Each Saturday, during this series on the atonement of Jesus Christ, I will submit some books for you to consider reading which concern the substitutionary atonement of and by Jesus Christ on behalf of sinners. Some of these books are by authors you may readily recognize. Others you may not. Some of the books are by contemporary authors and pastors. Others are by pastors and theologians from church history. All are beneficial.
The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (eBook) by John Owen. Owen’s book subtitle is as follows: A Treatise of the Redemption and Reconciliation that is in the Blood of Christ, with the Merit thereof, and Satisfaction Wrought Thereby. The free eBook is available at monergism.com.
John Owen (1616-1683) is often lauded as one of the greatest Puritans who ever lived. He is often viewed as being a theological genius, second only to John Calvin. A wonderful biography of John Owen is contained in Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson’s book Meet the Puritans.
Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ , beginning with an introduction by theologian J.I. Packer, contains four major, or book, divisions. Each division contains chapters addressing various aspects concerning the atonement, along with questions and answers.. The book itself, published separately, is part of a larger volume, Vol. 10, entitled The Works of John Owen.
In his introductory essay to Owen’s treatise. Dr. Packer writes, “There is no doubt that Evangelicalism today is in a state of perplexity and unsettlement. In such matters as the practice of evangelism, the teaching of holiness, the building up of local church life, the pastor’s dealing with souls and the exercise of discipline, there is evidence of widespread dissatisfaction with things as they are and of equally widespread uncertainty as to the road ahead. This is a complex phenomenon, to which many factors have contributed; but, if we go to the root of the matter, we shall find that these perplexities are all ultimately due to our having lost our grip on the biblical gospel.”
Dr. Packer continues by saying, “Without realizing it, we have during the past century bartered that gospel for a substitute product which, though it looks similar enough in points of detail, is as a whole a decidedly different thing. Hence our troubles; for the substitute product does not answer the ends for which the authentic gospel has in past days proved itself so mighty. The new gospel conspicuously fails to produce deep reverence, deep repentance, deep humility, a spirit of worship, a concern for the church. Why? We would suggest that the reason lies in its own character and content. It fails to make men God-centered in their thoughts and God-fearing in their hearts because this is not primarily what it is trying to do. One way of stating the difference between it and the old gospel is to say that it is too exclusively concerned to be “helpful” to man—to bring peace, comfort, happiness, satisfaction—and too little concerned to glorify God. The old gospel was “helpful,” too—more so, indeed, than is the new—but (so to speak) incidentally, for its first concern was always to give glory to God. It was always and essentially a proclamation of Divine sovereignty in mercy and judgment, a summons to bow down and worship the mighty Lord on whom man depends for all good, both in nature and in grace. Its center of reference was unambiguously God. But in the new gospel the center of reference is man. This is just to say that the old gospel was religious in a way that the new gospel is not. Whereas the chief aim of the old was to teach men to worship God, the concern of the new seems limited to making them feel better. The subject of the old gospel was God and His ways with men; the subject of the new is man and the help God gives him. There is a world of difference. The whole perspective and emphasis of gospel preaching has changed.”
Packer concludes: “To recover the old, authentic, biblical gospel, and to bring our preaching and practice back into line with it, is perhaps our most pressing present need. And it is at this point that Owen’s treatise on redemption can give us help.”
I encourage you to take up and read.
May God’s truth and grace reside here.
Soli deo Gloria!