The International Mission Board of Trustees will be having their meeting next Monday through Wednesday, September 11-13, 2006 in Spartanburg, S.C.
A.W. Pink, friend of my grandfather's and well known evangelical author of the 20th Century, spent several years in Spartanburg as pastor. I will be visiting his former church while in Spartanburg and will attempt to make contact with a couple of people mentioned in Richard Belcher's book "Letters from Spartanburg" while in town.
However, in researching some of Pink's life in preparation for my visit to Spartanburg, I read again about Pink's conversion, as summarized by Ian Murrary. I think you will find it interesting that A.W. Pink was heavily involved in the occult and spiritism prior to coming to faith in Christ. The following is adapted from Murray's summary of Pink's conversion and illustrates how when God truly converts a sinner, the converted person's love for Christ cannot be hidden.
His Early Involvement With the Occult
A.W. Pink's initial interest in the occult and spiritism eventually led to a thorough commitment. He addressed cult meetings and became so closely involved with the London headquarters of theosophy that a photograph taken of some of the leaders at that period showed him seated in their midst.
When news of Pink’s eloquent propagation of theosophy reached Madame Besant in Madras she opened a correspondence with him — and subsequently proposed to confer a title upon him which would rank him among the cult’s chiefs (a dignity which apparently would also entail his removal to India).
One of Pink’s closest friends, although a fellow theosophist, was not enamoured with the proposal. This man was an opera singer by profession and, having a high opinion of Pink’s baritone voice, he urged him to study for the same career.
But the appeal of Madame Besant’s offer was stronger than that of music, and Pink accepted it. It ‘fed my ego’, he later commented, characterising the whole system as one that ‘appeals to the flesh, panders to pride, and exalts man’.
A Verse of Scripture Like an Arrow to the Heart
The date when the Besant proposal came to Pink is not known. It was probably early in 1908, for we know that in that year he was still in Nottingham. He was now twenty-two years of age, and so deeply involved in the occult that he later recorded, ‘Five years ago I was a medium’, practising ‘clairvoyance, psychomancy, and magical healing’.
All this time Pink was earning a living in business and living at home, which tells us something about his patient parents. They grieved, prayed and were not altogether silent. His father always waited up until his son returned from meetings late in the evening and to Arthur’s annoyance often accompanied his ‘Good-night’ with some brief but telling word of Scripture.
One such evening in 1908, as Pink hurriedly passed his father and dashed upstairs to his room, the text he received was, ‘There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death’ (Proverbs 14:12).
He shut the bedroom door, intending to do some work on a speech for an important meeting of theosophists that was to take place on the Friday evening of that same week. But the text so disturbed his concentration that work was impossible.
A Holy and Sovereign God
The story continues in the words of Charles and Elsie Pressel:
‘AWP decided he was fatigued, and would take a bath to relax, but during this process all he could see "mentally" was, "There is a way that seemeth right, etc." Again he returned to work on his speech and all his mind brought forth was Proverbs 14:12.
‘He ... told us he could no longer reject the God of the Bible and began to cry unto the Lord in prayer, convicted by the Holy Spirit and his power to bring a soul to see his lost condition and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour. His early training taught him about our Lord, but now, like Paul of old, was the appointment with a Holy Sovereign God.
‘For almost three days he did not leave his room to join the family, but his father and mother prayed, and in late afternoon on the third day AWP made his appearance and his father said, "Praise God, my son has been delivered."
‘AWP kept his next appointment before the Society of Theosophists; the speech he was preparing was never completed but by God’s grace he made known to them the God of the Bible. A "groan" went up from the listeners. Many remarked that he had "gone mad" and needed a rest, for they were aware of his plans to join Madame Besant.’
Suddenly Struck Down
This last address of Pink’s among theosophists was a gospel message on the true God and Jesus Christ, his Son, in whom alone there is salvation. He must have told them what he recorded a few years later.
He put the question, ‘Why did I leave Spiritism and Theosophy?’ and replied, ‘Because it failed to satisfy my soul. I was trying to save myself. There was no peace for a burdened conscience, no assurance of sins forgiven, no power of sin broken, no satisfaction of heart. I found I could not save myself and came to the only One who could save me. "Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find".
No one, it appears, stood with him on that Friday night in 1908. Alone he confessed Jesus Christ and alone resigned his membership of the society. Later he would write: ‘I have yet to meet the first Spiritist who bows the knee to Christ and owns Him as Lord’. His testimony should not be interpreted as though a prolonged inner dissatisfaction preceded his conversion, for he speaks elsewhere of being suddenly struck down in the midst of rebellion.
Christ ‘apprehended him when he was altogether unconscious of his deep need, and had no desire whatever for a Saviour’.
Pink had no doubt that his conversion, like every true conversion, was a deliverance from the power of Satan, and now the nature of that Satanic power appeared to him as it had never done before. His eyes were opened to the real meaning of spiritism.
It was true some clairvoyants might be simply tricksters, but that had not been his position and he was sure ‘the whole phenomenon cannot be accounted for on natural grounds’.
Many of the spirit-communicated messages were real, but they came not from the dead but from demons impersonating the departed. God had called him from the deepest darkness and, if he dwelt on the subject in later years, something of the darkness could come back to him.
In 1919 when he had a prolonged correspondence with a person caught in spiritism, and seemingly seeking deliverance, he commented to a friend: ‘This correspondence has weighed on me: Satan is trying hard to use it as a hindrance. It has always affected me detrimentally whenever I have turned my mind and attention back to Spiritism’.
Called to Serve
For two years after this spiritual crisis Pink continued in his daily work, but in his bedroom it was now his Bible that was ever open. Ten chapters of Scripture were read daily, plus one particular portion to which he would give particular study, ‘ten minutes or more’, through seven days.
In addition, he would take one special verse each day for meditation, carrying it with him on a slip of paper to which he would turn in spare moments, ‘asking God to open to me its spiritual meaning and to write it on my heart’.
Recommending the practice to others, he was to say, ‘The writer memorised the whole epistle of Ephesians on the street-car, a verse at a time’. On days when he was free of business he could spend up to ten hours in his new delight with the Bible.
In part this intense study of Scripture was connected with a conviction that his lifework lay in the service of the gospel. In a brief summary of his early life, written in 1934, he said, ‘I was born in England in 1886, and at the age of sixteen entered business, in which God granted me considerable success. In 1908 he saved me in my bedroom. I knew right then he had also called me to be his servant.’
In that same year he had first addressed a Christian gathering. He recalled in 1948: ‘Forty years have passed since the editor preached his first sermon. It was on the words, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ" etc. (Romans 1:16), and to a congregation of over 700 people. Though it was not the first time we had spoken in public, yet it was quite an ordeal, especially as it was in our home-town, Nottingham.’
May God give us more Pink's in this 21st Century.
In HIs Grace,