FILLED OR EMPTY
Reading: Ephesians 3:8-21
Text verse 19
(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
(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.
(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 FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS SIMPLY WHAT A CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE LIKE AS A
MATTER OF COURSE - CHRIST-LIKENESS, IF YOU LIKE!
(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
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!
(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
(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!!
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
(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
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!
(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!
(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
(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
(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