When Orthodox Christology Is Unprofitable

When Orthodox Christology Is Unprofitable

John Owen writes:

Men profess to know the truth; but they know it not in its proper order, in its harmony in use. It leads them not to Christ, and brings not Christ unto them; and so is lifeless and useless. Hence, oft-times, none are more estranged from the life of God than such as have much notional knowledge of the doctrines of Scripture. For they are all of them useless, and subject to be abused, if they are not improved to form Christ in the soul, and transform the whole person into his likeness and image.

This they will not affect where their relation to him is not understood—where they are not received and learned as a revelation of him, with the mystery of the will and wisdom of God in him.

For whereas he is our life, and in our living unto God we do not so much live as he lives in us, and the life which we lead in the flesh is by the faith of him—so that we have neither principle nor power of spiritual life, but in, by, and from him—whatever knowledge we have of the truth, if it does not affect a union between him and our souls, it will be lifeless in us, and unprofitable unto us. It is learning the truth as it is in Jesus, which alone renews the image of God in us (Ephesians 4:21-24).

The Glory of Christ, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, 1850-53, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), VI.2, 84, emphasis and paragraphing mine.

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Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a writer and content strategist at Desiring God, and is the lead planter of Cities Church in Minneapolis–Saint Paul, where he lives with his wife, Melissa, and their four children. He is also the co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.