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THE LOVE OF CHRIST AND THE FULLNESS OF GOD
by Philip Owen

            It is a testament to the paucity of our spiritual hunger that most of us give so little substantive thought to the love of Christ and the fullness of God.  I suspect many of us harbor the thought that Frederick Lehman was using hyperbole when he wrote:                         

Could we with ink the ocean fill,/And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,/And every man a scribe by trade,

                 To write the love of God above/Would drain the ocean dry;

                 Nor could the scroll contain the whole,/Tho’ stretched from sky to sky.

But, of course, he wasn’t.  Perhaps he had taken to heart Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church:  “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father . . . that He would grant you . . . to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (3:14, 16a, 19).  Consider briefly the two parts of the infinite truth Paul conveys.

            “To know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.”  Whatever the love of Christ is, however it may be defined, expressed, or manifested, it will not and cannot be encompassed by the human mind.  When we have neatly defined agape love according to the best Greek lexicons, when we have considered who God is, when we have acquainted ourselves with His eternal redemptive plan, when we have seen the Babe in the manger grow up to be the despised and rejected Messiah, when we have seen Him willingly lay down His life and rise again, we have yet to truly know the love of Christ.  This knowledge of which Paul speaks surely must begin with an acquaintance with these authentic biblical facts.  But it is more than intellectual knowledge.  Yet it is also more than the automatic fruit of salvation.  Paul wrote these words to mature believers.  Despite that advanced state, Paul found himself praying that they might enjoy a deeper, richer knowledge of the love of Christ.  This knowledge for which Paul prayed on behalf of the Ephesians is experiential in nature.  It arrives little by little as we walk with the Lord, submit ourselves to His Word and His will, obey, lean on, and rest in Him.  This knowledge of His love is not imaginary or even mystical.  It is genuine and substantial.  It gives strength and comfort in trials, joy in sorrow, and temperance in times of great blessing.  It is the confidence that He does all things well, the comfort that He makes all things right, and the consciousness of the fellowship of His Presence with us. 

            “That you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”  As great as was His work of creation, a proper comprehension of God can never be achieved by examining His six-day work of creating “the heavens and the earth.”  And although the Old Testament is God-breathed and filled with advantageous truth, a study of those books will never bring us to full knowledge of God.  No, we must see, we must know, the love of Christ, Who “is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb. 1:3a).  Scripture teaches that the fullness of God is expressed only through the Person of the Son.  Neither knowledge of the Father, however accurate and complete, nor knowledge of the Holy Spirit, nor knowledge of both, will fill us with the fullness of God.  It is only in and through the Lord Jesus Christ that we may see, understand, and know by experience the Person of God.  The impenetrable marvel and mystery of this truth is that believers are indwelt by God through the Spirit and that we have within us, not some fraction, percentage, portion, or part of God, but God Himself.  Since it is only through Christ that the believer is made complete, it is the work of the Spirit through sanctification to fill us up with all the fullness of God.  That work does not eradicate our personality, but it begins a process, to paraphrase John the Baptist which finds us decreasing and Christ increasing, a process that will not be completed until eternity.   Salvation’s end will find every believer intimately acquainted with the love of Christ and “filled up to all the fullness of God.”

 

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