“The Gospel is not the news that we can receive Jesus Christ into our lives; the Gospel is the news that Jesus Christ has received us into His life!” (C. Baxter Kruger)
Understanding this statement profoundly changes everything…our whole perspective and the very nature of our relationship with God.
Beloved, you are not a pardoned criminal, or a dirty sinner that God has to keep His “Jesus glasses” on so He can stand to look at you. NO! You’re the object of His greatest affection—His precious pearl—and you’ve been invited into the great adventure. You died with Christ, and your life is now HIS life! What this means is that you’ve literally been given Jesus’ relationship with the Father.
Don’t believe me? Then, what does God mean by saying this about us?
3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col.3:3 NKJV)
I don’t think we need a theologian to explain this to us, do you?
Jesus singlehandedly rendered all world religions, along with all of our convoluted rituals and stairways to heaven, obsolete and irrelevant. As Robert Capon said, “Christianity is not a religion; it is the announcement of the end of religion.”
As Paul told the religious Athenians, God overlooked our ignorance in times past—making God in the image of our own haunted imaginations—but now calls everyone to be re-formed, to change our mindsets about how to relate to God (called repentance):
30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31 NKJV)
Every human being who ever lived will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Rom.14:10-11). But we won’t be able to bring our “good-bad” judgment tree with us. And this includes the “Christian” version.
The question will NOT be…“Are you good enough? Did you do enough?” No, it’s “do you know Me?” Were you willing to “eat” from Me? Did you enter into this ongoing cooperative process with Me…this relational intercourse with My Spirit?
He’s not someone we can make in our own image. He is who He is, and He calls us to be transformed into His image…to grow up into Christ (Eph.4:15). This is called doing the will of God (bold type added):
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom.12:2)
For all of man’s religions make us eat from the wrong tree—the “good-bad” tree, and trying to weigh your good against your bad is still judging from the wrong tree. Christ took BOTH our “good” and our “bad” and hung it on a tree!
Christ has cut down the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It’s just a dead stump in the dead ground of dead religion. He has planted Himself in you. And He is the Tree of Life! You are of a new seed, a new creation springing forth; the old “stump” is gone (2 Cor.5:17).
As I said here, eternal life is knowing the Father in Christ (John 17:3). The life of God is only found in the Man, Jesus Christ. This is why the cross is such an offense to our humanistic need to save ourselves. The cross forces us to either accept God’s invitation to walk in the light as He is in the light, or continue stumbling in the darkness, always running but going nowhere on our treadmill of penance and guilt.
Salvation is not a passport to heaven, a ticket we have punched when we go to church, or a “get out of hell free” talisman we carry in our pockets to ease our troubled minds. Jesus is not an agent of salvation; Jesus IS our salvation. Because a Human Being is seated with the Father in the triune Godhead; we have Christ’s life in God. Jesus is the way to this life with the Father and the deepest truth about who we are as human beings (John 14:6).
It’s a “narrow way” because there’s only one life living in the Father—Christ’s life.
Eating from the Tree of “good and bad, right and wrong” is living by the law of sin and death. Christ canceled the Law of sin and death so that we could live His life in the Spirit instead (bold type added):
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom.8:2-4 NKJV)
So I will end where I started…“The Gospel is not the news that we can receive Jesus Christ into our lives; the Gospel is the news that Jesus Christ has received us into His life.” How should that change how we live? Selah.