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Filled with Fullness

21 Mar

“For this cause, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strengthened to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” -Ephesians 3:14-19 WEB (R)

In this post, I’d like to explore the idea of being “filled with all the fullness” of God.  It’s both a bit of a paradox and a very very high call!  Let’s keep in mind, as I wrote about here and here, Paul saw the church as a singular unit/body, so the things he prays are not for individuals, but for the entire assembly as one whole.

When trying to understand a certain word or phrase in scripture, it’s often helpful to look at other places it is used.  Here are a couple other examples of Paul writing about “fullness”: 

  • Colossians 1:18b-20 ESV:  “…He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”  -Notice that Jesus himself was indwelt with “all the fullness of God,” exactly as Paul prayed the Ephesians would be.  Very interesting.

  • Colossians 2:7-12 ESV: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”  

So, here is a summary of these three passages:

  • In Ephesians 3, Paul prays that through Christ dwelling in their hearts by faith, the Ephesians would be rooted in love, comprehend the love of Christ, and be filled with the fullness of God.

  • In Colossians 1, he writes that the fullness of God dwelt in Christ and therefore Christ was able to reconcile all things to God.

  • In Colossians 2, he warns about being “taken captive” by empty human wisdom and tradition, reminding believers that the fullness of God dwells in Christ, and that by being “in Christ” (an idea he wrote of many times), we too have been filled with God’s fullness.  

In each of these passages, our being “filled with the fullness of God” hinges on our union with Christ.  That is the crux of the whole issue – you and I are IN CHRIST, something Paul wrote of over and over.  In fact, Paul saw our inclusion into Christ as so pervasive, powerful, and real that, apart from our individual involvement or choice, he writes we died with Christ (Romans 6:8), were buried with him (Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12), rose with him (Colossians 3:1, Romans 6:5), and are seated in heaven with him! (Ephesians 2:6).  If we are truly “in Christ,” then these things MUST be so, right?  What is true of him is, at the deepest level, true of us, regardless of how blind we are to its reality or how stubbornly we resist it.

Now, as I intend to write more about in my next post, it’s certainly true that manifesting this new life is not instantaneous, not without difficulty, and not guaranteed, at least during our physical life.  But what I want to stress in this post is that if nothing less than the fullness of God dwells in Christ, then nothing less than the fullness of God dwells in us as well, as members of his body!  Lacking nothing, our own efforts to “be holy” (born out of fear and ignorance) become tremendously powerful and deceptive hindrances to the manifestation of this fullness in the church.  These carnal/manmade imitations, both inward and outward, are going to have to be done away with.  Nevertheless, because the fullness of God in Christ is an established fact, here is what the future holds:

1 Corinthians 15:22-24, 28 ESV:  “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.” “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.”

Ephesians 1:22-23 ESV: “And he (the Father) put all things under his (the son’s) feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”  

Christ is the fullness of God, and God is the fullness of all.  God, in His mercy, gathered ALL men into Christ!   He adopted us as sons and put His nature within us to partake of and live from…it’s almost incomprehensibly glorious when we see it, and I think we still only see dimly and in part!  To whatever measure we can, I pray you and I would see the beauty and worth of this, that we might gladly suffer in laying down the old to take up the new.  Amen!

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Posted by on March 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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