Sermons by Marlin Harless

HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH

"AND YE ARE COMPLETE IN HIM"
(COLOSSIANS 1:19; 2:9, 10)
By Marlin L. Harless

INTRODUCTION: In due consideration of the first text, it being parenthetical to the second, we are taught how it was, and, indeed is, that the Son pleased the Father! After His resurrection from the dead, Jesus said to His disciples: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in and earth" (Matthew 28:18). John said: "And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Paul says: "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9). From these passages it is evident that God committed all authority to His Son Jesus Christ in redemption and the salvation of the world"(Matthew 28:18-20). 1

(Colossians 2: 9, 10)---Christ the Fullness of the Godhead, and our relationship to Him. "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality power." The apostle is here condemning one of the false principles that underlay the teaching of the Gnostics---the substitution of angelic mediators for Christ.

I. CHRIST'S TRUE DEITY AND TRUE HUMANITY. 1. He is no mere emanation from the supreme God, but "all the fullness of the Godhead." All of the infinite perfections of the essential being of God are in him. The Gnostics taught that the fullness of the Godhead was distributed among many spiritual agencies. The apostle teaches that it is in Christ as the eternal word. "The word was with God, and the word was God." (John 1:1b). 2. This fullness "dwells" in him now and for ever. It is a blessedly abiding fact. It is a permanent indwelling. 3. It dwells "bodily;" that is, with a bodily manifestation. The false teachers, imagining that matter was essentially evil, could brook the thought of the Divine Redeemer linking Himself forever with a human body, and they, after Docetic theory, either denied the reality of His body or its inseparable connection with Him forever. But "The Word was made flesh…" (John 1:14), and "Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God, . . . is that spirit of antichrist" (1 John 4:3b). 2

II. THE FULL DIVINITY OF CHRIST. The Gnostic error which Paul seems to be opposing was twofold. It denied that all the fullness of the Godhead resided in Christ, teaching that, while the highest effluence of that fullness was in Him, other effluences which completed it were distributed through the angels, in descending gradations of being. At the same time in abhorrence of matter, it refused to believe that so much divinity as it allowed to Christ could dwell in a human earthly body, and, accordingly, it favored the absurd idea that what men saw of Christ was a phantom appearance, not a real man. In reply to this twofold error, Paul teaches that all the fullness of the Godhead is in Christ. Therefore, and that this dwells in Him bodily.

CHRIST IS FULLY DIVINE. The fullness of the Godhead is in Christ. Wherein this fullness consists is an infinite mystery. We must be omniscient to measure and sound its contents. But we see glimpses of parts of it, rays of divinity breaking out here and there. And all that we see is in Christ. There is no known characteristic of divinity which is not ascribed to Christ in the New Testament, from creation, "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities or powers: all things were created by him, and for him"(Colossians 1:16), to judgment "And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead, and the final restitution of all things. 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" (Acts 10:42, 3:21;Ephesians 1:10).

1. In this fact is the essential difference between the divinity of Christ and God's dwelling in the temple of the heart of Christians. In men He dwells partially. They can hold but a small part of God's nature, and they do not give up the whole of their nature for that. Christ is wholly filled with the whole of God! 2. This fact helps us to escape from the idea of two or three Gods. It is the one intimate God who works in creation, and rules in heaven, and pleads with our spirits, and dwells fully in Christ! Is perfectly Divine, because the one God dwells perfectly in Him. Thus when we worship God and Christ we are worshipping two Persons, but still One God in Christ! Therefore, also, all that we see and know of Christ is so much revelation of God! To be in sympathy with Christ is to be reconciled to God!!

GOD IS INCARNATE IN CHRIST. The fullness 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 that 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 presence of Him 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 greatest 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 (1) that God is now very near to us in a brother man; (2) that we can be raised to God and become one with Christ and God through Christ's oneness with us and God, "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me" (John 17:23). 3

III. OUR RELATIONSHIP TO THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST. "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power" (Colossians 2:10). 1. Christian life is union with Christ. (1) We can obtain nothing from Christ till we are in Christ "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). "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" (1 John 5:11), "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world…" (Ephesians 1:4). (2) We cannot, therefore, look for life from subordinate mediators. 2. Christian life is the enjoyment of His fullness. (1) "And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16). His fullness is not finite, but infinite. There can never, therefore, be lack of supply. (2) It ought to be our prayer to receive more largely of this fullness. The apostle prays for the Ephesians that they might be "filled with all the fullness of God," and "unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 3:19; 4:13c). (3) To share in this fullness is no privilege of an esoteric few, but is that of all who are united to Christ by faith, {and obedience, emphasis, mine, (MLH)}.

IV. THE EXPLANATION OF THIS RELATIONSHIP OF CHRIST'S FULLNESS TO OUR FULLNESS. "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." Why? "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell" (Colosians 2:10; 1:19). {Paul uses the word, Greek "PLEROO," to fill (in the Passive Voice, to be made full), is translated "complete" in the A.V. of (Colossians 2:10), "made full;" cp. V. 9; The Greek word "PLEROMA" stands for the result of the action expressed in "PLEROO," to fill. Compare (Colossians 1:19). The Expanded Vines, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, pages 212 & 466, emphasis, mine, (MLH)}. He is more than Sovereign over the powers. He is the Source of their life and activity. This headship over angels is asserted elsewhere ( Hebrews 1:4-14). Angels are not, therefore, mediators for man, displacing "…the one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5). They are but fellow-servants under the same Head! (Revelation 22:8, 9). Therefore we do not seek our fullness in them, but in our Head! 4

V. (Colossians 2:10)---The fullness of humanity. 1. WHEREIN THE FULLNES OF HUMANITY CONSISTS. Paul has been writing of the fullness of the Godhead. He now turns his thoughts to our poor, naked, hungry humanity, and he shows how there is a completion and a satisfaction that may be called our fullness or "completeness," in some way corresponding to the fullness of God. 1. The full satisfaction of our wants, {rather, 'needs," emphasis, mine, (MLH)}. We are empty, hungry, and needy. We require pardon for sin; strength for trouble, temptation, and toil; light in darkness; innumerable graces for innumerable distresses. Our fullness must be the quenching of the soul's thirst, the satisfaction of the aching void within. The full attainment of the perfection of humanity. We may have every known desire satisfied and may not be full to the measure of our capacity, and yet might not have attained to the fullness of humanity! Our capacity may be enlarged. New aspirations may be inspired in us. To attain to the stature of the perfect man, to be quite like Christ is to reach our spirit's prime and to have our human fullness! This will be a fullness of knowledge, of goodness, of power for spiritual service.

VI. FROM WHAT THE FULLNESS OF HUMANITY IS DERIVED. By the word "fullness" Paul means that which fills as well as that which is perfected in itself. Christ alone can fill and perfect us! 1. We must find the fullness in Christ! Because He is filled with the fullness of God He is Himself a perfected Man and the Source of the same grace for us. We have to learn, then, that to reach our fullness we must have what is in Christ! Perfect humanity is not possible without God. When we become possessed by the Spirit of God we become true men! This true religious life does not make us less human; it perfects our humanity. Not by science, nor by learning, nor by energy in affairs of the world, nor by any purely human effort, though all these things have their missions, but through Christ, we may attain the true ideal of humanity! We can attain this fullness by personal union with Christ!

2. We must not simply learn the method from Christ, nor seek the blessing as a gift of His, but derive it from close, living fellowship with Him. The secret is to be "in Christ," "rooted" as the tree by being rooted in the soil derives nourishment there-from, and "builded up in Him" as the temple stands firm when erected on a firm foundation! {"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass (mirror) the glory of the Lord, are changed in to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:20). Emphasis, mine, (MLH)}. 5

CONCLUSION: My friends, hear me, are you listening, no responsible person will be saved out of Christ!! Beloved, remember Paul's words in the text of this sermon or homily, he said, "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power" (Colossians 2:10). Consider this, all humankind are amenable to the gospel of Jesus Christ!! If you ever intend to be saved in heaven, then, you must come into Christ!! Now, there are many, many ways by which man thinks he can be saved in heaven, but the truth of the matter is, there is only one way for any person who has all of his or her mental faculties, to be saved, and that is God's way! The following can translate you into the kingdom or church of Jesus Christ: "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Colossians 1:13ff.,). To become a Christian, you must do the following; 1. You must hear the unadulterated gospel of Christ, (Romans 10:14); 2. You must believe the unadulterated gospel of Christ, (Romans 10:14); 3. You must repent of past sins (start walking toward God, instead of walking away from God), (Luke 13:3, 5); 4. You must confess faith in Christ, (Matthew 10:32, 33); 5. You must be immersed or baptized into Christ, for remission of sins, (Mark. 16:16); 6. You must be faithful until death, (Revelation 2:10). Beloved, you are encouraged to do it, Today! Today! Today!

ENDNOTES:

1. Gospel Advocate Commentary, (Colossians 1:19), page 262

2. The Pulpit Commentary, Volume 20, (Colossians 2:9, 10), Homilies by Various Authors, T. Croskery

3. The Pulpit Commentary, Volume 20, (Colossians 2:9), Homilies by Various Authors, by W. F. Adeney

4. The Pulpit Commentary, Volume 20, (Colossians 2:10), Homilies by Various Authors, by T. Croskery

5. The Pulpit Commentary, Volume 20, (Colossians 2:10), Homilies by Various Authors, by W. F. Adeney

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

1. The New King James version, The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, The Fifth Improved Edition

2. The American College Dictionary

3. The American Heritage Dictionary

4. The Expanded Vines, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

5. The Theological Dictionary of The New Testament

6. The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament

7. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament

8. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology

(E-Mail Address: mlharless@kvinet.com ); Telephone number: (304) 247-6895 Dear reader: In the event you find errors in this sermon, spelling, misquotes, scripture references, etc., please inform me of same at your earliest convenience, as I intend to be as accurate as possible! Thank you! (MLH).



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