Sunday, November 22, 2009
Is the Gospel about me?
From a great interview with Michael Horton in Christianity Today:
Q: In The Gospel-Driven Life you use news as a metaphor. Why?
Horton: I stole it from the apostles! Their dominant metaphor for the gospel message is "good news." The content is that God has done all the saving, no thanks to us. Someone asked Martin Luther what we contribute to salvation, and he said, "Sin and resistance!"
The gospel is not even my conversion experience. If somebody asks me what the gospel is, I'm not going to talk about me; I'm going to talk about Christ. All of the testimonies we find from the apostles' lips are not testimonies about what happened in their hearts. They are testimonies about what happened in history when God saved his people from their sins. That's the gospel. Although the gospel makes all sorts of things happen inside of me and gives me the fruit of the Spirit, the gospel itself is always an external word that comes to me announcing that someone else in history has accomplished my salvation for me.
Someone comes with instructions and says, "Here's what your life could be like if you do x, y, or z." Good news is, "Let me tell you what has happened!" The gospel is not good instructions, not a good idea, and not good advice. The gospel is an announcement of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.
Q: You also say it's not "a personal relationship with God" or "making Jesus your Lord and Savior." What do you mean?
Horton: I realize that those are deeply held, personal convictions among many evangelicals. But everyone has a personal relationship with God. You start with Genesis and work your way to the Book of Revelation—everyone has a relationship with God. In Romans 1-3, Paul says Gentiles have a relationship with God, even when they are engaging in idolatry. The question is whether the relationship is with a father, who has justified and adopted his heirs, or with a judge.
The phrase "making Jesus Lord and Savior" does not appear anywhere in Scripture (any more than does "personal relationship"). It assumes we are the ones who make God something. It is hard to imagine a Jew saying he made God his liberator and Lord in the Exodus. No. God made the Israelites the recipients of his saving and lordly work. So we don't make God anything; it is he who makes us his people. The Good News is not that Jesus has made it possible for you to make him Lord and Savior. The Good News is that he has actually saved and liberated you, and that he is your Savior.