Great Texts of the Bible
Complete in Christ
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and in him ye are made full.—Colossians 2:9-10.
In the previous part of this far-reaching letter the Apostle had been exalting the Christ, who, he declared, was the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. He was no mere child of man—no mere hero of the race or wise member of the common family. He was all this, it is true; but He was far more, and the superhuman element of His nature was the differentiating peculiarity of His unique personality. If He had been only the greatest man, there might yet be a greater, before whose throne Christ Himself would require to bow. If He had been an angel—one of the hierarchies of heaven,—there might, in the future, be a greater, to whom the Christ of Paul would require to give place. But the One whom the Apostle set forth was more than man, more than cherubim or seraphim. He could be loved with a perfect love; obeyed with full and constant obedience; worshipped with the whole spirit. Such service rendered to Him would be a reasonable service in harmony with what is right and becoming. From this position the Colossians were not to depart, or allow themselves to be driven, for, says the Apostle, “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” adding by way of practical application the important truth, “and ye are complete in him,” or as the Revised Version has it, “in him ye are made full,” that is, completed, made perfect—He is the complement of your being.
The later Jewish theologians had laid much stress upon the delivery of the Sinaitic Law through the agency of angels acting as delegates for the Most High God. The Author of Christianity might be superior to Moses and the prophets, but could He challenge comparison with those pure and mighty spirits compared with whom the greatest of the sons of Israel, as beings of flesh and blood, were insignificant and sinful? The answer is, that if Christ is not the peer of the angels, this is because He is their Lord and Master. The angels are ministers of the Divine will; they are engaged in stated services enjoined on them towards creatures lower than themselves, yet redeemed by Christ. But He, in His glory above the heavens, is invested with attributes to which the highest angel could never pretend. In His crucified but now enthroned Humanity, He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high; He is seated there, as being Heir of all things; the angels themselves are but a portion of His vast inheritance.1 [Note: H. P. Liddon, Bampton Lectures, 321.]
The word “fulness” means that which is filled, made perfect, made complete. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof,” that is to say, all that the earth contains is the Lord’s. And the meaning of the text is that all the natural, the moral attributes or qualities of the Eternal God are in the person under consideration. If any one attribute or quality were omitted, any one element of His being were left out, it would be impossible for inspiration to say that “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”2 [Note: D. D. McLaurin.]
The year 1899, which proved so sadly eventful, opened for Berry and his people with some degree of confidence and hope. In a letter written to the Christian World, dated January 3rd, he thanked his friends for countless kindly messages he had received, and “for the light they shed upon many dark hours, and the courage they inspired when pain brought peril and hope was dim.” He had gained strength since his return home, and was able to preach once on each of the five Sundays in January. His second sermon was on “Completeness in Christ,” Colossians 2:10, and dealt with the reality, the closeness, the richness of the believer’s union with Christ. “We are more than followers, learners, friends; we are bound to Him in a more than natural relation, one that is vital, organic, dependent, and derivative, and that ‘more’ is expressed by the phrase ‘In Christ.’ All that is His is ours and ours His. His our sin, our penitence, our fears, our weakness, our hope. Ours His death, His resurrection, His reign, His dominion.”3 [Note: J. S. Drummond, Charles A. Berry, D.D., 203.]
A heresy, a subtle, poisonous, destructive heresy was invading the fold of that little Church. The heresy was this. Matter is essentially and inherently evil. Flesh is inherently and essentially evil. It is the natural home of evil. God is essentially, inherently holy, and between the essentially, inherently holy God and the inherently and essentially evil flesh there can be no communion. That was the beginning of the heresy. Then this question was propounded: How, then, can the essentially holy God come into contact with essentially evil man? And here is what the heresy devised—that out of the holy Deity there emanated a presence with holiness slightly diluted, and out of the second emanation there came a third, with the holiness again further diluted, and so on, from emanation to emanation, in ever-decreasing holiness, with ever-increasing impoverishment of Divinity, until the last emanation you come to is one slightly better than evil man himself, and those two can touch and hold fellowship and communion. That is to say, that between God and essentially evil matter there had been constructed a bridge, with decreasing gradients of Divinity, each one less Divine than the one behind it, until there comes one in the distant chain who is so little better than ourselves that we can touch and have communion and fellowship.
What was the effect of that heresy upon the little Church? That little Church of Colossæ began to think that God was infinitely remote because of His holiness; that between them there was a perfect hierarchy of beings through whom they had to communicate if they wanted to get to Him—first to the one nearest, and through him to the next, and through him to the next, and on in the ascending scale until, in the far, far, almost infinite distance they touched God. That was the heresy invading that little Church and destroying its Christian faith. What was the result? There were two theological results. First, it certainly destroyed the sovereign lordship and ascendancy of Jesus. Whatever else we can say about Jesus, He was the One that touched. He touched the Magdalene, and worse than the Magdalene. He touched Zacchæus, and He touched the leper. He touched; but by this heresy it was the last link in the chain that touched. It was the one whose deity was most diluted. It was the last link. It was the One nearest unto ourselves who came to save. I say that destroys the lordship of Jesus; I say that, if that heresy were true, then between the Lord Jesus and the throne there were a thousand lords and sovereigns higher than He. He was unthroned, and became a little better than you and I. Our Lord Jesus, by this theory, was on the next step of the ladder, and between Him and the highest there was an infinitely remote scale of beings more Divine than He. But it not only destroys the lordship of Jesus, it destroys the supreme mediatorship of Christ. If between us and God there is a long chain of intermediate beings, then His mediatorship is destroyed, and I do not wonder that men began to worship angels. If I thought my Lord was only at the next step of the gradient from me, and beyond there were angels, and principalities and powers, I should want to be at them, and should want to pray to them, and their influence I should seek to discover. A heresy like that dethrones the Son of God. As for the ethical results, they are quite as clear and quite as sure and quite as dangerous. The extraordinary thing is that in this little Christian Church the men who were victimized by its heresy chose two absolutely different ways. One party said: “If flesh is essentially evil, if the evil is native to flesh, then in evil there is no shame; if that is its natural home, let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” And so they rushed into licentiousness. There was another party who said: “If flesh is essentially evil, spurn it, maul it, bruise it, spit upon it, refuse it ordinary decencies; decline to wash it, withhold ordinary courtesy, stamp on it.” That was what Paul was facing when he said: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.”
What did Paul say of Jesus in the light of that heresy? “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Here is no dilution of God, no impoverished remnant. Here is no washed-out Divinity. “In him dwelleth all the fulness.” Does that not play havoc with the heresy?1 [Note: J. H. Jowett, in The British Weekly, April 6, 1911, p. 4.]
1. All the fulness of God is in Christ. Our Lord is not a mere emanation of God; not a mere flash of light, but its very brightness; not a mere tone of the truth, but the veritable Word. “All the fulness of the Godhead,” that is, the whole unbounded powers and attributes of Deity, the term used being the abstract term Godhead, instead of the more usual term God, in order to express with the utmost force the thought of the indwelling in Christ of the whole essence and nature of God. “Bodily”—that points to the Incarnation, and so is an advance upon the passage in the former chapter (Colossians 2:19), which speaks of the “fulness” dwelling in the Eternal Word, whereas this speaks of the Eternal Word in whom the fulness dwelt, becoming flesh. So we are directed to the glorified corporeal humanity of Jesus Christ in His exaltation as the abode, now and ever, of all the fulness of the Divine nature, which is thereby brought very near to us. This grand truth seems to Paul to shiver to pieces all the dreams of these teachers about angel mediators, and to brand as folly every attempt to learn truth and God anywhere but in Him.
It is not simply that in Jesus, the founder of Christianity, there suddenly appeared in Palestine a fuller exhibition than elsewhere in history of qualities which we count in a vague sense Divine—of spiritual insight, of moral purity and philanthropy and love. So much, at least, will every modern thinker grant; but it is that in Him was then, and in Him is now, though now unseen, very God, in actual, vital union with this fallen manhood, rich with the plenitude of infinite grace and power, a fresh, living centre and head of re-creative influence for men, able to make all human things new. This, and no less, is what we believe and teach; this, and no less, is what I venture to think the world wants; for short of this Divine mystery and miracle of the God-Man reuniting man to Godhead by the life of love and righteousness, giving Himself for us and to us, and so from Himself, as the spiritual head and centre of mankind, remaking both manhood and mankind—I say, apart from that and short of that, I know not where to look for a gospel, a veritable “good news” for this stricken earth, a “glad tidings of great joy” to all people.1 [Note: J. Oswald Dykes.]
2. All the fulness of God was incarnate in Christ’s humanity. It dwelt in Him “bodily.” The purity, righteousness, wisdom, compassion, love, of God were gathered up in that human life. He was Immanuel—God with us. False teachers, imagining that matter was essentially evil, could not brook the thought of the Divine Redeemer linking Himself for ever with a human body, and they either denied the reality of His body, or its inseparable connexion with Him for ever. Paul says the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Christ in a bodily way. “The Word was made flesh.” Some have thought to make this fact seem impossible by absurd representations, which go on the assumption that an infinite God cannot enter a finite being without ceasing to be infinite. How He can do so we cannot understand. This is not a subject which admits of being rationalized. But dogmatic objectors may be reminded that it is their teaching which sets a limit to the infinite by proclaiming its inability to enter fully a finite being. Does not the infinity of God involve, not the distribution of innumerable parts through all space, but His presence wholly in every region of the universe? Why, then, cannot He manifest His presence in a peculiar way in one being? Moreover, if God, who is always infinite, can dwell in man at all, that fact is a mystery which seems to foreshadow the greater mystery of His full dwelling in Christ. The humanity of Christ is real and pure and perfect humanity, and God who dwells in Him is still perfect God. This is very different from the metamorphosis of a God into a man that is described in heathen mythologies. It is to be practically learnt from this Christian mystery that God is now very near to us in a brother man; that we can be raised to God and become one with Christ and God through Christ’s oneness with us and God.
The Incarnate Logos is human; for how could He in whom men are constituted be other than human? But He was not and is not a man. He is the constitutor of man, entering into a new relation to that which He had constituted like Himself, in order that, instead of losing its likeness to and vital union with Himself, and thereby its very existence, through sin, it might throw off sin, and resume the character it had borne and re-enter on the development for which it was intended. He could not have discharged this function had He and humanity not been essentially akin; it would have been equally impossible for Him to discharge the function had He been a man. He was the Divine Logos, self-limited; and as such doubly akin to, though not one with or of, humanity—self-limited in order to save that which had its life through, and was, in a very real sense, part of Himself.1 [Note: D. W. Simon, Reconciliation by Incarnation.]
3. All the fulness of God is permanent in Christ. “In him dwelleth.” The word “dwelleth “means more than a temporary sojourn. It means to live as in a house abidingly. To a Christian there is nothing more delightful than the thought that the Son of God, the Eternal, now dwells in the bodily manifestation which He took with Him to glory. We shall see Him, we shall know Him, for He is the God now dwelling in the body.
The most deeply affectionate natures are limited in heart power. Their love will languish under shock and cool in frigid atmospheres. In Christ love’s fulness dwells. His compassions fail not. The drain upon His sympathies in the days of His flesh was continuous and tremendous. The world to Him was as the daughter of the horse-leech crying “Give, give!” Yet it was ever met by a full response. Even that awful frost which descended on Calvary, when the treachery of one disciple and the desertion of others, coupled with the mockings of enemies, drove the temperature about Him down to arctic depths; when even the gates of heaven seemed to close against Him and He was left for one terrible space uncomforted of God, the fountain of His grace stood at the full. It still pulsed on undiminished. No drain could lower it, no frost could seal it. Whilst His enemies mocked His agonies He could pray, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” With the heavens black and seemingly pitiless above Him, He could cry with loving confidence and filial submissiveness, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” Under every circumstance we find Him a fountain “full of grace and truth.”1 [Note: J. D. Freeman, Concerning the Christ, 197.]
It is a person, not a dogma, which invites my faith; a person, not a code, which asks for obedience. Jesus stands in the way of every selfishness; He leads in the path of every sacrifice; He is crucified in every act of sin; He is glorified in every act of holiness. St. Stephen, as he suffered for the Gospel, saw the heavens open and Jesus standing to receive him. St. Peter, fleeing in a second panic from Rome, meets Jesus returning to be crucified in his place. Conscience and heart are settled on Jesus, and one feels within one’s soul the tides of His virtue. It is not the doctrines or the ethics of Christianity that are its irresistible attraction. Its doctrines have often been a stumbling-block, and its ethics excel only in degree. The life-blood of Christianity is Christ.2 [Note: John Watson, The Mind of the Master.]
“In him ye are made full.”
1. Apart from Christ we are empty, incomplete.—All men are in themselves imperfect, incomplete, mere fragments as human beings and moral creatures.
Man’s life on earth is incomplete because it contains an explicit contradiction between his conception of what he is and of what he ought to be. His distinctive mark is the possession of an ideal in the light of which he can always condemn his actual condition. The disparity between actual and ideal is never removed on earth, since, however steadily the man advances, his ideal continually recedes before him; and in this he may esteem himself fortunate, since otherwise there would be no more reason for predicating immortality of him than there is for predicating it of the beasts which perish.1 [Note: A. C. Pigou, Browning as a Religious Teacher, 56.]
Man feels capacities within him that ask an eternity for bloom and fruitage. There is in nature something that sends him in yearning search beyond and above nature.
That type of perfect in his mind
In nature can he nowhere find,
He sows himself on every wind.
In the entire universe, as revealed to man by his senses, there is nothing perfect; and the central impulse in all man’s noblest striving is derived from the aspiration of his spirit towards a perfect truth, a perfect beauty, a perfect happiness, which are exemplified nowhere in the world. Art, religion, and the impetuous career of the race towards a higher grade of civilization, depend alike upon the universal imperfection of the material world and the impossibility that a God-related spirit, which man is, should be contented therewith.2 [Note: P. Bayne, Lessons from my Masters, 284.]
The half moon shows a face of plaintive sweetness
Ready and poised to wax or wane;
A fire of pale desire in incompleteness,
Tending to pleasure or to pain:—
Lo, while we gaze, she rolleth on in fleetness
To perfect loss or perfect gain.
Half bitterness we know, we know half sweetness;
This world is all on wax, on wane:
When shall completeness round time’s incompleteness,
Fulfilling joy, fulfilling pain?
Lo, while we ask, life rolleth on in fleetness
To finished loss or finished gain.3 [Note: Christina G. Rossetti, Poems, 198.]
2. Christ’s fulness is sufficient for us.—“In him ye are made full.” He is our reservoir; He is our well-spring; He is our infinite resource. It is a gracious, beautiful, heartening word, this word “fulness.” It is as though our life were all gaps, defects, deficiencies, and the gaps in the shore of human need were as many as human kind, and of multiplex variety, and our Lord were an ocean of tidal fulness flowing up in all His fulness to the shore of human need, till every bay and cove and cranny and crevice is filled. Every man’s gap is filled in Jesus. Wherever there is a crevice or a chink, or a bay in human need, the Lord fills it. Everybody finds his peace in Jesus.
He enters the soul to fill out every lack, and every secret fault, knowing it all through with a most subtle and perfect knowledge. He communicates, inbreathes, sheds abroad Himself, configuring it inwardly to all that is most perfect in Himself. He does it by a working in the nature of inspiration, not putting the will on forming this or that particular trait for itself, but by flooding and floating it on towards this or that, by His own Divine motion, turning its very liberty towards all it wants and needs to receive. These inspirations are to be currents running exactly where it requires to be carried, and it is just as if every ship in the sea were to have a Gulf Stream given specially to it, running the exact course of its voyage, and drifting it on to its port. The inspirations are all perfect, they are adequate, exact and steady, so that no completest issue may be missed.
For fifteen years it has been my glory to proclaim it with increasing conviction and with a deepening and growing experience. I have never yet in all my life found a single spiritual need that I could not find redressed and filled in Christ. I don’t wonder that Hugh Price Hughes said to his wife, “Put on my grave-stone, ‘Thou, O Christ, art all I want.’ ”1 [Note: J. H. Jowett, in The British Weekly, April 6, 1911, p. 4.]
On New Year’s Day 1905 came the sudden death of Henry Thompson, vicar of St. Mary’s, Oxford, and sometime Warden of Radley. He and the Bishop had been brothers-in-law since 1877. To his sister, the Bishop thus wrote from Mortehoe, on January 2: “He is spared suffering, and weariness, and old age; and you, in your great love for him, will think much of this, that he is spared the trial of loneliness; and though it falls on you, you will bear it as for him, since one or other must have borne it. And through it all you will thank God, not only for those hidden purposes of mercy of which our knowledge of His love may make us sure in all things:—but also for those clear fruits of His bounty which cannot ever be missed or forgotten: for the character, the heart, the goodness that His grace, wrought in Henry:—for the wonderful happiness of so many years:—for the helpfulness and dutifulness and promise of all your sons. And as you thank God for all these blessings,—and even when your heart fails,—He will help you in your trial and sorrow and weariness—I am very unworthy to speak at all of His help—but indeed I am very sure of its sufficiency: there is nothing lacking, on His side.1 [Note: Francis Paget, Bishop of Oxford, 220.]
What mortal mind can apprehend the sufficiency of the outgoings of the eternal? Who understands the sufficiency of the sea? Who knows its multitudinous life? How vast and wonderful it is! Who knows the richness of the earth, the mother and nurse of all the seeds, the parent and cradle of all growths? Have you never been astonished at the wonderful richness of the earth? How, year after year, without failure, she yields through her bosom the wonderful growths that delight the world and that feed the world. Who knows the sufficiency of the orbs that make the day and that braid their glory into the robes of night? Who knows the overflowing of the clouds, the springs that never fail, the streams that never run dry, the rivers that flow on in their majestic current century after century, millennium after millennium, carrying forward without cessation or break their mighty tide? Yet these are only a few among the creatures of God, and the creatures that we can apprehend with our capacity. If this, then, be true of these creatures of God, what must we say of the Maker of them all?2 [Note: D. D. McLaurin.]
Just as a river that runs in a full clear current through the heart of a city yields an unfailing supply of water to each of its dwellings, and fills a vessel which a child may dip into its stream, because it gushes from its rocky cleft high up near the mountain peak where the rain-clouds gather and drip, or the perpetual snows distil their ice-cold dews into its basin; so in like manner the grace that is in Christ, the fulness of the Godhead, flows into and fills up all the emptiness of the human soul. Man till he has come to God is an infinite want—Christ is an infinite resource and fulfilment for that want. Man is fallen—Christ lifts him up; he is fettered—Christ sets him free; he is guilty—Christ is righteousness; he is ignorant—Christ is wisdom; he is powerless—Christ is strength. And after he has come to God, his earthly life is full of yearning and striving, of lofty reach and heavenward endeavour, the powers of an immortal nature unfolding within him and seeking their true sphere of exercise, its affections climbing upwards and seeking their true centre of rest. For all upward longings and pure aspirations there is satisfaction in Christ. In him all noble powers find full employment, all holy affections complete repose. Man’s weak, imperfect, sinful nature, conscious of its fall and seeking to rise to God again, finds in Christ all needful resources for raising it up and guiding it onwards to holiness and glory. In the second Adam the whole family of the redeemed stand faultless before God, perfect and entire, wanting nothing. They are “complete in Him.”1 [Note: J. Hamilton Memoir and Remains of the Rev. James D. Burns, M. A., 363.]
He bore the sin!
Alone He bore the load;
For us He drank the cup,—
Jesus, the Son of God.
He bore the sin!
He paid the debt!
He paid it with His blood;
Each claim He satisfied,—
All that we owe to God.
He paid the debt!
He made the peace!
He silences each fear;
He is Himself the peace,
By blood He brings us near.
He made the peace!
He did the work!
The law He magnified;
Our lifetime’s failure He
Hath gloriously supplied.
He did the work!
The foe He fought!
Our foe and His He slew;
He leads us in the war,
Almighty to subdue.
The foe He fought!
He won the life!
Life by His death He won;
That life He giveth us,
The glory and the crown.
He won the life!1 [Note: Horatius Bonar.]
(1) We are made full in Him as the Revealer of Divine truth. This is one aspect of the fulness upon which the sacred writer dwells. The Church at Colossæ was in danger from heretical teaching, and their refuge from that danger was in the fulness of Christ. Their reply to all the wild speculations of the mysticism around them was found here. “We are complete in him.” “In him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden.” “This I say, that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech.” He exhorted them to “take heed lest any one should make spoil of them through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ; for in him dwelleth all the fulness.”
Ancient mariners sailed by the light of the stars; from the stormy bosom of the ocean they looked to the distant heavens for direction; while the firmament was clear they were safe, but when clouds intervened dangers beset their path. So, taking the words of the Lord Jesus for your guidance, you shall cross the sea of life in safety and reach the heavenly shore; but if you allow human philosophy, science, or tradition, if you permit priesthoods, ceremonies, or sacraments to come between your mind and the light of His teaching, your course must be perilous, and your progress uncertain, for He, and He only, is “the way, the truth, and the life.”2 [Note: T. Jones, The Divine Order, 30.]
(2) The chasm between man and God has been bridged over in Him. If we descend at times to the darkest depths, He anticipates us there; He weighs every sigh; He interprets every tear; He helps every desire Godward in its upward flight—and if in our more jubilant and ecstatic moments we cherish bright visions of future bliss and glory, He still anticipates us there, saying, “Come up hither.” The ladder of mediation is complete; there are no gaps left. Every rung is there in our ascent to God. The veil of the Temple has been rent in twain; the way to the Holiest is opened wide for the mitred dignitary and for the most obscure of Christ’s brethren as well. And in our approach to God we are made full in Him.
Pilate, when he set Christ before the crowd which surrounded his palace on that dread day, cried out Ecce Homo, Behold the man! This might be echoed round all the world—“Behold the Man!—the true Man, the One we should ever aim to be like, and whose perfection becomes ours by faith in His holy Name.” He is the Mediator of the New Covenant that stands between God and man. Faith in Him contains the germ of the new life, and the new love required. It is only a germ—a small thing, it is true—but Christ will make it grow till it becomes like His own. When we live in this spirit we shall come to understand the words of the Apostle, “Ye are complete in him.”1 [Note: W. Adamson.]
(3) We are made full in Him as regards our Christian character. Christianity is not the perfect religion in the sense of being revealed as a finished, rounded, symmetrical whole. It is not perfect in the sense of a closed circle, or a plastic form, which can be altered in nothing without being spoiled. It is not a perfection of proportion, of harmony, of symmetry. That is the Greek, pagan idea of perfection; whereas in Christianity we enter the perfect life maimed. The pagan idea of perfection is balance, or harmony of parts with each other. It is self-contained and self-poised. The Christian idea is faith, or harmony of relations with the will of God. It is self-devoted, complete in Him; the perfection not of finish but of faith. It is perfect, not because it presents us with perfection, but because it puts us in a perfect attitude to perfection.
Christian perfection is something which we are put in the perfect way to realize, in the sense that we realize a living, moving ideal of character and life. It is not something with which we are presented; it is not even something we are to believe; but it is something into which we are redeemed. The perfection of Christianity is not even in the ideal of perfection it offers, but in the power of perfection it implants; not in its ideal of a Son of God, but in the power it gives, with the Son of God, to become sons of God by believing in His name.
From every fresh manifestation of our self-incompleteness, we may retreat under cover to this gracious assurance, “Ye are complete in him.” We may sink into Christ when we cannot rise to Him. And thus we shall be made strong and victorious through apparent defeat, as again and again—
The steps of Faith
Fall on the seeming void and find
The rock beneath.1 [Note: A. J. Gordon, In Christ, 118.]
Dear Lord, it is better that I
Should go through the world with one eye,
If Thou, Light and Guide, be but nigh.
It is better, O Saviour divine,
To lose this right hand of mine,
If Thou hold but the other in Thine.
Thou only canst make me complete;
And to limp by Thy side were more sweet,
Than walking alone on both feet.2 [Note: J. A. Torrey.]
3. We must be in vital connexion with Christ, if we are to be filled with His fulness. The Apostle goes on “and in him ye are made full,” which sets forth two things as true in the inward life of Christians, namely, their living incorporation in and union with Christ, and their consequent participation in His fulness. Every one of us may enter into that most real and close union with Jesus Christ by the power of continuous faith in Him. So may we be grafted into the Vine, and builded into the Rock. If thus we keep our hearts in contact with His heart, and let Him lay His lip on our lips, He will breathe into us the breath of His own life, and we shall live because He lives, and in our measure, as He lives. All the fulness of God is in Him, that from Him it may pass into us. We might start back from such bold words if we did not remember that the same Apostle who here tells us that the fulness dwells in Jesus, crowns his wonderful prayer for the Ephesian Christians with that daring petition, “that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God.” The treasure was lodged in the earthen vessel of Christ’s manhood that it might be within our reach. According to our need it will shape itself, being to each what the moment most requires—wisdom, or strength, or beauty, or courage, or patience. Out of it will come whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, as Rabbinical legends tell us that the manna tasted to each man like the food he wished for most.
An aspiration is a joy for ever, a possession as solid as a landed estate, a fortune which we can never exhaust, and which gives us year by year a revenue of pleasurable activity. To have many of these is to be spiritually rich.1 [Note: R. L. Stevenson, El Dorado.]
Oh, Bearer of the key
That shuts and opens with a sound so sweet
Its turning in the wards is melody,
All things we move among are incomplete
And vain until we fashion them in Thee!2 [Note: Dora Greenwell, The Reconciler.]
What religion desires is not a truncated piece of a man, but a whole man, healthy, happy, natural, and free. Religion is not a January thaw of sentimentalism, but a clear, vigorous, frosty morning, which stirs one’s energy and steadies one’s nerves. Religion means not less life but more life, not subtraction of power but multiplication of power, not emptiness but fulness. I remember hearing it said of Phillips Brooks that he seldom preached a sermon without using in it the word “richness,” and it was certainly a word most characteristic of him. Life to that great prophet was ineffably rich, and to realize and share the richness of experience, to accept the rich privilege of life with a chaste body, an alert mind, a sensitive imagination, and a steady will,—that was but to repeat the great promise of this passage, “Ye are complete in him.”3 [Note: F. G. Peabody, Mornings in the College Chapel, 2nd Ser., 159.]
Surely He cometh, and a thousand voices
Call to the saints and to the deaf are dumb;
Surely He cometh, and the earth rejoices
Glad in His coming who hath sworn, I come.
This hath He done, and shall we not adore Him?
This shall He do, and can we still despair?
Come, let us quickly fling ourselves before Him,
Cast at His feet the burthen of our care.
Flash from our eyes the glow of our thanksgiving,
Glad and regretful, confident and calm,
Then thro’ all life and what is after living
Thrill to the tireless music of a psalm.
Yea, thro’ life, death, thro’ sorrow and thro’ sinning
He shall suffice me, for He hath sufficed:
Christ is the end, for Christ was the beginning,
Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ.1 [Note: F. W. H. Myers, Saint Paul.]
Complete in Christ
Burns (J. D.), Memoir and Remains, 363.
Burrell (D. J.), The Unaccountable Man, 302.
Bushnell (H.), Sermons on Living Subjects, 96.
Forsyth (P. T.), Christian Perfection, 51.
Jones (T.), The Divine Order, 29.
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