A quote by Michael Horton.

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by PuritanCovenanter, Jan 7, 2011.

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  1. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I recently came across a quote by Dr. Horton that troubled me a bit on Facebook. I have some agreement with it. But I had some concern with it. I don't have access to the whole article so I can't be sure I truly understand it in its full scope. But here it is.

    Now my life is not the good news. But I am suppose to live a gospel obedience and be a light of that Gospel.

    How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news. Even Saint Paul declared it was his gospel.

    We are a part of the Gospel. The Gospel is still being applied upon us whom God has chosen. Christ Work concerning atonement was finished at the Cross. That is why he said it is finished. I believe the application of Gospel and the outworking of it in our lives is still going on. The process of reconciliation is still going on. I am saved (justified), I am being saved (sanctification), and I will be saved (glorification).

    The Good News didn't stop at the cross when Christ said it is finished. It also went into the resurrection and it is still going on and progressing in the lives of those whom he has chosen before the foundation of this world.

    I admit that the last part of the quote qualifies the language before it. But I can also say at the same time that there are others who think the gospel ends with the quote, "it is finished."

    I am just a bit worried that there is a separation of our lives from the Gospel and what it is in some of the talk today. Is my concern unmerited?
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2011
  2. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I agree with the statement Josh with his qualifier. But I also think that the two phrases are not necessarily bad statements. 'living the gospel' 'being the gospel'
  3. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Horton's main thrust in rejecting such phrases is that you can't "live" or "be" news. The Gospel is a declaration of an accomplished work, wrought by Christ for His people. It's a done deal. The word "gospel" itself does NOT mean a pattern of living, or any such thing - it's "good news".

    We can live "in accord with" the gospel (though even that does NOT mean "obeying more", but rather it means to carry oneself appropriately as one bought by Christ and wholly owing all to Him) but in no sense, really, unless we wish to twist the word out of place completely, can we "live the gospel". The moment we try to do this, the emphasis comes off of Christ and onto our works - so that "gospel" becomes merely another legalism by which we think we're achieving something by being more consistent in our walk. Horton writes rather strenuously against this co-opting of "gospel" because it really does do damage to people's understanding of what "gospel" really is.
  4. TrueConvert

    TrueConvert Puritan Board Freshman

    I get where Horton is going. I would imagine if one said "We need to live in a way that shows off the gospel," or "be as people apprehended by the gospel" that would be deemed more accurate.
    I think what he was saying (and I've heard him say similar on WHI) is we need separation between the good news itself, and implications/applications of the good news. We truly aren't the good news, nor is our life. It's Jesus' person and work. However, saying "live the Gospel" is not self explanatory enough for the difference to be discerned. Perhaps unpacking that phrase is more needful than some see it...........even "live out the Gospel," I imagine, comes a tad closer to what's meant.

    ---------- Post added at 01:41 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:38 PM ----------

    Exactly. I didn't see your post before posting. This is where I meant to go with it as well, though. Thanks for clarifying that way.
  5. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    I can only surmise, but based on several episodes of the White Horse Inn in the past year, I presume Horton's comment also has something to do with the context of presenting the gospel. For example, it is so common for most Christians today when asked of the hope that is within them to immediately describe their own life. Horton would say, no, this is wrong. Our live is not the gospel. The gospel is what Christ has done, not that my marriage is better or I quit abusing alcohol or I am happier now. Will the gospel change your life? Most definitely. But, we must also remember that this changed life, while a good testimony of the power of the gospel, is never the gospel.
  6. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    This kind of quote really bothers me. I just believe the gospel includes more than the propitiation of Christ. It also has to do with reconciliation and a new life. That is what 2 Corinthians 5 is about.

    This isn't just about merit. It is also about a new life. No one can merit the work of Christ. A life of Gospel Obedience is so attached. I love the Sola's. I believe in them. But it seems like there is a dichotomy that is set up that I am not seeing. In the persons statement above I mentioned that the Gospel didn't stop at it is finished. If it did then the resurrection wasn't important. Neither would it be important for us to bring the good news. I actually think it is good news when someone shares it. They become a part of that good news in that they were sent. It is good news when a person preaches the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. But it doesn't end there. The message of reconciliation is to be proclaimed. It is finished is not the end of the story or the good news. After all we are called upon to imitate the gospel by taking up our cross. We are called into the sufferings of Christ. If we are not conformed into it it is likely we are not a part of it.

    I believe there is a living the Gospel.
  7. Oecolampadius

    Oecolampadius Puritan Board Sophomore

    I haven't joined the discussions here on PB for a very long time but I find the thread to be very interesting.

    I believe that a very good example of that which Horton's statement is meant to address goes like this:
    "Being a good Christian example is already evangelism. Without even talking about doctrines, it may be enough for my unbelieving neighbor to know that I am a Christian and that I am walking in godliness."

    Another example of this is that when a person, intending to be a gospel witness, proceeds to talk solely about his personal testimony (his conversion experience and changed life but not so much about what Christ did according to Scripture).

    One of the many things that Horton tries to remind his readers is that the Gospel is, first of all, objective. Our salvation is grounded in the finished work of Christ which took place in history. This is not meant to do away with the subjective part but, if you look around in evangelical circles, what you'll see most often is that the Gospel is being reduced to this subjective experience which is a sort of mysticism.

    If you read 'Christianity and Liberalism' by J.G. Machen, you will find that Machen asserts a very similar thing to what Horton is trying to do with the statement that was quoted.

    "If the saving work of Christ were confined to what He does now for every Christian, there would be no such thing as a Christian gospel--an account of an event which put a new face on life. What we should have left would be simply mysticism, and mysticism is quite different from Christianity. It is the connection of the present experience of the believer with an actual historic appearance of Jesus in the world which prevents our religion from being mysticism and causes it to be Christianity."
    Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, p. 120
  8. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I totally disagree with the phrase supposedly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, "Preach the Gospel all the time. If necessary use words." I do not disagree with Horton's statement along with his qualifier. At the same time I am not afraid of the two boldened statements in the quote above though. I do believe we participate in the Gospel. I do believe we can live the gospel message. It entails more than the propitiation of Christ and his statement, "It is Finished." If you remove us there is no need for the whole gospel message. I just believe that the work of Christ and his declaration, "It is Finished," is only a major part of the gospel. I totally and whole heartedly believe in the Covenants of Redemption, Works, and Grace.
  9. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Ruben, Straighten me out.
  10. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Paul seems to disagree with you. The gospel is given in 1 Cor 15. It is news. Not an action, not a work we do, not anything we contribute to in the slightest. It is the announcement of salvation prepared before the foundation of the world, and brought into fruition in time through Christ. It is not good news if it is not brought about and accomplished wholly by another, namely Christ. If I have to contribute something, then I am LOST.

    [BIBLE]1 Cor 15:1-11[/BIBLE]

    I don't think we disagree about how things work out in our lives, and how we are to reflect the truth of the Gospel in our lives - or that the "good news" includes every benefit we receive in this life because of Christ. Nevertheless we do NOT participate in it - we don't bring forth anything that is part of the evangel. The evangel is the news about what Christ has done and what we shall receive assuredly because of His work. It isn't something we "do" or "live" because it is not "in" us. Fruit of the gospel arises, yes. We walk according to the fact that we are the redeemed bride of Christ, yes. We live free because of the gospel, yes. But none of this is our accomplishing anything or "doing" anything toward our salvation; all is our living in response to what has been announced through God's word and his messengers.
  11. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes sir. This is exactly what I believe Horton means as well.
  12. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    That's a tall order! :bouncing:

    I personally don't like the phrases "be the gospel" or "live the gospel". I am not Christ. While I am a blessed participant in the blessings of the Gospel, and while I hope that I will increasingly do more to make it known, and to exemplify the grace Christ has bestowed on me in my treatment of others, I cannot point people to myself. Certainly, I can add my testimony to the chorus of witnesses who maintain that whereas we were blind, now we see; and in forgiving others I might be able to illustrate something of how God's grace works. But nothing that I do is saving: it is not strictly and properly the gospel. And certainly, the power of the Gospel can be seen in the transformation of lives and in zeal to spread that same Gospel that has done so much for us; but again, this is nothing but a witness to the main point: God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. Our salvation consists in the benefits of the work of Christ (fully carried out by that unique theanthropic person, in accord with the terms of the covenant of redemption) applied to us by the Holy Spirit.

    Lloyd-Jones has made a similar point. He remarked that the most remarkable conversion/transformation story he knew was about a man who had become a JW, if memory serves. We preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ the Lord. But of course, it is the gospel that sets us free from the law of sin and death, and it is because we are not under the law, but under grace, that sin does not have dominion over us.
  13. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Just some more thoughts to untangle. We are not Christ and do not perform his work of propitiation. I am not saying that. But the call to pick up our cross is a part of the message. To share in his sufferings and conform to his image is a part of it. We are his body working through the ages. After all there is no salvation outside of the Church so the Church is a part of the Gospel message.
  14. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Randy, it sounds like you may be raising the issue of gospel obedience. I can't speak to Dr. Horton's stance on that matter. There have been some threads in the past about, for instance, whether the command "repent" or the command "believe the gospel" is strictly speaking a part of the gospel or not. Is that what you're driving at?
    I don't think anyone is denying that sanctification is part of salvation, which is the other way I could take your concern. We certainly are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, and God does work out a real holiness in us (even though that is not and never can be the foundation of our justification). And that certainly is a feature of the Gospel worth proclaiming: that God will bestow real holiness, that as He desires, so He will bestow truth in the inward parts. From the fact that this process has been begun in me, I might encourage people that if God can save me, He can certainly save them; but He will save them, not through me, but through Christ. Which brings me back to the point that I don't like saying "live" or "be the gospel".
  15. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Randy, I certainly understand (at least I think I do!) what you're expressing. I haven't read the article from which you have taken the above quote, so I can't really comment on it in its proper context directly. Nevertheless, I think we might be able to draw this out a bit and arrive at a sense in which this quotation can be taken (and which, from some of Horton's other works, such as People and Place, I think is probably faithful to his own meaning) which will be more satisfactory to you. This is not to say that Ruben, et al's answers are not good; but perhaps an additional perspective will be helpful.

    Yes, I fully concur that the gospel has imperatives or commands; and that the gospel is not simply about what God has done in Christ, but also what he is doing and will do. We accept both the objective acts of redemption and the subjective acts of redemption. Nevertheless what Horton seems to be expressing here is what he has dealt with elsewhere - an erroneous way of dealing with the current physical absence of Christ by simply replacing him with the church. This problem has taken many manifestations, whether it be in the Roman magisterium or the contemporary Emergent Church. When we, as Reformed believers, confess that salvation is in the church, we do so on the basis that Christ, who ascended on high and gave gifts to men, gave the means by which his Spirit effectually applies his purchased salvation to his people: namely, the Word and sacraments. The church is the "place" of salvation because it holds forth the means which Christ makes use of through his Spirit. If we use the Emergent movement as opposing example, we see a very different principle - that of Christ leaving his church behind and equipping them to continue his mission of redemption to the world: that is, literally to be Christ, transforming the world through the "renewing power" of his "spirit." Instead of a relationship of Head and Body between Christ and his church, wherein the body is united by the Spirit and faith to her physically absent Head, the emergent movement (among others) has transformed this relationship not into a union, but into an identity of sorts. In such a scheme, the gospel is not something which is proclaimed about another (Christ who came, died, was resurrected, ascended and is now seated on his throne), but something which is continued or lived out by the "transforming power of the church redeeming the world." I would be willing to venture that this is the sort of issue which Dr. Horton is addressing in that quotation.
  16. JP Wallace

    JP Wallace Puritan Board Sophomore

    For more on this subject listen to about the last three episodes of White Horse Inn from 2010 - there you will get full explanations of what Dr. Horton means - straight from the horse's mouth? :D
  17. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Points taken... To me the Gospel is not just about justification and I think too many people want to make the Gospel about justification only.

    Thanks Paul. You have hit the nail on the head.

    If you read my earlier posts I am not in disagreement with Dr. Horton's quote by the qualifier....

    "As if our lives are the good news."
  18. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Ruben. Are we not epistles of Christ as St. Paul said.

    This is not to separate us from Christ as Head.
  19. Reformed Roman

    Reformed Roman Puritan Board Freshman

    The point Randy is making is pretty true.

    We are called to strive to live like Christ did and to be Christ like. Not to atone for our sins, but we are called to live for His glory.

    He means that we can't just take the gospel and live however we want. The gospel should change our lives, and in turn, we shouldn't just claim Christianity, but live it.

    Ultimately, not to earn anything, but to give Him glory.
  20. Reformed Roman

    Reformed Roman Puritan Board Freshman

    It's obvious we all agree on the same thing. We would just all word it differently.
  21. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Just a few more thoughts...

    We are speaking along the same lines I believe Ruben. The Gospel is a message. Should we not live that message? Our lives should exhibit that message. (By the way, I fail miserably at it) That is why I am not having a problem with the phrase living the gospel. My life is an epistle of Christ to be read of all men as St. Paul said. It is a part of the Gospel. If humanity is removed from the message of the Gospel then there is no need for it. It also goes beyond the message of justification and that is something that I have feared is missing in some of the modern day conversation.
  22. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    First off, Horton's entire article is still available online here. As it turns out, I was reading it just last night. And I liked it. I didn't see anything wrong with that statement, and much that's right.

    Secondly, it seems "gospel" is used in the New Testament sometimes in a narrow sense meaning the death and resurrection of Christ for our salvation (as in 1 Cor. 15:1-11), and other times in a somewhat broader sense meaning the totality of what Christ does, and possibly what he still is doing, for his people (as in the angel's announcement in Luke 2:10-14). I think this may be part of our confusion, as the saving work of Christ indeed does not stop at our justification, as Randy has rightly pointed out. Taken in this broader sense, I suppose we might say we do indeed "live out the gospel," since Christ lives and works in us.

    But I would not want to put it that way often. Our conscious good works are best understood as a response and outgrowth of the news of what Christ has already accomplished. They're a reflection. They're the thunder that's evidence of Christ's lightning strike at the cross.

    The greatest errors we face in terms of how "gospel" is misunderstood, both by fundamentalists and liberals, have to do with the emphasis being placed on what we do rather than on what Christ does. To the one, the "gospel" is a set of rules you'd better obey or else face God's wrath. To the other, the "gospel" is the feel-good social action we take to fix the world ourselves, maybe inspired partly by Jesus but not really empowered by him or flowing from his atoning work. Both of these are dangerous lies, and Horton is right to speak strongly against them.
  23. Oecolampadius

    Oecolampadius Puritan Board Sophomore

    Brothers, I think it is necessary that we should all look into the context of the statement that quoted from the Modern Reformation article:

    "We must never take Christ's work for granted. The gospel is not merely something we take to unbelievers; it is the Word that created and continues to sustain the whole church in its earthly pilgrimage. In addition, we must never confuse Christ's work with our own. There is a lot of loose talk these days about our "living the gospel" or even "being the gospel," as if our lives were the good news. We even hear it said that the church is an extension of Christ's incarnation and redeeming work, as if Jesus came to provide the moral example or template, and we are called to complete his work.
    There is one Savior and one head of the church. To him alone all authority is given in heaven and on earth. There is only one incarnation of God in history, and he finished the work of fulfilling all righteousness, bearing the curse, and triumphing over sin and death." [emphasis added]

    The rest of the article can be accessed HERE.
  24. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Jeremiah Burroughs asks, "What is it to live as becomes the gospel?" He answers, "it must be a conversation holding forth the beauty, excellency, and glory of the gospel before those with whom we convese. Here is a Christian who becomes the gospel." (Gospel Conversation, 7, SDG edition.)
  25. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    REMEMBER... MY beef isn't with Horton's quote per se with his qualifier. This is about the couple of catch phrases. "Living the Gospel and Being the Gospel."

    Thanks Reverend Winzer. I am such a Burroughs fan that I am considering just mainly reading him this year and getting to know his writings better.
  26. Oecolampadius

    Oecolampadius Puritan Board Sophomore

    In my humble opinion, what Burroughs meant does not fall into the same category as to what Horton is referring to with his use of the phrases "living the gospel" and "being the gospel". Also, I doubt that one is doing justice in his critique of another person's words if one does not take into consideration the meaning that was intended by the use of those words. We need to be more gracious here. We need to ask the question, "who or what is he referring to?" That is why I said that I believe it is necessary to look into the context of that statement.

    Have you all heard of the term "Incarnational Gospel" or "Incarnational Ministry"? Anybody who is somewhat familiar with Rick Warren (or Rick Warren types) should have an idea of what is meant by these terms. So, I hope I don't have to explain the concept because there is some vagueness to it. I believe that this is one of the main issues that Horton is referring to.

    In the context of Horton's article,
    "living the gospel", "being the gospel" = "Incarnational Gospel" or "Incarnational Ministry"

    In addition, Horton began the statement by saying, "There is a lot of loose talk these days..." He is referring to a present phenomena. Like I said, context is important.
  27. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    That might be true. But the full scope of the gospel isn't just justification by faith alone. The phrases themselves are not bad in my understanding. I don't know about Incarnational Gospel nor Incarnational Ministry. Terminology can be used by cults also but that doesn't mean the terminology is bad.

    As I said.... I am not in disagreement with Dr. Horton's phraseology with his qualifier.
  28. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Randy, if I commission you to spread the message that a wildfire is spreading in the direction of the town, then your responsibility is specifically to "stay on message" and faithfully convey that message accurately. How you carry yourself in the prosecution of that assignment may have a bearing upon the effectiveness of its reception but such "carriage of yourself" is in no way the message itself.

    Horton and his associates at the White Horse Inn are devoting this year to recovering a biblical understanding of THE GREAT COMMISSION. One point they made last week is that the contemporary christian needs to keep the GREAT COMMISSION distinct, and not confused with THE GREAT COMMANDMENT.
  29. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    A part of the great commission is, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." One should guard against receiving any gospel which dichotomises faith and life.
  30. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I agree with Rev. Winzer. The Great Commission and the Great commandment go hand in hand and are tightly knitted together as is obedience and love.

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