The Firm Foundation of Christ in You

Back to the Goodnews

by David A. DePra


The New Testament always brings believers back to the absolute necessity of the firm foundation – and that firm foundation is the presence of the living Christ Who dwells within the believer. 


Jesus Christ is THE ROCK upon which God builds His people.  He is THE LIFE, THE TRUTH – He is the ALPHA and the OMEGA.  He is not only presented as the solution to all problems, but Jesus Christ – and His presence in us -- is the core reality of Christianity itself.


“Christ in us,” is a present reality.  Jesus Christ is not off somewhere, apart from the believer.  No.  If I am IN CHRIST then Christ is in me.  I am one with Him in spirit.  (I Cor. 6:17)


Not Merely Doctrinal


Now, you will notice that I did not say that the firm foundation is merely a, “doctrinal Christ.”   Yes, we do have to have sound doctrine – but what we really need is the living Christ about which our doctrine speaks.  CHRIST HIMSELF in the believer is the firm foundation of the believer – to the extent that we come into a personal realization and knowledge of Jesus Christ.


It is so easy to think that if we have sound doctrine that we have HIM.  It is easy to create for ourselves a world of doctrine, teachings, church life, and ministry.  But the question remains:  Are we experiencing CHRIST HIMSELF?


As far as doctrine is concerned, if we do have the person of Christ within, and we are more and more coming into a personal realization of Christ -- then we will have a firm doctrinal foundation.  Truth doctrine will emerge from the Truth Himself.


Christianity did not emerge from a list of doctrines.  Rather, true doctrines emerge from a knowledge of the Living Christ.  Of course, today we have doctrine everywhere.  And if it is true doctrine that is good.  But so many of us embrace the doctrine but don’t know we need to embrace Christ Himself.  In short, we need to OBEY the doctrine and come into a living relationship with Christ Himself.


There are those who, when they hear this, will jump to the conclusion that I am saying that doctrine doesn’t matter.  No.  It does matter, because doctrine is a description of what we say is the Truth about Jesus Christ.  Thus, true doctrine will always agree with the Truth Himself.  Why?  Because there is only ONE Truth – there is the written Truth and there is the Person Who is the Truth.  These will always agree.  Therefore everything God reveals to us in Christ will absolutely be found in the Bible -- at least in principle. 


It is very clear that before Acts 2 that the disciples had only a minimal understanding -- from out of the Old Testament -- as to the plan and purpose of God.  They knew what all of the OT prophecies and promises SAID.  But they did not understand the meaning – they did not grasp God’s mind.  Even after being with Jesus for three and one half years, they continually misinterpreted Him.  They continued to have a completely wrong idea about the kingdom of God.


In addition to those three and one half years, after the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples had the privilege of being taught by Him for 40 days – “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”  (Luke 24:27)  And yet they still did not see the Truth.  Indeed, just before His ascension, from the Mount of Olives, they still thought the literal kingdom was going to be restored.


What happened to open their eyes?  Jesus had already given them teaching.  Again and again He had explained things to them – but they still did not understand.  What happened was Acts 2.  It was in Acts 2 that they received a permanent presence of Christ within through the outpouring of His spirit.  Then they began to grasp the meaning of everything that Jesus had taught them.  After Acts 2 you find them quoting scripture and interpreting it according to the mind of God.


Herein is a great Truth:  We begin to understand only when we begin to know Jesus Christ in an INWARD way.  We must begin to come into an inward realization of Him – and then we will start to grasp His purposes and plan.  Only then will we move beyond an intellectual understanding of scripture to a spiritual knowledge in Christ.


Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 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 him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places].  (Eph. 1:15-20)


Note Paul’s prayer – that believers might be given, “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.”  And the result?  “That the eyes of your understanding might be enlightened that you may KNOW…..”  It is the revelation of Jesus Christ that is the key to all spiritual understanding.  It is the key, not to reading what the Bible SAYS, but the key to discerning what God MEANS.


So what we see that scripture is affirmed and interpreted, and comes alive, because you have the living Christ within.  The Living Christ in believers is THE firm foundation.  That is affirmed and taught by scripture. 


That is why, in Galatians 4:19, after Paul pleads with the Galatian church and talks about all their problems and deceptions, he says to them, “My little children of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.”  The Greek there means, “until Christ be inwardly realized and expressed.”  So, Paul is travailing as a woman about to give birth because he knows that the realization of Christ is the only solution to the Galatian deception -- or to any other deception or ignorance in the Christian church. 


That is Christianity at the core, “Christ in you, the hope of glory;” that we might come into an inward realization of the Living Christ by the means of the Holy Spirit.  That is the only way to know Him – and thus to truly grasp scripture.  And it is the only way to move on in the purpose of God.  Until the Body of Christ gets back to this Truth, we are going to be deceived. 


Faith in The Living Christ


In chapter 1, Paul states that the Galatians had, “removed themselves,” from Christ.  He was telling them that their faith was not solely in Christ -- but that their faith was in something else.  More specifically for them, their faith was in their own works; their own righteousness.


It does not matter WHAT our faith happens to be in – if it is not solely in Christ then we are deceived; we have removed ourselves from Christ through unbelief.  But this brings us again to the essential of coming into an inward realization of Christ.  For how could we possibly have our faith solely in Christ if we are not coming into an inward realization of Him?  You have to have an inward realization of Christ.  You have to be growing in your oneness with Him in spirit in order for the faith of Jesus to begin to emerge and to grow.  This is why Paul travailed that the Galatians come into this realization of Christ – without that none of us will get far in the purposes of God.


If we do not have an inward realization of Christ, the only faith we are going to have is that which we have mustered up out from ourselves.  At best that will be an intellectual or academic or emotional faith which is not real faith.  We MUST have a living faith that is based on the Living Christ – Who is in us --  for HE is the firm foundation. 


Along with Galatians 4:19, which is quoted above, Paul also says in Galatians 1:


I certify to you brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man, neither did I receive it of man, neither was I taught it by men, but I received it by the revelation of Jesus Christ.  (Gal. 1:11-12)


Note the phrase, “revelation OF Jesus Christ.”  Paul did not say he merely received a revelation FROM Jesus Christ -- but rather, he said he received the revelation OF Jesus Christ.  Paul is telling us that he received exactly what he travails that ALL believers will receive:   An inward revelation of the very Person of Jesus. 


Paul rehearses his past – he shows that before he received the revelation of Christ -- that his life – and it was a greatly religious life – was completely contrary to Christ.  But he was delivered.  He says, “It pleased God to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him among the heathen.”  (Gal. 1:16)


Preaching Christ


Anyone can read what the Bible says.  Many can even gain an intellectual grasp of what the Bible means.  Some can pass that information on to others – through preaching and teaching.  But it is possible to do all of that – and build a huge ministry out of it – and yet be operating entirely within religious flesh.  Indeed, unless the person preaching and teaching has a personal inward realization of Jesus Christ, religious flesh is all that such a person will have to work with.


The world is loaded with Christian preachers right now who do not even know they are SUPPOSED to have an inward revelation of Christ -- let alone actually have that revelation.  In today’s Christian church, we are so blind to the Person of Jesus, and so blind to what Christianity really is – “Christ in you” -- that we are as those who are blind, but do not know we are blind.  Many of us actually think we DO see – but we are deceived. The Bible continually pleads for Christian people on this matter. 


God wants this Truth of Christ -- the true gospel which he mentions at the beginning of this epistle – to be preached.  If the uncompromised Truth is preached in love it will wake people up.  It will walk folks up – one way or another.


The LIVING Truth of Jesus Christ cannot be preached except that it will cause upheaval.  You preach the Truth and it is going to cause disturbance.  But that is good.  The Truth will disturb folks who are blind, ignorant, and sleeping – but it will also disturb those who do not want the Truth.  Paul says that in this epistle.  He says to the Galatians – who were Christian people --  “Have I made an enemy of you because I have told you the Truth?”  (Gal. 4:16) Unfortunately, in many places in the Body of Christ, the answer would be YES.  Throughout the church age, some of the greatest enemies of the Truth have been religious people – people who claim to know God.  It began with the Pharisees and continues today.


Now I do have to add this: It is entirely possible to go around preaching heresy -- and likewise making many enemies.  But in that case you are not suffering for the sake of Jesus -- you are suffering for the sake of yourself.  A lot of this kind of thing goes on today.  False teachers preach error, and build ministries, and if anyone questions them they accuse those people of being agents of Satan.


It is also possible to preach the Truth – at least in words – but not in love.  Some people preach the Truth to promote themselves; to gain influence over others.  Of course, if that is the case, then they really aren’t preaching the Truth.  They may have some correct doctrines – but the spirit behind it is not of Jesus Christ.


We are all fallible.  You can accuse anyone, other than Christ, of preaching the Truth at times with a little less love than they should.  But Christ Himself was love personified -- Jesus never preached the Truth in any spirit except perfect love.  Yet He made more enemies than everyone else combined.  Likewise, the apostles preached the Truth -- and they were all murdered for it, except maybe John -- and he was tossed in prison. 


Even if we are not called, or have the opportunity, to preach Christ in an outward way, every believer is nevertheless called to become a living epistle of Christ.  In other words, our lives ought to reflect that we belong to Christ; that we are dedicated and devoted to Him.  Is this not preaching Christ – in a living way?  But that is not possible without a hidden history with God.  For God to build up Christ in a believer it will require the work of the Cross – in other words, suffering.  That will be business as usual if you are a believer who is walking in the Truth.  You might not be in for a bad time in your outward life -- but you are going to be in for a bad time in your inward life -- because the flesh wars against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh.  The two are contrary one to another.  There is no getting around that.  So if you are one with Christ in spirit, your flesh is outside of that spiritual union and it is going to be constantly at war against your resurrection union in Christ. 


One of the most oft used ploys of Satan -- with regards to using your flesh against you -- is to get you and I preoccupied, if not obsessed, with ourselves.  For a believer, this will involve becoming occupied with our own righteousness before God.   This is what he managed to do in the Galatian church.  He got them under another gospel -- a gospel of legalism.  And what is the goal of the gospel of legalism?  It is a religious preoccupation with oneself – in the attempt to maintain your own righteousness through works; through law keeping. 


Flesh vs. Spirit


If the Living Christ is to be the only firm foundation for the believer, and He is to be the sole object of our faith, then it should be obvious that to the extent that a Christian life is not solely based upon Christ we are deceived.  It is deception to be preoccupied with ourselves – with our works, with our service, with our standing before God.  Rather, our lives should proclaim, “Yet not I, but Christ!”


How many understand that you and I could go on for decades, sailing along without any trouble -- with no serious conflict -- and we could think that it is because we are being blessed – that the lack of suffering in our lives is because we are good Christians?  We could go along in that kind of stupor never realizing or understanding how blind, ignorant, or deceived we are.  And the fact is, we WOULD go on like that unless God took the initiative and open our eyes.


Jesus promised that the spirit of God would be given to guide us into all Truth.  He was not talking about TRUE doctrine – although, as mentioned, that will be included.  Jesus was talking about the revelation of HIMSELF in His people.  This is the real ministry of the spirit of God.  Without it we have no firm foundation.  So what God does with those whom He knows are ready, is to bring along some disturbance -- at times in the outward life and other times it can begin in the inward life – to motivate us to seek Him.  He will allow anything He sees might benefit us by coming into our lives, to disturb and to stir us -- so that we no longer will relax and settle back on our lees religiously.  Of course, the devil will try to use the same thing to try to trip us up, and do evil in our lives.  These are crisis points – points in our lives where we choose the path of faith or unbelief. 


Are we going to say, “I am going to abandon myself to Christ?”  Or am I going to claim my right to myself – and delude myself into thinking that to do so is the will of God?  Note that:  Christian people can choose a walk in unbelief, right OUT of the will of God – and convince themselves that doing so is actually the will of God.  How is that possible?  It is possible because they have no firm foundation.  They do not know Him.  And even though God is opening the path for them to come to know Him, the path of unbelief presently gives them what they feel they need – and they convince themselves that this is what God is leading them to satisfy.


If I make such a foolish choice God will be faithful to fashion a path back to Him.  He is always faithful.  But we need not choose the way of unbelief.  


The Bible says, “The flesh wars against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, so that you cannot do the things that you would.” (Gal. 5:17)  But this gives us a clue as to the Christian experience.  It tells us that such a conflict is to be expected.  If you are going on with Christ you are going to have this inward battle.  In fact, if I don’t have this inward conflict, it may be cause for concern.  The absence of this conflict means that either the flesh or the spirit is NOT there, or is dormant.  But the flesh is certainly always there.  Satan is certainly there.  Thus, if there is no conflict the problem is that either we do not have the spirit of God, or we have fallen so asleep that the spirit of God has compatibility with our flesh.  That is NOT good.  So it is not a good sign if I never have any spiritual warfare.  Such conditions are why God will come into a life and disturb us. 




It is entirely possible, and Paul gets into this further on in Galatians, to become so spiritually deceived by false teaching -- a false Jesus and a false Christianity -- that Paul says we are, “bewitched,” or, “mesmerized,” as the Greek says in Galatians 3:1.  What does that mean?  What does it mean to become so, “mesmerized,” by false teaching that we no longer obey or walk in the Truth?  How does that happen and what does it mean?


Well, the actual word mans to, “be fixated.”  It means that we have become so focused upon one thing that we cannot see anything else.  It the case of the Galatians, it meant that they had become so fixated, or preoccupied, with maintaining their own righteousness, that they had become blinded to the Person of Jesus Christ.


We might think of this as an altered state of consciousness – in this case, of religious consciousness.  Sure.  When people are under a false body of teaching, they are fixated upon that teaching – and it will eventually come to govern them.  Or, to put it another way, when people are under false teaching they have, “another gospel,” and, “another Jesus.”  This false Jesus will come to define their life, their walk, their attitude – can come to govern them in every way.  Of course, the whole point is that, to them, this is the Truth.  Embracing the false as the Truth is deception.


If serious enough, a false Jesus can, “renew the mind backwards.”  In other words, degrade the mind according to error, instead of renewing it according to the Truth.  It can bring a person to where they begin to interpret Christianity, and life, through the lens of that false Jesus.  If you seriously get under false teaching, then that false teaching becomes your Truth, and governs your perspective, so that when a challenge comes to that false teaching, your perspective is so changed that you are able to dismiss the challenge and settle back into the false teaching.  You will READ INTO the Bible your deception and emerge all the more convinced that you know the Truth.


This is why is it usually futile to tell a person who is in error that reading the Bible will set them free.  It usually won’t set them free because even their reading of the Bible is going to be governed by a deceived mind.  The Bible IS the written Truth, but in order to grasp the Truth therein we need a work of God – we have to have an open heart to the Living Christ.  We have to be committed to Him no matter what it takes, and no matter what the consequences.  We have to SEE HIM.


Jesus said that we needed to be born from above to SEE the kingdom of God.  Paul said that the natural man, or the soul man, cannot receive the things of God.  In other words, none of us can muster up out of ourselves what is necessary to SEE or RECEIVE.  For that, God must undertake to intervene – and ultimately, that intervention will be to reveal Jesus Christ in us.


There are folks who are deceived by error and living in it.  But there are others who have become indifferent to the Truth.  What both need is to be disturbed.  The only solution to deception – even if that deception is a indifference to the Truth -- is the knowledge of Jesus Christ – a growing inward realization of Jesus Christ.  God Almighty wants to bring people back to the firm foundation of the Person of Jesus Christ. 


The Galatians had gotten off of the Person of Christ and into a religion about Him.  In their case it happened to be legalism -- and they were bewitched and mesmerized to the point where that was their new normal -- their own righteousness was their fixation.  To them, this was now what they thought was Christianity.  Do we think that this deception was merely the result of a misinterpretation of some Bible verses?  That all they needed was a better theology?  No.  What they needed was to KNOW CHRIST:  My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19)  He was the only solution; the only firm foundation.


Upon This Rock


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.   (Matt. 16:13-18)


The Galatians were deceived.  But we also 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 supposed knowledge and exaltation of self.  And certainly, the preoccupation with self, works, ministry, and self-righteousness is everywhere – like an infection in the Body of Christ.  Yet despite it all, the solution that Paul gave the Galatians remains the ONLY solution for all errors in the Christian church today:  An inward realization of Jesus Christ.


Herein we see why the power of God through Jesus Christ is 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 over two thousand years ago.


This passage above once again shows that the key to everything in the Christian life, once a person is saved, is an inward revelation of Jesus Christ.  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.


This passage records Jesus pro-actively approaching His disciples and asking them, “Who do men say that I am?”  The disciples gave a number of answers, all of which, of course, were wrong.  But then Jesus asks 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.  


Jesus is here talking about a personal revelation of Himself -- and a personal faith that emerges from it.  He is talking about what the epistles will later reveal:  That we must KNOW Christ through an inward, personal revelation. That is the context of this passage:  “Who do YOU say that I am?” 


For faith to be based upon a firm foundation, it must be based on a personal revelation of Jesus Christ, yes, TO us, but more importantly, IN us.  We must have Christ revealed IN US.  We have already seen that Paul was perfectly clear about this.  He wrote: “I travail until Christ be formed IN you.”  (Gal. 4:19)   An INWARD realization of Christ -- that and that alone is personal and individual.  And it is essential if we are to answer the question, “Who do YOU say that I am?”


Paul also said, “Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory.”  (Col. 1:27)  That is Christ in each individual.  The Bible never teaches that Christ is only realized in a group, or through a group.  No.  We must EACH receive a personal and individual revelation of Jesus Christ. Sure.  For we must each receive Jesus Christ Himself by being made one with Him in spirit.  (I Cor. 6:17)  The body of Christ is comprised OF individuals.  So once again we see the great significance of Jesus’ question:  Who do YOU say that I am?  Gather a bunch of folks, all of whom know Christ, and you have a body.  The body never makes the individual.  The individuals make the body.


This question is certainly the question upon which everything depended for the disciples at this point in time.  It is just as important for each of us. 


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).”  (Matt. 16:17)


Can we grasp what Jesus is saying?  He is saying that this revelation of Jesus as the Christ to Peter 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.  Either we have relied upon, “Who do MEN say that I am?,” or we have mustered  up a theory from ourselves.  But revelation comes only from God.  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?  


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 on this day – and they were not walking in the imagination of their religion minds.  They would continue to have problems with that in the future, 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, all ministry that is of God will result in this individual and personal revelation of Jesus Christ.  Otherwise it will be proven to be of the flesh.



The Rock


Now, let’s jump ahead a bit to the bottom line taught by this passage:  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.  The Living Christ in us is THE ROCK upon which the individuals who comprise the church is built.  He is the firm foundation of all that God is going to do and build in our lives.


Now can we see why we not get far in our Christian walk unless we are at least beginning to come into an inward realization of Christ?  He is the Rock, and the foundation.  What can be built if we have no foundation?


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.  We have already seen that 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.


Christianity, at the core, is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  (Col. 1:27)  And the Christian life is a progressive discovery and experiencing of the Christ with Whom the believer is joined in spirit.  God does this work, by tearing down the old man in Adam via the work of the Cross, and by building up the believer in Christ.  There is no other foundation that anyone can lay except it be Jesus Christ.  (I Cor. 3:11)