The Gospel-Driven Life #5: The Promise-Driven Life

This week Dan is guest blogging through The Gospel-Driven Life by Michael Horton. purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US

Chapter 6 – The Promise-Driven Life

This chapter asks the question, ‘What really drives you?’ Horton’s message is that we should ‘put purposes in their place, as servants of promise … The gospel saves us, giving us a reason to walk through the wilderness to the promised land, and the law guides us, giving us directions for that journey. Christians are driven by God’s promises, and directed by God’s purposes.’ (133)

Genesis 15 and Romans 4 bring this point home. Abraham’s ‘future was now God’s future, not his own. He didn’t have to work it all out, plot and plan, scheme to bring about the inheritance (as he had done before). Thus, because of the power of the promise, not his own goals or resolve, Abraham could turn his eyes away from his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb” (v.19). “He did not waver,” again, not because of any inherent virtue of his faith, but because he “was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He would also able to perform” (v.21 emphasis added). In other words, it was because of the object of faith, not the act of faith itself that Abraham could stand firm.’ (142)

We are not to look to motivational principles for our drive; ‘only the gospel fills our sails’. (143) We don’t leave the gospel behind once we’re saved. Horton critiques Richard Foster and á Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ (145-149). In Romans 6 Paul does not refer to imitating Christ, ‘he teaches something far greater than an example to imitate, … to be crucified, buried and raised with him … The Spirit’s work of uniting us to Christ makes us not mere imitators but living members of his body.’ (150) The “imitation of Christ” paradigm of spirituality makes Christ’s self-sacrifice and humility an analogy for our discipleship. The “union with Christ” paradigm makes our love and service an analogy of Christ’s inimitable accomplishment. Being in Christ is the perpetual source of our becoming like Christ, not vice versa.’ (152)

Foster claims that ‘The most important, most real, most lasting work, is accomplished in the depths of our heart. This work is solitary and interior. It cannot be seen by anyone, not even ourselves.’ (156) Horton counters this with, ‘The most important, most real, most lasting work is not accomplished in the depths of our heart but in the depth of history, under Pontius Pilate … And because of Christ’s work outside of us, in history, we are not only justified but are being transformed from the inside out.’ (157)

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