A.W. Pink is probably best known for writing The Sovereignty of God. Written in 1918, it was a controversial but strong argument for God’s supremacy. Virtually unknown in his lifetime, he speaks through his writings today. Biographer Iain Murray claims he was “one of the most influential evangelical authors in the second half of the twentieth century.”

After some ministry in the US and England, Pink spent three years in Sydney as a preacher and writer. His arrival in 1925 stirred the Baptist churches, who were challenged by his expository preaching. One local remembered:

He was not what some might term a “fiery” preacher although he was very forthright, clear and uncompromising… He employed no gestures and did not shout… He never deviated from his theme with stories or quip sayings. Everyone present knew that he had no time for levity for he spoke as a man whose one purpose was to honour the Blessed Trinity and to show what the Word of God requires of us.

He worked hard in his ministry as pastor and writer. He and his wife published a regular magazine of his writings, Studies in the Scriptures. Its circulation was never large (usually fewer than 1,000 subscribers) but his articles have been re-published into many books. Here is a glimpse of his workload, as he describes:

On many occasions has this writer—when preaching six times a week (rarely for less than an hour, usually seventy-five to ninety minutes) in the heat of Australia, journeying here and there to do so—returned home at 10pm, feeling worn and weary and pleading this promise expectantly and partaking of light refreshment, sat down for four hours’ hard study and writing an article for this magazine.

Pink was never able to remain long at any one church, probably due to his personality. He served briefly as pastor in two Sydney churches before returning eventually to the US. Iain Murray describes him as “an unwanted preacher” and ironically, he distanced himself from church life in later years. He died in Scotland in 1952.

Despite personal shortcomings, his writings have endured to our benefit. During his Sydney years, Pink held pointed views which are still relevant to evangelical churches here today.

On Calvinism and Arminianism:

There are Arminians who have presented the ‘free-will’ of man in such a way as to virtually dethrone God, and I have no sympathy whatever with their system. On the other hand, there have been some Calvinists who have presented a kind of fatalism (I know not what else to term it) reducing man to nothing more than a block of wood, exonerating him of all blame and excusing him for his unbelief. But they are both equally wrong, and I scarcely know which is the more mischievous of the two.

On worldly, weak churches and sound doctrine:

The vast majority of the churches are in a sorry state. Those that are out-and-out worldly are at their wits’ end to invent new devices for drawing a crowd. Others which still preserve an outward form of godliness provide nothing substantial for the soul; there is little ministering of Christ to the heart and little preaching of ‘sound doctrine’, without which souls cannot be built up and established in the faith… The great need of Australia today is for God-sent and God-anointed men, who will not shun to declare all the counsel of God; men in whom the Word of Christ dwells richly, so that they can say with the apostle, ‘Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel’; men on whom rests the fear of God, so that they are delivered from the fear of man.

On purity first:

Today it is true almost everywhere, that we are far more concerned about the results of the gospel than we are about the purity of it! … Is it not true that the first great question asked everywhere today is, What are the ‘results’? What is the fruitage? How many people have been saved in your church the last year? I am not saying that the question has no importance, but I do say that, if that is the first question that is asked, it only shows what a low level we are living on! The first question we ought to ask is, How scripturally is the gospel being preached in your church? Is the preacher magnifying Christ? Is the preacher emphasising the absolute sufficiency of his finished work?

Source: The Life Of Arthur W. Pink, Iain Murray.

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About Ben Kwok

Ben is part of a church plant team establishing the Rouse Hill Church. He holds a Master of Divinity degree. Ben and his wife Diahanna live in Sydney, Australia with their four young children.


  1. Paul 3 March, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I’m curious. What about his personality prevented him from staying in any one church for an extended period of time?

  2. Robert 4 March, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Hey Ben,

    I am really enjoying your posts.

    some one once said that if a Christian could be a curmudgeon then that was AW Pink to a tee.

    He was the sort of guy that seemed to be ‘as one born out of due time’. He was brilliant but likely insufferable.

    It is a shame he couldn’t have plugged into a church and had an itinerant and writing ministry rather than the demands of a single pastorate.

    that’s my ‘nutshell’ on Pink.

    I did enjoy Murray’s book but felt he gave him a softer ride than he should have for baling out of church all those years.

  3. Ben 5 March, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Yes, he was gifted in analysis and argument but seemed to struggle with applying the Word in his own approach to people, e.g. being charitable, able to be entreated, and restorative. I read elsewhere that Pink in his later years admitted his personal ministry was a failure overall. The whole “one another” emphasis in the Word is a challenge, isn’t it…

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