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January 11, 2005

Book review: The Sovereignty of God, by A.W. Pink

I've commented before on this blog (here and here) on the book "Sovereignty of God " by A.W. Pink, which my pastor highly recommends (and now I do, as well). I read the book quite slowly, and now that I've finally finished it I want to give a brief review. You can, of course, purchase the book at Amazon, but it's also available for free online. It's fairly brief (about 160 pages) and is an excellent book.

First, what is this book? It's a detailed analysis of the sovereignty of God in a number of different areas: Creation, administration, and salvation. Pink also deals with how God's sovereignty operates, and how it relates to human will and the idea of free will. He spends a chapter discussing the sovereignty of God and prayer, as well, then concludes by discussing what our attitude should be in response to God's sovereignty, and the value of the doctrine. Pink lays out a great deal of Biblical evidence for each of his points, and also shows at each one how God would not be God if he were not sovereign in each of these areas. Those who already believe God is sovereign should read this book, as, if it affects you like it affected me, it will bring you to worship God and have a new appreciation for how he really rules, presently, and a new understanding of the practical application of the doctrine. And those who do not believe God is sovereign in every respect, but who believe the Bible, should read this book to see how clearly the Bible teaches that God is indeed sovereign.

Pink is Calvinistic in his perspective on salvation, meaning that he believes that God has predestined some to salvation, and these will be saved: In this view, no one will come to God unless God works in them to bring them to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ, and all those who God so works in will indeed repent and trust in Jesus Christ. (I don't have time for a full explanation of this view here; if you want to understand it, read the book). Those who disagree with this view should read the book -- or at least the chapter on the sovereignty of God in salvation -- to see a clear exposition of the Biblical teaching on this point.

This is an excellent book. The exposition of Scripture is clear and to the point, and it is really eye-opening. I have been greatly encouraged by it, and I hope to live more in view of this amazing truth about God. I can't recommend this book highly enough. The only point on which I was slightly disappointed was his discussion of God's sovereignty and the human will -- but admittedly this is a subject that is difficult, if not impossible, to completely explain and understand completely.

I've already used a number of Pink's arguments in developing my post on the tsunami, so I refer you there for some sense of the discussion. The early part of the book is concerned with showing that everything that happens in the world is in fact what God has ordained -- and if this were not the case, it could only be because someone or something else were more powerful than God -- which is against the clear teaching of Scripture.

I really can't do the book justice in summary form, so let me just close by quoting a few short passages to give you a flavor of the book:

"Who is regulating affairs on this earth today -- God, or the Devil? That God reigns supreme in Heaven, is generally conceded; that He does so over this world, is almost universally denied -- if not directly, then indirectly. More and more are men, in their philosophisings and theorizings, relegating God to the background..."

"Who is relegating affairs on this earth today -- God, or the Devil? What saith the Scriptures? If we believe their plain and positive declarations, no room is left for uncertainty. They declare, again and again, that God is on the throne of the universe; that the sceptre is in His hands, that He is directing all things "after the counsel of His own will.""

"How different is the God of the Bible from the God of modern Christendom! The conception of Deity which prevails most widely today, even among those who profess to give heed to the Scriptures, is a miserable caricature, a pathetic travesty of the Truth. The God of the twentieth centruy is a helpless, effeminate being who commands the respect of no really thoughtful man."

"Come now to our own planet. Why should two thirds of its surface be covered with water, and why should so much of its remaining third be unfit for human cultivation or habitation? Why should there be vast stretches of marshes, deserts and ice-fields? Why should one country be so inferior, topographically, to another? Why should one be fertile and another almost barren? ... Why? Because thus it pleased the Creator and Upholder of all things."

"The substitution of so-called 'practical' preaching for the doctrinal exposition which it has supplanted is the root cause of many of the evil maladies which now afflict the church of God. The reason why there is so little depth, so little intelligence, so little grasp of the fundamental verities of Christianity, is because so few believers have been established in the faith through hearing the doctrines of grace expounded, and through their own personal study of them. While the soul is unestablished in the doctrine of the Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures -- their full and verbal inspiration -- there can be no firm foundation for faith to rest upon... It is ignorance of doctrine that has rendered the professing church helpless to cope with the rising tide of infidelity. It is ignorance of doctrine which is mainly responsible for thousands of professing Christians being captivated by the numerous false "isms" of the day..."

"God is no idle Spectator, looking on from a distant world at the happenings on our earth, but is Himself shaping everything to the ultimate promotion of His own glory. Even now He is working out His eternal purpose, not only in spite of human and Satanic opposition, but by means of them..."

Again, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Please read it, and let me know what you think.

Posted by David at January 11, 2005 07:46 AM

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