PAUL CONCLUDED HIS PRAYER in Ephesians 3:14-19 with ... that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. I thought I might refrain from saying any more about this because, in reality, it is beyond my ability to bring any more light at this point. (You may have observed this has been the case with me for several issues.) In fact, who is there who can describe the love of God, or the fullness of God, or the fullness of God that was expressed in Christ Jesus, or the fullness that is to be seen in His Body? But, the Scripture dares to speak of all this. Paul, especially, in Ephesians and Colossians draws us on to know His fullness.
For us, there has been a powerful draw from the Holy Spirit that it is time for His church to enter this fullness and to become the expression of it in the earth. And we can ask, what will become of His church if we fail to know His fullness in the dark hour even now impending with its threat to destroy us?
We have no choice but to implore the Lord to bring us on to know this fullness.
Now, if we’re going to believe that this means we will become known as great ones, then we will, without doubt, miss it all. But if we’re willing for His grace to bring it about in us and for the glory of it to go to Him, then there is the wondrous possibility of our entering His fullness even now. We can even enter it from our present state of weakness. In fact, it does seem the greater our weakness the greater is the place within us that can receive of His fullness. I say this for you who are feeling weak, as many write and say. We don’t forget what Paul said in II Cor 12:9. When he was brought to the end of his "store of endurance," the Lord said to him, "My power finds its perfection in weakness."
Recently, as Glenda and I were discussing the matter of His fullness, the sweet presence of the Lord came with us. We were glad for we had been feeling our store of endurance was about gone. Four points of instruction came to our minds. Perhaps I should say they came to our hearts, for there was certainly a warmth of feeling and faith that came with them. We saw this is not a matter to be entered with the intellect or understanding; it is more a matter is to be entered with the will. That is, His fullness is to be desired with all our heart. Whether we understand it or not, He is leading us to want His fullness.
I asked Glenda to write the points down, for I knew, even as simple and straightforward as they were, we might forget them. They are: 1—The fullness of God cannot be obtained apart from Jesus Christ. 2—When Jesus came, He was the expression of God’s fullness in the earth. We are to be that expression now. 3—God’s fullness is brought unto our lives by His grace. 4—The expression of His fullness in us will come as a manifestation of His love reaching through us to others.
Remember, these are not points coming from a logical study. They are
points that came to us in a state of weakness during a little visitation
from the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures that go with them began coming to
us, but it was late and we didn’t look them up. Our mental strength for
the day was exhausted. We simply talked with the Lord together about this
and told Him we did indeed want His fullness to find its
expression in us.
WE MUST ALLOW the Scriptures regarding His fullness to open, not out of an intellectual pursuit, but out of the drawing of the Holy Spirit. The instruction from this Ephesian prayer of Paul, in which he laid out the dimensions of love with the concluding request that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph 3:19), has remained with us for years. The conviction of it has increased recently. I’m always aware that when conviction from the Holy Spirit regarding a Scripture happens like this, He is saying, "Come here. Abide here. Allow this to work its work in you. Begin praying about this, for yourself and others."
In addition to what we gain from Paul, there is a powerful statement from John that has also intrigued my heart for years. And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace (Jn 1:16). Now, it too is placing a new demand upon us with the conviction that it tells of a dimension of life that can be ours now and toward which we are to lead you in these articles.
Then, to add further light and weight, there comes this statement from Paul in his Colossian Letter. For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete ("brought to your fullness") in Him... (Col 2:9,10a). Here, fullness and complete are both from the same word in the Greek New Testament.
Then, there is this powerful statement concluding the first chapter of Ephesians as Paul speaks of the Church which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. He saw the church is the "full formation" of Christ, His ‘‘completion.’’
And, oh yes, there is another passage that has continued to draw our attention. It is from Eph 4 where Paul named the ministries that the risen and ascended Lord Jesus appointed for the church. These ministries, the Five Fold, named in verse 11, ("And he gave some Apostles; and some Prophets; and some, Evangelists; and some, Pastors and Teachers") are each to continue in their operation till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13). The little word unto, used here twice, gives direction for these ministries. They are to move toward a perfect man, one who is mature and complete in relationship with the Heavenly Father. They are to lead each one under their care into his or her own measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
I haven’t sought out these passages with a concordance, looking up the word fullness. They’ve just been coming to mind, I believe, by the Holy Spirit’s impression. We haven’t tried to align them with the four points that came while I was discussing this matter with Glenda. If we try to pursue this matter with too much of the intellect, we will bog down in it and will not discover the life of it. I, along with you, must allow God’s Spirit to draw us into the life and purpose—and spiritual maturity—He holds for us for His hour.
PAUL WAS PARTICULARLY FOND of the Greek word that is translated fullness. It is pléroma, a word simple in its meaning even though it points to the most wondrous complexity there is. It simply means "fullness." It is that which fills up a deficiency and brings an empty vessel to capacity. It tells of a complete attainment, a perfect performance, a full development, an abundance that can know no lack.
Let’s go back to that statement in Jn 1:16 as it holds its continuing draw upon our spirits. And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. The little word of in the phrase of His fullness is significant. It comes from ek and means "from out of." It doesn’t mean from the perimeter of, or from the outside edge of. It has the more precise meaning of "from within, out of the heart of." When we receive of His fullness, we receive from out of Him that which is the essence and substance of all He is. There is nothing held back or reserved from us. And, take note of the words have we all. They embrace every person. There is no soul alive who cannot receive of His fullness, if he or she will but open up to the grace that brings it.
Observe John’s phrase and grace for grace. It is powerful, and very interesting in the Original. There, it is chárin anti cháritos. Cháris is the basic New Testament Greek word for "grace." It holds in its background the meaning of beauty and pleasantness. It means to be charming and generous in one’s dealing with another. It developed in its meaning to describe that attitude the Lord God shows toward those He receives into His bosom of love. Since there is none worthy of being thus received, it came to mean the generous and kind frame of mind He shows toward sinners. Here in this Jn 1:16 passage it reaches a height of expression that challenges our spiritual grasp. When we receive of His fullness, it comes upon us as grace for grace. Literally this is "grace anti grace." This seems strange for anti means "against." Could it be "grace against grace"?
It is probably best understood by the mind picture of the waves of an ocean. As one wave falls upon the shore only to recede back into the fullness of the ocean, it is met by another coming against it out of that same fullness. Never is the fullness of the ocean diminished. Never is the new wave coming daunted by the one receding. And, never is there a lack in the fullness of God’s grace to fall upon the shores of our lives, no matter how great was the last wave of His grace, nor how black and dismal the shore upon which it is to fall. Here is another wonder to know: the stronger the wind of His Spirit blows, the stronger are the waves of His grace.
This is simply saying there is a sufficiency in the grace manifest in Christ Jesus for the demand of every life in its every hour, even the dark hours the Prophets tell are awaiting us.
I once told of something learned from Charles H. Spurgeon, powerful preacher from the nineteenth century. He illustrated Paul’s statement about the sufficiency of grace with the thought of a bird flying through the air. The idea came to him as the air was flowing beneath his wings, holding him aloft in his flight, "Oh, I am using too much of this air. Perhaps I should fly less so as not to use it all up." The heavens answered back, "My air is sufficient for thee, little bird."
Or there was the fish swimming in the waters of the ocean. As the water was flowing through his gills, buoying him up in his pursuit, he thought, "Oh, I am using so much of this water, perhaps I should swim less." The ocean answered back, "My waters are sufficient for thee, little fish."
Then, there was a Christian drawing upon the resources of God’s grace, day after day... But, I think you get the point. There is no more end to the fullness in Christ from which we can draw than there is end to the waters of the ocean in which a fish can swim. There is no depleting of His grace that will reach the shores of our lives to bring of His fullness upon us.
Whatever is necessary for this day comes to me out of His fullness to become my fullness. Instead of working to make myself perfect in Him, He gives me of His perfection. This is what the writer of Hebrews called entering His rest. When I can know my work for this day is already finished, brought to its completion and fullness, in Him, then I can enter into rest. I can cast my anxiety and stress aside and simply cling to Him Who is my life. He Who is perfect is ready to live in me.
BUT, PAUL HAS A WARNING in Col 2 lest we miss the fullness to which the Holy Spirit is drawing us. Let us see at least three verses. They are pertinent to this hour and give instruction about some things that will try and draw us away from the fullness of Christ.
8 Beware ("stay watchful and alert") lest any man spoil you ("carry you off as a captive") through • philosophy (the love and systematic search for wisdom) and • vain deceit (empty lies that seduce), after • the tradition of men (ways of living and responding to life that have become accepted because they have been followed for generations), after • the rudiments of the world (both the laws of the Old Covenant and the standards of the heathen), and • not after Christ. (In each case after is from the Greek káta which means "according to.")
Beware lest you let any of these things, even the seemingly good things, carry you away from drawing upon the resources that are yours in Christ. Instead, live ‘‘according to’’ the resources that are yours in Him.
9 For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (What can we say here? We are not to stop and build a doctrine upon this, for then it becomes a static thing that settles our mind but ceases to reach for our will or our heart. Rather, we can let what Paul said become a principle of life waiting for us daily to draw upon it. We can see it as the ocean of life and provision before us, sending its never ceasing waves upon the shores of our lives. We can see it as a place where we can walk and let those waves wash in upon us.)
10 And ye are complete ("brought to your fullness") in Him, Which (better "Who") is the Head of all principality and power... (We will find no fullness outside of Him. We will find no other resource for living that can take us before principalities and powers with the authority of His finished work and of His Throne backing us. We will find no righteousness outside of Him that can bring us acceptably before God. We will find no peace outside of Him that can prevail in every war we will ever face. We will find no strength outside of Him that can enable us and govern us in the demand of every situation life might throw at us.)
LET US SEE A LITTLE MORE of the points of danger that will try and take us from our completion in Him. They await us today, ready to carry off any believer as a captive. There are more of these spiritual predators than can be counted, ranging all the way from the low and groveling philosophies of the base and mean to the lofty aspirations of the spiritual elite who think to attain something as high as Christ Himself, yet apart from Him.
I, personally, have watched souls taken by these philosophies and deceptions. Of particular danger is what comes to the person who has sought in Christ his answer, only to become disappointed because what he found did not satisfy his personal need or fulfill his idea of what becoming a believer would bring. For one, I watched a Pastor, being used of the Lord but with personal problems, turn to extra-Scriptural studies to find his answers. After embracing for a while the doctrine called "ultimate reconciliation," he found some who were agnostic in their approach to knowing God. After studying their ways, he then found some who best explained the toil of man by saying God Himself does not exist and who and what we seek is to be found only in ourselves and in a personal quest for satisfaction in this world. He finally embraced atheism and set about to "convert" some of the people to whom he once preached the Gospel of Christ.
I could go on. The predators are rampant in the land. Many of them are religious. Many use terms with which we are familiar and seek to entice us by pointing toward Christ, but with a deviation that leads around Him. Some are so refined in their appeal that we, in our natural approach, can find no fault. They use Scripture, preach sermons, and sing songs in line with the movements of God’s Spirit. They do good and offer a sense of spiritual security, but all with a deception that leaves us empty of Christ Himself.
What does Paul say regarding this? Beware lest any man spoil you. Beware simply means "keep on the watch; remain alert." And just know this, the higher we go in our pursuit to know the Lord in His fullness, the higher and more refined become the tactics of the enemy to deceive us.
What is our recourse? How can we keep from failure?
WE CAN BECOME ACQUAINTED with our Lord so personally that any false one who comes near, we will discern. We can walk with the Lord, become acquainted with His touch, know the smell of His garment, feel the beat of His heart. We can become His hand extended to heal and help. We can listen for His voice. We can let His love move in upon us and through us to touch others.
Both Paul and John help us here by drawing us toward the love that emanates from God. In his Eph 3:17-19 prayer, which we are learning to use as an example, Paul said I want You to become rooted and grounded in love. I want you to lay hold on it in its breadth, and length, and depth, and height. I want you to know the love of Christ, which is actually beyond the reach of our ever knowing completely. All this I want for you that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
With Paul, the love that comes to us from God brings with it His fullness. Its greatest manifestation is in Christ Jesus. There is nothing outside of Him and the release of His love in us that will bring us to a greater knowledge of His fullness.
Wonderfully, John says, when we become settled with His love running through the channels of our lives, in deed and in truth, we gain an assurance before Him that will not diminish before the deceiver, nor in the face of any trial. His little Book, I John, is very helpful at this point. It holds a threefold theme: Christ, anti-Christ, and love. If we get the matter of Christ and love settled, anti-Christ with all his deceptive skill stands no chance. Love, and obedience, and assurance, and fullness are all inter-linked. None of these can find their way in us without the intervention of God’s grace in us. Therefore, we are learning to take them all into our prayers and supplications and to hold our souls before Him till we know we are complete in Him.
Let me conclude what cannot be concluded by looking with you into a passage from I John. The reference is 3:18-24. I won’t number the verses since I’m taking it from the Original and laying it out with some freedom in my own expression. I do place quotation marks around it, however, for it is John’s insight and revelation.
Now Take a Month-Long PRAYER
STARTER on the
Visit Us at http://www.maschil.com
© Berean Gospel Fellowship. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Permission to reprint in part or in whole is usually granted.