The Inward Revelation of Christ
by David A. DePra
by David A. DePra
Back to the Goodnews
Back to the Goodnews
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I the Son of man am?” And they said, “Some say that You are John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said unto them, “But who do YOU say that I am?” And Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this unto you, but My Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
We live in a day where spiritual deception of every kind is running rampant through the Body of Christ. The Word of God and the Person of Jesus Christ have been forsaken in favor of signs and wonders. Faith has been replaced with gimmicks, rituals, and formulas as to how to get God moving. And the knowledge of Jesus Christ has been pushed aside to make room for the knowledge and exaltation of self. Thus, it should be no surprise that the power of God through Jesus Christ should be virtually absent from the church – although this too has been replaced – replaced with the power of soul and the psychic realm. None of these things are a surprise to God. He prophesied that these things would come to pass within churches that profess Christ over two thousand years ago.
This passage above shows that the key to everything in the Christian life, once a person is saved, is an inward revelation of Jesus Christ. The gates of hell – which includes all of the old man in Adam and Satan’s power in it -- cannot prevail against the Rock – against the revelation of Jesus Christ IN God’s people. This passage clearly reveals this Truth. But in order to get to that, we need to back up a bit and discuss the passage.
If you read the above passage from Matthew 16, you are reading an account that shows that the Father had revealed to the disciples the identity of Jesus Christ – and now they were confessing Him. This was a HUGE turning point in both the ministry of Jesus, and in the lives of His disciples. In fact, immediately after this event, Matthew records, “From THAT TIME forth began Jesus to show to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”
Of course, the disciples had no clue about the meaning or necessity of the Cross of Jesus Christ. In fact, Peter rebuked Jesus for saying that He needed to be crucified and raised from the dead. Jesus replied, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me because you desire not the things of God, but the things of man.” That may be the most scathing rebuke Jesus ever dealt to one of His disciples – and with good reason: The very purpose for which Jesus came was to go to the Cross and be raised. But Satan had appealed to Peter along the line of human sentiment, religious tradition, and the desire to have the physical kingdom of God NOW. Jesus had to address this directly and sharply.
Immediately after that exchange, however, Jesus began to teach them that, yes, He must go to the Cross, but he also stated that if they wanted to follow Him, THEY TOO must carry a Cross. This passage demolishes any notion that because the death of Jesus on the Cross is a PAST event that we don’t have to pick up our Cross. No. The death of Jesus on the Cross IS a past event – and it is a once for all finished work. Yet the death that the Cross accomplished, and the victory it made possible, must still be worked out and experienced. This can happen only if we pick up our Cross and follow Jesus.
Jesus then stated, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” If we read this passage with an open heart, and really want to know the Truth, we will not be able to escape the phrase, “IF ANY MAN WILL COME AFTER ME.” Do we want to follow Christ? If so, the ONLY way to do so is by picking up OUR Cross so that the results of HIS Cross may be worked out in us. The result will be the LOSS of ourselves. But we will find HIM as our life.
Now, it is important to see what transpired after the disciples confessed that Jesus is the Christ – because everything that follows that confession is built upon that revelation from the Father, and the confession of it. It is an absolute fact that when God begins to reveal in us His Son, that along side of that revelation will be revealed the Truth and necessity of the personal Cross. Why? Because it is by picking up our personal Cross – it is by being, “crucified with Christ” – that the initial revelation of Christ in us is released to a greater fullness. We must, “bear in our body they dying of the Lord Jesus, so that the life also of the Lord Jesus might be made manifest.” In short, God is, in a practical, experiential way, bringing us out of the old humanity into another that is in His Son.
A Personal Revelation
God has freely given us all things in His Son. All that God has for humanity is given ONLY in Christ, and there is nothing that God will ever give except it be given in His Son. Jesus is the great I AM to us – He is the Alpha and Omega – in other words, Christ is ALL. In Christ is the fullness of God, and Christ is in us. Thus, everything depends upon the revelation IN US of Jesus Christ. This is the starting point for freedom, and it is the starting point for walking with God. It was for the disciples and it is for us.
The above passage quoted from Matthew 16 is a clear statement to the effect that the inward revelation of Jesus Christ to the believer is the foundation to all that God will build in the believer from that point. Indeed, the revelation of Jesus is the very means by which the gates of hell shall NOT prevail, but in fact, will be demolished.
Jesus pro-actively approached His disciples and asked them, “Who do men say that I am?” The disciples gave a number of answers, all of which, of course, were incorrect. But then Jesus asked them, “Who do YOU say that I am?”
Now, right there in that question, we have unfolded a great Truth: It does not matter what other people say about Jesus Christ. For you and I, it matters only what WE believe. I cannot have faith in the faith of others. I have to have personal faith in Christ. Can we see that Jesus is here talking about a personal revelation of Christ? And a personal faith that emerges from it? “Who do YOU say that I am?” That centers it down to Christ and myself. No one else, at that point, is in the picture.
There are many professing Christians who simply believe what others tell them is the Truth. Their faith is based upon peer-pressure, although they would not call it that. Many have faith in leaders – “If this popular TV evangelist believes this, it must be true.” Or, “This many people could not be deceived. What they all believe and teach must be true.” So they follow the crowd. Millions just accept false teaching because they are afraid to not accept it. But few professing Christians have realized that their personal faith is to be based on a personal revelation of Jesus Christ TO them, and IN them. Again: “Who do YOU say that I am?”
Paul, the apostle, could not have been more clear about this. He wrote to the Galatians, “I travail until Christ be formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19) That is a little awkward in English. In NT Greek, it reads, “I travail until you be brought into an inward realization of Christ.” An INWARD realization of Christ, or an inward expression of Christ to us in an inward way – well, that is personal and individual. It cannot happen by proxy.
Paul also said, “Christ in YOU, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27) He did not say, “Christ is only realized through a group.” No. We must EACH receive a personal and individual revelation of Jesus Christ because we must each receive Jesus Christ Himself by being made one with Him in spirit. (I Cor. 6:17) So once again we see the great significance of Jesus’ question: Who do YOU say that I am? Not, who do OTHERS say that I am – that is not the question upon which everything hinges – but who do YOU say that I am?
It certainly was the question upon which everything depended for the disciples at this point in time. Jesus obviously, knew that they had begun to see the Truth about Him – He knew that there was the beginnings of a revelation from the Father. And it was from that point that He was free to reveal to them the purpose for which He came: To die and be raised.
A Revelation from God
After Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father in heaven (has revealed this to you).” Can we grasp what Jesus is saying? He is saying that this revelation of Jesus as the Christ did not come from any, “flesh and blood,” source. It did not come to the disciples from other people. Neither did it come from the disciple’s own, “flesh and blood,” that is, it was not something that they mustered up out of themselves. No. This revelation came from the OUTSIDE of the disciples INTO them FROM the outside – from the Father.
Unless this is how we receive Christ – from the Father -- unless this is how we receive all revelation – from the Father through Christ -- then the only alternative is that we have received it from flesh and blood. Have we recognized that this is all or nothing – either something is OF God or it is OF man? Either it is birthed by God via the spirit, or it is birthed by the flesh and natural? Of course, Satan is involved in that which is of the flesh, but those are the only two sources.
Jesus stated that Peter and the others had NOT received this revelation of Jesus through the means of flesh and blood. They had not fabricated a Jesus from out of their religious tradition – not this day – and they were not walking in the imagination of their religion minds. They would continue to have problems doing that, of course, but this day – this revelation – they had received personal, individual, one-on-one revelation from the Father Himself. And because they had, Jesus was able to say, “Blessed are you!”
God uses ministry, and fellowship, to help us along in the Body of Christ. But in the final analysis, regardless of the vehicle God may use, it must result in this personal revelation of Jesus Christ. Otherwise it is not real. It will, in the end, be proven to be of the flesh.
Now, all of this is actually background. It is background that ought to bring us to the focal point of this passage. And that focal point is this: The revelation of Jesus Christ to us in an INWARD way – that PERSONAL and INDIVIDUAL revelation that only God can give – is THE ROCK upon which the church is built, and in fact, it is THE ROCK upon which the individuals who comprise the church is built. Jesus Christ is the Rock -- and the revelation of Christ in us is the foundation of all that God is going to do and build in our lives from that point forward.
Jesus stated this directly, although it is one of those passages that has often been misapplied. He said, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood has not revealed Me to you – but My Father in heaven has revealed Me to you. And it is upon THIS ROCK – the solid foundation of this revelation of Myself IN YOU that I will build my people.”
You cannot escape the conclusion here: Christ Himself IN US – He is our Rock. Christ, and the progressive revelation of Christ in us – this is the ROCK upon which God builds His people. He is the Rock because He is our life. He is the Rock because He is our Truth. In short, Christ is ALL.
Now can we see why unless we are at least beginning to know Jesus – and are beginning to come into an inward realization of Him – can we see why we are not going to get far? Without this ROCK there is no foundation upon which God can build.
All through the epistles this necessity, yes, of having Christ in us, is emphasized, but then, out from that, the necessity of knowing Jesus Christ in an inward way is stressed. Indeed, Paul prayed, “I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Himself: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened…” (Eph. 1:16-18) How else could we walk in the Truth? How else could we live in Christ? God must unfold Christ in us. That revelation is the foundation because He is the Rock.
The Gates of Hell
There were many things that Jesus could have told His disciples would be the outcome of this revelation they had begun to see from the Father. But they were not ready for most of that – as was proved in that immediate exchange between Peter and Jesus about the Cross. But Jesus did mention a few things that would be they result of this revelation in them of Himself. He said, “And I say also to you that thou art Peter, and upon this rock – upon the revelation of Myself in you -- I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it -- and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
There are some interesting words used in this passage – the most interesting being in that phrase, “gates of hell.” Most people would understand this to be talking about THE HELL – as in, “eternal hell fire.” But it is not – for every time in the gospels that Jesus talked about hell fire He used the word, “ghenna.” He was actually creating a picture lesson in using that word, because, “ghenna,” was a literal place outside of Jerusalem. It was, in fact, the city garbage dump – and was forever on fire. But leaving that aside, the word translated, “hell,” in this Matthew 16 passage, is NOT, “ghenna,” but HADES. The word, “hades,” in NT Greek actually means, “the unseen.” But it was used to refer to the unseen realm of the dead. Thus, when Jesus said, “the gates of hell,” He was actually talking about, “the power and authority of death.”
So Jesus was actually promising that, “The power of death will not prevail against the revelation of Myself in people.” Of course, Satan is behind that realm of death – it is his domain. In fact, “the realm of death,” is really the entire old creation. Everything that came under the dominion of Satan through the fall of Adam are actually, “the gates of hades.”
Can we see that our old man in Adam is a primary, “gate or power of death,” that dwells within the believer? Thus, what Jesus said about the gates of hell has just as much of an individual and personal application as does the revelation of Himself. If I am a believer, I am joined to the Lord and one spirit with Him. That is CHRIST IN ME – it carries the revelation of Jesus that is THE ROCK. But everything that is outside of that union in spirit with Christ remains natural – it is subject to the realm of death. Thus, Jesus is promising that against the revelation of Himself in us, the realm of death cannot stand. This is worked out through the personal Cross and the life of Christ in us.
You will also notice that the picture that Jesus gives is NOT one of the forces of evil assaulting or attacking the gates of the kingdom of God. No. The picture is one of the revelation of Himself toppling the gates of hell. Sure. The place we start in Adam is fully within the realm of death. But that is territory that Jesus won, and which, through the ongoing revelation of Himself in us, must be taken back. Thus, the gates of hell are being invaded by Jesus Christ and those gates cannot stand or prevail against the ongoing revelation of Himself in His people.
The Key to Spiritual Power
As I noted at the outset, today in the Christian church, the true knowledge of Jesus Christ – the revelation of Jesus Christ in His people – is a virtually unknown Truth. Christ has been pushed aside in favor of many other THINGS. This is certainly the case when it comes to power. Today, power is a THING that God supposedly gives us to use in His name. And believers are told that they simply need to believe and use that power, and if they do, miracles will happen. But are miracles happening? No. Many are claimed, but few are happening. Today the church is virtually without power. Indeed, the church is under the very power that needs to be broken – the gates of hades.
Christianity is, “Christ in us,” and the Christian life is to be an ongoing discovery – through death and resurrection in Him – of Jesus Christ as our life and our all. But today this has been redefined. So many are teaching that, yes, Jesus got us saved -- so now our involvement with Christ is finished. Our involvement is supposedly NOT to be with Christ, but with the Holy Spirit. Despite the fact that Jesus said the spirit of God would never speak of itself, but would always speak of HIM – there are entire movements today centered around the Holy Spirit. Jesus has been reduced to what amounts to an adjunct – to someone whose death made it possible for the Holy Spirit to pick up things where He left them off. Thus, the Christian life, we are told, is a matter of God acting upon us by the Holy Spirit and doing things to us to, “make us look like Jesus.” Jesus isn’t really directly involved. Likewise, we are taught that we must do this or do that in order to merit the blessings of God so that our lives might turn out to be successful. Some are even teaching that the purpose of God is to bring us into a full realization of, “our true selves.” These are all error and spiritually destructive.
ALL of these errors can be traced back to one error – to blindness to the Person of Jesus Christ, who dwells IN US. Right here in Matthew 16 Jesus Christ directly states that He will build His church – that He will build His people – upon the Rock and foundation of the personal revelation of Himself in people. Therefore, if people are blinded to the very Rock upon which all must be built, how can anything be built? How far can we get in our life in Christ? This is, of course, exactly WHY Satan seeks to blind God’s people to the presence of the Person of Christ. It is his masterstroke – where the foundations are absent or destroyed, there can be little or nothing of God built upon it. Indeed, what will be built is of the flesh, natural man, and of the old man in Adam. And great deception will abound because this will be passed off as the new man in Christ.
No wonder Jesus said that the gates of hades could not prevail against the inward and personal revelation of Himself. Satan can only work to the extent that we are blind to Christ. He can only establish all of those errors in our heart and lives to the extent that we do not know the Truth in Jesus. Therefore, if we DO see Jesus Christ those gates of hell and death – included in which is all the deception of Satan – cannot stand. It is the Truth of Jesus Christ that sets us free because it is the revelation of Jesus that demolishes all of the deception of the gates of hell.
So again -- the reason the church is without power against the gates of hades is because we are blinded to Jesus Christ – and the revelation of Jesus in us is the means by which the gates of hell are toppled. Christ in us is the power of God – HE is the key to spiritual power. Thus, where people are blinded to Christ – have no revelation of Christ within – there is going to be little power.
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God….but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
The Cross and the Power of God
We do not often realize that the key to spiritual power is an inward realization of Jesus Christ. Rather, we think of power as a THING that God gives us -- and we never relate it to the Person of Christ who dwells in us. We might say that we have power BECAUSE of Jesus, but few of us grasp that Jesus Christ IS the power of God – the Christ who dwells in us. Yet Paul directly stated in I Corinthians that Jesus Christ is the power of God. He also stated that the Cross was the power of God. The two are as one.
How so? Because it is as we pick up our personal Cross and lose our lives – lose that old life in Adam – that the life of Jesus finds a greater realization in us. And the life of Jesus – resurrection life – is the POWER of God. Paul stated:
Always bearing about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus, so that the life also of the Lord Jesus might be made manifest in our bodies.
Do we wonder why there is so little of the power of God today? It is because there is so little of Jesus Christ manifested. He is not manifested through God’s people because He is not revealed IN God’s people. And He is not revealed IN God’s people, because we have side-stepped the personal Cross. Instead of losing our lives to Christ in order to find Him as our life, we usually seek to save our lives for ourselves – and are being taught as to how to get God to help us. What utter deception – completely contrary to the Truth.
Again – why did Jesus, immediately after the disciples confessed that they had received a personal revelation of Him, bring in the necessity of the personal Cross? Because the Cross is the power by which the old man – and all of the power of death inherent in him – is destroyed. And if that is happening, then the life of Christ will be manifested – and all the power that is inherent IN Christ. ALL of this is one experience – it is a matter of coming out of the old into the new through on ongoing revelation and experiencing of Jesus Christ.
The Gates of Hell
“The gates of hell,” which, as noted, is the power or authority of death – behind which is Satan. Those gates of hell have no power over the new creation in Christ Jesus. Indeed, Jesus has already defeated the gates of hell through His Redemption. That is why if we are IN CHRIST – it is why if we are united with Him in spirit – we are completely delivered through resurrection from that old creation over which Satan has power.
Now note: IN CHRIST the power of death has no power or access. And we are united to Him in spirit. Yet outside of that union with Christ in spirit is our body and our soul – these are not united with Christ in spirit. Thus, it is possible for us to come under the power of death in our body and our soul. It is possible for even a believer to sin and be deceived.
What is the solution? Jesus gave it to us. He said, “It is upon THIS ROCK – upon this inward revelation of the Christ that I will build My people – and the powers of death cannot prevail against it.” Thus, Jesus was not merely talking about, “the gates of hell,” that are, “out here.” No. Included are the powers of death that are in our natural man. If we are being brought into an inward realization of Jesus Christ this will break the power of hell IN OUR old life.
If you read scripture, you will understand that because life is a Person, and because Light is that same Person, you cannot separate the two. Thus, as we come into an inward knowledge of Jesus – receive Light – His Life will be released, and that life is resurrection life. Resurrection life in Christ is the greatest power possible because it is life that already has victory over every enemy, the ultimate of which is DEATH.
Jesus said, “This is life eternal, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent.” (John 17:3) The light is in the life – that is – Christ revealed in us is both life eternal and light. And that is why Christ is the power of God against which the power of death cannot prevail.
It is not possible for us to desire to receive a revelation of Jesus Christ more than God wants to give it to us. Thus, we need only to ask God to do whatever it takes to bring us into this revelation, and we need to settle for nothing less. God is faithful and this is His will – “For God desires for all men to be saved AND to come into the knowledge of the Truth.” (I Tim. 2:4)
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