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Example 4 of the Fifth Rule

September 29, 2015 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkThe Fifth Rule: the value of ascertaining the scope of each passage, and the particular aspect of Truth presented therein.

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28):

“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24).

Unless the scope of each writer be clearly apprehended, those two statements flatly contradict each other. Romans 3:28, is a conclusion from what had been advanced in verses 21-27—all boasting before God being rendered impossible by the Divine method of salvation. From the very nature of the case, if justification before God be by faith, then it must be by faith alone—without the mingling of anything meritorious of ours. James 2:24, as is clear from verses 17, 18 and 26, is not treating of how the sinner obtains acceptance with God, but how such a one supplies proof of his acceptance. Paul was rebutting that legalistic tendency which leads men to go about and “establish their own righteousness” by works; James was contending against that spirit of licentious Antinomianism which causes others to pervert the Gospel and insist that good works are not essential for any purpose. Paul was refuting meritmongers who repudiated salvation by grace alone; James was maintaining that grace works through righteousness and transforms its subjects: showing the worthlessness of a dead faith which produces naught but a windy profession. The faithful servant of God will ever alternate in warning his hearers against legalism on the one hand and libertarianism on the other.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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Example 3 of the Fifth Rule

September 22, 2015 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkThe Fifth Rule: the value of ascertaining the scope of each passage, and the particular aspect of Truth presented therein.

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended and the floods came, and the wind blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24, 25).

How many sermons have had read into them from those verses what is not there, and failed sadly to bring out what is in them, through not understanding their scope. Christ was not there engaged in proclaiming the Gospel of the grace of God and revealing the alone ground of a sinner’s acceptance with Him, but was making a practical and searching application of the sermon He was here completing.

The opening “Therefore” at once intimates that He was drawing a conclusion from all He had previously said. In the preceding verses Christ was not describing meritmongers or declaiming against those who trusted in good works and religious performances for their salvation, but was exhorting His hearers to enter in at the strait gate (vv. 13, 14), warning against false prophets (vv. 15-20), denouncing an empty profession. In the verse immediately before (v. 23), so far from presenting Himself as the Redeemer, tenderly wooing sinners, He is seen as the Judge, saying to hypocrites, “Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.”

In view of what has just been pointed out, it would be, to say the least, a strange place for Christ to introduce the Evangel and announce that His own finished work was the only saving foundation for sinners to rest their souls upon. Not only would that give no meaning to the introductory ‘Therefore,” but it would not cohere with what immediately follows where, instead of pointing out our need of trusting in His atoning blood, Christ showed how indispensable it is that we render obedience to His precepts. True indeed that there is no redemption for any soul except through “faith in His blood” (Romans 3:25), but that is not what He was here treating of. Rather was He insisting that not everyone who said unto Him, “Lord, Lord,” should enter into His kingdom, but “he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven” (v. 21). In other words, He was testing profession, demanding reality: that genuine faith produces good works. They who think themselves to be savingly trusting in the blood of the Lamb while disregarding His commandments are fatally deceiving themselves. Christ did not here liken the one who heard and believed His sayings to a wise man who built his house secure on a rock, but instead the one who “heareth and doeth them”—as in verse 26, the builder on the sand is one who hears His sayings “and doeth them not.”

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 2 of the Fifth Rule

September 15, 2015 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkThe Fifth Rule: the value of ascertaining the scope of each passage, and the particular aspect of Truth presented therein.

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (vv. 38, 39) supplies another example of the need for ascertaining the scope of a passage before attempting to explain it. Through failure to do so many have quite missed the force of this contrast. It has been supposed that our Lord was here enjoining a more merciful code of conduct than that which was exacted under the Mosaic economy; yet if the reader turns to Deuteronomy 19:17-21, he will find that those verses gave instruction to Israel’s “judges”: that they were not to be governed by sentiment, but to administer strict justice to the evil-doer—“eye for eye,” etc. But this statute, which pertains only to the magistrate enforcing judicial retribution, had been perverted by the Pharisees, giving it a general application, thereby teaching that each man was warranted in taking the law into his own hands. Our Lord here forbade the inflicting of private revenge, and in so doing maintained the clear teaching of the Old Testament (see Exodus 23:4, 5; Leviticus 19:18; Proverbs 24:29; 25:21, 22, which expressly forbade the exercise of personal malice and retaliation).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 1 of the Fifth Rule

September 8, 2015 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkThe Fifth Rule: the value of ascertaining the scope of each passage, and the particular aspect of Truth presented therein.

There is not a little in the Sermon on the Mount which forcibly illustrates this rule, for many of its statements have been grievously misunderstood through failure to perceive their scope or design. Thus, when our Lord declared,

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27, 28),

it has been supposed that He was setting forth a higher standard of moral purity than the one enunciated from Sinai. But such a concept is at direct variance with His design. After solemnly affirming (in 5:17) that so far from its being His mission to destroy the Law or the prophets He had come to fulfill them (i.e., enforce and comply with their requirements), He certainly would not immediately after pit Himself against their teaching. No, from verse 21 onwards He was engaged in making known that righteousness which He required in the citizens of His kingdom, which exceeded the righteousness “of the scribes and Pharisees,” who were retailing the dogmas of the rabbis, who had “made the commandment of God of none effect” by their traditions (Matthew 15:6).

Christ did not say, “Ye know what God said at Sinai,” but “ye have heard that it was said by them of old time,” which makes it unmistakably clear that He was opposing the teaching of the elders who had restricted the seventh commandment of the Decalogue to the bare act of unlawful intercourse with a married woman; insisting that it required conformity from the inward affections, prohibiting all impure thoughts and desires of the heart. There is much in Matthew 5-7 which cannot be rightly apprehended except our Lord’s principal object and design in this address be clearly perceived: until then its plainest statements are more or less obscure and its most pertinent illustrations irrelevant. It was not the actual teaching of the Law and prophets which Christ was here rebutting, but the erroneous conclusions which religious teachers had drawn therefrom and the false notions based on them, and which were being so dogmatically promulgated at that time. The sharp edge of the Spirit’s sword had been blunted by a rabbinical toning down of its precepts, thereby placing a construction upon them which rendered them objectionable to the unregenerate.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Rehearsing the rules previously explained

September 1, 2015 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkIn enumerating, describing, and illustrating some of the laws or rules which are to govern the interpreter, we have already considered:

First, the need for recognizing and being regulated by the interrelation and mutual dependence of the Old and New Testaments.

Second, the importance and helpfulness of observing how quotations are made from the Old in the New: the manner in which and purposes for which they are cited.

Third, the absolute necessity for strictly conforming all our interpretations to the general Analogy of Faith: that each verse is to be explained in full harmony with that system of Truth which God has made known to us: that any exposition is invalid if it clashes with what is taught elsewhere in the Bible.

Fourth, the necessity of paying close attention to the whole context of any passage under consideration.

Fifth, the value of ascertaining the scope of each passage, and the particular aspect of Truth presented therein.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 2 Of how the scope or design of the passage matters in interpretation

July 28, 2015 1 comment

Arthur PinkAnother passage where inattention to its scope has resulted in false doctrine being drawn from it is 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. Appeal is frequently made to it in support of the dangerous delusion that there is a class of real Christians who have forfeited all “reward” for the future, having no good works to their credit; yet will enter heaven. Such a concept is grossly insulting to the Holy Spirit, for it implies that He performs a miracle of grace in the soul, indwells that person, yet that he brings forth no spiritual fruit. Such a grotesque idea is utterly contrary to the Analogy of Faith, for Ephesians 2:10, tells us that those whom God saves by grace through faith are “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” Those who walk not in good works are unsaved, for “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). Scripture declares, “Verily there is a reward for the righteous” (Psalm 58:11), that “every [regenerated] man shall have praise of God” (1 Corinthians 4:5), which certainly could not be the case if some of them are but cumberers of the ground.

Not only is this erroneous interpretation highly dishonoring to God and at direct variance with the plain teaching of other scriptures, but it is refuted by the context. In order to understand 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, verses 1- 10—-must be heeded—so as to determine the subject which the apostle is treating. At the beginning of chapter 3 Paul returns to the charge he had made against the Corinthians in 1:11, where he reproved them for pitting one servant of God against another, with the resultant divisions—-the principal occasion of his writing to them. In 3:3, he points out that such conduct evinced their carnality. He reminds them that both himself and Apollos were “but ministers” (v. 5). He had merely planted and Apollos watered—-it was God who gave the increase. Since neither of them was “any thing” unless God deigned to bless his labors (v. 7), what madness it was to make an idol of a mere instrument! Thus it is clear, beyond any doubt, that the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 3 treat of the official ministry of God’s servants. It is plainer still in the Greek, for the word “man” occurs nowhere in the passage, “every man” being literally “every one,” i.e., of the particular class referred to.

The same subject is continued in verse 8, though there be diversity in the work of God’s servants (one evangelistic, another indoctrinating), yet their commission is from the same Master and their mutual aim the good of souls; therefore it is sinful folly to array one against or exalt him above another. Though Christ has distributed different gifts to His servants and allotted them a variety of ministry, “each shall receive his own reward.” The building itself is God’s, ministers being the workmen (v. 9). In verse 10 Paul refers to the ministerial “foundation” he had laid (see Ephesians 2:20), and what follows concerns the materials used by builders who came after him. If those materials (their preaching) honored Christ and edified saints, they would endure and be rewarded. But if instead the preacher used for his themes the increase in crime, the menace of the bomb, the latest doings of the Jews, etc., such worthless rubbish would be burned up in the Day to come and be unrewarded. Thus it is the materials used by preachers in their public ministrations, and not the walk of private Christians, which is here in view.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 1 how the scope or design of the passage matters in interpretation

Arthur PinkSometimes the key to a passage is to be discovered by observing in which part of a book it occurs. A pertinent example of this is found in Romans 2:6-10, which has been grievously wrested by not a few. The grand theme of that epistle is “the righteousness of God”—-stated in 1:16, 17. Its first division runs from 1:18, to 3:21, wherein the universal need for God’s righteousness is demonstrated. Its second runs from 3:21, to 5:1, in which the manifestation of God’s righteousness is set forth. Its third, the imputation of God’s righteousness: 5:1, to 8:39. In 1:18-32, the apostle establishes the guilt of the Gentile world, and in chapter 2 that of the Jew. In its first sixteen verses he states the principles which will operate at the Great Assize, and in verses 17-24 makes direct application of them to the favored nation. Those principles are as follows:

(1) God’s judgment will proceed on the ground that man stands selfcondemned (v. 1);
(2) it will be according to the real state of the case (v. 2);
(3) mercy abused increases guilt (vv. 3-5);
(4) deeds, not external relations or lip profession, will decide the issue (vv. 6-10);
(5) God will be impartial, showing no favoritism (v. 11);
(6) full account will be taken of the various degrees of light enjoyed by different men (vv. 11-15);
(7) the judgment will be executed by Jesus Christ (v. 16).

From that brief analysis (which exhibits the scope of the passage) it is quite evident that the apostle was not making known the way of salvation when he declared, “Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life” (vv. 6, 7). So far from affirming that fallen men could secure everlasting felicity by their own well-doing or obedience to God, his design was the very opposite. His purpose was to show what the holy Law of God required, and that that requirement would be insisted upon in the Day of Judgment. Since his depraved nature makes it impossible for any man, Jew or Gentile, to render perfect and continual obedience to the Divine Law, then the utter hopelessness of his case is made apparent, and his dire need to look outside himself unto the righteousness of God in Christ is plainly evinced.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures