The source of our fullness in Christ

by Mike Ratliff

22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22-23 NASB)

22 καὶ πάντα ὑπέταξεν ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ καὶ αὐτὸν ἔδωκεν κεφαλὴν ὑπὲρ πάντα τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, 23 ἥτις ἐστὶν τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ, τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν πληρουμένου. (Ephesians 1:22-23 NA28)

What is “fullness?” In the passage above the NASB translates πλήρωμα as “fullness.” In this form it refers to “that which is filled.” It was used of a ship being filled with sailors, rowers, soldiers, and even cargo. The verb form, πληρουμένου, is found later in the same verse. The tense of the verb is a present participle, showing continuous action. What does this mean? Christ fills the church with His own life.

Another way to translate πλήρωμα is “domination.”

Ephesians 1:23 – “which is His body, the [domination] of Him who [dominates] all in all.”

Ephesians 4:10 – “He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might [dominate] all things.)”

Ephesians 4:13 – “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the [domination] of Christ.”

Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be [dominated] with the Spirit,”

What about Ephesians 3:19?

19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19 NASB)

…that you may be [dominated] up to all the [domination] of God.

With this concept in mind then we must look at our fullness in Christ quite differently.  To be filled with God’s fullness means we are emptied of self and totally dominated by Him. To be filled with fullness of God is to be dominated by His dominance.  How can we realistically be totally dominated by God?

First, we will be dominated by God when we read His Word. Reading and studying Sacred Scripture unlocks the door of Christian growth. Whether you read the Bible through in one year, read one of Paul’s epistles per month, or follow some other method, you must avoid reading mechanically, just “to get the job done.” You must read with understanding and meditate upon what you read. Reading a single verse with understanding is far better than three chapters with no comprehension. You might want to jot down in a notebook lessons you learn and blessings God gives. When you do have questions, write those down as well and ask your pastor about them.

Second, we will be dominated by God when we submit to the expository preaching and teaching of God’s Word as absolute truth. I refuse to be part of a local church where this is not taking place. Also, I try to teach from the Word on this blog the same way. I lead a small group now and we do the same thing there. If you are in a church where this is not the primary ministry, find one where it is. Sacred Scripture is very clear on this issue for no other so-called ministry will bring real spiritual growth.

Third, we will be dominated by God when we obey what we read and hear. Knowledge without application is less than worthless—it is actually destructive. As Paul told the Corinthians:

1 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. (1 Corinthians 8:1 NASB)

Facts alone only makes us arrogant. It is application that makes us humble.

Fourth, we will be dominated by God when we spend time in prayer. Mark it down, you will not consistently do the first three—read, listen, and apply—unless you pray.  They are, in fact, impossible without prayer. Unless you commune with God (1 Thessalonians 5:17), you will not understand what you read, you will not want to listen to preaching, and you will not apply anything because you are not humbling yourself before God. It is through prayer that you will confess your sins (1 John 1:9), ask for wisdom (James 1:5), and pray for other, (Colossians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:25).

Soli Deo Gloria!

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