I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love if Christ–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19
But when the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us. Titus 3:4
Fullness of the Spirit and depth in the gospel are inseparable, and one always leads you to the others. The more you grow in your knowledge of the gospel the more intimate you become with the Spirit. JD Greear, from Jesus Continued…Why the Spirit Inside You is Better Than the Jesus Beside You
Another thought provoking chapter to chew on. Greear’s point is that we grow in fullness of the Spirit not by asking for Him, but by believing the gospel. If we want to grow in the Spirit, we don’t just plead for more of the Spirit, we put more renewed faith in the gospel. Fullness of the Spirit is a by product of believing the gospel (p. 107).
In Galatians 3:1-5, Paul reminded them that they received the Spirit by hearing with faith, not by any kind of work. It was by believing the gospel. But they had slipped back into a works based system. Isn’t that what we do? When we first come to Jesus we get that it is by grace we are saved through faith and that He’s thrown our sins away as far as the east is from the west.
But then we think we have to work after that to prove things. We have to work to prove to God that we really mean it, or to prove to others that we have a better faith than them…or to prove to ourselves that our past is really behind us…or to make up for the sins that we’ve committed since we turned our lives over to Jesus that we really shouldn’t do anymore. And then we miss the fullness of the Spirit because we’re operating in the flesh trying to strive and control and to just live life on our own.
So how do we really get to know how wide and long and high and deep Christ’s love is so we can experience more fullness in the Spirit?
My thought: In Matthew 22 Sadducees came to Jesus with a question. They were probably trying to trap Him, because they didn’t believe in a resurrection and were asking about Heaven. “What would happen if a woman’s husband died and she married his brother and he died and she married the next brother and he died and she married the next one–who would she be married to at the resurrection?”
Jesus’ answer in 22:29, You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. In other words, you don’t really know the Bible and you don’t know God’s power. I was sharing about that in a church that I was once in, that Jesus might say the same thing to us if we don’t really know Him through the Word in a real relationship and haven’t gotten to know His power through our faith walk.
The pastor asked a real question, something like this, “How do you answer your kids when you try to tell them Bible stories and they say they’ve heard it all before and they won’t listen?” My quick answer was, I believe it was from the Spirit because I couldn’t be that profound was this: Go out as a family and find people who have never heard of Jesus and His love and find a way to share the Gospel with them. Then it will become alive to your kids. That was over fifteen years ago and I believe it more strongly today.
For me, the way you grow in your knowledge of the gospel, and thus become more intimate with the Spirit, is to share the good news of it with people who have never heard it, or who need to hear it again and again and again.
I was talking to some boys who had carried a grudge for months now. “Meet me in the bathroom at 2:30,” was one boy’s challenge. The teacher had caught wind of it, and she was unable to convince them of why they shouldn’t fight out their issue. In she marched them to my office. “I need to know when this started. One at a time, no interruptions.” They talked of surface conflicts, then it came out. Months ago the one boy had insulted another boy’s mom, who was dead. He was new, he didn’t know it. He had apologized many times, but the boy and his friends wouldn’t listen. He had crossed a line and had to pay.
This was one of the friends. It’s a week before Christmas. I’ve been pondering the line from Titus 3:4, But when the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, throughout most of the month. I guess it’s become part of me now. I began to talk about forgiveness, and how it is a gift that the other person doesn’t deserve. It is based on kindness and goodness. But one day the shoe will be on the other foot and you’ll need someone to forgive you for a debt that you can’t repay. I said that there’s no better time than Christmas to extend the gift of forgiveness. I don’t think the teacher had tried this line of reasoning…
I didn’t talk about Jesus, but I did talk about the Grinch, whose heart was two times too small and how it grew three times. Unforgiveness makes your heart two times two times smaller and forgiveness is what makes it grow three times in a day. The offending boy turned and apologized one last time and the other boy then was faced with the choice to forgive or not and chose to forgive rather than to fight him at 2:30 and to pay the consequences.
Maybe one day he will get the Gospel, maybe he won’t. But I am struck still with the depth of the gospel. Maybe I grew a little more in the fullness of the Spirit this week because of realizing a bit more of the kindness and goodness of God our Savior who appeared and saved us.