A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance
by Steve West
Editor’s Note: Most of our readers will already be at least somewhat acquainted with John Owen (1616-1683), “the prince of Puritans,” but it is not likely that many have read him extensively. His works are not only voluminous – they are tightly packed and deeply considered. Owen is neither quick nor light reading!
Today we continue our year-long series of summaries of Owen’s famous works. We trust these will be of help in introducing and/or increasing your acquaintance with this giant Puritan theologian.
Summary, Part 1
The Doctrine of the Saints’ Perseverance Explained and Confirmed
Some own the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints to be the most precious blessing in the covenant of grace, while others revile the doctrine. Both in theory and in practice our view of the doctrine of perseverance is massively important. There is no doubt that in these times we see many fall away who once professed Christ. This causes much alarm to real believers, but those who build upon a rock need not fear when houses fall that were built on sand. Hypocrites apostatize, but the children of God have assurance through the Spirit and the blood of Christ that they will be saved. The Spirit impresses himself upon us, and we can look at the internal work he does in our lives. We can also look back on times of communion and fellowship that we have had with God by his grace, and we can know that we belong to him. Despite the falling away of hypocrites, God has in grace given us enough to have assurance of salvation in our consciences before him.
God is the only being who is the Holy One. Every other being that is holy is either created to be holy, or has holiness added to it. God sanctifies people in two senses: 1. In the old covenant system, things and people were set aside legally in the cultus and were called holy as a result. 2. Evangelical or real holiness, where someone is pure and righteous. In the church there are some who are set apart in a way that falls short of regeneration, and others who have the fruit of eternal election so that they never will fall away. The New Testament writers make this distinction, and were not troubled about their own salvation simply because others fell away. Goodwin asserts but does not prove that those who fell away had every mark of a genuine believer, yet even if this were so, we cannot see the heart but only the outer conduct and profession. It is not charity to make groundless conjectures that someone is saved—denying that a person was saved if they fall away is not a lack of love, but an application of scriptural teaching. . . .[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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THE WORKS OF JOHN OWEN, VOLUME 11: CONTINUING IN THE FAITH