Chapter 1.   You Are The Christ

Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’  Jesus replied,  ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven.’”  Mt. 16.16-17

If anything must be made clear from the very beginning, it is that any true knowledge of The Christ, any accurate insight into the understanding of this name, The Christ, must come by revelation.   Jesus said to Peter very plainly that the revelation of Him as The Christ did not come from any human or natural source.  Peter was not taught this, he did not learn this through text or spoken words, nor did he learn it from observation.  Jesus said, “This was revealed to you …by My Father in heaven.”

Revelation is above knowledge. Knowledge is held in the mind of man; divine revelation is a supernatural disclosure that enters the spirit of man and becomes resolute in his mind.  No rational argument can win against revelation, for logic is not its master. To Peter, it was not logical that this Jesus of Nazareth who was speaking to him was actually the Son of God. But, he knew that he knew that he was. Insight supersedes knowledge. A mystery is unveiled, being brought into light out of darkness.  To the natural mind something might be a historical fact. To the spiritual man it is a measure of life imparted in the heart.

The natural man can never understand or perceive the reality of the things of God or His Kingdom.  Is this not what Jesus spoke to Nicodemus when He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  And “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”  Jn. 3.3,5   Oh how the vital importance of the new birth (regeneration) has diminished in the church today…to the extent it remains a mystery to the understanding of so many.

Revelation is a spark of light that enters the mind through the heart.  It is a quiet peaceful apprehension of a spiritual impartation of knowing.  Jesus said to those of the church of Pergamum, “To the one who overcomes, I will give the hidden manna.”   Rev. 2.17   The manna that God miraculously gave the children of Israel to eat, while in the wilderness, was obviously visible.  They simply reached out and picked it, tasted it and ate it.  But hidden manna is not obvious to the eye or the touch or the taste; it needs to be revealed.  Manna was food for the body; hidden manna, revelation, is food for the soul.

Mystery of Christ

There is a mystery to be revealed to the Church by the Spirit of God.  It is a revelation of something so great, so marvelous that I do not have the verbal skills to articulate its splendor.   I am overwhelmed by it. I am not poetic enough or have the superlative adjectives to express what is in my heart regarding this profound mystery.  Paul once wrote, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…”  Eph. 3.20   I like that expression, “exceedingly abundantly, above all that we ask or think,” or a man  such as I without such superlatives, this will do.  Let us touch on the mystery to be revealed:

“I (Paul) became its servant by the commission God gave me to fully proclaim to you the word of God, the mystery that was hidden for ages and generations but is now revealed to His saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”   Col. 1.25-27

I am now 78 years old.  For the most part of my last 50 years I have attempted in all ways to grow in knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ and God my Father.  I have avoided the practice of religion like a plague and have pursued what I comfortably refer to as life.  I have progressed from the early days of evangelism, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, to the practice of the gifts of the Spirit, and on to sanctification and spiritual maturity.  But this revelation, Christ in me, has apprehended me as no other thought; it has become the capstone of all my endeavors. Its fullness supersedes all doctrine, for the practical reality of all true doctrine simply lies within itself—Christ in you.

We must understand that the Father did not send His Son to be incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, and then anoint Him with the Holy Spirit to become The Christ, just to rescue man from hell. For that only He could have made a divine proclamation of forgiveness. But, proclaiming forgiveness does not change the heart or the guilt of the forgiven.   It is true man needs a Savior to rescue him from a horrible ending, eternally isolated from our heavenly Father; but more so he needs a Savior to bring him into the knowledge of, and everlasting fellowship of the living God…the Father and Son.  God’s divine intentions for man are exceedingly abundantly, above all that we ask or think.  And, these intentions are to be fulfilled by, in, and through The Christ.  

Religion or Christ

It is a sad commentary that for too long the Church has been fed a diet only of knowing the historical Jesus. Knowledge of the historical Jesus is needful and good to learn. It is taught in Sunday school classes and preached from the pulpit. I still remember the principles learned in my first catechism class: the Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence of God. I don’t know if they used these big words or not, but an important point was made of the Omni-nature of God.  As children brought up in the Christian faith, I believe all learned of the incarnate birth of Jesus, His life, parables, commands, miracles, His sacrificial crucifixion, resurrection and ascension into heaven.  Soon after learning the Lord’s Prayer, I learned to recite verbatim the Apostle’s Creed, the pledge of faith.

Such understanding is good and profitable. But it is a foundation only, intended to be built upon.  Stopping there without introducing the higher things of God, brought forth in spiritual understandingby revelation, is falling drastically short of the Divine intent and life-changing insight into knowing The Christ.   To some, the name Christ has simply become a part of His title, as in, “Jesus Christ,” even to the extent that some may think that Christ is Jesus’ surname. 

A faith built only upon the historical Jesus, creeds, laws, hymns and rituals, all fall merely under the heading of religion.  Religion has given birth to many Christian denominations and sects, each claiming to have some unique knowledge of our Lord and Savior; and each one’s doctrine is gleaned from Scriptural passages, which are sometimes taken out of context or misinterpreted.   This knowledge is then interwoven into a system of routine worship, rituals, encouraging messages, moral principles, and a hope for eternal bliss—all practices being only a shadow of the spiritual reality found in knowing The Christ. 

I use the term “shadow” here to describe these religious practices.  In other words, there is a reality that casts the shadow.   My shadow is not me, but only some distorted image of my body. My shadow indicates that I exist, but it does not hear or speak, plan or love. The shadow is not alive but is only an indication that life exists. The Old Testament is held to religiously by the Jews as the history of their nation and as their covenant with the only true God.  It is that in deed.  But, it stands as only a shadow in the light of the New Testament.  Though naturally and physically true for the Jewish people, it is only a shadow of The Christ of the New Covenant.    Jesus plainly declared to these Jews,  “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.  Jn. 5.39 

Please reference the illustration: Realm of The Christ.  It is a most simple but basic attempt to illustrate beyond words the significance of Colossians 1:27,

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”    

All that one may know of Christ may be historical in nature.  There is all this factual information regarding Christ that surrounds believers.  This is truth but it is outward to our being and we assimilate it into our minds, our thoughts, our practices.  It becomes our belief system and religion.

If, the truth of Christ in you becomes a spiritual reality by Divine revelation, one’s life is altogether affected.  Christ in you, the hope of glory becomes an inward experience, for in Him is: life, hope, light, truth, sanctification, Divine character, etc.  It is only in this dimension of understanding can one truly understand, at least come into appreciation of 2 Peter 1.3-4:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

If Christ is external to our being, we are powerless to walk in such Godly truths: partakers of His divine nature.  We can try our best, make resolutions and vows, pursue a holy vocation, practice our religion “religiously,” and yet know within ourselves we have fallen short, there must be something higher. 

The Mission

In the Greek New Testament the word Christ means the “Anointed One.”  In the Old Testament Hebrew “Anointed One” is translated Messiah.   The Jew is still awaiting the Messiah promised in Genesis 3.15: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.”  This Messiah, when He comes, is believed to usher in God’s Kingdom among the Jewish people. In the meantime they hold fast to their religious beliefs and its heart, The Law.  They outwardly worship the One and only true God with rituals, holy days, sacrifices, etc.

The term Christ specifically refers to Jesus of Nazareth.  We will see He too will usher in a Kingdom, but not in and of this world.  The Son of God, was sent on a mission to earth, became incarnate in Jesus, born of the virgin Mary, and anointed of the Holy Spirit.  His mission was manifold.  Yes, mankind was the target of His mission, but its purpose and goal was for God.  His mission was to man, but for God the Father and Son. 

Succinctly, the divine mission of Christ was and is yet, and always will be to prepare the human soul for God.  Mankind was steep in sin; alienated from God; walking in darkness; spiritually dead; succumbed to Satan, the god of this world; subject to death; and living for self, being carnal in all his ways.  At this point I ask, with the Psalmist (8.14), “What is man that You (God) are mindful of him.”  God’s love for man has never wavered…He sent His only begotten Son to redeem man from this horrible condition in which he finds himself, and to  equip him and make him fit as royalty for the Kingdom of God, for fellowship as regenerated sons and daughters with the living God, their Father.

Briefly, the Father sent the Son on this mission to prepare, protect, and preserve man for Himself:

Prepare  This lays the eternal foundation for the soul of a believer.  It is not my intent to overwhelm with scripture quotes, but it is most necessary to adequately describe how God begins by redeeming man from the gloom of his fallen nature by the precious blood of Christ, as a Lamb without spot (1 Pet.1.18-19); by wiping the slate completely clean and creating a new creation of man (2 Cor. 5.17, 1 Pet. 2.25);  by their regeneration and infilling of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3.5);  begetting them as his own sons and daughters (Jn. 1.12-13); and by His divine power giving the believer all he needs for life and godliness that we may be partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1.3-4, Gal. 5.22-24).  This is the grace of God for man.  Man cannot earn this mighty Divine work in his life, but receive it in Christ as a spiritual gift.  Life emerges from within.

Protect   I believe Christ makes provision to protect each and every member of His flock, from the world and from Satan, even as David as a young shepherd boy protected his father’s flock from lions, bears, and wolves.  Satan, the principalities of darkness, and their physical cohorts in this world are the enemies of our souls.  He does so first by Himself, making direct intercession to God on our behalf (Heb. 7.25);  and then by setting each member into the Body of  Christ and raising up elders as ministers and overseers to shepherd, guard, and nourish  (2 Tim. 1.14, Acts 20.28-31); and finally by giving the promise of the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower every believer (1 Cor. 3.16, 6.19,  1 Jn. 2.20).

Preserve   We are never alone in our walk, but the Holy Spirit will abide with us forever (Jn. 14.16); we are confident that He who began this good work in us is faithful and will see it to its completion until the (second coming) Day of Christ  (Phil. 1.6);  and that He will never leave us or forsake us but will sustain us until that Day  (1 Cor. 1.8, Jn. 14.18, Heb. 13.5).  I would that all would understand the true nature of eternal life.  It enters the soul at the new birth, is now present, and will be so unto eternity—for it is everlasting life.  It is sharing in the life of Christ, he who has the Son has life. (1 Jn. 5.12)

Salvation

In light of this great commission of Christ, we must now enlarge our concept of “salvation.”  It certainly must embrace an idea larger than being rescued from hell, and even larger than, “going to heaven when we die.”  If hope is the anticipation of something to come, as an expectation for the fulfillment of a promise, then as believers, our hope must exceed the thought of being redeemed from dire consequences to some state of bliss.   Salvation, as a fulfillment of the great mission of Christ, is more closely aligned with the preparation of our whole being, spirit, soul, and body, to be joined together with Christ, in God.   The high goal is fellowship with the Father and the Son now, and culminating in wholeness into eternity.

Salvation now touches upon the new birth of the spirit in man to become the sons and daughters in the family of God, our Father, and joint heirs of the only begotten Son.  It involves deliverance of our souls from the power and consequences of sin and death, and the imparting of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (though not foreign to persecution and suffering for His namesake.)  Even as Esther underwent a year-long time of preparation to become the wife of              King Xerxes and queen of Persia and Media, the believer will spend this lifetime in preparation to become the Bride of Christ and, as royalty, to reign with Him in His Kingdom to come.  (Rev. 19.6-9, 20.6)    And the high culmination of our salvation, is the resurrection of our bodies fashioned after the resurrected body of Christ, a necessity to life on the new heaven and new earth in the age to come. (1 Jn. 3.2, 1 Cor. 15.42-45, Rev. 21.1-6)

The Anointed One

Perhaps the most basic explanation of who is The Christ is that He is the “anointed Son of God.”  Do not let that phrase, “anointed Son of God” slip by you too easily, for in it is captured the relationship and existence of the triune God, the purpose of God in creation, a  Divine commission, and a divine incarnation.   These are not just high and lofty catch phrases.  This is spiritual reality in the heavens brought to the earth for a Divine purpose. The Son pre-existed the incarnation of Jesus.  The Son was present with the Father before time began.  It is written, “All things were made through Him (the Son), and without Him nothing was made that was made.  Jn. 1.3   and “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever.”  Rm. 11.36   The Son of God, while enjoying a Father/Son relationship, is distinct in personality but is equally God along with the Father and Holy Spirit.

 The Greek term Christ refers specifically to Jesus of Nazareth as the Anointed One.  And of this name, Jesus Christ, it is written, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4.12   One may search other religions or ancient manuscripts for a God and/or Savior; or may consult spirit-guides, seers, and prophets; or try to find it portrayed in the stars; but Jesus Christ alone is the Anointed One sent by the Father to save mankind from the grips of Satan and the agony of sin and death.

O.T. Biblical Anointing    

The adjective “anointed one,” or just “anointed,” as developed in the O.T., specifically refers to someone who was anointed with olive oil to a special role or ministry.  Predominantly, it means to be anointed king.   For example, “Then Samuel took a flask of oil, poured it on his (Saul’s) head, kissed him, and said, ‘Has not the LORD anointed you ruler over His inheritance?’” 1 Sam. 10.1   But “anointed” also applies to priests and to Prophets.  Examples are, “Then the anointed priest shall take some of the bull’s blood and bring it into the Tent of Meeting.”  Lev. 3.5 and “Do not touch My anointed ones! Do no harm to My prophets!”  1 Chron. 16.22

The priests were also anointed with “holy” oil. (Ex.30.26-31) Their anointing served to consecrate and grant them official status as priest chosen by God. God spoke to the prophet Elijah, “You are also to anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel and Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel-meholah to succeed you as prophet.”  1 Ki. 19.16  Thus olive oil was used to anoint both priest and prophet to walk their lives set apart in a special ministry unto God.

N.T. Biblical Anointing

John the Baptist stood at a time of transition; the end of the Old Covenant and the beginning of the New Covenant.  The Old Covenant to the Jews was in commandments, animal sacrifices, and various rituals—collectively known as “The Law.”  It was an outward covenant with earthly promises to an earthly people.  But the time had come for the old to become fulfilled into a new, and greater covenant. “By speaking of a new covenant, He (God) has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.”  Heb. 8.13 

So with the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist came the end of “The Law” and the old religious system.  Something new was here, the Christ had come.  Of this Jesus spoke,       “Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  Mt. 11.11

 With what then, was John anointed? It is written that John the Baptist was regarded to be a prophet. (Mt. 14.5)   And so it is written of John, “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.  Lk. 1.15   Could the anointing upon John be inward of the Spirit, and not outward with olive oil? Could this now be the pattern for Divine anointing in the N.T. being ushered in by John? Though he preceded the ministry of Jesus Christ, John certainly piloted it in.  Jesus even insisted that John baptize Him in water.  (Mt. 3.13-15)  This fulfilled John’s ministry.  Then, when he (John) baptized Jesus, something unique happened.

The Baptism and Anointing of Jesus

“When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.’”  Lk. 3.21-22

I do not believe there is any clear statement in scripture of just when Jesus became The Christ, the Anointed One.  Some may think it occurred in a pre-arrangement before time began; or others at the time when the Son of God became incarnate in Jesus; or at this time, at the baptism of Jesus.  Personally, I believe the latter, when “the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him.”  It was an anointing not with olive oil but with the Holy Spirit.  This is now the new pattern for the calling and setting into ministry in the New Covenant written in Christ Jesus.  It is an anointing, not externally with oil, but inwardly of the Holy Spirit.   

The voice of God was then heard saying, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”  He was, is, and forever will be God’s beloved Son.  For all eternity this speaks of a Father/Son relationship.  The Divine Trinity was publically manifested here at the baptism: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And for the present time, it is the most public declaration and approval of Jesus and a sign that He is being set apart to the office of The Christ (the Messiah)—The Anointed One. 

After His baptism and anointing it is written, Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  (Luke 4.1-13)  Oh how important it is to understand that The Christ was both filled with the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit; He did not immediately run off and begin ministry under His own powers, resources, and initiative.  This is a lesson we all must learn.   It is then written that Jesus, returning in the power of the Spirit, began His public Galilean ministry.  Coming to Nazareth, He enter a synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read from the scroll from the prophet Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”  Lk. 4.18-19 

The anointing was upon Jesus to begin His public ministry.  In addition, Peter informed the Gentiles gathered in Cornelius’ home that God had anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and that He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil since God was with Him.  (Acts 10.38)   

[It is of personal importance to our understanding that, Paul writes, “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God.”  2 Cor. 1.21   Every believer is anointed and set apart for a special function and purpose for his or her life in Christ.]  

I believe the foregoing discussion very strongly supports the argument that The Son of God came down from the heavenly realm, became incarnate as the son of Mary and Joseph, then following John’s baptism, He was anointed with the Holy Spirit as the “Anointed One,” who is The Christ. From that point on Jesus Christ entered public ministry.  (See also: Word Explain, “When Did the Man Jesus Become the Christ,” James T. Bartsch) 

Anointed: King, Prophet, Priest

These three aspects of the anointing—King, Prophet, and Priest—of Jesus as The Christ are of prime importance  in understanding how The Christ interacts with, and establishes us, the believers, in the spiritual domain.  They will be discussed in detail in the following chapters of this series.    

If all this be true, and I believe it is, at that moment in time in which God anointed Jesus as the “Anointed One,” The Christ, He anointed Him to be King, and Prophet, and Priest.  The Son of God became the Father’s ultimate Anointed One—anointed to be king, prophet, and priest now and in the eternal age to come of and in a Kingdom not of this world.

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