Gospel Evidences of Saving Faith by John Owen

Gospel Evidences of Saving Faith
Joseph J. Adrian

John Owen, a 17th-century Puritan minister, is considered by many to be among the greatest theologians in the history of the Church. In this work on faith, Owen gives us four things that distinguish "Saving Faith" from empty faith. The first is embracing Christ as God's only appointed way of salvation. Many verses in God's Holy Word state this plainly——John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father, but by me." One reason this is so important is that "The way by which sinners may be saved is the fundamental issue that distinguishes religions one from another." One question raised by many religions is "What is the way of acceptance with God?" This, no doubt, is one of the most important questions that anyone can grapple with.

What is the difference between those who embrace "The Gospel of God" and the multitude who think it foolishness and reject God's Gospel? Owen contends it is God who makes the difference by His "Eternal Sovereign Grace." Unbelief blinds men's hearts to the truth of the Gospel and only the power of God can open blind eyes and enable men to receive the truth. Pastor Owen teaches that saving faith ". . . most glorifies God, . . . most satisfies our souls and . . . most honors God's Law."

The second evidence of saving faith, according to the Puritan pastor-theologian, is "habitually approving of the holiness (that is made manifest by obedience) that God requires." Believers are renewed in the inward man and now desire to do God's will. Believers desire to be holy as God is holy, and God's Word reveals that it is God's desire that they be holy. What is the nature of this holiness that God requires of His People? "The holiness and obedience which God requires are not in particular duties, taken alone and by themselves, but the entire agreement of our natures and actions with the will of God." How is this desire and pursuit of holiness now possible for those who were by nature children of wrath? God does His sanctifying work in His People by His Spirit, He transforms their souls by His almighty power. Believers are "The workmanship of God created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Ephesians 2:10).

I think Owen wrote this work on "Saving Faith" to help those who profess to be in Christ to make their calling and election sure. It is an all-time classic. May our Sovereign Lord be pleased to use it to help many to be rooted and grounded in "The faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).