(What is the Gospel?) Depraved Christianity might be Antinomian Christianity pt. 3


Rev. Phillips stated this in his first paragraph of his blog critiquing Rev. Tullian Tchividjian….

One of the most pressing concerns in Reformed churches today is the importance of getting the gospel right. Recently, Reformed churches have had to oppose the Federal Vision theology, which compromises justification by inserting good works into the definition of faith. Unfortunately, Christians tend to defend doctrines by erring in the opposite direction. So it is that Reformed churches are presently facing a corruption of the gospel by the virtual denial of sanctification and good works….

David Murray’s critique is very good…. Does Jesus + Nothing = Everything?  HeadHeartHand Blog
Does Jesus + Nothing = Everything? | HeadHeartHand Blog

Pastor Tullian’s quote from his book ‘Jesus Nothing Everything’…

I used to think that growing as a Christian meant I had to somehow go out and obtain the qualities and attitudes I was lacking. To really mature, I needed to find a way to get more joy, more patience, more faithfulness, and so on. Then I came to the shattering realization that this isn’t what the Bible teaches, and it isn’t the gospel. What the Bible teaches is that we mature as we come to a greater realization of what we already have in Christ. The gospel, in fact, transforms us precisely because it’s not itself a message about our internal transformation but about Christ’s external substitution. We desperately need an advocate, mediator, and friend. But what we need most is a substitute—someone who has done for us and secured for us what we could never do and secure for ourselves. (94, Kindle Edition)

Tullian Tchividjian sounds like Horton, doesn’t he? Remember the three minute video?

 Horton notes…

The term “gospel” is a very precise term, a particular kind of word, or kind of speech in the Bible.  It refers to God’s promise of salvation in Christ.  The gospel is a victory announcement.  It never tells us something to do.  That is the business of the law.  Rather, the gospel tells us something that has been done.

Consequently, those who speak of living the gospel or doing the gospel commit a category mistake.   More importantly, they make the most basic theological mistake a person could make, namely, confuse the law and the gospel.  And if we confuse the law and the gospel, then we will make ourselves partly your own saviors, adding to the work of Christ.

Is Horton Correct?  …. As a Pastor aquaintance has noted….

The most serious problem is that Horton’s indictment is based upon a shaky foundation.  Horton’s critique is predicated upon his narrow and strict definition of the term “gospel.”  But is that the only way the Bible uses or defines the term “gospel”?  The answer is no!  Romans 2:16 connects the future judgment with the gospel and 2 Thess. 1:8 and 1 Pet. 4:17 both speak of obeying the gospel.  The gospel is to be obeyed.  But how do you obey a victory announcement?  How do you obey what God has done?  So either the Bible itself confuses law and gospel or it uses the word “gospel” differently (at times) than Horton.  Since the latter must be true, then Horton shouldn’t make the strict definition of the gospel, the one and only definition of the gospel.  And he most certainly shouldn’t make any charges of legalism towards those who use a broader yet biblical definition of the gospel.

Fyi, the note on 2 Thess. 1:8 in the Reformation Study Bible is as follows:

§ 1:8 obey the gospel. The gospel must be accepted, believed, and obeyed (1 Pet. 4:17). Its divine command is for absolute surrender to God through the peace made by Jesus Christ.

Dr. David Murray writes…

I agree that the Gospel is certainly a message about Christ’s external substitution. But it does not stop there. The Gospel is also a message about internal transformation (a major part of sanctification). Christ saves us from our sins objectively and subjectively, from the penalty of sin and the presence of sin.

Guys, this is a problem. Others are seeing it. This is a truncated Gospel that is being proclaimed and one without the full truth and power of a message that has to do with the whole of Reconciliation. Reconciliation is about more than just justification before God.  The Gospel is about man’s reconciliation with God, totally.   The Gospel is about a restored relationship with God.  And this is Life Eternal that they know… (John 17:3)

Justification removes fear from Eternal Condemnation but it shouldn’t remove fear from chastisement or judgement from God when we are living in sin. That is what First Corinthians Chapter 10 is all about.  And it is precisely the Mosaic Covenant that St. Paul is referencing when appealing to how we should live as Christians in the Spirit of Christ.

In this Modern Reformed Thought some are weakening the sensitivity of the Conscience which needs to be awakened unto holy living. Sure we aren’t condemned before God in Eternity because Christ has removed the curse of the Covenant of Works, but we should fear our heavenly Father when we sin. That is something the World lacks.  It lacks a Heavenly Father who cares about how we live in His Kingdom.  Remember God chastises his children because He loves them.  If we had good fathers growing up they disciplined us because they loved us and wanted us to live peaceably with them.

This reconciliation thing is also about 1 John 1:9 and our daily life. It is about sanctification and our daily walk with our King in His Kingdom. This truncated gospel these guys are proclaiming is growing void of the part  that runs next to our justification in the Gospel.  It takes Sanctification and removes it from the Gospel because it is supposedly of the law, which is not a part of the Gospel. They say so themselves. That is antinomian because according to them we should look only to justification for all things according them.  Our Union with Christ is where we should look for all things.  Justification and Sanctification both proceed from that.  Their scheme divorces our daily walk with God from the sanctifying grace of reconciliation.  The law is opposed to us soteriologically because the law opposes the Gospel.  The Law only Condemns in the scheme of soteriology according to them.  It is not a part of the Gospel or salvation.  The Gospel is only about justification and not about sanctification in their understanding.  The Gospel and Reconciliation have a a two fold benefit though, Justification and Sanctification.  Both are made realities by the Spirit of God in our Union with Christ.

The Gospel is about our Adoption and our living with God daily.  We should look to our Union with Christ which brings a two-fold Grace as Calvin put it. This Modern Reformed Thought Gospel that is only declarative is a subtle moving away from the Gospel of the Kingdom.

I will say this.  At least these Modern Day Reformed Thought guys get justification correct.

Edited to accommodate those whom want to defend Horton.

2 thoughts on “(What is the Gospel?) Depraved Christianity might be Antinomian Christianity pt. 3

  1. Trey Jasso says:

    If I may ask a question for clarity rather than agreement. Are you saying that Horton (assuming that’s he’s in that crowd of “Modern Day Reformed Thought”) is saying the Gospel is only “the good news” of the work done by Christ? And you are trying to say the Gospel needs to be presented with an imperative to sanctification?


  2. Mr. Jasso,
    Have you seen the three minute video presentation that Michael Horton has made and is linked to above? Did you see what Tullian Tchividjian said concerning the gospel not being about our internal transformation but about Christ’s external substitution?

    That should answer the first question. If you have doubts about what they mean you can listen to Dr. Horton and the Panel on the White Horse Inn discuss this topic during one of their discussions on the Great Commission.

    Now, let me see if I can rephrase your question. Are you asking if it is imperative that sanctification be presented in a Gospel presentation?

    The terminology is rather clumsy for me to understand but let me explain what I know. The Gospel is about the reconciliation of God and man through a mediator. It is about man being made complete in Christ and fit for everlasting life. I was discipled by a group called the Navigators back in the early 80’s. I was in the Navy. We had an illustration called ‘The Bridge Illustration’. It presented the message of Salvation. It showed how man by his sin was separated from a Holy God. And that Christ came to reconcile God and man. Man’s reconciliation cost Christ everything but it was Eternal life that man received. Eternal life was not earned but was a gift by grace. It involved our need to repent and call upon Christ for this gift. It was to be received. This reconciliation wasn’t just about a free pass to heaven though. This Gospel message linked Life with knowing God.
    (Joh 17:3) And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

    The door was Christ. He was the only way to God. But there were instruments by which that reconciliation came about. Faith was one as was repentance. Both are exercised and gifts of God to us. We don’t earn them nor earn anything by them. They are results of God’s grace in our lives. Thus the Good News is about our Reconciliation with God in Christ. All of Salvation. Our justification, sanctification, and our Glorification are the whole Gospel. Now is it imperative that every little detail of how that works be defined to someone when we are witnessing to them? I don’t think so. But the message is about our reconciliation to God through Christ. It is a message of Eternal Life that is a free gift and a promise that Christ knows His Sheep and they know Him. It is also a promise that He will get them into the fold and keep them.

    I hope that answers your question.

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