John Owen on Apostasy – Part FourPosted: December 19, 2008
III. Apostasy from the Mystery, Truth, or Doctrine of the Gospel- Proneness of persons and churches thereunto- Proved by all sorts of instances
“There are three things in the gospel which are as the essentially constitutive parts of it: — 1. The mystery of its doctrine, which is the object of faith; 2. The holiness of its precepts, which are the matter of our obedience; and, 3. The purity of its institutions of worship, which is the trial of our faith and obedience as to their profession.”
John Owen begins chapter three with defining the gospel in his thesis, as mentioned above, in three parts:
1. The mystery of its doctrine, which is the object of faith;
2. The holiness of its precepts, which are the matter of our obedience; and,
3.The purity of its institutions of worship, which is the trial of our faith and obedience as to their profession.
Owen uses these three statements to build a foundation for the rest of his chapter on explaining what it exactly means for one to fall away from the truth that lies in the gospel. Making this clear, he states from Titus 1:16, “Men may profess the truth, and yet not yield obedience unto it.” Owen is giving the biblical point that the gospel calls the believer to a life that is sold 100% to the gospel and lives for the sake of God’s name and not merely their own desires. Halfway through this chapter he moves into the reasoning of why people become apostates – leaving the truth of the gospel. He shows in profound depth that in Scripture there are four warnings that are given:
1.“Men from among themselves speaking perverse things.”
2.“Grievous wolves entering in, not sparing the flock.”
3.Weariness, and “not enduring of sound doctrine,” but turning the mind unto fables, and from the truth.
4. A gradual, secret, mysterious work of a general apostasy in the whole visible church.
From here Owen expounds upon each section looking at how the Spirit placed these four truths in the history of the church time and time again. Ending this chapter, he shows how the Reformation had brought about a time of serious measure that gave the Scriptures a renewal in the minds of the church. It brought a great love and cherishing of the gospel and living for it, for a lifetime. However, Owen reminds his readers that there are wolves like those before the Reformation who are still today seeking to take believers away from the gospel and lead many into apostasy.
I. Apostasy Leaving the Truth
A. What Makes the Gospel, The Gospel?
B. Four Warnings Given by the Holy Spirit
1. Warning for the Sheep
2. Warning for the Wolves
3. Warning for the One Who is Tired of Hearing Doctrine
4. Warning for the Apostasy in the Church