Puritan Gospel Emphases

JI Packer’s summary of Puritan Gospel emphases helps correct some subtle ways the modern church has gone astray in its presentation of the message of salvation.  Packer makes five points:

  1. Correct diagnosis of the plight of man: Our situation is not one of only guilt for sin, but of pollution from it and bondage to it.  We are not merely weak, but in a corrupt state of enmity to God.  A minister’s job is to make this state clear such that “the index of the soundness of a man’s faith in Christ is the genuineness of the self-despair from which it springs.”.
  2. Clear analysis of the issue of sin: God is presently hostile to the sinner and they are condemned in the future without His grace.  A minister must make a broken relationship with God intolerable and drive sinners to repentance
  3. Correct understanding of the goal of grace: The goal is God’s glory for His’ name sake, not our own sake.  Our salvation is a means to a greater end
  4. Reliance on the sufficiency of Christ: We trust in Jesus and his work that is adequate to save us
  5. Gratefulness for the condescension of Christ: The greatness of what Jesus left shows the depth of His love and His patience shows His kindness

In contrast, the Gospel is frequently presented as man-centric in purpose, downplays the threat of God’s wrath and under emphasizes the degree to which sin corrupts us.  See True and False Gospels Contrasted , Complete Gospel or Calvin’s Gospel for more details.

Source: A Quest for Godliness (Chapter 10)

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2 Responses to Puritan Gospel Emphases

  1. gold price says:

    Perhaps not a “threat” but still a big problem in our churches today is apathy toward the gospel itself! If people really knew to some small degree the holiness, power, love, mercy, and wrath of God; and if they knew the terribleness of sin and their own wicked self-centeredness, how great and wonderful would the gospel be? That God would save a sinner such as me! Do many people even realize how offensive and terrible their sin is before an infinitely holy God? In my limited experience, this apathy and deadness to the power of the gospel is an almost universal problem whether your doctrine is biblical or not. And is there really anything we can do about it other than cry out to God for more of Himself and even revival?

  2. Eli H. Wade says:

    Nowhere is this questioning of God’s Word seen any more clearly than when it comes to the subject of hell and future punishment. And because we preach an imbalanced gospel—emphasizing God’s love and ignoring His wrath, emphasizing His mercy and ignoring His justice—we no longer have room for hell and future punishment in our theology.

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