Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Pink Overthrows Hardshell Principles

Having come to a more sound position in the Bible one of the great joys that I now receive as a lover of books, particularly old ones, is to read a powerful quotation which goes against what I used to believe and teach.  It may not directly address the thing as a whole yet refutes its principles, apart from which the system cannot exist.  It always puts a smile on my face for I am reminded of the time when the Lord taught me the very same truths.

Hardshell Conditionalism did not originate until the latter part of the 19th century. Consequently, you will not find the heresy directly addressed by any of the great theologians of the past.  Refutations exist when they affirm principles or subordinate doctrines which run contrary to it.  Once you know what to look for (and I do), it’s a piece of cake to prove that no one espoused this system prior to the 19th century.

I’m currently reading through Arthur W. Pink’s Gleanings in Joshua and am at the chapter entitled ‘Victory at Jericho’. I came across the following quote from the gifted writer which serves as a powerful rebuttal to many of the building blocks necessary to erect Conditionalism.

He writes:

"And ye shall compass the city: all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they have made a long blast with the rams’ horns, when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him" (vv. 3-5). In view of the preceding verse, that may strike some of our readers as a very strange requirement. If the Lord had definitely given Jericho into the hands of Joshua, why were such elaborate preparations as these necessary for its overthrow? Let those who feel the force of any such difficulty weigh attentively what we are about to say. In reality, those verses exemplify and illustrate a principle which it is most important for us to apprehend. That principle may be stated thus: the disclosure of God’s gracious purpose and the absolute certainty of its accomplishment in no wise renders needless the discharge of our responsibilities. God’s assuring us of the sureness of the end does not set aside the indispensability of the use of means. Thus, here again, as everywhere, we see preserved the balance of Truth.

So far from the Divine promises being designed to promote inactivity on our part, they are given as a spur unto the same, to assure us that if our efforts square with the Divine Rule, they will not be in vain. The gracious declaration that God had given Jericho into the hand of Israel did not discharge them from the performance of their duty, but was to assure them of certain success in the same. That principle operates throughout in the accomplishment of the Divine purpose. The truth of election is not revealed in order to license a spirit of fatalism, but to rejoice our hearts by the knowledge that the whole of Adam’s race is not doomed to destruction. Nor are the elect mechanically delivered from destruction apart from any action of theirs, for though they be "chosen to salvation," yet it is "through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the Truth" (2 Thess. 2:13)—unless the Truth be embraced by them no salvation would be theirs, for "he that believeth not shall be damned." Likewise the revealed truth that Christ will yet "see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied" (Isa. 53), that "all that the Father giveth Him shall come to Him" (John 6:37), does not render needless the preaching of the Gospel to every creature, for that preaching is the very means which God has appointed and which the Holy Spirit makes effectual in drawing unto Christ those for whom He died. We must not divide what God has joined together.

It is the sundering of those things which God has connected—wherein He has made the one dependent upon another—which has wrought so much evil and caused so many useless divisions among His people. For example, in the twin truths of Divine preservation and Christian perseverance. Our assurance of glorification in no wise sets aside the need for care and caution, self-denial and striving against sin on our part. There is a narrow way to be trodden if Life is to be reached (Matthew 7:14), a race to be run if the prize is to be secured (Heb. 12:1; Philippians 3:14). We are indeed "kept by the power of God,’ yet "through faith" (1 Pet. 1:5) and not irrespective of its exercise; and faith eyes and makes use of the Divine precepts equally with the Divine promises, and heeds God’s admonitions and warnings as well as appropriates His comforts and encouragements. God has nowhere declared that He will preserve the reckless and presumptuous. He preserves in faith and holiness, and not in carnality and worldliness. Christ has guaranteed, the eternal security of a certain company, but He was careful to first describe the marks of those who belong to it: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and they shall never perish" (John 10:27, 28), but no such assurance is given unto any who disregard His voice and follow a course of self-will and self-pleasing. God’s promise of Heaven to the believer is far from signifying that he will not have to fight his way there.

The appointed means must never be separated from the appointed end.”

This is rock solid truth, so I give a huge amen to everything Pink says here!  But it’s not as if similar statements do not exist in other Calvinistic writings that I must choose this particular one. It’s just that this one contains so many individual lessons and the inseparable connection between them.  Each progression of thought is a refutation of some principle or doctrine upholding Conditionalism, and is a lesson that its proponents need to learn.

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