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Complete in Christ (Col. 2:10)

We Are Complete Because of Who Jesus Christ Is

All Fullness in Him as Incarnate Mediator

To be complete means that nothing is lacking. A complete house means that it is a finished structure, furnished, and ready for occupancy. A completed model railroad means that all the track pieces are in place, and the train can speed safely around the track. Here the Lord makes an astounding declaration about a much higher completion. We are complete in Christ. He has everything, and we have everything in him (1 Cor. 3:21-23). The previous verse has stated that the “fullness of the Godhead dwells in him bodily.” He is the eternal Son of God, his only begotten. In the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4), in fulfillment of the everlasting covenant between him and his Father (Heb. 13:20), he willingly undertook to be the Mediator of that covenant. He was clothed in our flesh, meaning that he took a real, complete human body, as the Scriptures had said he would (Ps. 40:6; Heb. 10:5). And in order to fulfill his office, the Father gave him all fullness. This is not because he lacked anything as the Son of God but so that he had everything as the Mediator of salvation and Savior of sinners.

Examples of this would include that he was anointed with the fullness of the Holy Spirit (John 3:34). He was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:16), not for himself, but for us. He is filled with all love and compassion, every spiritual good, all wisdom and righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30). He received a full commission from his Father to save us, full power to lay down his life and take it up again, and full authority as Judge, Lord and Christ. In every way, as fully God and fully man, as commissioned by his Father to be the Mediator, and as actually possessing all fullness of every kind for life and godliness, he is complete. There is nothing he lacks to save us completely, and nothing we lack in him to be completely saved and satisfied forever. We will never be complete in any other but in Jesus Christ, for he is the anointed Savior of the world. We have sinned and broken every law of our God. Our Savior came and perfectly obeyed his Father, fulfilled all righteousness, and offered one sacrifice for sins forever. He is now exalted into the heavens to share everything from his fullness.

All Fullness in Him Who Is Head and Lord of All

And since we are so bent over with our troubles, he calls us to look up to see how glorious our Savior is. He is raised from the dead, ascended into heaven, and reigning at the Father’s right hand. He rules the heavenly powers that men have so feared and superstitiously venerated. They can do nothing apart from his direction. “Head” means that he rules the higher powers not by giving them a bare permission to do their wicked desires. Unwillingly, they are under his dominion and accomplish his good and holy purposes, so that he fulfills his righteous plan despite their wickedness. The good angels are no doubt included in this declaration, and they joyfully look to him for their life and security also. They now know more fully the glory and grace of the Son of God, and that all continuance in their uprightness is from his strength and wisdom. They serve him by serving us, so our completion is not only in the more mundane things of this life but includes the higher and heavenly realms of spiritual warfare. Christ Jesus is Lord here also. The demons still dread him and call him the Holy One. They cannot touch him. He has proclaimed his victory over them, and they are now reserved for the judgment to come. They cannot move an inch apart from his bidding. And the good angels who serve our Lord watch over us, guard us from the attacks of the wicked, and generally surround us so that by faith we can remain calm on the battlefield and serve our mighty Captain without being enslaved to the fear of man. We know who reigns. We know the Savior in whom we are complete and lack nothing – in the lion’s den, in the floods of wickedness, in our personal conflicts. It is because we live in him and are complete in him that we can be hard pressed by troubles without being cast down into despair, persecuted without being angry at God or man, and distressed but retain good hope in our Savior.

We Are Definitively Complete in Union with Him

Complete in His Saving Work (Rom. 8:28-30; 1 Cor. 1:30)

Let us unfold a little more this idea of being complete in Christ. It is a perfect tense verb, meaning that our completion in Christ is the present reality that defines us. We are not partially but fully complete in him now, at this moment. Our enjoyment and participation in his fullness ebbs and flows, according to his wise governance of each of his sheep and the progress of his sanctifying work in us. There are future glory aspects of this completion that Scripture reveals to us to keep us looking unto Jesus and encouraging us in our earthly warfare. At the foundation of our completeness in Christ is that we are complete in his saving work. By faith in him, we have been called by God and given the new birth. We receive justifying righteousness from our Lord’s earthly obedience imputed to us. There is nothing lacking in this righteousness. No other merits but those of Christ entitle us to draw near to God our Father with boldness and confidence. Because the Lamb of God suffered and died to take away our sins, we are cleansed – not partially or in process, but we are perfected by his once-for-all shed blood on Calvary (Heb. 9:11-14; 10:12). By faith in Christ, we are completely and presently adopted to be God’s children, possess a title-deed to heaven, and are sealed for heaven by the Holy Spirit. When we are in dark times, struggling against sin or the world, tempted to anger and frustration, let us remember the full salvation we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. He has completely saved us and is now reigning and interceding in heaven to ensure that none who believe in him is lost.

Complete in His Body with All Gifts and Graces (Eph. 1:23)

Our completion in Christ is as living as he is! Thus, Scripture also speaks of our completion as being in the body of Christ – or his completion as coming to expression in his body. His body, his church, “the whole family in whom heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3:15), possesses all things in Christ (1 Cor. 3:21-23). He spreads his gifts throughout the body (Eph. 4:7). His gifts are trophies of his victory over sin, Satan, and death (Eph. 4:8). They are also facets of his character and loveliness and usefulness. No one believer, congregation, denomination, or the whole church can possess all of Him. And the same is true of his graces or fruit, and faith itself. He gives a measure to each of his disciples (Rom. 12:3; Eph. 4:7). We are in the body of Christ’s fullness, and he does not give the same measures to everyone. We are stronger in one area, but very weak in another. We complement one other, and this is an indication of how colossal Christ is and how weak we are, and utterly dependent upon his fullness and upon his fullness expressed in one another. And yet, we have his fullness in the body – as we fellowship, use the gifts he gives and are blessed by the gifts he gives others. This is one reason that pride and preeminence in the body of Christ are so ugly. All we have is Christ’s. If you are merciful and encouraging to others, this is not you, but him. If you are able to teach, preach, or govern, this is not due to anything good in you but his wisdom, beauty, and grace.

Complete in His Indwelling Spirit (Eph. 5:18)

The tie that binds Christ and his body, the believer and Christ, is the Holy Spirit. This is the promised age of his outpouring upon the church. It began at Pentecost, grows as the Spirit fills the earth with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and as the Spirit indwells, gifts, and sanctifies believers. This is the reason we are commanded not to be drunk with wine – or drugs or marijuana – but to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This command presupposes a definitive filling or sealing that all believers receive when they receive in faith and rest upon the Lord Jesus Christ for life and salvation. The command also indicates that we grow in the fruits of this filling, that the filling of the Spirit cannot coexist with the world’s fillings and fleeting pleasures. The way we are completed in Christ and enjoy his ongoing filling is by the Spirit’s work in us.

This is the reason the Spirit had Paul write this astounding line: “Now, the Lord is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:17). He did not mean that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are the same person. He meant what our Lord said in the Upper Room: “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you” (John 14:18). How does he, who reigns from heaven in bodily form, come to us? By the Spirit (John 14:25-26). As we walk in the Spirit, we enjoy more of Christ’s fullness. This, by the way, is one of the most glorious reasons for separation from sin and the world, and whole life commitment to Jesus Christ. He comes to us by his Spirit to dwell with us (John 14:21-23). If we want a more satisfying experience of our completion in Christ, we must walk in the Spirit. The Spirit always leads us back to our Savior’s word and obedience to him as the way we express our joy, love, and thanksgiving for his great salvation.

We Are Complete in Christ in Time and Eternity

The Way We Live in His Fullness

We are complete in Christ because he possesses all things. In him, we have forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and free access with boldness to our Father. By his Spirit, we have power unto holiness, endurance during trials, and joy in tribulations. Throughout our lives until we stand before him, we have his guidance, his hope and help, and his sustaining fellowship. This is only the front door of his fullness, like entering the world’s richest, deepest mine, and finding a king’s ransom scattered at the entrance. This is all because of Christ, his abundance, his abundant life, grace, truth, and love. If we are to enjoy our completion in him, therefore, we must first rest upon his person. We must look to no other for our fullness than the God-man, Jesus Christ. We must grow in our conviction that all we lack and need is to be found in him alone, because he is the Christ of God, the Mediator of the covenant. Because Jesus Christ is a living person and not a religious symbol or museum piece, we must come to him as he: the One in whom is all the divine fullness in bodily form. Otherwise, we cannot honor him, be saved by him, or be complete in him. We must come to him as he is, not as we imagine him to be.

For, and this is the critical point, all these blessings of fullness are in Christ Jesus as our Mediator. The Father has been pleased to put all saving fullness in him, so that we will come to him as our Savior. True and saving faith does not exercise itself upon God in general but in the Son of God as the Mediator of the covenant. We must come to him as the One in whom the Father has placed these blessings. They are for us, and he gives them fully. He will give them through his Son, however, so that we honor his Son. This is one fundamental reason, as far as we can understand it, for his plan and purposes in redemption – to make known and exalt his Son (John 5:23). Otherwise, how can we sinners come to the Father? Can we expect any good thing from him apart from a mediator? What if you are your own mediator, as many vainly think they will be? I will make my case with God, fools still banter. No, you will not. He will make his case against you, and that will be the utter end of all your foolish delusions and the endless beginning of your everlasting horror under his wrath.

But when we look for all blessings only from Christ, then he and his Father are honored. The Spirit is also honored, for we cannot see these truths apart from his quickening power raising us from the dead and giving us new eyes to see and new hearts to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us say that you or I fall into a terrible sin, or simply that we are struggling against an old nemesis in our lives. Upon what basis can we draw near to our Father and seek his mercy? Where is our expectation of forgiveness? It is in Jesus Christ the righteous One, who made a full and complete propitiation for our sins. And when we believe the Father’s promise of mercy and receive forgiveness from our sins, when he says to us as he did to David, “I have put away your sins,” what is our response? Blessed be the name of the Lord! “My Lord and my God!” Or, what if we are being called to learn contentment, or to bear injuries and attacks from others with patience, or to lose much of what we thought was necessary for peace and security in this life? The Lord does not think we have the “intestinal fortitude” to bear these things. But, he has endurance to the end. He learned obedience and knows how to be cursed without cursing back. Faith comes to him and asks for his grace, his specific grace of endurance with joy. We look to Jesus Christ for everything we need so that we can then praise him for supplying all our needs. All things belong to him and every blessing, joy, grace, fruit, wisdom, hope are in him alone. When he shares these with us, we must give him praise for every mercy received. This is the reason the child of God is bound to Jesus Christ. We have nothing without him; we have everything in him.

Reasons We Sometimes Feel Incomplete

But we stray from him and often forget his fullness and our completion in him. To speak plainly, we may be complete in Christ, but we do not consistently feel and seek our completion in him. There are many possible reasons for this. One of the most common is that we trust our feelings about Christ rather than Christ himself. Not feeling complete in him, or being injured on the battlefield and discouraged, does not negate our completeness in him. We are complete in Christ, regardless of our deficiencies, failings, troubles, and sins. He is ever faithful and cannot deny himself. If you receive and rest upon Jesus Christ alone, you are complete in him. At the same time, we seek our completion elsewhere, or perhaps we might say competing completions. It is usually in another person or relationship. Someone might say they simply cannot feel content unless they achieve a lifelong desire or hold a particular position or have a certain possession. Believers struggle with these competitors, and we must be honest enough to identify them. The more we exercise ourselves upon Christ, forsake our idols, and seek to rest in his sufficient grace, the more satisfying will be our sense of completion in him. Peter could never serve Christ well as long as he held on to Peter. When Peter’s grip was broken – his pride, self-reliance, and boasting – he became strong in Christ’s grip.

As in Peter’s case, we must remember that the Lord Jesus tests his people. He throws our faith into the fire, as Peter later wrote, because it is precious to him. When he burns up the alloys and dross in our faith – remaining sins, false trusts, latent pride, worldliness – it hurts. We do not feel very complete when the Lord Jesus is removing our incompleteness and chastening us. But this is where faith trusts that he is working good in us and that in the end his refining fires will bring forth faith as pure as gold. Thus, on the battlefield or in the fiery furnace, we will not feel complete and joyous every moment or season. In those times especially, we must guard our “hearts and minds,” so that we do not provoke the Lord by doubting and complaining. These are the most common sins that weaken our sense of being complete in Christ. We must trust the Lord’s work and his promises. Without faith, we cannot please God. Therefore, as we set our affections on Christ and the things above, our conviction of his complete glory will grow. Faith will feed upon him and grow more assured of its completion in him – not in our earthly circumstances or relationships, but in Christ alone. He will have the preeminence in all things, and this includes what brings us joy and peace – it is the things we crave and demand? Or, is it Christ himself. He is our Beloved. We are his, and he is ours. When we feel incomplete and struggle, we must search for him, seek out his love, and hunger for him. He will return to us and hold us again, driving away our fears and restoring the joy of our salvation.

The Completion that Is Coming in Heaven

Rare are the moments that we glimpse the glory of our completion in Christ. So many things weigh us down now. Later, we will see more clearly that many of these burdens were self-imposed and hardly worth a thought. Our sighs and sorrows hide the glory of our completion in Christ behind the clouds of anxiety and fear. But since we will have these sorrows, is it really worth knowing of our completion in Christ if we experience and understand so little of it? Yes, for we are to set our warmest, most fervent thoughts upon our life to come in Christ. He spoke of the glory coming in one of the closing prayers of his life. He prayed that we would one day know his glory and the union that we have with him (John 17:23). He prayed that our union with him would come to fruition. In other words, he prayed then and is praying now that we shall be complete together – Husband and Wife, Redeemer and Redeemed, Head and Body, Master and Servants, Teacher and Disciples. He is praying that our full and multi-faceted relationship with him may be fully realized to our completion and joy consummated forever. Learn this prayer and believe it, child of God, and pray it yourself, for our Lord loves us and looks forward to the day of our full unity with him.

And this has much to do with seeing his glory and knowing his love better, as his very next supplications make clear – Father, let them be with me, so that they may know the love you have for me, that you have for them, that we shall have with each other. Father, let them be with me so that they may see my glory, for this will then be their glory also. Since the Lord Jesus Christ so deeply desires and ardently prays for the completion that is to come in heaven, should we not think of the glory coming, at least a few minutes each day? And then, when hardship comes, instead of complaining and demanding that everything go the way we want, we should instead remember that our earthly afflictions are working for us an eternal weight of glory. Afflictions submitted to now bring more joy later – more joy in our union with Christ, more joy when we see his glory. The more we endure patiently and joyfully now, the more joy we shall have later. And this joy, in turn, sustains us in the troubles of life so that instead of becoming morose, hateful, angry, or depressed, we grow more patient and heavenly-minded. And, nothing more alters those around us on earth, sanctifies and empowers good work, and inspires worship as much as heavenly desires for our completion in Christ and everlasting joy with him.

However incomplete we feel now, the Lord Jesus Christ will soon return and raise us up from the dust and perfect what concerns us. Our Father will wipe away our tears, abolish death, and we shall live forever without sin or sadness, rejoicing and serving the Lord in the new heavens and new earth. Glory is coming, and we must endeavor to let this joy take firmer hold of our souls. The Lord Jesus has not called us to a discipleship of misery and pain but to eternal gladness. Until then, he is with us, and we are complete in him. Let us rejoice in him, learn more who he is, and all that we have in his fullness.

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