Being brought to completion by the Spirit, part two

Posted: Fri. Sep, 30 2016

Picking up where we left off

Last week, we started to examine the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit to believers, to the church.

We began in the book of Ephesians, where we examined a word, a verse, and a concept.

The word is the Greek verb pleroo.

The verse is Ephesians 5:18.

And the concept is the concept of fullness or completion.

We learned about the lexical meanings for pleroo, and then we visited the four places in the book of Ephesians that contain the Greek verb pleroo.

To summarize, pleroo means to make full, to bring to completion, to complete.

And  we constructed  our working  translation of Ephesians 5:18:

And do not get drunk with wine, which is dissipation (disorderly living, reckless abandon, the opposite of being made whole), but be completed (brought to completion, made full, brought to a designed end) by the Spirit.

Then we examined the other places in Ephesians where pleroo is used:  EPH 1:22-23, EPH 2:19-22, EPH 3:14-19, and EPH 4:10.

We ended  in chapter 1 of Ephesians, where we took in that completely full and rich statement about what God has done for the church which is Christ’s body.


A change in plans!

Now I know I said in last week’s blog that we’d be looking at the rest of the New Testament letters to see what they teach us about pleroo, being brought to completion (growth and fullness).

But I changed my mind.

We need to spend a couple of more weeks  in Ephesians.

Today we are simply going to introduce one additional revelation.

It’s simple and yet it’s so profound, like many things in the New Testament.

And it turns out to be the insight that illuminates the meaning of the whole letter to the Ephesians.


The key to understanding Ephesians

Perhaps the most appropriate way to introduce it is to turn to our Lord Jesus, and listen to His prayer to the Father the night before He went to the cross.

John 17:13-26
13 "But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.  14 "I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  15 "I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.  16 " They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  17 " Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.  18 "As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.  19 "For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

20 "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;  21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

22 "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;  23  I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.  24 "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

25 "O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me;  26 and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

This is unity of the most profound kind - and it is being brought to full completion by the Spirit in the church, which is Christ’s body.

Which is what Ephesians is really about.  Ephesians describes how God the Father is fulfilling His Son’s wish that we Christians might all be one.

And the rest of this blog is going to be about that.  About the church as Christ’s body being perfected in unity.


The one Body of Christ

Because, from beginning to end, Ephesians sees us as members of the one Body of Christ.

Grasping this will revolutionize our understanding of Ephesians 5:18.  

Let’s go now to the letter and see this corporate nature of Ephesians : the unity of the one Body in Christ.

First of all, the “us”, the we”  in Ephesians  is the corporate us, us as a community of believers - the one body of Christ.

Our calling is corporate. One calling for all the brethren. We are called to share  in the destiny of the one body of Christ.

We know that from Ephesians 4:4

EPH 4:4
4 There is  one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;

This is not to say that there is not a personal dimension to these things, but rather that here in Ephesians it is the corporate, communal aspect that is emphasized.

Our blessing is corporate blessing.  We all share in these blessings together:

EPH 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

Election and predestination also have a corporate dimension, and we see this as well in Ephesians. 

EPH 1:4-6
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5  He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6  to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

 It’s all us in the Beloved.

And why are we in the Beloved?  Because we were baptized by the Spirit into Christ.

Into the one Body of Christ!!

1 Cor 12:12-13
12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

In Ephesians, Christ takes a Body.

EPH 1:18-23
18 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, 19 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 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,  21 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. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.


Jews and Gentiles together in one body

The first three chapters of Ephesians  are taken up with the corporate body of Christ.

This again clearly comes into view  in the second part of chapter 2.

EPH 2:11-22
11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called " Uncircumcision" by the so-called " Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands —  12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15  by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is  the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,  21  in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Two groups who were separate and irreconcilable  - Jew and Gentile - have now been joined together in the one body of Christ.

Notice the unity here. We are described as being a single body, a single company of saints. We are all  in one household. Jew and Gentile together have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

And here for the first time we are introduced to the work of the Spirit in fitting us all together as we grow into one holy temple in the Lord. We are being built together into one dwelling of God by the Spirit.


Mystery Revealed!

Chapter 3 features the mystery that God revealed to Paul.

He identifies this mystery in verse 6:

EPH 3:6
that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,

He will put it this way in chapter 5:

EPH 5:32
32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

The mystery is wrapped up in Christ and His body the church, made up of Jew and Gentile.


The agency of the Spirit

In chapter 4, Paul expounds on the unity of Christ and His church, and features the role that the Spirit has as the agent who establishes and preserves this unity as He builds up the church in love.

EPH 4:1-6
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is  one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5  one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

There is so much here in Ephesians, such riches revealed about the one body of Christ, that we will need to continue with this next week.


Being perfected in unity

Let’s end today with the description of how we are being perfected in unity on a daily basis:

EPH 4:11-16
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as  evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12  for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 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. 14  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; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Can't you hear Jesus saying to His Father: "sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.  So that the love with which you loved Me may be in them, and I in them".


Next week we will move into the practical ways that this building up of the body of Christ occurs.   Then we’ll return to Ephesians 5:18, but we will see it in a whole new light.

That’s because we will see who is being brought to fullness or completion by the Spirit, how (and where) we are brought into this fullness, how it is expressed,  and what God’s ultimate purpose is  behind this work of the Spirit.


Until the next time, we’re all ….

In His grip,

Pastor John

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