Length: 266 pgs
Author: Michael Horton
In Christless Christianity Michael Horton wrote concerning the alternative gospel of the American church, in his sequel, The Gospel Driven-Life, he writes concerning the true gospel, the gospel by which we live – every day. The first concerns the crisis, the second the solution.
Christianity lives in proportion to its understanding of the gospel. Block out the light of the gospel and the plant withers. American Christianity may seem like a mighty oak from the outside, but with the Son eclipsed she rots from the inside out. The gospel is not simply how we begin the Christian life, it is not a jumpstart. As Tullian Tchividjian said in his endorsement of this book, “the gospel doesn’t just ignite the Christian life; it’s the fuel that keeps Christians going every day.”
This book is full of life-giving light, the light of the gospel, the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). We have no other message, why would you want one?
The book is divided into two sections. In the first Horton reminds us in vivid language of the best good news. The gospel comes to us as news, it is not about what we do; it’s about what has been done for us. In the next section he describes the kind of community that the gospel creates.
Preparing this post has made me want to reread the book very soon. I hope you will be intrigued such that you wish to read the book twice before having read it once.
The Bible is not a collection of timeless principles offering a gentle thought for the day. It is not a resource for our self-improvement. Rather, it is a dramatic story that unfolds from promise to fulfillment, with Christ at the center. Its focus is God and his action. God is not a supporting actor in our drama; it is the other way around. God does not exist to make sure that we are happy and fulfilled. Rather, we exist to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. God is not a facilitator of our ‘life transformation’ projects. He is not a life coach. Rather, he is our Creator, Lawgiver, Judge, and Covenant Lord.
Our real crisis is the righteousness of God, but the solution is the righteousness from God that is a free gift.
God outloves our hatred!
We not only have to get the gospel out; we have to get it right.
The riches of this estate that believers inherit are so vast that the will must be proclaimed every week. Christ’s attorney must read and expound the will in sections over a lifetime. Not just once, but every day we must renounce our trust in other would-be lords, saviors, providers and promise makers. We must let go of our anxious grip on our own lives, our sense of being in control, our own integrity and confidence in our religious experience. We must renounce the contracts we have entered that promised to make our life meaningful and say ‘Amen!’ to the will as it is read to us.
It is often said that we must apply the Scriptures to daily living. But this is to invoke the Bible too late, as if we already knew what ‘life’ or ‘daily living’ meant. The problem is not merely that we lack the right answers, but that we don’t even have the right questions until God introduces us to his interpretation of reality.
The more we hear and understand concerning the gospel, the more our faith grows and strengthens. Nevertheless, the weakest faith clings to a sufficient Savior. Faith itself does not save us from judgment any more than the quality of one’s confidence in the lifeguard is responsible for being rescued from drowning. It is the rescuer not the one rescued, who saves. In fact, it is in the very act of rescuing that a victim finds himself or herself clinging to the rescuer in confidence. I have yet to see a headline like, “Drowning Victim Rescued by Superior Clinging.” It is always the lifeguard who is credited with the rescue. It is on account of Christ that we are justified, through faith, and not on account of our faith itself.
In that wonderful yet often painful process of becoming part of Christ’s body we still want to make the news ourselves, but instead find ourselves being incorporated into the news of Christ’s doing, dying, rising, and ruling. As we suffer the death of our cherished inmost self – that little devil – we become alive really for the first time.
When it comes to our standing before God we need a report not a resource.