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And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able to admonish one another. Rom. 15:14

Full of goodness!

Amazing fruit of God’s marvelous grace!

For such it is, indeed! Fruit of the wonderful grace of Him, Who quickeneth the dead and calleth the things that are not as if they were, is this goodness of which the Church of the Lord Jesus is said to be full.

And in order to see a little of the wonder of it, just recall whence this same Church, that is full of goodness and filled with all knowledge, sprung, from what mire of iniquity it was lifted, from what power of corruption it was delivered, from what dominion of death it was liberated, out of what darkness of the lie and perversion it was called.

The apostle has now reached the end of this glorious epistle. And now he may write that he is deeply convinced that the Church is full of goodness and filled with all knowledge, so that they are able to admonish one another. But return for a moment to the beginning of this same letter, in order to bring back to your mind the picture that was drawn there of the natural man as he is in the power of sin and under the dominion of corruption, of whom it was said that he is filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; and that he is full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; that he is a whisperer, backbiter, hater of God, despiteful, proud, a boaster, an inventor of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, a covenant breaker, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful; who not only delights in his own iniquity, but also has pleasure in them that wallow in the mire of sin….

Filled with evil!

And now: full of goodness, filled with all knowledge!

Tremendous contrast! Amazing change!

And how was it affected? What may be the cause of this radical turning about?

There is but one answer: Grace!

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ took hold of that darkened mind and enlightened it, entered into that evil heart and cleansed it, emptied it of all badness and filled it with goodness.

Wonderful grace!

Full of goodness!

Filled with all knowledge!

Goodness is not to be understood here in the limited sense of beneficence and charitableness, of being good, kind to one another. This is certainly included, is one of the fruits and manifestations of goodness, even as maliciousness is an inevitable expression of badness. Yet, there is no reason to limit the word in this way. Bather must we understand it in its broad meaning and all its implications, in its ethical sense as referring to moral perfection and virtue.

Goodness, not in opposition to unkindness, but as the opposite of badness.

It is rooted in love.

For love is the bond of perfectness. Love, not as the love of those that love us, neither in the natural sense as the bond of blood relations, but in the proper and deep sense of the love of God. For God is love, and all love is of God. He is its Fountain, its eternal spring. And in Him as the highest, as the only Good, love is eternally love of God. For He loves Himself as the infinitely perfect One, and all things for His own name’s sake. Love Is always of God, from God, to God. Prom Him it proceeds also into our ‘hearts, and to Him it returns. And as love of God it embraces all the brethren, the children that are born of Him and reveal His image. And whether as love of God to Him, or as love of God to one another, always it is the bond of perfectness. It loves God. And, therefore, it loves the light. For God is light. In darkness it cannot dwell. Even as we walk In the light, in the light of God, do we love one another!

This love is the principle of all goodness.

Without it there is no goodness. From it all goodness springs. Upon this love as Its root it flourishes. Even as from the root of hatred of God and enmity against him springs all wickedness, so love beautifully blossoms forth and bears fruit in all manner of goodness. Love rejoices in the truth, never in the lie; it delights In righteousness and abhors all unrighteousness; it brings forth fruit unto holiness, the fear of the Lord, wisdom and understanding, humility and meekness, patience and longsuffering, faithfulness and truth, peace and mercy, kindness, purity, obedience, and whatever other goodnesses there may be.

And it reveals Itself antithetically in this world.

For, the goodness of love, of the love of God, manifests itself as a delight in God, a holy zeal to glorify Him, to keep His precepts and thus to be pleasing in His sight; and, therefore, as sorrow over sin and hatred of all unrighteousness. It seeks the good of Zion, it loves the brother, it esteems the other better than oneself. It speaks the truth in love, is kind, merciful, forbearing, forgiving. . . .

Full of goodness!

And filled with all knowledge!

Knowledge that Is knowledge indeed, is here meant. Not a knowledge that is from below, is concerned with the things of this world, but knows not God and the spiritual blessings and virtues of His kingdom; not the knowledge of natural light which is darkness spiritually, is limited by time and death, and blind to the things eternal; but spiritual knowledge and the discernment of faith, whereby spiritual things are spiritually discerned,—such is the knowledge with which the Church Is filled. It is the knowledge of the will of God and of His blessed covenant.

All knowledge!

Knowledge with regard to God and His Christ, the mystery that was hid, but that is now revealed; in whom are all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge of the will of God regarding our personal life, of body and soul and mind and will; regarding our life in every relationship, in the midst of the Church and in this present world.

Goodness and all knowledge!

Intimately they are related. Inseparably they are connected. For, in a sense knowledge is also goodness. Yet, they may be distinguished. Goodness is a matter of the heart, of the will; knowledge of the mind. Knowledge must be motivated by, rooted in goodness; goodness must be enlightened, guided by knowledge. Mere knowledge without goodness is double wickedness; goodness without knowledge is blind.

I am persuaded that you are full of goodness. . . . Filled with all knowledge!

Blessed testimony!

Full. . . . filled!

A strong statement, indeed!

Must we, perhaps, read these words as a form of hyperbole, an exaggeration, that is not literally true?

Does the apostle, perhaps use these strong terms in order to flatter the Christians at Rome? Or, if in their literal significance they were applicable to the Church at Rome, was that congregation, perhaps, an exception, so that the words cannot be generally applied to the Church of Christ in the world?

Filled and full?

Does not the real appearance of the Church of Christ in this present world gainsay this testimony? And would not every Christian, who has knowledge of himself in the light of the truth, hesitate to apply the strong words of the apostle to himself?

Indeed, also with regard to the corruption of the natural man the apostle had employed these same terms. He is filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; he is full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity. And this we readily understand. In us, that is, in our flesh there dwelleth no good thing. The heart is desperately wicked, and all the imaginations of our heart are at all times only and continually evil. No one who has come to a spiritual knowledge of his own heart by nature hesitates at all to accept this testimony of the Word of God. But can these same terms, in the same unconditional sense, also be applied to the goodness of the Church?

Is she, indeed, full of goodness?

Can it be said in truth that she is filled with all knowledge?

It would seem impossible. For it is not the natural man, but the child of God, redeemed by the blood of Christ, and delivered from the dominion of sin by the grace of His good Spirit, that complains in the seventh chapter of this same epistle, that when he would do good evil is present with him, that he does not do the good which he would, but does do the evil which he would not, that he knows, indeed, of a delight in the law of God according to the inward man, but also beholds another law in his members that wars against the law of his mind and brings him into captivity to the law of sin In his members. . . .

How, then, can it be said of that same Christian, of the Church that is composed of just such imperfect saints, that he and that it is full of goodness, filled with all knowledge?

Yet, is must needs be so!

Strange though it may appear, it could not be different. A man is either full of evil and filled with ignorance, or he is full of goodness and filled with all knowledge. Sin could not corrupt man partly; grace could not half deliver him. The corruption of sin could not leave the sinner half full of goodness; the sanctifying power of grace could not leave him half full of badness. The tree is either good or bad. The fountain brings forth either sweet water or bitter. Man is either good or bad. And always he is filled and full!

If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature!

Old things have passed away!

All things have become new!

And the reason is evident. Sin and grace are both matters of the heart of man. Sin is not a matter of habit or training or environment. It is not a gradually deforming or corrupting influence, that eats into has being, to which a man gradually yields, that slowly but surely forces him into subjection, that gradually fills him with iniquity until he is full of evil. It is death! It takes hold of the root of the tree and corrupts it. It searches out the springs of life and corrupts them. It settles in the heart of man and fills it with all badness. And if the heart is corrupt, whence are the issues of life, the whole man is full of evil!

But the same is true of grace!

Grace is not an attempt at reformation! Ah, how -vain would be the attempt to fill a man, whose heart is corrupt, with all goodness and knowledge by a process of reformation. As well might you attempt to change an ever bubbling fountain of bitter water into a refreshing spring by pouring in a cup of sweet water! As well might you try to change the skin of the Ethiopian by grafting a patch of white skin upon his body!

But grace does not reform. It quickens.

The Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ enters into a sinner’s deepest heart, the very center of his whole nature from a spiritual-ethical viewpoint, and the fountain of his whole life, takes hold of it irresistibly, and turns it radically around. Grace is resurrection! It is rebirth1! It is the change from death to life, from darkness to light, from enmity against God to the love of God, from iniquity to righteousness, from corruption to holiness, from the image of the devil into the image of God!

And he that is so changed is a new creature!

He is filled with all knowledge!

He is full of goodness, of the goodness of the Lord

Jesus Christ Himself, Who by His Spirit dwells in him!

He is not two creatures, a good and a bad. He is not half good and half bad. He is not a man with two hearts, the old and the new. In his deepest heart he is filled with goodness. And from the heart, whence are the issues of life, this goodness becomes manifest in his whole life.

His mind and will, his thoughts and desires and aspirations, his seeing and hearing and speaking, his whole life is full of the goodness of the Lord.

True, there are the old ruts of sin in his flesh.

The motions of sin are still in his members!

But even over against these he assumes a new attitude. For, he is sorry for them with a sorrow after God. He hates them. He flees from them. He abhors them. He prays against them. . . .

Full of goodness and filled with knowledge he fights against all the power of darkness, within and without.

Glorious grace!

Blessed Church of Christ!

Blessed is that Church of which it may be witnessed that she is full of goodness and filled with all knowledge.

And the members of which are thus able to admonish one another!

For, the one is dependent upon the other. The one is the fruit of the other. To be able to admonish one another we must, indeed, be full of goodness and filled with all knowledge!

For, to admonish is “to put in mind.” Such is the meaning of the word that is used here in the original. To admonish is not the same as a sentimental, empty prayer, addressed to the sinner, beseeching him with sighs and tears to leave the way of wickedness. Admonition must have contents. It must “put in mind.” And that which must be put in mind is the truth! It is instruction. And thus it shows and recommends the way of righteousness, and warns against the temptations of the flesh, the world, the devil.

And how shall we admonish one another, whether officially, in preaching and teaching, or as members of Christ’s Church mutually, unless we be filled with all knowledge and full of goodness? Both he that admonishes and he that receives the admonition must be filled with the knowledge and the love of the truth as it is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Know, then, Church of Christ, that you are full of goodness, filled with knowledge!

And strive after the manifestation of that fullness!

For, blessed are ye in so doing!