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 3
Discourse on the Holy Spirit
Chapter I: Work of the Holy Spirit in the New Creation by Regeneration
As the Spirit prepared the natural body of Christ, he also had to prepare the mystical body of Christ. In order to prepare a new creation, light needed to shine in the darkness, and it is the Spirit who acts directly in this work of regeneration. To be born again is to be born by the Spirit. The determinate counsel of the Father and the accomplishing work of the Son are applied to us in the renovation and sanctification of our natures by the Spirit. That the Spirit was necessary for regeneration was taught in the OT, but disclosed more clearly in the gospel. Both the doctrine and the experience of regeneration were in the OT—no one has ever had spiritual life apart from it—but in Christ the work of the Spirit was made clearer, and it was experienced by many more people.
Regeneration to spiritual life is always the same work in everyone who has or who will experience it. Different external means are used to bring someone to Christ, but the internal work of regeneration is always the same. Growth in holiness and fruit is diverse, but regeneration doesn’t vary. Before regeneration the state of every human soul is the same: they are totally depraved and incapable of turning to God. There are varying degrees of sanctification, but no believer can be more regenerate than another believer.
Regeneration is not a result of repentance, nor is it brought about by baptism or sacraments. External acts and partaking in symbols cannot work the needed internal change and bring spiritual life. Moral reformation and positive ethical change are not the same as regeneration. Certainly, moral reformation will proceed from a regenerated nature, but the cause and effect must not be confused. In regeneration we are given a new mind and soul, such that we are considered a new man created in holiness and righteousness; we are a new creation. It is not merely a change in how we act, but a change in our nature that produces changes in how we act. . . .[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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