Thursday, June 09, 2016

The fullness that fills - Ephesians 1:22-23

"And He put all things in subjection under His 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." (Ephesians 1:22-23)
Jesus has not only conquered the world, but all things have been placed beneath Him and subjugated in obedience to His power and authority. Of all that is of this created realm, Jesus has been made preeminent and the supreme ruler over all. Whatever powers and authorities there were previously, all have been placed in submission under Him. The Father, in His own wisdom and plan, has provided for an administration of His rule and authority through a dispensation where Jesus, because of His death and resurrection, has been exalted to have first place and supremacy over all of His creation, until a time of full restoration, when all things will, once again, be placed into subjection to God. "When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all." (1 Corinthians 15:28) However, for now, it is unto Jesus that all must yield and submit as both their Lord and the very source of their life.

The devil no longer has any claim, authority, and right to our lives for His authority and rights have been superseded and trumped by the right and rule of Jesus. We no longer have to fear the devil or man any longer for there is one who rules who is higher than any one of them and His rule is just and fair. What great solace and comfort this knowledge gives us; knowing that we are not left to the caprice of the world and to forces set against us. Our elder brother, the one appointed by His Father and ours, is the one who reigns and commands our life. We are no longer left to bondage but have been liberated, by or appeal unto God, into a new Kingdom and unto a new King.

Perhaps no where more certain should the universal and unconditional lordship of Jesus be on display than within the church. While there are still detractors and enemies yet to be subdued, in the church we should expect to see the union of those who have willingly submitted to Him and who have pledged their obedience, fidelity, fortunes, and lives unto Him, His service, and His kingdom. Unfortunately, there are some who view the church apart from its head. They see the church as a vessel through which to achieve their own purposes and goals. They seek to take the helm of the church and to direct it and to make it into their own image and vision, as opposed to that of its head. However, it is only from the head that the church find's it meaning, expression, and substance. "holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God." (Colossians 2:19) We must not be quick to stamp the church with our own mark, or to build in a way as to see our own reflection in the church that bears His name.

Paul describes the church as a body; the Greek word indicating a unifying whole. In the body there are many members (or parts) that all perform their function for the good of the whole. Each member has its function and receives the benefit when other members similarly perform their function as well. However, there is only one head. This view of the body leaves no room for a pontifical office where the headship of the entire church in organised and resides on one man. It must also be understood that our bodies are not organized hierarchically, and neither is Christ's. All parts have a unique and individual connection and relationship with the head from which they get their orders. The individual parts relate to one another functionally, but not hierarchically where one part presumes to preside over another. Churches whose organizations are merely structures to organize and convey levels of authority and rule seem at odds with the metaphor Paul uses to describe the church. Furthermore, Paul speaks of one body, not many. While our relationship with other members of the body may be cloistered here and there, these relationships do not negate or obviate our membership in the one universal body of Christ.

Paul further describes the Church as the fullness of Him who fills all. The church universal is the fullness of Christ; meaning that it is the full expression of His nature, will, mind, and purpose. From this we learn two important truths. First is that we alone are not the fullness of Christ. We only represent a part of who Jesus is and only a part of His wisdom, grace, and truth. We need each other to fully express Christ in every situation and in the world around us. Paul writes that he was made a minster of the Gospel so that, "the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 3:10) Notice that it is through the church that the many-sided wisdom of God is revealed to the world, both visible and invisible. This should give us comfort knowing that we ourselves are not responsible for revealing all of who God is; we are only a part and it is as part of a whole that God is revealed through us. It should also motivate us to join in vital communion with other believers so that in proper relationship one with anther we might be seen as the body of Christ.

Secondly, we must understand that when God seeks to fill the world with His wisdom, knowledge, and glory, He seeks to do so through His church. Solomon prays, "And blessed be His glorious name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen." (Psalms 72:19) Three times in the scriptures do we see the glory of God fall from heaven to fill the Earth. The first time was in the tabernacle of the wilderness. "Then fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces." (Leviticus 9:24) The second time was at the temple of Solomon. "It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord." (1 Kings 8:10-11) The third and final time was when Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to fill His church. "And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance." (Acts 2:2-4) God is filling the Earth with His glory and He is doing so by filling His church which is the fullness of Him who fills all in all. If we are separated from His church; if we remain isolated and not relationally connected with other members of His body, then we will miss out on the fullness of that which God is filling. To truly partake of His fullness we must be a part of what He is filling; we must become part of His body.

David Robison

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