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John Owen: He Is, He Always Has Been, Precious

11 Aug

1616 -1683. Preeminent English Puritan theologian, pastor, and independent.

Unto them that believe unto the saving of the soul, he is, he always hath been, precious—the sun, the rock, the life, the bread of their souls—every thing that is good, useful, amiable, desirable, here or unto eternity. In, from, and by him, is all their spiritual and eternal life, light, power, growth, consolation, and joy here; with everlasting salvation hereafter. By him alone do they desire, expect, and obtain deliverance from that woful apostasy from God, which is accompanied with—which containeth in it virtually and meritoriously—whatever is evil, noxious, and destructive unto our nature, and which, without relief, will issue in eternal misery. By him are they brought into the nearest cognation, alliance, and friendship with God, the firmest union unto him, and the most holy communion with him, that our finite natures are capable of and so conducted unto the eternal enjoyment of him.

~John Owen~





The Works of John Owen, Volume 1: The Glory of Christ (ed. William H. Goold, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 5.

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John Calvin – The Holy Spirit is the Bond of Our Union with Christ

5 Aug

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We must now examine this question. How do we receive those benefits which the Father bestowed on his only-begotten Son—not for Christ’s own private use, but that he might enrich poor and needy men? First, we must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us. Therefore, to share with us what he has received from the Father, he had to become ours and to dwell within us. For this reason, he is called “our Head” [Eph. 4:15], and “the first-born among many brethren” [Rom. 8:29]. We also, in turn, are said to be “engrafted into him” [Rom. 11:17], and to “put on Christ” [Gal. 3:27]; for, as I have said, all that he possesses is nothing to us until we grow into one body with him. It is true that we obtain this by faith. Yet since we see that not all indiscriminately embrace that communion with Christ which is offered through the gospel, reason itself teaches us to climb higher and to examine into the secret energy of the Spirit, by which we come to enjoy Christ and all his benefits… the Holy Spirit is the bond by which Christ effectually unites us to himself.

~John Calvin~






Institutes of the Christian Religion, Volumes 1 & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011) Vol. 1, p. 537. Book 3.1.1

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John Owen: What Is Sanctification?

20 Oct

1616 -1683. Preeminent English Puritan theologian, pastor, and independent.

Sanctification is an immediate work of the Spirit of God on the souls of believers, purifying and cleansing of their natures from the pollution and uncleanness of sin, renewing in them the image of God, and thereby enabling them, from a spiritual and habitual principle of grace, to yield obedience unto God, according unto the tenor and terms of the new covenant, by virtue of the life and death of Jesus Christ. Or more briefly:—It is the universal renovation of our natures by the Holy Spirit into the image of God, through Jesus Christ.

~John Owen~





The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 3: Pneumatologia: A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 386.

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John Owen: The Immediate, Peculiar, Sanctifier

16 Aug

1616 -1683. Preeminent English Puritan theologian, pastor, and independent.

To come yet nearer unto our principal design, I say it is the Holy Ghost who is the immediate peculiar sanctifier of all believers, and the author of all holiness in them.

~John Owen~





The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 3: Pneumatologia: A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 385.

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John Owen: A Proper Frame of Mind In the Pursuit of Holiness

23 Jun

1616 -1683. Preeminent English Puritan theologian, pastor, and independent.

And we may here divert a little, to consider what ought to be the frame of our minds in the pursuit of holiness with respect unto these things,—namely, what regard we ought to have unto the command on the one hand, and to the promise on the other,—to our own duty, and to the grace of God. Some would separate these things, as inconsistent. A command they suppose leaves no room for a promise, at least not such a promise as wherein God should take on himself to work in us what the command requires of us; and a promise they think takes off all the influencing authority of the command. “If holiness be our duty, there is no room for grace in this matter; and if it be an effect of grace, there is no place for duty.” But all these arguings are a fruit of the wisdom of the flesh before mentioned, and we have before disproved them. The “wisdom that is from above” teacheth us other things. It is true, our works and grace are opposed in the matter of justification, as utterly inconsistent; if it be of works it is not of grace, and if it be of grace it is not of works, as our apostle argues, Rom. 11:6. [But] our duty and God’s grace are nowhere opposed in the matter of sanctification, yea, the one doth absolutely suppose the other. Neither can we perform our duty herein without the grace of God; nor doth God give us this grace unto any other end but that we may rightly perform our duty. He that shall deny either that God commands us to be holy in a way of duty, or promiseth to work holiness in us in a way of grace, may with as much modesty reject the whole Bible. Both these, therefore, we are to have a due regard unto, if we intend to be holy. And, (1.) Our regard unto the command consisteth in three things,—[1.] That we get our consciences always affected with the authority of it, as it is the command of God. This must afterward be enlarged on. Where this is not, there is no holiness. Our holiness is our obedience; and the formal nature of obedience ariseth from its respect unto the authority of the command. [2.] That we see and understand the reasonableness, the equity, the advantage of the command. Our service is a reasonable service; the ways of God are equal, and in the keeping of his commands there is great reward. If we judge not thus, if we rest not herein, and are thence filled with indignation against every thing within us or without us that opposeth it or riseth up against it, whatever we do in compliance with it in a way of duty, we are not holy. [3.] That hereon we love and delight in it, because it is holy, just, and good; because the things it requires are upright, equal, easy, and pleasant to the new nature, without any regard to the false ends before discovered. And, (2.) We have a due regard unto the promise to the same end, [1.] When, we walk in a constant sense of our own inability to comply with the command in any one instance from any power in ourselves; for we have no sufficiency of ourselves, our sufficiency is of God. As for him who is otherwise minded, his heart is lifted up. [2.] When we adore that grace which hath provided help and relief for us. Seeing without the grace promised we could never have attained unto the least part or degree of holiness, and seeing we could never deserve the least dram of that grace, how ought we to adore and continually praise that infinite bounty which hath freely provided us of this supply! [3.] When we act faith in prayer and expectation on the promise for supplies of grace enabling us unto holy obedience. And, [4.] When we have especial regard thereunto with respect unto especial temptations and particular duties. When on all such occasions we satisfy not ourselves with a respect unto the promise in general, but exercise faith in particular on it for aid and assistance, then do we regard it in a due manner.

~John Owen~





The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 3: Pneumatologia: A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 384-385.

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John Calvin – What Will Prove That God’s Word Is True?

28 May

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There are other reasons, neither few nor weak, for which the dignity and majesty of Scripture are not only affirmed in godly hearts, but brilliantly vindicated against the wiles of its disparagers; yet of themselves these are not strong enough to provide a firm faith, until our Heavenly Father, revealing his majesty there, lifts reverence for Scripture beyond the realm of controversy. Therefore Scripture will ultimately suffice for a saving knowledge of God only when its certainty is founded upon the inward persuasion of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, these human testimonies which exist to confirm it will not be vain if, as secondary aids to our feebleness, they follow that chief and highest testimony. But those who wish to prove to unbelievers that Scripture is the Word of God are acting foolishly, for only by faith can this be known. Augustine therefore justly warns that godliness and peace of mind ought to come first if a man is to understand anything of such great matters.

~John Calvin~






Institutes of the Christian Religion, Volumes 1 & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011) Vol. 1.8.12. p. 92.

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John Owen: True Holiness

19 May

1616 -1683. Preeminent English Puritan theologian, pastor, and independent.

Plainly, all the power we have of ourselves to obey the law of God, and all that we do in the pursuit and exercise of that power, upon any reasons, motives, or considerations whatever,—which may all be resolved into fear of punishment and hope of reward, with some present satisfaction of mind, on the account of ease in conscience within or outward reputation, whether in abstinence from sin or the performance of duties,—are intended hereby, and are not that holiness which we inquire after. And the reason is plain, even because those things are not wrought in us by the power of the especial grace of God, in the pursuit of the especial promise of the covenant, as all true holiness is. If any shall say that they are so wrought in us, they do expressly change the nature of them: for thereby those powers would be no more natural, but supernatural; and those duties would be no more merely moral, but evangelical and spiritual;—which is to grant all we contend for. Wherefore, that which men call “moral virtue” is so far from being the whole of internal grace or holiness, that if it be no more than so, it belongs not at all unto it, as not being effected in us by the especial grace of God, according to the tenor and promise of the covenant.

~John Owen~





The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 3: Pneumatologia: A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 383-384.

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John Owen: Evangelical Holiness

8 May

1616 -1683. Preeminent English Puritan theologian, pastor, and independent.

But neither yet are we left in this matter merely under the authority of God’s command, with an expectation of our compliance with it from our own ability and power; God, moreover, has promised to sanctify us, or to work this holiness in us, the consideration whereof will give us yet a nearer prospect into its nature. He that requires it of us knows that we have it not of ourselves. When we were in our best condition by nature, in the state of original holiness, vested with the image of God, we preserved it not; and is it likely that now, in the state of lapsed and depraved nature, it is in our own power to restore ourselves, to re-introduce the image of God into our souls, and that in a far more eminent manner than it was at first created by God? What needed all that contrivance of infinite wisdom and grace for the reparation of our nature by Jesus Christ, if holiness, wherein it does consist, be in our own power, and educed out of the natural faculties of our souls? There can no more fond imagination befall the minds of men than that defiled nature is able to cleanse itself, or depraved nature to rectify itself, or that we, who have lost that image of God which he created in us and with us, should create it again in ourselves by our own endeavours. Wherefore, when God commands and requires us to be holy, he commands us to be that which by nature and of ourselves we are not; and not only so, but that which we have not of ourselves a power to attain unto. Whatever, therefore, is absolutely in our own power is not of that holiness which God requires of us; for what we can do ourselves, there is neither necessity nor reason why God should promise to work in us by his grace. And to say that what God so promises to work, he will not work or effect indeed, but only persuade and prevail with us to do it, is, through the pride of unbelief, to defy the truth and grace of God, and with the spoils of them to adorn our own righteousness and power. Now, God has multiplied his promises to this purpose, so that we shall need to call over only some of them in way of instance: Jer. 31:33, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Chap. 32:39, 40, “I will give them One heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever; and I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” Ezek. 36:26, 27, “A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Verse 25, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness will I cleanse you.” Verse 29, “I will also save you from all your uncleannesses.” The whole of our sanctification and holiness is comprised in these promises. To be cleansed from the defilements of sin, whatever they be, to have a heart inclined, disposed, enabled, to fear the Lord always, and to walk in all his ways and statutes accordingly, with an internal habitual conformity of the whole soul unto the law of God, is to be sanctified or to be holy. And all this God promises directly to work in us and to accomplish himself.

~John Owen~





The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 3: Pneumatologia: A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 382–383.

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John Owen: Four Main Functions of the Holy Spirit

25 Jan

1616 -1683. Preeminent English Puritan theologian, pastor, and independent.

The chief and principal ends for which the Holy Spirit is promised and received may be reduced to these four heads:—(1.) Regeneration; (2.) Sanctification; (3.) Consolation; (4.) Edification. There are, indeed, very many distinct operations and distributions of the Spirit, as I have in part already discovered, and shall yet farther go over them in particular instances; but they may be reduced unto these general heads, or at least they will suffice to exemplify the different manner and ends of the receiving of the Spirit. And this is the plain order and method of these things, as the Scripture both plainly and plentifully testifies:—(1.) He is promised and received as to the work of regeneration unto the elect; (2.) As to the work of sanctification unto the regenerate; (3.) As to the work of consolation unto the sanctified; and, (4.) As unto gifts for edification unto professors, according to his sovereign will and pleasure.

~John Owen~





The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 3: Pneumatologia: A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 408.

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John Owen: Sanctification and the Gospel

20 Jan

1616 -1683. Preeminent English Puritan theologian, pastor, and independent.

This whole matter of sanctification and holiness is peculiarly joined with and limited unto the doctrine, truth, and grace of the gospel; for holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing, and realizing of the gospel in our souls.

~John Owen~





The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 3: Pneumatologia: A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 370-371.

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