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
Nature and Causes of Apostasy from the Gospel
The foundation for this discourse is Hebrews 6:4-6. In the early church, there were debates about whether to admit people back into the communion of the church after they had committed great sins (including denying Christ in the face of persecution), and this text was illegitimately used to keep them out. It does not teach that a genuine believer can lose their salvation, and neither should a repentant Christian with a sensitive conscience read these words and fear that they are lost forever. The people in view in this text are those who submitted to baptism, but who never had saving faith. It was the Spirit who enlightened them about the doctrine of the gospel, but they did not improve upon it, and the privilege was lost.
The illumination referenced here comes with some power to make alterations in the soul, but it is short of saving grace. The Spirit’s work is the heavenly gift, and they “tasted” of him by experiment and trial, but then rejected him after some experience. To partake in the Holy Ghost is to participate and have a share in the spiritual gifts he gives. They were attracted to the good word of God in the gospel, and once again they tasted it, but they did not digest it or keep it. They agreed intellectually with its truth, and they have some excitement about immortality and pardon. The word even produces some effects in them, but it does not have roots; they taste but do not eat. They had also tasted of the powers and gifts given by the Spirit in the last days, the age of the church. Nowhere are they said to have faith or be saved, and none of the language that is used to clearly designate believers is used of them. . . .[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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THE WORKS OF JOHN OWEN, VOLUME 7: SIN AND GRACE