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THE PLEROMA -- (The Fulness)

Our hope is generally looked upon in respect to the prophetic program of Scripture, the seeker wanting an answer as to is "how" and "when" rather than "what" it is.

The following deals in part with what is the believer's hope. The concept suggested is aside from the traditional heaven, and embraces more than the

The two following salient observations summarize the relationship between God, Christ and the believer.

1. Christ is the embodiment now and always will be all that God is to us (Col. 2:9).

2. Christ is the embodiment now and always will be of that which we are to God (Col. 2:10)

The need for the perfect Christ to be such an embodimental Surety is inherent in the movement of the Infinite to the Finite and of the finite to the Infinite. Redemption and God's self-revelation were once in the embryonic state. Now that redemption has been perfectly brought to pass, God's self-revelation can enter into the continuing process of His Secret Desire (Eph. 1:9), making known what He has in mind for all creation (Eph 1:10). This will be historical in its accomplishment, yet unending in its development. In the perfect Christ alone dwells at home all the fullness of the Godhead substantially; i.e., really, truly, not seeming or imaginary; and in Christ alone is found all fullness and our fullness. God has indefeasibly united and identified us with this perfect Christ. In contrast to our nothingness in ourselves, this union lifts us up above all else.

What is implied and meant in Scripture when it sets forth Christ as our pattern in life and hope, when it states we are to bear His likeness, and that He is the sum total of what is in store for His body of believers? What is meant when Scriptures state that Christ partakes of God's fullness, and that we in turn partake of Christ's fullness (Eph. 1:23)? To what purpose is this to be used? The analogy of Israel representing God among the nations, and Israel representing the nations before God (even if this was carried out in a very limited way in fact) is illustrative of the function of the Body of Christ, but with the following exceptions:

1. God's purpose in its unfolding is not limited to the "nations" but embraces all creation, even unto the principalities and powers, whatever their realm.

2. This purpose of God is not conditionally covenanted with an attending "blessing or cursing" as with Israel, but through God's grace entirely. It is raised above and rests on another basis than our striving, merit, and reward, either individually or corporately. Because it is of grace, because it is spiritual, because it is in the highest realms, and because it is bound up with a perfect Christ, it cannot possibly fail. It is truly and fully all of God.

3. Our representation (in Christ) to and for creation is not done by shadow or symbol, but is accomplished by the most real and substantial way possible, in fact as real and substantial as Christ represents God too us and us to God. No less a representation than this in us would qualify us as the fullness of Christ as Christ qualifies as the fullness of God.

To summarize. Everything that God can be to us, Christ is or will be; everything that God in Christ can be to creation, we will be, both individually and corporately, as His Body; everything creation needs to be to God in Christ, we will be both individually and corporately as His Body.

Once this Divine union and relationship to God in Christ is comprehended, then God's goal and purpose become meaningful because there is substance to them. Each facet of the believer's oneness with Christ is fraught with meaning:

> Christ the pattern, His likeness, all that He is in essence and function,
> His fulness and our fulness, our being the complement of the One complementing,
> our growing into a Holy Shrine in the Lord, being built jointly together into a divine habitat of God,
> filled into all the fulness of God so that we advance into the very measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,

>that we may be growing up into Him in all things, Him the Head of the Body and creation,

>that we are to Christ as Christ is to God.

Thus the divine union with Christ, Christ the Wisdom of God is being made known. No wonder the glorious words of the anthem (Eph. 3:21),

Unto Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus!

Is it any wonder then that we are called upon to become "imitators" of God (Eph. 5:1) and to walk so that our conduct commends our wondrous calling, and that our spiritual growth is the growth of God reflecting always the perfect Christ! The fulness of God is being fulfilled in us as a Christlikeness worthy of all creation's interest.

When one states that Christ is the fulness of God this is absolute when viewed from our finite vantage point; as viewed from God's side His fulness must be accommodated to the vessel used to contain it or through which it would flow to others to receive it. The Body of Christ is indeed the fulness of God ( Eph: 1:23) but it will not become "God" as "God" is "God" but it is His fulness in a relative sense, as viewed from the standpoint of creation.

Being "in Christ" makes the perfect Christ the perfect Surety for His Body and its function to all creation, The Prototype or Archetype, Christ, is matrixed in His Body so that it in turn becomes God's Surety in grace for all creation. With this type of pattern all creation comes within the scope of the pleroma of God. In such a fulness there is no lack anywhere since this completeness is to fill all in all, not in an abstract way, but a personal, demonstrative way. All that any creature needs with respect to God's self-revelation is supplied, and all that any creature needs in respect to reconciliation is provided. There will always be this "two-way" thoroughfare throughout all creation. All relationships are enacted in pure grace, therefore no merit is involved, and therefore all will point to God. Just as we now require and will always require the unfolding of God's character and riches in Christ, so Christ's continued office will always be appropriate; and just as creation will require a continual revelation so our office will ever be appropriate. It is in this scope of things as the fulness of God relates to Christ and to His Body that one can truly say these blessings are "in the heavenlies," in nature, in essence, character, time, function, and only lastly place.

Could the very nature of this fulness in its outworking be the cause of the warfare (Eph. 6) in respect to these heavenly things? That as Christ's struggle was with Satan in respect to the position He held, so our struggle is with the principalities and powers, not as to a place particularly as "in the heavenlies," but rather to the position, office, and function granted us in union with Christ "in the heavenlies," the stress being not on place but on the high and lofty character of the position that we are to occupy in respect to all creation as the Body of Christ, individually and corporately.

May not the warfare of Ephesians 6:1-10 be indeed a "pushing back" of darkness in all realms so that the character of God as embodied in Christ and us might be fully known? So that the engraven words of Ephesians 1:23 might be realized?

. . . the fulness of Him, the one all things with all things filling.

Is it not for this that Christ the Lord is made Head over all things (Eph. 1:22), that the hope for creation is our hope, our function, our office our task in union with Christ? Is it to this end we are His body? For this we are to "stand"? It would be a shame if we were to enter into these things only when Colossians 3:4 is realized: i.e. appear (=shine forth) when the full true character of Christ is seen. Certainly then why not now also?

Usually the mystery is seen in the context of israel, the barriers, doing away with rites, and so forth. Then a forward step was made to include Christ and the Part He has in it. Perhaps now consideration should given to the part Christ's Body has in it, not on its relationship to God (wonderful as that is), but to
creation, that is, the meaning of those things that are given us in Christ and for what use. Then we can begin to glimpse the unlimited, boundless extent of Mystery. This, indeed, should be called

The household and its rule in respect to the Fulness of the Seasons (Eph. 1:10)

The Scriptures embody a progressive revelation of God, His purposes, persons, and programs. The latest reveal truth takes priority over the earlier in time, place and rank. It would become operative only after it is revealed.