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01 June, 2013

A Four Fold Salvation — Part 12

A Fourfold Salvation
Arthur Pink, 1938 

Sometimes chastenings are sent for our spiritual education, that by them we may be brought to a deeper experimental acquaintance with God, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes" (Psalm 119:71).

Sometimes chastenings are sent for the testing and strengthening of our graces, "We glory in tribulations also—knowing that tribulation works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope," (Romans 5:3, 4). "Count it all joy when you fall into varied trials—knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience" (James 1:2, 3).

Chastening is God's sin-purging medicine, sent to wither our fleshly aspirations, to detach our hearts from carnal objects, to deliver us from our idols, to wean us more thoroughly from the world. God has bidden us, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers . . . come out from among them, and be separate" (2 Cor. 6:14, 17). We are slow to respond, and therefore does He take measures to drive us out. He has bidden us "love not the world," and if we disobey we must not be surprised if He causes some of our worldly friends to hate and persecute us. God has bidden us, "put to death whatever in you is worldly: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed" (Col. 3:5). If we refuse to comply with this unpleasant task, then we may expect God Himself to use the pruning knife upon us! God has bidden us, "cease you from man" (Isaiah 2:22), and if we will trust our fellows, we are made to suffer for it.

"My son, do not take the Lord's chastening lightly, or faint when you are reproved by Him" (Heb. 12:5). This is a beneficial warning. So far from despising it, we should be grateful for the same—that God cares so much and takes such trouble with us, and that His bitter medicine produces such healthful effects. "In their affliction, they will seek Me early" (Hosea 5:15). While everything is running smoothly for us, we are apt to be self-sufficient; but when trouble comes, we promptly turn unto the Lord. Own, then, with the Psalmist, "In faithfulness You have afflicted me" (119:75). 

Not only do God's chastisements, when sanctified to us, subdue the workings of pride and wean us more from the world—but they make the Divine promises more precious to the heart—such an one as this takes on a new meaning, "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine! When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you." (Isaiah 43:2-3). Moreover, they break down selfishness and make us more sympathetic to our fellow-sufferers, "Who comfort us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble" (2 Cor. 1:4).

Third, by bitter disappointments. God has plainly warned us of the vanity of earthly pursuits. "When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun" (Eccl. 2:11). This was written by one who was permitted to gratify the physical senses as none other ever has been. Yet we do not take this warning to heart, for we do not really believe it. On the contrary, we persuade ourselves that satisfaction is to be found in things under the sun, that the creature can give contentment to our hearts. As well attempt to fill a circle with a square! The heart was made for God—and He alone can meet its needs. But by nature we are idolaters, putting things in His place. Those things we invest with pleasing qualities which they do not possess, and sooner or later our delusions are rudely exposed to us, and we discover that the images in our minds are only dreams—that the golden idol is but clay after all.

God may so order His providences, that our earthly nest is destroyed. The winds of adversity compel us to leave the downy bed of carnal ease and luxuriation. Grievous losses are experienced in some form or other. Trusted friends prove fickle and in the hour of need fail us. The family circle, which had so long sheltered us and where peace and happiness were found, is broken up by the grim hand of death. Health fails, and weary nights are our portion. These trying experiences, these bitter disappointments, are another of the means which our gracious God employs to save us from the pleasure and pollution of sin. By them He reveals to us the vanity and vexation of the creature. By them He weans us more completely from the world. By them He teaches us that the objects in which we sought satisfaction, are but "broken cisterns," and this that we may turn to Christ and draw from Him who is the living water, the One who alone can supply true satisfaction of soul.