The gospel is the good news that God is love. ‘In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins’ (1 John 4:8-10). The background of the gospel is God’s wrath and judgment against us sinners. The heart of the gospel is the double truth of propitiation for sin, and remission of sin – through the cross of Christ, atonement by blood, and justification by faith. ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them…. He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the ighteousness
of God in him’ (2 Cor. 5:19, 21).
The gospel of free forgiveness through Christ crucified appears as the mainspring of worship throughout the whole Prayer Book, and it is noticeable that current discontent with the Prayer Book is strongest among those whose grasp on this gospel is most suspect. A modern prophet, in an article entitled Un-Christian Liturgy, has censured the Prayer Book stress on guilt and pardon as morbid and unhealthy. Our own judgment goes rather with [Charles] Simeon [1759-1836]:
‘I seek to be, not only humbled and thankful, but humbled in thankfulness, before my God and Savior continually. This is the religion that pervades the whole Liturgy, and particularly the Communion Service; and this makes the Liturgy inexpressibly sweet to me. ‘The repeated cries for mercy to each Person of the ever-adorable Trinity for mercy, are not at all too frequent or too fervent for me; nor is the Confession in the Communion service too strong for me; nor the Te Deum, nor the ascriptions of glory after the Lord’s Supper, Glory be to God on high, etc. too exalted for me this shows what men of God the framers of our Liturgy were, and what I pant, and long, and strive to be. ‘This makes the Liturgy as superior to all modern compositions, as the work of a Philosopher on any deep subject is to that of a schoolboy who understands scarcely anything about it.’
—The Gospel in the Prayer Book (Marcham Manor Press, 1966)
Having just heard about the home going of J. I. Packer, I am filled with mixed emotions: joy for him, sadness for us. I first met him when I was about 15. I can’t calculate how much I owe to him, not only his teaching and writing but his godly example. #jipacker pic.twitter.com/lt9HG0FeVQ
— Michael Horton (@MichaelHorton_) July 18, 2020