But This is to Deny the Gospel

Instead of following the example of John the Baptist, who pointed away from himself to “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29), we offer our own lives and transformations as the good news.  But this is to deny the gospel and therefore to cut off the power of true godliness and neighbor love at its root.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 156

The Gospel Comes Not to Help Us Get Our Act Together

We are not sick, but spiritually dead.  We are not good people with room for improvement, but ungodly.  We are not children who need a little direction, but lost.  The gospel comes not to help us get our act together, fixing us up for a night on the town, making us ore respectable to ourselves or to others.  Rather, it comes to kill us and make us alive as completely new creatures.  Not a new and improved self, but a self buried and raised with Christ, is the gospel’s message of genuine transformation.

– Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 76

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

How Do We Come By a True Transformation?

True transformation comes by gaining a new understanding of God, ourselves and the world.  What we are after ultimately is to be conformed to the image of Christ.  We are to be like Jesus, though not in the sense that we can ever gain deity.  We are not god-men.  But our humanity is to mirror and reflect the perfect humanity of Jesus.  A tall order!

– R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Ill., Copyright 1985, Kindle Edition

What Is Necessary for us to Become Pelagians?

All that is necessary for us to become unwitting Pelagians is less preaching and teaching of the law and the gospel – downplaying the means of grace (Word and sacrament) in favor of our means of transforming ourselves and our world.

– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 244

If This is the Gospel, Then How Can We Be Recepients of God’s Grace?

After all, if the gospel is about our experience and activity in personal and social transformation rather than how we can be regular recipients of God’s gifts, the means of grace are beside the point.  What we really need are means of commitment and action.  However, this “missional” activism unhinged from the methods God has prescribed has not only failed to lead to an upswing in professions of faith among “all who are far off,” but has led to burnout, instability and dropout among believers and their children.

– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 197

Why Do We Come to Church?

We come to church, it seems, less to be transformed by the Good News than to celebrate our own transformation and to receive fresh marching orders for transforming ourselves and our world.  Rather than being swept into God’s new world, we come to church to find out how we can make God relevant to the “real world” that the New Testament identifies as the one that is actually fading away.

– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 19

Information Does Not Lead to Transformation

Sadly, some Christians believe that information alone will result in transformation.  However, the entire point of study is to repent of what grieves the Lord and become increasingly transformed to be more and more like Jesus.

– Driscoll, Mark and Gary Breshears, Vintage Church: Timeless Truths and Timely Methods, Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL, 2008, p. 197

Holiness is the Goal of the Growth of the Church

Holiness is the goal of the growth of the church as the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:15).  We are to grow together to the full maturity of Christ.  We know that, when the Lord comes, we shall be made like Him (I John 3:2).  For that reason, perhaps, evangelical Christians have discounted the importance of the transformation that the Lord seeks now, before His coming.  Paul labored night and day to present the church as a pure virgin to Christ (II Corinthians 11:2).  He did not limit his work to saving souls, in the relaxed confidence that the Lord would finish their sanctification when the trumpet sounds.  Rather, his prayer and labor for the Thessalonians were that they may be ‘blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones.’ (I Thessalonians 3:13) 

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 65