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Lowell Brueckner

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The Gospel of Intimacy


“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”  John 15:15

It seems evident to me that from the time that God’s Spirit brooded (Heb. râchaph) over the surface of the waters (Ge.1:2), God purposed to create a being, with whom He could be intimate. He expressed it in the profound communication that exists in the trinity: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (1:26). After the travesty that outweighs all others that ever occurred, God walked in the garden in the cool of the day and called to Adam, “Where are you?” (3:9). Adam’s relationship with his Creator was overshadowed by a thick cloud, because of his disobedience, and he hid in fear and shame.

  Can anything be done to remedy an act of rebellion against the supreme authority over the universe, whose command cannot once be slighted in the smallest measure? Is there a way to erase a blemish caused by sin and the following, innumerable offenses by Adam and his descendents against a thrice-holy God? The problem of the ages could only be resolved in the mind of the Omniscient, and the means would be accomplished through his beloved and only Son. Therefore, the eternal Son of God stepped down from His unfathomable glory and became Man, with one purpose in mind and that purpose was to reconcile man to God. It would be accomplished through the sacrificial death of this God/Man. Peter sees it and teaches us: “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God…” (1 Pt.3:18). The purpose was reconciliation.

  This was the desire and design of the Spirit of God behind the writing of a unique Gospel, different from the three wonderful accounts penned previously. He prepared an author and preserved his life, after all his fellow-apostles had given theirs in martyrdom. Sixty more years were required to equip and endow him with the wisdom to proclaim a Gospel of restored intimacy between God and man.

  This writer was the former fisherman, John, who called himself the disciple that Jesus loved. He was the one, who reclined on Jesus’ bosom after the last supper.

An unpleasant deviation
  Would to God I could continue my attempt to write concerning this wonderful subject without interruption. But because man’s mind has been perverted by the fall, I am obligated to address a filthy lie concerning the relationship between John and Jesus. “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled” (Titus 1:15). Amazingly, the Scripture informs of things born in the heart, which come to the surface in the forms of doctrines and practices over the passage of time. 

  Therefore in our time, the homosexual, who has no intention of repenting of his perversion, yet wants to lay claim to Christianity, tries to find in Jesus and John a justification for his unnaturally twisted mind. The implications are too blasphemous for us to consider any further. His Queen James Bible, altered in all parts that refer to the sin of homosexuality, bears a triple curse from Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:6 and Revelation 22:18-19. The criminal founder and false prophet of the Mormons, Joseph Smith, was no better. In his sexual gluttony, he attempted to make Jesus a polygamist. I pity the person whose stomach doesn’t turn sour over such suggestions.

  Having necessarily cleared the air of some foul pollution, we continue to consider a pure and beautiful love, such as there is in a holy heaven, without a trace of sexuality (Mt.22:30). “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own… (etc)”. This is the love of God, donated as a precious gift to man, overflowing with tenderness and compassion (1 Co.13:4,5). Though it is, in first place, volitional and not sentimental, it also has emotional content. Can anyone doubt that after reading the account of Naomi and Ruth or David and Jonathan?

  In John we have a New Testament example, of one who knew and loved Jesus Christ, and in his first letter, he invites the reader into that communion: “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 Jn.1:3).

The Son, one with the Father
  From chapter one, in the first two verses of his Gospel, John hints at the source of intimacy, which was between the Father and the Son. He states: “The Word was with God… He was in the beginning with God.” The Word and God, the Father, were together before the beginning of time. Albert Barnes states, “He was blessed and happy with God. It proves that he was intimately united with the Father, so as to partake of his glory.”

  In this short article, we pass over a number of passages, which teach us the unique relationship between the Father and the Son, until we come to the apex of our study in chapter 17. I know of no other chapter in the Bible, which gives a greater feeling of urgency to remove our shoes, because we are standing on holy ground! It is holy, even fearful, precisely because of the matter before us… the intimacy between the Father and the Son. It is a wonder that the Holy Spirit would allow us inferior and unworthy beings to gaze upon this hour of divine communion. 

  There are some (too many I’m afraid), who would like to take the term Abba Father and translate it Daddy. This is an example of the frivolous theology of modern times with its low concept of God. The holy students of Scripture in times past would not have dared make such a suggestion. Therefore, it is well worth pointing out that in this prayer, which from start to finish denotes profound intimacy, Jesus addresses God as Holy Father (v.11). There is no hint of any irreverence. 

  In verse three, Jesus points to the essence of eternal life, and, as already pointed out, this was the purpose of creation and the cross, “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent”. If any man misses the point of creation and the plan of reconciliation, he has missed the reason for his existence and there is no other recourse left, but to dispose of him. As far as he is concerned, Christ died in vain. Eternal life is for those who have come into relationship with God and know him.
  Throughout this prayer, Jesus shows the deepest concern for those who are His and I always like to show that He includes disciples, who will believe on Him in the distant future, even into the 21st Century: “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word” (v.20).  He prays for them, not for those in the world (v.9). This high-priestly prayer continues at the right hand of the Father.  He tells the Father of His care for them and of losing none (12).

One with the Father and the Son
  But I want most of all that we hear in His prayer, His expressions of oneness with the Father. It begins in verse 11: “That they may be one even as We are.” He is praying us into the kind of intimacy that exists between the Father and the Son and He continues in verse 21: “That they may all be one (this includes the future saints of verse 20); even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that you sent Me…”, and He continues in verse 22 and 23, “that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” Please understand that this is far more than a plea for people of different denominations to get along with one another. It is about the Father being in the Son, and the Son dwelling in us and us dwelling in the Father and the Son.

  He already taught His disciples this principle, using the example of the branches of a vine, vitally joined with the stock, so that the stock’s life would flow through the branches. This is intimacy at the highest level; this is the life of God in the soul of man. When God’s people are so united with the Father and the Son, and by the Father and the Son with one another, so that the living presence of God is seen through them… that is what will get the world’s attention, and nothing less.

  Jesus is speaking of this oneness with God, when He points to the kind of love that exists between the Father and the Son, becoming the love that is in the believers in verse 26: “That the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them”. Likewise, when His disciples thought about having a quantity of faith, Jesus spoke to them of a kind… the faith of a grain of mustard seed. In chapter 14, He spoke to them of His peace, a peace that the world cannot give. In chapter 15, He promised them that His joy would be in them and become theirs. Don’t think of love in terms of quantity; it is not quantity, it is kind… the highest quality of love… the love that exists only in God. This is the intimacy of oneness with Christ.

An eternal love relationship
  We are trying to grasp eternity’s values, as we look into these things, especially of the everlasting love of Christ. “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am,” He prays with passion in verse 24, “so that they may see My glory…” Already in chapter 14, He shared this with His disciples. When they were without any true purpose in life, endlessly casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee to provide a living for themselves and their families, He came to them with a glorious purpose. Now He speaks of going away to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house: “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also,” He promises them and us. The love relationship with God is unending and the best is yet to come.

  In the meantime, as He is about to go to His Father, Jesus said “I will not leave you orphans” (Jn.14:18). Far from it, the Holy Spirit enters into the picture, not just to walk and talk with the children of God in this world. That would not be close enough, but He is to be in us (v.17) to comfort, to teach and to show us things to come. This is divine help to enable us to understand, to reach into the heavenly and function in the realm, into which Jesus has brought us. Otherwise we would be totally helpless and ignorant. He will glorify Christ, as He takes of His and shows it to us, bringing forth through His people a mighty testimony to the world.  

Friendship with God
  We cited chapter 15, verse 15, at the head of this article, by which Jesus calls His disciples into friendship. Abraham knew this intimate friendship with God, in which God shared His thoughts and His heart with his human friend: “The Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do…?” (Ge.18:17). Speaking through the Prophet Isaiah, God said, “Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, descendant of Abraham My friend” (Is.41:8). This is not a man calling God his friend; it is the infinite God, calling a mortal being His friend!

  Then, there is so much wonder to be seen in the relationship of God with Moses. We cannot take much more space; simply look with me at Exodus 33:11: “The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.” We have briefly pondered the teaching of Jesus to His disciples concerning friendship and future glory. John has made His prayer to the Father available, and we have seen that it reached down the centuries to include us. We read more than words; through the Holy Spirit, we have looked into the heart of God, Father and Son, and what we have seen there, is His will to be intimate with human beings. For that purpose, He created us, washed us from sin, transformed us through the new birth and given us His Spirit, so that by these measures we might live in communion with Him.                                   ■


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