Text: Colossians 2:9-23
Proposition: Jesus Christ completes us, fulfills us with the very things that absolutely fill Him.
Introduction: I want to talk with you this morning about one word, it’s the word ‘fulfilled’. Some dictionaries define it as ‘to measure up, to satisfy, to complete’ . So we could turn the word around a bit and ask the question what is it that fills your life to the full? AuthorOs Guinness, says in his book, ‘Time for Truth ‘, “To have a fulfilling life, three essentials are required: a clear sense of personal identity, a deep sense of faith and meaning, and a strong sense of purpose and mission”. I think that all people are on some kind of quest for these very things and their hope is that by gaining these they will ‘measure up, be satisfied, be complete’. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” In Galatians 6:2 Paul writes, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” So what I’m suggesting is that Jesus Christ is directly related to those three things that Os Guiness spoke about as being necessary for a fulfilled life. Jesus Christ is critical to having a clear sense of personal identity; Jesus Christ is the origin and focus of faith and meaning for all people; Jesus Christ is where we discover our real and lasting purpose and mission. I’m thinking that these are not revolutionary thoughts for most of you, you likely have already either explored these or are in pursuit of testing them out. What I’d like to do with you this morning is to test a particular premise or proposition. This is what I’d like to test: ‘Jesus Christ completes us, He fulfills us with the very things that absolutely fill Him.’ This is what I think Paul was aiming at when he wrote to the Colossians as he tried to redirect them away from the heresy of their day to the truth of Christ, to the truth of who they were and what their mission and purpose was. Turn with me to Colossians 2 :9-14 .
I. Covenant Fills Christ and Fulfills Us.
Colossians 2: 9, 10 says. “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” So if the premise is, ‘Jesus Christ completes us, fulfills us with the very things that absolutely fill Him.’ let’s see if this is true. What is it that fills Christ and fulfills Us? Certainly we would say things like all powerful, all knowing, never changing and the other attributes we consider to belong to God. That’s true, but that’s not where Paul goes when he begins to describe the fullness of the Godhead bodily in Christ. He begins with something called covenant that used a surgical procedure called circumcision to define it. In Genesis 17:10 God says to Abraham, “This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised” . Circumcision was a mark put upon the men of Israel from the days of Abraham onward that marked them as being under a covenant relationship with God. This covenant that indicated they were to be different, set apart to God and that all the generations that came from them would be taught that and would be in covenant as well. Paul now tells the Colossians that , “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands…”. There is a covenant bond between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, each is bound inseparably to the other, each functions collaboratively such that their three persons are entwined as One God. That covenant bond of perfect acceptance, identity, mission and faith is what fills Christ and it is that same covenant Christ now extends to us. The Colossians had been told that circumcision was necessary for salvation and for righteousness, for covenantal union with God. Paul refutes that saying Christ is our means of being in union, bound to in an inseparable way, to the God of all Creation. But he doesn’t stop there, he then says that what Christ cut off and cast away from us were the sins of our flesh. The rite or ritual that marks that action in a public way is now to be baptism. Baptism recognizes that I came into a covenant relationship with God because of the death and burial of Christ. The covenant is basically written by God, the terms are what Christ would do in the Incarnation, Crucifixion, Death, Burial and Resurrection and Ascension. At the bottom of the covenant is a line where I sign agreeing to all the action that God has taken on my behalf. It is a contract for how righteousness can be extended to mankind and absent in that contract is any mention of the things that I must do in order for righteousness to be imputed to me. What Paul is basically saying is that Baptism has now replaced Circumcision as the way we sign or put our mark on that contract or covenant. Baptism is what all can do, male and female, it is an action of the mind and heart and body saying this I believe to be true. I accept and proclaim to all that I have been made righteous by the blood of Christ. So Paul says in verse 12 that you have been, “buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”. This implies not only identity, your identity in the risen Christ but also the direction of your faith as you walk in that identity. What fills Christ is the bond of the covenant He has with the Godhead, a covenant bond built on the love of the Father for the Son and the love of the Son for the Father and the Holy Spirit’s expression of that love. What fills Christ is this love of God, what fulfills us is the way that deep belonging and acceptance of the Father for His Son is now extended to us in this New Covenant of God.
II. The Certainty of Death Being Reversed By the Certainty of Life Fulfills. When Paul says, “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him…”, he is speaking about both a judicial death and a very real spiritual condition. Spiritually these people were dead, they had experienced what sin causes, a distaste for what is holy and a thirst for what is depraved. They had no ability to move or walk in a righteous way, like a corpse they were consigned to an immobile state of being against God. It’s that state of being dead spiritually and judicially was caused by two things: 1. Their trespasses where they went against what belonged to God, where they walked on what His. 2. The Uncircumcision of their fleshly natures, they were outside of the covenant, not connected or bound by agreement. As such they lived for themselves, their covenant was written by themselves, signed by themselves and designed only to uphold their identity and worth as they saw it. These two things are what created a death sentence judicially and a death condition spiritually. It is this state of death that Christ made alive by uniting Himself to that dead person. This wasn’t a heart/ lung transplant, this was a life transplant, the life of the Savior put into the spirit, soul and body of the sinner. So how did Jesus do that, how did He cancel out the penalty of trespassing against God, how did He move me into being under agreement with God? Look at verses 13, 14, “ having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us.”. A trespass occurs when we walk on what belongs to God and have no remorse for doing so. When you lust you walk on what belongs to God, when you hate, when you grumble, when you judge in a self righteous way, you walk on what belongs to God. Jesus has come that those trespasses would be seen by you. Before in your sin blinded dead state you walked into a minefield and didn’t even see what could destroy you. Jesus not only shows the presence of those mines He leads you out of the trap. He brings forgiveness of trespass to us and then He wipes out the judicial demands of the Law against us. The Law had a purpose, it was to expose sin. Jesus has a higher purpose, it is to take away that sin and the penalty attached to it. He has the demands of the Law against sin placed upon Himself that the sinner would be completely forgiven their debt. He had your sins and mine itemized and then nailed to the cross and there He paid the price that was demanded by the Law. He died for us. So what fills the person of Christ? It is the bond of covenant He shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit. It is the greatest love that has within it life. It is a life that is characterized by such graciousness that forgiveness is its primary purpose. What fills Christ is the joy He experiences every time He moves in obedience to the Father. What fills Christ is the hope of the glory of God being uncovered for all eternity that all creation would willingly, without trespass, glorify God.
So what fulfills us is what fills Christ. The identity of being in Christ, the faith of being in covenant under Him, the mission of loving as He loves with a life purposed around forgiveness, the kind of forgiveness that reveals the glory of God. It’s the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, to go and to love.