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The Fullness of Christ

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, {23} Which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all. (Eph 1:22-23)

And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:19)

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: (Eph 4:13)

If you wanted to state, in one sentence, the purpose of God for this age, you could pick any one of the above verses. God intends to have the FULLNESS OF CHRIST. He intends to have this in HIS PEOPLE – in the individuals who yield to him. By extension, He intends to have it in the Body of Christ. Indeed, if you read some of the verses on the subject, God intends to gather together all things IN CHRIST. Every other purpose of God that we might name is gathered up into this ONE PURPOSE: The fullness of Christ.

When God gets the fullness of Christ, then Jesus will be Lord of all, and over all. Then all that was disrupted in creation will be brought back to God’s original thought. It was never God’s intention to have anything short of the fullness of Himself – now brought to pass through His Son.

The epistle of Paul to the Ephesians centers on the fullness of Christ. The apostle Paul tells us that the fullness of Christ is actually the inheritance that God has for the saints. It is the end unto which God is working in the individual, and then by extension, the church.

But what IS the FULLNESS OF CHRIST? And how is this achieved? Since this IS the purpose and goal of God, then we are not going to get very far walking with Christ if we don’t understand this Truth. After all, we must have the same goal and purpose of God.

Christ In Us

It is not possible to discuss such a vast and important subject as the FULLNESS OF CHRIST without first laying a proper foundation. For when we begin to talk about God’s goal and purpose for this age, indeed, for the Christian life, we are actually talking about what Christianity IS. What IS Christianity?

At the root, Christianity is CHRIST IN US, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27) Christianity finds its definition and its possibility in a human life only if Christ is in us.

The moment we begin to realize that Christ is in us, no longer can we think of Christianity as merely a religion with rules and laws. No. For we have now introduced much more: We have introduced ANOTHER LIFE. In fact, we have introduced a different kind of life – one that is found in the PERSON of Christ, who dwells in us. This is why Christianity is a matter of being born from above and becoming a new creation. Those aren’t just fancy words. They describe exactly what a Christian IS.

Would that Christian people could wrap their minds around the reality of the new birth. Of course, Paul desired that very thing. This is why he said to the Galatians, "I travail until Christ be formed IN YOU." (Gal. 4:19) He wasn’t hoping they would be saved. He knew they already were saved. What he wanted was for them to come into the reality of their salvation. But this is impossible unless Christ is revealed in you. Christ Himself IS the reality of our salvation.

Christians have made Christianity be about almost everything except Christ. We make Christianity be about church or a home group. We make Christianity be about some supposed power God has put in us. We make it be about experiences, "in the Spirit." We make it be about preaching the gospel. We make it be about movements, end times, prophecy, and above all, so many Christians today are making Christianity center upon THEM. But no. Christianity is Christ in us, the hope of glory. God’s plan and purpose, while we are certainly caught up in it, is about His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

The Bible specifically calls Jesus, "the only begotten Son of the Father." And then, by being born from above, we can be IN THE SON. Thus, we have the Father, the only Begotten Son, and those who are IN THE SON. That is the plan of God – everything is contained in those simple relationships. You can see that Christ is everything. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the only Mediator between God and man. Or, as Colossians 3:4 puts it: CHRIST IS OUR LIFE.

But you see, when we read, "Christ, who is our life," that doesn’t usually make much of an impression upon us. We really don’t believe He is our life. Rather, we think He gave us a THING called life. We think that because we put our faith in Christ that we have received some kind of a classification from God called, "saved," or a document entitling us to, "eternal life." No. Christ is life – and He is OUR LIFE if He is in us. These are not petty distinctions. They are declarations of the Truth.

Christianity is CHRIST IN US – and if that is real, then Christianity is an experiencing of Christ. Why would that be a surprise? For how could we come into the fullness of Christ and NOT experience Him? And yet so many today simply hold Christianity at arm’s length as a religion to believe in or follow. We proclaim our statements of faith and yet never seem to enter into the reality of any of them. This is not the Christianity of the Bible. The Christianity of the Bible is CHRIST IN US – now.

So Christianity is, "Christ in us." But then, from the reality of Christ in us, we have all of our teaching as to how Christ comes to dwell in us. And we certainly must include all that results from the indwelling of Christ in a human being. But boiled down to its basic core, Christianity is Jesus Christ IN US. That is what makes a Christian a Christian. Christ makes a Christian ALIVE. Thus, without Christ in us nothing else is possible.

Learning Christ

Once Christ is in us, we must go on to LEARN CHRIST. (see Eph. 4:25) This will, by necessity, demand that we UNLEARN much. Our minds must be renewed according to the Truth; according to Christ. For you will note that, "learning Christ," means more than just learning ABOUT Christ. Rather, it is about coming to know Him in a way that will set us free. Or, to bring in our present discussion, learning Christ – if we learn Him the way that the Bible means to learn Him – learning Christ will begin a process that is intended to fill us with the fullness of Christ.

To LEARN CHRIST is equal to coming to know the TRUTH. Jesus said, "I am the Truth." But He also said, "You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free."? What does that mean? Well, never think of this – or of any of the other promises of God – as things which occur to us apart from our relatedness and accountability to God Himself. In other words, if we are to be set free, this freedom has to do with GOD HIMSELF. In fact, the Truth will set me free UNTO God. How? By changing ME.

Sure. Fundamentally, THE Truth is Truth about God Himself. But if I do know the Truth about God Himself, and I embrace it, I WILL BE MADE TRUE TO GOD. If the Truth I celebrate is not making me true to God, I don’t really KNOW IT, or, it isn’t the Truth. True freedom is a matter of seeing God in a way that makes me TRUE TO HIM.

Can we see that real freedom is a matter of relationship with God? That it is a matter of being MADE TRUE by seeing Jesus Christ? And that this results in freedom from all that otherwise had hindered me? Knowing the Truth isn’t a matter of knowing theology. It is a matter of knowing Jesus Christ in an inward way through spiritual revelation. This MAKES ME TRUE unto God. THAT is freedom.

Now, once I know the Truth and am MADE TRUE unto God – then I am in a fellowship with God that makes fullness in Christ possible. It is possible no other way.

Of course, this won’t make any sense if we think that Truth is a list of doctrines. Knowing doctrines on an intellectual, academic level isn’t going to set you free in the way that Jesus is talking about. No. When Jesus talked about knowing the Truth and being set free by the Truth, He was referring to the fact that if I REALLY know the Truth, the impact upon me will be that I AM MADE TRUE TO GOD. The Truth will set me free from all of the error and internal bondages that have kept me from the fullness of Christ, and will change me and MAKE ME TRUE, so that I can embrace the fullness of Christ.

Now, none of this will contradict scripture – nothing God ever does contradicts scripture. It will, in fact, fulfill scripture. The Bible TELLS US that we are to experience Christ. Thus, we are not here talking about subjective experiences that are contrary to scripture – indeed, there is no such thing as a subjective experience that can bring us into contact with Christ. Rather, this is about the reality of Christ IN US. It is not about us imagining Christ or about us creating a emotional condition that feels spiritual.

We are to possess and experience the fullness of Christ. Note that: The fullness of HIM – not the fullness of US. The Truth of Christ makes this possible, indeed, makes that separation and brings Christ to the center. All of this is part of the Truth impacting us and making us TRUE UNTO GOD.

When I say that we must be MADE TRUE I am simply saying that the Truth about us has to be laid bare, and we have to be standing in it. Now, things are left there – none of this is possible unless I am seeing the Truth about Christ. But I have to come to the place where I realize that without Him there is NOTHING true or real about me. I have to be MADE TRUE – I have to live and walk in the Light of God.

Fellowship With God

You cannot walk with Christ – you cannot have real fellowship with God – unless you are at least in the process of being MADE TRUE. How do I know this? The Bible says so. John wrote, "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the Truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we do have fellowship one with another……" (I Jn. 1:5-7) To walk in the light is to walk in the Truth – to walk in the light means that I am being MADE TRUE TO GOD. That is necessary for fellowship with the One who said, "I AM the Truth." You cannot walk with the Truth unless you are MADE TRUE TO HIM.

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)

Now, it is right here that we usually completely misunderstand. Most of still think that to walk in the Truth means nothing more than to hold to sound doctrine, practice it the best we can, and to serve God at church. Well, nothing wrong with that, but you can do all of that and not really know Jesus Christ in a way that will change you and make you true. Walking in the light and Truth – BEING TRUE TO GOD -- really means that no part of your person, or your life, is off limits to God. You are OPEN and EXPOSED to Him. This does not yet necessarily make you true in practice – but it is a TRUE HEART and a SINGLE EYE.

Jesus said, "If your eye be single – and the word for, "single," means, "to be without crease or folds," in other words, pure and open – if your eye be like that, Jesus said, "Your whole body will be full of light." Thus, we may not be able to make ourselves true. But we can open ourselves to God and ask Him to make us true – we can have this single eye. Then God will bring light -- and when He does, we must YIELD. That is being true to God, rather than being a lie to Him.

God is the Truth, and as we read above, He is evermore true to us. He cannot be otherwise. Thus, if God is always true to us, the only way to have in common with Him – the only way to fellowship with Him – is to be true to Him. Darkness and untruth cannot fellowship with Light and Truth. We have to be changed, not God.

"Fellowship," is, "a having in common." It is the same word translated, "communion." Thus, fellowship with God is a having in common with God. But really, the having in common is not a matter of having THINGS in common. No. It is a matter of having EACH OTHER in common. In other words, fellowship and communion with God is a matter of BEING ONE WITH GOD. So again -- can we now see why such a fellowship – such a oneness with God – is impossible unless we are being made TRUE TO GOD? How can light have fellowship with darkness? How can He that is true have fellowship with those who are not true to Him?

Now God being TRUE TO ME, and then ME being made TRUE TO GOD, is the basis for fellowship. It is the basis for FULLNESS IN CHRIST. You will note how Jesus said that if your eye is single your whole body will be FULL of Light. Well, not full of light as a THING. Full of Light -- who is a Person. You and I will never have much fellowship with God at all, let alone any real measure of the fullness of Christ, unless we are made true to God.

It might sound like a play on words, but it is nevertheless a fact: The Truth sets me free by making me true unto God, so that I can have fellowship with the Truth Himself. Or, to put it another way, if I am made true to God, my entire life can come to be filled with the fullness of Christ.

Fullness in Christ is a matter of being one with God to the point where He has all of me and I have all of Him. The result is not only freedom, but the realization and outworking of God’s purpose in our lives. The result is that we are witnesses unto God.

Confession of Sin

In this modern day, heretics like Joel Osteen and Robert Schuller, Sr., as well as others like Rick Warren, have come up with a hybrid form of Christianity. It offers people Jesus Christ, salvation, and all the benefits of salvation – but without the need for repentance, confession of sin, and the carrying of a Cross.

Let’s be clear about this: This is HERESY. It is NOT Christianity. It is another gospel. There is no confusion here. Once you strip away the necessities by which we can be saved – and repentance is that necessity – you are no longer talking about the Truth. You have redefined Christianity. You don’t often hear it stated this way, but any REDEFINITION of Christianity is heresy.

It is because professing Christian people do not know the Truth that they fall for such errors. Take, for instance, this matter of repentance. Unless we repent, we cannot be saved. But even most sincere Christians cannot tell you why this is so. Some act as if repentance is merely a doctrine to believe in – they think that if you simply believe in the doctrine of repentance that this is equal to actually repenting. Others think that repentance is a demand by God – they think it is something we DO and hand to God in return for salvation. Others know nothing more of repentance than to make it a religious exercise: I’m sorry for my sins and so God can save me. None of this is really the Truth.

John wrote on this matter at length:

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10)

If we take up John’s declaration that GOD IS LIGHT, we will see the Truth about repentance. Indeed, we will see that repentance is actually the result of seeing the Truth and embracing it. For if God is LIGHT, then the closer I get to God – the more I seek Him – the more LIGHT I will see. And that light is going to expose me for exactly what I am – a sinner who is without hope in himself. This can be the ONLY OUTCOME of seeing the Truth. It is the only POSSIBLE OUTCOME of seeing God. Not maybe. But for certain. Each one of us born since Adam is in this condition. It is what I will see if I see the Truth. It is what I will see the closer I get to God. There are no other alternatives possible.

Now, before I go on, it is vital that we understand that seeing ourselves as sinners is a matter of seeing the TRUTH. This isn’t a religious exercise. I’m not confessing that I am a sinner simply because God commands it. I’m not trading confession for forgiveness. I am seeing THE TRUTH. And that Truth is: I am hopelessly lost and spiritually dead without God. And I have been living in unbelief.

Now note: The light – who IS GOD – is going to expose all of this – God will expose me for exactly what I am. This is CONVICTION. It is only possible if GOD HIMSELF BRINGS LIGHT. It is not the outcome of human effort. God must take the initiative on this matter – only then can we respond.

So the Light will tell me the Truth about myself. But the Light will also reveal to me Jesus Christ – for since Light is Truth, I will see the Truth about the Savior. This too is certain. Thus, there are no other possibilities if I see the Truth – I will see the Truth about myself, and I will see the Truth about Jesus Christ. There is NO OTHER TRUTH to see!

We now come to repentance. If I embrace the Truth by faith – and seeing the Truth always enables faith – then I WILL REPENT. Why? Because the only possible outcome of embracing the Truth about myself and Christ is repentance. Repentance is the result of seeing the Truth and embracing it. The Truth will take us in no other direction.

It IS possible to reject the Light. See John 3:19-21 below. But if I embrace the Truth about myself, and about Christ, repentance is going to result. Why? Because embracing the Truth will MAKE ME TRUE UNTO GOD. I will then say the same thing about sin and about Christ as HE SAYS. That is confession.

Note how John clearly says, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another." The implication is that if we do NOT walk in the Light we do NOT have fellowship. In short, there is no other point of fellowship with God except the TRUTH. But if we embrace the Truth there will be fellowship with God – starting on this matter of sin and repentance.

Then John adds, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." The moment we stand in the Light of God everything is going to be exposed and defined by God according to the Truth. And if we embrace the Truth about ourselves, and about the Savior, then the only possible result is repentance – we will confess the Truth about ourselves! We will confess our sin. And because we confess the Truth – we will be MADE TRUE UNTO GOD. God can then save us.

Again -- never think of repentance as a religious demand that God makes upon us – never think of it as something we DO to satisfy God. It is never that. Repentance is the outcome of seeing the Truth about myself in the Light of God. If I see the Truth, and embrace it, then I will confess the Truth. And that will make ME true. I can then believe and receive Christ.

We also see why if I reject the Truth – and keep rejecting it – we now see why there can be no salvation. If I reject the Truth I will not only remain UNTRUE to God – but now I will be a LIE UNTO GOD by my own choice. There is simply nothing further that God can offer me once I see the Truth. To see that you

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hates the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:19-21)

So we see that God must bring the Light – and once He does I can see the Truth and believe. But it is possible for me to reject it. The choice I make will determine whether I am true or untrue to God. If I embrace the Truth I will repent. If I reject the Truth I will harden myself against God.

Now, I’ve said all of this to get to a certain point. And that point is this: If repentance is the only possible outcome of embracing the Truth, then what does this tell us about those who deny the need for repentance? What does it tell us about those who avoid preaching about the need to come to Christ as sinners? It tells us that they have never, themselves, embraced the Truth. It really tells us that it is NOT possible that they are saved. For how can a person who is saved turn around and preach error about how to be saved? How can a person who has seen the Truth -- and repented because of it -- turn around and say that you don’t need to repent? There is no gray area here. If salvation is the result of seeing certain Truths, then if I deny those very Truths, I am betraying the fact that I am NOT SAVED.

Thus, we see the absolute necessity of seeing the Truth, and being MADE TRUE UNTO GOD thereby. You and I cannot possibly enter into the fullness of Christ unless we are willing to enter into the fullness of TRUTH. And that is going to require that we BE MADE TRUE UNTO GOD. Do the math. This, in turn, will require that we unlearn much, and be exposed as A LIE BY NATURE.

The New

All human beings are born IN ADAM. Consequently, we inherit spiritual death. This, in turn, results in sins. We violate God’s law continually. But despite this, the fundamental problem with the human race is NOT acts of sin. The fundamental problem is that we are born in Adam – we are born as lawless creatures, who inherit lawlessness by nature. This is WHY we commit acts of sin.

How can God provide redemption from such a condition? Can God merely FORGIVE us for the fact that we are born in Adam? No. Why? Well, first of all, you and I did not choose to be born in Adam. We are not to blame for that. So we don’t need forgiveness for being born. And secondly, if God merely forgave us for being born in Adam, what would that do to remove the sin nature? Nothing. In fact, if God forgave us for being born in Adam – under the conventional understanding of forgiveness – He would be lifting all of the consequences from us -- but leaving us IN ADAM. This would be amoral.

No. The solution for being born in Adam with a sin nature is not forgiveness. The solution is DELVERANCE. We must be delivered from the old creation by death and resurrection into a NEW creation in Christ Jesus.

But then why does the Bible talk about FORGIVENESS? We have already said that we are not to blame for being born in Adam. That is true. But we are responsible for staying there once we see the way out through Christ. Thus, we do need forgiveness for all that we have done in AFFIRMING the old creation. We need forgiveness for UNBELIEF – for living life on our own terms rather than relinquishing it to Christ.

God forgives all acts of sin – including unbelief – because of Jesus Christ. But a LEGAL kind of forgiveness alone will not DELIVER us from the old creation. For that, Christ also died – but to be delivered through His death, we must be crucified WITH Him, and raised WITH Him.

Paul said that we are exactly that:

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: (Rom 6:3-8)

Christians are not merely forgiven. We are DELIVERED. That is true redemption – redemption means to, "buy back." Thus, God has not only forgiven us for all sins and SIN – but He has redeemed or delivered us from SIN ITSELF. When I accept Christ, I do not become merely, "a forgiven old creation." No. I become a NEW CREATION.

The key to everything in the Christian experience is to realize that this old creature that we are has no solution but death. God is not fixing the old creation. He is making a new one. And that means that everything that belongs to the old must go the way of the Cross. Again – this isn’t about religion. It is about death and resurrection in Christ.

Christ Seen In Us

There are those -- like Osteen and Scheuller and Warren -- who today paint a picture of Christianity that is little more than a matter of God ADDING TO US His blessings. They suggest that if we simply hand our lives to Christ that Jesus will become an enhancement to US. We are being told that Jesus Christ came to bring out the greatness in us. This is a LIE.

Christianity is not a self improvement project with the help of Jesus. It is not about me finding my true self, learning to love myself, or finally realizing self-esteem. No. In fact, God wants to get all of that stuff out of our thinking. He wants us to learn Christ.

Today, many are falling for the gospel of self-esteem. They teach that Christian character is US improving our personality, temperament, and conduct – and that Jesus will HELP US DO THIS. Again – Jesus becomes an enhancement TO US – almost like Jesus is a decoration who augments us and brings out the best in us. Attached to this sort of teaching are usually a whole bunch of Bible principles and philosophies for living. If you put these on, you are supposedly displaying the character of Christ. But this is also a LIE. What you are really doing, is displaying a RELIGION, based wholly on the pride of man.

God has no intention of decorating our old man with a little bit of Jesus. He has no intention of bringing out the best in us – there IS NO BEST to bring out! Neither is Jesus an augmentation of man’s glory. Rather, the intention of God is that all of this come under the death of the Cross. ALL OF IT.

So what is God’s purpose? That we be OUT OF THE WAY and CHRIST BE SEEN. We have already proven that CHRIST IN US is the source of every possible Christian reality. Thus, much of the Christian life is a matter of the work of the Cross to crucify us out of sight, so that the Christ who is in us might be manifested to the glory of God. This is fundamental to the fullness of Christ.

All Things IN Christ

Christian character IS CHRIST being seen in and through us. It is NOT us acting like Christ. God doesn’t do something to us to give us Christian character, neither do we do something to DEVELOP Christian character. Again – Christian character is Christ.

This is easy to prove. For example, Paul wrote:

That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord. (1 Cor. 1:29-31)

Read carefully this passage. It clearly states that Christ IS MADE UNTO US – wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Contrast this over and against the notion that Christ GIVES US THOSE THINGS. There is a HUGE difference. Paul is stating a Truth that you almost never hear even mentioned, that CHRIST IN US – the Person of Christ – contains all of these things, and that He is those things UNTO US.

If we would grasp what Paul is saying in this passage it would completely change our thinking about Christianity itself. We would begin to realize that Christianity REALLY IS Christ in us. That is, everything having to do with the Christian experience, and everything having to do with our relationship with God Himself, is all found and embodied in Christ.

Now, in order to more clearly explain this, we need to turn to only one other passage:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. (2 Cor. 4:7)

Obviously, Christ is the treasure, and we are the earthen vessel. But note: The, "excellency of the power," as Paul calls it, is NOT OF US, but of GOD. Get that: Not of us. But of God in Christ. Can we see that Christ in us really is -- Christ in us? That Christ in us -- is NOT US? That there is a difference, a distinction, if you will, between US, and Christ who is in us?

Christian people today think that salvation, and even Christian character, is a matter of God doing something TO US – or a matter of us doing something FOR GOD. No. Salvation is Christ in us. Christian character is Christ SEEN through us. We are the earthen vessel. Christ is the treasure.

We just read how Jesus Christ, who is in us, is MADE UNTO US wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. In other words, Christ in us IS—IS—HE IS—those attributes. Or, to put it another way, they are not THINGS, or legal classifications, or designations that God gives to us. No. Christ is all those things, and HE IS IN US.

For instance, consider RIGHTEOUSNESS. Have we yet realized that we have NO righteousness of our own? That any righteousness we have is CHRIST IN US – that HE is our righteousness? Get what I’m saying: I’m saying that even after we are saved, we have no righteousness of our own. God doesn’t give us righteousness. NO. He gives us Christ. Thus, even as saved people, Christ is the only righteousness we have – for He IS righteousness, and He IS in us.

Now, someone is going to say that God has declared us righteous. Someone will say that God has legally IMPUTED to us the righteousness of Christ. This is true – but if we think that this is the end of it, we are in grave error. Do you seriously think that the fullness of Christ consists of nothing more being legally imputed with the righteousness OF Christ? That this alone is what Christianity is all about? The Bible never limits Christianity to a legal imputation of the righteousness of Christ. Rather, Christianity is Christ in us, and because He is righteous, He is OUR righteousness.

Let me put it this way: God is only able to IMPUTE to us the legal righteousness of Christ because through the new birth He has already IMPARTED to us Christ Himself. Otherwise you would have a bunch of people who have no life in them, and no righteousness in them, but who are nevertheless given a legal classification. It would be a lie. NO. God is able to declare us righteous, and IMPUTE to us the legal righteousness of Christ because Christ is in us. This makes God’s declaration moral and makes it completely TRUE.

The notion that God would declare someone righteous without putting in them the Person who is righteous is deception. But there needs to be no confusion at all about this. We have just read passages that clearly state that Christ has not merely given us His righteousness, but that Christ in us IS our righteousness. This is Christianity, and nothing else is the Truth.

If we would get just this one Truth burned into our hearts, it would set us free. For example, how many of us spend years trying to make our earthen vessel – our flesh – "behave like a Christian ought to behave." And when we fail to do so – and we will -- we accept condemnation. Well, our righteousness is not found in our earthen vessel. Our righteousness is Christ – who is separate, and, "other than," our flesh. And NOTHING can alter the fact that Christ is our righteousness – not our bad works and not our good works. HIS righteousness is sealed forever – and He is in us.

It is here that it might help to know the meaning of salvation. Salvation is CHRIST IN US. That is because Christ is THE LIFE. So if we are one with Him – if Christ is in us – then we are ALIVE.

When Christ comes to dwell in us, He comes to dwell in our SPIRIT. The union of the Spirit of Christ with our spirit is the seat of salvation. Thus, our physical body is not saved in this age. Neither are our emotions and temperament saved. No. Our spirit is saved. Paul wrote, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." (I Cor. 6:17)

But therein we can see the treasure in the earthen vessel. We can see the true separation of soul from spirit. The soul is US. The spirit is Christ in us. It is our union with Christ in spirit that is the NEW CREATURE in Jesus Christ. Everything OUTSIDE of that is NOT the new creation because there is not life anywhere else. There is a clear separation declared between the Spirit and our flesh. The two are opposed to each other. The Spirit of Christ is one with our spirit – that is the NEW MAN. Everything outside is the OLD MAN. He is the treasure – united with our spirit. We are the earthen vessel. The two are NOT the same, and yet we are one with Christ in spirit.

So with this in mind, we can see that Christ is our righteousness, and despite the fact that our earthen vessel will never be righteous in this age, that His righteousness is fully eternal – and nothing can change it. Thus, when we sin, Christ is our righteousness. If we obey, Christ is our righteousness. Our works do NOTHING to change Christ. The righteousness of Christ who is in us never was dependent upon our works. The earth may be moved, but Christ is the same forever.

Jesus Christ has already won every victory that there was to win – and He is in us. Thus, if we abide in Him by faith, we are IN His victory. Nothing can change this.

Once we realize that Christ in us – that Christ IS all of these things -- it makes us realize why God is able to say that nothing depends upon us – but that we need only place our trust and dependence upon Him. Not just upon what He has done, but upon WHO HE IS IN US NOW.

Can we see that these Truths are more than legal pronouncements – but that they are speaking of the Person who IS the Truth, and who dwells in us NOW? Paul said, "Nevertheless I live, yet NOT I, but Christ." Paul is talking about the means by which he LIVES.

So why don’t Christian people realize and experience Christ in these ways? Because Christ has yet to be FORMED IN US. This is what Paul wanted for the Galatians. And it echoes what God wants for each of us. Without it, the fullness of Christ cannot come to pass.

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you. (Gal 4:19)

How Christ is Seen

If Christian character is Christ seen in and through us, then how does that come to pass? Well, we don’t even have to leave our passage about the treasure in earthen vessels for the answer. Paul tells us:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us…… Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death works in us, but life in you. (2 Cor 4:7-12)

The way in which the life of Christ is made manifest in us is through OUR DEATH. This is the principle of life from death – which is the key to most everything. God is NOT going to make us into little imitations of Jesus! Rather, He wants Jesus to be seen in and through us.

We MUST get this. We have this notion that once we are saved that we are supposed to grow to look like Jesus – almost like we are to become Xerox copies of Him. No. We are not COPIES of Christ – we are IN CHRIST. In other words, rather than be LIKE Christ, Christ Himself is supposed to be seen IN US. This is utterly different than most of us have been taught.

This takes us back to the purpose of God – that He wants us to have the fullness of Christ. The fullness of Christ is not possible if we merely act like Christ, or have faith in Him. Rather, the fullness of Christ is possible only if Christ HAS US FULLY – it is possible if Christ is able to live through us. Notice Paul’s words:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)

Can we see that to be crucified WITH Christ is much different than simply acknowledging that Christ was crucified FOR me? – which He was! Can we see that it is precisely because Paul was crucified WITH Christ that Christ was able to LIVE IN HIM? That the work of the Cross is what broke the power of Paul’s flesh and self life to the extent that the Christ who was IN HIM was able to freely live through Him?

Why, oh why, do we think that Christ can live through us if the work of the Cross has not broken those things which hinder Christ? That is nonsense. The only way in which Christ can live through us – the only way we could say, "Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ" – is if we have been crucified WITH Christ by the ongoing work of the Cross. This is how Christ comes to be seen. It is therefore the key to FULLNESS in Him.

If there was anyone who knew that Christ was crucified FOR HIM – it was Paul. But he doesn’t refer to that fact in this verse – although what he does say is based upon it. Rather, Paul says, "I am crucified WITH CHRIST." He says, "Nevertheless I live – yet NOT I – but Christ lives IN ME." Paul is not talking about the historical Truth of what Christ has done for him in the past – he knows that and everything depends upon it. Rather, he is talking about the present reality of Christ IN HIM. Christ is his life. Christ is his righteousness. He is the earthen vessel. Christ is the treasure. But for the treasure to be seen, the earthen vessel must be broken

How many of us have known anything at all about the kind of Christian life that Paul is describing in this passage? Most of us have turned what Paul is saying into a religious principle – we say, "Christ is living in me," but what we mean by that is that whatever we do as a Christian has Christ somehow behind it. Or we think we need to BE LIKE JESUS. No. Paul is saying that Christ in him is REAL. Paul was ONE with Christ, and yet he knew that Christ was nevertheless ANOTHER PERSON who lived in him.

Jesus is Lord

The fullness of Christ is God’s goal. He wants each of us to have the fullness of His Son. But primary to this intention of God is that Jesus be our personal Lord. You cannot have the fullness of Christ unless Jesus is your personal Lord. Indeed, the fullness of Christ IS Jesus as Lord.

There is no such thing as Christianity in the Bible where the primary goal is not Jesus as personal Lord. If my Christianity doesn’t involve making Jesus my personal Lord, I am deceived. This is nothing but another way of saying I must be made true to God. The Truth is, Jesus is Lord of all. Thus, if I see and embrace that Truth, He will be my personal Lord. So the Truth will be something that has gotten inside of me and altered me in accordance with Christ. This is learning Christ.

Most of the time when we say that Jesus is Lord we don’t bring this down into life in a practical way. Instead, we keep Jesus up in heaven on His throne. But if CHRIST IS IN US, and God’s wants the FULLNESS OF CHRIST, then immediately we see that Jesus is supposed to be Lord IN US, and OVER US. WE are supposed to BE His throne. Indeed, if Jesus is not our personal Lord, we are missing the purpose of God.

Note the direct connection between Jesus as Lord, and the fullness of Christ. Jesus is Lord when we occupies ALL. He is my Lord when He is Lord over all aspects of my being, and of my outward life. In fact, it is absolutely correct to say that the FULLNESS OF CHRIST equals Jesus as Lord. Sure. If Christ is filling all things, He is certainly going to be Lord of all that He fills. He will not fill all things – or anything – on any other basis.

Jesus as Lord not only means that He has His full will in my life. But more importantly, it means that He has His full will IN ME. In other words, I become the will of God. I am an expression and extension of it. I realize that this sounds impossible. It is impossible for us to achieve. But if we don’t think God wants to achieve it, we have bought a lie of the enemy. If we don’t think God CAN achieve it, we are denying the Bible.

The entire purpose of God is that Jesus might fill all things AS LORD. Why is this not OUR purpose? Why is this NOT preached? Why are we focused on other things? Because we have been blinded and deceived. I submit that if God says that the fullness of Christ is His purpose in this age, and if this is not our purpose and passion, that we have bought into a lie.

God will not settle for anything less. He will not settle for less IN US. Christianity is Christ IN US. But the working of the Holy Spirit of God is to make the Christ Lord OF US. If having the fullness of Christ means nothing, it means to have the fullness of Jesus Christ as Lord.

There is a very simply principle here. The only way to truly possess the things of Christ is to come under Christ as personal Lord. But if we do that, then those, "things," are not ours to do with as we please. No. They are only given because we are first under Christ as Lord – meaning that God has already got us to the point where we want only HIS WILL.

There are people everywhere today who say that their ministry, or their possessions, are given to them by God. This is not necessarily so. In fact, some of these people like to point to what they have as proof that they are right with God. The only proof that something I have is FROM GOD is if Jesus is Lord over it – the proof is that my possessions do not possess me. Christ possesses me. God only gives to those who will not be harmed spiritually by what He gives.

Over and over again in the NT, we are told that all things are IN CHRIST. Most of the time, of course, this is speaking about spiritual blessings. In fact, we are warning against any suggestion that we can obtain the things of God – any God-ordained spiritual thing – outside of Christ. The epistle of Paul to the Colossians, especially chapter 2, shouts this loud and clear.

That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. (Col 2:2-4)

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (Col 2:8-10)

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the substance is of Christ. (Col 2:16-17)

It is a primary principle: You cannot have the THINGS of the kingdom unless you are ruled by the King – indeed, unless you EXPERIENCE Christ. Sure. The THINGS of God are IN CHRIST, and in order to possess them in the will of God, you have to come UNDER CHRIST. As we learn Christ, the things of God are UNFOLDED TO US – they are otherwise HID IN HIM.

Error on this one simple matter has been practiced over and over for two thousand years. People today continue to claim the promises of God, and try to take possession of the things of God – without realizing that you cannot do this apart from Christ taking possession OF YOU.

This is why so often God is silent to people. It isn’t that God won’t do some things for people here and there when it suits His purpose. But even Christian people make the mistake of seeking God for THINGS, instead of seeking Him for Christ – in whom are all things. Jesus said, "Seek you first the kingdom of God – which is Christ in us as Lord – and all these THINGS will be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33) But the fact is, we don’t believe Him. In fact, I don’t think most Christian people even know what Jesus was talking about. We have been blinded by false teaching.

God wants us to possess the FULLNESS of Christ. We actually receive the fullness of Christ when we receive Christ. But then we have to spend the rest of our lives having Christ unfolded and enlarged in us. As He is unfolded, and we embrace Him, all THINGS come along with the package. As I stated, it isn’t as if God won’t give people help, things, or provision along other lines – Jesus said He sometimes does. But God’s highest is that all things come into our experience as we experience the unfolding of the fullness of Christ.

Complete in Christ

How do we come to possess the fullness of Christ? Well, it starts with salvation. If we are saved, the reason we are saved is because LIFE HIMSELF has come to dwell in us. Christ in us IS salvation. But notice: If Christ is in us, then the fullness of Christ is in us -- because in Christ is the fullness of Christ. Sure. Where else would the fullness of Christ BE except in Christ Himself? Thus, if Christ is in us, then the fullness of Christ is in us, because He, Himself, is the fullness.

Note again that the FULLNESS OF CHRIST doesn’t consist of THINGS that we possess apart from Christ. No. The fullness of Christ is in Christ Himself – something that ought to be so obvious it need not be said. Yet Christians talk continually as if God wants to give us this or that THING – and rarely are these THINGS ever associated in the Christ in whom ARE all things.

Today millions do not believe that we are complete in Christ. They believe that a born again person is INCOMPLETE until they receive a second blessing – which they call the baptism with the Holy Spirit. No. The baptism with the Holy Spirit talked about in the Bible is when we are baptized INTO CHRIST – it is when we received the fullness of Christ at the new birth. There are not two Christian experiences. There is ONE. The damage done by these false doctrines is more than we can imagine. They take away from Jesus Christ as our very life. They dilute and redefine Christianity itself.

Christ is the fullness of God. In Christ is everything that God has to give to each one of us. We are wasting our time if we seek THINGS outside of Christ. We are in error if we are seeking a blessing from God of any kind as a THING or an EXPERIENCE apart from Christ. God has nothing outside of Christ to give – and yet in Christ He has given us ALL THINGS.

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