by Cornelius R. Stam
THE NEED FOR FULFILLMENT
There is a great outcry these days for fulfillment. Psychology professors and psychiatrists, most of whom show little evidence of having themselves found true satisfaction in life, keep emphasising man's need for fulfillment. As a result, the younger gereration is presently engaged in a frantic search for this precious commodity. They want fulfillment, physically, intellectually and spiritually - mostly in that order.
The reason for this latter is that godless "intellectuals" in our institutions of learning have placed such heavy emphasis upon the sensual that a truly lost generation of young people has been brainwashed into supposing that if only man's physical desires, his sensual passions, can be satisfied, the realization of intellectual and then spiritual fullment will follow naturally.
Actually, the very opposite is the case: it is spiritual fullment that straightens out all the rest and brings into proper perspective. What man needs first and above all else is for his spirit to be filled and satisfied with all the peace, assurance, joy and victory that God's Spirit alone can bestow. Referring, doubtless, to the influence of the Spirit of God upon the human spirit, our Lord rightly said: "It is the Spirit that quickeneth [giveth life]; the flesh profiteth nothing" (John 6:63).
In Galations 6:8 the Apostle Paul declares: "He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
In Romans 8:6 he states this same truth in even stronger language: "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."
Some translators have rendered this passage: "the mind of the flesh... the mind of the spirit," but the preceding verse seems to indicate beyond doubt that the Apostle is speaking of having one's mind on the flesh, or on the Spirit. to have one's mind on the flesh, he says, is "death," but to have one's mind on the Spirit is "life and peace."
Significantly, it is since America has departed so far from God, since men in the pulpit have so largely stopped teaching the Bible, or even giving credence to it, that all this cry for "fulfillment" has arisen.
Thousands of clergymen are telling lost souls what they ought to do and how they ought to live, simply because they themselves are unregenerate men who merely went to seminary to prepare for
the ministry, but do not know Christ. These unsaved clergymen know nothing of the riches of God's grace in Christ that their hearers so sorely need. But, alas, even men of God, who know Christ and believe the Bible, are in many cases failing to teach God's Word, to "feed the flock" with those precious truths that could so greatly enrich their lives. Hence this spiritual starvation, this deep hunger on the part of so many, even religious people, who do not know exactly what it is they lack.
These should know that the Bible, and particularly the epistles of Paul, show us the way to glorious fulfillment. The orderly, satisfied, victorious lives of those who do experience spiritual fulfillment, springs from their recognition of the truth of God's declaration that, "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God."
The Bible has much to say about fulfillment, espically in the epistles of Paul, but also in the writings of John, who wrote long after Paul was raised up to make known to mankind how much
Christ accomplished for us by His death at Calvary. ENJOYING TRUE FULFILLMENT
Paul had been a very religious man, very zealous of the traditions of the fathers, but there was an emptiness in his life and he became progressively more bitter until he came to know Christ. Only then did he find true fulfillment - and then this was all he could talk and write about!
Picture him before Agrippa, standing there in chains in a crowded courtroom, his very life at stake. He does indeed speak in his own defense, but as we read the record this almost seems to be secondary. He appears to be preaching to those assembled.
He preaches with such power that Festus interrupts him, shouting: "Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad", but Agrippa says: "Almost thou persuaded me to be a Christian", whereupon Paul replies: "I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds" (Acts 26:29).
The Apostle, even in chains, experienced true fulfillment. Hence his mind was not upon himself. He saw Festus and Agrippa and all those assembled in that courtroom as poor lost souls, needing Christ, and the fulfillment that He alone can give.
To these who sat in judgment upon him, the Apsotle said in effect: "I wish you could all experience the satisfaction that I enjoy!" And he did not speak thus, merely, as a zealot at a public trial. To his Christian friends he wrote from his prison in Rome about sitting "in heavenly places (Lit., the highest heavens) in Christ," blessed with "all spiritual blessings"
(Ephesians 1:3). To the Philippians he wrote, triumphantly: "...the things which have happened unto me have fallen out rather unto furtherance of the gospel; "So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; "And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the Word without fear" (Phillipians 1:12-14).
"Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice!" (4:4)
Paul had indeed found fulfillment and, bless God, there are thousands upon thousands of us today who have found this same fulfillment in Christ. We have the same assurance of sins forgiven, of complete justification before a holy God, and, like Paul, rejoice in our position and blessings in the heavenlies in Christ.
But now let us proceed to the doctrine of fulfillment as we find it in the Word of God.
THE DOCTRINE OF FULFILLMENT
To make this as uncomplicated as possible we will consider but one root word, which the Bible uses far more than any other to express fulfillment. It is the Greek noun pleeroma and its grammatical derivatives.
This word is used in several passages in John's writings, where it is indicated that God would have His people enjoy rich, full lives, regardless of outward circumstances.
Our Lord closed His famous discourse on the Vine and the Branches by saying: "These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11).
Later, instructing His disciples as to how they should pray in His absence, He said: "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall recieve, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24).
In the opening verses of his first epistle, the Apostle John likewise writes: "And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full" (1 John 1:4).
And those who trusted Christ, even in those early days before the dispensation of grace, did find full-fillment. John the Baptist, who heralded the coming of the King and introduced Him to the people of Israel, declared: "And of His fulness have all we recieved, and grace for [upon] grace" (John 1:16).
This ful-fillment was not marred by adversity, for consistently in the Acts record we find the persecuted apostles and disciples joyful and victorious. After having suffered a cruel beating and bitter threats from the Sanhedrin, we read in Acts 5:41 that "they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."
Again, in Acts 13 we find a church born in the midst of strife and persecution, yet of these persecution believers we read: "And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost" (Verse 52).
"FULFILLMENT AND THE MYSTERY"
But it was to Paul that the risen, ascended, exalted Lord revealed Himself in what the Apostle calles "the mystery," a secret hid from previous "ages and generation." Not only did this "mystery" involve a program, God's great purpose concerning this present dispensation of His grace; in the "mystery" our Lord also revealed Himself and His glorious, all-sufficient work as the secret of all the riches of grace which are ours in Christ.
Had the Lord Jesus Christ remained in heaven, aloof from us sinners, we could have known only condemnation and judgement, but He came to be with us, yes, to become one of us, true man as well as true God, to pay our debt of sin, so that by faith we might be fully justified and find fulfillment in Him.
If the Spirit-inspired apostle makes anything clear and emphatic it is that fulfillment can be found in the rejected but glorified Christ alone, by an intelligent understanding and believing appropriation of His person and work in our behalf.
Col. 1:19: "For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell."
Col. 2:9: "For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
Col. 2:10: "And ye are complete [made full] in Him..." Restless soul, you will never find complete satisfaction until you find it in Christ, for the simple reason that all fulness resides in Him. He is the fount of every blessing, the Source of all supply.
What do you want that is of any real and lasting value?
What do you want that will truly fill your life? Forgiveness?
Justification? A free Conscience? Peace? Assurance? Liberty?
Joy? All - every bit of it - is to be found in Christ alone.
Read the epistles of Paul and see how "all spiritual blessings" are to to found only "in Christ." Read the above passages from Colossians again, thoughtfully and prayerfully. "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell...in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete [made full] in Him."
But God wants us to see that all this blessing and joy, all these riches of grace that reside in Christ, can become ours only as we place our trust in Him. In Romans 15:13 the Apostle writes:
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing..."
How I wish you could see, my dear unsaved friend, that god simply wants to be believed, just as you want other to believe you. He knows all about your sins but He Himself has settled all the claims against you and now He wants you to leave the whole matter with Him and accept salvation as "the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Believe what He says about christ dying to pay your debt and rising again in power to prove that your debt is fully paid. Take Him at His Word, and He will "fill you with joy and peace in believing."
In Ephesians 3:17-19 the Apostle, divinely inspired, urges you to let Christ "dwell in your heart by faith." And then, "rooted and grounded in [His] love," he would have you measure "what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height" of all that Christ has for you and can be to you, as it is revealed in the wonderful "mystery," the sacred secret made known through him. And why would he have us "measure" these riches of grace and glory? Listen: "...to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all fulness of God" (verse 19).
How can we leave this passage without quoting the blessed benediction that brings it to a close:
"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, "Unto Him be glory in the Church, by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (verse 20,21).
Do you see how believers are "made full," find fulfillment, in Christ? Do you see how Paul had much more than material matters in mind when he wrote to the faithful Philippian believers: "But my God shall supply [Lit., fully fill] all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
FULFILLMENT FOR CHRIST
Perhaps the most profound and amazing aspect of the mystery revealed through Paul is the divine truth that as we are "made full" in Christ, so He is "made full" by His Body, the true Church.
Not only would the Apostle have us understand and enjoy the riches of our inheritence in Christ; he also prays earnestly that we might comprehend "what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints"! (Ephesians 1:18).
In Ephesians 4:10 we read that our Lord "ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things," but Chapter 1, Verse 23, we are told that the Church is... "...His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all."
As Eve was given to Adam, and the two became "one flesh", God now calling their name Adam (Genesis 5:2), so in a spiritual, yet very real sense, believers are given to Christ as His blood-
bought possession, that we might be one with Him, the members of His Body. And as we find fulfillment in us, whom He loved, for whom He died and upon whom He joyously bestows all the riches of grace which He purchased for us at Calvary. Think of it! We His inheritance, and more - His fullness, His completeness. What and evidence of His loving character is this! He would not be
complete in heaven without us any more than Adam would have been complete or happy alone in the Garden of Eden. Christ needed the love and companionship of His creatures. His divine capacity for compassion and understanding and mercy and love needed opportunity for expression.
How much that Blessed Book, the Bible, has to say about fulfillment and satisfaction and joy - and most of all in the epistles of Paul. In discussing this subject we have cited many occurrences of one Greek word for fulfillment: pleeroma, along with its grammatical derivatives, but there is much, much more to be found in the synonyms and arguments used, espically by Paul, to show how rich believers are in Christ and, indeed, how rich He has become since His love sent Him to Calvary to die in shame and agony and blood for us! What joy will fill His heart, as well as ours, when through the ages of eternity we finally love and adore Him as, in our present state, we are unable to do!
We are deeply conscious tha only with "stammering tongue" have we endeavored to place before you what God's Word says about "the peace that passeth understanding" and "the joy that passeth
knowledge," but one fact is unmistakably clear: such fulfillment can be found in Christ alone.
Have you recieved and acknowledged Him as your Lord and Saviour? If not, will you do so now, without further delay? It is His desire to fill with peace and joy, but you must recognize your need of Him and acknowledge that you are the sinner for whom He died, asking Him to save you. Be wise. Cast yourself upon Him right now.
"For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:12,13).
From The S.O.N. BBS, WI