I have read bits and pieces of John Owen over the years, but I’ve decided to systematically read through his Mortification of Sin in Believers and while I was grabbing an online version, I ran across something that really piqued my interest about marking up books. Now, lest you think I don’t do this already, please be assured that I do mark up not only my Bible, but many of the books I read. I just thought it was rather odd that I did this, only to find out I may not be all that “odd,” well, in that sense anyway. But I want to share with you an excellent article by Demian Farnworth called How to Absorb a Book into Your Bloodstream. It is certainly worth your time to read this little article, and then put it into practice if you do not already have a system in place.
I also hope to systematically share some of my thoughts on Owen’s work over the next few months here on the blog, so, if you want to follow along, please consider it. Mortification of sin is an often overlooked area of preaching and teaching in churches today and I must admit, I have heard very few sermons on this subject. So I hope to become more familiar not only with Owen, but also better acquainted with the sinfulness of my heart and mortifying the sin that dwells within.
I’ve been reading Steve Lawson’s Foundations of Grace and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand God’s grace in a Biblical, thorough, and exegetical way. Lawson starts in Genesis and goes through Revelation and has done an outstanding job of documenting many passages of Scripture that deal with God’s grace. Currently I am reading the chapter on the Gospel of John, which Lawson calls The Mount Everest of Theology. During my reading time this morning, I read the following:
Selective Choice. Christ has chosen His people out of the world of lost sinners. Because this divine choice does not include everyone, those who are not chosen hate the elect:
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” – John 15:19
Jesus openly taught His disciples the doctrine of election. Making no apology, He cited this cardinal truth as a chief reason why the world hates them. (James Montgomery) Boice explains, “What is the meaning of this? It is merely the old subject of election. Christ elected the disciples to salvation. He chose them for a specific work in this world. Therefore, although the world rejects Christ’s salvation and despises His work, it hates those who have been chosen by Him for it. There is probably nothing that the world hates more than the doctrine of election. Certainly it was this more than anything else that caused the world’s virulent hatred of Christ during the days of His ministry…. Nothing so stirs up the hatred of the worldly mind than the teaching that God in sovereign grace elects some and does not elect others.” Of course, Christ’s choice was preceded by the eternal choice of the Father. (William) Hendriksen notes, “The act which took place in time was based upon an act which occurred in eternity (Eph 1:4).” The divine choosing by the Father and the Son distinguished believers from the world, stirring the hatred of unbelievers.
We all want to be liked and loved and certainly do not want to be hated. But this is just another area in which we Christians will be hated by the world. It isn’t pleasant, but it is to be expected.
Often I am asked, “What are the most influential books in your life?” While the Bible is obviously the most influential book in my life, I offer twenty-five more that should be required reading for every Christ-follower. Some titles do not include reviews, since I read these before my blogging days.
# 1 THE DOCTRINE OF GOD – John Frame
The most influential book in my life, outside of Scripture
# 2 TOTAL TRUTH – Nancy Pearcey
One of the most important books of the 21st century.
# 3 THE PLEASURES OF GOD – John Piper
This book taught me above all that God is delighted to be God.
# 4 THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD – A.W. Pink
An absolutely foundational book that deserves to be read and re-read.
The Most Misused Verses in the Bible is my latest read. I’m only 6 chapters into the book, but the thing I am learning most is that there is a principal in the Bible and it is very similar to the 3 Laws of Real Estate (Location, Location, Location). The Law in the Bible is Context, Context, CONTEXT!
Some of the verses covered are Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 7:1, Matthew 18:20 (which was the most enlightening to me so far and I will touch on below), and many others.
I’ve read Matthew 18 twice this year going through the reading plan I use (Professor Horners System) and I’ve heard verse 20 talked about, used in prayer, and preached on multiple times, but never really read it in the context of Church Discipline like Jesus is talking about in this section. Jesus sandwiches Matthew 18:15-20 between two parables, one regarding the lost sheep and the other regarding the unforgiving servant. Jesus is saying He will be present among his disciples as they seek unity in rendering decisions, which is understood also as an affirmation of His omnipresence. This is the abbreviated version of what Eric Bargerhuff talks about in this chapter. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard this passage preached on or taught on in that light. Usually it’s presented in the context of two or three people praying together or congregated together in fellowship that Jesus is in their midst, and that is true, but not in context.
While this is not a book I would label as a “Must Read,” I would definitely give it a “Should Read” label for no other reason than I have heard all of the verses that I’ve read about in this book so far misused and take way out of their actual context, and I’m pretty sure that if you have sat in church for any length of time, you have too.