Published on December 14, 2022 by Steve West

Banner of Truth, 1968 | 616 pages

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 True Nature of a Gospel Church and Its Government


Chapter I

The matter of the church is the persons that it consists of, and the form of the church is the reason, cause, and way that they exist together. Those who are admitted into Christ’s kingdom are holy and do not live in flagrant, unrepentant sin. A member of the church of Christ must obey the laws of Christ, and as a citizen, they must also obey the laws of the land. Only the regenerate are part of Christ’s body, and baptism is the sign of regeneration. God alone can judge whether anyone is regenerate, but the church must judge if someone’s life bears the external marks of this internal life. We are instructed in Scripture to withdraw from some types of sinners, to put out of our midst unrepentant sinners who claim to be believers, and to know that sinners will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since this is the case, such ones as these should not be considered part of the church. Christians are described as having certain graces and holy virtues, so if these are absent from an individual, they ought not to be part of the church. Every member of the church must also bear a credible profession of faith in Christ, and demonstrate sufficient doctrinal understanding of the gospel. They are to confess their sins, learn of self-denial, perform all known duties of the faith, and abstain from all known sins.

The early church preached the gospel to all, but they required much inspection before admitting people into the full communion of the church. A person’s profession of Christ must be maintained by both words and works. When we pass judgment on whether someone should be admitted as a member of the church, we do so with as much latitude as charity and fidelity to God’s word will allow. Certainly, there are hypocrites in our midst, but we cannot eradicate every false believer from the congregation; we can only remove those who are in obvious unholiness. Where a church tolerates many evil persons in their membership, where edification is hindered, and where the church will not reform, a believer may in good conscience seek fellowship elsewhere. He must withdraw for the good of his own soul, and do so peaceably. Even before they can make their own profession, the church is to take spiritual care of the children in her midst. Children and their parents should be prayed for, taught, catechized, visited, and given spiritual advice and guidance. Those who would come into the church must flee from idols and scandalous sins, as well as profess the truth of Christ and give themselves up to his rule and authority in the church (including submission to its ordinances and institutions). . . .

[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]

The remainder of this article is premium content. Become a member to continue reading.

Already have an account? Sign In

Buy the books


Banner of Truth, 1968 | 616 pages

Share This

Share this with your friends!