Reading Reflection:

The Gospel Commission, by Michael Horton (Baker Books, 2011) I am only fifty pages into Horton’s new, new book and have found many gems.  This section summarizes something I’m passionate about: We are God’s Analogy, created in his image to reflect in our own creaturely manner that covenantal relationship of male and female in mission.  Just as God completed all of his work and then entered his Sabbath enthronement, Adam—with Eve at his side—was to lead creation in triumphant procession into the consummation: everlasting confirmation in immortal glory.  Long after the original treason of this royal couple in Paradise, the Last Adam appeared.  Jesus Christ is both the missionary God and the human representative who fulfilled the mission for which we were created.  The whole story of the Bible turns on the merciful determination of this Triune God to redeem and to restore sinful creatures and the creation that lies in bondage because of the curse.  In spite of every failure, disloyalty, and unfaithfulness of the human partner in the covenant, God will complete his mission.  And in the person of Christ, he has also fulfilled the mission that he assigned to humankind in Adam: to lead creation into the everlasting blessing of immortality, forgiveness, righteousness, and peace … We must never take Christ’s work for granted.  The gospel is not merely something we take to unbelievers; it is the Word that created and continues to sustain the whole church in its earthly pilgrimage.  In addition, we must never confuse Christ’s work with our own.  There is s lot of loose talk these days about our “living the gospel” or even “being the gospel,” as if our lives were the Good News.  We even hear it said that the church is an extension of Christ’s incarnation and redeeming work, as if Jesus came to provide the moral example or template and we are called to complete his work.  But there is one Savior and one head of the church.  To him alone all authority is given in heaven and on earth.  There is only one incarnation of God in history, and he finished the work of fulfilling all righteousness, bearing the curse, and triumphing over sin and death. We use the verb “redeem” too casually today, as if we (individually or collectively) could be the agent of this source of action.  God has already redeemed the world in his Son, having “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).  On this basis, the Spirit is at work applying this redemption, drawing sinners to Christ, justifying and renewing them, in the hope that their bodies will be raised together with an entirely renovated creation (Rom. 8:16-23).  The church comes into being not as an extension or further completion of Christ’s redeeming work but as a result of his completed work.  Heralds announce victory; they don’t achieve it. (26-27) It is such a relief to me that the gospel is about Christ’s achievement, not my own.  If I were relying on my own life to be the gospel to others, I would not blame unbelievers for their rebellion.  The fact is I’m a sinner who doesn’t have the power to save anybody.  The Good News is that Christ set his love on me anyway, and his Word is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16).  God uses his Word in the gospel to actually provide for us a new birth through his Holy Spirit.  In grateful and joyous response, I am empowered to live my life according to the gospel, but I could never assert the position of the One who was given all authority in heaven and earth.  Adam and Eve tried to assert their own position in how they were going to achieve immortal glory.  Through God’s grace I know that I, myself am not the Good News.