A quote by Michael Horton.

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

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  1. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Mr Winzer, I do of course fully stand by Mr. Burroughs statement above, and stand by your use of Matthew 28:29. I wholly affirm the reformed tradition of interpreting scripture when it asserts that the gospel is not just the "indicative," but that there are, indeed, gospel imperatives, that the gospel is something to be obeyed; we proclaim the gospel or "the truth which is after godliness," and teach "the doctrine which is according to godliness," believing that man can truly "obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." I of course fully accept and use the terminology of "living as becomes the gospel," or "living according to the gospel," or "living out the gospel" and (when understood in an orthodox fashion) "living the gospel." Nonetheless, not knowing whether such similar movements currently exist in Australia, there are popular movements here in America associated with more "Emergent Church" ideas which basically transfer the work of redemption from the actual, concrete person of Christ who was manifested in history, performed his once-for-all objective work of redemption (the benefits of which are applied subjectively in time) -- they transfer this work to the church, which becomes the "redeeming agent," transforming the world through "love, peace, understanding and social justice." I am aware that you will be far more familiar than I am with this basic idea which has had numerous incarnations in history, but I can also imagine that the climate in Australia might be different than in certain places here in America. Thus, while I personally never like the idea of giving up sound terminology and don't think such phrases need to actually be erased from our vocabulary, I can certainly at least understand why some in this climate would want to distance themselves from terminology which would easily be understood as supporting these "emergent" ideals, especially as I imagine such things are even more in vogue in Southern California than just about anywhere else in this country. I think that general interactions on this discussion board have made it clear that many of us do have reservations about aspects of the Covenant Theology set forth in certain of Horton's works and a corresponding form of the law/gospel distinction. That being said, I think that in spite of these issues, a sympathetic reading of the above quotation can be found (assuming, of course, that the rest of the article from which it is taken supports that reading), even if we/you/I would not agree that giving up the terminology itself is the best solution; would you concur, or do you think I ought to reconsider?
  2. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Indeed. And yet the teaching is not the observing it is the teaching. Conversely the observing is not the teaching, it is the observing.

    In the context of this post, our observing, however well performed and devotedly carried out can never be identified as the the teaching. And so relative to the parts of the Great Commission my "observing all things" is neither the διδάσκω nor the μαθητεύω but rather the τηρέω part of the Great Commission.

    So the confusion comes when Emergents et al speak of "living the gospel". One does not live the ευανγέλλιον, the propositionally revealed "good news", one proclaims it. This gospel, believed, will result in keeping God's Law, living holy lives, and being salt and light in the world.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
  3. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Randy, I saw that same quote on Facebook some time ago, and had the same reaction as you did. While Horton is probably targeting abuses of evangelicalism who would dichotomize our living from proclamation, Horton's dualistic statement unfortunately {but not surprisingly} dichotomizes in the opposite direction.

    Are WE not "living letters" of Christ, given the ongoing "ministry of reconciliation"?
  4. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    “It cannot be stressed too much that to confuse the gospel with certain important things that go hand in hand with it is to invite theological, hermeneutical and spiritual confusion. Such ingredients of preaching and teaching that we might want to link with the gospel would include the need for the gospel (sin and judgment), the means of receiving the benefits of the gospel (faith and repentance), the results or fruit of the gospel (regeneration, conversion, sanctification, glorification) and the results of rejecting it (wrath, judgment, hell). These, however we define and proclaim them, are not in themselves the gospel. If something is not what God did in and through the historical Jesus two thousand years ago, it is not the gospel. Thus Christians cannot ‘live the gospel,’ as they are often exhorted to do. They can only believe it, proclaim it and seek to live consistently with it. Only Jesus lived (and died) the gospel. It is a once-for-all finished and perfect event done for us by another.”

    Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 58-59.
  5. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

  6. Michael Doyle

    Michael Doyle Puritan Board Junior

    I believe I completely understand Horton`s point and while I am still working out much theologically, this seems clear to me without muddying my responsibility to be salt and light in light of the gospel. My :2cents:
  7. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior


    When I hear someone say "live the Gospel" I think they really mean live out the implications of it. The Gospel is an objective reality, the good news of Christ, His gracious kingdom, His sacrificial death, and His glorious resurrection. It is what Jesus, Peter, and Paul preached. It is also what Judas preached, as those whom Paul address in Philippians who did it out of envy, strife, and selfish ambition. It is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. It can be hindered (or, most amazingly, adorned!!) by our lives, but our lives aren't the Gospel message itself. They are fruits of it.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
  8. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    But how do we jump from "living letters of Christ" to "Gospel"? Wouldn't that mean the Gospel changes? I know you'd say, "God forbid!" But that's an implication that I see.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
  9. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    This is the passage we are referring to. It isn't separated from the truth or headship of Christ.

  10. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    Dear brother, I don't think you understood my point. I was asking how you move from "living epistles" to "Gospel." I assume we'd both agree that the context is that Paul doesn't need a literal paper-and-ink letter of commendation because the Philippians are his flesh-and-blood letter of commendation. Where is he talking about the Gospel here? Isn't this a reaction to those who would doubt Paul's credentials? Isn't he in essence saying, "We don't need letters of commendation because we have Christ's own stamp of approval. In fact, you are Christ's letter of commendation to us!"

  11. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Joshua: Yes, "Mr." is the correct title, but "Mark" will do just fine.

    Yes, I'd agree the reference to 2 Corinthians likely references the work of officebearers. My point was simply that the gospel involves not just the content of the message, sitting there on the page, but our actively living it. It is the ongoing reconciliation of men to God. In other words it is holistic, interconnection of message by proclamation and life. Note the apostle moves in Chapter 6:1 to say "Working together with Him, then we appeal to you not receive the grace of God in vain". V. 3-8.: "We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministries, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictons, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, ritos, labors, sleepless nights, hunger, by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise..."

    So I think Horton's quote is just an unfortunate choice of words, as it could be misinterpreted as running contrary to the 3rd use of the law and with what we read in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-12.
  12. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    It is a major shift of debate to move from the gospel IS to the gospel involves.

    Several have made the point that, owing to what the gospel is it therefore is not that which we actively live.
  13. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Marie, There is more implied than what you are alluding too. Read Calvin and John Gill on this passage.
  14. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    I read Calvin on it but didn't see anything about their lives being the Gospel.
  15. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member


  16. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    Ok, I'm still not seeing where he says the Corinthians' lives ARE the Gospel.
  17. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    I understand the point. It's the same as Horton's. I reject it.
  18. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    What about this verse? Paul makes a distinction of some sort here.

    1 Thessalonians 2
    8 So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 9 For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.
  19. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    It still remains for you to demonstrate logically and exegetically that the gospel, qua gospel, is something lived by Christians.
  20. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    Phil 1:27
    Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

    ---------- Post added at 06:26 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:25 PM ----------

    1 Thessalonians 1:5
    For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
  21. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    God's Word is to be lived out ethically in heart, mind, soul and strength in iobedience to God in Christ.

    The Gospel, strictly-speaking, is what God's Word says about Christ's Person and Work. It would be blasphemous to try to live that.

    We are to be like Christ but only in a certain sense, and we are not to be Christ. There is a very close union between Christ and His people but they must also be distinguished.

    We aren't Christ Himself but part of His Body, part of His Bride, branches on the Vine, stones in His Temple.

    It's theologically infelicitous and inaccurate language to talk about "living out the Gospel". A person might or might not understand what is being said.
  22. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    We are a part of it Marie. We are not the Gospel as you seem to be taking it too far. The authority of the epistle is that it is Gospel authority. We are a part of that Gospel.

    Marie, what is that epistle that commends Paul or confirms him? Is it not that we (or the Corinthians (Philippians?)) are in Christ? We are Christ's epistle written by the Spirit of God for the whole world to examine. What is that epistle about? Are we not a part of it?

    Please go back and reread the first page. The language I am seeing has been used by others and understood in a certain context. Read Rev. Winzer's reference to Jeremiah Burroughs. Read my ealier posts about sharing in the sufferings and conformity to Christ.

    God gets all the glory but we are a part of the message. If you remove the human element of the gospel it is nothing. There is no need for it.

    I sense in American Reformed Theology that their is a dichotomy that the scriptures are not aware of. Salvation is not just about justification. The Gospel is not just about Justification. There are dangers in this discussion. We shouldn't become Neonomists but at the same time we can't be antinomians. I do not believe Dr. Horton is either of these. But I am not so sure that the two phrases he is using are necessarily wrong.

    I hope I am not being blasphemous.
  23. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    No, since he introduced the confusion, it remains for Horton to demonstrate that the phrase "living the gospel" is somehow necessarily opposed to the 3rd use of the law or from our "obeying the gospel" or our being "living letters of Christ".
  24. Oecolampadius

    Oecolampadius Puritan Board Sophomore

    Paul, I think you nailed it. I believe this is what "Incarnational Ministry" means. And, based on the articles and books that I've read of Horton, this is one Horton's major concerns but the article alone indicates that this is one of the main concerns when it comes to those who are presently talking about "living the gospel" or "being the gospel."
  25. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Could this be one source of the confusion:

  26. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    We are living fruit of the Gospel. I still don't see where it says we are part of the Gospel.

    I don't see where it says we are part of the message. Let me ask this: was the Gospel still the Gospel before anyone ever came to believe it? Was the Gospel deficient before the first convert?

    :amen: :amen: :amen:

    Where did I ever say that the Gospel or salvation is just about justification? I too have heard some Reformed people speak as if it's the sum and substance of the Christian message. And part of that is what got me intrigued with the New Perspective recently. But no, you don't have to be a Neonomian (or antinomian) to agree that's a problem, since Calvin and John Murray and JI Packer have made similar assertions. The Gospel is the good news about Christ, and when we are united with Him by faith, we are justified, adopted, sanctified, etc., etc., etc.

    I believe our Puritan brother meant something other than what you do by the word "becomes." In the old days, "becomes" meant it "befits" something.
  27. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Giving Mike's comments the most charitable construction (as I believe the 9th Commandment requires of us), if we're speaking of the kerygma then it is not something we live or do but it is a proclamation.

    As proclamations go, then, one can receive and obey a proclamation but the proclamation is not our receipt and obedience but a historic content.

    There is a pretty consistent pattern in Acts of the announcement of John heralding Christ, Christ performing signs and wonders, Christ being delivered up by lawless hands, Christ raising from the dead proving Himself God and Messiah, and a call to repentance and belief. That kerygma is objective content that requires response but the individual responding is not the content. That kerygma produces life but the life of the believer is not the kerygma.

    I don't see anywhere in that quote where Mike denies that the Gospel call itself requires obedience unto it but that the obedience unto it is not, strictly speaking, the Gospel even if the obedience itself is part and parcel of the broader aspect of salvation as one is united to Christ.
  28. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    How can there be a Gospel if we are not? You can't remove humanity from it or it isn't.

    It looks like we are at an impass.


    I am sorry but I am addressing other issues also. And you seem to have entered into the discussion a bit late. There were two phrases and I don't think they are bad.

    I never said you said anything as you have asserted concerning the gospel being just about justification. I was just rementioning it to bring out some of the issue. I noted earlier that someone said the gospel ended at 'it is finished'.

    I agree. We are befitted concerning the Gospel. The good news is God reconciling himself to man and what that does in mans life.

    No, that isn't the source of what you assert is confusion. I don't think I am confused about it. I might be.
  29. Grimmson

    Grimmson Puritan Board Sophomore

    If someone told you to live out the truth or according to the truth (not yet saying what that truth is yet), would you not agree in principle with what was said (not to debate what truth we are talking about)? Since the gospel is the truth of our salvation (see Eph 1:13), let us then replace truth with gospel above, so that one gets to live out the gospel if according to the gospel. Living the gospel” basically means to live your life according to the truth of the gospel, and I do not see why that so terrible. Do we not judge the conduct of church members that is not in step with the truth of the gospel (question based on Gal. 2:14)? Of course we do. The gospel does contain within itself imperatives in which we should all live. We see this in Acts 17:30, when Paul is preaching his message in the Areopagus; whereby all men everywhere are called to repentance. This is because of the indicative of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. In Acts 26:20, we the Apostles telling people that they should repent and turn to God, “performing deeds in keeping to their repentance.” In other words because of the gospel, we should be living a life in accordance to the gospel as a direct result of believing it. The gospel indicative naturally produces the imperative of how we are expected to live that is assuming if we are going to say that the truth is in us (see 1 John 1:8, and 1 Thessalonians 2:13). 2 John’s “walking in the truth”, verse 4, should be seen as walking in the gospel, because the truth is in direct opposition against the doctrine of antichrist. It has a direct affect of the message of the gospel that Christ has come in the flesh, a flesh that if Christ did not come then we would have no hope of salvation. This may seem confusing to some, but it is our jobs as ministers and teachers to clear up any possible theological confusion.

    How do we “live the gospel” or “living out the gospel”? It is by turning to Christ each day. We do it by worshipping and glorying our Lord and Savior. By telling others by Christ, and noticed I said about Christ and not ourselves. We do it by submitting to his Word. If we are in Christ, then we are going to want to live lives that are reflected by the gospel that he has given to us. For are we not to labor or serve in the gospel? See Philippians 2:22 and 4:3:

    The gospel should be seen as transforming, not just in regards to our justification but also sanctification as well, as Randy has pointed out. We must be careful that we are not so focused on our justification that we lose sight of the promise of our sanctification here and now, and later with the resurrection of our bodies and glorification as we are united in Christ.

    I do have issue with “Being the gospel”, because you can live your life according to the gospel by faith, be not perfectly of course, but that does not make essence the gospel. However with that said we should be seen as reflecting the gospel, reflecting and being are not the same thing. Now if one said we should be “being in the gospel” I wouldn’t have a problem with that because the “in” represents that we are resting in the promise of our salvation in God.

    Hopefully I am making sense.
  30. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Maybe I am not seeing things clearly but when I see all the lives of those martyred and the people who shed blood for us to hear and be reconciled to God, it is a part of that message. I see those acts as taking up a cross as Jesus commanded. It is imitating Christ as a part of His body. It is living the Gospel and participating in it. It is being a part of the foundation.

    After all. Jesus came and Preached the Good News of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is a part of that good news. We are a part of that Kingdom. Thus we are a part of the Gospel.

    We are called to participate in this..


    I mentioned this to someone elsewhere...

    I believe this is were the discussion is going array. The Church is not the Gospel. She is a part of it as she is a part of the Kingdom. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom.

    (Gal 6:14) But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

    (Gal 6:15) For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

    (Gal 6:16) And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

    (Gal 6:17) From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

    (Gal 6:18) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

    Notice what matters here, a new creation. The New Creation is a part of the Gospel as I understand it. It is not in total the Gospel but the Gospel is made up of parts that make a whole.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
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