby dishonoring Christ. The early chapters of Romans are devoted to an exposition of this all-important truth.

First, it is shown that “there is none righteous” (3:10), none who measures up to the Law’s requirements.

Second, that God has provided a perfect righteousness in and by Christ, and that this is revealed in the Gospel (1:16, 17;3:21, 22).

Third, that this righteousness, or vicarious obedience, of Christ is imputed or reckoned to the account of those who believe (4:11, 24).

Fourth, that since God has placed to the credit of the believing sinner the fulfillment of the Law by his Substitute, he is justified (5:1, 18).

Fifth, therefore none can lay anything to his charge (8:33). Thus may the believing sinner exultantly exclaim, “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength” (Isaiah 45:24), “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). “I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of Thy righteousness, even of Thine only” (Psalm 71:16).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The Holy Spirit’s use of words:Example 2

Arthur PinkConsider the grand truth and glorious privilege of adoption. Probably it is not going too far to say that only a very small percentage of Christians entertain any scriptural concept thereof. In human affairs it has reference to a procedure whereby a boy or girl who bears no relation to a man and woman becomes legally their child. From that the conclusion is drawn that on the ground of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and by the Spirit’s work of regeneration those who previously bore no intimate relation to God then become His children. Such an idea is not only crude, but utterly erroneous. John 11:52, makes it quite clear that Christ died for His people under the consideration of their being the children of God, and not in order to make them so: as both the Hebrews in Egypt (Exodus 5) and the heathen in Corinth (Acts 18:10) were owned by God as His before the one was redeemed and the other had the Gospel preached unto them.

“And because ye are sons [and not to make them such], God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6).

The Spirit is given to quicken, communicate the nature of sons, and reveal to us our union with Christ.

The inestimable blessing of adoption was bestowed upon the elect by predestination, it being God’s design therein to make them His sons by a mere act of His sovereign will:

“Having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:5).

Thus it is neither what Christ has done for them nor what the Spirit works in them which makes them the children of God. Adoption refers to that state of grace into which the elect are brought by virtue of their union with Christ. It is a sonship-in-law, in and through the Son, God appointing them unto union and communion with Him. Adoption conveys the legal right to every blessing we enjoy both here and hereafter.

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16, 17).

As holiness is that which fits us for heaven, so adoption or sonship conveys the right thereto.

“Adoption does not so much design the blessing itself prepared in the Divine predestination, or the grace received in effectual calling, as the inheritance to which the saints are adopted, even the heavenly glory: see Romans 8:23” (J. Gill).

The elect were bestowed upon Christ before the foundation of the world in the relation of children:

“Behold I and the children which God hath given Me”(Hebrews 2:13)

will be His own triumphant exclamation at the last day — not one of them lost. It is quite true that by the fall they became alienated from God, and thus in need of His being reconciled to them and they to Him; that they became dead in trespasses and sins, and therefore required to be quickened into newness of life. But observe closely how Galatians 4:4, 5 states it: “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them [previously His] that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,” and because we were such the Spirit was given to us. The declaration of adoption was made first in predestination (Ephesians 1:5), afterwards in Christ, and then in the believer. As the Puritan Charnock so succinctly stated it, “Adoption gives us the privilege of sons, regeneration the nature of sons. Adoption relates unto God as a Father, regeneration engraves upon us the lineaments of a Father. That makes us relatively His sons by conferring a power or right (John 1:12); this makes us formally His sons by conveying a principle (1 Peter 1:23). By that we are enstated in the Divine affection; by this we are partakers of the same.”

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).

A momentous statement was that, and a right understanding thereof is essential, particularly of the exact meaning of its final word. Determined to deny at all costs the evangelical truth that Christ rendered to the Law a vicarious obedience on behalf of His people, Socinians insist that in this passage “fulfill” signifies to fill out or fill full. But such a definition is entirely arbitrary, and is refuted by the canon of interpretation we are now illustrating. As the scholarly Smeaton pointed out,

“No example of such a usage can be adduced when the verb is applied to a law or to an express demand contained in the spirit of the law: in which case it uniformly means ‘to fulfil’. Thus it is said, ‘he that loveth another hath fulfilled [i.e., kept] the law’” (Romans 13:8). The inflexible usage of language rules the sense in such a phrase, to the effect that Christ must be understood to say that He came not to fill out or to supplement the law by additional elements, but to fulfill it by being made under it.

“Second, ‘fill out’ is inadmissible as applied to the second term or object of the verb: Christ did not come to fill out or expound the prophets, but simply to fulfill their predictions. Whenever the word here used is applied to anything prophetical, it is always found in such a connection that it can only mean ‘to fulfill,’ and hence we must not deviate from its uniform signification. Third, the eighteenth verse must be regarded as giving a reason for the statement made in the seventeenth. But what sort of a reason would be given if we were to render the connected verses thus: I am come to fill out or supplement the law, for verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be ‘fulfilled’?”

Moreover, it is to be carefully noted that the term fulfill was here placed by Christ in direct antithesis to “destroy,” which further determines its scope and meaning, for to destroy the law is not to empty it of its meaning, but to rescind or abrogate it. Thus to “fulfill” is to be taken in its plain and natural sense, as meaning to perform what the Law and the prophets required: to substantiate them, to make good what they demanded and announced. Law can only be fulfilled by a perfect obedience being rendered to it.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures