The God Who Fills All Things

Christ is risen!  Indeed He is risen!

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Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed.  So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?  The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.  (Acts 3:11-16)

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The Apostle Peter in the above sermon says something I think many faith healers and televangelists today would be reluctant to admit: “as though by our own power or godliness” we performed the miracle.  Peter is firm in his conviction and message that Christ is the physician and healer of all, the apostles are simply His servants, doing His will.  Peter denies having any personal power or godliness.  He is a branch on the vine, but it is the vine which gives life to the branch.  He and the other Apostles are not interested in making themselves essential to what happened.  The Apostles are not seeking glory, praise, honor, money, fame or fortune.  Rather they are freely doing the will of God to the glory of God and not at all for their personal gain.   Peter does not want the people to follow him or focus on him.  He is doing everything to focus the attention on Jesus Christ the Lord, God and Savior.  Peter makes this point that it is Christ, the very person the people rejected and crucified, who is still the focus of our spiritual attention.  The people may have killed Him, but God raised Him from the dead.  Christ is no less important to our spiritual lives and to the world for having died.  His life is not just in the past, for He has been raised by the Father from the dead and now reigns forever as Lord and Savior.  Scripture scholar N.T. Wright makes the same claim for the preaching of St Paul:

“For Paul, the point of the resurrection is not simply that the creator god has done something remarkable for one solitary individual (as people today sometimes imagine is the supposed thrust of the Easter proclamation), but that, in and through the resurrection, ‘the present evil age’ has been invaded by the ‘age to come’, the time of restoration, return, covenant renewal, and forgiveness.  An event has occurred as a result of which the world is a different place, and human beings have the new possibility to become a different kind of people.”   (THE RESURRECTION OF THE SON OF GOD, p 332)

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As a result of Christ’s resurrection, the world, even the entire universe has been changed forever.  Christ makes present the Kingdom of God in the world and in our lives.  The resurrection is showing that God claims Lordship over the living and the dead, over the spiritual and the physical, over heaven, earth and hell itself.  The spiritual world (heaven, hell, angels, etc.) has been united to the physical world.  We experience the spiritual world in and through our bodies and we experience the physical world through our spiritual lives.  The scholar of Syriac Christianity, Sebastian Brock,  points out that heaven in the ancient Christian tradition is  accessible only with and through our bodies.

“… St Ephrem is quite clear in his mind that the soul cannot enter Paradise without the body, and so the righteous cannot in fact enter Paradise until the final Resurrection, when the body and soul will eventually be reunited; in the meantime the disembodied souls await the Resurrection just outside the boundary of Paradise in a state that our Syriac writers describe as ‘the sleep of the soul.’”  (ST EPHREM THE SYRIAN: HYMNS ON PARADISE, p 131)

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The resurrection unites all the realms which exist in the created order:  heaven, earth, and Sheol/Hades.

When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one. (1 Corinthians 15:28)

… and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.  (Ephesians 1:19-23)

He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.  (Colossians 1:13-20)

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