Real Gospel

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The real gospel as I have come to call it is rather different from the news that was handed to me in my youth. Listen to the end of Jesus’s prayer moments before he went to the cross.

“Father, I have made Your name known to them, and I will make it known, in order that the love with which You love Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26).

In these words from our Lord several simple but monumental realities should stop us in our tracks. First, the joy of Jesus’s heart is that he is making his Father known to us. For Jesus this is the point of creation and of our being alive in the world, and now it is the point of his presence in redemption. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Jesus sees life in an odd way to me, which startled me and led me to an about face many years ago. He is not concerned here with where we go when we die. He is concerned with our knowing the Father now. For Jesus knows the Father and he understands what will happen inside of us when we do as well. Something happens inside our souls when we see the Father’s face with Jesus’s eyes—hope, meaning, unearthly assurance, freedom for love. The Holy Spirit as a river of life rises up as a within us and flows to all around us now, and forever after (John 7:38-89).

Second, note that this knowing is as far from an intellectual exercise as a photograph is from a real place, or an ancient text about Jesus is from Jesus himself. In fact, and this too has shocked and thrilled me for years, Jesus intends that we come to experience the very same love with which the Father loves him from all eternity. Let’s stop for a moment and make sure we do not miss this. What does Jesus feel right now sitting face to face with his Father in the Holy Spirit? Have you ever thought about that? Jesus is there now seeing his Father. Is he afraid? Are his knuckles white as he grips the arms of his chair fear-stricken that at any moment his Father will banish him from his presence? Does Jesus’ heart writhe with worry about tomorrow? Is he depressed, forlorn, on the edge of the abyss of sadness? Why have we not be talking about this for the last 2000 years? Is Jesus overwhelmed with anxiety that the Pharisees will finally persuade his Father that they are right with their verdict that he has lost his mind?

I think Jesus hears His Father say, “You are My beloved Son, in whom My soul delights” (Matt 3:17; 17:5). I think he hears and feels this affirmation all the time, everyday. I think Jesus knows His Father inside and out, dwells in his bosom, as John says (John 1:18) and enjoys His everlasting, cascading affection. The heart of the gospel is found right here. The gospel is the astonishing news that this same Jesus has taken up residence inside of you and me (I in them). All that Jesus is with his Father and all that he has in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit has been and is being given to us. It is quite staggering, almost unbelievable, but nothing less than Jesus and his very own relationship with his Father is now ours, indeed as much ours as it is Jesus’ s(Col 1:27; John 14:20).

Third, notice how Jesus takes responsibility for making this knowing and union with us real. We are too precious to him, and his Father’s dream for us is too important to leave to us to accomplish. Say this out loud, “Jesus takes responsibility for finding me in my great darkness. Jesus is delivering me from evil.” As I come awake to my own failures and pretending and self-righteousness and posing, this part of Jesus’s declaration thrills me. He gives me a place to rest when I have failed again, and that place is Him. He is saying to us, ‘There now little one; it was never up to you to shepherd yourself and lead yourself to life. I am the good shepherd, always have been, and you can count on me and my love. I have found you and will never let you go. Rest a while in my love and you will see.’

Most of us, I suspect have tried to be good Christians and worked hard to figure out how to apply biblical truths to our lives. Such externals left me appearing nice, but dead and certainly bored on the inside. The good shepherd, however, the one who knows the Father and life in the Holy Spirit came and found us and now is leading us to know his Father with Him. Jesus’s view of life itself is different than ours and the way of our getting there is different from our way. His vision of life is fundamentally at odds with trying to improve our appearance. I have finally begun to trust Jesus’s heart for me and his presence, not absence in my life. This leads me daily, some times moment by moment to ask Jesus ‘how are you working in me to deliver me from darkness so that I can see what you see?’

Fourth, there is something implicit in Jesus’s prayer that we have touched on, but now needs to be highlighted. It is what he assumes that we already believe. The points above have opposites at work within us. We don’t believe that the Father could possibly love us, or that Jesus is in us, or that he is shepherding us in our sin and brokenness. This is what John means by darkness (1:5). These beliefs—the Father is not good; I am not loved, not good enough, not important, not acceptable; Jesus is not in me, and I am alone—are like logs that form a beaver dam within our souls. And this beaver dam keeps the river of living water from flowing within us out into our relationships and lives. These agreements blind us to what is, “the light of life” (John 8:12). If we want to see what Jesus sees and feel what he feels when he hears his Father, then we ask Jesus to help us change what we believe. The good news here is that he is already inside us. Our joy is to ask him, for he will never violate us or our wills. Here is a conversation I often have with Jesus. ‘Jesus, are you in me?’ I listen for Jesus to say, ‘I AM.’ And if I cannot hear him, I ask why not? ’Lord, deliver me from darkness, especially the lies I believe about your Father and about myself. Thank you blessed Jesus that you have crossed all worlds to find me in my darkness. Give me your eyes.’

“In that day you will know that I Am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20).

—C. Baxter Kruger, Ph.D., international bestselling author of The Shack Revisited, and Patmos

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Showing 11 comments
  • Katie Skurja

    “The good news here is that he is already inside us.” Amen and amen, brother!

  • Jerry Culver

    I would like to get these blogs via email.

  • Ribaldinho

    “He is not concerned here with where we go when we die.” Of course He is not, since He knows that everybody will eventually see the Father as He sees Him.

  • Lorilee immel

    Thank you BK, for good convocation.

    John 17:2
    JC prayed in the affirmative
    Glorify me as i have glorified you, that i May glorify them.
    … order to give them eternal life (experiential knowledge of the Father.

    Mutual glorification is a statement of equality and humility.


    Jesus was telling the father to be present with him so that he could be present with us——-it is/was already done….just as John said-as it is in Christ, so is it in us now.

    There is no darkness or evil where there is light.

    Where is there darkness in Omni-Presence of God?

    Darkness is The lie perpetrated on humanity by the father of all lies—-the unrestored mind.

    If i perceive darkness all around me at high noon, it is likely i need to open my eyes-not curse the dark! (If i have a veil over my eyes, am i living in darkness of my own making?) the metaphorical veil can be constructed by lies others tell us-or those we tell ourselves.

    The cost of freedom —living in the light, is the willingness to let God open our eyes.

    It is ALWAYS a matter of the heart.

    Thank you Jesus – for radical freedom in radical grace🙏🏻

  • Dan Williams

    I was priviledged to read about everything Baxter wrote or taught as I entered the world of inclusion and Trinitarian Theology about 10 years ago and exited mainline evangelicalism. My first 2 years in this journey were filled with times of wonder and awe as I navigated with tears of gratitude and beauty Baster’s teachings. Thanks Baxter, still love reading and hearing his teachings!

  • Donna Burge

    Wonderful reading

  • Oliver

    This question really stands out for me: “Is Jesus overwhelmed with anxiety that the Pharisees will finally persuade his Father that they are right with their verdict that he has lost his mind?”

    I wonder. Are we overwhelmed with anxiety in this society? What is it that scares us about our ego? Are we protecting our Hearts? In what ways has our Earthly father condemned us? Said we were insane or dismissed us…

    Who has lost their mind? The definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different results. How do we break the cycle? I seek growth, reverence, and acknowledgment of reaching deeper. In the name of God. In the name of the Goddess.

  • Gavin Quella

    Always a blessing to be reminded and encouraged by this good news! Thanks for sharing, Baxter!

  • Doris Bedsole

    Recently the Lord said to me” I have planted THE GREAT SEED in my people and I am calling the time for it to come forth” I am impressed that we are entering the time when He will manifest the fullness of Christ in us. This new era we will be empowered ,Not just a few of us, to take that responsibility to demonstrate and manifest Heaven to earth.

  • Carol Miller

    This truth is so life giving. Yet much of the church today seems to have missed it, and are very busy hanging on by their fingernails. Thank you for this post.

  • Larry McKnight

    Baxter, I never grow dull to hearing the beautiful and simple truth of the real Gospel spoken or written. Thank you so much for your simple but profound persistence in getting the truth of the gospel–the truth of who Jesus is and what He is all about–out to us and to the world. You told me once that when my heart flips over and I really believe this, I will stop teaching it and start declaring it everywhere I go. I believe for me, and for many others under the carful and wise guidance of Holy Spirit, 2018 is going to be a year marked by the declaration of the real Gospel on a scale we haven’t heard or seen in many a long years. Thanks again for your unflagging love for the body and devotion to Jesus, the risen and living heart of the real Gospel..

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