I will say from the offset that this is not a book review since it will be far too short to do this book justice. I had the privilege over the holidays to read through one of the books in the Theologians on the Christian Life. While I have acquired a few of these volumes, I took the opportunity to read through Owen on the Christian life written by Matthew Barrett & Michael Haykin. The book was a great introduction to the theology of John Owen and Owen’s application of his theology to the Christian walk. Owen was a giant of the faith and Spurgeon was correct to call him “the prince of divines”. The book introduces the reader to Owen’s views on the Scriptures, Communion with God, his focus upon the glory of Jesus Christ, the atonement, how salvation is totally of the Lord, the doctrine of justification by faith alone, the power of the Holy Spirit in the mortification of sin and prayer and finally Owen’s view of the nature of the church. What was remarkable about John Owen was that he could take the most deep theology and live it out! In our day, we have too many people who attempt to live a good life with little theology and too many theologians who live very little the scriptural teachings. Owen had a pastor’s heart and a care for the right teaching of scripture that I have seen in very few. I believe if more men followed the example of John Owen that the church would be in a far better state than it is today especially in North America.
While I would recommend reading Owen on the Christian Life, I would also suggest reading some of Owen’s own works. I thought I would list a few here that might be worthwhile taking the time to examine. Here’s where to start…
There can be no question that J.I. Packer has influenced many individuals through his preaching and especially his writings. I had mentioned in my last post that his book Knowing God is a classic and in my opinion should be mandatory reading for any Christian. It is without question one of those books that uplift our hearts to God.
While Knowing God is probably the best known book written by Mr. Packer, another writing that has been quite influential to many is his introductory essay to the book “The Death of Deaths” by John Owen. It is a short essay that was written as a sort of introduction to frame the theology expounded in Owen’s book especially for a new reader. Owen’s book is a difficult read but Packer’s essay truly gives us enough background in order to make the reading of the book a little easier. I must say that the introductory essay was worth the book itself. Please feel free to click on the link above and enjoy this wonderful dissertation.
“When a man hath fixed his imagination to such an apprehension of grace and mercy, as to be able without bitterness to swallow and digest daily sins, that man is at the very brink of turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Neither is there are greater evidence in the world of a false and rotten heart, than to drive such a trade. To use, for the countenancing of sin, the blood of Christ, which is given to cleanse us (1 John 1:7; Titus 2:14); the exaltation of Christ, which is to give us repentance (Acts 5:31); the doctrine of grace, which teaches us to deny all ungodliness (Titus 2:11,12); is a rebellion, that, in the issue, will break the bones.”
– John Owen (The Mortification of Sin)