We should all know something about this great Bible teacher:
Arthur Walkington Pink died the year before I was born (1886-1952). The English Bible teacher who spent time in America and Australia was not as well known during his own lifetime, but after his death his writings became quite popular. He is well worth knowing about. Let me first offer a quick sketch of his life and work:
1886 Born in Nottingham, England
1908 Conversion to Christianity, after involvement in Theosophy and the occult
1910 Studies briefly at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago
1910-1915? Ministers in Colorado and California
1916 Marries Vera Russell
1915-1921? Ministers in Kentucky and South Carolina
1922 Studies in the Scriptures monthly magazine starts
1921-1925 Ministers in Philadelphia
1925-1928 In Australia
1928 Returns to London
1929-1934 In Kentucky, California and Pennsylvania
1934 Returns to England
1940 Moves to the Isle of Lewis, Scotland
1952 Dies in Scotland
I certainly know about Pink, having nine of his many books. But the immediate reason for writing this piece actually had to do with a comment that I received recently. Indeed, what follows will make this one of the more personal articles in this series.
The comment came to a piece in which I urged believers to keep at it, because we never know what sort of impact we might be having for Christ and the Kingdom. I often wonder about this, and often think I am not doing much good. The piece is found here: billmuehlenberg.com/2021/07/19/christians-are-part-of-something-much-bigger/
Hopefully this commentator does not mind me sharing his comment, and then I will explain why I am raising all this here. This fellow wrote the following:
Bill, what you have done for so many will only be revealed the other side of this life. I have no doubt that there are many like me who don’t comment or communicate with you but read your post & have been reassured by you, strengthened by you, upheld by you when tempted to lose heart or worse & at the very time when it’s obvious you might be struggling yourself. You’re a brave man & a good man & I thank you for your service to us. I couldn’t write when I read this article yesterday because I was so overcome with emotion, so touching was your article to me……but today I want to thank you & encourage YOU. I’m reminded of AW Pink who became so discouraged as subscribers to his newsletters dropped off over time & pulpit opportunities closed, little knowing as history has revealed, that it was Pastors who were his mainstay & were preaching to their congregations from his works. What a wonderful surprise that will be to him. Thanks again.
I of course thanked him for such kind words, and mentioned that I would have to pull out my biography of Pink by Murray and revisit it. So that explains this present piece. In a few ways at least, Pink and I share some similarities. For example, he could get discouraged and depressed at times.
While having brief stints in church work and pastoral duties, he tended for the most part to be a man without a church or a denomination. So he was a bit of a lone wolf in some ways, although his pastoral heart is revealed in some 20,000 letters that he wrote to others, often to encourage them along the way.
In the end he sensed that a writing ministry was his main gifting to be used for the Body of Christ. His monthly magazine ran for 30 years until he died. Indeed, his final years in Scotland were lived in a rather reclusive fashion. He devoted most of his energies to writing articles.
The circulation of the magazine seems never to have topped 1000, and he could be discouraged by its seeming lack of success. Yet many Christians did value greatly from it, including many pastors. Indeed, the great Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said this to a minister: “Don’t waste your time reading Barth and Brunner. You will get nothing from them to aid you with preaching. Read Pink.”
As mentioned, it was only after his death that he became much more well-known, and his writings really took off, with publishers seeking to get their hands on any and all of his articles to turn into books. Today he is a household name among evangelicals and those in Reformed circles.
Like many others – including myself – he had many doubts about his work and his effectiveness, often wondering if he was being all that he could be for Christ. Yet he persevered and stuck to it, believing that his writing ministry – no matter how small of an outreach – was his divine calling, especially in his later years.
As I say, I find myself relating to him in these respects. I too mainly have a writing ministry. Like him, I also do not get that many speaking invitations, and the numbers of those who read my material would be rather few. So I often can get discouraged, and I often have to recommit my ministry to the Lord.
As Pink would have done, I need to keep ensuring that what I am doing – despite its apparent small impact – is what God wants me to do. The final validation of all this will have to wait till the next life, although I am so very appreciative of comments like the one that I shared above.
In the same way, Pink’s fame and influence really took off after his passing, and it is in heaven that he will meet with so many who were impacted by his ministry. So his life provides lessons for all of us. As such, the final paragraphs of Murray’s 1981 biography are worth highlighting here:
We believe that God guided Pink in this stress upon a biblical catholicity and upon distinguishing the truths which most urgently needed recovering among Christians. In a strange way, as we have said, his chequered, lonely path contributed to this emphasis. He might have been faithful to Scripture and served a church or denomination as others did in the same period; instead he was guided to a wider ministry with a little magazine which he resolved ‘to take up nothing of a sectarian nature, endeavouring to steer clear of whatever would give unnecessary offence, confining ourselves (with rare exceptions) to “those things which are most surely believed among” God’s people at large’. When he died unnoticed in the remoteness of the Scottish Hebrides the full meaning of this policy had not been seen. It was only as a new era dawned, as a deeper hunger for the Word of God reappeared in the English-speaking world, and as the Puritans and other older writers were rediscovered and reopened, that Arthur Pink became one of the leading teachers of a new generation. He served to inspire a vision which was wider, grander and more fundamental than what so many found in their own church situations. Readers turned to him, not because he was a Baptist or a Presbyterian, but rather because they found an unction in his words which moved their hearts with new zeal and love for Scripture. By the gracious providence of God, Pink’s books are now vastly more influential than was his ministry in the days when the cold shoulder of an unsympathetic generation reduced him to silence in conventions and in churches.
‘Your own history is very staggering,’ a friend once wrote to him. ‘It is most mysterious that your mouth should be closed as to a public oral ministry.’ Now, half a century later, we may see a little more of its meaning and as we do so it is our business to look to Christ and to follow in the path of all those who ‘through faith and patience inherit the promise’.
Quotes by Pink
“True liberty is not the power to live as we please, but to live as we ought.”
“The great mistake made by most of the Lord’s people is in hoping to discover in themselves that which is to be found in Christ alone. “
“Afflictions are light when compared with what we really deserve. They are light when compared with the sufferings of the Lord Jesus. But perhaps their real lightness is best seen by comparing them with the weight of glory which is awaiting us.”
“When you observe that the fire in your room is getting dull, you do not always put on more coal, but simply stir with the poker; so God often uses the black poker of adversity in order that the flames of devotion may burn more brightly.”
“It is not the absence of sin but the grieving over it which distinguishes the child of God from empty professors.”
“No verse of Scripture yields its meaning to lazy people.”
Pink published some books prior to 1922, but after that period – when Studies in the Scriptures began – all his books were first published as articles in that magazine. So the dates below reflect that reality. Here are just some of his many volumes:
1918 The Sovereignty of God
1922 Gleanings in Genesis
1924-1929 Gleanings in Exodus
1928-1938 Exposition of Hebrews
1930-1931 The Attributes of God
1935-1937 The Doctrine of Sanctification
1940-1942 The Life of Elijah
1949-1950 Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures
Richard Belcher, Arthur W. Pink – Born to Write. Richbarry Press, 1980.
Iain Murray, Arthur W. Pink: His Life and Thought. Banner of Truth, 1981.