The Gospel-Driven Life is a call to put Christ and Him crucified front and centre in the church. Mike Horton is writing with the situation in the USA in view; and anyone who has engaged with the views of Osteen and others might think that the well-rooted evangelicalism of the UK doesn't need this call. But we too have lost the law/gospel distinctions and pack more into the gospel than actually belongs there. This book is clearer than other Horton works I've read, tightly focused and well-structured. Following on as it does from Christless Christianity (which I've not read), this is a positive book, and I found my eyes lifted from the plane of activist church and stressful life to Christ. There is vision here. But I was left disappointed with a lot of what I see going on around me. I don't get Christ in word and sacrament as clearly as I want and as Horton reveals I should. There's too much advice and not enough placarding Christ. If you want to know what we should be concentrating on as churches and receiving as people, how the gospel can shape your life by not telling you how to shape it but how Christ has redeemed it (which means we need to stop thinking we're going to change our live), what simul justus et peccator really means and what ought make Sunday special, read on. But be prepared to be seriously dissatisfied with your church.
The author, Michael Horton, is Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. It appears that this book may be a timely response to the more popular The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren. Horton's book is a core text in the current wave of books arousing the Church to understand and reclaim the centrality of the Gospel to true Christianity.
Horton's book is no easy read. It is a hardback of over 250 pages, with smaller-than-average font. Horton's reasoning, like some other good writers, is not the easiest to follow. The book, however is worth the time and trouble the average educated reader can invest.
The message of Horton's book is clear: "The simple message that God has done everything he requires to reconcile sinners to himself is not just the church's slogan, but its lifeblood." In the spirit of the Reformation, Horton hammers home this point in ten lengthy chapters. He challenges heresies that have slipped into the thought of the modern professing Christian, and exposes their error with a clarion call to return to the sufficiency of Calvary. Horton declares with fervor that our lives should be "promise-driven" rather than "purpose-driven" (133), summarizing his message in simple terms: "It is always 'in view of God's mercies' that we can offer ourselves as 'a living sacrifice' (Rom. 12:1-2)." (133)
Horton's writing is marked by conviction: his faithfulness to the law of God, and its binding on all of mankind, gives backbone and credibility to his love for the Gospel. One example is his section entitled: "Recovering the Lord's Day." With a directness lacking in much evangelical writing, Horton declares that "The Christian faith is not only a story. Nor is it just a system of doctrines. It includes concrete practices through which our lives are actually shaped by the reality of the new creation. But we have to break away from the powers of this fading age to be renewed by the powers of the age to come." (216)
Fresh, orthodox, and intensely practical...Horton's book is a rarity. The true saint who purchases this book will not be disappointed.