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Some thoughts on Tom Wells on John Owen on the Sabbath

Copyright © 2016 Richard C. Barcellos. All rights reserved.[1]

One issue I did not interact with in the RBTR articles that I think needs mention at this point concerns John Owen on the Sabbath. In subsequent discussion Owen will be consulted on this issue. Wells discusses Owen in one of the later chapters of his book. Attempting to prove that there is controversy on the issue of the Sabbath in the churches due to leaning too heavily on creeds, Wells says of Owen:

I fear that John Owen himself illustrates this. I mentioned that I estimate Owen’s defense of the Sabbath runs to as much as 90,000 words. . . . Surely in doing this Owen discussed the relevant biblical material very thoroughly indeed!

But sadly the evidence shows otherwise. And the evidence is not debatable. . . .

What does Owen say on Galatians 4:10-11? Nothing. According to the index to the seven volumes of the commentary on Hebrews which includes the essay on the Sabbath, Owen makes no significant reference to this major Sabbath passage whatever, in the commentary proper or in the essay.

What does Owen say about Romans 14:5-6, the passage in which Paul shows his conviction that days are a matter of indifference? Surely one cannot offer a New Covenant Sabbath day without referring to each of these two passages—but Owen does it.

And what of Colossians 2:16? Here Owen is not completely silent. In his essay on the Sabbath he cites this verse in passing at least twice.[2] In addition he has a fuller discussion worthy of study and comment.[3]

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

A Summary of Why Baptists Appeal to Owen

By Brandon Adams

In published works (see here, here, here, and here), baptists have pointed out that Owen’s covenant theology, as articulated in his commentary on Hebrews, departs from Westminster Federalism and aligns very closely with 1689 Federalism.

However, as this information has begun to reach wider audiences and become general knowledge, many people have not taken the time to understand the claims. For example, I continue to see people post links to Owen’s tract on infant baptism and to Lee Gatiss’ articles at Ref21 (the ones he wrote against Denault’s book without bothering to read Denault’s book), thinking that this addresses the claim. None of these people demonstrate they understand why baptists reference Owen, yet they are content to dismiss any such appeal as unfounded.

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 18:2

I am disappointed by this, not simply because I want to win an argument, but because I genuinely value the opportunity to discuss with people I disagree with. Iron sharpens iron. But a discussion requires both parties to listen when the other speaks. Please take the time to listen to this summary. If you are then interested in discussing the claim, please take the time to read the published works. If you don’t have time, please don’t bother forming an opinion on the matter.

 

 

 
Read the entire article here.

Piper vs Owen on Romans 2:6-7, 13

November 17, 2015 Leave a comment

By Brandon Adams

A short demonstration on the importance of covenant theology:
John Piper denies a works principle anywhere in Scripture, including the Covenant of Works.

Has God ever commanded anyone to obey with a view to earning or meriting life? Would God command a person to do a thing that he uniformly condemns as arrogant?

In Romans 11:35-36, Paul describes why earning from God is arrogant and impossible. He says, ‘Who has first given to [God] that it might be paid back to him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” The thought that anyone could give anything to God with a view to being paid back with merit or wages is presumptuous and impossible, because all things (including obedience) are from God in the first place. You can’t earn from God by giving him what is already his…

It is true that God commanded Adam to obey him, and it is also true that failure to obey would result in death (Genesis 2:16-17): “In the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (verse 17). But the question is this: What kind of obedience is required for the inheritance of life – the obedience of earning or the obedience of trusting? The Bible presents two very different kinds of effort to keep God’s commandments. One way is legalistic; it depends on our own strength and aims to earn life. The other way we might call evangelical; it depends on God’s enabling power and aims to obtain life by faith in his promises, which is shown in the freedom of obedience…

Adam had to walk in obedience to his Creator in order to inherit life, but the obedience required of him was the obedience that comes from faith. God did not command legalism, arrogance, and suicide… There was no hint that Adam was to earn or deserve. The atmosphere was one of testing faith in unmerited favor, not testing willingness to earn or merit. The command of God was for the obedience that comes from faith…

What then of the ‘second Adam,’ Jesus Christ, who fulfilled the obedience that Adam forsook (1 Cor 15:45; Rom 5:14-20)?… He fulfilled the Law perfectly in the way that the Law was meant to be fulfilled from the beginning, not by works, but by faith (Rom 9:32)…

We are called to walk the way Jesus walked and the way Adam was commanded to walk. Adam failed because he did not trust the grace of God to pursue him with goodness and mercy all his days (Psalm 23:6).

A Godward Life, p. 177

Piper is correct that man can never earn anything from God. But that is why our confession recognizes that God voluntarily condescended to Adam and offered him a reward for his labor that he did not deserve (LBCF 7.1). In so doing, he made Adam a wage earner. Piper rejects this. And because he rejects this, he does not believe there is any objective contrast between the law and faith.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Those who covet originality, and have a penchant for bringing out something new or startling, without regard to the analogy of faith, are sure to err

Arthur PinkTo say that all our interpretations must conform strictly to the Analogy of Faith may sound very simple and obvious, yet it is surprising to find how many not only unskilled but experienced men depart therefrom. Of course, those who covet “originality,” and have a penchant for bringing out something new or startling (especially from obscure passages) without regard to this basic principle, are sure to err. But as J. Owen observed, “Whilst we sincerely attend unto this rule, we are in no danger of sinfully corrupting the Word of God, although we shall not arrive unto its proper meaning in every place.” For example, when we learn that “God is a spirit” (John 4:24), incorporeal and invisible, that prevents us from misunderstanding those passages where eyes and ears, hands and feet are ascribed to Him; and when we are informed that with Him there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17), we know that when He is said to “repent” He speaks after the manner of men. Likewise, when Psalm 19:11, and other verses make promise of the saints being rewarded for their gracious tempers and good works, other passages show that such recompense is not because of merit, but is bestowed by Divine grace.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

John Owen and New Covenant Theology

February 24, 2015 1 comment

by Richard C. Barcellos

John Owen was a giant in the theological world of seventeenth century England. He is known today as quite possibly the greatest English theologian ever. His learning was deep and his writings thorough and profound. He has left the Christian Church with a legacy few have equaled in volume, fewer yet in content. In saying this of Owen, however, it must also be recognized that some things he said are difficult to understand. Some statements may even appear to contradict other statements if he is not followed carefully and understood in light of his comprehensive thought and the Reformation and Post-Reformation Protestant Scholastic world in which he wrote.

If one reads some of the difficult sections of Owen’s writings, either without understanding his comprehensive thought and in light of the theological world in which he wrote, or in a superficial manner, some statements can easily be taken to mean things they do not. When this is done, the result is that authors are misunderstood and sometimes, subsequent theological movements are aligned with major historical figures without substantial and objective warrant. Two such instances of this involve John Owen and New Covenant Theology (NCT).

 

 

 

Read the entire article here. For Pdf of article go here.

A humble mind is required in order to interpret scripture

September 30, 2014 3 comments

Arthur PinkThird, a humble mind.

“This is an eternal and unalterable law of God’s appointment, that whoever will learn His mind and will, as revealed in Scripture, must be humble and lowly, renouncing all trust and confidence in themselves. The knowledge of a proud man is the throne of Satan in his mind. To suppose that persons under the predominancy of pride, self-conceit and self-confidence can understand the mind of God in a due manner is to renounce the Scripture, or innumerable positive testimonies to the contrary” (Owen).

The Lord Jesus declared that heavenly mysteries are hid from the wise and prudent, but revealed unto babes (Matthew 11:25). Those who assume an attitude of competency, and are wise in their own esteem, remain spiritually ignorant and unenlightened. Whatever knowledge men may acquire by their natural abilities and industry is nothing unto the glory of God, nor to the eternal gain of their souls, for the Spirit refuses to instruct the haughty. “God resisteth the proud” (James 4:6)— “He draws up against him, He prepares Himself, as it were, with His whole force to oppose his progress. A most formidable expression! If God only leaves us unto ourselves, we are all ignorance and darkness; so what must be the dreadful case of those against whom He appears in arms?” (John Newton). But, blessed be His name, He “giveth grace unto the humble”—those of a childlike disposition.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

For Whom Did Christ Die?

August 25, 2014 1 comment

The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:

1. All the sins of all men.
2. All the sins of some men, or
3. Some of the sins of all men.

In which case it may be said:

1. That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.
2. That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth.
3. But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

You answer, “Because of unbelief.”

I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!”

John Owen-For Whom Did Christ Die?