A Brief Response to Mark Jones on “Does the Gospel Threaten?”

Mark Jones recently asked the question, “Does the Gospel Threaten?“. I heartily disagree that the Gospel itself threatens. Within Mark’s question (and subsequent post) he seems to be positing that the Gospel itself contains within its announcement threatenings. As if to say that the Gospel consists of not only Good News but also Bad News (threats).

I do not dispute that there are “Gospel threatenings” if by that you mean there are particular threatenings that accompany or attend the Gospel. What is crucial to maintain though is that these threatenings are distinct from the Gospel (e.g., “Do not neglect so great a salvation) yet are a natural consequence of the nature of the Gospel itself. We must warn all that there are mortal consequences for our reception or rejection of the Gospel. And we must warn believers that our lives must be a reflection of and in accordance with this Gospel lest we so prove ourselves not to actually believe this Gospel.

By saying that they are a natural consequence I mean that they do not consist in or make up any part of the Gospel but do result from it. The grace of Christ abundantly poured out on wicked sinners is not lightly spurned. When the Son of God must become a man and die it is a matter of life an death when we consider our response to this message. But threatenings are by no means good news. The Gospel, by definition, is the good news par excellence. To refuse such good news is to our peril, but that does not change, alter or add to the content of that good news. It does not suddenly change the Good News to be simultaneously Good News and Bad News.

3 thoughts on “A Brief Response to Mark Jones on “Does the Gospel Threaten?”

  1. On the one hand, it could be said to be of no great matter if we make a distinction between threats of the gospel and the gospel itself. Some of the semantic confusion comes from equation of gospel with “covenant”, with “covenant” defined as that which some sinners are naturally born into. Grace put you in, the warning goes, but it’s a non a “no-fault” covenant and you sin can put you.

    Despite a distinction between the good news that those for whom Christ died will believe the gospel, and the truth that those who never submit to the gospel are sinners for whom Christ never died, the gospel is not ultimately about our believing but about how God imputed all our sins to Christ. Our sins can only be put to death by Christ’s death not by our believing.

    Ralph Erskine—1. ‘If ye through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live’; [Acts 15. 9], ‘Purifying your hearts by faith’, ‘Legal mortification is from the applause and praise of men, as in the Pharisees; from pride of self-righteousness, as in Paul before his conversion; from the fear of destruction; from a natural conscience; from the example of others; and many times from the power of sin itself, while one sin is set up to wrestle with another, as when sensuality and self-righteousness wrestle with one another. The man, perhaps, will not drink and swear. Why? Because he is setting up and establishing a righteousness of his own, whereby to obtain the favor of God here one sin wrestles with another.

    2. The gospel believer fights with grace’s weapons, namely, the blood of Christ, the word of God, the promises of the gospel, and the virtue of Christ’s death and cross [Galatians 6. 14] ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom (whereby) the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.’ But now the man under the law fights against sin by the threatenings of the law; by its promises, saying, I will obtain life, I hope, if I do so and so; by its threatenings, saying, I will be damned, if I do not so and so. Sometimes he fights with the weapons of his own vows and resolutions, which are his strong tower, to which he runs and thinks himself safe.

    3. The believer will not serve sin, because he is alive to God, and dead to sin [Romans 6. 6]. The legalist forsakes sin, not because he is alive, but so that he may live. The believer mortifies sin, because God loves him; but the legalist, in order that God will love him. The believer mortifies, because God is pacified towards him; the legalist mortifies, in order to pacify God by his mortification. He may go a great length, but it is still that he may have whereof to glory, making his own doing at least some of the foundation of his hope and comfort.

    • Mark, when you say “confusion of gospel with “covenant”, with “covenant defined as that which some singers are naturally born into”, can you explain that a little more? As I have been thinking through this more that was something I was doing (equating gospel with covenant). What is the trouble with equating the two?

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