Col_1:19. It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.
IT is scarcely possible to read with attention the Epistles of St. Paul, and not to be struck with the energetic manner in which he expatiates on the glory and excellency of Christ, not merely when he professedly treats of his work and offices, but oftentimes when he only incidentally, as it were, makes mention of his name. We notice this particularly in the passage before us, where he puts forth all the powers of language to exalt his character to the uttermost.
Confining our attention to the expression in the text, we shall shew,
What is that fulness which resides in Christ—
There is in him,
An essential fulness—
[Christ, though apparently a mere man, was the first cause and last end of all things, even “God over all, blessed for ever [Note: ver. 16. with Rom_9:5.].” His people are said to be “filled with all the fulness of God [Note: Eph_3:19.];” but “in him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead [Note: Col_2:9
. in this place it is not È
.].” Men are made to enjoy all the gifts and graces of God’s Spirit; and, in this sense, are “partakers of the Divine nature [Note: 2Pe_1:4.]:” but Christ was really “God manifest in the flesh [Note: 1Ti_3:16. Joh_1:1; Joh_1:14.].” The Godhead dwelt in him, not symbolically as in the temple [Note: Psa_80:1.], or spiritually as in us [Note: 2Co_6:16.], but truly, “bodily
Col_2:9.],” substantially. The fulness of the Godhead was essentially his from all eternity; nor was he any more dependent on the Father than the Father was on him: but his assumption of our nature was the result of the Father’s counsels, and the fruit of the Father’s love [Note: Joh_3:16. 1Jn_4:10.].]
A communicative fulness—
[He has a fulness of merit to justify the most ungodly. Christ, by his obedience unto death, perfected whatever was necessary for the restoring of us to the Divine favour. His atonement was satisfactory; his righteousness was complete. Under the Mosaic law, there were many sins for which no sacrifice was provided: but the one sacrifice of Christ was all-sufficient; arid “all who believe in him, are justified from all things [Note: Act_13:39.]:” his “righteousness shall be unto them, and upon them all [Note: Rom_3:22.]:” and, however great their iniquities have been, they shall be without spot or blemish in the sight of God [Note: Eph_5:27.].
He has also a fulness of grace to sanctify the most polluted. With him was “the residue of the Spirit [Note: Mal_2:15.]” The oil that was poured out upon him was to descend to the meanest of his members [Note: Psa_133:2.]. “He was constituted Head over the Church, that he might fill all things [Note: Eph_1:22-23; Eph_4:10.]:” and he received gifts on purpose that he might bestow them on the rebellious [Note: Psa_68:18.]. His grace is still sufficient to support us in all temptation [Note: 2Co_12:9.], and to sanctify us throughout in body, soul, and spirit [Note: 1Th_5:23.]. No lusts are so inveterate as eventually to withstand its influence [Note: Luk_8:2.]; nor is any heart so vile but it shall be “purged by him from all its filthiness, and from all its idols [Note: Eze_36:25-27.].”]
It will not be presumptuous, or unprofitable, if we inquire,
Why it pleased the Father that all fulness should reside in Christ?
Many reasons might be mentioned; but the principal of them may be comprehended under the two following:
For the honour of his own Son—
[As Jesus was to become a sacrifice for us, it was meet that he should have all the honour of our salvation. Accordingly we are told, that God exalted him on purpose that at his name every knee should bow, and that every tongue should confess him to be the sovereign Lord of all [Note: Php_2:9-11.]. By this appointment of Christ to be the head of vital influence to the Church, all are necessitated to come to him, and to “receive out of his fulness [Note: Joh_1:16.],” and to live by faith upon him from day to day [Note: Gal_2:20.]. All are necessitated to depend on him for a constant communication of grace and peace, as much as to depend on the sun for the periodical returns of light and heat. Hence, both on earth and in heaven [Note: Gal_6:14. Rev_5:12-13.], all are constrained to give him all the glory of their salvation. No one can ascribe any thing to his own goodness; seeing that all are cleansed in the blood of Christ, and arrayed in the spotless robe of his righteousness [Note: Isa_61:10]: nor can any glory in his own strength; since no one has any sufficiency in himself even to think a good thought [Note: 2Co_3:5.]; and much less to renew his own soul. The merit that justifies, and the grace that sanctifies, are all of him: “he is all, and in all [Note: Col_3:11.]:” and he is made all unto us, on purpose that all may be compelled to glory in him alone [Note: 1Co_1:30-31].]
For the security of our souls—
[There never was but one man to whom a stock was entrusted; and he soon (if we may so speak) became a bankrupt. And if we had grace committed to us in such a manner as to he left wholly to ourselves for the improvement of it, we should lose it again, as he did. For our more abundant security therefore the Father treasured up all fulness in his Son; that, however our broken cisterns might fail, there might be an inexhaustible fountain secured to us. In this view we are reminded, that “God has laid help upon One that is mighty [Note: Psa_89:19.];” and that “because he liveth we shall live also [Note: Joh_14:19.].”
We are further told by the Apostle, that this appointment of Christ to he our head, with the consequent necessity of living by faith on him, and of receiving out of his fulness, was ordained of God on purpose that the promises might be finally secured to all the seed [Note: Rom_4:16.]; and he himself declares, that this very constitution of things was the one ground of his assurance respecting the salvation of his soul: “Our life is hid with Christ in God: and (therefore) when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory [Note: Col_3:3-4.].”]
This passage, duly considered, shews us clearly,
The excellency of faith—
[How can we receive any thing from Christ except by faith? No other method can be conceived whereby we can obtain any thing at his hands. But faith interests us in all that he has done and suffered for us, and in all that he has received to communicate unto us. It is that whereby alone we can “draw water out of the wells of salvation:” it is that, in the exercise of which we may be “filled with all the fulness of God.” Let all of us then cultivate this precious grace, and, as the best means of receiving every other blessing, let us pray with the Apostles, “Lord, increase our faith.”]
The evil of self-righteousness—
[Self-righteousness is a practical denial of the assertion in our text. It refuses to Christ the honour put upon him by the Father, and ascribes to self that which belongs to him alone. And shall it be thought a small evil to rob Christ of his glory? Shall it appear a light matter to thwart the eternal counsels of the Father, and to set ourselves in direct opposition to his blessed will? Let none henceforth suppose, that the trusting in our own wisdom, righteousness, or strength, is a venial offence: for surely God will be jealous for his own honour, and the honour of his dear Son; and will look with scorn on every proud Pharisee, while he will receive with boundless compassion the vilest of repenting publicans.]
The true nature of evangelical piety—
[Vital godliness, especially under the Christian dispensation, consists in a conformity of mind to the revealed will of our heavenly Father. Now in no respect is that will more sacred than in reference to the glory designed for Christ; nor is there any thing wherein a conformity to it is more characteristic of true and eminent piety. In one word then, the true Christian is well pleased that all fulness should dwell in Christ: if he might have some fulness in himself, he would rather have it in Christ, that he might receive all from him. Every part of salvation is the more endeared to him, on account of its coming through that channel: and it is his supreme felicity in this world, as it will be also in the world to come, to owe every thing to that adorable Saviour, and to glorify him in all, and for all.
Beloved, let this be your daily experience. Let it be your delight to live upon Christ’s fulness; and it shall be his delight to communicate to you all spiritual and eternal blessings.]