Learning to thrive in the new life Jesus offers us – 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

The Fullness of Christ

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The Spiritual Blessing of the Fullness of Christ

The Apostle Paul uses a profusion of superlatives in his letter to the Ephesians as he attempts to describe the abundant wealth of spiritual blessings that are available to us who are in Christ Jesus.[1] Of all the wonderful expressions that Paul uses in Ephesians, the two that really stand out for me are “the fullness of God” and “the fullness of Christ”. These two expressions seem to be interchangeable.

God wants each one of us to be filled with his fullness. God wants us to be partakers of his divine nature and live lives that are enriched and empowered by his fullness (2 Pet. 1:3-4). This is truly astounding!

God went to tremendous lengths to secure this blessing of fullness for us. He sent his Son Jesus to earth in human form to die a barbaric death on a cross. Jesus’ death paid for our release from the stranglehold of sin and death, and it enables our entry into a new life of spiritual blessing and vitality. God provided this costly redemption, not so that we would be content with a lack lustre Christianity or satisfied with a stifled spirituality, but so that we would enjoy a profoundly close and vital union with him for eternity—starting now.

Nurturing the Fullness of Christ

To continually experience Christ’s fullness we need to spend time nurturing our union with him. We nurture our relationship with Jesus by becoming more aware of his Spirit within us, by being filled with his word (Eph 5:18b; Col 3:16a), and by being obedient to his word. But it begins with love. Jesus promised, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). Love is the foundation and the motivation of our lives as Christians.

The Fullness of ChristNurturing a close relationship with Jesus is easier said than done in our busy and materialistic society. As well as prioritising our relationship with Jesus, we must weed out the thorns and thistles of life—the cares of this world—that may dim the fervour of our love, hinder our spiritual growth, and prevent us from experiencing Christ’s fullness. (See Heb. 12:1b-2a.)

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus taught that, “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear [the word of God], but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop” (Luke 8:14-15 NIV). We must allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate the soil of our hearts and so enable God’s word to flourish, be fruitful, and multiply in and through us. Fruitfulness and love are signs of Christ’s fullness within us.

The Limits of being Filled with the Fullness of Christ

Even though we are made in the image of God, we are not God, so our experience of God’s fullness does have limits. A.B. Simpson used the following analogy to illustrate the limits of being filled:

Being filled with the fullness of God is like a bottle in the ocean. You take the cork out of the bottle and sink it in the ocean, and you have the bottle completely full of ocean. The bottle is in the ocean, and the ocean is in the bottle. The ocean contains the bottle, but the bottle contains only a little bit of the ocean. So it is with the Christian.[2]

We can be filled with the fullness of God when we immerse ourselves in his love, in his ways, in his Spirit, and in his word. However “we cannot contain all of God because God contains us;  . . . we can have all of God that we can contain. If we only knew it, we could enlarge our vessel. The vessel gets bigger as we go on with God.” A.W. Tozer[3] Our Christian walk should be a journey towards spiritual maturity that allows us to experience more and more of Christ’s fullness.

The Desire to be Filled with the Fullness of Christ

Because God wants us to experience his fullness, we should desire this for ourselves. Moreover, we should seek to expand our capacity to be filled with the fullness of Jesus Christ who has the Spirit without limit (John 3:34). Because he has the Spirit without limit, Jesus is filled with abundant grace (John 1:16); he is able to give unending love (Eph. 3:18-19); he is spiritually powerful and wise; and, during his earthly ministry, he was perfectly obedient to the Father’s will.

The Father’s will for us is that:

. . . we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  Ephesians 4:13 (NIV)

And fullness was Paul’s prayer for believers:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)

Christianity is amazing!


Endnotes

[1] Some of these blessing are available to us now, while others are part of our glorious inheritance, and will only be fully realised in the next stage of our eternal life.

[2] A.B. Simpson (1843–1919) was a Canadian minister, theologian and author, who had a passion for evangelism. He founded The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA). Sourced from Sermonindex.net

[3] A.W. Tozer, The Counselor: Straight Talk about the Holy Spirit, 1990, p.68.  Sourced from Sermonindex.net

© 10th of July, 2010; Margaret Mowczko


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The Fullness of Christ

Posted July 10th, 2010 . Categories/Tags: Christian Living, , , , , ,

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9 comments on “The Fullness of Christ

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  3. Jeff Ellis says:

    ALL GLORY BE TO GOD !!

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