Category Archives: Michael Horton

“He will build His church” by Michael Horton

“The church’s unity and catholicity do not a rise immanently within individual believers or a historical institution; they are gifts from the Father, in the Son, and by the Spirit. They are given because the triune God has elected, redeemed, and called us in Christ to belong to Him and to each other.

The church was chosen in Christ to be holy (Ephesians 1:4) and was sanctified by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection — applied by the Holy Spirit. The church’s apostolicity is grounded not in its orthodoxy or orthopraxy, but in the external Word, made fruitful in us by the Spirit.

As long as the church hears, receives, and proclaims this Word that it has been given, it is something other than a club, neighborhood association, theological school, or political action committee.

A church that, weary of its ambiguous location between the two ages, preaches another gospel or corrupts the sacraments is no longer holy, but is assimilated into the world– the age that is passing away– despite its outward forms (Galatians 1:6-9; 1 Corinthians 3:10-17).

We cannot deny that there will be those finally who hear these chilling words of Jesus Christ: ‘I never knew you; depart from me,’ although they protest that they performed wonders in His name (Matthew 7:22-23).

The candlestick of any particular church or group of churches can be removed when it ceases to bear illuminating witness to Christ in the world (Revelation 2:5). This tragic end may come upon a church not only for abandoning the doctrine of the gospel itself, but for failing to bear witness to it.

To deny that this eschatological judgment of one’s professing church is impossible by virtue of its inherent holiness and eminent history is itself a harbinger of apostasy, and it is a tendency to which all of our churches can easily succumb.

Yet we have Christ’s promise that He will build His church. Despite the church’s compromised, ambiguous, schismatic and sinful character, the covenant of redemption ensures that our unfaithfulness will not have the last word.”

–Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 870.

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Filed under Christian Theology, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Holiness, Jesus Christ, Michael Horton, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Church, The Gospel

“God’s gracious assault” by Michael Horton

“We do not find God; He finds us. Faith comes not by feeling, thinking, seeing, or striving, but by hearing. Proclamation does involve doctrinal and ethical instruction, of course. The law and the gospel not only kill and make alive; they direct our life and doctrine.

However, we must come to church expecting nothing less than God’s gracious assault on the citadels of our autonomy, our supposing that we could ascend to God by our theological acumen any more than by our actions.

This confrontation occurs not only in the sermon, but in the entire liturgy, including the singing, whose purpose is to ‘let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God’ (Col 3:16).

While carefully distinguishing the Spirit’s illumination of the preached Word from the Spirit’s inspiration of the canonical Word, we can affirm that the content– Christ and all His benefits– is exactly the same. This should create a sense of urgency and expectancy in our public assembly, as God addresses us here and now.”

–Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 763.

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“The most powerful thing on earth” by Michael Horton

“The Word calls us out of ourselves to be judged and justified by a proclamation that is heard by fellow sinners to whom we are joined by the faith that the Spirit gives through that proclaimed word.

Because the Spirit works through creaturely means, rather than directly and immediately, a creaturely community arises. The church does not first of all exist and then create a canon; rather, it is spoken into existence by the same Word that rules it.

In the flight from time and space to a naked encounter with God face to face, the mystical soul strives to secure salvation by its striving ascent. However, this encounter is never saving but always dangerous, because God is a ‘consuming fire’ (Heb 12:29).

The only safe route is to stop striving to ascend and receive God as He has ascended in His Son, clothed in the gospel. Though seemingly powerless and ineffective, the creaturely mediation of His Word through faltering human lips is the most powerful thing on earth.”

–Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 761.

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“Nothing less than Himself” by Michael Horton

“In grace, God gives nothing less than Himself. Grace, then, is not a third thing or substance mediating between God and sinners, but is Jesus Christ in redeeming action.”

–Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 267-268.

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“The missionary event” by Michael Horton

“The Word that is preached, taught, sung, and prayed, along with baptism and the Eucharist, not only prepare us for mission; it is itself the missionary event, as visitors are able to hear and see the gospel that it communicates and the communion that it generates.”

–Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 902.

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“What a wondrous thing” by Michael Horton

“What a wondrous thing it is that even though Jesus Christ has been exalted to the throne of God, absent from us in the flesh, we may nevertheless only now be united to Him in a manner far more intimate than the fellowship enjoyed by the disciples with Jesus during His earthly ministry.

Having united Himself to us in our flesh, in our sins, in our suffering and death, He now unites us to Himself in His new-creation life by His Spirit.”

–Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 587.

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Filed under Ascension, Christian Theology, Christology, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Michael Horton, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel, Union with Christ