A recent acquisition that I made this past Saturday was a letter by A.W. Pink to a former congregant couple, Mr. and Mrs. H. Coleman, who belonged to the Belvoir St Particular Baptist congregation, and the subsequent short-lived Summer Hill splinter congregation.
This letter is an a particular insight into Pink’s long-term interaction with those he had once ministered to. Noticeably the Colemans, with a handful of others, were people he kept intentionally in touch with as is is evidenced by the date of the letter being 18 years after Arthur and Vera Pink sailed from Circular Quay, Sydney.
Pink’s letters to his former Sydney congregants generally contained a mixture between devotional and doctrinal exhortations as well as updates as to both the welfare of the Pinks as they travelled in search of a lasting home (from Australia, they sailed to England, to the United States, back to England, before finally settling in Stornoway, Scotland.) and the ongoing progress of the “Studies in the Scriptures“. The periodical that Pink had started in 1922, ceaselessly working on it until his death in 1952, and being tirelessly supported in the endeavour by his wife, Vera.
It is probably wise to note that in the opening exhortation, Pink is not necessarily arguing against being generally aware of current events which are taking place, however he is pushing back against the suggestion that such things should so engross the Christian.
Indeed, contextualising Pink both within the time period he was writing from as well as the experiences he had by that point, it is with no doubt in my mind that Pink is notably pushing back against the overemphasis on the endtime, or eschatological, prophesying that so dominated early-to-mid 20th century evangelicalism. Under the influence of certain hermeneutical frameworks, not limited to but certainly including dispensationalism, there was an overemphasis in many churches in trying to fit in what was occuring in the world — so-called “Sign of the Times” — into Revelation and eschatological verses found elsewhere.1)Such attempts included framing Hitler as the antichrist and World War II as a significant indicator of Christ’s imminent return. Even a cursory examination as to the church services advertised in the papers from this time period evidence the preoccupation that many had with the matching current events with the end times.
Sabbath Day July 7/46
Beloved friends in Christ:
Greetings in the blessed Name of Him who says, “I would have you wise unto that which is good and simple (uninformed and unacquainted – the opposite of “wise”) concerning evil.” (Rom. 16:19). I wonder if you have ever pondered the second clause or sought to ascertain what it signifies and implies? Personally I feel it is a word which the Lord’s people, especially the younger ones, specially need to take to heart today. I am convinced that many of them are greatly the losers thro’ failing to do so. In various ways our subtle enemy is seeking to occupy the saints with that which is evil, and not a few preachers are aiding him in his work! Satan (and note the very next verse – Rom. 16:20 – opens with the word “And”, after which reference is made directly to “Satan”!) is persuading many professing Christians that it is their duty to be well informed concerning current events, and induces them to waste much time in reading secular literature and in listening in to the radio in order to be so. The “Signs of Times” men are zealously raking over all the “evil” they can find in the moral, political and social realms, as well as in the International Situation; all of which is contrary to Romans 16:19! And what good is accomplished thusly? Not a particle, either for themselves or any one else. This worrying over the doings of the Kremlin in Moscow, or our concern over the advances made by the Papacy will effect nothing, nor will it either hasten or retard the return of our Redeemer by a single moment! No; but it will do us much HARM. It will get our minds off spiritual and heavenly things; it will disturb our peace, and make us fearful of what may (or may not!) soon come to pass!! You and I have no responsibility in the running (government) of this world, nor does He require us to take the burden of such government upon our shoulders. HE is ruling it directing all its affairs. There we may, and should, rest. Your business and my business is to be “wise unto that which is GOOD.” Let the Devil’s captives occupy themselves with and be worried over “evil” if they are so determined. Let us seek grace to curb the spirit of inquisitiveness, check all carnal curiosity, and be satisfied and remain ignorant of the political conditions of India, the moral decadence of the U.S.A, the spread of Romanism in South America, and so on. Let us prayerfully endeavour to pay more heed to that injunction. Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report … Think on THESE things (Phil. 4:8).
I am aware that you do not need this exhortation nearly so much as many others, but because you sometimes share my letters with them, I felt constrained to write along these lines this time.
Your must welcome letter of April 28 is now before me. Needless to say we were delighted to hear from you again, and much appreciate your kind trouble in writing us at such length. We rejoice with you at the loving kindness of our Father in opening the way for you to leave Rhodes for a few weeks, and for the journeying mercies vouchsafed to Toowong. We are thankful you are once again with your loved ones, and that you found dear father Brooks in a better condition than you had half-feared. How good is the God we adore! How great is His faithfulness! How tender are his mercies! With what ease He can cleave a way thro the Red Sin of our problems & difficulties. O to trust Him more fully and court upon Him more constantly. As you so often heard me say, & as I can now re-affirm still non emphatically after a further twenty years’ experience of His promises & power:- HE never-fails those who truly rely upon HIM – He would not be GOD if He did! As you also often heard me say, “When God works, He always works at both ends of the line”, and therefore since He so manifestly wrought in opening the way for and in bringing you unto, there is no doubt whatever but He will also get glory and Himself and make your coming together be a real and lasting blessing to all concerned.
We thank you too for the news items concerning the difficult onus. Most of all are we grateful for your continued prayers, tho’ you do not — and I think rightly so – mention them. The Lord is hearing your loving supplications on our behalf, especially concerning young Christians and preachers. Here is an extract from a letter received six weeks ago from one in London on behalf of a small group:- “We are several Evangelical university men who are doing our best to arrive at a true meaning of Holy Scripture, particularly on those points where these seems such a muddle nowadays in much that is called Evangelical Christianity,” asking for the “Studies” and desiring to correspond. What a holy privilege for me! Am I not highly favoured! Here’s another brief extract from a young Baptist Preacher in London, recently graduated from Spurgeon’s College:– “I am writing to tell you what a tremendous blessing two copies of the ‘Studies’ have been to me, both in their acute analysis of Scripture Truth and their warm expression of devotion to our Lord Jesus. I want to receive them regularly. My heart and mind have warmed exceedingly to the truth as you have set it forth, for I feel myself to be plodding – all to slowly – along the path which you have travelled for so many years.” Thus, the Lord continues to grant encouragements. I mention them, too, to comfort and gladden your hearts: you need have no fear for the Ark! God still has his faithful witness, and even now is preparing further ones!
Our one concern is the dilitoryness of our printers: would value prayers about that.
My space is exhausted – perhaps your patience also. Thankful to report all is well with us. With our united greetings and love to you all.
Yours by Divine mercy,
Arthur W. Pink – Your Pastor
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|1.||↑||Such attempts included framing Hitler as the antichrist and World War II as a significant indicator of Christ’s imminent return. Even a cursory examination as to the church services advertised in the papers from this time period evidence the preoccupation that many had with the matching current events with the end times.|