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 is much we can learn from our forefathers in the faith even those as recent as the Puritans. After reading through the book A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for life, I came to realize just how much the church impacted them and how committed they were to her. Today there are countless people who attend church without being an integral part of her. It is so important that our lives be focused upon the Lord Jesus as the head of the church all the while becoming, not only a servant of Christ, but of His bride. Finding a good church and growing there is vital to the Christian walk. Here is a small quote from the Puritan Theology book:
The Puritans had great respect for the local church and its fellowship. James Ussher (1581-1656), whose writings strongly influenced the Westminster Standards, wrote that God makes His church visible on earth in “particular congregations” to which “all that seek for salvation must gladly join themselves.” Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians abundantly justifies the Puritan conviction that no Christian is called to be a lone ranger for God. We are born again into a church family; we were made for fellowship, and we are to live in fellowship. Believers are to identify with the church and become part of the church, bending their prayers and efforts to advancing the well-being of the church in every way, for the church is the center of the purposes of God. However much the gospel makes an individual aware that he must personally deal with God and that no one can do it for him, the gospel does not turn someone into an individualist who goes off to do his own thing, oblivious to whether the rest of God’s people know or care. [A Puritan Theology, Joel Beeke & Mark Jones, Reformation Heritage Books, Page 850)