THE RICHES OF GOD BECOMING THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST
The Riches of the Triune God Overflowing in the Flesh to Become the Fullness of Christ as the Embodiment of the Triune God— John 1:14, 16
In the previous two messages we have seen Christ. In this message we will see the church. There are two terms in the Bible that are very difficult to understand. One of them is the riches of Christ, and the other is the fullness of Christ. The two words are different from one another, but there is a relation between the two. The riches produce the fullness, and the fullness comes out of the riches. When something is rich, it becomes full. The fullness is the expression of the riches. Without the riches, there can never be the fullness. When something becomes rich to the uttermost, there is the fullness. For example, here are two cups, both filled with water. The water in them may be very rich, but the cups are not full yet. If we continue to add water into them until they overflow, we will see the fullness.
All of what Christ is are His riches. When these riches come into us and overflow from us, they are the fullness. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us…full of grace and reality.’’ Not only are the grace and reality rich; they are full. Most people think that to be full of something is the same as to be rich in that thing. Actually, there is a distinction between being rich and being full. Fullness means more than riches. For example, the cup on my right hand is rich, but we do not see its riches. The cup on my left hand, however, the overflowing cup, has the fullness, and everyone can see it.
When God became flesh, the grace that He brought was not only rich, but it was full. It was not only rich within, but it was full to overflowing. Hence, John 1:16 says, “For of His fullness we have all received.’’ Hence, when you pray, you should not say, “Lord, of Your rich grace we have received.’’ Rather, you should say, “Lord, of Your fullness in grace we have received.’’ Riches are what is hidden within, and fullness is what is flowed out. Riches are abundant, but not abundant enough. Fullness is abundance upon abundance, to the extent that there is an overflow.
What then are riches? Riches are simply what the Lord Jesus is. All that the Lord Jesus is are His riches. He is God. He is also man. He is light and love. He is holiness and righteousness. He is forbearance and patience. He is everything. That is why He is called the “I Am.’’ He is everything positive. He is the noble and the lowly. He is the length and the breadth. Hence, He is rich in what He is. What then is fullness? When the riches of the Lord are expressed, that is, when all that the Lord is overflows from us, the riches become the fullness.
The Riches of God Overflowing in Christ to Become the Fullness of Christ as God’s Expression; the Believers Having Received of this Fullness of Christ the Rich Grace—John 1:16
God’s riches are riches when they are in Christ; they become the fullness when they come to us. He is the Christ, and we are the church. For Christ it is the riches; for us it is the fullness. For example, the water in these two cups is identical; but in one cup, it is the riches, and in the other cup, when the water flows out, it is the fullness. It is Christ who is rich, and it is the church that is full. These two are actually one. Riches are hidden within, and fullness is expressed without. What is hidden within is Christ. What is expressed without is the church. Hence, the church is the expression of Christ. The expression of Christ is the fullness of Christ. His fullness issues forth from His riches. When it is hidden in Him, it is the riches. When it is expressed in us, it is the fullness. When we speak of riches, we refer to Christ. When we speak of fullness, we refer to the church. For the riches to become the fullness means for Christ to become the church. Riches and fullness, therefore, refer to Christ and the church.
The New Testament also shows us that the source of these riches is God. One day, this God became flesh and came among men. He is God, yet He expressed all His riches item by item in the human flesh. What was expressed was His fullness. In God they are the riches. In Christ when they are expressed, they are the fullness. The Jews received grace from God. We the Christians today receive grace from Christ. The Jews worshipped God for His riches. We the Christians today worship in Christ in order to gain His fullness.
We should never forget this matter. God is the Word. When this God became flesh, He was full of grace and reality. It was not that He was rich in these things, but that He was full of these things. In God they are the riches. When they reach Christ, they become the fullness. Hence, it is not a matter that we receive of His riches. Rather, we receive of His fullness. Today, we do not receive grace directly from God. Rather, we receive God’s grace in Christ. Furthermore, the grace that we talk about is not God’s direct grace, but His grace in Christ. Hence, this grace is not merely rich; it is also full. It is not merely grace, but grace upon grace.
Christ is in the riches of God. When the riches of God become the fullness, that is the church. Hence, the church is not something of God’s riches. The church is something of Christ’s fullness. In God’s riches there is no church yet. It is only when we come to the fullness of Christ that we have the church. This shows us that the riches are Christ, and the fullness is the church.
Let us now return to the outline. First, the riches of God become the fullness of Christ. I believe you can now understand this. Under this heading there are two points. First, the riches of the Triune God overflow in the flesh to become the fullness of Christ as the embodiment of the Triune God. God is great. He is not limited by anything. At the same time, He is abstract. Although we cannot see Him or touch Him, He exists and is real. One day, He became flesh and was a man, manifesting Himself among men. He was the embodiment of God. God’s riches were in this One and were expressed through this One. The riches of God became the fullness expressed without. Second, the riches of God overflow in Christ to become the fullness of Christ as God’s expression; of this fullness of Christ, the believers have received the rich grace. Here we see three important terms. The first is riches, the second is fullness, and the third is the fullness becoming the expression. First, there are the riches. When they are expressed, they become the fullness. This fullness is an expression. This can be compared to saying that the outflow of water is the expression of water.
(The Riches and Fullness of Christ and the Advanced Recovery of the Lord Today, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)