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.
Table of Contents
Discourse on the Holy Spirit [In Five Books]
Summary, Part 2
Discourse on the Holy Spirit
Chapter I: Peculiar Operations of the Holy Spirit under the Old Testament Preparatory for the New
The work of the Spirit in his new creation recovery of the church is a precious doctrine to believers and scorned by unbelievers. In the OT, whatever was extraordinary and excellent beyond natural endowment was because of the immediate, causal work of the Spirit, and he worked to prepare the way for Christ, the gospel, and work of the new creation. One special preparatory means was prophecy, by which the promise of Genesis 3:15 was filled out in more detail. Although the revelation was not fully clear until Christ’s advent and work, the Spirit led prophets to foretell of the Messiah’s suffering and glory. The NT affirms that no true, divine prophecy came apart from the inspiration of the Spirit. Prophecy can refer to prediction and foretelling, but also simply to declaring the mind of another. It is proper to speak of inspiration since the Spirit is the breath of God and the words came from the mouth of the Lord.
Those who were inspired by the Spirit were moved by him so that their minds were elevated and memories sharpened, but they still could not exhaustively comprehend the messages that were revealed to them. He acted in them so that the very words they used were exactly what he inspired, and they spoke only what he wanted. The oracles were undeniably from God, powerful and holy. Prophetic messages were conveyed through voices, dreams, and visions (both internal and external), and the Spirit worked internally so the prophet knew the message was from the Lord. God’s Spirit also caused some of the prophets to perform symbolic actions, and he also transported some of them from place to place.
The writing of Scripture was another gift given by the Spirit, starting with the OT, and it is distinct from prophecy in general, or is a unique type of prophecy. Not every prophet wrote Scripture, and although not every author was a prophet, they were all equally inspired by the Spirit to write God’s Word. The Jews referred to the authors of the historical books as “the former prophets,” because the history they wrote was inspired and guided by the Spirit. Different human writers had different styles and vocabularies, but the Spirit gave them the exact words which would be familiar to them. There were times when the Spirit acted in powerful, miraculous displays. When Jesus cast out demons, he said that he did so by the finger of God (i.e. the Spirit). . . .[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
Buy the books
THE WORKS OF JOHN OWEN, VOLUME 3: THE HOLY SPIRIT