Filled in Christ
Home Church Service 9/25/2021
These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.
When my family and I meet for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. This message was designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points Paul is making. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!
For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
(Ephesians 1:15-23 NASB 95)
We return now to our series in Ephesians titled, Life Principles for the Christ Follower. This is our final message series for the year with included breaks for Thanksgiving and Advent celebrations. In our first message of the series, Called to Be, we learned we are called to be faithful saints living in grace and peace, yet set apart and faultless. God the Father has given us everything we need to be successful. In the second message of the series, we learned we are Sealed in Christ to receive forgiveness and wisdom, sealed by the Holy Spirit in praise and truth. We have been sealed to BE the praise of God the Father.
That brings us to the third message of the series, Filled in Christ. We are moving deeper into understanding our position in Christ as Christ followers. We have already been called, then we were sealed and now we are filled! This does not mean we are like your favorite jelly filled doughnut! No, the filling the Christ follower experiences turns life upside down for there is no greater power available to the Christ follower.
Paul prayed and gave thanks when he heard of faith in the Lord and love for the saints, asking God to give wisdom and revelation of Christ. He prayed for the saints to know the hope of their calling and the greatness of Christ’s power, the same power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of God. The saints are Filled in Christ who is above all authority, power and dominion – as the head of the church all things are in subjection under His feet.
We should pray and give thanks when we hear of faith in Christ and love for other Christ followers. We should ask the Father to give more understanding and the ability to know Jesus deeper, so that all Christ followers will live in faith through the many blessings God has given us in Christ. We are now Filled in Christ with the same power that brings the dead to life, for there is no person, kingdom or name above the name of Jesus.
In this message we seek to answer the question, “As Christ followers, what is the purpose of being Filled in Christ?”
As Christ followers, we are Filled in Christ because He is above all things – every person, kingdom and name.
1). As Christ followers we are Filled in Christ to have wisdom and understanding.
Wisdom and knowledge of Christ are the only way to understand the greatness of His power.
The first thing Paul mentions is faith evidenced by love for all the saints. This is foundational to our faith – faith in Christ must lead to love for all Christ followers, those who have been set apart to God. Paul gives thanks, continually, for this faith and love. Paul recognizes growth in this church – a faith that is growing, as well as a love that is growing. Paul intercedes for this church because he recognizes that this growth, along with all good gifts, comes from God the Father. This includes the growing faith and love of the church, as well as Paul’s own ministry. Our own growing faith and love also comes from God the Father and this growth is directly related to our time in prayer. It is impossible for hate, bitterness or anger to grow if you are praying for someone; it is impossible to stop love from growing when you are praying for someone; it is impossible for spiritual growth not to happen when you are praying. Prayer can complete the impossible mission.
Paul continues the prayer by asking God to “open the eyes of your heart,” that you are enlightened. In our first message we learned that we have been given “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” This is an action that has already been completed – we have those blessings at our disposal now. Paul, then, is praying that we might comprehend what God has already done for us in Christ – that we might fully understand the implications of the privileges we have already been given. These privileges include insight into the mystery of Christ Jesus; our growth into Christlikeness; our eternal salvation; and ruling with Christ in His millennial kingdom.
And yet Paul does not want his readers, then or now, to become complacent – we still have room to grow and understand more. So, Paul keeps praying and encouraging us to keep praying, that we might know the fullness of what He has done for us in Christ. Notice here that Paul directs his prayer to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ – the Father of glory. The name of God, when used in prayer generally highlights some aspect of His character, one that is especially appropriate to the request. In this case, God’s grace, power and glory are unlimited. He is able to meet all of our needs. Thus, the title focuses on the prayer request for knowledge, wisdom, hope, glory and power.
Like Paul, our prayer should be that we, and our brothers and sisters in Christ, might know more fully the hope of the calling, the riches of His inheritance and the surpassing greatness of Christ’s power. This means we too must ask the Father of glory for the spirit of wisdom and revelation to know Him better. Revelation has to do with the unveiling or a disclosure from God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit, while wisdom has to do with the will of God, thus we are asking the Father of glory that we might know Him better. Yes, I know this seems like a no-brainer, but consider this – when was the last time you asked God to know Him better and then listened to God speak and tell you how to know Him better? How did that work out for you? Did you wait for His answer and follow His instructions?
In addition to wisdom and knowledge of Christ, Paul includes an understanding of God’s calling and His inheritance in the saints. This calling is not your calling but the hope to which God has called you. This is an understanding of the significance of God choosing you and what He has called you to. It is the outcome that is the focus of our understanding. Our calling becomes effective when we respond to the gospel message preached in our lives. It is the great glory of God when He inherits His people that Paul points to – those have been set apart for God Himself.
These are the ones who belong to God – His own people. This includes those who first believed, Jewish men and women, who have been claimed as His portion, His inheritance. Also included in this group are Gentile believers, those who have been sealed by the Holy Spirit as a guaranteed portion which comes at our full and final redemption. This is the understanding Paul wants for us – to know and understand our value and standing before God in Christ Jesus. God has made us His own, we are part of His prized possession – His inheritance – and He redeems us completely at the second coming of Christ.
Questions for discussion/reflection:
Is your faith in Christ and love for all Christ followers evident for others to see?
How has God “opened the eyes of your heart” to know Him better and understand the blessings we have in Christ?
What characteristic of God is most evident to you today?
How does understanding you are part of God’s inheritance change and/or impact your faith in Christ?
As Christ followers, we are Filled in Christ because He is above all things – every person, kingdom and name.
2). As Christ followers we are Filled in Christ because He is the head of all things and fills all things – including the church.
All things have been placed in subjection under Christ – all authority, power and dominion.
What is this power that Paul speaks of? The power that raised Jesus from the dead. The Greek text actually says, “from among the dead ones.” That is to say that Jesus was not raised from a state of being dead but rather that He is the first stage of a future resurrection. Christ has been exalted to the highest possible position, first among the dead ones, then to all authority, power and dominion – thus showing the importance of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The center of life’s gravity is not fixed on the earthly, but rather it is in the heavenly realm with Christ and God the Father.
The supreme display of this power took place in God’s raising Jesus from the dead and exalting Him to His right hand in heaven – the place of power and authority – above all others. By this power God raised Jesus from the dead. By this power God has changed the life of those who believe and have been raised and seated with Christ. The exaltation of Christ is a mighty act of God to place Christ in a position of honor and universal authority – He is above all things.
Paul uses five terms or categories for power – rule, authority, power, dominion and name. This is a stacking of terms to show the supremacy of Christ and His total victory over all of them. Whatever power may exist, whether real or imagined, human or nonhuman, they are all subject to Christ. Christ is above all things and fills all things, He alone is in control – not some foreign power. All other powers are subject to Christ Jesus. This means your horoscope is null and void; astrology has no power or meaning for your life; physics, tarot card readers and all other mediums are false teachers seeking to lead you astray. There is NO power above the power of Jesus Christ!!
The power that God uses to work in the lives of Christ followers is the same power He used to raise Jesus from the dead! This same power has placed Christ at the right hand of God meaning that Jesus now as the full authority of the Father. This means the center of all things has shifted from earth to the heavenly realm where Christ is now seated. The hierarchy – the chain of command – for authority, including death, is now under subjection, under the control, of Christ Jesus. This power has also hidden the life of Christ followers in Christ, seated in the heavenly places.
With all things in subjection and placed under His feet, Jesus becomes the head of all things. This includes the created universe, power and authority and the church. Far too many in the church today believe the people are in control of the church and yet God has placed His authority there through the pastor called to serve in the church. There is a reason Paul says SOME were given as pastors and James warns us not many should become teachers. There is a higher standard and level of accountability for those placed in such positions by God. We cannot lose sight of the fact that Jesus Christ is the head of all things – including the church. He alone is in control over His church.
Because Christ is the head of all things, He is also the One who fills all things. He fills all things in creation, on earth and in heaven; He fills all things in the angelic realm; He fills all things through His sovereign rule; He holds all things together to function properly and He give strength and grace to His people – the church. It is sad to see that the church today has lost sight of its position in Christ – a position of privilege and power, a position, not of earthly privilege and power but a position of heavenly privilege and power. We must remember that Christ is the head of the church, He controls and fills His church and it individual members.
Questions for discussion/reflection:
How do you sense the power, authority and kingship of Jesus in your life?
How is your life hidden in Christ?
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead works in us – how does this change and/or impact your perception of the power you have in Christ?
We began our study of Ephesians in the message Called to Be where we learned we are called to be faithful saints living in grace and peace yet set apart and faultless. In our second message we learned we have been Sealed in Christ to receive forgiveness and wisdom, sealed in praise and truth by the Holy Spirit.
Today we learned we are Filled in Christ to receive wisdom and revelation to better know our heavenly Father. We have, within us, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, making Him the Head of all things – including the church.
Where does this leave us as Christ followers? First, our concern for other Christ followers must be bigger than our local church or the city in which we live. We must have a worldwide concern for all Christ followers. Right now, there are Christ followers being killed every day by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Their struggle is to simply stay alive for another day. Our love cannot be limited to Christ followers we know or because we met them at a community event. We must have a concern for all Christ followers.
Which brings me to the second point we must remember – because we have a worldwide concern for others but especially Christ followers – we must be a praying community. This world belongs to God – the people of this world have been bought at a great price, the blood of Christ Jesus. We must be praying for others – especially Christ followers – on a regular basis as evidence of a faith and love that is growing.
Finally, we must be a community of power. There is power in our prayers – individually and especially corporately. We must use this power to demonstrate a growing faith and love and to acknowledge we serve the same God as other Christ followers around the world. But we must remember the power at work in us is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Ours is not an earthly power but a power from on high, a power that is above all things and fills all things – including THIS and every other church throughout the world.
We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord,
Amen and Amen.