Filling All In All
What did Paul mean when he referred to Christ as ‘him who fills all in all’? Who is to be filled with what? And how is it to be done?
To understand what Paul meant it is necessary to know the will of God. In the first chapter of his letter to the Church at Ephesus Paul beautifully encapsulates the essentials of God’s will.
After a standard greeting Paul begins the discourse by telling his audience that their spiritual blessings come from the Father through Christ, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (Ephesians 1:3).
He explains that it was God’s plan from the beginning to provide a way through Christ to bring mankind to a state of holiness and for them to become His children, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,” (verses 4-5).
Through God’s good grace and the blood of Christ’s sacrifice man can be redeemed, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (verses 6-7).
It is with great pleasure God makes known the mystery of His will, “Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:” (verses 8-9)
It is His will, or purpose, that in the fullness of time He will bring all those who have been redeemed through Christ to their inheritance, “That in the dispensation of the fulness 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: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:” (verses 10-11).
Those who first trusted in Christ and those who follow having heard the gospel of salvation they preached, are sealed with the Holy Spirit which is a guarantee until the inheritance becomes a reality, “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (verses 12-14).
Paul said that he prayed that God would give those whom he addressed the spiritual wisdom to understand the hope of their calling and the richness of their inheritance to come, “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” (verse 15-18).
He went on to mention the power with which God raised Christ and placed him in authority not only in this world, but also in the Kingdom to come, “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:” (verses 19 –21).
God has put everything under Christ including the church which is his body, “ And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (verses 22-23).
Having raised Christ from the dead and given him all authority it is the Father’s will that all who are called to Christ will receive the Holy Spirit and be filled with the fullness that is of Christ to become children of God. That has been the will, purpose and plan of God from the beginning.
Being filled In All
The process of redemption begins with a call to repentance, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44). Upon repentance followed by baptism the same Spirit that is in both the Father and Christ is imparted to the individual, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38). That gift is a small portion of God’s Spirit which is described as an earnest, or down payment on what is yet to come, “Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” (II Corinthians 5:5). And, “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:14).
As each person called receives the Holy Spirit through Christ he, or she, becomes part of the body, or congregation, of people in whom the Spirit of God dwells, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9).
That small portion of God’s Spirit is added to the spiritual component that is already in man, “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” (Job 32:8). That spirit in man comprises the persona of the individual to which God’s Spirit is added. The fusion of these two spiritual components is much like the fertilization of an egg to form an embryo when a new creature is formed, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17). The new creature retains the persona of the individual but now has the potential to develop the spiritual dimension of the character of God.
Eventually the new creature will be resurrected fully to spirit, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”. And, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (I Corinthians 15:42-44 and 51-54).
God’s Spirit adds a spiritual dimension to the individual’s understanding, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Corinthians 2:9-14).
Having received an understanding of things spiritual the individual’s aspirations tend toward reaching the fullness of the stature of Christ, “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 fulness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:13). A number of other verses confirm that they become more Christ-like in their thinking and attitude; “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;” (Ephesians 4:23), “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,” (Galatians 4:19), “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:5). And, “… be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2).
Through the transforming of the mind they are being renewed after the image of Christ, “…seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:9-11). Christ is the sum of all that is necessary for perfection and he is in all through the Spirit that is implanted in the individual to enable them to grow toward that perfection.
Many make the mistake of assuming that believers should be perfect, forgetting that they are only in the process and have by no means reached perfection yet. Perfection will come in the fullness of time through resurrection to a spiritual state.
God Works All in All
Although the emphasis is on Christ who fills all in all, it must be remembered that it is the Father working through Christ who brings each person to perfection, “And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” (I Corinthians 12:6). Through Christ He works in each individual so that through resurrection they will be transformed into spirit beings after His likeness, which has been the plan from the beginning, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:” (Genesis 1:26).
The Holy Spirit which is imparted to man is the very mind and essence of the Father that is in Christ who acknowledged that he could do nothing except by the Father who dwelled in him, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”. And “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” (John 5:30 and John 14:10)
The Father’s very mind and essence is the initial spiritual building block in preparation for the transformation to a spiritual existence for each of his children, “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” (John 14:20). He is the sum total of all spiritual power and existence. He is the ‘all’ that will be accomplished in all who are redeemed.
God is All in All
The process of redemption is not limited to only a few chosen now, but in the fullness of time all people who have ever lived will be given the opportunity for eternal life, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9). [See companion articles mentioned below].
Paul described a time in the future when God’s will has been accomplished,“Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (I Corinthians 15:24-28).
The same Spirit that is the very essence and mind of the Father is in Christ who once said, “...he that hath seen me hath seen the Father;” (John 14:9). And it is through Christ that each individual will be created in a true likeness of the Father. Having brought them to the fullness of his own stature, Christ by subjecting himself to the Father, shows clearly that it is the Father who is all in all.
It has been God’s plan from the beginning to redeem mankind through Jesus Christ so they can have eternal life in His Kingdom, retaining their own individuality but with all the advantages of the very mind and essence of the Father that is provided through the Holy Spirit.
What an incredible future God has in store for mankind and it is His will that you are part of that amazing plan.