Christianity today has splintered into a variety of theologies, many of which are not only unsound Biblically, but are also purposely anti-Biblical. The five fundamentals of the faith, 1) the existence of the Triune God; 2) the Incarnation and Deity of Christ; 3) the necessity of the Substitutionary Atonement by Jesus Christ for salvation; 4) the death and resurrection of Christ and His second coming; and 5) the inerrancy of Scripture, are not countenanced in many seminaries and churches. Even those churches that claim to be conservative or evangelical do not teach that absolute sovereignty of God. Hence, in many settings today, Christians lack a sound doctrine of God that brings them the comfort that should come with knowing the omnipotent Creator of the universe, whom they claim to worship. They lack the knowledge in God’s word that tells them what He has promised. Moreover, He is with us in our day-to-day struggles in this fallen world, providentially sovereign over every aspect of life.
Arthur W. Pink championed sound doctrine. He wrote the book, The Sovereignty of God, (1918) because he believed that the church during his time lacked sound doctrine regarding that attribute of God. Consequently, he discusses God’s sovereignty from the perspective of sound doctrine based on the five fundamentals of the faith delineated above. Arthur Walkington Pink (1886-1952) was born in Nottingham, England. As a young man, he ventured into Theosophy, a gnostic-like cult, which he later denounced, converting to evangelical Christianity. He briefly studied at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Through several moves, Pink finally settled in as the pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Eventually, he and his wife moved backed to England where he died in 1952. He became one of the most influential preachers and theologians in the first half of the 20th Century, strongly renewing an interest in Calvinism and Reformed Theology. Because Pink believed strongly in the necessity of sound doctrine, this blog article is not so much a book review as it is a restatement of Pink’s main points on God’s sovereignty. I pull mainly from Pink’s opening chapter, Sovereignty of God Defined, and the final chapter, The Practical Value of This Doctrine. In due time, I may write a full book review, but my hope is for those who upon reading Pink’s cogent thoughts on the sovereignty of God, will be enticed to read this work as well as many others by Arthur W. Pink.
Arthur W. Pink’s Teaching on The Sovereignty of God
In his final chapter, The Practical Value of This Doctrine, Pink delineates 10 important theological reasons why believers in Christ should obtain a sound doctrine on the sovereignty of God. These will be delineated below with a short commentary based on Pink’s thought for each one, pulling primarily from this final chapter and the opening chapter, God’s Sovereignty Defined.
God’s Sovereignty Deepens Our Veneration of the Divine Character
IfGod is sovereign, He is supreme in all things. Basically, to say that God is sovereign means that God is God. God’s supremacy means that no one or anything thwarts His plan and will for the universe and all that is contained in it. God determines the sweep of history as it pleases Him. What he has determined to come to pass will come to pass. God is the Power and the Glory, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. He seeks no one’s counsel or advice in what He sovereignly declares to occur. God’s sovereignty means that He is a law unto Himself. He is under no obligation to give an account of what He decrees to anyone. To demand such an account is an ultimate act of blasphemy.
God’ Sovereignty Is a Solid Foundation for All True Religion
God’s sovereignty is absolute, irresistible, and infinite. Contrasted with other religions, without a view to the sovereignty of God, taking in all His attributes, there is no progress in theological knowledge. Just as idolatry is man’s worship of what he makes with his own hands, other religions posit a god that is simply man-generated, thereby possessing no solid foundation on which truths about God may stand. God is to be feared, revered, and served as Lord. Believers in Christ are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. As such God is just and the justifier of those who believe in His Son for salvation.
God’s Sovereignty Repudiates the Heresy of Salvation by Works
God’s sovereignty takes in all of His attributes, including His lovingkindness and His grace. However, one of the most difficult teachings regarding His sovereignty is that human beings possess no merit before God. Salvation is a gift from God. And He gives the gift of salvation to whom He pleases. It is common to humanity that people believe their works and the way they live provide some merit before God for salvation. God will have mercy on whom He chooses to have mercy. As the Potter, He molds the clay as He sees fit (Romans 9) Scripture proclaims, Jacob I loved; Esau I hated (Romans 9) before either on of them was born and could merit anything before God.
God’s Sovereignty Is Deeply Humbling to the Creature
Pink called God’s sovereignty the great battering ram against human pride. The philosophy of man champions man’s merit, either before God, or in man’s own reckoning. As stated above, salvation is from God and no one else. We possess no merit before God. We have nothing to offer Him in-and-of-ourselves. John Stott in his work, The Cross of Christ, stated that God does all the work of salvation from propitiation to redemption. Pink likewise declares that God is the originator and sustainer of our salvation and will bring it about according to His own plan. If sovereignty humbles mankind, then it also leads to the praise of God.
God’s Sovereignty Affords a Sense of Absolute Security
God is infinite in power, so nothing nor no one will resist the outworking of His decrees. The Psalms declare multiple times that those who believe in God can enter His rest, take refuge in Him, and lie down and sleep knowing that they are secure (Psalm 4; 91). The Apostle Paul writes, I know in Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day (2 Timothy 1:12). God as King of kings, Lord of Lords, is the author and sustainer of our salvation.
God’s Sovereignty Supplies Comfort in Sorrow
For the Christian, God’s sovereignty provides a great sense of peace. There is nothing that happens that is not in His control. As finite human beings, we may at time feel that life is chaotic and totally out of control. God is our refuge, a tower of strength into which we run in times of difficulty and trouble. In all times, God is always there, and He never leaves us. Without the doctrine of sovereignty, the countless difficulties that life would throw at us would be overwhelming indeed. It is hard to embrace in the midst of painful times, but God, in His lovingkindness, wills only our good. God is perfect in His goodness as in all His attributes. The Book of Job is some of the best reading for understanding God’s goodness, even in times of stress.
God’s Sovereignty Begets a Spirit of Sweet Resignation
Upon believing in Christ, God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit indwells us. To bow before the sovereign will of God brings an overwhelming sense of peace. It is a peace not understood by the natural man. Unfortunately it is a peace that escapes believers who have not fully embraced the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. David declared that God desires a contrite spirit rather than sacrifices, addressing those who misunderstood and misinterpreted God’s Law. Our bowing before God’s sovereignty is not a resignation to acquiescence, but a willingness to live as God would have us live, thereby demonstrating what is good and true. (Romans 12:2). It means that we are content for the Lord to have His way with us.
God’s Sovereignty Evokes a Song of Praise
The question that believers want answered at times is – Why? Why was I, who no different than any unbeliever singled out before the foundation of the world to be saved by God’s grace in Christ? In time, my life as an unbeliever evidenced all the ungodliness that could be imagined. Yet God in His infinite grace chose to foreordain, predestine, call, justify, and glorify me (Romans 8:38-39) when I possessed no merit before Him. And the only merit I possess now comes in my being seen through Christ and His work of redemption. The why question is not answerable, nor should it be. God’s grace is sufficient. And His grace should lead us to say rejoice in Lord always (Philippians 4:4).
God’s Sovereignty Guarantees the Final Triumph of Good Over Evil
Sometimes it’s hard to look at what is going on in the world and think that one day good will triumph over evil. Yet we should begin with ourselves. God’s gift of salvation means that by His decree, good triumphed over the evil that was us. And one day, the Kingdom will come as prophesied. God reigns, and His purpose will not fail. Numbers 23:19 posits the question Does God promise and then not fulfill? God’s Kingdom will not fail nor all the promises connected to it. As believers in Christ, the Prince of Peace, we can look forward to that time when He will reign in righteous and peace.
God’s Sovereignty Provides a Resting Place for the Heart
As Pink says in this section of the final chapter, no words can do justice to this practical value of God’s sovereignty. God is transcendent and above all, it was He who stooped low to provide the justification for the unbeliever. Christ, as the Second Person of the Trinity, paid the infinite price that salvation costs, a price that no mere man could ever pay. In paying the price we couldn’t pay, He not only is the Lord of our destiny, but He is also the Lord of our heart. When a believer truly understands the cost of his salvation, he can understand how and in Whom his salvation is secure.
There is much more that this book has to offer the believer in Christ than what I’ve drawn here from the opening and closing chapters. Again, I didn’t intend this blog to be so much a book review as a statement of Pink’s teaching on the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, his view on the importance of doctrine, which simply means teaching, and specifically why this doctrine is of supreme importance to any church that purports to be a Bible-believing church. Obviously, I highly recommend that believers in Christ read this work along with other works authored by Pink. A good tandem reading would include this work and Pink’s The Attributes of God. I hope this blog whets the appetite for many who would want to pursue Pink’s writings. What he felt about the modernizing of the church in his time, what Rushdoony would call humanistic philosophy, is still true of many churches today. The absolute Sovereignty of God is not a welcomed doctrine in many pulpits today.
Pink, A.W. (2017, Kindle Edition). The Sovereignty of God [published in 1930 by Baker Books]. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books [A.W. Pink first published this book in 1918 and it went through four different editions).
John V. Jones, Jr., Ph.D./May 14th, 2021