A few years ago the terms Depraved and Christian were being used together. It raised some eyebrows back then so I started to document some of the communication and reviews that were being done by men such as Richard Phillips, David Murray, Tullian Tchividjian, and a few others. The discussion provoked me into seeing that this topic also had to do with how the Gospel was being defined when I read this quote by Tullian Tchividjian .
“The gospel, in fact, transforms us precisely because it’s not itself a message about our internal transformation but about Christ’s external substitution.”
That sounded foreign and a bit off kilter from what I had read in the Bible. Especially after I felt confirmed in my understanding by scripture and what Dr. David Murray said in response to this.
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.
I found that a Modern definition of the Gospel had permeated the Church and it seemed very truncated and deficient. So I wrote a third blog post highlighting the Gospel. It was in response to what I had learned concerning what Dr. Michael Horton had to say about the Gospel.
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.
Of course, I threw some of my thinking into the fray because I had been dealing with these issues on a personal level for many years. So just for a rehash of some older posts I present the blogs that were done a few years ago.
I have been a moderator of a Confessional Theological Discussion Forum for many years now. Some may wonder if I ever get tired of having to wade through the issues as it always seems that there is some new pressing issue that the Church has to deal with. The answer is yes. I have had to pull back quite a few times and refocus on what is important. I have found myself in need of repentance for attitudes I have developed. I have grown weary of studying things I didn’t want to. But I have also been graced to grow in the knowledge and Grace of Our Saviour. He has been so good to us. Even though I have learned we all have differences many of those differences actually help us grow. So I don’t take it lightly that we have disagreements or might rub each other the wrong way. As Iron Sharpens Iron says the old Proverb. This one thing I have learned, If we are commanded to love our enemies as ourselves how much more should we love the Church and each other for whom Christ died. May that be a force no one can overcome.
I still believe Orthodoxy leads to Orthopraxy. Therefore I strive to know and grow.
May HIs Kingdom Come on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Old Posts on the Modern Reformed Movement