FILLED WITH THE FULLNESS

(Trumpet Ministries Inc. / Word of Righteousness)

FILLED WITH THE FULLNESS Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Paul prayed for the saints in Ephesus that they might be "filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." The believers in Ephesus were saved, as we use the term, and had received God’s Spirit, as we use the expression.

There are multitudes of believers today who have been saved and have received God’s Spirit. Would we pray the same prayer for them that Paul prayed for the saints in Ephesus? Do we believe there is a fullness of God beyond that which we already have received?

FILLED WITH THE FULLNESS

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19—NIV)

Paul prayed for the saints in Ephesus that they might be "filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." The believers in Ephesus were saved, as we use the term, and had received God’s Spirit, as we use the expression.

There are multitudes of believers today who have been saved and have received God’s Spirit. Would we pray the same prayer for them that Paul prayed for the saints in Ephesus? Do we believe there is a fullness of God beyond that which we already have received?

For this reason I kneel before the Father, From whom his whole family  in heaven and on earth derives its name. (Ephesians 3:14,15—NIV)

Paul is praying for the members of the family of God, for those whom God has chosen to be members of the royal priesthood.

I do not like to overemphasize the role of foreknowledge and predestination because of the way this doctrine seems to have been abused in time past. However, if one is to accept the entire New Testament at face value he must admit that the members of the Church, of all Israel—Old Testament and New, have been called out from the world by the sovereign working of God.

There assuredly is a place for individual choice in the workings of the Kingdom of God. In fact, every aspect of salvation is an opportunity and it is up to each person to make the most of what he becomes aware of whether or not he considers himself to be a member of the elect. Granted the extremely important role of the response of the individual to God’s great plan, the New Testament teaches clearly that God has selected specific people to be part of His family, and what they do with that calling will determine their experience in the day of resurrection.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (I Peter 1:1,2—NIV)

"Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father." A remarkable expression, isn’t it? There is enough of this sort of thing in the New Testament (as well as the old, concerning Israel) that we cannot scripturally view the building of the Church as a sort of democratic process in which all people have the same opportunity. "You see your calling, brothers, how not many mighty are called," and so forth. Yet we understand all are invited to repent and be saved.

Salvation always is to "whoever will." Yet there is no question, at least scripturally, that when it comes to the royal priesthood, we do not choose Christ. He chooses us.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, (Ephesians 3:16—NIV)

I think the implication here is they already have God’s Spirit in their inner being. Now the prayer is that they may be strengthened with power in their inward nature by that same Spirit.

We need power to overcome sin. We need power to do God’s will in all areas, including the use of our gifts and ministries. We need power in order to keep pressing forward in God. We need power to keep our attention centered on things above where Christ (and we) are at the right hand of God. We need power to live victoriously and joyfully in the present spiritual darkness.

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, (Ephesians 3:17—NIV)

The special purpose of our being strengthened with power in our inward nature is that Christ may dwell in our hearts, and this through faith. All of God’s promises are fulfilled in us as we, having become aware of the promise, choose to believe what God has said, and then wait patiently for the fulfillment.

Over fifty years ago the Lord spoke to me that there would come a move of salvation after Pentecost, a step forward in the Lord, and that this new thrust forward would have to do with Christ in us. I preach this wherever I go, not so much Christ with us, or the historical Christ, but Christ in us. There is a tremendous difference!

A minister took me to task on this. He said I was implying other Christians did not have Christ in them.

This is not at all what I am saying. Rather I am following Paul. Paul knew the saints in Ephesus had a portion of Christ in them. Now the issue was to have more of Christ, still more of Christ, and even more of Christ until Christ had been formed in them and was dwelling in them.

We have to have a strong inward nature in order to receive all of Christ that God has planned for us.

The more of Christ we have in us the more of God’s love we have in us.

There is a lot of talk about love today, in society as well as in the Christian churches. Most of it is powerless, as far as I am concerned. It is an appeal to soulish, adamic love. Adamic love has little power. It will fail at the slightest irritation.

God’s love and adamic, human love are not even related. The one is corruptible and will turn into hate if it is provoked sufficiently. But God’s love is of a different quality. It does not proceed from the good intentions of the human being. It comes from above and is of the very Life of God.

Lasting love for God and for other people comes from Christ alone. It works in us as Christ is formed in us and dwells in us.

Believers sometimes say there is no law but the law of love, therefore we do not have to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. This is something like saying we need a university degree but do not have to go to kindergarten. Of course we have to keep all the commandments of the New Testament! We show our love for Christ by keeping His commandments. We are enabled to keep the commandments of the New Testament by coming to the Mercy Seat in Heaven and asking God for help.

He always hears that prayer!

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 3:18,19—NIV)

We live in a three-dimensional world. But we have four dimensions here—width, length, height, and depth.

In Ezekiel we read of the progress of the believer as he moves forward in the Spirit of God, in eternal life.

When he first is saved he is in water to the ankles. He has a portion of God’s Spirit. This is death to the world.

When he asks for and receives more of the Spirit of God he is in water to the knees. He has more of the Spirit of God. This we term the "Pentecostal" experience. The Pentecostal experience should lead us to put to death the deeds of our sinful nature.

Now, using the spiritual power he has received, he is to press forward in water to the hips or waist. This is death to self-will, the crossing of the Jordan over onto resurrection ground. It is not until we die to self-will that we become candidates for the fruitfulness and dominion God desires for man.

But there is a fourth dimension. The fourth dimension is waters to swim in—a river that cannot be crossed.

The first three levels and their accompanying judgments (measurings) are acts of redemption, of salvation.

The fourth level is not an act of redemption. We already have been redeemed, by the first three levels, from the hand of the enemy.

The fourth level is that of the tree of life. God is making us trees of life from which other people can derive eternal life and healing.

This is the level of perfect love. We no longer are grappling with the processes of salvation but are resting in the fullness of the Presence of God. Now our life is a conduit from God to people. Our whole concern, our whole life, joy, peace, love, are bound up in God’s will and the personalities of the people whom God has given us for an inheritance. We live for God and other people, you might say.

Such rest in the Presence of God, such perfect service to the nations whom God has saved, is the destiny of the royal priesthood. It is to fulfill this role of the tree of life that God has called us from the ranks of mankind.

And then Paul says, as part of his prayer for the saints in Ephesus, "that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Now, this is quite a promise.

What does it mean to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God? It means exactly what it says.

We have seen the Lord Jesus Christ in whom the fullness of God lives.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, (Colossians 2:9—NIV)

We understand that Jesus Christ is the eternal Lord and Christ and has existed from the beginning with God.

We understand also that God is bringing many sons to glory, not sons in competition with the Firstborn, but sons nevertheless.

God’s sons are destined to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I often have wondered how Jesus Christ in a physical body of average size, apparently, could contain the fullness of God. Maybe His body was small but His invisible personality so great He could contain the fullness of God.

Perhaps this also is true of us; for if we are to contain the fullness of God we must be bigger than we think we are. Maybe God had to put us in an animal body to humble and test us before trusting us with something greater. Do you suppose?

Remember, the purpose of filling us with His fullness is not that we will become so puffed up we explode. It is that we may serve as a tree of life to the nations God loves and intends to give to Jesus Christ and us as our inheritance.

Are you having a problem with the idea of being filled with the fullness of God?

Consider the next verse and quit staggering at the promises of God!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20,21—NIV)

"Immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine."

I am going to tell you what I am asking and imagining, and then you can do as you like.

I am asking and imagining myself being in the image of the Lord as pictured in the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel. Furthermore, I am asking and imagining that my inward nature will be created according to the design of the temple described by Ezekiel.

That is as far as I have been able to get at the present time.

I can imagine this and ask for this. Why not? We have been predestined to be in the image of the Lord, and the first chapter of Ezekiel tells us of the image of the Lord. Right? Anybody staggering around here?

Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking. (Ezekiel 1:28—NIV)

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29—NIV)

Now, as to Ezekiel’s Temple

"This is the law of the temple: All the surrounding area on top of the mountain will be most holy. Such is the law of the temple." Ezekiel 43:12—NIV)

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. (Ephesians 2:21—NIV)

Would we be that far off in suggesting that Ezekiel’s Temple is referring to the Body of Christ, and that the various guardrooms, stone altars, and so forth are symbolizing the creative work God does as He through His Spirit strengthens our inward nature.

Again:

"The distance all around will be 18,000 cubits. "And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE." (Ezekiel 48:35—NIV)

Now I ask you, can Ezekiel’s Temple be anything less than the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb, the glorified Church of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Where else will the Lord dwell forever?

The destructive philosophy of Dispensationalism has left the Christians with the impression that God is going to build a kingdom of physical Jews while the Christians are in Heaven. This is not at all a scriptural concept. Peter tells us plainly that the Hebrew Prophets did not speak of their own time but of us Christians upon whom the ends of the age have come.

Therefore Ezekiel is speaking to Christians, as do all the other Prophets.

The fact is, there is only one Olive Tree and that is Jesus Christ. There is only one Seed of Abraham and that is Jesus Christ. All of us, Jews and Gentiles, who are part of Jesus Christ, are part of the one Seed, the one Olive Tree.

There is no other seed of Abraham. There is no other olive tree. Only Jesus Christ and those who belong to Him constitute the Olive Tree, the Israel of God. Only the Lord Jesus Christ and those who belong to Him constitute the one Seed of Abraham, the chosen priesthood of God

There is no other kingdom of God, kingdom of Heaven. Whoever teaches there is, is bringing another gospel, another kingdom, another Christ, another Israel than the Christ and Israel presented by the Apostle Paul.

Ezekiel is speaking to us upon whom the ends of the age have come.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (I Peter 1:10-12—NIV)

Concerning the Christian salvation:

The Hebrew Prophets searched intently, trying to find out about what they were speaking when they prophesied.

God revealed to them that they were preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In no manner were the Hebrew Prophets telling of a kingdom of physical Jews on the earth. Rather, they were speaking of Christ and those who belong to Him.

Back to the idea of the fullness of God dwelling eternally in His temple:

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2—NIV)

Compare:

"In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2—NASB)

The New International Version, by by inserting the word there, in the above verse, suggests that Jesus meant He was going to Heaven and then would return to take us back to Heaven with Himself.

This is not what it means. It means that Jesus went to the cross to prepare a place for us in Himself in God, and that He will return again in the Spirit to take us to His own Person that we may be with Him in the Center of the Person of the Father where He also dwells.

Ezekiel’s Temple is the Father’s house. The Father’s house, the eternal dwelling place of God, is Christ—Head and Body. Christ is the only eternal dwelling place of God.

The Father’s House, the eternal dwelling place of God, is the holy city, the new Jerusalem.

When the Lord Jesus Christ came He was the only stone in the Father’s great house. So Christ went to the cross, and then ascended to Heaven, sprinkling His blood upon the holy places in Heaven. In this manner He made it possible for us to be a room in the eternal temple of God.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3—NIV)

The above verse is not speaking of Christ preparing a place for us in Heaven but in the Father’s house, of which He is the chief Cornerstone.

The verse is not referring to the second coming of the Lord, His coming to the world to set up His Kingdom. Rather He is speaking of coming to His saints in the Spirit, as we see further down in the same chapter.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. (John 14:18,19—NIV)

The coming of the Lord mentioned in the verse above is happening now, in preparation for His worldwide appearing, in which every eye shall see Him.

If you are one of those who is pressing forward to the fullness of God, you will experience the present coming. It is not a bodily coming of the Lord but an ever-increasing awareness of His presence in and with you.

You will begin to become aware of spiritual warfare. You will learn that God is ready to attack the worldliness, lust, and self-will in your personality. The Kingdom of God, which to you previously may have been only three words in the New Testament, will become the focus of your hope. You will learn the difference between the idea of going to Heaven as your goal to that of participating in the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

You may go through long, dark imprisonments in which the Spirit of God deals with all that is in you that is not pleasing to the Lord. You will be pressed into the sufferings of the cross, into His cross. Your personal cross may approach the unbearable from time to time, and you will have to keep trusting that God is ready and able to bring you through every test.

You will wonder how long this tunnel is going to be. The past times of happiness and joy in the things of Christ may become a distant memory. The Books of Job and Lamentations will be your daily bread. If you are called to be a member of the royal priesthood, a prolonged period of reconciliation to God is necessary. Be assured that all true saints have endured such amazing fires, such periods of darkness as the furnace of Israel draws near to them.

I think we American Christians are entering this kind of testing. Present-day Christianity often is too superficial and giddy to serve as a sculptor of saints.

This "cloud of unknowing," against which you beat in frustration, will one day pass. You will come forth from the fire a new person, only your bondages having been destroyed. The process is that of coming to know God; also of God moving from the outside to the inside of your personality.

The outcome is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. You no longer are playing volleyball with God: "I will do this if you will do that." You now are on the same side of the net. God has become your strength, your joy, your peace, your love, your salvation.

It is to this coming that the Lord was referring when He said:

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3—NIV)

The same thought is expressed as follows:

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:20,21—NIV)

Such is the path to the fullness of God, to the very Throne of God.

And notice:

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. (John 14:19—NIV)

We shall live because He lives. We shall live by His Life. We shall live because we have been filled with all the fullness of God. The world will not witness this coming. It is a coming in the Spirit to the faithful saints in preparation for their appearing with Him in the clouds of glory for all the world to see. His and their appearing in the clouds is the revealing of the sons of God, of which Paul spoke.

"On that day you will realize I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you." (John 14:20—NIV)

"That day" is the Day of the Lord, the day when all flesh is cast down and the Lord alone is exalted. We must come to grasp this exalting of the Lord as part of our being filled with all the fullness of God.

Theologians have sought to describe the Godhead by their well intentioned philosophical analyses. Because they have approached the Mystery of Divinity mentally they have constructed a Triune God that is incomprehensible, a far off Entity to which we cannot relate. Jesus no longer is a Man He has become part of Something upon which we can only speculate, employing similes such as: God is like a three-leaf clover or a light fixture having three bulbs.

Because we have not known the Father and the Son experimentally we have created an Abstraction.

The truth is, in the day when Christ comes to us and casts down all our works, being formed in us and dwelling in us, we realize Christ is our older Brother; that God is our Father; that we are in Christ; that Christ is in the Father; that the Father is in Christ; that Christ is in us. We have become an integral part of the Father and the Son. This is the Wheel in the middle of the wheel.

"On that day you will realize I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you." This is how we grow to understand God—not with mental reasoning but as Jesus reveals the Father to us.

"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

Paul’s teaching of Divine grace has been interpreted to mean that grace is an alternative to keeping the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. The result has been that the believers do not know which if any of the New Testament injunctions they are supposed to obey. This has made it nearly impossible for most churchgoers to press through to the fullness of God.

Every day I live I become more aware how destructive the prevailing Dispensational-grace-rapture-Heaven teaching actually is. It has created the moral apostasy existing in our country. Let us immediately throw out Dispensational theory and every hair and claw associated with it and return to the simple, straightforward teachings of the New Testament.

Yes, we have to keep the commandments of Christ if we are to enter the Kingdom of God. It is by keeping His commandments that we show our love for Him. We cannot substitute heretical "grace" in place of stern obedience to the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles.

I do not wish to offend any of the brothers—but really! How long will this error prevail?

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" (John 14:22—NIV)

Judas’ remark reveals clearly that the disciples understood Jesus to be speaking of a coming to them spiritually, not of His coming to the world.

The Lord has promised to show Himself to His followers before He returns with them to establish His Kingdom on the earth.

Now we come to the verse that in my opinion is the clearest expression in the New Testament of the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles.

Jesus replied, "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—NIV)

Again, the "Tabernacles" experience is based on our obeying the teachings of Christ; not on merely believing about Him but doing what He commanded us.

Just think of it! If we obey the teachings of Jesus Christ, God, His Father, will love us. Then They, the Father and the Son, will come to us, just as in John 14:3. "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

Where is Christ? He is in the very Center of God’s Person.

Where shall we be if we obey His commandments?

In the very Center of God’s Person through Christ.

Paul prayed for all of us who have been saved and filled with God’s Spirit that we may be filled with the fullness of God.

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19—NIV)

It is not just for ourselves that we desire to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. It is for the benefit of God Himself, and then for the benefit of the people whom God can govern and bless through us.

Being filled with the fullness of the Father and the Son through the fullness of the Spirit is the goal of our redemption. It is why we were created.

For untold eons of time God’s family in Heaven consisted of angels. Then some of the angels rebelled against Him.

God’s response to the rebellion is to create a company of sons, of whom the Lord Jesus is to be the great Head and elder Brother. God is bringing many sons to glory.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,  who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28,29—NIV)

God created each of His sons with a throne room within his personality, we might say, a throne room designed to be occupied by the Lord. As soon as His sons have been delivered from sin, and Christ has been formed in them, God and Christ will take Their lawful place on these prepared thrones. This is the next move of God after Pentecost, as I understand it, and shall occur during the spiritually dark period just prior to the Lord’s return from Heaven.

From this vantage point within His sons, God will govern and bless His creation in love, the role of the angels now being to assist the sons as they become the eternal Throne of God.

This is the Kingdom of God. It is to attain this "rest of God" that we have been saved, filled with the Spirit, and then chastened and otherwise dealt with until we are in the moral image of Jesus Christ and dwelling in untroubled rest in the Father.