03 September 2009

Being careful with this one

by Frank Turk

A couple of weeks ago I singled out the guys at White Horse Inn for their Truly Reformed® chastisement of the necessary consequences of the Gospel. I am sure many of you remember and will never really be the same again, one way or the other.

Now, it turns out I'm a fair guy -- when they do something which is also admirable and mitigates some of the flaws of their excesses, I'm willing to fess up in the same venue which I made the criticisms as well.

I was listening to an older podcast from Horton & Co. from 28 Oct 2008 called "What is a true church?", and at about 30:30 in that podcast, we get the following exchange:

Ken Jones (KJ): Can we go back to “the word rightly preached”? A little more detail in terms of what’s meant …

Mike Horton (MH): Yeah, now we’re getting into too much detail, let’s back up and go to the big picture.


Rod Rosenblatt (RR): Basically, what we would all say, I’m sure: the plot line of the Bible is about Rescue by the Messiah.

MH: Genesis to Revelation.

RR: Genesis to Revelation, this is the plotline of the Book.

MH: If you pastor thinks it’s about something else routinely, then the question is, “is the word of God rightly preached?”

KJ: Yeah, ah, like you said, the plot line, Christ as not only the fulfillment of the Scriptures but the center of Scripture. Is all of Scripture about him?

RR: which he said.

KJ: Exactly, and we’ve mentioned it before, but I think Dennis Johnson’s book Him We Proclaim is very helpful in this regard as one of the newer works that talks about preaching Christ from all of Scripture.

RR: Another thing that we’d all insist on: if Christ, if the Gospel is being rightly preached, the Law and the Gospel are not going to be the same.

KJ: Exactly.

RR: We’re going to distinguish them as much, as completely as we possibly can.

MH: They’re both going to be preached.

RR: They’re both going to be preached, and they’re God’s word.

MH: Now, something that I found very helpful on this point, and I think it will be helpful to a lot of our listeners, is – All of the reformers said, now be careful with this one. We’re not saying that is a pastor’s preaching is off, he’s had a really bad month of Sundays, we’re not saying that he’s got a hobby horse that’s goofy, we’re not saying that sometimes he tells too many stories, or we’re not even really saying, “we don’t get enough of the Gospel.” Really what it meant was, the Gospel is denied or not being preached.

KJ: Something instead of the Gospel.

RR: yes, that was the primary thing.

MH: This was really a denial or substitution. This wasn’t someone who is …

RR: … Not quite proficient.

MH: Not proficient in his preaching. Or not faithful even in his preaching.

Kim Riddlebarger (KR): It’s not about bad preaching. It’s about a denial of something, either through a direct statement or through [intentional] omission.

MH: this is important, because I think a lot of people pull the plug on their church attendance or membership or are excessively hard on their pastor or their church because he preached something that they believed to be in error. Or he has repeatedly mentioned something that they think is wrong, or he has this quirky idea about the end time, you know: whatever. Is the Gospel present? The Gospel creates life. If the life-creating Gospel is present, it’s a church.

RR: and we don’t have time to explicate that, but in prior shows we have spent a lot of time on what is the Gospel?

MH: Folks, it’s wonderful to know that the word rightly preached and the sacraments rightly administered are, despite all of our differences, the sine qua non of a true church because it is not our action but God’s action that determines the nature of a church.

Now, some of you tuned out of this when Prof. Horton said, "Is the Gospel rightly preached?" about 1/3rd of the way in. But the last 2/3rds is the part you need to confider more fully -- especially the parts about the flaws in your local pastor.

Of particular note should the the one word in this passage in green which I insterted. That's a tickler, and if Kim Riddlebarger didn't mean that, I'd be glad to receive his correction there.

"Is the Gospel rightly preached?" is not half as glib a consideration as many of us make it, people. An big kudos to the WHI team (even if it was a year ago) for making this point in a very specific way.


Jugulum said...

Frank, you've got a typo in the green coding. Extra wonky quote marks.

<font color="”#008800”">[intentional]</font> omission.

Al said...

Anyone who has suffered through a preacher forcing elements of the "rescue of the Messiah" into a text knows why this conversation made my brain hurt.

al sends

Morris Brooks said...

There is a difference between ignorant omission and intentional omission. One has a mission, the other doesn't.

Canyon Shearer, DMin said...

Hmmm...if I understand right, they are desiring that the only thing the pastor preaches on is the gospel.

Paul's main point in Hebrews 6 is, "Why is all you ever preach the gospel? Your congregation is saved, they can't get unsaved, so they don't need to get resaved, quit trying to get your saved congregation saved! Preach the things that attend to salvation; start with hope."

I preach the gospel when the text calls for the preaching of the gospel, but I also preach the things that attend to the gospel when the text calls for it. This is the overarching beauty of verse-by-verse passage-by-passage preaching, it doesn't allow me to smash things into my preaching that the original author/Author never intended.

Of course, this rant is based on my interpretation that the WHI guys are saying that if you're not feeding your congregation spiritual milk, and instead try to feed them some meat, you're in the wrong. But that's the way I read it, and I took offense.

Correct me if I'm wrong.


David Regier said...


The Gospel is not the "way in," it is the whole way.

Bobby Grow said...


If the Gospel is God's life revealed in Jesus Christ (which is the presupposition of Paul's letters --- i.e. the Trinitarian shape of the Gospel II Cor 13:13; etc.); then the Gospel will always be preached, if the scriptures are truly being preached. Like Jesus said:

You diligently study[a] the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, . . . John 5:39

If what Jesus says is true ;-), then you cannot help but consistently preach the Gospel from Scripture.

Bobby Grow said...


I meant II Cor 13:14, not 13:13.

FX Turk said...

CB --

At the risk of agreeing with Bobby, the 2 parts of this exchange which you have to reconsider are these:

[1] where RR says that the whole Bible is about rescue by the Messiah.

[2] where RR points out that both Law and Gospel ought to be preached from the Bible -- just not as the same thing.

I stand by my criticism in this post because often this is the direction WHI goes in lining out what's wrong with Evangelicals today. However, in this podcast, they got it essentially right.

Craig and Heather said...

I had a little trouble following the text of the conversation, and wanted to ask if my understanding of Frank Turk's comment is correct:

[1] where RR says that the whole Bible is about rescue by the Messiah.

[2] where RR points out that both Law and Gospel ought to be preached from the Bible -- just not as the same thing.

1. I'm pretty sure I understand that statement. Man's helplessness requires God's gracious intervention.

2. Both the Law and the Gospel (I'm assuming this means the Good News of Christ's coming and the rescue which He performed?) are both essential aspects of the teaching of sound doctrine but are not interchangeable?

So, they are holding up Christ as the One to which the Law points us rather than a pit stop on a circular track that points us back TO the keeping of the Mosaic Law?

Sorry if I seem dense, but this is an important point for me to be able to understand about "Calvinism". Paul wrote that Christ is the "end" of the Law and I know God's unmerited grace is a central theme in Calvinistic doctrine. But some writers/speakers seem so focused on measuring the fruit of a changed heart, it is almost as though a certain form of legalism has been implemented without actually saying so.


olan strickland said...

Both the Law and the Prophets witness that the righteousness of God comes apart from the Law, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe (Romans 3:21-22). So the WHI guys are right on this one. Both ought to be preached but not as the same thing. One doesn't contradict the other.

Christ the end of the Law by Charles Spurgeon.

Jared Reed said...


I for one appreciate your questions and observations. Please keep it up! I am learning from your questions and their answers.

Anonymous said...


The other issue I think you're missing is that the gospel IS meat, not milk.

How all of the bible relates to the gospel is the meat we're after I think. It's the old addage, what you win them with is what you win them to.
We are saved by and to the gospel. Personally, it was finally really understanding the gospel ie. the doctrines of grace, that revolutionuized my life, even as a believer.

I think that 'Jesus loves you' would qualify as milk.
'Here's how he showed it and here's how you need to show it', now there's the meat.
But it's all gospel centred and driven I think.

Unknown said...

1. God is not "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named." Call God by His name when the Holy Spirit does.
. . .
It's disgraceful that only one-man versions, a Roman Catholic version, or cultic versions honor the text-as-given in that regard, while supposedly VPI-accepting translators persistently don't.
Not true for the 1901 ASV though it uses Jehovah instead of the allegedly more accurate Yahweh, not that I'm impressed by modern "scholarship" overall. The whole TNIV-NIV scandal is largely related to the bigger picture of Biblical-spiritual discernment that cessationists, charismatics and the rest who generally fall in the general direction of one or the other fail to comprehend, as seen in Ligon Duncan's sadly naïve assessment of the NIV cabal's pretence of playing nice to get their way. We can of course hope for this to be a sign of genuine repentance, but to close our eyes to their history is foolish, and we've been down the road of deceit with this bunch more than once, the companies clearly motivated by $/market share, and the translators by their agenda they're not above using stealth (AKA LYING were they not so blind as to be oblivious to their falsehoods) to promote. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

Canyon Shearer, DMin said...

Thanks for the responses everyone. I guess it comes down to what the gospel is. Piper has published his whole book that "God is the Gospel" which is patently incorrect. The gospel is a very specific event for a very specific purpose, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ showing that his death was the propitiation for our sins. My much longer treatise on the topic is here: What is the Gospel - Galatians 1:3-5

This is the spiritual milk which Hebrews 6 is talking about, and the Author is furious that all his readers ever preach about is the elementary doctrines of repentance and resurrection.

I'd encourage everyone, who thinks all we should be preaching is the gospel, to read Hebrews 6 (and its introduction at the end of 5), and be prepared for a tongue lashing against the very thing the WHI guys are advocating.

If you'd like an example of how I put this into application, check out my lesson plans on my "NetWetters" blog under my profile. The gospel is certainly not absent, but there are such great meaty doctrines that attend the gospel that to limit yourself to the gospel is to starve your audience to death, as is the main point of Hebrews 6.

Grace and Peace,

Canyon Shearer, DMin said...

P.S. It was while going verse by verse that this really jumped out at me, I taught a whole lesson on a word that was missing in 2 Thessalonians 1:3: Hope

Tom Austin said...

C.B - I think that there's not so much disagreement here as you perceive. The actual application of both points of view might show this more clearly.

Maybe you could offer up a month's sample of sermon titles that you think would be a Biblical set of selections, and somebody else could suggest the same from the "Preaching the Gospel" perspective. I don't think there'd be much of a difference.

P.S. - Russ, maybe this is the wrong thread for that response. Props to you for the pithy response, though.

Bobby Grow said...


If God's life is not the Gospel, then this makes the Gospel an abstraction out of God's life. And beyond that, it creates a separate ontological category --- known as "eternal life" --- that is "behind the back" of Jesus.

Union with God and the Incarnation has everything to do with "what" or better "who" eternal life is.

There is a "theological" framework that is informing your interpretation of scripture (interpretive tradition ;-). And it really does not coincide with the "inner logic" that underlies the passages you are using. In other words, if the Gospel is not God's life, then there is no Gospel.

The 'interpretive tradition' which is behind your interpretation is what has been called, Thomism.

Rich Barcellos said...

I highly recommend the reading of Dennis Johnson's Him We Proclaim. Has anyone read it? I am 2/3 of the way through.

FX Turk said...

You're very smart, Bobby. What would we do without you I wonder?

Chad V. said...

The gospel is God? Sheesh!

You'll be hard pressed to square that statement with the way the bible talks about the gospel.

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark 1:1

....to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24

...on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. Rom 2:16

Uh.. no, the gospel is the message of the atoning work of Christ, not God Himself.

Mike Riccardi said...

Chad, CB, Bobby,

Piper's point when he says that "God is the Gospel" is not that we should be going up to unbelievers and saying, "Hi there! God!!!"

His point is that what makes the Gospel good news is God Himself, and that if the "atoning work of Christ" did not bring us to God (1Pet 3:18), then it would not be good news. Redemption, propitiation, justification... no Gospel if they don't bring you into such a relationship with Jesus in which you can see and savor (enjoy) the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Canyon Shearer, DMin said...


You're going to have to define Thomism in your words or explain how I fall into the classical definition, or both, because I'm not seeing it. I am not a fan of Aquinas and will be shocked beyond shocked if I get to Heaven and he is there (beyond, as Dan Phillips pointed out, the judgment).


Canyon Shearer, DMin said...


Thanks for the clarification and the link, it helped me understand Piper's point. I am a Piper fan, but I have not read that book, since I was so turned off by the title. I see that it would be better phrased, "The Purpose of the Gospel is God". (If you use the "p" word I think you have to pay royalties to Saddleback)

Perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned is that the gospel is not just an event, and it's not just a purpose, and it's not just a Person, but it's a specific event for a specific purpose accomplished by a specific Godman. If we just said Jesus died on a cross, that may be good news to some that God was crucified. If we just say that knowing God is the good news, we miss the vital event that makes that possible and the required metamorphosis of our soul to bring us to that.

My favorite gospel presentation is Colossians 1:21-22, that while we were God's enemies, Christ has reconciled us in his body of flesh through his death, in order to present us to his Father holy, blameless, and undefiled, and the response is that we hope in him. (Canyon Paraphrase)

It's a lot more complete than trying to reduce it down to a cute little phrase. I can't remember which book I read this in (Pink?), but it gave a great warning, "Don't wax so eloquent that you invent a new heresy." We must neither become so reductionistic that we preach a new gospel.

in Christ,

Bobby Grow said...

Someone has said: "that Jesus is God's self-interpreting Word", and I think he is right per Jn 1:18.


I'm not following Piper's framing of such things. I like T. F. Torrance better (see his Christian Doctrine of God: One Being Three Persons).

Chad V.,

Jesus says:

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. ~Jn 17:3

Who else has knowledge of God (Jn 1:18), other than Jesus Christ?

Paul says:

But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. ~I Cor 6:17

And then we have the Pauline theology of in Christ all over in his writings (and the Eph 5 wedding language). This is union with Christ language.

Then we have:

Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. ~Rom 6:3-5

Is our *union with Christ* before, or after [or both] we subjectively appropriate salvation (by faith)? According to Paul our union is both/and.

Synthesizing all that proceeds:

1.) Saving knowledge of God belongs to the 'Son alone' (Jn 1:18) Solus Christus

2.) We can have no saving knowledge of God [by ourselves] because we are dead in our sins (Eph 2:1ff).

3.) Jesus, eternal life (Jn 17:3), unites Himself to us (Jn 1:14), He becomes us (II Cor 5:21), and takes us to our end (Rom 6:1ff; Phil. 2:1ff).

4.) So the Good News (or the Gospel, or "Eternal Life") turns out to be "Good" because it is a Person who first, and objectively acts upon us (at the cross); and then asks us to subjectively respond to His free grace offer of eternal life (which happens to be objectively grounded in His triune life).

The Gospel is a Subject, which indeed should be proclaimed (which is what you're pointing out); but the "gift" being proclaimed is in fact grounded in God's Triune life (Mary recognized this, see her Magnificat in Luke 1).

Wouldn't you agree that you are united to God's life in Christ? Isn't this God's gift of eternal life, to be brought into the relationship of the triune life of God (the only "eternal life" around)? Wouldn't you agree that Jesus is our High priest (Heb 7:25), our Advocate (I Jn 2:1ff), eternally bringing us into the life of God --- as sure as He is the eternal God-MAN mediating our life into His life (i.e. eternal life)?

If you agree with any of those questions above, Chad (and I think that you must, this is the historic teaching of Christianity); then we actually agree. This is what I meant when I said Jesus is (or personifies) the Gospel.

Bobby Grow said...


You seem to contradict yourself. First you said:

Piper has published his whole book that "God is the Gospel" which is patently incorrect.

And now you've said:

Perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned is that the gospel is not just an event, and it's not just a purpose, and it's not just a Person, but it's a specific event for a specific purpose accomplished by a specific Godman.

So you hold that the Gospel is a Person, just not a Person. What do you achieve by parsing things the way you do? When you say the Gospel is a "specific event for a specific purpose accomplished by a specific Godman," what are you getting at?

I don't disagree that God's being is His act; and that we come to *know* who God is through His act in Christ (as He acts upon us in Christ).

As far as the Thomism point; all of Western theology, and this is no secret (see Richard Muller's Christ and the Decree: Christology and Predestination in Reformed Theology from Calvin to Perkins , for example), is rooted within this classical framework. If you have identified this, rejected it, and opted for another more biblically astute perspective --- like Scotism has to offer ;-) --- then I would take back what I've said about your Thomism.

The way that you're speaking about the Gospel (at least earlier),as a quality (instead of a person); fits the Thomistic framing of things, which speaks of things like "eternal life" in these kinds of abstractions. That's why I thought you might be, Thomist (beyond what I just noted above).

To all,

Where in the bible does it explicitly speak of the Trinity? Doesn't the logic, of someone like Paul, just assume, implicitly, that the Trinity is there? My point: there are unspoken realities (inner logic) that are assumed by the "theology" of the New Testament (like the Trinity for example). Isn't this what we are doing when we do biblical interpretation and theology; trying to lay bare what is there (which includes the underlying logic and thus the implications of what is being disclosed in scripture)? There are implications and an informing theology (trinitarian) that the material of the NT (and OT) springs from; our burden is to realize that, and then speak and act accordingly. That's all I was trying to identify with my point on God *is* the Gospel (this is the underlying implication and logic that provides anything to "proclaim" in the first place [which is what Jesus did by His life Himself]).

FX Turk said...

Chad --

um, not to agree with Bobby again (it's making me dizzy; his ivory tower has very rarified air), but the first answer of the first question of the Westminster shorter catechism is "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever," right?

If you read the OT seriously, you find out that it's a story about God and these people, and what God says to them over and over is that He is their only hope. Many books have been written on this topic -- and we make a massive mistake when we forget that the NT is the fulfillment of the OT.

This is why Piper has the message "HOPE IN GOD" on the side of his building. The Gospel is not merely a message -- though it is that. The actual good news is "God is reconciling the world to Himself and saving men from their sin".

God is doing this. And when it's all over, we get to be with him and to see him.

God is the Gospel -- the just one and the justifier of the ungodly; the author and finisher of our faith; the friend who is closer than a brother; the lamb who takes away the sin of the world; the rider on a white horse, and the judge of all men.

I can't wait to see him. Heaven will be great because He is there.

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad V. said...

See I totally agree with Bobby's and Frank's explanation of the statement "The God is the gospel". The language seems rather confusing to me though.

Replace the word "gospel" with the word "God" in Mark 1:1 and you get a rather confusing sentence.

It just seems to me that the New Testament is telling me that the gospel is a message about something specific about God. The gospel tells me of the redemptive work of God so that I can believe in Him and be saved. That's the way I'm thinking of it.

Anyway, thanks for the explanation. I'll keep going over it but right now I'm a little confused by the statement "God is the gospel". Maybe after I've had my bacon and eggs and coffee it will make sense.

Now my brain hurts, thanks guys.

Chad V. said...


Of course we agree on the definition of historic Christianity.

You mentioned the Trinity. The Trinity is a term we use to describe the plane teaching of the person of God. One being expresses in three persons. The bible doesn't use the word Trinity, we use it to coalesce the plain teaching of the bible.

Here's the thing though. The bible uses the word gospel very specifically. It speaks of the gospel of Christ. The bible uses the term to describe the specifics of redemption in Christ. I'm hesitant to use the word gospel in a way that the bible doesn't use it particularly because the bible uses the word so specifically.

Chad V. said...

plane? No I meant "plain"

Craig and Heather said...

Now my brain hurts, thanks guys.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who's brain was writhing in agony.

Before my cells completely fuse together, I was wondering if "God is the Gospel could be simplified into a logical progression that looked something like:

God manifested Himself in the person of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ personifies (and the Holy Spirit illuminates us to) the message of the Gospel
Therefore, it is not errant to state that God *is* the Gospel.

I have to qualify my thought by saying that the statement that God is the "Gospel" does not necessarily encompass all that God IS.

But it does relay the necessary message about how He relates to us as we interact with Him at this point in time. Perhaps we could say that the Gospel finds it's significance of meaning in the Person of God.

Perhaps my point has already been made but was not stated on a level I could grasp?

On a side note, I think it is amazing the number of "snapshot" pictures we get of the Gospel message in the Old Testament--even in the Mosaic Law itself. After slogging through the narrative for years (as my Christian duty), God has tenderized my heart to the point where I can actually SEE Him in the story line.

I need to start drinking coffee so I can blame caffeine deficiency when I have debilitating cranial contractions. :o)


Mike Riccardi said...

Replace the word "gospel" with the word "God" in Mark 1:1 and you get a rather confusing sentence.

Right. But that's not what God is the Gospel is trying to get you to understand.

Think about it like this. Jesus is the truth, right? John 14:6. But that doesn't mean that everywhere you see "the truth" in Scripture, you should understand it as "Jesus," or put His name in there.

John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and [Jesus].

John 1:17 - For the Law was given through Moses; grace and [Jesus] were realized through Jesus Christ.

John 3:21 - But he who practices [Jesus] comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.

John 16:7 - But I tell you [Jesus], it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.

It doesn't make sense. But it doesn't mean that John 14:6 isn't true. It just means that we are to understand Jesus as "the Truth" in a way that doesn't make it realistic to just insert His name wherever we see it.

I think for those who aren't sure about Piper's designation of "God is the Gospel" might just want to read it first. It's really not that long, and it's free. Here's Piper in his own words laying out what he's trying to achieve by writing the book:

When I say that God Is the Gospel I mean that the highest, best, final, decisive good of the gospel, without which no other gifts would be good, is the glory of God in the face of Christ revealed for our everlasting enjoyment. (p. 13)

The point of this chapter and the one to follow is that the gospel has unleashed a million mercies on the people of Christ, but that none of these is good news in and of itself. They are all good to the degree that they make possible the one great good -- namely, knowing and enjoying God Himself. (p. 130)

Canyon Shearer, DMin said...


Your point is either so high that it's gone over my head, or it doesn't exist. I'm not following you at all. You've put words into my mouth that I never implied nor typed.

A lesson in plain language and orthodox words may be in order.

Charitably yours,

Bobby Grow said...

I'm not trying to come across as smarter than thou --- I'm in the process of learning too --- obviously I need to work more at translating into English.

Sorry if I've come across as arrogant; sometimes I'm just not sure how to communicate the concepts I want to w/o using some of the "technical" language and its attendant thinking w/o using its "technical language and thinking" ;-).

Here's where I completely agree with Frank:

I can't wait to see him. Heaven will be great because He is there.

And we seem to agree on this issue, in general; which is a plus.

In Christ

Bobby Grow said...


I think my points most certainly exist.

I realize the points on Thomism vs. Scotism are not common knowledge at all --- in fact I would say many profs at seminaries like the Masters or Multnomah would be unaware of this (unless they teach historical theology, or care for that matter).

An excellent book you might want to read is: The Age of Reform, 1250-1550: An Intellectual and Religious History of Late Medieval and Reformation Europe

This is a great intro to Thomism, Scotism, Nominalism, and to many other things (like an intro to Luther and Calvin's theology too).

Anyway, peace, C.B., have a great day!

Chad V. said...


I understand what you're saying. It's just that I've never heard it put that way until just now. I've read a lot of Puritan and older Reformed works and I've never run across that phrase. Piper's explanation of God being the ultimate end and good of the gospel is most certainly accurate and is a concept I have always thought was lost on many Christians.

I just need more time to think about it. It's important not to blur distinctions the bible puts in place and I always get suspicious when I feel like this is being done.

Chad V. said...

I've been going over this and talking it over with people. I am unwilling to say that God is the gospel. The gospel is the proclamation of the saving redemptive work of Christ. That is the way scripture defines the word "gospel". It's very specific. To go beyond that is to go beyond the teaching of scripture, the way scripture defines the term for us and I am unwilling to go there.

The reasons supporting the phrase "God is the gospel" presented so far are not based on exegesis of scripture, but rather on philosophical reasoning. In fact I find the reasoning to be specious. By the same reasoning one might conclude that God is the author of sin. Logic would lead us to believe that was true if we were not fenced in by the limits of scripture.

Anyway, I know we're off topic at this point but I just thought I'd put in my final word on this and sign off on it.

Bobby Grow said...


I completely respect your desire to stay strictly biblical.

I would suggest though that you're being overly and woodenly literalistic in your interpretation and understanding of Gospel.

Not wanting to argue any further either . . . peace in Christ.

Chad V. said...

That's possible Bobby. I might be. I just want to be careful not to blur distinctions.

We've all seen what happens when people blur the distinction between justification and sanctification. They are most certainly inseparable but they are also distinct.

Chad V. said...


Thanks also for your admonition on this. Even when I don't agree with you I find your comments insightful and intelligent.

Bobby Grow said...


Sorry, you may be done here, but I still wanted to get your answer to a question I asked you earlier:

What do you think eternal life is?

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad V. said...

I assume you are referring to heaven.

Eternal life would be described as freedom from the penalty of sin. Though we must die physically we will not die spiritually. We will not experience the second death but rather life with Christ in heaven for all eternity free from all taint and influence of sin. Perfect fellowship with and worship of God.

Eternal life is unhindered intimate fellowship with God. It is to worship God forever in eternal joy, in his very presence.

That's the best I can describe it with my feeble words.

Bobby Grow said...


Thank you. Let me not try to lead you . . . how would you think of Paul's in Christ language?

Or how would you think of "being partakers of the divine nature" (per II Peter 1:3,4)?

So that I'm not leading you, let me explain what I'm getting at. Your definition of eternal life is good, I think, but it doesn't address what the basis of "unhindered intimate fellowship with God," is. So we have communion, or your fellowship, with God; but what is the ground or basis for this "fellowship?" I would suggest it is UNION with God. Here is how Jesus says it:

21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25"Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." Jn 17:21-26

We are united, "in" "partakers," of God's life through Christ. This is "eternal life," God's life; and union with Him is the basis of communion with Him (as sure as it is the basis of the communion that the Father, Son, and Spirit share amongst themselves).

Do you see what I'm getting at?

Chad V. said...

Yes I do. It's just that it's difficult to say everything about something I want to say in a blog post.

Bobby Grow said...


I know, I actually hate the blogging format; it is rife for all kinds of misconceptions, and miscommunications . . . but it's better than nothing, I suppose.

I hope you see I'm not tryin to win an argument, Chad. It's just that I find this topic (even though now I'm sure we've run way off thread) absolutely awesome --- and makes me want to worship every time I think about it :-)!

Chad V. said...


If there is a point you want to make please just state it directly. I sometimes get lost if someone is taking the long way round something and I have a feeling you are trying to say something about "God is the gospel", or am I mis-reading you?

I have to step out for a while but I will check back later this evening.

Chad V. said...

Sorry Bobby, posted that while you were typing your comment.

Chad V. said...

I love this topic too Bobby. I studied it extensively when I came to Reformed Theology.

Craig and Heather said...
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Craig and Heather said...

Or how would you think of "being partakers of the divine nature" (per II Peter 1:3,4)?

An awesome and humbling privilege!


Bobby Grow said...


Most certainly I am speaking of God is the Gospel; I thought that context was understood. I've presented you, I think, with a passage of scripture (Jn 17) that doesn't mince words. We are apart of the life of God, united to Him in Christ, this is eternal life --- or the "Good News."

If the Gospel, in its "content" or "material" is constituted by being redeemed out of ourselves (our sinful state); and reconciled out of ourselves back into relationship with God, then I would say this clearly points out that God's life is "eternal life." Or, God's life is the Gospel.

As you've studied Reformed theology, then; you'll recognize that it is a multifaceted very nuanced tradition. "God is the Gospel" is truly a deeply rooted belief within most strands of "Reformed theology;" I really am not concerned with whether you want to "say" that God *is* the Gospel, just that you agree that salvation involves being united or in union with Christ --- the rest we can just mark up as disagreement over semantics.

It is important to be cautious, I agree, Chad; but when scripture, materially, or conceptually states that eternal life is God's life (per Jn 17) in straightforward ways, then I would suggest that it is finally prudent --- at least --- to go with scripture.


It is awesome!

Chad V. said...


just that you agree that salvation involves being united or in union with Christ ---


Bobby Grow said...


Sweet! My work is done, then ;-) . . . I'm sure all be seeing you on other threads, Chad.

In Christ,


Bobby Grow said...

Woops, I meant "I'll" be seeing you, not "all." :-)