The Second Half of the Gospel: Everybody Wants to Go Deeper, Nobody Wants to Descend


August 19, 2021

Matthew 16:25 (NIV)

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.


Deeper. That’s the next step on the path of the second half of the gospel. 

Everybody wants to go deeper, but nobody wants to go down. Discontent will lead in one of two directions: distraction or depth. Deeper, contrary to popular belief, is not up. It’s down. Deeper requires descent. This is the paradoxical journey of the gospel which can be translated, “The way up is the way down.”

Jesus teaches us we find our life by losing it. The least is the greatest. The last is the first. The greatest is the servant of all. To go deeper does not mean to simply accept these truths as nice platitudes, rather it means to delve into the depths of them until their wisdom becomes miraculously evident to us. In fact, the only way to discover their truth is to descend into their reality.

Admittedly, the way to depth is a counter-intuitive path. Depth doesn’t come from mountaintop experiences. It comes in the valley of vision. What we need most in today’s churches are leaders who can not only teach but model a theology of descent. This is second half of the gospel faith. And remember, faith does not mean mere belief. Faith is movement. It’s why Scripture teaches we walk by faith, not by sight. We cannot “see” the way until we are walking the path. Vision is the outcome of faith, not the precursor. The beautiful thing is we know the way, because the way is a person—Jesus Christ. We follow Jesus. The second half of the gospel teaches us this in a much deeper and yet simpler fashion. 

Deeper opens the way to a new kind of wholeness. It is wellness as in, “Though everything is not O.K., ‘It is well with my soul.’” The journey is not an easy one. It requires navigation into our own broken ways. It will lead to the unearthing of the lies we have believed and built on and the unraveling of the false selves we have constructed. The beauty of the journey of deeper is the ongoing unveiling of our truest and best selves—the people God intended when he first imagined us; even better, when he first imaged us.

Deeper is not another behavior or sin management strategy. Deeper takes us into the realm of our dispositions, affections, and desires. Deeper leads to the discipleship of the heart and mind. Yes, it will take courage to go there.

Jesus did not mince his words. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Here’s how I translate those 20 words: The secret to life is to die before you die.


Lord Jesus, thank you for not only showing the way to a life of true depth but for taking us by the hand and leading us there. We confess, if left to us, we would plan a series of mountain top moments filled with warm and fuzzy feelings. We know it means following you all the way to the Cross and back again. Come Holy Spirit and fill us with the joy of going there together. We pray in your name, Jesus. Amen.


The secret to life is to die before you die. How do you relate to that sentence? Do you have a sense of your false self? Your true self? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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