John Owen: The work of the Trinity in redemption part II

Posted: January 11, 2010 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

The following is taken from John Owen’s classic The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. I have lifted this text from the CCEL library, however if this peaks your interest in the slightest I would recommend purchasing this version because it has a remarkable introduction to Owen and the book written by J.I. Packer. Owen is difficult to read and his theological discourse is on a level that few are accustomed to operating at these days. Nevertheless, he is worth your time and worth the headache you may receive by trying to hack through his stilted latin grammar. I will put up three posts in the following days from Owen. One on the work of the Father in redemption, one on the work of the Son in redemption, and finally one on the work of the Spirit in redemption. I have already posted Owen’s writting on the Father.  You can find it here.  Below is only a portion of Owen’s chapter on the Son’s work in redemption.  Reading it through again I am always surprised how thorough Owen is. 

All other ways being rejected as insufficient, Christ undertaketh the task, “in whom alone the Father was well pleased,” Matt. iii. 17. Hence he professeth that “he came not to do his own will, but the will of him that sent him,” John vi. 38; yea, that it was his meat and drink to do his Father’s will, and to finish his work, chap. iv. 34. The first words that we find recorded of him in the Scripture are to the same purpose, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” Luke ii. 49. And at the close of all he saith, “I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do,” John xvii. 4; calling it everywhere his Father’s work that he did, or his Father’s will which he came to accomplish, with reference to the imposition which we before treated of. Now, this undertaking of the Son may be referred to three heads. The first being a common foundation for both the others, being as it were the means in respect of them as the end, and yet in some sort partaking of the nature of a distinct action, with a goodness in itself in reference to the main end proposed to all three, we shall consider it apart; and that is, —

First, His incarnation, as usually it is called, or his taking of flesh, and pitching his tent amongst us, John i. 14. His “being made of a woman,” Gal. iv. 4, is usually called his ἐνσάρκωσις, incarnation; for this was “the mystery of godliness, that God should be manifested in the flesh,” 1 Tim. iii. 16, thereby assuming not any singular person, but our human nature, into personal union with himself. For, “forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also 175himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil,” Heb. ii. 14. It was the children that he considered, the “children whom the Lord gave him,” verse 13. Their participation in flesh and blood moved him to partake of the same, — not because all the world, all the posterity of Adam, but because the children were in that condition; for their sakes he sanctified himself. Now, this emptying of the Deity, this humbling of himself, this dwelling amongst us, was the sole act of the second person, or the divine nature in the second person, the Father and the Spirit having no concurrence in it but by liking, approbation, and eternal counsel.

Secondly, His oblation, or “offering himself up to God for us without spot, to purge our consciences from dead works,” Heb. ix. 14; “for he loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” Rev. i. 5. “He loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it,” Eph. v. 25, 26; taking the cup of wrath at his Father’s hands due to us, and drinking it off, “but not for himself,” Dan. ix. 26: for, “for our sakes he sanctified himself,” John xvii. 19, that is, to be an offering, an oblation for sin; for “when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly,” Rom. v. 6; — this being that which was typified out by all the institutions, ordinances, and sacrifices of old; which when they were to have an end, then said Christ, “Lo, I come to do thy will.” Now, though the perfecting or consummating of this oblation be set out in the Scripture chiefly in respect of what Christ suffered, and not so much in respect of what he did, because it is chiefly considered as the means used by these three blessed agents for the attaining of a farther end, yet in respect of his own voluntary giving up himself to be so an oblation and a sacrifice, without which it would not have been of any value (for if the will of Christ had not been in it, it could never have purged our sins), therefore, in that regard, I refer it to his actions. He was the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” John i. 29; the Lamb of God, which himself had provided for a sacrifice. And how did this Lamb behave himself in it? with unwillingness and struggling? No; he opened not his mouth: “He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth,” Isa. liii. 7. Whence he saith, “I lay down my life. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again,” John x. 17, 18. He might have been cruciated on the part of God; but his death could not have been an oblation and offering had not his will concurred. “But he loved me,” saith the apostle, “and gave himself for me,” Gal. ii. 20. Now, that alone deserves the name of a gift which is from a free and a willing mind, as Christ’s was when “he loved us, and gave himself for us an offering 176and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour,” Eph. v. 2. He does it cheerfully: “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God,” Heb. x. 9; and so “his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” 1 Pet. ii. 24. Now, this oblation or offering of Christ I would not tie up to any one thing, action, or passion, performance, or suffering; but it compriseth the whole economy and dispensation of God manifested in the flesh and conversing among us, with all those things which he performed in the days of his flesh, when he offered up prayers and supplications, with strong cries and tears, until he had fully “by himself purged our sins, and sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high,” Heb. i. 3, “expecting till his enemies be made his footstool,” chap. x. 13, — all the whole dispensation of his coming and ministering, until he had given his soul a price of redemption for many, Matt. xxvi. 28. But for his entering into the holy of holies, sprinkled with his own blood, and appearing so for us before the majesty of God, by some accounted as the continuation of his oblation, we may refer unto, —

Thirdly, His intercession for all and every one of those for whom he gave himself for an oblation. He did not suffer for them, and then refuse to intercede for them; he did not do the greater, and omit the less. The price of our redemption is more precious in the eyes of God and his Son than that it should, as it were, be cast away on perishing souls, without any care taken of what becomes of them afterward.

read the rest here

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