And we need a communion of saints he has chosen and redeemed with us and for us. We need ordinary believers of every generation, race and socioeconomic background to whom we’re united by baptism to one Lord and one faith by one Spirit. We simply need ordinary pastors to deliver the word of life and its sacraments faithfully, elders to guide us to maturity and deacons to help keep the temporal gifts circulating in the body.
– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 165
This has been the vicious cycle of evangelical revivalism ever since: a pendulum swinging between enthusiasm and disillusionment rather than steady maturity in Christ through participation in the ordinary life of the covenant community. The regular preaching of Christ from all of the Scriptures, baptism, the Supper, the prayers of confession and praise, and all of the the other aspects of ordinary Christian fellowship are seen as too ordinary. Whether one agrees with that will depend largely on whether one believes that God saves sinners or we save oursevels withGod’s help.
– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 78-79
Word, baptism and the Supper: these are the Spirit’s weapons in the kingdom that Christ is building. Throughout our warfare in this life, the Spirit brings us back to our location “in Christ”, signified and sealed in our baptism and our shared meal. Through these means of grace, the Spirit not only gathers us together in Christ but continues to build us up into Christ as our living head. In this way, the church is no longer merely one voluntary association alongside others, but the only truly cross-cultural communion of saints in the world.
Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 202
Of course, baptism calls forth our commitment to die daily to self and to live to God in Christ, but it can only do that because it comes to us from God alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone. As God’s sovereign pledge, baptism is the inexhaustible spring to which we return every day, not to compare our life with Christ’s but to find our life in Christ.
Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 201-202
Following Christ is not the means of, much less an alternative to, but is the consequence of our union with Christ. Like Christ’s own death, burial and resurrection, baptism is not a repeatable event. So our Christian life is focused on objective, perfectly completed events in the past, of which the Spirit has made us beneficiaries through the gospel here and now.
Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 151
God addresses us in his Word. We see his promise ratified in baptism and receive Christ’s sacrifice afresh in the Supper. Paul reminds us that Communion links us to Christ’s sacrifice in the past (I Corinthians 11:24-25). It also directs us to the future: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cum, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again” (I Corinthians 11:26) Even in the present we fed on Christ’s body and blood by faith: “The cup of blessing, which we bless, is not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break , is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (I Corinthians 10:16). Connected together to our Living Head in heaven, we are joined together as one body on earth: “For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (I Corinthians 10:17).
Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 215
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate…The onlyman who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ…We…have gathered like eagles round the carcass of cheap grace, and there we have drunk the poison which has killed the life of following Christ
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
as quoted by Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; Crossway; Wheaton, Ill.; copyright 2004; p. 90
Being missional often seems not only to mean the appropriate pursuit of methods of informal witness and service in addition to the official gathering of the covenant people but also to dispense with all formal elements of the public service itself. Again this is nothing new or especially postmodern. Those of us raised in conservative evangelicalism are familiar with the contrast often made between getting saved and joining a church, as if evangelism could be separated from baptism and discipleship and as if union with Christ could be separated from union with his visible body.
– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 251
Once your faith is focused on what happens inside you instead of what happened outside of you in history, it is easy to say that what you really need are good resources for private experience and moral improvement rather than any external Word. However weak and foolish in the eyes of the world, God’s methods and structures, clearly prescribed in Scripture, are consistent with the message. Preaching is not a bully pulpit for either our personal threats or helpful suggestions; it is a saving advent of Christ by his Spirit through His word. Baptism is not our act of commitment to us, based on our decision; it is God’s act of commitment to us, based on his decision. The Lord’s Supper is not remembering and rededicating but focuses on God’s promise to give us his son as our food and drink – certifying and ratifying our inclusion in the covenant of grace.
– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 224
The gospel is so odd, even to us Christians, that we have to get it again and again. That is why God has graciously created different avenues for getting it to us: he proclaims it by the mouth of another in Christ’s name, bathes me in it with water and puts in my hand through bread and wine.
– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 121