Enjoying His Fullness

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:16)

Just before the service last Sunday, the little band of praying saints was hard at work fighting for the faith of our people, and for the churches of the Twin Cities, and for the nations, as they prayed. At one point one man prayed the words of John 1:14, 16:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

It was one of those epiphany moments for me. God granted in that moment that the word “fullness” — from his fullness — carry a fullness that was extraordinary in its effect on me. I felt some measure of what the word really carries — the fullness of Christ.

I felt some of the wonder that, yes, I had indeed received grace upon grace from this fullness. And I was at that moment receiving grace upon grace. I felt right then that nothing would have been sweeter than to simply sit at his feet — or read my Bible — all afternoon and feel his fullness overflow.

Why did this fullness have such an impact on me — and why is it still to this moment affecting me unusually? In part because . . .

  • . . . the one from whose fullness I am being drenched with grace is the Word that was with God and was God (John 1:1–2), so that his fullness is the fullness of God — a divine fullness, an infinite fullness;
  • . . . this Word became flesh, and so was one of us, and was pursuing us with his fullness — it is an accessible fullness;
  • . . . when this Word appeared in human form, his glory was seen — his is a glorious fullness;
  • . . . this Word was “the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14) so that the divine fullness was being mediated to me not just from God, but through God — God did not send an angel but his only Son to deliver his fullness;
  • . . . the fullness of the Son is a fullness of grace — I will not drown in this fullness but be blessed in every way by this fullness;
  • . . . this fullness is not only a fullness of grace but of truth — I am not being graced with truth-ignoring flattery; this grace is rooted in rock-solid reality.

Is it any wonder, then, that I would feel astonished and full of joy at the fullness of Christ!

Are Deeds a Better Sign of Love Than Words?

Article by John Piper

The same apostle who said, “Let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18), also recorded Jesus saying, “These things I speak . . . that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13), and, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63).

If the “speaking” of Jesus imparts joy, and the “words” of Jesus give spiritual life, then surely such speaking is love.

It has always troubled me that 1 John 3:18 could be taken to imply that what we do with our mouths is a less real or less frequent form of love than what we do with our hands. “Little children, let us not love in word or tongue but in deed and in truth.” It seems to me that we have practical and biblical reasons for saying that the muscle of the tongue is more frequently the instrument of true love than any other muscle of the body.

So let’s step back and see what John is saying in 1 John 3:18 and what the wider witness of Scripture is. Notice the context, the structure of his words, and what other witnesses say.

1. The Context

Continue:

The Anchor of Joy

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” (Matthew 5:11)

Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)

Jesus revealed a secret that protects our happiness from the threat of sufferingand the threat of success. That secret is this: Great is your reward in heaven. And the sum of that reward is enjoying the fullness of the glory of Jesus Christ (John 17:24).

Jesus protects our happiness from suffering when he says,

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11–12)

Our great reward in heaven rescues our joy from the threat of persecution and reviling.

He also protects our joy from success when he says,

“Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)

The disciples were tempted to put their joy in ministry success. “Even the demons are subject to us in your name!” (Luke 10:17). But that would have severed their joy from its only sure anchor.

So Jesus protects their joy from the threat of success by promising the far greater reward of heaven. Rejoice in this: that your names are written in heaven. Your inheritance is infinite, eternal, sure.

Our joy is safe. Neither suffering nor success can destroy its anchor. Great is your reward in heaven. Your name is written there. It is secure.

Jesus anchored the happiness of suffering saints in the reward of heaven. And he anchored the happiness of successful saints in the same.

And thus he freed us from the tyranny of worldly pain and pleasure — worldly suffering and worldly success.

Passionate for God and Truth

Devotional by John Piper

What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” (Romans 3:3–4)

Our concern with truth is an inevitable expression of our concern with God. If God exists, then he is the measure of all things, and what he thinks about all things is the measure of what we should think.

Not to care about truth is not to care about God. To love God passionately is to love truth passionately. Being God-centered in life means being truth-driven in ministry. What is not true is not of God.

Ponder these four sets of texts on God and truth:

1) God Is the Truth

Romans 3:3–4 (God the Father): “What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar.”

John 14:6 (God the Son): Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 15:26 (God the Spirit): “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”

2) Not Loving the Truth Is Eternally Ruinous

2 Thessalonians 2:10: The wicked will perish “because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”

3) Christian Living Is Based on Knowledge of the Truth

1 Corinthians 6:15–16: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her?”

4) The Body of Christ Is Built with Truth in Love

Colossians 1:28: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”

May God make us passionate for him and for truth.

Outfitted and Empowered

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20–21)

Christ shed the blood of the eternal covenant. By this successful redemption, he obtained the blessing of resurrection from the dead. He is now our living Lord and Shepherd.

And because of all that, God does two things:

  1. he equips us with everything good that we may do his will, and
  2. he works in us that which is pleasing in his sight.

The “eternal covenant,” secured by the blood of Christ, is the new covenant. And the new covenant promise is this: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33). Therefore, the blood of this covenant not only secures God’s equipping us to do his will, but also secures God working in us to make that equipment successful.

The will of God is not just written on stone or paper as a means of grace. It is worked in us. And the effect is: We feel and think and act in ways more pleasing to God.

We are still commanded to use the equipment he gives: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” But more importantly we are told why: “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12–13).

If we are able to please God — if we do his good pleasure — it is because the blood-bought grace of God has moved from mere equipping to omnipotent transforming.

Glory Is the Goal

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)

Seeing the glory of God is our ultimate hope. “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). God will “present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24).

He will “make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:23). He “calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). “Our blessed hope [is] the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Jesus, in all his person and work, is the incarnation and ultimate revelation of the glory of God. “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). “Father, I desire that they . . . may be with me where I am, to see my glory” (John 17:24).

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed” (1 Peter 5:1). “The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

“We impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7).“This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). “Those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30).

Seeing and sharing in God’s glory is our ultimate hope through the gospel of Christ.

Hope that is really known and treasured has a huge and decisive effect on our present values and choices and actions.

Get to know the glory of God. Study the glory of God, the glory of Christ, the glory of the world that reveals the glory of God, the glory of the gospel that reveals the glory of Christ.

Treasure the glory of God above all things.

Study your soul. Know the glory you are seduced by, and know why you treasure glories that are not God’s glory.

Study your own soul to know how to make the glories of the world collapse like Dagon (1 Samuel 5:4) in the pitiful pieces on the floor of the world’s temples.

God’s Indescribable Gift

If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:10–11)

How do we practically receive reconciliation and exult in God? One answer is do it through Jesus Christ. Which means, at least in part, make the portrait of Jesus in the Bible — the work and the words of Jesus portrayed in the New Testament — the essential content of your exultation over God. Exultation without the content of Christ does not honor Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 4:4–6, Paul describes conversion two ways. In verse 4, he says it is seeing “the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” And in verse 6, he says it is seeing “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” In either case you see the point. We have Christ, the image of God, and we have God in the face of Christ.

Practically, to exult in God, you exult in what you see and know of God in the portrait of Jesus Christ. And this comes to its fullest experience when the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, as Romans 5:5 says.

So here’s the Christmas point. Not only did God purchase our reconciliation through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:10), and not only did God enable us to receive that reconciliation through the Lord Jesus Christ, but even now we exult in God himself through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:11).

Jesus purchased our reconciliation. Jesus enabled us to receive reconciliation and open the gift. And Jesus himself shines forth from the wrapping — the indescribable gift — as God in the flesh, and stirs up all our exultation in God.

Look to Jesus this Christmas. Receive the reconciliation that he bought. Don’t put it on the shelf unopened. And don’t open it and then make it a means to all your other pleasures.

Open it and enjoy the gift. Exult in him. Make him your pleasure. Make him your treasure.