Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 7:8-17
Sermon Title: Filling All Things with Christ
Sermon Text: Ephesians 4:7-16
God’s WORK fills all things with Christ
God’s GIFTS fill all things with Christ
God’s TRUTH fills all things with Christ
NOTE: “Scripture quotations are from the NASB." I provide this manuscript as a courtesy. I do not follow the document word for word during the message. I also do not write the document with the intent of publication; there may be grammatical errors throughout. Thanks for understanding.
Introduction: Filling all things with Christ
Have you ever fallen in water with all your clothing on, including your shoes? We get out of the water and can feel the water squishing in-between our toes in our shoes. Every step we take leaves a puddle. We feel the presence of water because it weighs down our clothing. The temperature around us feels cooler. We are well aware of being soaked. Others are aware that we are wet. Nobody wants us to come into their house, walk across the floor and sit in a chair after we have fallen in the pool with all our clothing on. Imagine living life being continually saturated with water. Would that feel comfortable?
Are we saturated with Jesus? Is our life filled with Him? Do we leave puddles of Jesus behind us when we walk? Are we careful about where we go or what we do because we are saturated with His presence? When we walk, does Jesus squish between our toes? Are others aware we are soaked with Christ? Do we feel His Holy Spirit temperature change or does our garment of righteousness feel heavy? Are we comfortable with being saturated or are we looking for ways to get back to dry-living so our flesh is satisfied?
God is glorifying Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ, by filling the universe with Him. God is filling all things with Jesus. God is not going to stop until Christ soaks everything. Christ’s righteousness, judgment, love, and truth will fill every nook and cranny. Every proton will bump into Jesus as it moves about the nucleus. The universe will be filled with His power until every knee bows, and every tongue confesses Jesus is Lord. God is working to saturate His people until we leave puddles when we walk and everything we touch becomes wet.
Look at Ephesians 1:19b-23:
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. (Eph. 1:19-23)
His body is to be the fullness of Jesus.
Now turn to Ephesians 4:7-16. In this passage, we see God’s purpose of filling all things with Christ is mentioned twice. The first mention refers to Christ’s ascension just as it does in Ephesians 1:23. It says,
Christ “ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.” (Eph. 4:10)
Christ’s being raised from the grave and ascending to heaven is for the purpose of putting all things under the feet of Christ. He is to fill all things.
How does God practically fill all things with Jesus? What does that look like in our lives and in the church? It looks like we all fell in Lake Jesus and became saturated with Christ. We will be mature.
God intends on filling us with Christ by working in us to bring about spiritual maturity.
… until we all attain maturity “which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13)
As verse 15 says, as Christ’s body, “we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head.”
This morning, we will look at Ephesians 4:7-16 to see how God is filling all things with Christ.
Our message highlights three ways God fills all things with Christ.
We will look at two this morning and one more next week:
- God’s work fills all things with Christ
- God’s gifts fill all things with Christ
And next week:
- God’s truth fills all things with Christ
The main idea of the message is this: Know and understand how God is working in your life to fill you with Christ
God’s Work Fills All Things With Christ
Last week, we spent time expositing Psalm 68. Paul quotes Psalm 68:18 in verse 8 and then explains in verses 9-10.
Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.” (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) (Eph. 4:8-10)
Psalm 68 is written by King David as a celebration of the Ark of the Covenant being brought into Jerusalem. It is important for us to understand the relationship of the reference to the passage in Ephesians which speaks of God filling all things with Christ.
The Bible is filled with typology. This means there are events and people in the Old Testament who serve as types, representations, of Christ in the New Testament. For example, we are familiar with the Passover Lamb as being a type representing a picture of Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. As with all types, Christ is superior.
In Paul’s explanation of the reference in Psalm 68:18, he equates the ascension of the Ark to its resting place on Mount Zion in Jerusalem to the ascension of Christ to His throne in heaven. Let’s look at how the Ark parallels Christ.
Ark of the Covenant is the representation of God’s presence with the Israelites – Christ is Immanuel
The Ark symbolizes the presence of God among His people. When the Ark was present, the people felt the presence of God. God’s shekinah glory emanated from the Ark and it led the Israelites with a pillar of clouds by day and fire by night (Num. 10:34). When God spoke to Moses, He spoke from between the two Cherubs on the Ark lid (Num. 7:89).
The Ark was at the center of the Israelites life.
Jesus is not a symbol of God’s presence; He is God’s presence. Jesus is not a wooden box overlaid with gold. Jesus is God overlaid with human flesh. He is Immanuel, God with us. In Christ, all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form (Col. 2:9). Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory (Heb. 1:3). As the Ark was at the center of the life of Israel, Jesus is to be at the center of life in the church.
Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies – Christ blood in Holy of Holies
The Ark served as a symbol of worship and sacrifice. It was set in the Tabernacle in the Holy of Holies. Once a year, on Yom Kippur, the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies to sprinkle blood upon the Mercy Seat, which is the lid of the Ark of the Covenant.
It is God’s work to provide forgiveness of sins from the sprinkling of blood upon the Ark. The Israelites put their faith in the sacrifice for sins and God granted forgiveness and mercy.
The book of Hebrews tells us of the superior sacrifice of Christ.
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Heb. 9:11-12)
Christ’s work is once and for all. It takes place in the heavenly tabernacle, and it is done with His own blood. God does the work to provide forgiveness and mercy. We put our faith in Christ’s work upon the cross.
God works to provide forgiveness of sin so we may be filled with the holiness and righteousness of Christ.
Ark of the Covenant ascension on Mt. Zion – Christ’s ascension to the heavenly throne
Psalm 68 speaks of the Ark’s placement upon Mount Zion, the highest point in Jerusalem, as the ascension of God. The Ark being placed upon Mount Zion is the capstone of God’s completed work to establish Israel. God sits in the center of the Nation. God’s presence is manifest, and He fills the Kingdom of Israel with His glory.
After Jesus rose from the dead, He ascended into heaven. As Hebrews says,
After Jesus made purification of sins in the Holy of Holies in Heaven, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3).
Just as the ascension of Ark into Jerusalem signifies the completion of the conquest of Israel, Christ’s ascension into heaven signifies the completion of Christ’s work. Jesus said, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). It is God’s work to raise Christ to sit in the heavenly places. Christ ascends beyond earthly Mount Zion. Christ ascends to Mount Zion; “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22).
Jesus ascension to the heavenly Mount Zion is the superior, everlasting ascension. His placement upon the throne has no end. The glory of the Ark filled Israel. Jesus glory fills all of heaven and earth.
Because of the work of God, the whole earth is filled with the glory of Christ.
God’s work in conquering enemies – Christ’s work in conquering our enemies
God worked to conquer all who opposed the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel. Every enemy was defeated until every border was at rest and there was no enemy standing before the Israelites (Joshua 21:43-45). When the Israelites faced their enemies, the Ark went before them in battle. The Philistines recognized the mighty power of the Ark, and they stole it, only to find it was nothing but trouble.
The Israelites as a nation were of no significance. It is only because of God being with them that they found victory.
Jesus goes before us, and He defeats all our enemies. We give thanks to God, who gives us the victory through Christ (1 Cor. 15:57). Christ disarms the rulers and authorities who are against us and made a public display of them, having triumphed over them in His death (Col. 2:13-15). Christ overcame our greatest enemy when He rose from the grave. He defeated sin and death. Neither has any power over Him. Jesus has gone before us into battle, and there is no enemy standing upon the battlefield. Upon every border, to our left, right, front, and back, we have complete peace and safety.
No man at any time has conquered, Satan, sin, or death. We offer nothing of our own to defeat our enemies. It is only because of the power of God through Christ that we have victory over sin and death. Because our enemies are conquered, we receive the fullness of Christ.
God works to conquer the enemies of Israel and God works to conquer our enemies so we may be filled with Christ.
God’s gives gifts to men to build Israel – Christ gives gifts to men to build His Heavenly Kingdom
The purpose behind Christ’s ascension, conquering of His enemies, and the giving of gifts is stated at the end of verse 10:
…”so that He might fill all things”
Everything provided to the Israelites was not for the end purpose of blessing the Israelites. All God provides and all God does is with the intent of filling all things with Christ.
When God released the Israelites from captivity in Egypt, God put it in the hearts of the Egyptians to give their valuables to the Israelites as they left.
All the material for the tabernacle, utensils, lampstands, bronze laver and the gold used to cover the Ark of the Covenant came from Egypt. When the Israelites were in Egypt, they were slaves. As they walked through the wilderness desert, they were richer than the Egyptians. They didn’t get rich from the barren wilderness. They were rich because of the Egyptians fear of God. God arose, and His enemies were scattered.
The riches of Israel provided the means for the Israelites to worship God. The riches from the other nations provided the means for Israel to become a mighty nation. All of this took place so the glory of God’s would fill all things. The other nations would look upon the people of Israel and marvel at God’s power and work. Other nations were jealous of the covenant Israel had with God.
All of God’s work with Israel is for the purpose of leading to the ultimate goal of filling all things with Christ.
After the Ark of the Covenant was brought into Jerusalem, King David expressed to Nathan the prophet his desire to build a temple for the Ark. This however, was not God’s plan. David was not to build the Temple. The building of the Temple was to be left to Solomon. God did have a plan with King David; a much bigger plan.
“Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Sam. 7:16)
Just as the ascension of the Ark to Mount Zion is a picture of Christ’s ascension to the heavenly Mount Zion, God’s installation of King David on the throne is a picture of Christ’s installation as the eternal King of kings.
King David defeated Goliath and the Philistines and brought peace to the kingdom. Jesus defeats our enemies and in His Kingdom is peace everlasting.
Paul places the reference of Psalm 68 into the text of his letter to the Ephesians so we will have a picture of God’s continual work of filling all things with Christ.
Because of God’s work, our enemies are conquered, our Savior is ascended upon the throne, and we receive gifts from God.
God worked in the time of Israel and God works in the church age to fill all things with Christ.
God’s Gifts Fill All Things With Christ
Each of us is gifted
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. (Eph. 4:7)
Let’s make sure we understand what Paul is referring to when He speaks of grace being given to each one of us. Turn to Ephesians 3.
1For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; (Eph. 3:1-2)
God’s grace was given to Paul for the sake of the Gentiles. He repeats this in verses 7-8:
of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, (Eph. 3:7-8)
Paul is saying (back in Ephesians 4) that each person is given grace for the sake of preaching the gospel. God desires for us to lead people to Lake Jesus and encourage them to take the leap of faith. The purpose of God’s gift of grace is that we fill all people with Christ.
There is no other way for the Kingdom of Christ to advance except by the preaching of the unfathomable riches of Christ. The government will not lead people to Christ. Schools will not lead people to Christ. Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are not leading people to Christ. Only the church is gifted by God to lead people to Jesus.
We are all responsible for this gift. As with all gifts given by God, we are to be stewards. We are not to hide our gift, but multiply it for the glory of Christ.
Each of us is gifted with grace.
Paul goes on to explain more gifts are given.
Christ blesses His people with gifts to build His Kingdom
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. (Eph. 4:11-13)
God gives people specific gifts for the building of Christ’s kingdom. There are many gifts given by God to His people. We can find references to these gifts in other passages. For example, in Romans 12, the list of gifts include the gift of mercy, exhortation, and administration.
In this passage, Paul specifically lists gifts which relate to unity and maturity and gifts which are used to build up the body of Christ.
Apostles and prophets
The gifts of apostle and prophet are first-century gifts from God. The apostles are those who witnessed the resurrected Christ. Prophets in the first century are the writers of the New Testament.
Paul says the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets and Christ is the chief Cornerstone of the foundation (Eph. 2:20). Once a foundation is laid, there is no longer the need for apostles and prophets. Some people claim to be modern day prophets or apostles, but they do so on their own accord, and their claim is not based upon Scripture.
God gave to the church apostles and prophets for the building of Christ’s Kingdom that He might fill all things.
Evangelists, pastors, and teachers
God’s gift of evangelists, pastors, and teachers continues today.
Evangelists are those gifted with the ability to share the gospel in ways which people may understand. Missionaries who go to new cultures are gifted by God to help bridge the gospel and contextualize the gospel within the culture. They help make the gospel relevant. In New England, we have a specific mindset and paradigm in our culture. Those with the gift of evangelism help the church to reach these people with tools and methods which are effective for communicating the need for salvation in Christ alone.
Pastors help shepherd the people in the church. Pastors help people to live a life conducive to the gospel and encourage people to walk in a manner worthy of Christ. Pastors help keep the church focused on the vision of the church as being the means of reaching the world with the gospel. Often, the church becomes distracted from the primary mission of the gospel. It is the role of the pastor to redirect the church back to the primary mission. Pastors also help people in their everyday life by demonstrating the love of Christ in times of adversity, by offering advice and counsel, and by ministering the Word of God.
Teachers help us understand the Scripture. Often the role of the pastor includes that of being a teacher. For a pastor to be qualified in the office of pastor, the scripture requires the ability to teach (1 Tim. 3:1-7). However, not every teacher is a pastor. There are many teachers in Christian schools, universities, and in the church who have the gift of teaching and they do not have the gift of being a shepherd. Basically, teachers help explain the Bible to others.
One thing that is important for us to understand is that this passage is not talking about offices, but is talking about spiritual gifting. Therefore, there may be men or women in the church who are gifted evangelists, pastors, and teachers. They need not fill the office but still have the gift. This means women are gifted as teachers or gifted to help shepherd. We have many people in our church with these gifts.
The purpose of these gifts, particularly in the context of the passage, is to ensure the church remains doctrinally and biblically accurate. For each of us to carry out our individual ministries of the gospel, we need evangelists, pastors, and teachers who understand the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets.
Until we all attain unity
Notice the purpose of God gifting the church with people who can shepherd, guide, and instruct us for ministry.
until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; (Eph. 4:13-14)
God desires for us to attain to the unity of the faith. He wants us equally soaked. He wants us to all squish when we walk. God desires for all of us to know the gospel so we are saturated with understanding. As individual ministers of the gospel, it is important for us to have the same faith.
God gifts the church with people who understand Scripture. Evangelists, pastors, and teachers are gifted, in how to get soaked with Jesus. We are all responsible for having the knowledge of the Son of God. We are to have knowledge of Who He is and what His work on the cross accomplishes. We are to know He is Lord and is ascended to the supreme seat of authority over our lives. When we understand Christ, we attain maturity.
The result God is aiming for is that when we turn on the radio or read a book we will not find ourselves being tossed about believing one thing or another. False teachers want us to play in mud puddles and not jump into Lake Jesus. We are to have a firm conviction of our faith.
We all have our favorite subjects.
We are willing to tell others why our political candidate is the better choice. We know the starting line-up of the Red Sox and the Patriots. We can explain how to play Monopoly, Risk, and Settlers of Catan. We can tell people what causes the clicking noise when they try to start the car. We can recite recipes and the albums of our favorite band. We know guns can name all the different models and calibers. We know who has the best Black Friday deals.
We know a lot about things that don’t really matter. These things are not evil. But they are if we don’t know them as well as we know our Bible.
Every Christian is given the gift of grace. We all need to discern what is false and deceitful teaching. It is important for us to be able to identify man-centered deceit. All of us are to be theologians, able to rightly divide the Word of God.
There is no Christian exempt from knowing and understanding sound doctrine. Just as work went into this message to make sure it is founded on the truth, so Christ is proclaimed, each of us needs to spend time studying the Scriptures so we may minister the Word in the places God places us and to the people to whom we come in contact.
God places each of us in places where we are the only Christian. Here are some examples.
- Are you able to show from the Bible we are not saved by our good works? If your friend is in a car accident and they say, don’t worry about me, I am a good person who gives money to the poor and does good things for society. Will you be able to show from Scripture that they are a sinner needing a Savior? Are you able to show from Scripture how we are saved by faith alone in Christ alone? Where would you turn? What Bible references would you use to help people see the truth?
- You are at a dinner party with friends. One of your friends says that all roads lead to heaven. They turn to you and ask, “right?” What will you say?
- You travel on an airplane and the Lord sits you next to a Muslim. Are you able to lead a Muslim to faith in Christ? What about a Jew, Catholic, or an Atheist?
- Your best friend becomes a Jehovah Witness. Are you able to show open their Bible and show them the deity of Christ? Are you able to know from the Bible enough to help them see Jesus is God in the flesh?
- Your Roman Catholic cousin tells you that they pray for their mother who is in purgatory. What will you say?
- Are you able to show from Scripture that the unfathomable riches of Christ are for every believer who puts their faith in Christ?
I’ve had many times in my past that I was in a situation where I wished I knew more and had been better prepared. It is a sick feeling to not know how to give an answer for the hope that is within me. I never want to be in that position again and I don’t want you to have to be in that position either.
It is not the responsibility of the evangelist, pastor, or teacher to reach the people God has surrounded you with. It is your responsibility. Mature Christians bear fruit as mature apple trees bring forth apples. When we are in the presence of an evangelist, pastor, or teacher, look them in the eye and say,
- “I have a dying aunt. Help me understand how I may share the gospel with her. I am not leaving until you help me.”
- “I am going to Detroit on business. I know there are a lot of Muslims there. What should I know about sharing the gospel with Muslims?”
- “My coworker is an atheist. What would you say to them about Christ?”
If you are not squishing Jesus when you walk and leaving puddles of Him everywhere you go, then you need to dive into the Word of God.
God gifts each and every believer with the grace so they may fill the world with Christ. We are not able to do this on our own. We need one another. We especially need those with the gifts of evangelism, pastoring, and teaching so we may fulfill our ministry.
you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9)
In the time of King David, God gifted His people for the building of the nation of Israel. God desired for all the nations to know He is Lord and from Israel, salvation is found in the Messiah who sits eternally upon the throne in Heavenly Mount Zion. God gifted Israel to fill Israel with the glory of Christ.
Today, God is doing the same. In His manifold wisdom, God is gifting the church to fill the church with the glory of Christ.
MAIN IDEA: Know and understand how God is working in your life to fill you with Christ
Strive to be mature in your faith. For your joy and the glory of Christ; that He may fill all things.