The Satisfaction of Christ: Studies in the Atonement, by Arthur W. Pink. Forest City North Carolina: Truth For Today Publications, 1996. 313 pp. $21.95 (hard cover). [Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko.]
Most of our readers are acquainted with Arthur Pink’s book, The Sovereignty of God. In its original edition (not the truncated edition published by The Banner of Truth) Pink set forth the central truth of God’s sovereignty in a way which has been used by God to bring many to the truth of sovereign grace. Pink’s work was characterized by clarity and by the fact that it was based solidly on Scripture. The same is true of this work on the atonement of our Lord.
The book is a treatment of all aspects of the atonement: its nature, design, efficacy, results, extent, and proclamation—to mention a few. What is particularly attractive in the book is Pink’s determination to proceed in his development of the atonement from the viewpoint of God’s glory. That truth, says Pink, is the fundamental principle that determines all we say. Pink begins with God, not, as so many of today’s theologians, with man.
In pursuing that theme, Pink roots the atonement in the will of God. He writes: “Of necessity this (the will of God) must be the starting-point when considering the ultimate source of anything, for God ‘worketh all things after the counsel of his own will’ (Eph. 1:11). It is nowhere said that He worketh all things according to ‘the requirements of His holiness,’ though God does not and cannot do that which is unholy. There is no conflict between the Divine will and the Divine nature, yet it needs to be insisted upon that God is a law unto Himself. God does what He does, not simply because righteousness requires Him so to act, but what God does is righteous simply because He does it. All the Divine works issue from mere sovereignty” (p. 20).
Important themes run through the book: such themes as satisfaction being the heart of the atonement; the federal Headship of Christ in relation to His people, and thus the vicarious nature of the atonement; the limited character of the atonement, i.e., that it is for the elect and for them only.
Pink shows that the Arminian view of the atonement (that Christ died for all) dishonors and ultimately destroys the atonement, for it destroys the efficacy of Christ’s substitutionary death.
In connection with the proclamation of the atonement, Pink condemns the idea of the gospel as a well-meant offer, and explains this proclamation in a solid and biblical way. He is not a hyper-Calvinist because he insists that the gospel must be preached to all and that all who hear must be confronted with the command to believe on Christ. But the efficacy of the gospel of the atonement is directly connected to the efficacy of the atonement itself: The Christ whose death was efficacious for the elect saves the elect through the efficacy of the gospel.
Never does Pink treat the doctrine as mere abstract dogma. He insists that, contemplating the truth concerning Christ’s death, we must contemplate it from the viewpoint of Christ’s death being for our sins; and that His perfect satisfaction is appropriated by faith and brings the wonder of the atonement to our hearts in the glorious truth of the forgiveness of sins.
The book is beautifully printed and bound. It can be ordered from the address at the top of this review. It is so solid, especially in comparison with the God-dishonoring ideas of the atonement being taught today, that it comes as a cool breeze to quicken the hearts of God’s people.