Archive

Archive for March, 2014

The Fullness of God

March 31st, 2014

…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:19

These words shock us and take us back a step. “What?” we ask, “All the fullness of God?”

Surely, we object, the Spirit meant to say, “Some of the fullness” or, “A little bit of the spiritual life,” after all, it is God Paul is writing about - God the Creator, Sustainer, The Great I Am. How can we speak of us being filled with His fullness. It is important also to note the double, no triple superlatives here “filled,” “all,” and “fullness.” You cannot be more than full, have more than all, or gain more than the fullness. Perhaps, we might think, this is just a matter of translation and if someone can decipher the Greek the matter will all clear up, but, no, the translation above is a faithful representation of the original Greek.

We might object along two other lines - which I will try to dismiss for us - that either this was just Paul expressing a good intention toward us, sort of like when he said that he wished to visit Rome (Romans 1:11) but at the writing had not been able to. This reduces it merely to a wish, an expression of desire, or a nice and idealistic thought. But, this interpretation cannot be correct because the same or similar words are used elsewhere, in Ephesians 4:13, for example, that speaking to the growth and maturity of the Church says, “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” So these words are not so easily dismissed as just a nice and idealistic expression. Paul is praying for the will of God to be done in our lives with this prayer.

Another objection is that it is simply too far removed from our own experience, something we cannot relate to, unrealistic, too idealistic, and impractical. Often believers hear what preachers say, read the Word of God, but come away feeling that this does not really connect to their day to day life. How can we speak of the fullness of God when we are dealing with the realities of this world? Too often it is convenient for people to say to themselves if not to the pastor himself, “Well, that is fine for you, Pastor, but I live and work in the real world and don’t have time or energy to sort through these matters.

In answer to this objection, I would simply say that these words are relevant for our lives, in fact, I can think of few things as relevant than the idea presented here, the God’s fullness may dwell in us and fill us. What does this mean?

There is more to us than we are aware. Here is a clear statement of the potential of human life, that we have within us the capacity to be vessels of God’s presence. This potential can only be realized through our salvation, when we trust in Christ and our spirits are resurrected, but this means that God has recreated within us this new capacity. You may feel defeated, and you may, in fact, often give into sin. I believe we all have our personal weaknesses and pet sins, but let us realize that the work of Christ is greater and longer lasting than the work of the devil. Do not let your past failures or your present weaknesses defeat you or discourage you from the work of God in you. There is within you the God-created capacity to have an incredible experience with God.

God desires to do a great work in us. The word “all” says that God plans to hold nothing back, that for each of His children He plans to bless us with every spiritual blessing through Jesus Christ. We would acknowledge that we are not all at the same level of maturity, and neither do we gain everything in the same order. Some people gain inner peace before they gain inner joy, and for others joy will proceed peace, but none of God’s children can say or should say, “My way is hidden from the Lord,” or “God does not concern Himself with me,” or “Some Christian graces are not mine to have.” God is working now to bring His “all” to “every” believer.

God gives us of Himself. This is the most profound of all of these ideas, that every believer is blessed to the fullest extent but the blessings which He gives us come from His own nature. His plan is that we are filled with all the fullness of God. This speaks of the processes as well. How do we experience this fullness? Simple. (1) Study the Word about the life of Christ. He shows us the Father. He reveals the character of God. (2) Day by day seek to follow Christ, praying to Him and meditating on His Word. (3) Get involved in a Christian fellowship - and not just one on television - where you can rub shoulders with other believers. Christ works through His Word, by His Spirit, and also through the body of Christ to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.

God bless you as you seek to live in the reality of His fullness.

Ephesians

To Know Christ’s Love

March 28th, 2014

…and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge…

Ephesians 3:19

It is not enough to be schooled and taught in regard to the biblical principles of the love of God - though it is a wonderful beginning. Paul the scholar had been taught and disciplined as a Pharisee. He had had the finest Jewish religious education of his day, and we expect that what he said of his Christian experience would have applied to him as a young Pharisee as well - he had worked harder than them all (1 Cor 15:10). Yet of his former Jewish legalism it could not be said that Christ had been at work in him. It had all been Paul, and something in his heart ached for more.

But Christ had found him and redirected his entire life. The new motto of his existence was Christ in him - this was the experience he was missing - living everyday by faith in Him who loved Paul and gave Himself for Paul (Phil. 1:21 and Gal 2:20).

This experience is not an unusual one for believers to have, rather it is what every Christian is called to experience. It is the life that Christ died and rose again to give us. This is our norm. Anything else is abnormal for the Christian life. Paul specifically said, “The love of Christ,” focusing on the Second Person of the Trinity, who is God’s chosen vessel to reveal Himself to the world. The only way to know the love of God is to know the love of Christ. We cannot forget that the Spirit reveals to us the “face of Christ” when we read His word (2 Cor. 4:6), and that means a person-to-person revelation of who God is.

The Christian in relation to the love of Christ is like a man who had come to a new continent, one whose land was beyond his ability to measure, its length and its breadth stretching further than he could see or even explore in a life time. There is more than plenty of land for him to grow food to feed himself and his family. But that alone could not satisfy him. That idea of vastness could not satisfy his stomach nor the stomach of his wife and children. He must choose one spot and make his farm there. The vastness means little until someone is farming somewhere and becoming familiar with the land on a personal and practical basis.

We can say the same thing about the love of Christ. There is plenty of love for the whole world - “vast, beyond all measure” - but the concept alone does not satisfy our hearts. We must experience His love personally, intimately, so he wrote, “know the love of Christ.” How do we know His love? We know it by knowing Him: by speaking and listening to His Spirit, by studying and meditating on His Word, by abiding in Him in our hearts and minds. This experience surpasses learning and though we are commanded to study to gain biblical knowledge, showing ourselves workmen who do not need to be ashamed (2 Tim. 2:15), the revelation in our hearts of the love of Christ for us and for the whole world is overwhelming to our minds.

The knowledge of Christ’s love is experiential, personal, and the deepest and more profound of all Christian experiences. I remember a group of men in a meeting years ago in the Philippines - poor, mountain farmers - being so touched by the love of Christ in a meeting than they wept and worshiped, spontaneously singing praises to Him long after the official meeting had ended. They were not highly educated in the world’s estimation, most not even completing high school, but the love of Christ for them was communicated to their hearts by His Spirit.

Whatever else we experience in the Christian life, this must be the heart - to know the love of Christ. Read the gospels, study His life, listen to His Spirit, surrender your thoughts to Him until He reveals Himself to you in a personal way.

Ephesians , ,