Book Review: Gospel Evidences of Saving Faith (John Owen)

Book Review by James Jeffery

Whether you are someone who has walked with Jesus for many years or you are new to the faith, Gospel Evidences of Saving Faith is a concise and rich summary of what it looks like to have genuine faith in the Lord Jesus. Whilst it is true that much of John Owen’s work is challenging for the average layperson to read, this short book contains material that is accessible to even those who aren’t voracious readers. The 17th century puritan was not only a theological giant but had a pastoral heart that is beautifully manifest in this booklet. 

If you lack joy in your relationship with Jesus, want to know how to present the gospel more faithfully, or are confused about what it looks like to have genuine faith in God, this book is for you. While many of us know the gospel in our heads, few of us regularly taste and savour the treasures of the gospel that are ours in Christ; this is why Owen’s work is just as necessary today as it was when it was first published back in the 1600’s.

Owen practically explains what it looks like to have ‘saving faith’ in Jesus, and he tackles this critical question from various different angles.

He shows how true faith in Christ is not just head knowledge.

“God does not present [His] salvation to us merely as a notion of truth to be assented to or denied (in which case anyone who merely assented to the historical facts of Scripture would be counted a true Christian). No, this way of salvation must be practically embraced. That is, we are to personally entrust ourselves to Christ alone for life and salvation” (p. 13)

Nor is salvation something we purely desire for our own sake…

“…the enlightened soul only desires a salvation that glorifies God, for without God being glorified, whatever the soul’s state should be, it would not be salvation. The exaltation of the glory of God is essential to salvation; it consists in beholding and enjoying that glory” (p. 22)

Moreover, Owen presents a realistic portrait of the Christian life, including the change that occurs in our hearts when we are saved, as well as our continual warfare against sin as believers.

“The soul groans for deliverance from the remaining power of sin. For it is sin and its remaining power that distress and disturb the soul… The soul not only groans for deliverance from sin, however; it also groans for the full enjoyment of glory (Romans 8:23)” (pp. 102-103)

At only 105 pages long, Gospel Evidences of Saving Faith provides four Scripture-saturated evidences that manifest themselves in those who have true fellowship with God, and therefore will be a source of great comfort and security to Christians. Just as Christians throughout the ages needed to be reminded of the marks of genuine faith, so must we reflect on these eternal truths. By doing so, we will see that God is the One who is glorified in salvation, and we must look to Him if we are to find rest for our souls.

Gospel Evidences of Saving Faith

Gospel Evidences of Saving Faith

Puritan Treasures from Today

by John Owen