Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Promise-Driven Life

Excerpts from Michael S. Horton's article The Promise-Driven Life in Modern Reformation Magazine : "Christ lived the purpose-driven life so that we would inherit his righteousness through faith and be promise-driven people in a purpose-driven world."

"The fact that purposes are about law does not make them wrong. We need purposes! Nobody can live without goals. Yet purposes and goals are always something to be reached, to be achieved and be attained by us. They require tactics and strategies. All of this is fine as long as we realize that they are law, not gospel: commands and promises are both necessary, but they do different things.

"Law tells us what we should do, whether we're faced with the wrath of God (full-strength law) or by the fear of not reaching our full potential (the watered-down version). God's promise, by contrast, creates true faith, which creates true works. The church father Augustine defined sin as being "curved in" on ourselves. While imperatives (including purposes) tend by themselves to make us more "curved in" on ourselves (either self-confidence or self-despair), only God's promise can drive us out of ourselves and our own programs for acceptance before ourselves, other people, and God. While the Christian life according to scripture is purpose-directed, it is promise-driven."

"The world makes a lot of promises: "Try this .... and you'll be ...." Constantly buying into new fads or makeovers as so many fig leaves to hide the seriousness of our condition, we hand ourselves over to marketers who persuade us that we can attain salvation (and holiness), however we define that. Even the church can become a place where people get the idea that they exist merely to usher in the kingdom by serving on committees and being involved in a thousand programs. We have a lot of purposes, a lot of goals-some of them noble. Desperate to save ourselves and our kids from everything but the wrath of God, we fail to realize that, however watered down, these are all nothing but law rather than promise. Eventually, we will become burned out on good advice. What we need is good news."

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