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John Owen

May 1st, 2009

It is widely agreed that John Owen (1616-83) was the greatest theologian of the Puritan movement.owen_portrait Like many others, I find great benefit in his writings. There is no other writer whose thinking touches both the depth of sin and the heights of grace. And his concerns were always pastoral. He addressed the fundamental questions that Christians face in every age: How can I live the Christian life? How can I deal with the reality of sin and temptation? How can I honour Christ in my life?

In his “Communion with God” he writes:

“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.”

Owen was devastating with regard to sin. He is almost frightening in the way he exposes the nature, power and deceitfulness of sin in the human heart. But he was more concerned that we keep before us the truth of the gospel, namely, the love of God revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ. That’s why, as Jerry Bridges keeps telling us, we should not put the gospel “on the shelf” of our lives, but review it daily, and, in the joy that it brings, live for Christ. It is only the gospel that provides the motivation that we need to follow Christ.

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