FILLED OR EMPTY

Reading: Ephesians 3:8-21
Text verse 19
 

    INTRODUCTION

 
    (a) Preachers speak much concerning LOVE!  And rightly so, because Love
    is the Hallmark or the sign that  a  person  is a Christian or is not a
    Christian, at least so the Bible tells us;
    "By this shall all men know that  ye  are  my disciples in that ye love
    one another"
    (b) The Apostle Paul when writing  to  Timothy,  entreated him to be an
    example in (amongst other things) LOVE!
    (c) Love is the central over-ruling theme of Christianity.
    (d) So often people look at the aim of Love, and throw up their arms in
    horror, and say with one of old, "Who then can be saved"
    I believe the words of our text tell us clearly.
 

                                    POINT 1

 
    (a) KNOWING THE LOVE OF CHRIST!
    As Christians we sometimes get distressed when we speak to people about
    KNOWING CHRIST, and they take it to mean KNOWING ABOUT HIM!
    (b) But perhaps we are at  times  guilty  ourselves of looking at these
    words and taking them to mean KNOWING ABOUT CHRIST'S LOVE!
    (c) But it does not mean this at all!
    Just as KNOWING CHRIST means personally to experience Him in our lives,
    so "Knowing the Love of Christ"  means to EXPERIENCE HIS LOVE OPERATING
    AND WORKING IN AND THROUGH OUR LIVES!
    (d) When we know Christ, He is RESIDENT in our hearts!
    When we know His LOVE, IT TOO IS RESIDENT IN OUR HEARTS AND LIVES!
    (e) If we parallel our love  with  that  of Jesus, when even as He died
    on the cross, He was praying  for  His murderers, then we see something
    of what is expected of us - as being normal.
    (f) We think of  how  Jesus  taught  about  how  we  must love even our
    enemies, through the parable of THE GOOD SAMARITAN!
    He was presenting this as only  the  basics of Christianity, THE BOTTOM
    RUNG OF THE LADDER - only the beginning.
    (g) He in no way speaks of a  generated love that we must try and work
    up and force ourselves to, but  rather  a  given love, that stems  from
    HIS INDWELLING LOVE IN OUR HEARTS  - SOMETHING WHICH FLOWS EFFORTLESSLY
    FROM THE INDWELLING CHRIST.
    (h)  IF  THIS  DOESN'T  HAPPEN,  THEN   IT  SHOWS  THERE  IS  SOMETHING
    SPIRITUALLY WRONG WITH US!
    (i) IT IS THE FIRST QUALITY  MENTIONED  IN  THE LISTING OF THE FRUIT OF
    THE SPIRIT!
    THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS SIMPLY WHAT  A CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE LIKE AS A
    MATTER OF COURSE - CHRIST-LIKENESS, IF YOU LIKE!
 

                                    POINT 2

 
    (a) Now we are told in this verse that this LOVE "PASSETH KNOWLEDGE."
    (b) There is no way in which we could ever fully comprehend the Love of
    Christ.
 
    There is no human mind past   present,  or future which could ever come
    to grips with such quality  and  vastness  as  we  find  in the Love of
    Christ - no way that our understanding could ever fully grasp it.
    (c) We can think of the greatest illustration of human love that we can
    find, and yet it is a mere shadow of Christ's love for you and me.
    (d) When it says "IT PASSETH  KNOWLEDGE",  it means the greatest minds,
    past present or future are incapable of perceiving it fully.
    (e) Thank God we are not asked  to  understand it, only to PRACTICE IT,
    by letting the Spirit  of  God  with  all  His wondrous qualities, flow
    through our lives!
 

                                    POINT 3

 
    (a) FILLED WITH ALL THE FULLNESS OF GOD!
    (b) When something is FILLED  then,  there  is quite obviously an ample
    supply, like the widows cruise of  oil,  which  gave and gave and gave,
    and never ran dry!
    (c) As children, so many of  us  sang,  "Running over, running over, my
    cup's full and running over."
    When we are like an overfilled  cup,  then  God's Love and presence, is
    going to OVERFLOW from our lives into the lives of others!
    WE MUST NOT CLOSE OUR MINDS TO WHAT GOD HAS FOR US, AND EXPECTS OF US!!
    (e) We all  find  it  difficult  to  carry  an  overfilled  cup without
    spilling it, and if someone jars our  arm,  then some is going to spill
    out!!
    (f) If someone jarred your arm  when  you  were  carrying a cup of tea,
    would you expect coffee to spill out?? I don't think so.
    (g)  I  remember  a   missionary    officer   telling  of  the  railway
    station in Calcutta in India.  He  said  there  was  this man there who
    sold hot drinks.
    He was quite bemused by the fact that  no matter what someone asked for
    it all came out of   the   same   urn,   and   the   same  tap  -  tea,
    coffee - whatever.
    So he decided, "I'll get him!" So  he  asked him for Horlicks (a malted
    milk drink we have in  Britain)  -  and  without  batting an eyelid, he
    said, "Horlicks? Yes  Sir" and duly poured it out
    from the same tap. Apparently  the  taste  was  so bland, you couldn't
    tell what it was anyway!
    (h) If that officer's arm was jarred,  whatever it was that was in that
    cup was going to spill out!
    IN EXACTLY THE SAME WAY, WHATEVER YOUR  LIFE IS FILLED WITH IS GOING TO
    SPILL OUT WHEN YOU ARE JARRED!!
    IF YOU ARE FILLED WITH THE  LORD'S  PRESENCE, THEN WHEN YOU ARE JARRED,
    THAT'S WHAT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO SEE!!IF THEY DON'T  THEN QUITE  SIMPLY,
    THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOUR CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE!!
    (i) ALL!
    To me this signifies PENETRATION!
    Our Salvation Army Doctrines speak of man as being totally depraved!
    This does not mean he is totally bad, but rather that to some degree or
    other, sin has penetrated every fibre of our being.
    ALL  THE FULLNESS OF GOD  counteracts  this  penetration of sin, for if
    God's Love and Presence is  touching  every  part  of our lives, taking
    over for God, then naturally everything against His nature is dispelled
    and destroyed!!
    (e) THE FULLNESS OF GOD.
    What does this term really mean?
    I like the Amplified Bible rendering:-
    "THAT YOU MAY HAVE  THE  RICHEST  MEASURE  OF  THE DIVINE PRESENCE, AND
    BECOME A BODY WHOLLY FILLED AND FLOODED WITH GOD HIMSELF."
    (f) "A body flooded with  God  Himself!"  Does that description fit you
    and me??
    IF NOT, WE'VE GOT TO ASK OURSELVES "WHY NOT?"
    (g) You see, we  cannot  expect  God  to  do  anything  in our Corps or
    church, until we allow Him to do something in our hearts, and then FILL
    US WITH ALL HIS FULLNESS!
 

                                    POINT 4

 
    (a) THE DANGER OF A VACUUM!
    Jesus warns us in  Luke  11:24-26,  using  the  illustration of an evil
    spirit, after having been cast  out,  re-entering the life and bringing
    with him seven more evil  spirits,  even  more  wicked than himself, so
    that this poor man's state was  much  worse  than it it was originally.
    Thus a spiritual vacuum can be fatal!!
    (b) When a Christian backslides it is common to find them deeper in sin
    than they were before they found the Lord!
    (c) IF YOU OR I ALLOW A SPIRITUAL  VACUUM TO DEVELOP IN OUR LIVES, THEN
    BE SURE THE DEVIL WILL SOON MAKE SURE IT IS FILLED!!!!
    (d) Common sense tells us  that  a  vacuum cleaner draws in everything,
    mostly all the dirt, which after all is it's job!
    However, we cannot afford to be  vacuum  cleaner Christians - THAT MOST
    CERTAINLY IS NOT OUR FUNCTION!! BE CAREFUL!
 

                                  CONCLUSION

 
    (a) If we KNOW THE  LOVE  OF  CHRIST  in  our  own  lives, then we will
    without effort be able show that love  to  others  - THAT IS ONE OF OUR
    MAIN FUNCTIONS!!
    (b) If we are  filled  with  ALL  THE  FULLNESS  OF  GOD,  then we will
    overflow with HIS PRESENCE to the lives of others - every day!
    (c) If we are flooded with all the  FULLNESS OF GOD, then there will be
    no room for that dangerous vacuum, that  can  come about in any life so
    easily!!
    (d) God does not leave us to  our  own devices, but in this verse shows
    us that HE IS ABLE TO KEEP US FROM FALLING if indeed we allow ourselves
    to be filled with ALL HIS FULLNESS!!
 
    CHORUS 107 (TO BE LIKE JESUS)
 
    SALVATION ARMY SONG BOOK
 
    660(165)
    50(25)
    44(668)