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The ‘Law of Full Mention’

December 11, 2018 Leave a comment

30. The law of full mention. We have treated the principle of first mention, and showed that the initial reference to a subject or the earliest occurrence of a term indicated from its context and the manner in which it was used would be its force in all later references. This we followed with the law of progressive mention, wherein it was seen that the Holy Spirit has observed an orderly development in the unfolding of each aspect of the Truth; that as it is naturally, so in connection with Divine revelation: there is first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. That may be further illustrated by a simple and well-known example, namely the three allusions made to Nicodemus in John’s Gospel. In John 3 we behold the midnight condition of his soul; in 7:50, 51, we see, as it were, the dawning of twilight; but in 19:39, 40, the daylight had fully broken. Now those principles are augmented by a third, for, as A. T. Pierson pointed out in his most helpful book The Bible and Spiritual Criticism (now out of print), somewhere in the Bible each of its prominent themes is given a complete and systematic presentation. In other words, a whole chapter is devoted to an exhaustive treatment of what is more briefly mentioned elsewhere. Below, we barely mention examples of this fact— culled from Dr. Pierson, supplemented by our own researches.

Exodus 20 gives us the complete Decalogue, the ten commandments of the moral law being stated clearly and orderly. Psalm 119 sets forth at length the authority, the importance and the manifold excellency of the written Word of God. In Isaiah 53 we have a full-length picture of the vicarious sufferings of the Savior. John 17 contains a complete outline on the subject of intercession, revealing as it does the substance of those things which our great High Priest asks of the Father for His people. In Romans 3:10-20, we have the most detailed diagnosis of the depraved condition of fallen man to be met with in the Bible. In Romans 5:12- 21, the foundation doctrine of federal headship is developed at length. In Romans 7 the conflict between the “two natures” in the believer is described as it is nowhere else. In Romans 9 the awful sovereignty of God, in election or reprobation, is dealt with more largely than elsewhere. In 1 Corinthians 15 the resurrection of the believer’s body is depicted in its full-robed splendor. In 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 every aspect of Christian giving and the varied motives which should prompt our benevolences are stated. In Hebrews 2:6-18, we find the clearest and most comprehensive setting forth of the reality of our Lord’s humanity. In Hebrews 11 we have a wonderfully complete outline of the life of faith. Hebrews 12 furnishes us with an extensive treatment of the subject of Divine chastisement. In James 3 we have summed up what the rest of the Bible teaches concerning the might and malice of the tongue. The whole of Jude 1: is devoted to the solemn theme of apostasy.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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Example 4 of the ‘Law of Progress’

The predictive announcements which the Savior made to His disciples of His forthcoming sufferings observe this principle, being cumulative in their respective revelations.

From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed” (Matthew 16:21).

That supplied a general outline—in keeping with the law of first mention.

And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: and they shall kill Him” (17:22, 23).

Here the additional fact of His being betrayed was mentioned.

And the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him” (20:18, 19):

here He enlarged upon the horrible indignities which He would suffer.

Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of Me this night” (26:31).

There the perfidy of His own disciples was foretold. How like the Savior it was to break the sad news to them gradually! What consideration for their feelings!

It is to be noted that in those announcements, as in all the other references which He made to His passion, the Lord spoke only of the human side thereof, being entirely silent upon the Godward aspect. In perfect accord with this law of progress, we have to proceed beyond the Gospels (which give a historical account of the external facts) to the Epistles, where the Spirit (sent to guide the apostles into “all truth”) makes known the spiritual design and internal meaning of the Cross. There we are informed that the death of Christ was both a propitiatory and an expiatory one: a satisfaction unto Divine justice, a sacrifice which put away the sins of God’s people. So too in the Epistles themselves we find that, while in the earlier ones the individual effects and blessings of redemption are more in view, in the later ones the individual is no longer prominent, rather is he seen as a part of a greater whole—a member of the body of Christ. True, in the earlier ones the individual is not ignored. But the proportion of the two aspects has changed: what is primary in the former becomes secondary in the latter. That is the natural order in the development of Truth.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 3 of the ‘Law of Progress’

November 27, 2018 Leave a comment

There is a steady advance observable in the respective purposes and scope of the four Gospels. Obviously, Matthew’s must come first, for its chief design is to present Christ as the Embodiment of the Old Testament promises and the Fulfiller of the prophecies there made concerning the Messiah. For much the same reason Mark’s comes second, for whereas in the former Christ is seen testing the old covenant people, here He is viewed as ministering to them. But Luke’s Gospel has a much wider scope, being far more Gentile in its character. In it Christ is contemplated in connection with the human race: the Son of man related to yet contrasted with the sons of men. John’s Gospel conducts us to much higher ground, for whereas in the first three He is depicted in human relationships (as the Son of Abraham, the Servant of God, and the perfect Man), here His Divine glory shines forth and we behold Him as the Son of God in relation to the family of God. This same principle is also exemplified in what is recorded in their closing chapters. Matthew takes us no farther than the resurrection of Christ; in Mark 16:19, mention is made of His ascension; in Luke 24:49, promise is given of the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost; while John’s Gospel ends with a reference to His second coming!

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 2 of this law of progress may be seen by tracing out the Messianic prophecies

November 20, 2018 Leave a comment

Another example of this law of progress may be seen by tracing out the Messianic prophecies and observing how there is “line upon line” until the picture is complete. The subject is too vast to deal with comprehensively here, but let us look at a single aspect of it, namely those which respect His birth. In Genesis 3:15, it was intimated that the destroyer of Satan would be a member of the human race—the woman’s seed. Genesis 9:27, revealed which of the three main divisions of the human race He would descend from: “He [God] shall dwell in the tents of Shem.” In Genesis 22:18, it was made known that He should be an Israelite— Abraham’s seed. 2 Samuel 7:12, 13, announced that He should be of the tribe of Judah—issuing from David. Isaiah 11:10, defined His ancestry yet more definitely: He would spring from the family of Jesse. Isaiah 49:1, predicted that He would be named, and by God Himself, before his birth, as indeed He was. While Micah 5:2, specified the very place where he would be bor —Bethlehem. Such examples as these not only demonstrate clearly the Divine inspiration of the Bible, but evidence that the canon of Scripture, as we now have it, has been superintended by God Himself, for its order is not so much chronological as logical.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 1 of the ‘Law of Progress’

November 13, 2018 Leave a comment

As we pointed out nearly forty years ago, the above-named principle is strikingly and blessedly illustrated in connection with the Lamb. In Genesis 22:8, the lamb is prophesied: “God will provide Himself a lamb.” In Exodus 12 the lamb is clearly typified, as “without blemish,” whose blood provided shelter from the destroying angel, and whose flesh was to be the food of God’s people. In Isaiah 53:7, the lamb is definitely personified: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter.” In John 1:29, we find the lamb identified, as pointing to Him, Christ’s forerunner announced “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” In 1 Peter 1:19, mention is made of Him as the lamb that was crucified: “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” In Revelation 5:6, we see the Lamb glorified, for the seer of Patmos was privileged to behold in heaven, standing, “a Lamb as it had been slain.” While in Revelation 22:1, we see the Lamb satisfied: “And He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” With these we may link the progressive scope seen in the validity of Christ’s sacrifice. In Genesis 4:4, for the individual; in Exodus 12:3, for the “house” or family; in Leviticus 16:21, for the nation; in Ephesians 5:25, for the Church or the whole election of grace.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The Law of Progress

29. The law of progress. Since the Scriptures be the “word of life” (Philippians 2:16), they are “quick [living], and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12). So far from being “a dead book” as the papists blasphemously assert, and a dead letter” as some Protestants have ignorantly averred, the Bible is instinct with the very life of its Author. This fact is plainly exemplified in the principle of growth which marks all its parts and itself as a whole. This can be tested and verified by any competent person who will take the trouble to read the Scriptures systematically, or trace out a subject from start to finish. As this be done, he will perceive that Truth is unfolded orderly and gradually, progressively and climactically: that there is presented to us first the blade, then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear. While the first mention of a thing intimates its scope and more or less anticipates what is to follow, the subsequent references amplify the same, each one making its own contribution to the whole, and thereby we obtain both a clearer and a fuller understanding of the same. The path of Truth is like that of the just: it “shineth more and more.”

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Many other illustrations of this law of first mention might be given, but the above are amply sufficient to exemplify its reality and value- They reveal how important it is to trace things back to their source

How indicative are the opening words of the Bible: “In the beginning God.” Here man is taught the first grand truth which he needs to know: that God is first and foremost, the Author of all things: the source and spring of all good. The first appearance of Satan in Scripture reveals to us his subtle character, the methods he employs, that God’s Word is the chief object of his assaults, and stamps him as the arch-liar. How the first recorded words of the Redeemer,

Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49),

summed up His mission and all His subsequent teaching, as well as intimated that such would be neither appreciated nor understood by men. Many other illustrations of this law of first mention might be given, but the above are amply sufficient to exemplify its reality and value. They reveal how important it is to trace things back to their source, and show that God has hung the key on the door for us to make use of. And they demonstrate the Divine authorship of the Bible, displaying as they do that the later books invariably employ terms and phrases with uniform significance and in perfect harmony with their initial mention. What proofs that He who knew the end from the beginning inspired holy men of old in the very words they selected and the use which they made of them.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures