Sermon #1652 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: “Ye are complete in him!”
Text: Colossians 2:10
Date: Friday Evening — September 1, 2006
27 Annual Sovereign Grace Bile Conference
Grace Baptist Church of Danville
Our Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are they that mourn.” If you can, in your heart, verify that statement, you are one of God’s blessed ones. Multitudes know nothing about the blessedness of that work of grace that causes a sinner to mourn his sin, mourn himself, and mourn because he has been made to look upon the Savior he has pierced. Such people know nothing of God’s saving grace.
Our Savior said, “Blessed are they that mourn.” But there are multitudes who seem to think he said, “Blessed are they that mourn, and mourn, and mourn, and mourn, and mourn.” That is not what he said. Our Savior said, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” The mourning he speaks of is a mourning that leads to comfort; and comfort leads to joy.
By all means, we ought to lament and mourn what we are. The evil, the unbelief, the vileness we know is in us is reason to mourn. But the knowledge of what we are in ourselves should never eclipse the blessed revelation of grace and salvation in Christ. Our great God, by the mighty operations of his grace, by the saving revelation of his dear Son, turns fasting into feasting and mourning into praise, giving “joy, and gladness, and cheerful feasts” in our souls (Zech. 8:19).
If I have read the Book of God correctly, it is the intent of our God, in everything revealed in Holy Scripture, to comfort his people, to encourage us to believe him, and to promote in us the blessed “joy of faith” in Christ. His word to us is, “Rejoice!...Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice!…Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven!...Rejoice in hope of the glory of God!... Rejoice evermore!... Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to” God our Savior!
In fact, if we would “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing,” if we would honor our God as his children in this world, God the Holy Spirit tells us that we must do so by — “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:10-14).
When we realize the glorious kingdom in which we live and the great King we serve, — when we think about the privileges of grace that are ours in Christ, — when we consider the boundless love of God our Father to us, the free grace of Christ for us, and the work of God the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, in us, what reasons we have to “rejoice in the Lord alway!” The Book of God does not teach us to be “navel-watchers,” but Christ-watchers. Nowhere are we told to look within. Rather we are told to look out and look up, “looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith…looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life!” — Salvation is looking to Christ.
Salvation is all about looking to Christ.
It is my purpose in preaching this message to encourage you who do not know my Savior to trust him, I want to allure you to Christ, by showing you the blessedness of life in him. And I want to inspire confident joy and thanksgiving, praise and adoration to our God in you who know him, by reminding you of wonderful things our God has done for us in Christ.
It is the great desire of this pastor and this congregation that our God will visit us this weekend and grant us a time of refreshing, reviving our souls with his grace.
I can think of no better way to accomplish these desires, than by reminding you of five words of indescribable blessedness found in Colossians 2:10. — “Ye are complete in him!” If God the Holy Spirit will teach us just a little of what he has written in that sentence, if he will effectually write his message in those words upon your heart and mine, we will leave here tonight “rejoicing in hope.”
No Middle Ground
“Ye are complete in him!” — There is no middle ground. Either you are complete in Christ, lacking nothing, or you are altogether without hope before God. We either have everything God requires of man, everything God gives to men, everything Christ has and is as the Mediator between God and man, or we have nothing.
“Ye are complete in him!” — Precious sentence! Sweeter than honey to my soul! Oh, may God the Holy Spirit make it so to you! If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, though utter emptiness in yourself, “Ye are complete in him!” Weak, poor, helpless, unworthy though you are in yourself, in him, your Lord, your Redeemer, your Savior, you are complete in the fullest, broadest, and most varied sense of that mighty word — “complete.”
What wonders of grace we have before us! May God the Holy Spirit be our Teacher and Guide as we dive into this deep sea and contemplate the mystery of the perfection that is ours in Christ. The words of our text will be the points of my message. I want to milk every word.
“Ye are complete in him!” — The Spirit of God seems to have but one object in view in giving us this sweet sentence. His purpose is to cause every believing soul to look to Christ with the confident “joy of faith,” seeing clearly that as all the fulness of the godhead dwells in him, so all the fulness of Christ is yours, “and ye are complete in him!”
Look at the first word — “Ye.” — You who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you, all of you, and only you, “are complete in him.”
Š You, who were “dead in trespasses and sins,” are complete in him!
Š You, who “in time past walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air,” are complete in him!
Š You, who “were by nature children of wrath, even as others,” are complete in him!
Š You, who were once “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world,” are complete in him!
Š You, who labor and toil, vex and perplex your hearts continually because of the indwelling sin you hate, are complete in him!
Š You, who are groaning under a conscious sense of the body of sin and death that is in you, are complete in him!
Š You, who are loved and chosen of God, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, justified and sanctified by his grace, born of his Spirit, and robed in his righteousness, being clothed with the garments of salvation, are complete in him!
Now, look at the next word — “are.” — The Scriptures plainly declare that God’s elect have been complete in Christ from eternity (Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:3-6). Our completeness is in Christ. We have been complete in him for as long as we have been in him. And there never has been a time when we were not in him.
It is a blessed thing to live in the sweet assurance that we shall be complete in Christ in heaven’s everlasting glory and bliss. — “When we see him we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” What a sweet hope that is!
But here Paul is talking about that which is the present blessedness of every sinner who believes on the Son of God. He does not say you shall be complete some day, when your faith is stronger, or when your love is more mature, or your works are better, or you see more clearly. There are no conditions or qualifications for us to meet, that might be complete in Christ. — “Ye are complete in him!”
Everything here is grace, free, unconditional, unqualified grace! The Spirit of God is not exhorting us to be complete. He is not telling us how to be complete, or what we must do to make ourselves complete. — No. He states a fact, affirms a reality of revelation, and announces a work finished, to which nothing can be added and nothing can be taken away. — “Ye are complete in him!” Right now, at this present moment, — “Ye are complete in him!” Do not imagine that there is something lacking, some deficiency you must make up, something you must complete. He is saying, “Know this and rejoice: You are full, complete and perfect in Christ. Being one with him, in union with him, his fulness, completion and perfection is your fulness, completion and perfection.”
This is the glory of faith. It looks to Christ alone and gives glory to Christ alone. Faith leaves all works behind.— “It finds all perfection in Christ, and it works by love and good works, not to get perfection by them, but to glorify Christ, in whom we are already perfect and complete.” (William Mason) — And that which is the glory of faith is the comfort and joy of faith! What joy, what comfort we find when we look to Christ alone for everything!
Now, look at that word “complete” (peplhrwmenoi). It is one of those very commonly used words that we tend to overlook, simply because they are so commonly used. But this word is simply bursting with meaning. As it is used here, it describes something about the children of God that is accomplished for them, without our aid or assistance. It is a completion in which we are totally passive. It is not something about which we are passive. Far from it. It is something that floods our souls with joy. But we were completely passive in its accomplishment.
What does the word “complete” mean? How far are we to carry this statement — “Ye are complete in him”? Is it possible too carry it to far? Must we be careful not to go overboard here? Let’s look into the Book of God and see how it is used in other places. I think it is safe to say that we must attach no more meaning to the word and no less than that which is obvious in the way it is used by the inspired writers of Holy Scripture (John 1:14-16; 1 Cor. 10:28; Eph. 1:23; Col. 2:9).
(John 1:14-16) “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (15) John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. (16) And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”
(1 Corinthians 10:28) “But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that showed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.”
(Ephesians 1:22-23) “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, (23) Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
(Colossians 2:9) “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”
Obviously, when the Spirit of God says, “Ye are complete in him,” the word “complete,” first means “complete, without limit, condition or qualification of any kind.” Whatever we are in Christ, we are completely. Whatever we have in Christ, we have completely. In all matters regarding our spiritual welfare, and our soul’s salvation, we are complete in Christ, complete without any supplement of any kind.
In Paul’s day, as in ours, there were some who thought that faith in Christ had to be supplemented. Such men, then and now, vainly imagine that faith is learned, not bestowed, that it is a matter of philosophical achievement, not a matter of divine revelation. While deceitfully professing to believe in the supernatural, while professing to teach that “Salvation is of the Lord,” their doctrine is nothing more than the cunning assertion that the new birth, faith in Christ, and acceptance with God is really achieved by argument, reason and logic.
These brilliant idiots actually teach that faith in Christ is a complex mystery, something that can only be attained by arriving at a superior level of knowledge, knowledge of which they are, “most humbly,” supreme examples. They mystify everything revealed in the Book of God. With their beguiling words of wisdom, they do everything possible to turn you away from “the simplicity that is in Christ.”
That is precise the context in which Paul makes this declaration (Col. 2:6-10). — “Ye are complete in him.”
(Colossians 2:6-10) “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: (7) Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (8) Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (9) For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.”
Nothing can ever be added to faith in Christ, without making the thing added the object of faith. Nothing can be added to the Gospel of Christ, without making it another gospel. There is nothing new in theology except that which is false. Those who seek to improve the Gospel of Jesus only deface it. It is so perfect in itself that all additions to it are but outgrowth of heresy. One of the greatest evils of our day is the attempt of men to rationalize God’s revelation of himself in Holy Scripture, thereby obscuring “the simplicity that is in Christ.” But God’s elect will not be beguiled from their steadfastness. We know whom we have believed. And our hearts are filled with joy to hear our God declare, “Ye are complete in him.” — Blessedly, absolutely complete! — Just as complete in him as “all the fulness (completion) of the godhead dwelleth in him bodily!”
O my soul, believe this, and rejoice! Be ashamed, my heart, of every reluctance to believe that which God has declared! Let our admiration be fixed upon this delightful privilege. Arise, my brother! Arise, my sister! Shake off the fears and doubts with which Satan would bind you! Behold yourself as God declares you to be, as you really are, — “perfect in Christ Jesus.” Do not let your sins shake your faith in him and cause you to question his all-sufficiency and his all-sufficient grace.
Illustration: Happy Jack
“I am a poor sinner,
And nothing at all;
But Jesus Christ is
My ‘All in all!’”
You are, with all your depravity, still in him, “and ye are complete in him.” You have need of nothing, but him. In him you are at this moment just, in him entirely clean, in him an object of divine approval and eternal love. Though feeble, forgetful, frail, fearful, and fickle in yourself, yet in him you are all that can be desired. — “Ye are complete in him!” Look on your own nothingness and be humbled; but look to Christ Jesus, your great Representative and Substitute, and sing.
Š Do not be so intent upon your own corruptions as to forget his immaculate purity, which he has made yours.
Š Do not be so mindful of your own poverty as to forget his infinite riches conferred upon you.
Š Do not be so absorbed in your emptiness that you forget his fulness, the fulness he has made yours by his grace.
Š Do not be so mindful of your natural imperfection as a fallen child of Adam, that you fail to be mindful of Christ’s perfection, the perfection that is yours by virtue of your union with him
God sees us only in his dear Son; and he would have us see ourselves only in him, accepted in him and made perfect in him by his almighty grace (Rom. 6:6-11).
(Romans 6:6-11) “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (7) For he that is dead is freed from sin. (8) Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: (9) Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. (10) For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. (11) Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Second, this word, “complete,” means “fully supplied. Having Christ, we have all that we can possibly need. Like Jacob of old, we say, “I have enough!” — “All things are yours, for ye are Christ’s!” Possessing this great Savior, the child of God is “throughly furnished,” with regard to all things spiritual, eternal and good, “throughly furnished” Godward. We need not, and must not, ever look for anything spiritual, for anything pertaining to salvation, eternal life, redemption, righteousness, sanctification or holiness anywhere else.
Š Do we need righteousness? We are made the righteousness of God in him, who is made of God unto us righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Cor. 1:30). If Christ is my Righteousness, I can never be more righteous; and can never be less righteous.
Š Do we need acceptance with God? We are “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6).
Š Do we need justification? Christ is made of God unto us (1 Cor. 1:30). We are “.”justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Š Must we be holy as God himself is holy? Holiness is ours in Christ. God calls us his “saints,” his holy ones! Christ is our Holiness, that “Holiness without which no man can see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).
Š Do we need forgiveness? It is written, “There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” Pardon, rich, free, complete, irreversible pardon is in Christ. He has abolished our sins!
Š Is it a clear conscience that we must have? The blood of Christ sprinkled on our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Heb. 10:22) makes the conscience clean. Complete redemption, accomplished by the Son of God, makes the believing sinner “perfect as pertaining to the conscience” (Heb. 9:9). The blood of Christ proclaims, in boldfaced, capital letters, — “Not guilty!” — “No condemnation!”
Š Does God require perfection? It is supplied by Christ who has, by his one offering for sin, perfected forever those who are sanctified by his purpose, sanctified by his blood, and sanctified by his grace (Heb. 10:14). He presents us holy, unblameable, unreproveable, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing!
Š Is it sanctification that we need? Christ is made of God unto us Sanctification.
Š Is it grace that you need? — Pardoning grace for your sins? — Restoring grace to lift you from your countless falls? — Strengthening grace to make up for your weakness? — Reviving grace to overcome your deadness? — Cleansing grace to bathe your foul soul? — The Savior says, “My grace is sufficient for thee!”
What an infinite, boundless, storehouse of mercy Christ is! — “And ye are complete (fully, perfectly, constantly, eternally supplied) in him!” — “It pleased the Father that in him all the fullness should dwell;” and his fulness is our supply. Our Savior is not a sprig of myrrh, but “a bundle of myrrh is my Beloved to me” (Song 1:13-14). He is a Cluster of goodness, grace, mercy and love! He is every believer’s “All in all.”
In every position of danger or duty Christ is our all-sufficient supply. In every conceivable or inconceivable trial, we shall find in him all-sufficient grace. Should every earthly stream of comfort be dried, Christ is enough. His all-glorious person is the dwelling place of all-sufficiency. — “In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” And that fulness is our supply! His abundance is the “supply for your want.” Our God has supplied, supplies and shall supply all our need “according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Well do we sing with John Newton…
“Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God!
He, Whose Word cannot be broken,
Formed thee for His own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
What can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
Thou may’st smile at all thy foes.
See! the streams of living waters,
Springing from eternal love;
Well supply thy sons and daughters,
And all fear of want remove:
Who can faint while such a river
Ever flows their thirst t’assuage?
Grace, which like the Lord, the Giver,
Never fails from age to age.
Savior, if of Zion’s city,
I through grace a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in Thy Name.
Fading is the worldling’s pleasure,
All his boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure
None but Zion’s children know.”
“Ye are complete in him!” — I have not begun to squeeze all the milk from that word “complete” yet. It might be read, “satisfied.” Satisfaction is a rare thing, more precious than gold. None are so blessed, none are so happy, none live so easy as those who are satisfied. And God the Holy Spirit here declares, “Ye are satisfied in him!” The believer is so complete, so fully supplied by him, that he is satisfied.
“All my life long I had panted
For a draught from some cool spring,
That I hoped would quench the burning
Of the thirst I felt within.
Feeding on the husks around me,
Till my strength was almost gone,
Longed my soul for something better,
Only still to hunger on.
Poor I was, and sought for riches,
Something that would satisfy,
But the dust I gathered round me
Only mocked my soul’s sad cry.
Well of water, ever springing,
Bread of life, so rich and free,
Untold wealth that never faileth,
My Redeemer is to me.
Hallelujah! I have found Him
Whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings;
Through His blood I now am saved.”
Š I am satisfied with him as my sin-atoning Sacrifice, who has satisfied the justice of God.
Š I am satisfied with his purpose, who has purposed my everlasting good.
Š I am satisfied with his providence, who does all things well.
Š I am satisfied with his revelation, who is the Revelation of God.
Š I am satisfied with his love, whose love cannot be quenched.
(Habakkuk 3:17-19) “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: (18) Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (19) The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”
Fourth, the word “complete” in Colossians 2:10 is frequently translated “fulness,” or “filled.” We are called “the fulness” of Christ who “filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:23). “All the fulness” of the triune God dwells in our incarnate Redeemer (Col. 2:9). “And ye are complete (filled) in him.” Nothing and no one can fill the soul, except Christ. And when Christ comes into the soul, “ye are filled in him!”
Perhaps this thought, “Ye are filled in him,” was in Paul’s mind when he wrote, — “I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:19-20). He whose name is El-shaddai, God all-sufficient, is the Portion of my soul, and with him my soul is filled. “In him” I am in that house where “there is bread enough and to spare.” — “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup” (Ps. 16:5); and “my cup runneth over!” — “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and,” then, “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever!”
As the waters cover the sea, the grace of God in the fulness of Christ floods my soul!
Š Where once there was nothing but sorrow, now there is fulness of joy.
Š Where once there was nothing but terror, now there is peace.
Š Where once there was nothing but emptiness, now there is fulness.
Š Where once there was nothing but frustration, disappointment and pain, now there are “pleasures for evermore.”
Christ Jesus, the Son of God, fills my soul with all fulness! At the end of our day, should our Savior ask, as he once asked his disciples, “Lacked ye anything?” we will respond with unspeakable gratitude and joy, “Nothing, Lord!” — “Ye are complete in him!”
“Complete in Thee, no work of mine,
May take dear Lord the place of thine!
Thy Blood hath pardon bought for me,
And I am now complete in Thee
Complete in Thee, though this I own, —
I am a sinful wretch, undone;
Yet, by Thy blood, and grace so free,
I am complete, complete in Thee.
Complete in Thee each want supplied
And no good thing to me denied;
Since Thou my Portion, Lord, will be,
I ask no more, complete in Thee.
Dear Savior when before Thy bar
All tribes and tongues assembled are,
Among Thy chosen I shall be,
At Thy right hand, complete in Thee.
Yea justified, O blessed thought!
And sanctified, salvation wrought!
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me
And glorified I too shall be!”
Where is this perfect completeness, this infinite supply, this unfailing satisfaction, this limitless fulness? — “in him.” — “Ye are complete in him!”
“Ye are complete in him!” — Pause over those two little words, “in him.” Everything is in Christ! If we are “in him” we are complete. We are complete because we are “in him.” Complete because of our union with him.
Those two words speak of our blessed, indescribable union and oneness with Christ. God’s elect are so allied with Christ, our Mediator, that we are positively one with him. — We his Bride. He our Bridegroom. — We are the Branches. He is the Vine. — We are his Body. He is our Head. —As Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Melchizedek met him, so is every believer chosen in Christ, and blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in him from eternity! — We have been and are blessed, spared, redeemed, justified, sanctified, protected, kept, preserved, regenerated, converted and accepted in Christ from everlasting, as one with Christ, solely and entirely by virtue of our eternal union with him.
This union of our souls with Christ is so real that…
Now, let me tell you something that may shock you with delight. — If that is how God sees us, if that is how God considers us, that is how we really are!
No sinner can have peace in his soul until, like Ruth, he finds rest in his Kinsman, the Lord Jesus, and is married to him. Joseph Irons once said, “I am as sure as I am of my own existence that wherever God the Holy Spirit awakens the poor sinner by his mighty grace, and imparts spiritual life in his heart, nothing will ever satisfy that poor sinner but a believing assurance of eternal union with Christ. Unless the soul obtains a sweet and satisfactory consciousness of it in the exercise of a living faith, it will never ‘enter into rest’ this side eternity.”
It is because of our oneness with Christ, before the creation of the universe, that we receive all our mercies. Faith in Christ, the gift of God the Holy Spirit in regeneration, discerns this eternal union and gives us a vital, living union with Christ in the sweet experience of grace; but the union we have in the experience of grace is only the out-working of that eternal union. And nothing in time can change that which was done in eternity.
All that we come to experience in time is the fruit of our eternal union with Christ.
In fact, everything we have in the experience of grace in time was ours by virtue of this indescribable union of grace with the Son of God from eternity. That is exactly what the Holy Spirit tells us in Romans 8:29-30 and Ephesians 1:3-6. As God the Holy Spirit puts it in Hebrews 4:3 — “the works were finished from the foundation of the world.”
No condition, outside of heaven itself, can be more blessed than that which is produced by a God-given assurance of eternal, everlasting, indissolvable, unalterable union with Christ. When I can lift my heart to heaven and say, “My beloved is mine, and I am his,” as one said long ago, “that is to dip my morsel in the golden dish of heaven.” Because we are one with Christ, one with Christ eternally, one with him while he lived on this earth, one with him when he died at Calvary, one with him when he arose from the grave and ascended to heaven, and now one with him by the new birth, we are made “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light,” and shall be “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.”
By God’s sov’reign grace united
To His Son eternally,
I can never be divided
From my cov’nant Surety.
God’s free love, from everlasting,
Made me one with His dear Son.
Blessed union, strong, unchanging,
I am with my Savior one!
Once in Christ, in Christ forever.
Thus His promise ever stands.
Life and death and hell together
Cannot tear me from His hands!
Oft I fall, but God unchanging,
Faithful to His cov’nant stands.
He will never charge with sinning
Those for whom His Son was slain.
One with Jesus, one with Jesus,
By eternal union one!
One with Jesus, one with Jesus,
O what wonders grace has done!
One with Christ from everlasting!
One with Him upon the tree!
One with Him on high ascending!
One with Him eternally!