1 min read

In the preface to Communion with the Triune God Kelly Kapic explains Owen’s terminology for different facets of the Spirit’s work in the life of the believer. In particular:

  • Sanctification, which for Owen (and the NT, generally) is a passive activity in which the Spirit sets us apart, moving us from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of his beloved Son. In short, to be a Christian is to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit. This contrasts with the systematic theological use of sanctification as the progressive growth in holiness throughout the Christian life.
  • Consolation, or the work of the Spirit in consoling/comforting the believer. The Spirit offers comfort and strength to the believer, but this is not always passive. We can neglect or refuse to seek it and thus lack an experience of the joy and comfort that the Spirit brings.

The Spirit is specifically, the Spirit of Christ and this helps us to know how to test the spirits. “Does this Spirit draw me towards Christ? Does the Spirit glorify the incarnate Lord?”

  • He is the Spirit of Freedom - does this spirit leave me exhausted and without love?
  • He tends to work through and within human faculties.

    From Owen’s perspective, these experiences simply didn’t make sense, for the true Spirit affirms creation - including human nature - rather than undermining it. By this spirit we are renewed in God’s image as he enlightens our minds, renews our wills, and redirects our affections towards God. When people claimed the SPirit made them act more like beasts than like humans, Owen would scratch his head with real skepticism about whether this was the true Spirit of GOd - he was fairly confident it wasn’t. (45)

  • He is the Spirit of prayer - does this Spirit belittle the ordinary Christian experience of prayer or encourage it?


  1. Owen, Communion with the Triune God, p. 22-23, 44-45