God’s Promise to Preserve His People (Owen)

In his treatise On Temptation, John Owen spent much time expositing the Bible’s teaching on temptation. Specifically, Owen referred to Mt. 26:41 & Rev. 3:10. At one point, Owen discussed God’s promise to preserve his people – the promise John mentions in Rev. 3:10. Here are Owen’s remarks:

Now, in every promise there are three things to be considered: 1. The faithfulness of the Father, who gives it. 2. The grace of the Son, which is the matter of it. 3. The power and efficacy of the Holy Ghost, which puts the promise in execution. And all these are engaged for the preservation of such persons from the hour of temptation.

1.] The faithfulness of God accompanies the promise. On this account is our deliverance laid (1 Cor. 10:13). Though we be tempted, yet we shall be kept from the hour of temptation; it shall not grow too strong for us. What comes on us we shall be able to bear; and what would be too hard for us we shall escape. But what security have we of this? The faithfulness of God: “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted beyond your ability.” And wherein is God’s faithfulness seen and exercised? “He is faithful that promised,” Heb. 10:23; his faithfulness consists in his discharge of his promises. “He abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself,” (2 Tim. 2:13). So that by being under the promise, we have the faithfulness of God engaged for our preservation.

[2.] There is in every promise of the covenant the grace of the Son. That is the subject-matter of all promises: “I will keep thee.” How? “By my grace with thee.” So that what assistance the grace of Christ can give a soul that hath a right in this promise, in the hour of temptation it shall enjoy it. Paul’s temptation grew very high; it was likely to have come to its prevalent hour. He “besought the Lord,” that is, the Lord Jesus Christ, for help (2 Cor. 12:8); and received that answer from him, “My grace is sufficient for thee,” (v. 9). That it was the Lord Christ and his grace with whom he had peculiarly to do is evident from the close of that verse: “I will glory in my infirmity, that the power of Christ may rest upon me;” or “the efficacy of the grace of Christ in my preservation be made evident.” So Heb. 2:18.

[3.] The efficacy of the Spirit accompanies the promises. He is called “The Holy Spirit of promise;” not only because he is promised by Christ, but also because he effectually makes good the promise, and gives it accomplishment in our souls. He also, then, is engaged to preserve the soul walking according to the rule laid down. See Isa. 59:21.

Thus, where the promise is, there is all this assistance. The faithfulness of the Father, the grace of the Son, the power of the Spirit, all are engaged in our preservation.

Owen, John. The Works of John Owen. Edited by William H. Goold. Vol. 6. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d. p. 141.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

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