A quote by Michael Horton.

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

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  1. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Dear friends,

    Please note that the passages of Scripture being quoted refer to the gospel in its objective, formal import. If some deny it, I do not. In my preaching I have sought first and foremost to proclaim the historical Jesus, to set forth "the faith," and to require acceptance and belief in doctrine. If people do not know about Christ they certainly do not know Christ Himself. But all this is the "form of doctrine." The gospel is not only an historical fact; it is also to be personally appropriated. The form of doctrine is be obeyed from the heart by the grace of the living God. By means of the work of the Holy Spirit the elect are given the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, i.e., the external word becomes an inward reality. The faith to be believed becomes the faith by which we believe. The form of sound words, WHAT is believed, properly relates to its substance, and the soul knows WHOM it has believed. Any preacher who confines the gospel to historical fact is distorting the gospel as equally as the person who denies the gospel is historical fact.

    I am sorry that a sound phrase is being perverted by others. But by your own admisssion, the very word "gospel" is being perverted also; are you going to insist that we relinquish that term? If not, then I see no reason why a sound phrase like "living the gospel" should be disowned, especially when it expresses something essential to the nature of the gospel which is being undermined today.
  2. ServantsHeart

    ServantsHeart Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm new to the site and your issue being dealt with,I have nothing to add but I will thank everyone for your earnest effort and input on the subject. I will think upon this more than I have up to this time. I know it's mind bending work pounding these things out so I commend you all for your Berean spirit. May the Lord keep us in unity while we define what that unity of thought is that consist in Sound Doctrine in Scripture.
  3. pilgrim2

    pilgrim2 Puritan Board Freshman

    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." Michael S. Horton (Quoted Jan/Feb 2011 Modern Reformation Magazine pg 14) .

    Mr. Horton is right on. I am not the gospel. Christ's work for sinners is. And me living "the gospel" is not the gospel. The gospel is Christ's work for sinners like me and you.
  4. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Wow, you just added a lot to this conversation. And no one is confusing Christ's work with our own. Go back reread the thread. Comments like this just make me wonder. Did you just read a few posts and then comment? You possibly read a few posts. I don't know. You might as well have made the second post after my original post. Do you really want to go back to the first page of discussion and redo the whole thread again? All your comment reveals to me is that you didn't take time to read what was going on nor did you try to understand what was being said. Well, maybe you just didn't want to interact with the things said in the thread. I don't know. But I don't want this thread to start all over again. And that basically is what your post does. It goes back to post number 2.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011
  5. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    Dear brother Randy, how does your own post add anything to the conversation? Our brother D. L. simply was expressing his thoughts on the matter. Why do you assume he hasn't read the thread? Why do you upbraid him for simply making a statement that others have made as well? We may disagree on whether or not our lives are part of the definition of the Gospel, but both you and I would agree that the Gospel produces a peaceable spirit, especially toward our brethren, even as they disagree with us!
  6. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member


    Please, He didn't interact with anything that has been truly brought to light in this thread.
  7. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Is that an exclusive definition? Do you not believe that the gospel also has reference to Christ's work in sinners? Says Dr. Calvin, "the whole excellence of the gospel depends on this, that it is made life-giving to us by the grace of the Holy Spirit." Again, "Observe, that the design of the gospel is this -- that the image of God, which had been effaced by sin, may be stamped anew upon us, and that the advancement of this restoration may be continually going forward in us during the our whole life, because God makes his glory shine in us by little and little."
  8. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    For those defending Horton's disparagement of the term "living the gospel", I would urge you to pay attention to Rev. Winzer's key observation here. You need to be thinking about what lies behind Horton's problem with the term. Rev. Winzer is onto it.
  9. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    1. The phrase “the gospel” (τὸ εὐανγγέλιον) occurs more than forty times in the New Testament.

    2. In the four gospels the phrase τὸ εὐανγγέλιον is consistently that which is preached; that which is to be believed.

    3. In Acts and the Epistles this same pattern is predominant.

    4. Of the multitude of the imperatives in the New Testament which direct Christian duty [e.g. “Owe no one anything except to love one another” (Rom 13:8); “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mar 16:15) etc.] there is not one which directs him to “live the gospel.”

    5. Nowhere in the N.T. is anyone commended for “living the gospel.”

    6. Nowhere in the N.T. is anyone rebuked for not “living the gospel.”

    7. The phrases “live the gospel” or “living the gospel” appear nowhere in the New Testament.

    8. There is no exegetical basis in the Word of God for passing the phrase “living the gospel” off as a biblical construct. It is rather something read into the text by theologians.

    9 Some theological constructs are helpful, as far as they go. The construct “living the gospel” however defies precise definition and rather than being a helpful tool, it seems to me to be a veritable minefield threatening attempts to construct a truly biblical doctrine of the Christian Life which we are called to live (Romans 12:1, 2 Corinthians 5:15), and in the process muddies the intent of the biblical portrayal of “the gospel” as that “testimony that God has given of His Son. (1Jn 5:10)”
  10. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (2:111) states, "euaggelion, as used by Paul, does not mean only the content of what is preached... For in the very act of proclamation its content becomes reality, and brings about the salvation which it contains. 'The gospel does not merely bear witness to salvation history; it is itself salvation history.'"

    Andrew T. Lincoln (Word Commentary on Ephesians, 39), states, "The truth of this apostolic message is shown in what it accomplishes, for it is the message which has effected the reader's salvation -- 'the good news of your salvation' ... The good news effects a rescue operation, a deliverance from spiritual death, from God's wrath, from bondage to evil powers, sin and the flesh."
  11. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Brother, there have been many texts in this thread which commend those who live the gospel and rebukes those who refuse to obey the gospel. The Mark Jones article supplies more texts demonstrating the same point that the gospel envisions/effects justification and sanctification. Consider also Philippians 1:27, which exhorts us to "conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" and 2 Thess.1:11-12: "With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling and that by His power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."

    I doubt you really want to insist that the exact phrase "living the gospel" be found in the Bible, or that it must meet some exacting standard of "precise definition". For if that were the case, there would be many confessional doctrines we would could reject out of hand as "something read into the text by theologians".
  12. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Mr. Winzer, I've appreciated your insightful posts on this thread, and I just wanted to clarify one point. I have seen you defend "live the gospel" but not "be the gospel": is that omission deliberate? Because it is the latter phrase that troubles me, whereas it is not too hard to see how the first is patient of a good interpretation.
  13. Michael Doyle

    Michael Doyle Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you Bob. I understand the context of your point and find my self in agreement with it. I think I also understand that there is a life, of obedience, faith working in love, that flows out of the gospel. I cannot see how there can be equivocation with all do respect to all on the board.
  14. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    "Be the gospel" is non-sensical. We hear the challenge repeatedly stated, "live what you believe;," so there is no difficulty in transferring that to the gospel insofar as it is believed. But we never hear the challenge, "be what you believe." Besides, you are what you believe anyway: as a man thinketh in his heart so is he. So it's something of a tautology to say "be what you believe."
  15. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Thank you, Mr. Winzer, that's a helpful expansion. If you had the inclination to comment on how Dr. Machen distinguishes the law as a principle from the gospel as an event in his sermon on Romans 6:23 in God Transcendent I would be pleased to hear your thoughts.

    For those who have been reading this thread, but not the sidebar thread, let me quote a very helpful post from over there:

  16. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    I just read the cover title of the newest Baptist Times newspaper, and it made me think of this thread:

    "Doing God in the Workplace"

    A Brit wrote that, but that sounds downright heretical!
  17. Oecolampadius

    Oecolampadius Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hmm.. It's been suggested here by some that the Law-Gospel distinction is at the heart of the issue. If such is indeed the case, then I think that it might be profitable for us, especially those who are just tuning in, to revisit some of the past threads that discussed the matter:

    What is the Reformed view of Law/Gospel?
    "Believe!" Law or Gospel?
  18. Phil D.

    Phil D. Puritan Board Junior

    Josh, I think you may have posted these comments on the wrong thread...
  19. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I must admit some of the reason I started this thread is to point out the differences between our understanding of what the Gospel is. There is a difference between Luther and Old Presbyterians or the old Puritans in my understanding. The Puritans and older Presbyterians had a fuller view of the Gospel than Luther and some of our Modern Day theologians in my estimation. At the same time I see I have caused some consternation and confusion in my posting. I am not the best communicator in the world.

    Maybe my problem here is that it is poor on my part in how I am using the terms. Maybe it is because of the difference of epistemology in my culture compared to others. But when I hear or say be the gospel, as I have heard for years, I hear the charge to live out the Gospel message. Be a part of the message of sacrifice and love for sinners as I am commanded to imitate Christ in His work. In other words I am called to be a picture of Christ and participate in His work. Live the Gospel message as it is befitting to my calling from Christ himself.

    Doing God in the work place? The preciseness of the language is definitely not there. Doing God is yet to be defined. I imagine that a reading of the article would show us how the gentleman would have us interpret it. But to be on the charitable side of things I would interpret that as a charge to do God's will in the work place. I would understand it as a challenge to be a light and glorify God that others might see our good works and glorify God on the day of their visitation. BTW, the title sounds like it is a title to make one inquire. When I took writing in College and High School the preciseness of the title of an article was not to be expected as much as it's ability to pull a possible readers inquiry toward reading the article. That was a principle we learned. That is probably what is done in relation to what Marie is pointing us to look at.

    Thanks for your patience guys.
  20. Michael Doyle

    Michael Doyle Puritan Board Junior

    Randy, thank you for this post as it has caused me to really think about these things. I also had to go back and look at the old posts on the Law/Gospel distinctions. They were very informative as I have really been enjoying Horton`s work but am being careful not to just assume lock, stock and barrel, his accuracy on this. I am confused but in a seemingly good and inquisitve manner.

    I still find myself unmoved in my initial position but cautious.
  21. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I had an acquaintance say this to me and I agree... I reworded it to fit the context here.

    I didn't start seeing this until I started to look at how one defined the Gospel within the last few years. I do believe the above statement to be true. The old Presbyterians and Puritans had a much fuller defined understanding of the Gospel message than Luther and some of our modern day theologians. I am still wrestling with it as this subject also permeates into other areas in my estimation as you can see by my earlier posts.
  22. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    Let me see if I can distinguish where I believe you take issue with this statement.

    I was listening to the WHI today and the hosts said very clearly, in so many words, that the Gospel doesn't tell us to do anything but only announces facts. As I read what you are saying, you take issue with the notion that one simplify the term "Gospel" to simply mean indicative or "what Christ has accomplished...."

    As the Canons of Dordt note:
    In other words, the Reformed Confessions do not simply treat the Gospel as an announcement of what Christ has done but the Gospel includes a command to repent from sin and to believe and there are said to be those who "...obey not the Gospel...."

    Can we agree that your first problem is that you think that the Gospel is more than mere announcement? The Gospel has indicatives (John's herald, Christ's miracles, death, resurrection) but it also includes imperatives (...God calls all men everywhere to repent and believe on Christ....).

    On that note, I think what you're trying to point out is that the Gospel creates the obedience it commands. That is that the Gospel announcement does not merely call upon the resources that a dead man does not possess but grants life to those who the Holy Spirit resurrects by its message or leaves men in greater judgment for ignoring the command of the Gospel.

    Next step: It seems that the Gospel has two aspects to it. It appears there is a pattern of kerygma in the preaching of Christ and the Apostles that has a limited content to those outside the household of faith. Christ seemed to limit his explanations to parables and some of the "inner teaching" when he was alone with His disciples. The epistles also seem to form a body of literature that assumes its hearers have been transported from the wisdom of this age to the wisdom of the age to come. In other words, the teaching is often "interior" and assumes the person is converted.

    There's a real sense, then, where the continual sanctification of the believer is "Gospel work". That is, there is first the aspect of the Gospel that initially converts when the person is "in the world" and then there is the aspect of the Gospel that continues to sanctify the believer and mortify the flesh. Romans 6 is "Gospel" for instance because it speaks about Christ's power over death and sin and the union a believer enjoys in union with Him. It's a call to be who we are in Christ and a reminder that we are not slaves. As we "consider" many realities of our citizenship we are transformed by the renewing of our minds and made holy. Thus it is, repeatedly, that the Gospel reminds us to do things in keeping with who we have been recreated for. Again, it contains indicatives (you have been united to Christ in His death and resurrection) and imperatives (consider yourselves....)

    So, a few thoughts or questions:

    Do you think it's useful to distinguish between gospel as an announcement to the world that is still in blindness with a reduced content that consists of the historical facts along with a command to repent and believe on the one hand and the further indicatives and imperatives of the Gospel that we instruct those who have been transported from death to life on the other?

    Am I reading you correctly that the major problem that you have is that Gospel, as used by some, limits its definition to a single aspect of what the Gospel is and ignores its other aspects?

    Finally, if we can agree on what kind of content the Gospel is, let's consider the idea of "living the Gospel". As I see it, we have two connotations with this term:
    1. Some use it in the sense that we live lives that are consistent with those who believe the Gospel. Living the gospel, in this sense, still means that the Gospel is not precisely to be identified as the believer but as something the believer trusts in and has been transformed by in a demonstrable way.
    2. Others increasingly use it to make their life itself the content of the Gospel ("Preach the gospel always, If necessary use words." ~ St. Francis of Assisi.) There is a confusion that the actions of the believer or the dramatic lifechange of the person become the content. People speak of testimony today as "I used to smoke crack and was miserable but now I'm a happy, well adjusted person..." as the Gospel.

    In other words, I think we would agree that the Gospel is always preachable content in the sense of words about Christ's work and its implications to men, women, boys, and girls. I think we can also agree that, while the Gospel creates that transformation in men and women, the fruit always needs to be distinguished from that which actually gives life to the fruit.
  23. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Rich, you have provided clear analysis and pointed questions. I will try as best I can to answer those questions so as to bring out my main concerns.

    On one level, yes; to ask an unbeliever to walk worthy of his calling would essentially be a covenant of works since he has no grace with which to walk. The one duty incumbent on an unbeliever is to repent and believe the gospel. However, on another level, I don't believe that means reducing the content of the gospel. Law for an unbeliever is pure law. Every duty preaches the need of a Saviour to him. Every promise of the gospel sweetly draws him to the Saviour. Meanwhile he should be hearing the doctrines of grace in their fulness, and realising that his own calling is altogether of grace, not of works, lest any man should boast. Alot of the problem with modern Calvinism is the result of reduced content. Unlike previous centuries, we are seeing people converted Arminians and having to undergo another conversion to Calvinism. This is terribly detrimental to the individual believer and to the work of the church because it means there are all kinds of hybrid patterns of discipleship.

    Our reformed soteriology is very plain -- justification and sanctification are distinct yet inseparable works. If justification alone is the message of the gospel then from where do we derive the message of sanctification? The justification only definition of the gospel separates justification from sanctification. Pure reformed theology always taught that we are justified by faith; that faith is an exercise of a quickened man, that a man is quickened by the Holy Spirit, and that the Holy Spirit quickens a man by creating a new principle of holiness within him; hence justification cannot be separated from sanctification even though they must be held to be two very different things. My concern is that this teaching of a justification only gospel is antinomian, not reformed, and can only have disastrous consequences if it is accepted. Hugh Binning states, "Christ came not only to spread his garment over our nakedness and deformity, but really and effectually to be a physician to save our souls, to cure all our inward distempers. The Gospel is not only a doctrine of a righteousness without us, but of a righteousness both without, for us, and within us too; 'that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us,' etc. Christ without, happiness itself without, cannot make us happy till they come in within us and take up a dwelling in our souls." We have so many miserable professing Christians because their souls are not being healed. Their justification really is a legal fiction because it is not accompanied by sanctification.

    Yes; I think we, as in you and I, agree on that. As this thread has demonstrated, however, there is clearly a difference of opinion regarding whether the gospel creates the transformation. As always, I am refreshed by our kindred spirit. Blessings!
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011
  24. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    Thanks for the responses.
    Perhaps I'm reading too much in your response but I was simply trying to make sure I sorted out for onlookers that the term "Gospel" is used broadly in the Scriptures. It seems to me that some limit the aspect of the Gospel to the first aspect I highlighted. I wasn't advocating that the Gospel be limited to the historical indicatives but pointing out that there are imperatives even in the Acts gospel presentation and also noting that the Epistles use Gospel in a way that broadens out its use considerably. Paul seems to refer to much of Romans as "my Gospel". That presentation of the Gospel shifts to much more explanation of the implication of the historical facts that the herald announces.

    Maybe I'm not being clear but my point was to try to show that there is a sense in which the Gospel has an "open air" quality to it of announcing the historical events of Christ and His work along with a call to repentance and faith. In addition to that quality, I was trying to note that the Gospel has an "how you give explanation to those who have come inside the Church" quality to it as well. I never intended to limit the Gospel inside the Church to say that there are things you should only be teaching the converted if that's what you thought I was implying.

    Bottom line: I was trying to put my finger on what I think you might have a problem with and that is that some limit "gospel" to the open air announcement and even take away from that aspect by insisting that the commands of the Gospel (repent and believe) are not really Gospel at all.

    I hope you don't think I believe otherwise. I'm reading Owen on Sin and Temptation again. One of the most freeing things for me has been getting the message in my bloodstream that Christ, the Stronger Man, has plundered. I was just telling a group at Church on Sunday that I often hear that the motivation for Christian service is gratitude for the free grace that has been given us in Christ. On the one hand, I cannot argue that gratitude motivates me but it also assumes that gratitude then impels me to act on my own steam. Rather, I believe, Romans 6:1-11 (among other places) makes abundantly clear that our union with an indestructible life is the "engine" that impels. It is not "Rich is grateful and obeys" but "Rich is grateful and obeys because he is united to an indestructible life" and "Rich battles sin because sin as power has been put to death on the Cross with Christ." That's Gospel.
  25. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Rich, I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I was taking issue with anything you said. As I noted at the top of my post, these are my concerns in general, not objections to anything you wrote. I can recall reading some material of yours on the book of Romans and I was left in no doubt as to your understanding and commitment to the reformed view of sanctification. I think it is the fact that Romans is fundamental to our spiritual pilgrimage which gives us a mutual understanding on the points under discussion. Not too many people today recognise the depth of Romans as "the gospel." In fact, there are not very many who will accept the sense of accountability which lay on the apostle's heart to articulate the gospel the way that he did. Again, I note with gratitude the kindred spirit we share in these things.
  26. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Thanks Matthew. I didn't doubt your kindred spirit. I just wanted to ensure I was understanding your concern precisely.
  27. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    Does Mark Jones really regard the knowledge of Christ as distinct from conformity to Christ? I can hardly agree this is Biblical;

    “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

    “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

    The message is clear and glorious; the more we grasp of the beauty of Christ, the more we conform to His image! Christ's glory is such a powerful glory that it constrains us to be changed in our very nature!
  28. SolaGratia

    SolaGratia Puritan Board Junior

    The below message was very helpful to me:

    Calvin and the Gospel

    by Martin Foord

    Martin Foord examines Calvin's understanding of what the gospel is, and offers some penetrating applications for today's preachers and theologians.

    This talk was originally given at Trinity Theological College in Perth, Australia in June 2009. Our thanks to Trinity and to Marty for allowing us to publish this excellent talk here.

    Here: Calvin and the Gospel
  29. Matthew V

    Matthew V Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree with Horton, as long as we understand what he's trying to argue against.
    Horton rocks.
  30. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Nobody is disagreeing with Horton in the context of what he said.... Here we go again. Back to the first page of the thread. We are discussing the two phrases in light of Reformed soteriology and whether or not..... Matthew I am curious. Did you read the whole thread and understand it? What does Horton Rock about? I too have a lot of appreciation for Horton.

    Did you read this blog?

    In Light of the Gospel » Blog Archive » The Gospel and Sanctification

    I posted the whole thing in one of my posts.

    Just curious if you just did a drive by comment or if you really looked into what was being said in the thread as it developed. Because I repeatedly said that I agreed with Horton's quote with his qualifier.
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