Fullness: The Head, the Body & the Spirit

On Tuesday I was writing about how the Church is at the centre of God's purpose, and so it's not a means to an end, but rather it is an end. And yesterday I looked a bit more at the nature of this 'end', and saw that God's Eternal Purpose involves Christ filling the Church with all His fullness. Today I want to think a bit more about how. How is the Church filled with the fullness of Christ?

Firstly, we have to see that this fullness must flow out of the union that exists between Christ the Head and His Body. In Acts 9:4-5 we get a glimpse of the degree of this union. Saul has been persecuting the Church, yet when Christ stops him on the road to Damascus, He asks 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?' (Acts 9:4). Then He goes on to reveal Himself to Saul by saying 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting' (Acts 9:5). Here Christ declares the unity that exists between Him and His Body, the Church: to persecute the Church is to persecute Christ! And this union is essential for understanding how the Church can be filled with the fullness of Christ. The Body can only be filled with Christ because of the identification it has with Him through union.

And it's the Holy Spirit who effectuates this union (1 Cor. 12:13). As Pastor W.H. Lewis wrote, ‘the Holy Spirit is not here to create individual units, independent of others, but rather that all should participate in the blessings, privileges, and responsibilities of the Body’ (Riches of Grace, July 1932, p. 240).

So, through the Holy Spirit, the Church is so united to Christ her Head, that to persecute the Church is to persecute Christ Himself. But this flows in the other direction as well; through the Spirit the fullness of Christ flows to His Body. Elsewhere Ps. Lewis wrote:
The Holy Spirit represents Christ in His comprehensive ministries in the Body. He makes real in the Body the resources that are in the Headship … Every spiritual gift in the local Assembly or in the Body at large is evidence not only of the presence, impartation, power, and intimate relationship of the Holy Spirit in the Assembly, but also is an infallible proof of the living exalted Head in His immutable setting, purpose, and beneficent ministry.’ (W.H. Lewis, The Body of Christ, p.17)
More succinctly, D.P. Williams writes, ‘The Indwelling Holy Spirit takes from the Invisible Head and gives to the Church, through the visible members of his Body’ (Riches of Grace, Dec. 1923, p.9). In other words, the union between Christ the Head and His Body, brought about by the Holy Spirit, not only joins the two, but also means that, through that union in the Holy Spirit, Christ expresses His Headship in His Body.

That means that there's a link between increasing fullness of Christ and increasing fullness of the Holy Spirit. Notice how in Eph. 3:19 Paul prays for 'all the fullness of God.' All that fullness dwells in Christ (Col. 1:19) and He pours it our into His Body as He pours out the fullness of His Spirit. It's not a choice between being filled with Christ and being filled with the Holy Spirit. Rather, it's a Trinitarian fullness. As the doctrine of perichoresis reminds us, although we can distinguish, we cannot separate the works of the Trinity. And the  fullness which God desires in the Church is the full Trinitarian fullness.

So how can we be filled with all the fullness? By receiving a Trinitarian giving: the Father has given the promise of the Holy Spirit to Christ the Son, who pours out His fullness in the fullness of the Spirit upon His Church. From the Head the Trinitarian fullness flows to the Body. And the Trinitarian Fullness unites the Body and the Head.

So, when we talk about the fullness of the Holy Spirit, we need a bigger vision. Being filled with the Holy Spirit isn't a case of having a nice blessing from God or getting a brief moment of power from God. No, being filled with the Holy Spirit is all about being filled with the fullness of God Himself. It's not a touch from God, but the indwelling presence of God Himself. When people are filled with the Spirit, it's not 'a good meeting', but a heavenly foretaste of our ultimate enjoyment of communion with the Holy Trinity; a foretaste of the glorious outcome of the Eternal Purpose (Eph. 1:10).