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Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by PuritanCovenanter, Jan 7, 2011.
"BECOME, v.t. In general, to suit or be suitable; to be congruous; to befit; to accord with, in character or circumstances; to be worthy of, decent or proper. It is used in the same sense applied to persons or things."
I believe that's what Burroughs meant. Otherwise, his first sentence would make no sense at all: "What is it to live as becomes the gospel?"
I dare say I RARELY hear the Gospel outside of church and if "by chance" I am discussing The Gospel with another believer 99% of the time they say they show The Gospel by their works.....and I think they don't imply "they really mean live out the implications of it". It is interesting how we see this in totally opposite ways. I think this is exactly what Horton quote addressed.
Have any of you read Christless Christianity?
My dear brother,
Would you please give some thought to the following post by Mark Jones?
In Light of the Gospel » Blog Archive » The Gospel and Sanctification
What is at stake in the use of the term? It expresses the sanctifying power of the gospel. What is at stake in the condemnation of the term? It shuts us up to a justification-only gospel. The acceptance of such a gospel would require a wholesale rejection of "the gospel mystery of sanctification" such as Marshall understood it; or of the necessity of gospel holiness as Owen expressed it; or of the very idea of gospel conversation and gospel fear as Burroughs has taught it. Life and immortality are brought to light through the gospel. The life believers live is gospel life. It is a life which accords with what the gospel teaches but it is also a life which has been produced by the gospel. We are born again by the incorruptible word of God, the word which came to us by the gospel, 1 Pet. 2:23-25. We are changed into the same image we behold in the gospel glass, 2 Cor. 3:18. Our life is either gospel life or it is a living death.
John 3:21, "But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." One should be wary of any tendency which distorts the gospel so as to make it nothing more than propositional truth.
Thank you for sharing this article, Matthew.
As I noted above, I do indeed fall in line with men such as Rutherford and Burroughs on the matter - in fact, it was your high estimation of Rutherford which made me pay close attention to his writings, for which I am most glad, as I have come to find him perhaps my most persuasive influence from the period. For that matter, all of Jeremiah Burrough's "Gospel" books, and Marshall's Gospel Mystery have been some of the foremost writings which have shaped my understanding of Biblical spirituality. In other words, I find myself in complete agreement with you on the importance of meaning of the term and what is at stake when an understanding of the gospel and the law/gospel contrast is advocated which disallows this meaning of the term. I do regret the fact that there are current (and very popular) understandings of the gospel or the law/gospel distinction in the Reformed world today which are at variance from that which (I believe) we have both inherited from a Rutherford or an Anthony Burgess, and that (unfortunately) these understandings may stand behind the quote cited in the opening post; and if that's the case, I certainly don't want to appear to be defending such an understanding of law/gospel. I do want to give the benefit of the doubt, however, and sympathetically read the quote as a necessary attack upon Emergent ideas about the work of redemption. I think you have reminded me, however, that I may have been too quick to defend the sympathetic aspect of what was being said while brushing over other less sympathetic aspects thereof. Thank you.
I would gladly give the same benefit of the doubt if I did not think the systemic reconstruction of the reformed law-gospel distinction was behind the rejection of the phrase. The fact is, these gentlemen are thinking through their theology and making it consistently apply to the whole range of doctrinal loci. We wouldn't expect anything less from trained theologians. It is because of this systematising (leavening) process that the slightest deviation is bound to have far reaching consequences; that is what makes it indispensible for us to take every thought captive.
Excellent thoughts; thank you. Individual thoughts ought not be separated from the vine which bears them.
I don't think it's behind it, at least not in my own reasoning it out. So if someone preaches a sermon on, say, children obeying their parents and yet neglects to speak of the power to obey coming from Christ, the crucified and risen and ascended Lord, was the Gospel preached? I'm not asking if it was "legalistic" (which I assure you I don't think it is- the Gospel demands duty too), I'm just asking, was the Gospel preached?
There is alot hanging on the definition of "sermon" in that hypothetical. A child might hear that "sermon" from his parents every day while both parents and child care nothing for God. If, however, the "sermon" is covenantal, and it refers to obeying them "in the Lord," then the grace of God is already operative and any call to duty is issued on the basis of that grace. That is Gospel. It should be the concern of a gospel preacher to articulate that grace and to make it evident for all to see that Christian obedience in this matter is gospel obedience.
Amen! I agree with that. But that does not make our obedience part of the actual gospel itself, right? The Gospel has indicatives and imperatives (we "obey the Gospel" by repenting and believing), but our response to it isn't the Gospel. As Sinclair Ferguson says:
“The great gospel imperatives to holiness are ever rooted in indicatives of grace that are able to sustain the weight of those imperatives. The Apostles do not make the mistake that’s often made in Christian ministry. [For the Apostles] the indicatives are more powerful than the imperatives in gospel preaching. So often in our preaching our indicatives are not strong enough, great enough, holy enough, or gracious enough to sustain the power of the imperatives. And so our teaching on holiness becomes a whip or a rod to beat our people’s backs because we’ve looked at the New Testament and that’s all we ourselves have seen. We’ve seen our own failure and we’ve seen the imperatives to holiness and we’ve lost sight of the great indicatives of the gospel that sustain those imperatives. Woven into the warp and woof of the New Testament’s exposition of what it means for us to be holy is the great groundwork that the self-existent, thrice holy, triune God has — in Himself, by Himself and for Himself — committed Himself and all three Persons of His being to bringing about the holiness of His own people. This is the Father’s purpose, the Son’s purchase and the Spirit’s ministry” (Sinclair Ferguson, message from the 2007 Banner of Truth Conference, Our Holiness: The Father’s Purpose and the Son’s Purchase)
It is a difficult subject because we tend to dissect everything into its parts. Take the vine and branches analogy. In reality they are one, and yet theoretically they can be distinguished. Proper obedience to the gospel is an obedience produced by the gospel. Romans 6:17, "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you." At the point at which the doctrine is taught it is possible to distinguish it as the "form;" but at the point as which it is obeyed we have both form and substance and it is not possible to practically tell them apart -- being set free from sin (the promise) and obeying the gospel (the requisite) is all one. The gospel promise is, Live, and do this. The doing comes out of the living, and the living is given in the gospel. This is gospel life; obedience to the gospel is living the gospel.
PS., that is an exceptionally incisive statement by Dr. Ferguson.
My dear Rev. Winzer,
God forbid that I would ever distort the gospel. My concern, which may or may not be the same as that of Dr. Horton, is to guard against that very thing. I fear that there is afoot in our day just such an attempt to subjectivize the term τὸ εὐανγγέλιον (the gospel) and at least blur, if not extinguish the objective definition of that two word biblical phrase. In a day or two I will seek to more fully express this. Your patience is requested.
The Gospel IS the love of God in Christ. "Herein is [the Gospel], not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10)
The emphasis is on GOD's love for us, NOT OUR love for Him and others. This is, I think, the very essence of what Horton is trying to communicate to us by neglecting such phrases as "live the gospel," or "be the gospel," because they emphasize OUR love for God, and not GOD's love for us. So, OUR love IS NOT the Gospel, GOD's love IS the Gospel.
With all do respect, it seems Horton may be being made out to say something he is not. The implications seem pretty clear in the context as he is speaking it.
and he closes in saying the following and throughout, in no way saying, we are not to be gospel witnesses and living out our salvation for the world to see. I am not disagreeing so much with the concerns posted here but am concerned that a fair shake may not be being given to a faithful brother. His quote:
Am I wrong here?
It occurred to me after my last post that this might also be something you were driving at: the announcement of the Gospel includes an announcement that the new world has begun, and of course those who already partake in the palingenesis show the reality of this new beginning - though not perfectly, as even the exhortations and rebukes addressed to us indicate. And the Gospel reality is to shape our lives, and increasingly does so. But living as becomes the Gospel is still different from presenting ourselves as part of the Gospel message, or from using the phrases "live" or "become the Gospel". What I would like to see is an explanation of how to say, "I am the Gospel" and "We preach not ourselves" while sincerely meaning both.
I hear what Paul and Matthew are saying, and it's very informative; and I'm not commenting about Dr. Horton at all, since I don't follow him or know much about him. I'm just trying to figure out what you are saying, and why you like a phrase I don't.
"Christ died for our sins," said the primitive disciples, "according to Scripture; he was buried; he has been raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." From the beginning, the Christian gospel, as indeed the name "gospel" or "good news" implies, consisted in an account of something that had happened. And from the beginning, the meaning of the happening was set forth; and when the meaning was set forth then there was a Christian doctrine. "Christ died" - that is history; "Christ died for our sins" - that is doctrine. Without these two elements, joined in an absolutely indissoluble union, there is no Christianity."
Machen wrote this in "Christianity and Liberalism" and that is I believe what Horton et. al. are getting at. The Gospel, the good news is that Christ died for our sin, was buried and rose again on the third day. That is what makes the difference - that is the message. Believe that and be saved. I do not believe that Horton et. al. are driving a division between orthodoxy and orthopraxy but rather are speaking against the all too common exchange that is presently taking place in people's mind between this history and doctrine on one hand and the life that flows for receiving that truth.
Exactly, brother! I was thinking the same...I don't think you can...
---------- Post added at 10:38 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:14 AM ----------
Was the Gospel still the Gospel before any of us believed it? If it was, then there's the answer to your question.
"Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people" Revelation 14:6
Albert Barnes expounds:
Revelation - Chapter 14 - Barnes' Notes on the New Testament on StudyLight.org
I listened to the radio program they did on this very topic. The program was The Great Commission Survey. If you'll listen to the program I think you'll understand and fully agree with his point.
You have missed the boat.... This isn't about our duty to obey the law or love Christ. It is about what God is doing in us to obey him.
I am going to post the blog article by Mark Jones so you will read it and understand what I am trying to say. He said it much better than I can.
This article says exactly what I am trying to express. Thanks Rev. Winzer for linking us to it.
I think I am being a bit misunderstood. I think I am also being a bit taken out of context. I am not the Gospel. I am a part of the gospel. I can be gospel truth and light to others.
Thanks Ruben for bringing this passage to light. In fact it is the very next verse that makes me say what I am trying to express.
The essence of the Gospel lives in me by the Spirit. The Spirit of God by grace (Remember, I don't hold to the pinheaded view that grace is just unmerited favor) is influencing me to exhibit the life of Christ, His love for those he died for, and life that is new and changed. He continues to exhibit this work of Christ's anointing as Prophet, Christ's Priesthood, and Christ's Kingship in our lives and through our lives.
I thought Mark Jones' article was very good too; but I still wouldn't say "I am a part of the Gospel". I didn't mean to misrepresent you: but if someone is told to "be the Gospel" (not just "part of the gospel) at some point the obeyed imperative produces an indicative.
So what meaning do you give to "We preach not ourselves"?
The same as I would here....
But the two verses say two different things, Randy: you can't say they mean the same thing, though what they do mean is consistent. If you can spell out what you see as the connection between them, that would be helpful. Do you, for instance, think that Paul did not preach himself in the same sense that he no longer lived?
We are to be the light unto the World Ruben. We are not that Light but we are light unto the World. So yes, in the sense that Galatians and this go together, "that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies."
I still like the old KJV... I can't help it.
I don't mean to be thick, Randy, but I still don't feel like you're explaining what it means, and I'm hesitant to import my own meaning into it, because you do like a phrase that I find to be more trouble than it's worth.
Christ is the Light of the world. The church is the light of the world. No one disagrees. So what does the church do? It points to the totality of Christ's person and work. In what it is and does, the work of Christ is evident (sometimes more, sometimes less); but while there is no salvation outside of the invisible church, and outside of the visible church ordinarily no possibility of salvation, that is not because the church is the saviour or the gospel, but because the church is the sphere created by the saving activity of Christ, the agency that proclaims the gospel of Christ. The gospel is at work in us; but as Machen put it, the gospel is not some principle that has been discovered, but an event: one located and bounded in history by the Virgin Mary, by Pontius Pilate. And while I can stake my soul on that event, and while I can explain that it was the most important thing ever to happen, and while I can even say that I'm partaking of a world that began with that event - yet that event would be quite true, and quite sufficient to save sinners, without me: which is why I am uncomfortable, without even entering into the background that Paul provided for the phrase, encouraging anyone to "be the gospel". If you consider what some people mean by it, of course, then it's downright horrifying.
I doubt I can make my point of view any more clear.
And I have tried to do the same. I have tried to be clear also. Just because some abuse the language doesn't make it poor language. It seems we are at an impasse also. Maybe Rev. Winzer can help me understand.
As Mark Jones made this point....