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The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World Hardcover – October 1, 2009
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From the Inside Flap
If the news is big enough, it can change your world.
Think of the news stories that have rocked our nation. Men on the moon. Victory in war. Celebrity deaths. These are nothing compared to the magnitude of the news of what God did in Jesus Christ.
Distinguished from all religions and philosophies of life, the Christian faith is, at its heart, "good news." The church originates, flourishes, and fulfills its mission as that part of God's world that has been redeemed and redefined by this strange announcement that seems foolish and powerless to the rest of the world.
This book explores the greatest story ever told and the surprising ways in which God is at work, gathering a people for his feast in a fast-food world.
From the Back Cover
When did the good news become just good advice?
Christianity doesn't work as just a moral philosophy or code of ethics. It makes sense only when it is built upon the foundation of the gospel, the good news. The simple message that God has done everything he requires to reconcile sinners to himself is not just the church's slogan, but its lifeblood.
In this candid and hopeful book, Michael Horton challenges us to reorient our faith and our practice toward the transformative, Christ-centered gospel--both in the church and in the world.
"Mike Horton has once again hit the nail on the head. With engaging clarity he demonstrates that the gospel is not just for non-Christians; it's for Christians too. In compelling ways he shows that the gospel doesn't just ignite the Christian life; it's the fuel that keeps Christians going every day. Horton's book is a flavorsome reminder that in order for Christians to make a difference in this world, we must be driven by something otherworldly--namely, the gospel."--Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and author of Unfashionable
"In this timely and refreshing work Michael Horton invites Christians to step off the treadmills we have fashioned and to rest fully in the gospel, which announces what God has graciously granted in the person and work of his son, Jesus Christ our Savior."--Ken Jones, pastor, Greater Union Baptist Church, Compton, California
"Michael Horton is one who understands the time. In Christless Christianity, Horton diagnosed the evangelical dilemma. In The Gospel-Driven Life he provides the solution. More than a fad, a twelve step program, or a forty-day challenge, Horton reminds us that the gospel is the everyday brick and mortar of a life built on the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Before you read another book, read this one."--Anthony Carter, lead pastor, East Point Church, East Point, Georgia, and author of On Being Black and Reformed
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This gospel-centeredness permeates the whole book, leaving other pursuits, whether purpose or prosperity or therapeutic moralism, open to criticism. Horton does point to the shortcomings of such approaches but this book is less a critique than a call for the church to return to the gospel as the focus of its life.
The first part of the book ends with chapter 6 entitled the promise driven life where Mike Horton contrasts the gospel (or promise) driven life with Rick Warren's purpose driven life. The life of the christian writes Horton is driven by the gospel (the good news that Jesus died for our sins on the cross and was raised for our justification) and not by purposes (works). The good news of the gospel is so powerful that it changes us, it not only justifies us in God's eyes but it sanctifies us (it changes our lives and we walk in newness of life). The gospel is both necessary and sufficient for both converting the unbeliever and for driving the
life of the christian.
Horton also highlights that doctrine alone is not sufficient. We need to understand before the historic facts, God's plan of Salvation and how it unravels from Genesis to Revelation (the drama) then we can see how the doctrine fits into the drama. Once we understand the doctrine (we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone) Horton moves into doxology (praise and worship)and then into discipleship (obeying God in thanksgiving and service). So drama, doctrine, doxology, and discipleship are required in that order, and we can see this in the way the epistles of the New Testament are laid out following this order.
In chapter 7 the second part of the book starts that focuses more on the church as a cross-cultural community of believers. The gospel again is what creates the church and binds it together. This church model stands in sharp contrast to the modern evangelical model where the church is purposely divided by age group, marital status, and ethnic groups in a clearly unbiblical manner. Also Horton points out that the church is built by God, who calls people by the gospel, again this is in contrast to the modern evangelica church's belief that the church is built by the charisma and technique of the pastor.
Those are just some few highlights. This book is a must read for everybody, but specially pastors and elders if they are to understand the power of the gospel and what the mission of the church is, neither of which seems to be well understood today. Otherwise we wouldn't have a multitude of church programs and methods for evangelism that rely on the wisdom of man. The mission of the church is the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments. The modern evangelical church wants to be both the United Way (and cure the world's problems) and your personal psychologist (the pastor thinks he can improve your life with his therapeutic preaching). When attempting to do this the church fails in fulfilling the great commission, the only reason for its insistence. Nowhere in the book of Acts or the epistles of the New Testament is an example of the church feeding the poor (there's only collections for other churches going though difficulty or christians sharing their possessions among themselves) or helping the community. Neither is there one example of the apostles or other christians testifying how Christ improved their relationships (marriage or being a better father or mother) or their professional lives or financial situation. Now all this is a important, but like Horton points out if christians want to help their communities they should join the United Way and work alongside unbelievers, instead of expecting the church to become the United Way. Same can be said about family counsel or financial advice, it is not the church's area of expertise, and the pastor's role is to preach the word and administer the sacraments.
The gospel presentation in this book is unmatched. Horton's explanation of law and gospel takes us back all the way to Martin Luther and forces us to admit that the evangelical church of the 21st century does not understand the law nor the gospel. The modern evangelical church does not get salvation (repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ). It does not preach the Law (they don't want to condemn anybody, so the wrath of God on all ungodliness is not preached) nor does it preach the gospel (the good news of salvation from the wrath of God by grace through faith alone in Christ alone).
Another area that Horton highlights is that for the Reformers (Luther and Calvin) the role of the church (pastor and elders) is to serve the congregation of christians. The pastor and elders are servant leaders in the biblical model. The christians are served by the church, and then these christians will in return serve in the world (work or occupation, family, community). This was the Reformation's view. Today there has been a role reversal, where christians are expected to serve the church and be givers through service instead of receivers. This is going back to the pre-reformation times when service in church activities was considered by the catholic church as superior to secular service (in the workplace, family, community). For the reformers christians served in their secular vocations, for the modern evangelical church christians are to serve in the church, so there's no difference now between evangelicals and Rome (the catholic church).
There's much more I could like to cover but I'll let you discover it when read this book from cover to cover.