Finding Revelation Beyond Testimony

Today’s selected reading is found in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded by Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twenty verses of the first chapter. When you come to this particular passage or scripture you will find the beginning of Mark’s gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. One of the most interesting facts surrounding Mark’s gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ is that He was not one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. Of the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ only two were actually written by disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ. As you begin studying the New Testament gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find that of the twelve disciples who walked with and followed Jesus—only two actually wrote gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. What’s more is that of the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ you will find that the first and fourth gospels were written by apostles of Christ, as the first gospel was written by the apostle Matthew, whole the fourth gospel was written by the apostle John. The second gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ was written by a man named mark who we don’t learn about and even discover until the New Testament book of Acts. The third gospel account concerning the life and ministry of Jesus Christ was written by the beloved physician Luke whom we also don’t learn about until the New Testament book of Acts. What is interesting and unique about the written accounts of both Mark and Luke is they have a unique feature to them—namely, that while it is true they did not walk with and follow Jesus, they became disciples as a direct result of the ministry of His spiritual body which was upon the earth. Though Matthew and John wrote from the unique perspective and advantage of actually having walked with and followed Jesus, Mark and Luke did not walk with and follow Jesus and actually became Christians and followers of the Way as a result of the life and ministry of the apostle Paul. What’s more, is that when you consider each of these gospel accounts, you will find that they were written by men who weren’t even Hebrews and Jews, but were actually gentiles. Pause for a moment and consider that according to the Spirit who inspired the word of God, two gentiles who had not walked with and did not follow Jesus were inspired to write their own gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

I have to admit that I am absolutely and incredibly captivated by the reality and fact that the Holy spirit would raise up these two men who had not walked with, and who had not followed Jesus to write their own gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The fact that the Holy Spirit raised up Mark as a gentile concert to Christianity and inspired him to write one of the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ is absolutely and incredibly amazing in and of itself. What’s more, is that having not walked with and followed Jesus the Christ, Mark has to do just as Luke did when writing his treatise unto the most excellent Theophilus—namely, listen to and seek out the accounts of those who actually walked with Jesus Christ and followed Him. What makes the gospels of Mark and Luke so incredibly intriguing is that like much of the New Testament, they weren’t written by men who actually walked with and followed Jesus the Christ. If you journey to the thirteen epistles which were written by the apostle Paul you will find that the apostle Paul Himself did not walk with and follow Jesus the Christ as did the apostles Peter and John. Of the entire New Testament—only two men who wrote books within the New Testament actually walked with and followed Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul was the apostle unto the gentiles and was raised up by Jesus the Christ as an ambassador in chains unto the gentiles. Though the apostle Paul did not actually walk with and follow the living Christ while He walked upon the earth, His life was radically changed and transformed by Him on the road to Damascus. What’s more, is that the apostle Christ was one who did not receive revelation concerning Christ from any relationship with men, but directly from Jesus Christ Himself. The apostle Paul did not experience revelation from and relationship with Christ through any man who walked upon the earth, but rather directly from Jesus Christ Himself. This is absolutely and incredibly unique and wonderful when you think that a good portion of the New Testament was written by those who did not and had not actually walked with and followed Jesus Christ during the three and a half years of His public ministry.

In order to continue with this particular concept, I am convinced it is absolutely necessary that we think about and consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote when writing his epistle unto the churches in Galatia. It is within the first chapter of this particular epistle where we find the apostle Paul writing concerning the revelation he received directly from Christ Himself and not from men before and around him. When the apostle Paul spoke, when the apostle Paul taught, when he preached, and when he wrote his epistles, he wrote from a place of revelation directly from the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider if you will the words which were written in the first chapter of this particular epistle beginning with the eleventh verse:

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: and profited the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: but they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me” (Galatians 1:6-24).

If you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches which were in Galatia you will find him first writing concerning the threat of others gospels which were being preached by false brethren, false teachers, false apostles, and false prophets who had entered in among the churches of Jesus Christ. When writing unto the churches which were in Galatia the apostle Paul marveled that they were so soon removed from Him that called them into the grace of Christ unto another gospel. Please don’t miss the significance and importance of that which the apostle Paul is writing and stating here, for the apostle Paul brings us face to face with a gospel concerning Jesus the Christ—one that centered upon Jesus the Christ and his life and ministry. I feel the tremendous need to pause for a moment right here and emphatically declare if your gospel and if that which you preach is not entirely centered around and founded upon the reality of Jesus the Christ, I would strongly question whether or not the gospel you are professing and preaching is in fact the gospel of Jesus the Christ. If that which you are sitting under in the house of God is not entirely centered upon the reality and beauty of Jesus the Christ, then I would strongly suggest that what you find yourselves sitting under is another gospel which is different from that which was preached by the apostles, and that which is found within the Scriptures. The apostle Paul marveled that the churches in Galatia had turned so quickly from Him who had called them unto the grace of Christ unto another gospel, and then boldly declares that if he, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto them other than that which they had heard preached unto them by the apostle Paul and his companions, that proponent of a false gospel should be accursed. What is truly significant about the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this passage of Scripture is that so emphatic, so bold, and so strong was he when writing unto the churches in Galatia that he actually mentioned this concept of one among them preaching another gospel unto them being accursed. The apostle Paul recognized without a doubt that the churches in Galatia had been infiltrated by false brethren, by false teachers, by false apostles, and false prophets who were preaching among them an entirely different gospel than that which he and his companions had preached to them. What’s more, is that as you continue reading this particular epistle, you will find the apostle Paul writing and revealing how he came to know, understand and receive the gospel which he preached among them—namely, a direct and personal revelation from Jesus Christ after his conversion on the road to Damascus.

A GOSPEL OF REVELATION! Now, I realize you might be wondering why I would choose to include the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches in Galatia when we are dealing with the gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ which was written by Mark. I fully understand and recognize why you would wonder such a thing, and why it might even seem utterly absurd that I would choose to use that which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches which were in Galatia. The reason I chose to include the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches which were in Galatia is because the gospel which he preached was not a gospel which originated from man, nor was it a gospel that was received by men. The gospel which the apostle Paul wrote of in his epistles, the gospel which the apostle Paul preached among the Gentiles, and the gospel which the apostle Paul taught among those whom he encountered was a gospel that came directly from revelation from Jesus the Christ. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for it brings us face to face with the tremendous need for revelation directly from the Lord Jesus Christ and from His Father who is in heaven. The gospel which the apostle Paul preached and taught among the Gentiles and churches was one that came as a direct revelation from Jesus the Christ rather than actually having walked with and followed Jesus the Christ as the twelve disciples and apostles did. When the apostle Matthew wrote the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, he wrote from a place of having walked with and following Jesus the Christ. When the apostle John wrote his own gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, and when he wrote each of his three epistles contained within the New Testament, and even when he wrote the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ, he did so from a place of having actually walked with and followed Jesus the Christ. The apostle Peter wrote each of his epistles from a place of walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s interesting to note is that Peter’s first major profession and declaration concerning Jesus the Christ came not from flesh and blood, and came not from man, but from the Heavenly Father Himself who had revealed unto him that Jesus was the Christ the Son of the living God. Of the various gospels and epistles which were written and contained within the New Testament, there were only three authors who actually walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ. This excludes the gospels of Mark and Luke, the epistle written by James, the epistle written by Jude, as well as the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews.

In order to take this reality a step further and make a case for Mark and his writing his own gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, I feel it absolutely necessary to present you with the encounter Jesus Christ had with His disciples when they came unto the region of Caesarea Philippi. If you turn and direct your attention to the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written by the apostle Matthew, you will find that Matthew wrote concerning a very specific event which occurred between Jesus and His disciples. This event would have as its point of origin a very specific question which Jesus the Christ would ask His twelve disciples—namely, whom men said that He the Christ truly was. The first question Jesus the Christ asked His twelve disciples was not who they said, and who they believed Him to be, but rather whom men said and whom men believed Him to be. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded by the apostle Matthew in the sixteenth chapter of the gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ he wrote. Beginning with the thirteenth verse you will find the following words written and recorded by the apostle Matthew who was in fact present among the disciples at this particular time when Jesus presented these two very pointed and powerful questions:

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist; Some, Elias, and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto Him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That you art 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. Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ” (Matthew 16:13-20).

That which we find in this particular passage of Scripture is directly linked and directly connected to that which we find in the first chapter of the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches which were in Galatia. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches in Galatia, you will find that the gospel which he preached unto them was not a gospel that originated with, nor did it come directly from men. The gospel which he preached among the Gentiles, and the gospel which he preached among the churches came directly from revelation received from Jesus Christ Himself. The apostle Paul emphatically declared that the gospel he received did not originate from, nor did it come from revelation from men and from flesh and blood, but directly from the Lord Jesus Christ when He was alone with Him in the wilderness and desert. This is actually unique when you consider it in light of that which the apostle Peter declared before all the disciples, and before Jesus concerning Jesus the Christ, for the apostle Peter emphatically declared that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus praised and applauded the declaration and profession of the apostle Peter, for He declared that such a revelation came not from flesh and blood, but rather from his Father who was directly in heaven. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for one of the most important realities we must recognize and understand when considering our own Christian walk and experience with the Lord Jesus Christ is that of personal revelation from Jesus Himself, and personal revelation from his Father who is in heaven. I wrote earlier concerning a gospel of revelation, and this concept is of the utmost importance, for the apostle Paul did not walk with, nor did he follow Jesus the Christ as the apostles Peter, James and John did. The apostle Paul—though he was an apostle of Jesus Christ unto the Gentiles—did not share the same experience the other apostles did, for he did not walk with Jesus the Christ for three and a half years while He was upon the earth. The gospel which the apostle Paul preached, and the ministry which he himself engaged in was one that was received as a direct result of revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel which the apostle Paul preached was indeed and was in fact a gospel of revelation, for it was a gospel that was preached as a direct result of revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ himself. The apostle Paul did not walk with Jesus the Christ as the apostles Peter, John and Matthew did who each wrote various books which are found and contained within the New Testament. The apostle Matthew wrote his gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ based on personal relationship with, and actually walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. This same reality is true of the apostle John who not only wrote his own gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, but also three distinct and three different epistles which are found within the New Testament. The apostle Peter wrote two distinct epistles found and contained within the New Testament based on personal relationship with, and walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ.

With all of this being said concerning how the apostles Peter, Matthew and John actually walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ, we come to the New Testament gospel account of Mark, and we find Mark writing his own unique gospel account of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by Mark is the shortest of the four New Testament gospel accounts of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet it makes up one of the four New Testament gospels which are found within the New Testament. The reason I mentioned and chose to include the concept of a gospel of revelation, is that much like the apostle Paul did not preach a gospel based on revelation from men, but rather based on revelation directly from the Lord Jesus Christ, so also we must consider the gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by Mark as being one that proceeded from a place of revelation. What’s so interesting and unique about the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry which Mark wrote is that I am convinced that it essentially has two unique and distinct features—namely, that on the one hand it was written based on divine inspiration by the very Spirit of Christ who inspired him to write, as well as personal stories concerning and regarding encounters with the Lord Jesus Christ. If Mark did not walk with, and if Mark did not follow Jesus Christ, how would he have been able to write such a gospel account of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ? The answer is actually quite simple, for not only did he receive inspiration from the Holy Spirit concerning that which he wrote concerning Jesus the Christ, but he also received personal and eyewitness testimonies from those who had encountered Jesus the Christ. Perhaps Mark talked with the apostles who actually walked with, followed and spent time with Jesus Christ, and perhaps he spent time talking with those who might not have walked with Jesus the Christ as did the apostles, but those who were present and alive during that time and spoke unto him concerning that which they saw and heard. I can’t help but be gripped and captivated by how the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded by Mark opens up, for mark opens up this gospel account with the words “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of those words, for they set the tone and set the stage for the entire course of the gospel. With those words Mark was setting out to present his readers and his audience with a concise gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. The New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by Mark opened up with a statement concerning the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and we must recognize and carefully consider that which he actually wrote at the very outset of this gospel concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ.

I have to admit that I absolutely love how Mark chooses to open up this particular gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, for not only does he open it by speaking of the gospel of Jesus who is the Christ, but he also opens it by speaking of Jesus as the Son of God. Essentially, the gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written by Mark began with an emphatic and powerful statement concerning Jesus that not only was He the Christ, but He was also the Son of God. How Mark chose to open up this particular gospel is absolutely incredible, for from the very outset he emphatically boasts, professes and declares that Jesus is not only the Christ, but is indeed and is in fact the Son of God. What we must understand is that in order for Mark to write such words and much such a declaration is if he himself actually believed that which he was putting down on parchment. In order for Mark to begin and open up his gospel account of the life and ministry concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with these words, he himself had to believe that Jesus was in fact the Christ, and that Jesus was in fact the Son of God. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle which he wrote unto them. Beginning with the first verse of the twelfth chapter we find the following words which were written and recorded by the apostle Paul unto these Corinthian saints: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God callers Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 12:1-3). It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this particular portion of the first epistle written unto the saints which were at Corinth, for the apostle Paul emphatically declared that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Just as no man can say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Ghost, so also can no man declare that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the living God without and apart from a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Think about it—if you are responsible for writing one of four accounts concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, you would have to have had some revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as from His Father who is in heaven. Mark—though he did not walk with and follow Jesus as the disciples and apostles did—was entrusted by the very Spirit of Christ to present one of four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Just like Luke who did not walk with and follow Jesus the Christ was entrusted to write a gospel account of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, so also was Mark entrusted with such a responsibility.

We dare not miss the awesome and wonderful reality concerning Mark’s writing this gospel account of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, for in order for him to open up and begin this gospel account with a declaration that Jesus was in fact the Christ, and was in fact the Son of God, he would have had to experience a personal revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ, and from the eternal Father who was in heaven. In order for Mark to begin and open up this particular gospel account with an emphatic declaration concerning Jesus being the Christ and the Son of the living God, he would have had to have received a revelation concerning Jesus Christ beyond simply just receiving eyewitness accounts from those who walked with and talked with Jesus the Christ. In fact, I would dare say that Mark might have received testimonies and eyewitness accounts concerning Jesus Christ from those who walked with Him, from those who talked with, and those who followed Jesus Christ, but at some point there had to come a point when he actually received revelation beyond testimony. REVELATION BEYOND TESTIMONY! I firmly believe in the power of testimony, and I am convinced that testimony is of utmost importance for the strengthening and stablishing of our Christian faith, however, I am convinced that there must come a place when and where we move beyond testimony and enter into the place of relationship and revelation. REVELATION BEYOND TESTIMONY! RELATIONSHIP BEYOND TESTIMONY! Jesus—when asking the disciples who men said that He was, and then transitioning it to the place of who they said he was—was bringing them beyond the place of testimony and opinions of others, and into the place of personal revelation and relationship with Him. I absolutely love that Mark was entrusted with writing a New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, for it presents us with the awesome reality that although he undoubtedly received testimonies and eyewitness accounts and reports from those who walked with Jesus Christ and experienced Him while He was upon this earth, he reached the place where testimony and testimonies led to the place of personal revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ. Testimony and the testimonies of those who spoke unto Mark concerning Jesus the Christ opened the door if you will for personal and private revelation from Jesus the Christ, and even from the Father who is in heaven. What’s more, is that Mark could not open up and begin this gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ without and apart from the Holy Ghost, for no man can call Jesus Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

I would dare say that no man can call Jesus the Christ without and apart from the Holy Spirit, and no man can call and profess Jesus as the Son of the living God without and apart from the Holy Spirit. When I read the New Testament gospel account of Jesus Christ as recorded by Mark, I can’t help but be struck with the reality that while others can tell you about Jesus, no one—and I mean no one—can tell you who Jesus truly is. There is only one person who can truly tell you who Jesus Christ is, and that the very Spirit of Jesus Christ Himself. Others may be able to tell you about Jesus, but others cannot tell you who Jesus Christ is, and who Jesus Christ is to you personally. There are many who are seeking to know who Jesus Christ is based on the opinions and testimonies of others, and yet I am convinced that the only way we can truly understand who Jesus Christ is is through a personal revelation of Jesus Christ through and by the very Spirit of Christ working within our lives and speaking unto us. We dare not, we cannot, we must not miss it on this single point, for to do so would be catastrophic concerning our Christian walk and our Christian faith. Others may be able to tell us about Jesus, and others may be able to tell us about their own experience(s) with Jesus the Christ, but they can’t tell us who Jesus Christ. Others might have been able to tell Peter about Jesus Christ, but only the Heavenly Father could tell Peter who Jesus Christ truly was—the Son of the living God, and the Christ. Oh that we catch and lay hold of this particular reality, for while others may very well have their own testimonies and their own experiences with Jesus the Christ, only the Spirit of Christ Himself can tell us who Jesus truly is. Only the Heavenly Father can truly reveal unto us who Jesus is—namely, the Christ and the Son of the living God. There must come a place in our lives when we transition beyond the testimonies and experiences of others concerning Jesus the Christ and actually enter into and experience personal revelation from the Spirit of Jesus the Christ, as well as personal revelation from the Heavenly Father who is in heaven. We dare not rely solely on the testimonies and experiences of others for our own relationship with and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, for to do so would be to have an incredibly shallow relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh that we would move and transition beyond testimonies and experiences of others into a personal revelation concerning Jesus the Christ within our own lives and within our own experience.

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