Category Archives: John Owen

Noteworthy Book – From Heaven He Came and Sought Her (eds. David Gibson & Jonathan Gibson)

Of the so-called five points of Calvinism (often represented with the acronym TULIP), the most frequently rejected one is “limited atonement.” More accurately referred to as “definite atonement” or “particular redemption” the idea is that:

In the death of Jesus Christ, the triune God intended to achieve the redemption of every person given to the Son by the Father in eternity past, and to apply the accomplishment of his sacrifice to each of them by the Spirit. The death of Christ was intended to win the salvation of God’s people alone. (p. 33)

The classic defense and explanation of this doctrine is the tome by the great Puritan John Owen entitled The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, originally written in 1648. In a 1959 reprint of this classic, J.I. Packer wrote a lengthy introduction that came to be a classic in its own right.

Despite the value of these two pieces, a robust explanation and defense of definite atonement was still needed. That has now been remedied with the release of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective. Edited by David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson, this book is now the go-to resource for definite atonement. Over 20 different scholars and pastors contributed to the volume, including Henri Blocher, Sinclair Ferguson, Alec Motyer, John Piper, Tom Schreiner, and Carl Trueman. They even let me contribute a chapter (“For the Glory of the Father and the Salvation of His People: Definite Atonement in the Synoptics and Johannine Literature”).

Crossway has built a nice website for the book here that includes a list of contributors, a brief summary of each chapter, and endorsements from folks such as Lig Duncan, Doug Wilson, D.A. Carson, Michael Horton, David Wells, and John Frame. There is even a Twitter feed (@defatonement) and Facebook page dedicated to the book.

To whet your appetite, here is an introductory video:

May God use this book to deepen people’s love for the one who loved them and gave his life for them (Gal 2:20)!

John Owen on Stirring the Mind to Contemplate the Glory of Christ

In his treatise “Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ,” John Owen offers six “directions” for stirring up the minds of believers to contemplate the glory of Christ (chapter 4):

  1. Let us get it fixed on our souls and minds, that this glory of Christ in the divine constitution of his person is the best, the most noble, useful, beneficial object that we can be conversant about in our thoughts, or cleave unto in our affections.
  2. Our second direction unto the same end is, that we diligently study the Scripture, and the revelations that are made of this glory of Christ therein.
  3. Another direction to this same end is, that having attained the light of the knowledge of the glory of Christ from the Scripture, or by the dispensation of the truth in the preaching of the gospel, we would esteem it our duty frequently to meditate thereon.
  4. Let your occasional thoughts of Christ be many, and multiplied every day.
  5. The next direction is, that all our thoughts concerning Christ should be accompanied with admiration, adoration, and thanksgiving.

There is a beautiful progression in these five directions. Owen begins by holding out the beauty of Christ as the highest end we could possibly pursue (1), and then directs us where to find that vision of Christ—the Scriptures (2). But he is not content to allow such a vision of Christ to remain in our times in the Word (whether through personal reading or hearing the Word preached and taught); he exhorts us to frequently reflect/meditate on the beauty of Christ that we have seen in the Word (3). Such meditation and reflection should not be limited to devoted time in the Word and prayer, but should spill over into our “occasional thoughts” throughout the day (4). He then concludes with the reminder that such reflections should not be merely an intellectual exercise, but should be joined with our affections (5).