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 4
Gospel Grounds and Evidences of the Faith of God’s Elect
It is to God’s glory and the advantage of his people that they have spiritual comfort in this life. They are his children and heirs of eternal life, and yet they often face storms and temptations which cause them not to feel the privileges in which they stand. The best way of securing comfort in the storm is to cling to and cherish God’s way of saving sinners through the mediation of Christ, rejecting all other paths of salvation and security. Every person of the Trinity confesses together that the way to be saved is by trusting the revelation and work of Jesus, seeking forgiveness and cleansing by his blood. Religions divide over the fundamental question of the way to be saved and experience blessedness.
The way of salvation is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, and this is either accepted as the infinite wisdom of God or written off as foolishness. Substitution, atonement, and satisfaction are present from the very first promise of the gospel. Throughout all of Scripture, we are told that nobody can be justified on the basis of their own righteousness and works; salvation must come through a covenant mediator. To grasp the glory of God’s plan, there are things we must understand, like the depth and horror of sin. Christ is presented as our surety and his righteousness is imputed to us by faith in him. This is the gospel, and this is what gives us comfort in the storm.
I. How doth saving faith approve of this way; on what accounts, and unto what ends?
Faith alone discovers that this is the right way for God to redeem; it sees his glory in the gospel and discerns the wisdom of his plan. The incarnation shows the incredible wisdom and glory of God, and the gospel reveals his infinite love, compassion, mercy, and grace. Faith perceives the perfections of God in the mediatorial work of Christ. It is when faith takes firm hold of the perfections of God revealed in Christ, and clings to his atoning sacrifice, that the saints can have rest in trials. This is strong enough to allow peace at death. We can test our faith by asking if we truly approve and find joy in God’s way of salvation in Christ. Do we find that it is perfect and do we see that it is the right way for God to have acted? Faith approves the gospel as being completely satisfactory for our souls; we sell everything for the pearl of great price, and we do so with joy. . . .[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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