Thursday, December 24, 2009

A.W. Pink: A Study in Dispensationalism - Part 3

In the third chapter, Pink takes Dispensationalism to task for "separating" (rather than appropriately distinguishing) law and gospel. Classic Dispensationalism claims that a literal reading of the Bible leads to a contradiction in Scripture, unless the interpreter understands that the Jews were under the law, while Gentiles are under the gospel.

Classic Dispensationalism separates the law and the gospel by separating the Old and New Testaments. The OT Law teaches "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" (Exod 21:24). But, the NT Gospel teaches, "Whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matt 5:39). This is a contradiction, according to the Dispensationalist, unless it is understood that the Exodus text applies to Israel under the law-dispensation, while the Matthew text applies to the church under the gospel-dispensation.

Pink says that this way of separating law and gospel is a mishandling of Scripture. He says, "The former passage is one of the statues appointed for public magistrates to enforce, whereas the latter one lays down rules for private individuals to live by!" That distinction was true in the OT and it is true in the NT as well. Even under the NT, governments should apply the principle of "lex talionis," and even under the OT, individuals should never have taken the law into their own hands, but should have turned the other cheek. Leviticus 19:18 says, "You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." Proverbs 25:21 taught that we should love our enemies, "If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink."

Dispensationalists also argued, according to Pink, that Deuteronomy 6:25 contradicts Romans 3:20. Deuteronomy 6:25 says, "It will be our righteousness if we observe all these commandments before the Lord our God as He has commanded us." The Hebrew term "righteousness" is the same word that is sometimes translated "justification," and therefore the text teaches justification by works." But, Romans 3:20 says, "By the works of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight." According to the Dispensationalist, this would be a contradiction in Scripture, unless we understand that Deuteronomy 6:25 applies to Israel under the law, while Romans 3:20 applies to the church under the gospel.

Pink argued that Deuteronomy and Romans aren't at all contradictory. He wrote, "Both passages are equally applicable to Jews and Gentiles in all ages." Deuteronomy 6:25 "has to do with practical 'righteousness' in the daily walk, which is acceptable to God; the other [Romans 3:20] is a doctrinal declaration which asserts the impossibility of acceptance with God on the ground of creature doings." Pink said, "'Our righteousness' in Deuteronomy 6:25 is a practical righteousness in the sight of God. It is the same aspect of righteousness in 'except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees' of Matthew 5:20, the 'righteous man' of James 5:16, and the 'does righteousness' of 1 John 2:29." Justification before the bar of God's strict justice has never been by works, not even in the OT (Abel: Gen 4:4; Heb 11:4; Abraham: Rom 4; David: Ps 130; 71:16), but the Christian's imperfect faithful practical obedience in sanctification is called "righteousness" in both testaments.

In both testaments, salvation is solely by grace through faith. "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Gen 6:8); "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious" (Ex 34:5-7); "The Lord was gracious to them" (2 Kgs 13:22-23); "though your sins be as scarlet, they be white as snow" (Isa 1:18); "gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful" (Ps 116:5); "Bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases. . . He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities" (Ps 103: 2, 3, 10). The OT was filled with grace! Salvation in the OT was by grace alone, just as it is in the NT.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see you posting again.