John Owen Kindle Sale

All five volumes of John Owen’s writings published by Christian Focus Publications is currently on sale for Amazon Kindle. Click the link or image below to be redirected…

 

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A Reader’s Review of The Gospel Call and True Conversion

Approximately eight years ago, I was travelling from Atlanta to Chattanooga to do some street evangelism with some friends from church. I had never been involved with evangelism (and quite frankly, I am not fully convinced that I was truly converted at this time), but I thought it would be a good opportunity to serve the church and assist my friends in their ministry. On the way to the church camp in North Georgia that we were partnering with, we listened to a conference message by Paul Washer that has been dubbed “Shocking Youth Message”. I don’t remember the specific details of the car ride, but I do recall experiencing an acute sense of my own depravity and conviction of sin. This was my introduction to the ministry of Paul Washer and since then I have listened to many of his sermons and even read a book or two that he wrote.

Cross Focused Reviews has once again provided me with the opportunity to review a book by one of my favorite authors/preachers… “The Gospel Call & True Conversion” by Paul Washer.

This particular book is the second in the “Recovering the Gospel” series (the first being “The Gospel’s Power and Message”) and it aims to do just that. The gospel has been assumed, neglected, and even forgotten in our time and the purpose of this series is to restore a biblical understanding of the good news and “recover” it from contemporary mutations and distortions. Here is the series description:

“Although the Recovering the Gospel Series does not represent an entirely systematic presentation of the gospel, it does address most of the essential elements, especially those that are most neglected in contemporary Christianity. It is the hope of the author that these words might be a guide to help you rediscover the gospel in all its beauty, scandal, and saving power. It is his prayer that such a rediscovery might transform your life, strengthen your proclamation, and bring the greatest glory to God.”

The book has three parts: “The Gospel Call”, “New Hearts and the Nature of True Conversion”, and “New People and the Nature of True Conversion”. These units are comprised of a selection of Washer’s sermons.

In the first section, the author describes the biblical teaching on the “double-sided coin” of conversion… repentance and faith. He properly explains repentance as a “change of mind” (pp. 5–8), points out that it involves “sorrow for sin” (pp. 8–10) and a “personal acknowledgment and confession of sin” (pp. 10–11) as well as a “turning away from sin” (pp. 11–13), the “renunciation of works” (pp. 13–16), and “turning to God in obedient submission” (pp. 16–18). Biblical repentance also includes a life marked by “practical obedience” (pp. 18–19), and a “continuing and deepening work of repentance” (pp. 19–21). Next, Washer explains what true saving faith is. He explains that it is essentially trusting in the finished work of Christ alone, by the grace of God alone (to exclude boasting), to the glory of God alone. The author takes to task the modern evangelical traditions of “the sinner’s prayer” and “making a decision for Christ” (ch. 3–4) and finishes the unit by deconstructing a common misinterpretation of Revelation 3:20 (ch. 5).

Washer dedicates the second part to the biblical doctrine of regeneration. He explains the motive (the love of God) and end (the glory of God) in salvation (ch. 6), shows that God is both the author, sustainer, and perfecter of saving faith (ch. 7), and that sanctification (separation and cleansing) is a necessary result of justification (the legal declaration of righteousness by God upon a sinner through faith in Jesus) for those who have been adopted by the heavenly Father (ch. 8). If there is one thing about this book that I am most grateful for… it is this section. Regeneration (i.e. the new birth… being “born again”) is one of the most distorted elements of salvation that is in dire need of being “recovered”. Building upon the previous unit where he refutes the unbiblical teaching of “decisionism” (in which a person is “saved” by making a “decision” for Christ), he explains the Scriptural doctrine of divine monergism. The Bible clearly teaches that because of his sinful nature, man is separated from God and his will is in bondage to sin. Because of this depravity and enmity towards God, man is not able or willing to come to God on His terms and will not seek Him or submit to His will. Salvation is of the Lord, and the only way a sinner comes to salvation by faith in Christ is by the grace of God alone… in drawing them by His Spirit and giving them new life. One cannot seek God or believe in Christ for salvation unless they have been “born from above” by the Spirit (ch. 9–10).

Part three is about the new covenant community of God. The author devotes this section to helping the reader understand some differences between the old covenant and the new covenant. He writes:

“In the old covenant, God called a physical nation descended from Abraham to be His people, but within that great multitude of individuals, only a small number of them were truly regenerate and believing. The rest were unregenerate and carnal, and are now suffering eternal perdition. In the new covenant, God is calling forth a spiritual nation made up of Jews and Gentiles, and all of them are regenerate and believing. There is not a godly remnant in the true church; that true church is the godly remnant.” (p. 121)

Washer continues by describing the new covenant prophecies of the Old Testament and their fulfillment in Jesus Christ:

“Through the atoning work of Christ and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, God has made for Himself a new people. He has taken out their heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of living flesh. He has recreated them to be a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession; a people who will proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (p. 129)

The author seeks to correct unbiblical notions of ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church) and dispels contemporary accusations against the body of Christ (ch. 12), he addresses the importance of the knowledge of God in the revelation of Jesus (ch. 13), and explains division and unity within the visible church (ch. 14). Washer closes out the book by teaching about God’s covenant faithfulness and the unrelenting lovingkindness He has towards His covenant people (ch. 15)… the covenant He has with the saints is everlasting and as a perfectly faithful God, His promises to them will and must come to pass. Believers stand on the covenant promises of our Lord and trust that all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose… He has begun a good work in each one of us, and He will continue to work effectually in us until the return of Christ when we will be made like Him (ch. 16).

Overall, I thought this was a pretty good book. Since it is a compilation of sermons, there are times when the book does not necessarily flow from one thought to the next, but the content is great. I would have liked to see an index with references, but nonetheless, this book is saturated with Scripture throughout and along with presenting sound biblical doctrine, it accurately defends orthodox Christianity while dismissing common contemporary misconceptions and false teachings.

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Effective December 1, 2009, Federal Trade Commission guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information clearly on their blog when posting a review of the product… that being said: I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK.

The Everlasting Righteousness of Christ

THE EVERLASTING RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST

“The Lord Jesus Christ brought in this righteousness, as he wrought it out for sinners upon the cross… A new and a living way was to be opened to the Holy of Holies, for poor sinners, by the blood of Christ. But I do not think that the expression, brought in, is to be limited to this sense, though I suppose it is the primary one; it implies not only Christ’s bringing it into the world, as promulgating, and having it written in the word of God, and as having wrought it out for sinners in his life, and on the cross… All that Christ hath done, all that Christ hat suffered, all Christ’s active obedience, all Christ’s passive obedience, will do us no good, unless by the Spirit of God, it is brought into our souls. As one expresses it, ‘An unapplied Christ is no Christ at all.’ To hear of a Christ dying for sinners, will only increase your damnation, will only sink you deeper into hell, unless we have ground to say, by a work of grace wrought in our hearts, that the Lord Jesus hath brought this home to us.” (George Whitefield)

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The Messiahship

THE MESSIAHSHIP

“The sonship to which our Lord traces back His Messianic commission is not something that we have in common with Him, not a purely ethico-religious relation to God, not something pertaining to His temporal human existence—but something unique, reaching back into His preexistent, premundane life; in a word it is nothing less than His Deity, or, strictly speaking, the relation which in His divine nature He sustains to the Father. It is that in virtue of which He can affirm that He alone knows God and knows God after the same fashion as God knows Him, with a knowledge that is the natural function of His sonship and therefore coeval with His sonship, whence also it is not said that the Son has learned to know the Father, but that He knows the Father.” (Geerhardus Vos)

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The Fullness of Christ in the Gospel

THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST IN THE GOSPEL

“The gospel is that the sovereign Lord who directs and protects, is also the great Prophet who teaches and enlightens, and also the High Priest whose blood de-sins and whose righteousness wraps us about safe and sound for time and eternity. This one Saviour is freely offered to all. He is one God and Surety and by Himself He has fulfilled all those three offices for every one of His people… This complete Christ of the three offices is for you. I am saying that this is our message in the glory of the gospel. God draws near and He makes men an offer. God visits and makes us a proposition. God offers forgiveness. He promises more. He offers us Himself.” (Geoff Thomas)

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The Resurrection and the Life

THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE

“Christ is the resurrection of the declarative glory of God in this lower world… God’s declarative glory was marred by man’s sin: His essential glory cannot be marred by men nor devils, let them do their utmost; but, I say, His declarative glory was marred. When man sinned, he threw off God as his Sovereign… He swore allegiance to hell, in opposition to God, the glory of His justice and holiness, and all His perfections, particularly His truth. All these perfections of God were sullied and stained; there was a blot cast upon them, as far as man was able. Well, but Christ came to wipe away the dust that was cast upon them by man; and, accordingly, He raises them to a greater splendor than if man had not sinned.” (Ebenezer Erskine)

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The Sufficiency of Christ Alone

THE SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST ALONE

“You come to Christ, you receive the forgiveness of sins. You come to Christ, you receive a new nature, a new disposition, a new heart that loves righteousness. You come to Christ and you die to the past and you rise to new life. You come to Christ and you’re delivered from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son. You come to Christ and you literally come to the truth that transcends, the truth you’ll never find anywhere except in the Word of God and even this truth you’ll never understand until the Spirit of God takes up residence and becomes your teacher, and then you know the deep things of God. It’s all in Christ. All truth, all wisdom, all knowledge, all understanding, all peace, all joy, all value, all fulfillment, all satisfaction, all purpose, all deliverance, all strength, all comfort, and all eternal hope is in Christ. To have Him is to have everything. Not to have Him is to have nothing.” (John MacArthur)

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Federal Union with Christ

FEDERAL UNION WITH CHRIST

“Adam had been established by God as a representative or federal head of the human race. He was to stand for us so that, if he continued in righteousness, we would also be considered as having continued in righteousness in him. But if he fell by transgressing God’s command, we would be considered as having sinned in him-and his judgment, death, would pass to us. Adam did sin, and that is what happened. Death passed upon the race. It is proof that God considered us to have been in Adam and to have fallen by his transgression.

By contrast, Jesus stood firm, not merely demonstrating a practical and perfect righteousness in His own life but also dying for those who would be united to Him by faith. Thus, those judged sinners because of Adam’s sin are now judged righteous because of Christ’s righteousness. Because He is justified, we are justified. Because He is raised, we are raised. Because He is exalted to heaven, we too are exalted to heaven. As Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory, so also are we seated.” (James Montgomery Boice)

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Grace Alone: An Evangelical Problem?

GRACE ALONE: AN EVANGELICAL PROBLEM?

“If the Scriptures are clear that men and women are sinful by nature and cannot do anything to save themselves or even prepare themselves to be saved, the Scriptures are equally clear that it is God who saves by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone. This means that it is God who acts first, upon the sinner, while the sinner is dead in sin. For as we have seen, the sinner is enslaved to the sinful nature and its passions, and will not come to God, as Paul declares. But the good news is that while sinners do not seek God, God seeks sinners. And this is what we mean by the phrase, grace alone.” (Kim Riddlebarger)

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Solus Christus

THE ALL-SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST

“Before God’s judgment seat… [we] stand before God with no righteousness of our own whatsoever—we have only Christ. Indeed we have died, and Christ lives in us, so that we too will live in eternity with him. As such, our justification rests in Christ alone—who died the death we should have died and lived the life we needed to live. Nothing is left over for us to complete; Christ has done it all. He is our all-sufficient Savior.” (S.M. Baugh)

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