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That Christ Might Fill All Things
By David A. DePra
That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Eph 1:10)
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all. (Eph 1:22-23)
He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) (Eph 4:10)
God intends to gather all things in Christ, indeed, He intends that Christ will fill all things. There is much to that, but if we understand nothing more about this right now, let us understand that this is something God already doing NOW. Right NOW God is in the process of gathering together all things in His Son, that Christ might fill all things.
More practically, this needs to begin with YOU and I. God wants to gather you and I in Christ. He wants Christ to fill US, and to fill all that is in our lives. If you get the picture at all, you will see God getting His will – not just in situations, but as to a work in US. You will see if Christ fills you and I that we are at rest and in harmony with Him in all things.
I’m not sure what Christian people think that heaven, or the eternal ages, is going to be like. To hear some people talk, you would think that when Jesus comes back that He is going to be so pleased with some of us – so grateful to us for all that we have done for Him – that He is just going to hand out big rewards in the form of authority over nations, and lots of other stuff. Lost in this thinking is the question of whether we are rightly related to Him. Lost in this thinking is the question of whether Christ fills all things – all of US and OUR things.
God has a real news flash for all of us: Rewards emerge from relationship. Any thing God ever gives anyone – whether it be HERE or THEN – is going to be directly based upon who we are to Him, and who He is to us. If you think you can live to the disregard of God NOW, and that somehow He is going to trust you THEN, you are deluded. In short, if we are not allowing Christ to fill all things NOW, there isn’t going to much capacity for Him THEN.
Right NOW, God wants to fill all things in us. If we won’t let Him, do we seriously expect to be used of God – whether it be NOW or THEN? I’m afraid that many of us are simply filled with ourselves, rather than Christ. Or filled with religious flesh. And I’m also afraid that in this day and age of apostasy, almost no one even cares. It isn’t even on the table for discussion, let alone something people for which people want help. We are not desperate enough for Truth.
The Holy Spirit
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but ye know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:16-18)
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (John 16:7)
God work of making Christ fill all things began to be achieved in people once Jesus ascended to heaven. Of course, there are many misunderstandings about this. Despite the clear teaching to the contrary, many Christians continue to believe that the Holy Spirit dwelt in people before Pentecost in Acts 2. This leads to much error, not the least of which is the teaching that what happened in Acts 2 was a second blessing.
Can we PLEASE read the Bible? Read just these TWO passages. What do they prove? First, they prove that the Holy Spirit COULD NOT COME until Jesus ascended. (Jn. 16:7) Is there any thing unclear about this? Jesus states this directly. So is it possible that the Holy Spirit was here BEFORE Jesus ascended, in the same way He would be AFTER Jesus ascended? No. It is NOT possible. Otherwise what Jesus said was utterly senseless.
But what was the difference between the way the Holy Spirit worked BEFORE the ascension, compared to AFTER? Jesus told us. He said, "The Holy Spirit has been WITH you. But He will be IN YOU." Can we see from this teaching that the Holy Spirit dwelt in NO ONE until Jesus ascended and sent Him back down in Acts 2? Can we see that every other passage of scripture MUST be governed and interpreted by these clear statements of Jesus Christ? Here Christ is plainly stating that the Holy Spirit had never dwelt IN anyone, but after He would ascend, the Comforter would come and actually dwell IN people. This happened in Acts 2.
The Holy Spirit had been WITH God’s people. But after the ascension, He would be IN them. This distinction, not surprisingly, is EXACTLY the one between the OLD and NEW Covenants. This should not be surprising, since it was in Acts 2 that the OLD Covenant ended, and the NEW began:
For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. (Heb 8:8-13)
The greatest difference between the OLD and NEW Covenants – according to GOD HIMSELF – is that under the OLD, everything was outward. The Holy Spirit was WITH them. But under the NEW Covenant, everything was first inward. The Holy Spirit was IN THEM. This is exactly what Jesus was teaching.
I submit that unless we get this straight we will have great difficultly understanding New Testament Christianity. You will note that at the end of the quoted passage from John 14:16-18, after Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will come to dwell in us, that He makes HIMSELF equal to the Holy Spirit in us. He says, "I will come to you." Sure. Jesus is in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Christianity is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27)
And yet look at the incredible confusion that has arisen because people have not understood these basic Truths. You have today the charismatic movement that is based upon the mistaken notion that the apostles in the upper room ALREADY had the Spirit in them, and that what they received that day was a SECOND blessing. This is taught despite the fact that Jesus said that unless He ascended the Spirit could NOT come, but that if He did ascend, THEN, and ONLY THEN, would the Spirit come to dwell in them. So you have thousands of people who think that salvation through Christ leaves you lacking, unless you go on to receive this second blessing.
I know what I’m talking about. I was IN the charismatic movement. I know all the verses and passages, including John 20:22. Every one of them. I’ve heard all the arguments and had hundreds of conversations about this. To the average charismatic, we are NOT complete in Christ. We are not complete unless we receive what they think is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. In Truth, we ARE complete in Christ. (Col. 2:9-10) And when we receive Christ, we receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit. We cannot receive Him any other way.
I say again: The clear and plain words of Christ cannot be changed. He said what He said. The Comforter COULD NOT COME before He ascended. But when He would come, what had never happened before that would then be possible – the Holy Spirit had been WITH them, but now would be IN THEM. And through the Holy Spirit, Christ Himself would come to live in us. Christianity is Christ in us, the hope of glory.
All of this is necessary to understand if we are to understand what happened when Jesus ascended, and what BEGAN because He ascended. You will recall that when Jesus ascended, it is stated that He was seated at the right hand of God. It says that He was seated in heavenly places above ALL. This is a picture and position of total victory. Christ conquered every enemy, including the last enemy – death.
And yet this victory had yet to be applied. Christ had the victory, but He didn’t win it merely for Himself. He also won it for US. In other words, Christ lived, died, was raised, and ascended – but that merely BEGAN the application and ushering in of the real purpose of God. Once Christ ascended it was then time for Him to bring His victory to pass in human lives, indeed, upon all creation.
This is why Christ ascended, and it is what began when He did. If you want to know what Christ has been doing for the last two-thousand years, indeed, if you want to know the purpose of the Holy Spirit, we now see it: To take everything Jesus did, and everything Jesus is, and make Him real, TO us, IN us, and THROUGH us. Or, in other words, the purpose of God through the Holy Spirit is that Christ might FILL ALL THINGS.
Read John 14 through 16 and focus on what Jesus said the Comforter would do when He came. You will see that the job of the Holy Spirit is to make Jesus our personal Lord, to reveal Christ to us and in us, and to cause Christ to fill all things. Follow that up with the teachings of the apostles and this becomes clear: God is gathering up all into Christ – all who will yield, that is. He wants Christ to fill all – starting with the Body of Christ. This is the KINGDOM OF GOD.
When Jesus ascended to heaven, He took with Him all that He had accomplished through His Redemptive work. Then, once ascended, He sent it all back down through the Holy Spirit. But what He sent was not a THING. It was HIM – His very life and presence – through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And then once Christ is IN US through the Spirit, a work begins whereby Christ wants to fill us.
It is error to say that in order to be FILLED with the Holy Spirit, that you need a second blessing in addition to Christ. No. In order to be FILLED with the Holy Spirit, you need to be filled with Christ. How does this happen? It happens if we yield to the Holy Spirit. If we do, the Holy Spirit will invade our entire being. We will be filled.
Through salvation – through the new birth – God has wrapped up everything He has for us in Christ. There is NOTHING else to receive. We are complete in Him. But obviously, even though we have received IN CHRIST all that God has, there is much left of Christ for us to experience. In short, as Christ comes to fill all things in us, we experience more of Christ. We call this Christian growth. But it is really Christ in us growing. Christ is coming to fill all things.
It is possible to liken God’s undertaking in this age to an invasion. In fact, God does exactly that, both in the OT and the NT. In the OT, the entire plan of God is pictured in His deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and the conquering of the promised land. In that picture, we have God giving the land to Israel through Abraham – before any of Israel was born. And then when they finally entered the land, there is pictured a progressive invasion and taking possession of what God had already given.
Here we see a finished victory. There is nothing for Israel to actually win. They are simply to believe and take possession. The enemies come into play because God doesn’t just drive them out FOR Israel. No. Israel must drive them out by faith and practical obedience. Every inch of ground that God intended Israel to have was a free gift. But every inch of ground that they actually came to possessed was the result of being rightly related to God. In short, the land was theirs. But there was no way to actually possess it unless they did so through God.
In this we see a NT Truth that is so often neglected, if it is even known at all. Jesus Christ has already won every victory over every enemy. It is finished, and there is nothing that can add to it, or subtract from it. He is seated in heavenly places above all – this is the place to which He ascended. But despite the fact that Jesus was seated above all, God still wanted Him to FILL ALL. Thus, in this age, God – through the Holy Spirit IN US – is taking all of Christ, and all He has done, and invading our lives.
But can we see that we must come into an actual experience and possession of what God has given in Christ? Otherwise, we will – at best – just sit here rejoicing over what Christ as done, as mere fact, and will perhaps hold it up in the form of doctrine, but we will NOT actually experience Christ Himself. This is the plight of so many. Christian people often KNOW, "truths," and are often told that this is equal to faith, and to a true knowledge of God. It is NOT. There is a huge difference between knowing that we are supposed to know God, and actually knowing Him. There is a big difference between rejoicing that we have been given an inheritance, and actually entering in and taking possession of it.
How do we take possession? Well, again, this is illustrated through Israel. Not one inch of ground came into their actual possession unless that possession emerged from their relationship with God. Or, to put it another way, to the degree that God possessed THEM, they possessed the things of God – the inheritance. In the NT reality, God has wrapped up everything He has for us in His Son, Jesus Christ. You cannot experience anything of God unless you experience it in and through Christ. You cannot have THINGS apart from Christ. You cannot have experiences apart from Christ. You can only have Christ. And then, if you do, all that God has for you will emerge out of that fellowship and experience.
This might seem hard to understand for some. Indeed, some may object to it. One day I was talking to a man who believed that it was his ministry to go around to churches and groups in order to make them understand that they were NOT complete in Christ. He was one who believed and taught that you had to receive a baptism with the Holy Spirit in addition to Christ, or you would lack much. He actually said this to me – he exclaimed, "I cannot believe that you think that all that God has for us is in Christ!" Yep. Because he, and many of his friends, had come into certain spiritual experiences, they were sure that this was the result of the second blessing, and not the result of Christ in them. To him, salvation was the indwelling of Christ. But the second blessing ADDED to Christ with a FILLING, and with most of what God really wanted for his people. I have to say that the man was also focused upon what HE HAD that so many others DID NOT HAVE – namely this second blessing. Indeed, he advised me to shun those, "who don’t have what we have." Although most would never admit it, it is this kind of arrogance and exclusiveness that emerges from the error of the second blessing. People think they are of a higher spiritual order than others. Incredibly, the very Holy Spirit that they say they have – that they say others don’t have – hasn’t had much impact in them. Instead of making them humble, they feel that are the elite. Deception is amazing.
I have been around charismatic people all my life. I used to be involved in such circles. Most are more focused on what they think they have – that others don’t have – to the point where they think it is because there is something special about themselves. I truly believe that the doctrine of the second blessing is nothing more than a clever substitute for the Cross. Instead of needing to lose your life in order to find HIS – on a daily basis – you can just skip all of that and get, "filled with the Spirit." But hey, I’m wasting my time even talking about this. No one is going to listen. For those who continue to hold to the second blessing, I will be nothing more than a poor soul who just doesn’t get it – or perhaps I’ll be one who has rejected the Truth. The doctrine of the second blessing is the, "holy grail," of the charismatic movement. Show THAT to be error, and everything else comes into question.
The Truth is, there is no second blessing. There is only Christ. Well, isn’t that a shame that there is, "only Christ?" Isn’t it a shame that instead of by-passing the Cross, and losing ourselves in experiences, that we have to come to terms with the Cross, and with Christ Himself? Christianity is Christ in us. We are complete in Him. Everything God has for us is given to us IN CHRIST. You will read this over and over again in the NT. It is all IN HIM. It is all OF HIM. All the treasures of wisdom of knowledge are hid IN HIM. God has blessed us with all spiritual blessing IN CHRIST. There is nothing God has for us outside of Christ, and yet all that God has is found in Him. The Holy Spirit did not come to add to Christ. Rather, Christ is in us through the Holy Spirit, and it is the job of the Holy Spirit to minister Christ.
When you were saved, you received Christ – and consequently, you became complete in Him. There was NOTHING God had left over to give to you. You were given ALL THINGS in Christ. But that merely began your journey and new life – it did not end it. From that point, the Holy Spirit sought to reveal Christ in you. He sought to do everything Jesus said He would do in John chapters 14 through 16. In other words, Christ was, at that point, seated IN YOU – just as He was seated in heavenly places. But from that same point, Christ wanted to come to FILL YOU, just as God wants Christ to fill all things. This required a progressive work. An overcoming of all that hinders. Just as Israel had to take possession of the land, so must we take possession of all that God has for us.
If Christ is IN US, and it is God’s will for Christ to FILL US, we can see both the finished work, and the need for a progressive unfolding OF that finished work. How will God undertake this work? Jesus wrapped it up in one statement: "He that will lose his life for My sake will find it." Christ is already in us TO FIND. But as God brings us to the point, we must lose OUR lives so that we can find Him, and see the Truth.
It is not possible for you and I to undertake this work. Flesh cannot crucify flesh. If you set out to crucify yourself, you will be motivated by the very same self-righteousness that God wants to crucify. Self-righteousness cannot crucify self-righteousness. No. Flesh always acts in pride, unbelief, and religiosity. You will create a Pharisee, or a depressed person. A self-crucified person is a self-righteous person, because they have merely strengthened their own sense of righteousness through self-crucifixion. Anytime we try to do what only God can do, we are in unbelief. We are not really losing our lives – we are actually trying to save our self-righteous selves OUR WAY. We will do this whether we know it or not. It is entirely possible to take pride in a self-imposed humility. It is entirely possible to feel secure because we are living in a self-created misery. This is not Christianity.
God knows how to make crosses and how to get to what makes us tick. We are to simply walk with Him and pick up the Cross that HE brings across our path. And believe me, if we are serious, HE WILL BRING ONE. If we do pick it up, death will come, not only to sin, but to self-righteousness. God wants to crucify even the self-righteousness that makes us think that we can crucify ourselves. Think about that. Many people miss it.
Someone said that the people who are truly made humble by God are the last to realize it. They are no longer focused on SELF at all, but upon Christ. But you see, what I am describing here is a work of God. It is not possible to make myself stop focusing on self, because in order to do that, I have to focus on self. But God is able. When God gets done with a person, they have a freedom and perspective that only the Cross of Jesus can bring.
All of this is what it means to come into possession of our inheritance. It is what it means to be filled with Christ – you are less filled with yourself. It is not, "a down on self," thing. Neither is it a, "up on self," thing. No. It is freedom FROM self – but UNTO CHRIST. You and I cannot know what that is like, save the work of the Holy Spirit.
So God wants to invade us, and fill us, with the same Christ who is IN US. And as we come to know and experience Christ, everything else falls into place. I say again, God has wrapped up everything in Christ. Not in experiences ABOUT Christ, not in doctrines, and not in religion. But IN CHRIST.
Ages Yet to Come
We are not told much about the ages to come. Some people think they know about those ages – but they tend to impose natural thinking upon it. But we do have some clues in Ephesians. If it is God’s purpose that Christ fill all things, and that He gather up all into ONE, then the eternal ages are going to be characterized and governed by exactly that: Oneness with Christ.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:4-7)
God has begun this work NOW. It starts when Christ come to dwell in us at salvation. And according to this verse, it will NEVER END. God intends to spend the ages to come showing us the exceeding riches of His grace through Christ Jesus.
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