We Are Not At the Middle of Transformation and Conversion

As Christians we have heard amazing cases of radical conversion and transformation.  However, similar accounts can be found in every religion and even in secular programs.  Transformed lives certainly witness to the power of the gospel, but precisely because the gospel itself is not our imperfect transformation but Christ’s perfect work on our behalf.

– Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 70

Self-Help Was Not Their Defense

As the apostles were brought before Roman authorities, they said nothing about how Jesus had helped them put their marriages back together or how they found the gospel helpful and useful in daily living.  There may well have been stories like that to report.  However, that was not their gospel.  Rather, they testified to the datable events, which they assumed to have been well-known to their judges.  It was not a “religion story”, but an international headline of immense world historical significance.  (People aren’t persecuted for having an invisible friend who helps then them through personal crises.)  They referred the secular rulers to eyewitnesses who were still living to back up their claim.  If the witnesses only offered good advice, spiritual and moral therapy, or defended their “product” for its pragmatic usefulness, Rome would have had no trouble adding another cult to the soup of imperial religion.

– Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 68

The Gospel Is Not that Jesus Lives In Our Hearts

It is certainly Good News that because of the gospel Christ has sent his Spirit to indwell us as a deposit guaranteeing our final salvation.  Nevertheless, the gospel is not that Jesus lives in our heart; it is that he lived for us, died for us, rose for us, reigns for us, and will return for us at the end of the age.  The gospel indeed transforms us, but precisely because it is an objective historical fact about what someone else has accomplished for us.

– Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 67

The Gospel Is Not What Happens Inside of Us

The resurrection is not simply an amazing miracle to which we yield our assent; it was the event that secured the objective justification of every sinner who is identified with Christ by faith.  So the gospel is not what happens inside of us, which varies from person to person and from week to week, but the news of an objective accomplishment by God that cannot be diminished, altered, improved or completed by us.

– Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 66

This is the Simplest News to Grasp and Yet the Most Difficult News to Accept

This is the simplest news to grasp and yet the most difficult news to accept.  Paul considered this doctrine to be so central that he regarded its explicit denial as “anathema” – that is, an act of heresy that the Galatian church was on the verge of committing (Galatians 1:8-9).  For Paul, a denial of justification was tantamount to a denial of grace and even to a denial of Christ, “for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose” (Galatians 2:21).

– Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 65

Do Words Have Meaning Anymore?

That God should play the tyrant over man is the dismal story of unrelieved oppression; that man should play the tyrant over man is the usual dreary record of human futility; but that man should play the tyrant over God and find Him a better man than himself is an astonishing drama indeed.  Now, we may call that doctrine exhilarating or we may call it devastating, we may call it revelation or we may call it rubbish, but if we call it dull, then words have no meaning at all.

Dorothy Sayers

as quoted by Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 64

If This is Dull, then What, In Heaven’s Name, Is Worthy of Being Called Exciting?

Official Christianity, of late years, has been having what is known as “bad press.”  We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist too much upon doctrine – “dull dogma”, as people call it.  The fact is the precise opposite.  It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness.  The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man – and the dogma is the drama…This is the dogma we find so dull – this terrifying drama of which God is the victim and the hero.  If this is dull, then what, in Heaven’s name, is worth to be called exciting?

– Dorothy Sayers

as quoted by Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 63

Our Real Crisis is the Righteousness of God

Our real crisis is the righteousness of God, but the solution is the righteousness from God that is a free gift.  Someone wisely offered the following acronym for GRACE: “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”  Jesus Christ, the Lord of the covenant who gave the law, became the representative servant of the covenant, perfectly fulfilling it and bearing its judgment in our place.

– Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 62

We Would Have No Hope

In Romans 3:9-20 Paul summarized his argument thus far: The law condemns everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, shutting every mouth before God’s tribunal.  The righteousness of God leaves no one standing.  Everyone is guilt.  One may not be guilty before a human court, or before the court of public opinion, or in the eyes of neighbors, souses or friends.  One may not be convicted in one’s own sight.  Nevertheless, the only verdict that really matters is God’s, and it is unambiguous.  If the only revelation that we had were that which is gleaned from our natural knowledge of God’s existence, power and righteousness, we would have no hope.

– Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 62

Is Life Transformation the Church’s Purpose?

The proper preaching of God’s demands will first of all drive us to despair rather than encourage us in our attempt to ascend to glory.  We are frequently told that the church is in the business of “life transformation”.  However, both the problem and God’s solution are greater than we ever imagined.  God does not come to improve our life, but to end it;  not to transform the “old Adam”, but to kill it and raise us together with Christ in newness of life.  Our transformed life will never be transformed enough to pass through God’s judgment safely, but “salvation is from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9)

– Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 60