Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Teach’

The symbolical application of the word “lion” is applied to Satan and Christ

The Father’s declaration concerning His Son

“By His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many” (Isaiah 53:11)

certainly has a double force: the “knowledge” He possesses and the knowledge which He imparts. As Manton pointed out, “it may be taken either way: actively, for the knowledge which He shall give out; passively, for our apprehension of Christ,” for the former without the latter cannot justify us. “By His knowledge” can be regarded both subjectively and objectively. First, by His own personal knowledge of the Father (John 17:25), which was the ground of what He imparted unto men (John 3:11) for their salvation. Second, for our saving knowledge of Him— received from Him. Instead of quibbling as to whether or not Isaiah intended to include each of those meanings, let us be thankful that he was guided to use language which included both senses. Again, our Lord’s figurative expression when He declared that “the gates of hell” should not prevail against “His Church” (Matthew 16:19) admits of a double reference: death Isaiah 38:10) and the power of evil. Death and the grave have prevailed over every human institution, but not so over Christ (Acts 2:27), or His Church (Psalm 72:17; Matthew 28:20), nor shall any weapon formed against her prosper (Isaiah 54:17)—meanings so dissimilar are no more surprising than the symbolical application of the word “lion” to Satan (1 Peter 5:8) and to Christ (Revelation 5:5).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Advertisements

It is ever to be borne in mind that there is a fullness, as well as a depth, in the words of God which pertains not to those of men, so that rarely will a single and brief definition adequately explain a scriptural term

September 26, 2017 Leave a comment

22. Double reference and meaning. It is ever to be borne in mind that there is a fullness, as well as a depth, in the words of God which pertains not to those of men, so that rarely will a single and brief definition adequately explain a scriptural term. For that reason we must constantly be on our guard against limiting the scope of any Divinely inspired statement, and saying that it means only so and so. Thus, when we are told that God made man in His own image and likeness, those words probably have at least a fourfold allusion.

First, to the incarnation of the Son, for He is distinctly designated the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).

Second, to man’s being a tripartite creature, for “God said, Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26)—a trinity in unity, consisting of “spirit and soul and body” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

Third, in His moral likeness, which man lost at the fall, but which is restored at regeneration (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10).

Fourth, to the position assigned man and the authority with which he was invested: “let them have dominion over” (Genesis 1:26). Adam was a “god” or ruler, under the Lord, of all mundane creatures.

In view of what has been pointed out, it is evident that the favorite dictum of Dispensationalist —“application is manifold, interpretation but one”—is erroneous, for the above are not four interpretations of the “image of God” from which we may choose, but the actual fourfold meaning of the term itself. To say that “interpretation is but one” is also flatly contradicted by our Lord’s explanation of the parable of the sower, for when He defined its terms He gave three or four different significations to the “thorns”— compare Matthew 13:22; Mark 4:18, 19; Luke 8:14. We are in hearty accord with paragraph nine in the opening chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith, when it says, “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly,” except that we dissent from the limitation mentioned in the parentheses. We much prefer to side with Joseph Caryl (one of the framers of the Westminster Confession), who, when commenting on a verse the words of which were susceptible of various meanings, and which had been diversely explained by expositors, said, “In a Scripture which may, without the impeachment of any truth, admit divers sense, I would not be so positive in one as to reject all others.”

Even if it were true that the grammatical meaning of a verse be only one, nevertheless it may have a double reference, as is certainly the case with some of the prophecies in Holy writ, which possess a major and a minor fulfillment. In his introduction to the book of Revelation in Ellicottcommentary, when writing upon prophecy, its annotator said, “The words of God mean more than one man or one school of thought can compass. There are depths of Truth unexplored which lie beneath the simplest sentences. Just as we are wont to say that history repeats itself, so the predictions of the Bible are not exhausted in one or even many fulfillments. Each prophecy is a single key which unlocks many doors, and the grand and stately drama of the Apocalypse has been played out perchance in one age to be repeated in the next.” We greatly fear that it is nothing but narrow-minded partisanship which has caused so many to disdain such a concept, and made them reject all other interpretations which accord not with their own particular system. David said, “Thy commandment is exceeding broad” (Psalm 119:96): let us see to it that we do not contract or limit the same.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Two extremes are to be guarded against, a love of the fantastic and a prejudice against what is novel

September 19, 2017 2 comments

Just so far as we really value a spiritual interpretation of God’s Word will we abominate all counterfeits. Two extremes are to be guarded against, both by those who advance and those who receive some new explanation of a passage: a love of the fantastic and a prejudice against what is novel. There is a middle ground between hastily condemning or accepting, namely to weigh carefully and prayerfully what is presented, testing it by other passages and by our own experience. Doubtless most of us can recall some interpretations which were new, and which at first struck us as being “farfetched,” but which we now regard as sound and helpful. If the Holy Spirit had not informed us that Abraham’s two wives were figures of the two covenants (Galatians 4:24), and that the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 30:11-14, were to be understood spiritually of the righteousness of faith (Romans 10:6-9), we had considered such interpretations ridiculous. Remember that God grants light to one minister which He does not to another. Even though his explanation commend not itself to you at the moment, beware of rashly calling it “a perversion of the Scriptures,” lest the same is being blessed to some poor child of God whose heart is feeding on what your head rejects.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Every preacher needs to be constantly on his guard against substituting human ingenuity for the teaching of the Spirit

September 12, 2017 2 comments

THERE are certain types of mind, particularly the mystical and fanatical, which are prone to substitute fanciful concepts for spiritual interpretations. God’s Word requires to be handled with reverential fear, and with much prayer for discernment and guidance, lest we tread on holy ground with the shoes of carnal wisdom; or the novice, striving after originality, give rein to his imagination, instead of disciplining himself to adhere strictly to the Analogy of Faith. Every preacher needs to be constantly on his guard against substituting human ingenuity for the teaching of the Spirit. Satan has ever mimicked the operations of the Spirit, and counterfeited a spiritual opening up of the Scriptures by wild perversions thereof. An early instance of this is the Kabbala, which, though of great esteem among the Jews, abounds in the most absurd explanations of Holy Writ. The rash allegorizing of Origen is another example to be studiously avoided, for he twisted the plainest and simplest texts into the most grotesque shapes or meanings. The strange system of exegesis adopted by Swedenborg is yet another case in point. The imagination needs to be bridled by both a tender conscience and the spirit of a sound mind.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Let us now illustrate from the history of Jonah as it spiritually portrays the experience of many a backslidden saint

September 5, 2017 Leave a comment

Let us now illustrate from the history of Jonah as it spiritually portrays the experience of many a backslidden saint. The Lord gave that prophet a commandment, but it was contrary to his natural inclinations. He disobeyed, seeking to flee “from the presence of the Lord”—yielding to self-will saps the spirit of prayer and relish for the Word. Jonah went down into a ship—seeking the things of the world. God began to chasten him, by sending out “a great wind into the sea” because of his disobedience. That ought to have spoken loudly to his conscience, but, alas, he was sound asleep. Jonah perceived not the first manifestation of the Divine displeasure, and therefore was not troubled over the same. So it is with a backslidden saint: conscience slumbers when God afflicts: he is too stupefied to “hear the rod.” But God would not allow Jonah to remain indifferent. He was rudely aroused from his slumbers by the shipmaster, lots were cast and it fell upon Jonah himself. His “cast me forth into the sea” (1:12) was the language of that despondency which comes upon one when he is made to reap the whirlwind. Yet God did not desert His wayward and despairing child: He “prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah”—supernaturally preserving him. The sequel is blessed: said the erring one, “I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and He heard me” (2:2); yes, and delivered him.

Such are, in their essential features, the usual experiences of a carnal believer who is determined to have his own way. In His lovingkindness the Lord disciplines such a one for his self-will and carnality. When he acts like “a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke” (Jeremiah 31:18), and follows a course of disobedience, God makes his self-pleasing plans to miscarry and prevents him reaching some Tarshish on which he set his heart. The Lord will not long suffer any of His own to do as they please. By the workings of His providence, a “great wind” comes and thwarts their desires and designs. If they fail to see God’s hand therein and do not penitently humble themselves beneath it, then His rod falls still more heavily upon them. Then it is that they cry unto Him in their affliction. Note how Jonah looked beyond all instruments and acknowledged, “Thou hast cast me into the deep” (2:3) and owned his folly (2:8). In his “I will pay that that I have vowed” (2:9) we behold him restored to a spirit of submission; while his “salvation is of the Lord” freely ascribes his recovery unto His goodness. Thus Jonah 1 and 2 contain a spiritual picture both of the trials of a froward saint and of the faithfulness and mercy of God in His dealings with him.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

A much more numerous class of passages, which also differ considerably from those already noticed, require our attention, namely those which delineate the ups and downs of the Christian life

Ere leaving this branch of our many-sided subject, a much more numerous class of passages, which also differ considerably from those already noticed, require our attention, namely those which delineate the ups and downs of the Christian life. Many of them are set forth in plain and literal terms, others in highly figurative or typical language. Still others are concealed behind historical transactions which were Divinely designed to shadow forth the trials and temptations, the backslidings and falls, the conflicts and chastenings, the hopes and disappointments, the revivings and recoverings of saints in this era. We have left these until the last, not because they are of lesser importance, but because they require a Divinely taught and mature expositor to deal with them. They call for one who is well acquainted with his own heart, both with the workings of corruption and the operations of grace therein, as well as one with a considerable knowledge of God’s “ways,” if he is to trace out the different experiences of His people as they are reflected in the Scriptures. It is comparatively easy to bring out the spiritual meaning of, say, Exodus 15:23-25, or of Psalm 23; but it is harder (though necessary) to do so with Psalm 38:9, 10; 63:1, 2; 107:17-20; Proverbs 24:30-34; Isaiah 17:10, 11; and Hosea 2:14, 15.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

In not a few instances the Scriptures possess both a literal and a mystical force: Example 11

One more illustration of this kind must suffice. When His disciples asked Christ, “Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?” He answered them, “Elias is come already,” and we are told,

“Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of John the Baptist” (Matthew 17:10-13).

That is one of the passages which Theosophists appeal to in support of their belief in reincarnation, and if our Lord’s words are to he taken at their face value, then we should have to admit that they lend some color at least to that theory. Like the Dispensationalists of our day, the scribes were great sticklers for the letter of Scripture, and insisted that the Divine promise,

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Malachi 4:5)

meant just what it said. Here is certainly another case in point where the interpreter is needed, carefully to compare Scripture with Scripture and bring out the spiritual purport of them. That John the Baptist was not the actual person of the Tishbite is quite clear from his own blank denial, for when he was asked, “Art thou Elias?” he expressly declared, “I am not” (John 1:21). The question therefore remains, What did our Lord signify when He said of His forerunner “Elias is come already”?

That Christ was uttering a profound truth, one which could be apprehended only by spiritual and Divinely enlightened souls, when He declared that John the Baptist was Elijah, is very evident from His words to the apostles in Matthew 11:13, 14,

“For all the prophets and the law were prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it [or “him”], this is Elias, which was for to come.”

Those words also contained an indirect rebuke of their carnal beliefs and sentiments respecting the expected kingdom of the Messiah: His added, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (v. 15) confirms what we have just pointed out, for that call was never made except when something difficult for the natural man to understand was in view. John the Baptist was rejected by Israel’s leaders. Herod had beheaded him, and Christ declared that He too should “suffer” (Matthew 17:12), and that was something which ill accorded with their views. A suffering Messiah, whose herald had been murdered, was difficult to harmonize with the teaching of the scribes concerning Malachi 4:5; yet there is nothing in that verse which should stumble us today, for our Lord has made its meaning quite clear.

In addition to the elucidation of Malachi 4:5, furnished above, it should be pointed out that the key passage which opens the mystery is Luke 1:17, where it was announced that John should go before Christ “in the spirit and power of Elias”—language which manifestly signifies that he was not a reincarnation of the Tishbite. The essential oneness of the two men in their character and work rendered the history of the earlier one a prophecy of the other. The latter appeared at a time when conditions were much the same as those which characterized the state of Israel in the days of Ahab. The resemblances between the two men are many and marked. John was essentially a preacher of repentance. He was a man of great austerity, garbed similarly to the prophet of Gilead. Real trial was made of his fidelity also by the hatred and persecution of the ungodly, but he was zealous for the Lord, both in reproving sin in high places and in seeking to bring about a reformation of his nation. Both his mission and his disposition were Elijah-like in character.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures