Posts Tagged ‘John Owen’

“Consider that it is the greatest desire of God the Father that you should have loving fellowship with him. His greatest desire is that you should receive him into your souls as one full of love, tenderness and kindness to you. Flesh and blood is apt to think hard thoughts of God, to think that he is always angry and incapable of being pleased with his sinful creatures, that it is not for them to draw near to him, and that there is nothing in the world more to be desired than never to come into his presence. ‘Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?’ say the sinners in Zion. ‘I knew that you were a hard man’, said the evil servant in the gospel.

Now, there is nothing more grievous to the Lord, nothing that serves the purposes of Satan more than such thoughts as these. Satan rejoices when he can fill your hearts with such hard thoughts of God. Satan’s purpose from the beginning was to fill mankind with lies about God. The first blood that murderer shed was by this means. He led our first parents into hard thoughts about God. ‘Has God said so? Has he threatened you with death? He knows well enough that if you eat of this fruit, it will be much better for you.’ With these lies he succeeded in overthrowing all mankind at once. And remembering this great victory, he readily uses the same method with us.

Now it is exceedingly grievous to the Spirit of God to be so slandered in the hearts of those whom he dearly loves. How he remonstrates with his people. ‘What iniquity have you seen in me?’, he asks. ‘Have I been a wilderness to you, or a land of darkness?’. But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me’. And see the Lord’s reply: ‘Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you’ (Isa. 49:14-16).

The Father knows that his people can bring no greater hurt to his loving heart than to have such hard thoughts of him. He knows full well what fruits this bitter root is likely to bear. He knows what alienations of heart, what drawing back, what unbelief this bitter root will bring forth. And worst of all, he knows how it leads us to avoid walking with him. How unwilling is  a child to come into the presence of an angry father! Consider, then, that receiving the Father as one who loves us gives him the honour he desires and is exceedingly pleasing to him. Scripture sets out his love in a noteworthy way. ‘He commends his love towards us’ (Rom 5.8). ‘Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us’ (1 John 3.1). Why, then, this foolishness? Why are we afraid to have good thoughts of God? Is it too hard to think of God as good, gracious, tender, loving and kind? I speak of saints. How easy we find it to think of God as hard, austere, severe, unable to be pleased and fierce, which are the very worst characteristics of men and therefore the most hated by God (Rom 1.31; 2 Tim 3.3). How easily Satan deceives us! Was it not his purpose from the beginning to inject such thoughts of God into our hearts? Assure yourself, then, that there is nothing more acceptable to the Father than for us to keep our hearts filled with him as the eternal source of all that rich grace which flows out to sinners in the blood of Jesus.

Many saints have no greater burden in their lives than that their hearts to not constantly delight and rejoice in God. There is still in them a resistance to walking close with God. Why is this? Is it not because they are not skilful and so neglect having loving fellowship with the Father? But the more we see of God’s love, so much more shall we delight in him. All that we learn of God will only frighten us away from him if we do not see him as loving and merciful to us. But if your heart is taken up with the Father’s love as the chief property of his nature, it cannot help but choose to be overpowered, conquered and embraced by him. This, if anything, will arouse our desire to make our eternal home with God. If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will?

So do this: set your thoughts on the eternal love of the Father and see if your heart is not aroused to delight in him. Sit down for a while at this delightful spring of living water and you will soon find its streams sweet and delightful. You who used to run from God, will not now be able, even for a second, to keep at any distance from him.”

John Owen ‘Communion with God.’ Pages 31-33.
Abridged and made easy to read by R.J.K. Law. Banner of Truth Trust 1991, 2008.


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Here is something I was reading today from John Owen:

The Father himself loves us. In John 16:26, 27, Jesus said, ‘I do not say that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came foth from God.’

Bot doesn’t Jesus contradict himself? Has he not plainly said, ‘I will pray the Father for you’ (John 14:16)?

Jesus had spoken many gracious words to his disciples. He had given them many comforting and faithful promises. He had revealed heavenly truths to them. So they were fully convinced of his great love for them and that he would continue to care for them. They knew that he would not forget them when he had gone from them back into heaven. But now all their thoughts were on the Father. How would he accept them? How would he treat them?

Jesus, in effect, says, ‘Don’t worry about that. I do not have to pray that the Father may love you, for this is his special attitude towards you. He himself loves you. It is true indeed that I will pray the Father to send you the Spirit, the Comforter. But as for that free, eternal love, there is no need for me to pray for that, because above all things the Father loves you. Be fully assured in your hearts that the Father loves you . Have fellowship with the Father in his love. Have no fears or doubts about his love for you. The greatest sorrow and burden you can lay on the Father, the greatest unkindness you can do to him is not to believe that he loves you.’

– John Owen, Communion with God.

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As an addendum to my previous post “Salvation by Grace, Judgment by Works“, here are some excerpts I found on the web on the subject which I think are quite helpful.

John L. Girardeau, Southern Presbyterian minster (1825-1898):

“Salvation — the salvation of Paul and the penitent thief — is entirely of grace, the rewards of the heavenly state are all purchased by the merit of Christ alone; but the proportion in which the rewards will be administered to individuals will be determined by fatherly justice in accordance with the fidelity of the saints on earth.

In this paternal rule over God’s own house there is no element of retribution. The government is wholly disciplinary. Punishment gives way to chastisement. The Ruler and Judge is both Father and Saviour.

It is needless to say that this sort of probation is not legal in the sense that it is in order to justification. Justification is presupposed. Nor is it in order to salvation. It is in order to the degree in which glory shall be experienced.”

(Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism, pp. 464-65)

John Murray:

“While it makes void the gospel to introduce works in connection with justification, nevertheless works done in faith, from the motive of love to God, in obedience to the revealed will of God and to the end of his glory are intrinsically good and acceptable to God. As such they will be the criterion of reward in the life to come. This is apparent from such passages as Matthew 10:41; 1 Corinthians 3:8-9, 11-15; 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:7.

We must maintain therefore, justification complete and irrevocable by grace through faith and apart from works, and at the same time, future reward according to works. In reference to these two doctrines it is important to observe the following:

  1. This future reward is not justification and contributes nothing to that which constitutes justification.
  2. This future reward is not salvation. Salvation is by grace and it is not as a reward for works that we are saved.
  3. The reward has reference to the station a person is to occupy in glory and does not have reference to the gift of glory itself. While the reward is of grace yet the standard or criterion of judgment by which the degree of reward is to be determined is good works.
  4. This reward is not administered because good works earn or merit reward, but because God is graciously pleased to reward them.

(Collected Writings, vol. II, p. 221)

John Owen:

“There is that in the Scripture assigned unto our first justification, if they will needs call it so, as leaves no room for their second feigned justification; for the sole foundation and pretence of this distinction is the denial of those things to belong unto our justification by the blood of Christ which the Scripture expressly assigns unto it. Let us take out some instances of what belongs unto the first, and we shall quickly see how little it is, yea, that there is nothing left for the pretended second justification. For,

  1. Therein do we receive the complete ‘pardon and forgiveness of our sins,’ Rom. 4:6, 7; Eph. 1:7; 4:32; Acts 26:18.
  2. Thereby are we ‘made righteous,’ Rom. 5:19; 10:4;
  3. Are freed from condemnation, judgment, and death, John 3:16, 19; 5:25; Rom. 8:1;
  4. Have peace with him, and access into the favour wherein we stand by grace,
  5. With the advantages and consolations that depend thereon in a sense of his love, Rom. 5:1-5. And,
  6. We have adoption therewithal, and all its privileges, John 1:12; and, in particular,
  7. A right and title unto the whole inheritance of glory, Acts 26:18; Rom. 8:17. And,
  8. Hereon eternal life doth follow, Rom. 8:30; 6:23 …

And if there be anything now left for their second justification to do, as such, let them take it as their own; these things are all of them ours, or do belong unto that one justification which we do assert. Wherefore it is evident, that either the first justification overthrows the second, rendering it needless; or the second destroys the first, by taking away what essentially belongs unto it:  we must therefore part with the one or the other, for consistent they are not.”

(Works, vol. V, pp. 142-43)

Thomas Boston:

“On the General Judgment:

The book of the law shall be opened. This book is the standard and rule, by which is known what is right and what is wrong; as also, what sentence is to be passed accordingly on those who are under it …

But what seems principally pointed at by the opening of this book, is the opening of that part of it which determines the reward of men’s works. Now the law promises life, upon perfect obedience:  but none can be found on the right hand, or on the left, who will pretend to that, when once the book of conscience is opened. It threatens death upon disobedience, and will effectually bring it upon all under its dominion. And this part of the book of the law, determining the reward of men’s works, is opened, only to show what must be the portion of the ungodly, and that there may be read their sentence before it is pronounced. But it is not opened for the sentence of the saints; for no sentence absolving a sinner could ever be drawn out of it.

The law promises life, not as it is a rule of actions, but as a covenant of works; therefore innocent man could not have demanded life upon his obedience, till the law was reduced into the form of a covenant, as was shown before. But the saints, having been, in this life, brought under a new covenant, namely, the covenant of grace, were dead to the law as a covenant of works, and it was dead to them. Wherefore, as they shall not now have any fear of death from it, so they can have no hope of life from it, since ‘they are not under the law, but under grace’ (Rom. 6:14).

But, for their sentence, ‘another book is opened’ … ‘Another book’ shall be ‘opened, which is the book of life’ (Rev. 20:12). In this the names of the elect are written, as Christ said to His disciples (Luke 10:20), ‘Your names are written in heaven.’ This book contains God’s gracious and unchangeable purpose, to bring all the elect to eternal life; and that, in order thereto, they be redeemed by the blood of His Son, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and raised up by Him at the last day without sin. It is now lodged in the Mediator’s hand …

Then shall the Judge pronounce this blessed sentence on the saints, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ (Matt. 25:34) … This sentence is passed on the saints, ‘according to their works’ (Rev. 20:12); but not for their works, nor for their faith, as if eternal life were merited by them …

They were redeemed by the blood of Christ, and clothed with His spotless righteousness, which is the proper cause of the sentence …

And the saints will so far be judged according to such works, that the degrees of glory amongst them shall be according to these works. For it is an eternal truth, ‘He that soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly’ (2 Cor. 9:6). Thus shall the good works of the godly have a glorious, but a gratuitous reward; a reward of grace, not of debt; which will fill them with wonder at the riches of free grace, and at the Lord’s condescending to take any notice, especially such public notice, of their poor worthless works.”

(Human Nature in Its Fourfold State, pp. 413-18)

I found these excerpts here on a blog called “Reformation Faith Today“.

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