to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
This week we return to our exposition of the content of Paul’s prayers on behalf of the church at Ephesus. Recall that each request builds upon the next. He begins by praying for them to be strengthened in the inner man in order that by faith Christ might establish His abiding presence in their heart. From there, the Christian, firmly rooted in love – love for Christ and love for brothers and sisters – finds that this love is the root and ground in which he learns to begin to comprehend the unknowable love of Christ. Having gone higher and higher, step by step, then in verse 19, Paul reaches the climax of all prayer. In what is the most powerful and blessed chain reaction in the entire universe – knowing Christ’s love prepares and ignites us to receive the fullness of God!
God makes Himself known to us by revealing the love of Christ; God cannot be found nor enjoyed without Christ – but as the love of Christ is known, one gets both the Father and the Son – you can’t have one without the other (see 2 John 9). Then, the more that we understand and experience Christ’s love, the more we are filled with all the fullness of God. Being filled with the fullness of God does not mean, as pantheism teaches – that all things ultimately, dissolve into God, nor does it suggest that there is a series of graduations between man and God whereby man ultimately becomes God. It is clearly impossible for a human being as a finite creature to contain the whole fullness of an infinite God. Certain attributes of God are incommunicable – eternality, immutability, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, are all obviously not communicated to man. On the other hand the communicable attributes – holiness, righteousness, goodness, love, mercy, compassion, long-suffering, faithfulness – are communicable attributes of God which appear in man as ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ (Gal 5:22-23). These are also the fruit of Christ’s character – and are only borne in us as we are conformed to the image of Christ.
This is essential Christianity; our faith does not end when we are converted or born-again, but the new birth begins a new life – a life of developing and growing unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13). But, one might object, are not all Christians filled with Christ? It is true that everyone who is born of the Spirit is filled with the Spirit; however if you will think of this as analogous to a balloon. You blow into a balloon and you say, ‘it is filled with air.’ Then you blow more into the balloon more – it is still full of air, yet it becomes bigger than before. In a like manner, Christians are to ‘grow in grace’ and in ‘the knowledge of God.’ While all Christians are recipients of God’s grace and know Him, it does not mean that we are all identical. True we are all filled with God, but as the balloons vary in size, so Christians vary in their fullness.
You say, I am born-again, I am filled with the Spirit. True. But how full are you? Are you full of goodness (Rom 15:14), full of faith (Acts 6:5, Heb 10:22), full of assurance of hope (Heb 6:11), full of joy unspeakable (1 Pet 1:8, 1 John 1:4), full of good works (Acts 9:36), full of the knowledge of His will (Col 1:9) full of fruits of righteousness (Phil 1:11)? People who are accordingly filled sweeten churches and bring glory to God as they live by His power. Does your life lack power because you are not filled with the fullness of God? Such men are lacking in the church today. This is what Paul ultimately prays for, because this is what the church needs.
Before activity and ministry, the church must first be filled with the fullness of God – the source which alone leads to practical activity. Brothers and sisters, pray for one another and for yourself that you would be filled with the fullness of God.
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