Saturday, December 19, 2009

A. W. Pink: A Study of Dispensationalism - Part 2

Just to be clear, I believe that Dispensationalists are brothers in Christ and that the dispute between Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology is a secondary issue. It is, however, a significant issue because it effects how one views and applies God's Holy Word. In the second chapter of his book, Pink addresses two points of doctrine advocated by Dispensationalists.

1. The Dispensationalist says that Jewish Scripture is not "to us" but that it is "for us." When the Dispensationalist is faced with the fact that the Bible says "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," he distinguishes between the prepositions "for" and "to," insisting that while all Scripture is "for" us, it is not all "to" us. Some Scripture, indeed most Scripture, is "to" the Jewish nation, not "to" Gentile believers.

Pink replied that this is a "distinction without a difference." In Hebrews 3:7, the New Testament quotes the Old Testament and says, "The Holy Spirit says," not "The Holy Spirit said." The Holy Spirit speaks to us presently, today, through the Old Testament. Pink also said that the distinction is "impertinent and impudent." Scripture itself never teaches that any portion of it is not "to" the Christian. Furthermore, the principle is dishonest, since if any portion of Scripture is not "to" us, then neither may we appropriate it "for" our benefit. We have no right to the benefit of any text if it is not "to" us. The Dispensationalists have no biblical ground to "dispense" with God's Word in this manner because Scripture never teaches the distinction between "to us" and "for us."

Pink went on to say that the New Testament teaches the opposite of what Dispensationalists teach. 1 Corinthians 10:11 says, "Now all these things happened to them for examples [margin, "types"]: and they are written for our admonition." He then quoted John Owen as saying, "The Old Testament examples are New Testament instructions." Furthermore, Romans 15:4 says, "whatever was written in former times was written for our instruction, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." "Hope" comes from believing divine promises, which means that the New Testament teaches that Old Testament promises to the nation of Israel are for the hope of the New Testament believer.

Three things are true of Old Testament promises, according to Pink. First, Christ purchased all the promises of the Old Testament for the redeemed. Second, most of the Old Testament promises were typical in nature, pointing forward to heavenly blessings in Christ. Third, Pink wrote, "a literal fulfillment to us of those promises must not be excluded, for since we still be on earth and in the body our temporal needs are the same as theirs, and if we meet the conditions attached to those promises (either expressed or implied), then we may count upon the fulfillment of them."

2. The Dispensationalist draws a definite and broad line between the Law and the Gospel. Dispensationalists think their system is the strongest at this point. They like to insist that one can no more mix law and gospel than oil and water. Pink, however, disagreed.

Pink said that law and grace are not contradictory but complimentary. Law and grace are found together in the Garden of Eden, in God's dealings with Noah, at the giving of the Decalogue, in the Levitical system, and at Calvary and throughout the New Testament.

He cites Romans 3:31 in support of the complimentary nature of law and gospel. "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: indeed, we establish the law." While it is true that the believer's justification is entirely through grace and no law keeping of his own, that does not mean that God's standards have changed or that He has relaxed His authoritative claim upon us. Quite the contrary. God's plan in redemption is to honor and enforce His law in His people.

There are three ways that the Gospel honors the Law. First, Christ was the "surety" of the elect, which means He paid the penalty of the law and merited its blessing because the elect themselves could not pay. Christ's total fulfillment of the law's precepts honors the law. Second, in regeneration, the Holy Spirit writes the law on the hearts of the elect, causing them to love and delight in it so that it is no burden to them. Third, the Christian himself voluntarily and gladly takes the law as a "rule of life" so that he declares with Paul, "with the mind, I myself serve the law" (Rom 7:25).

Pink wrote, "So far from the law and grace being enemies, they are mutual handmaids: the former reveals the sinner's need, the latter supplies it; the one makes known God's requirements, the other enables us to meet them. Faith is not opposed to good works, but performs them in obedience to God out of love and gratitude."


  1. Correction: John Darby wasn't first on any crucial aspect of dispensationalism. In fact, he was a clever plagiarist. For proof of this and lots of other things that have long been swept under the rug by dispys - but have recently been uncovered - Google "Pretrib Rapture Diehards," "The Unoriginal John Darby," "Edward Irving is Unnerving," "Pretrib Hypocrisy," "Deceiving and Being Deceived" and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" - by historian Dave MacPherson who has fanatically focused on all this for more than four decades. His bestselling book on this topic is his 300-page "dirty linen closet" labeled "The Rapture Plot" - highly endorsed by other scholars and highly available at Armageddon Books on the web. Zach

  2. Tom, I am enjoying your blogging spree. Keep it up.

  3. Thanks for the encouragement B-Rob! : ) I figure blogging through a book is a good way to stay on track.