Therefore stop boasting in men. All things are yours,
I. OUR PROPERTY IN ALL THINGS. To Christians it may be said - it was said by the inspired apostle:
1. All ministries are yours; the dead and the living, the speaking and the writing, the official and the unrecognized.
(1) The ministry of doctrine and of conversion, such as that of Paul, who planted.
(2) The ministry of eloquence and of edification, such as that of Apollos, who watered.
(3) The ministry of morality and zeal, such as that of Cephas. Each has his gift, and the Church is not for the ministry, but the ministry for the Church.
2. All circumstances are yours.
(1) The world, which is ours by the gift of God and by the redemption of Christ.
(2) Life is yours, in its opportunities and its manifold blessings.
(3) Death is yours - not your master, but your servant and your friend.
3. All times are yours.
(1) The present, in enjoyment, which is more the Christian's than it is the worldling's.
(2) The future, in reversion, which has for him brightness, glory, and joy. The future can deprive the Christian of no real good; it must bring him advantages unnumbered.
II. CHRIST'S PROPERTY IN US. To Christians it may be said, "Ye are Christ's:"
1. By the purchase of his blood. For, "Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price."
2. By his choice and ours. "I," says he, "have chosen you." And, "We love him because he first loved us."
3. By the inhabiting of his Spirit, whose gracious presence makes us his. It is not a case of mere property, but of spiritual affinity: "The Lord knoweth them that are his."
4. By our grateful and affectionate service. That Christians are his, it is their daily aim to prove, by their delight in his Word, their devotion to his cause, their obedience to his commands. - T.
Therefore let no man glory in man.
1. When we join them with Christ as mediators, and make them co-partners, as it were, in spiritual effects as well as temporal. This is to glory in men, even blasphemously.
2. We glory in men when we make our own, or other good works meritorious, and our sufferings satisfactory unto God. This Pharisee is a greater enemy to Christ, and further off from the kingdom of heaven than many publicans.
3. We glory in men when we rejoice in their favour, and are more glad of that than we are of God's favour.
4. We glory in men when we desire to please them, and to accommodate ourselves to their humours more than to please God, and to walk according to His will. This sinful pleasing of men is not consistent with a servant of Christ's (Galatians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 7:13).
5. We, then, glory in men when we put our trust and confidence in them, resting and hoping in them, and not depending on God only. As the ground of Divine faith must be some Divine testimony and authority, so the motive of a Divine hope must be only the promise and power of God. It is a sin that all are very prone unto, to trust in earthly power and greatness, and not to eye God above all. Lastly, we glory in men when we boast in anything that is human or earthly, anything that belongs to man. Thus to boast of beauty, apparel, riches, nobility, parts, and learning; all this is a vain and sinful boasting (1 Timothy 6:15; Jeremiah 9:23, 24).In the next place, we are not to glory in the doctors and teachers we have, which we do —
1. When we are affected more with their parts, and gifts, and earning, than with the powerful demonstration of God's Spirit in them, and by them.
2. Then we glory in men when we rest on the ministry and their labours, thinking it enough to enjoy them, but never look up to God for success and a blessing. What is Paul or Apollos but ministers by whom ye believe? at the fifth verse. Therefore the principal work is from God.
3. Then we glory in men when we have the persons of some teachers in such admiration, that whatsoever they say or maintain, without any search or dispute, we believe. The disciples of Berea are commended for their noble disposition, that they would search the Scriptures, whether the things were so or not (Acts 17:11).
4. Then we glory in men when we prefer one before the other, so as to make differences and schisms in the Church. He that glorieth let him glory in the Lord. Yea, saith Paul, "God forbid I should glory in anything save in the Cross of Christ" (Galatians 6:14).
For all things are yours
I. THE PREROGATIVES OF CHRIST'S PEOPLE ARE BASED UPON THEIR RELATION TO HIM. "All things are yours" because "ye are of Christ."
1. The union between Christ and His people gives the highest illustration of our text. Whatever belongs to the Redeemer belongs to the redeemed. But this requires to be carefully guarded.(1) These words apply only to the mystical company of the faithful, who are united to Christ by faith and have become one Spirit with Him. The spiritual body of Christ is distinguished both from the race and from the individuals of whom it is composed. And it is of the whole company that Paul speaks, not any separate member. It was for that mystical fellowship that our Lord prayed in words that give Paul his argument. "Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those," &c.(2) Now to this body united to Himself Christ gives an unlimited interest in all His prerogatives. "All Mine are Thine and Thine are Mine," and for these He prays that "the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them," &c. (John 17.). The answer to this is our text. As the husband and wife are one flesh and have all things common, so Christ and His Church have one Spirit, &c.
2. Our possession of all things in Christ may be referred to the mediatorial supremacy of the Head of the Church, making all things contribute to our welfare.(1) When the apostle dilates upon the lordship of Christ he brings all the powers of the universe under His sway; sometimes to magnify Christ's glory, but oftener to set forth the absoluteness of His supremacy over all things for the Church. He governs the principalities and powers of the other world for the accomplishment of His designs in this, and they become ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation. The hosts of evil with their prince are governed for our advantage. The world, with all things present, is under His sway for the well-being of His Church. This is the key to all history, and Christ's mysterious but most certain sway is bringing politics, science, civilisation, into subordination to the spread of His kingdom.(2) He is also the Head of a visible community which is governed for the salvation of its spiritual members. "Paul, Apollos, and Cephas" — the organised ministry of the visible Church is the servant of the Church invisible. The order has been inverted. The saints have been brought into bondage to the Church instead of the Church being the servant of the saints; and this error has produced a sad reaction — the visible Church has been sundered from its close connection with the Church invisible. But let both grow together. Believers are of Christ, not of the Church; but calling Him Lord they rejoice in the order and service of His Church as a rich inheritance.
3. All who are Christ's have such a place in His heart, and such an interest in His resources, that in virtue of His special favour they possess all things.(1) "All things are yours" is the charter of personal prerogative. Christ is the personal Friend of those who love Him, and gives the treasures of His grace to every individual believer. "Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name I will do it."(2) But here is a necessary limitation which only seems to restrict the privilege — the Redeemer reserves to Himself the decision how much of the all things shall be imparted, when the gift shall be bestowed and when desired. The spiritual position He is more willing to give than we are to ask: our other portion may be more slowly bestowed; reserved from us though our own, for reasons the wisdom of which we cannot always understand.
II. THE APOSTLE BLENDS THE HIGH STATEMENT OF CHRISTIAN PRIVILEGES WITH THE PRACTICAL EXHORTATION TO REJOICE IN THEM.
1. The starting-point of this exhibition is the warning to glory is nothing but our inheritance in Christ. Once before he had uttered it to claim for the crucified Redeemer His sole honour; now he repeats it to claim for the Christian inheritance its rights. The Son receives us into His Father's house; and to each one He says, "All that I have is thine." Henceforth we are servants to none but Himself in God. This leaves no room for self-complacency, for all is of Christ.
2. Paul literally brings the whole compass of things into the believer's inheritance.(1) Life is ours. In its deepest meaning none live but those who are in Christ. We know, indeed, that our life in the flesh will cease; but it is our own while it lasts, to be spent in the care of our souls and in the discharge of our duties; and then we shall pass into more abundant life.(2) Things present.(a) The creaturely world. So long as we are of the world, the world is our master; but when we become Christ's free men, the whole economy of the creature pays us tribute. But possessing all things we must show that we are really masters of the creature, by our temperate, thankful, and spiritual use of all things.(b) All the events that make up the course of this world. Not that Christ gives us control of passing affairs. He keeps the direction of our lives in His own hands, and does not always admit us into the reasons of His dealings. But He sanctions our freedom of action, allows large latitude to our prayers, gives us the discretion to make all events contribute to our welfare, and causes all things to work together for our good.(3) Death and things to come. Christ has the keys of the other world, and our eternal destiny is in His ever faithful hands.(a) Death, the last enemy, is translated into a ministering angel.(b) Things to come — the disembodied waiting for the great day, the day itself, the resurrection, &c.
3. Let us hear the apostle's exhortation, not expressed, but pervading the whole passage — "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
(W. B. Pope, D. D.)
1. He finds it first in the moral sphere. Self has been cut at the roots, and it is selfishness which is the source of narrowness, the impoverishment of life. Party spirit (that is St. Paul's point) narrows your privileges. To make one great teacher of the Church your patron in such sense as that you exult exclusively in what he taught, exalt his special adherents and depreciate the work of others, is to narrow your Christian heritage. Yours is not what one teacher only was given to teach, but what all were given. All are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas. Argument, it has been said, is often most effective when it is most one-sided. The Christian Church in like manner may gain a certain sort of effectiveness by ignoring half her mission, and dealing with half human nature, but "all things are ours." The heritage is not meant to be impoverished and narrowed into ever closer channels as it comes down the ages. Meant for Catholic humanity, it remains in its Catholicity. We believe in one holy Catholic Church, one in its Divine authority, one in the truth it teaches in common, one in the grace which flows in its channels and makes its inner life the same, one in its common organisation, one in its sacred books, and to no part of that one whole do I limit my faith. By no corporate self-assertion would I have a part of that society strive to be the whole. "All things are ours."
2. But it is not only within the area of the Christian Church that the Spirit of Christ, by cutting the roots of self-assertion, realises in us the richness of our heritage. "Not only Paul, and Apollos, and Cephas," but the world, the κοσμος, is ours. The Christian realises his freedom in all truth, his kinship with all nature. It is not only that the good man is at peace with nature, that he is in league with the slaves of the field and the beasts of the land are at peace with him; there is a deep ground for such kinship. He has learned to recognise in Christ (in the latter days Incarnate) the eternal Word of God, the expression and counterpart of his being. His mediation in grace is based upon an unceasing mediation in nature. "Through Him all things were made." "Without Him was not anything made." "Whatever has been made, in Him was life." And as the Christian must lay his claim to be utterly at home in the modern scientific conception of nature, so must he also be in the world of universal humanity. The great Greek theologians of the epoch of the great general councils never let their students forget the largeness of the Christian claim. God's special dealings with the Jews (St. reminds us) are given only to prevent us forgetting His universal providence in all history and nature. For He who came into our territory (he tells us) in the Incarnation, came not as a stranger nor as having been far off before. For no part of creation had ever been left void of Him. He had filled all things through all. He was through all the ages "coming into the world." He was the light which lighteneth every man — the same Jesus Christ. "Dream not," says St. Justin (meeting a difficulty by anticipation), in his apology to the heathen, "that persons who lived more than a century and a half ago, before Christ was born in the flesh, escape His judgment. For we have been taught" (it is not a private opinion of his own) "and have explained before that He is the Logos, in which the whole race of man shared. And those who lived with reason up to their lights, are Christians even though they are reckoned Atheists among men, as among the Greeks were Socrates and Heracleitus, and among the Barbarians Abraham and Elijah, and many others, and those who lived of old without reason, were ever the enemies of Christ and the murderers of those who lived with reason. But they who lived or live with reason (i.e., up to their lights) are Christians and can live without fear." It ought to have been the instinct of Christianity always to recognise this. Christianity supersedes all other religions not by excluding but by including. In part indeed they represent merely man's bewilderment and ugly perversions of the truth. But in part they also represent that natural revelation of God which is involved in the light shining in darkness, so that the darkness could not suppress it. Everywhere there was something of a witness to God. And Christian faith stands to all other teachings, as that which supersedes them, by containing and elevating the truth they taught, and illuminating and satisfying the human need that they expressed. They become foes only when they become rivals, as even the good may ever be the enemy of the best, as the twilight is darkness by comparison with the sunlight. "There are many noble things," says , "in the Oracles by those not of Christ's part, but with us only are their Oracles complete and pure."
3. All things are yours — "Life and death," the world of human nature. It is the privilege of Christian faith to give us the freest access to human hearts. For the wants that Christ came to evoke and to satisfy belong to man, as man, to men equally in every age and in every class. The capacity for prayer, the sense of sin, the need of pardon, the reality and force of temptation, the vicissitudes of spiritual feeling, the moral discouragements and encouragements of life, the moral perplexities from conflicting duties — these things belong to people of utterly different positions in life and with scarcely any reference to degrees of education.
4. "All things are ours, whether things present or things to come." The great poet of human nature in our time constantly gives expression to the conviction that the problems of human character demand an immortality for their solution. Human characters he feels, in proportion to their worth, need an environment to develop them larger than this world; need a vaster field to work out their issues. "On the earth the broken arcs: in the heaven the perfect round." "God's task to make the heavenly period — perfect the earthen." Now this conviction of immortality in which the Christian lives gives him a leverage for action, and makes him the minister of hope. He can believe in the small beginnings who believes in immortal growth. He can believe in the perfect victory for all who do not finally and obstinately cling by choice to evil. He again has a rational doctrine to hold out to man of human perfection — a doctrine rational because it takes account of experience. Make this world the only sphere of progress, obliterate from men's eyes what we heard of last week as "the world as little like Whitechapel as possible," in which, "after death men shall wake up," and you certainly have no rational doctrine of hope to present to mankind. Where is the experience that justifies us in expecting that the progress of knowledge and civilisation really means for "the sacrificed classes" the progress of happiness. Does not experience rather give us a doctrine that nations have their periods of climax, and then their periods of decay? and is there any real ground for believing the later period for a particular race, happier than the earlier? Or have great social convulsions (though they have taught great lessons to humanity at large) been (except under certain conditions not now existing in England) productive of happiness to the nations who were the subjects of them? Does civilisation or knowledge any way tend to minimise the selfishness which is the root of all social evils? Behind the veil, under the feet of the great Head of a redeeming humanity, the Christian knows that the race of man who will consent to have God when He is offered them in His love, is being gathered into an ever developing perfection.
(C. Gore, M. A.)I. HOW CHRIST'S SERVANTS ARE MEN'S LORDS. "Paul, Apollos, Cephas" were all lights kindled at the central Light, and therefore shining. Each was but a part of the mighty whole, a little segment of the circle —
"They are but broken lights of Thee.
And Thou, O Lord! art more than they."And in the measure, therefore, in which men adhere to Christ, and have taken Him for theirs; in that measure are they delivered from all undue dependence on, still more, all slavish submission, to any single individual teacher or aspect of truth. If Christ be our Master, if we take our creed from Him, if we accept His words and His revelation of the Father as our faith and our objective religion, then all the slavery to favourite names, all the taking of truth second-hand from lips that we honour, all the partisanship for one against another which has been the shame and the ruin of the Christian Church, and is working untold mischiefs in it to-day, are ended at once. "One is your Master, even Christ." "Call no man Rabbi! upon earth"; but bow before Him, the incarnate and the personal Truth. And in like manner they who are Christ's are delivered from all temptations to make men's maxims and practices and approbation the law of their conduct. "They say. What say they? Let them say." The envoy of some foreign power cares very little what the inhabitants of the land to which he is ambassador may think of him and his doings; it is his sovereign's good opinion that he seeks to secure. The soldier's reward is his commander's praise, the slave's joy is the master's smile, and for us it ought to be the law of our lives, and in the measure in which we belong to Christ really it will be the law of our lives, that "we labour that whether present or absent we may be pleasing to Him."
II. CHRIST'S SERVANTS ARE THE LORDS OF THE WORLD. That phrase is used here, no doubt, as meaning the external material universe. He owns the world who turns it to the highest use of growing his soul by it. If I look out upon a fair landscape, and the man that draws the rents of it is standing by my side, and I suck more sweetness and deeper impulses and larger and loftier thoughts out of it than he does, it belongs to me far more than it does to him. The world is his who from it has learned to despise it, to know himself and to know God. He owns the world who uses it as the arena, or wrestling ground, on which, by labour, he may gain strength, and in which he may do service. Antagonism helps to develop muscle, and the best use of the outward frame of things is that we shall take it as the field upon which we can serve God.
III. CHRISTIAN MEN WHO BELONG TO JESUS CHRIST ARE THE LORDS AND MASTERS OF "LIFE AND DEATH."
1. The true ownership of life depends upon self-control, and self-control depends upon letting Jesus Christ govern us wholly. So the measure in which it is true of me that "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" is the measure in which our lower life of sense really belongs to us, and ministers to our highest good.
2. Animals expire; a Christian man may yield his soul to his Saviour, who is the Lord both of the dead and of the living. If thus we feel our dependence upon Him, and yield up our wills to Him, and can say, "Living or dying we are the Lord's," then we may be quite sure that Death, too, will be our servant, and that our wills will be concerned even in passing out of life. Still more, if you and I belong to Jesus Christ, then Death is our fellow-servant who comes to call us out of this ill-lighted workshop into the presence of the King.
IV. CHRIST'S SERVANTS ARE THE LORDS OF TIME AND ETERNITY, "things present or things to come."
1. The whole mass of "things present," including all the events and circumstances of our lives, over these we may exercise supreme control. If we are bowing in humble submission to Jesus Christ, they will all subserve our highest good. The howling tempests of winter and its white snows, the sharp winds of spring and its bursting sunshine; the calm, steady heat of June and the mellowing days of August, all serve to ripen the grain. And so all "things present," the light and the dark, the hopes fulfilled and the hopes disappointed, the gains and the losses, the prayers answered and the prayers unanswered, they will all be recognised if we have the wisdom that comes from submission to Jesus Christ's will as being ours, and ministering to our highest blessing. We shall be their lords, too, inasmuch as we shall be able to control them. We need not be like the mosses in the stream, that lie whichever way the current sets, nor like some poor little sailing boat that is at the mercy of the winds and the waves, but may carry an inward impulse like some great ocean-going steamer, the throb of whose power shall drive us straight forward on our course, what ever beats against us. That we may have this inward power and mastery over things present and not to be shaped and moulded and made by them, let us yield ourselves to Christ, and He will help us to rule them.
2. And then, all "things to come"; the dim, vague future shall be for each of us like some sunlit ocean stretching shoreless to the horizon; every little ripple flashing with its own bright sunshine, and all bearing us onwards to the great throne that stands on the sea of glass mingled with fire.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)I. IN HOW MANY RESPECTS ALL THINGS MAY BE SAID TO BE THE GODLY MAN'S, BOTH IN THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD. And first, thus, in that there is nothing which would be for their good that God denieth them. Whatsoever is in all the world, if it be good for the godly man, he shall have it (Psalm 84:11). There is no man that feareth God, though he may say, I want riches, I want health, I am without this or that, that can say he is without Christ, and justification, and the covenant of grace.
2. There is a limited good, that which in itself is good, but doth not make good those that have it, yea, it may be turned to evil. As wine is good, but give it to the feverish man you hurt him. And thus it is with all the temporal good things of the world; they do not make the possessors good, yea, they may be turned to sin, and increase thy corruption. And then it is no wonder if God, out of His love to thee, withhold these things from thee. If they were as necessary and as good as Christ is, and heaven is, thou wert sure to have them (Romans 8:32). Now this very particular should rebuke all the winds and waves of fears and discontent within thee. Art thou repining thou hast not this, thou hast not that ? Oh, look! Hast thou godliness? Hast thou the fear of God in thy heart, then thou hast all things, because there is nothing that is good for thee that God keeps from thee? Secondly, a godly man may be said to have all things, because he hath a right and a claim to the covenant of grace, wherein is a deed of gift of all things both spiritual and temporal. Therefore godliness is said to have the promise of this life and the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8). All heavenly and earthly things are by promise made to the godly, only heavenly things absolutely, earthly things conditionally and with subordination. So, then, it is with thee, as some man, who hath all his estate lying in bonds and covenants, though for the present he cannot command such a sum of money, yet he is rich in bonds. Thirdly, all things are the godly man's because he hath God for his God, who hath all things. He that hath the sun hath the light of all the stars; he that hath the ocean hath all the streams. Hence our happiness is said to be in this if we have the Lord for our God. David, in all his exigencies, supported himself with this, that God was his portion and his inheritance. Though a child hath not money and raiment at his command, yet because he hath a rich father, who can procure all these things, therefore he may be well said to have them all. Fourthly, a godly man may be said to have all things because godliness worketh such an holy contentation and satisfaction of spirit, that in what estate he is, he is as well pleased as if he had all things, as if he had the whole world (1 Timothy 6:6). Thus all things are theirs, because through contentation they have all things. Fifthly, all things are the godly man's because they were made finaliter for him. They are all for his spiritual use. Every gift is given to profit withal (1 Corinthians 12:7).
II. Let us now consider WHY GOD SHOULD MAKE ALL HEAVENLY AND EARTHLY THINGS FOR THE GODLY. First, we need not wonder at it, if we consider that Christ Himself took our nature upon Him, and did undergo that shameful death, and those terrible conflicts with God's wrath for His Church, He gave Himself for His Church. So that Christ being theirs, no wonder if all things else be theirs. If ever God would have denied anything, would have withheld anything, it would have been His only Son, in whom He was so well pleased. Secondly, because all things in the world are ordered by His providence only; but the whole work of God about His children is the effect of His predestination.
III. Having asserted a comfortable doctrine out of these words for the godly, we proceed to make SOME OBJECTIONS OR DOUBTS ABOUT IT. First, the doubt may be, How are all things the godly man's for his use and spiritual edification, when many times we see the godly man gets no good by these? To answer this, first, we must distinguish between God's intention in giving these, and the godly man's actual improvement of them to that end. When the apostle saith, "All things are yours," his meaning is, on God's part. His love is so great that for the godly only all things in heaven and earth were created. If so be, therefore, at any time these things turn to thy hurt, blame thyself. The physician will tell the patient sometimes, all these potions and all these cordials, they are yours; you are to take them; you may expect much good and ease by them. But if the patient be wilful, and disorder himself, it is his fault, not the physician's, that they do hurt. Therefore, secondly, the godly man, through his weakness and sinfulness, not walking up to God's order, may make that a hindrance which God intended a furtherance. Thirdly, though the godly may for a while make these things against their end, and not for it, yet this will not be always. Fourthly, when we say all things are the godly man's, you must take them in their collective cooperation, as Romans 8., "All things work together." The next doubt is, If all things be the godly's, why, then, are they so uncomfortable, so dejected, complaining of wants, as if nothing were theirs? Answer: It is true it should be so, but we are weak in faith, we do not live upon Scripture principles and privileges. It is by faith only. A quiet resting and reposing of the soul upon God's promise puts us into the possession of all these things. Secondly, as they want faith, so a heavenly prudence and skill how to improve them spiritually. Though all things be for their good, yet they must have wisdom to know how to use all things. What is a fountain sealed up, or a book that cannot be read, though it hath never such admirable matter? Thus are all things, though never so useful, if thou hast not Christian wisdom. There is no condition, affliction, or event, but thou mayest say, if I had heavenly wisdom I might make excellent use of it. The last doubt is, How are all things the godly man's, seeing for the most part they are most wanting, they are in the greatest necessities? Answer —
1. This place doth not so much speak of the possession of all things as the spiritual serviceableness of them. Those things which they have no possession of may yet serve for their soul's good.
2. If the godly have not all things they would, that want is good for them. The want of any outward mercies may sometimes be better than the having of them.
3. Thou hast what is best for thee, and that according to the wise God's ordering. Let this silence thee always.
(H. C. G. Moule.)
I. CHRIST IS GOD'S: that is the highest link. The Creator rejoices in all His works, but He has a special and peculiar interest in man.
1. When the work of creation, as to its bulk, was nearly done, the Creator was not yet satisfied. He found no point of sympathetic contact between Himself, a spirit, and the material world which He had made. Then was held that council in which humanity was planned. "Let us make man in our own image." Allied to God by an intelligent mind and an immortal spirit, yet wedded to matter by his body, man was added to the upper edge of creation, a link of communion between the Maker and His work.
2. The mystery of the fall came on and the connecting link was broken. But Satan was not permitted to triumph. When the creature called into being as a son has become an alien, where shall God now find a man, holy as Himself, to be His companion and reciprocate His love?
3. Here is the mystery revealed: Christ is God's. "Behold the man"! He dwells in the bosom of the Father, and yet is bound in brotherhood to the human family. This is the plan of redemption. The Father cometh to no man; no man cometh to the Father but by Him. The Father's delight in the Son incarnate (Psalm 42.; Matthew 3:17) is the uppermost link of the chain whereon all our hope for eternity hangs. How strong and sure it is! Satan tried in the wilderness to separate between this Man and God, as in the garden he had separated between the first man and God. The Tempted triumphed and the tempter fled.
II. YE ARE CHRIST'S: the next link. It is not that He is your portion, but that ye are His. In actual experience, however, the union is mutual. The vine holds the branch, and the branch holds the vine. "My beloved is mine" — there lies my present happiness; but "I am His" — there lies my everlasting safety. A very slight temptation may break asunder your love to Christ; but all the powers of darkness cannot overcome His love to you. Who shall separate? A British subject may be safe although surrounded by enemies in a distant land, and his confidence in his queen may rebuke the feeble faith of a Christian. Note —
1. How He obtains His property.(1) By the sovereign gift of God. "Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me" (John 17.).(2) By the price of His own blood. Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price.(3) By the renewing of the Holy Spirit. God the Father gives you to Christ, and you give yourselves. This latter is the effect of the Spirit working repentance and faith in a human heart.
2. How He will use His property.(1) As objects to exercise His kindness on. The good delight in doing good. Christ in giving grace to His people is getting delight for Himself.(2) As servants to do His work. He desires your service and deserves it. To work willingly is a mark of a true disciple.(3) As living epistles in which the world may read the riches of His grace.(4) For company at His coming, and for portion evermore,
III. ALL THINGS ARE YOURS: the lowest link. All the fulness of the Godhead bodily has been treasured up in Christ expressly that it may be within the reach of His people.
1. The ministry. The full-bodied doctrinal teaching of Paul, the melting and arousing eloquence of Apollos, and the abrupt, fiery energy of Peter — all are gladly recognised as a wisely mingled provision from the hand of that Father who paints the rose and the violet of different hues but equal loveliness. But, besides the bounty of the Giver, the liberty of the receivers also is signalised in this text. Paul and Apollos and Cephas are yours — not ye theirs. In Rome the ministers have the people; here the people have the ministers. The ministry is an article in the inventory of a Christian's goods. They are the Lord's gifts to the heirs, not lords over the heritage.
2. "The world." The world, under direction of its god, wars against the soul. But our Father in heaven holds that enemy and compels it, in His own time and way, to serve His sons.
3. "Life." The natural life is indeed corrupt, but over its corrupt root the new nature is engrafted, and so this lower earthly life becomes the root of a spiritual life in heaven.
4. "Death." Through Christ it is only the dark, narrow door in the partition wall between time and eternity, through which the children are led from the place of exile into the mansions of the Father's house.
5. "Things present or things to come." All things are yours in virtue of your union to Christ, whether they lie within the horizon of time or beyond it in the unseen eternity. We have reached now those things that no ear hath heard, and no tongue can tell. I once heard a father tell that when he removed his family to a new and ampler residence his youngest son, yet a lisping infant, ran round every room and scanned every article with ecstacy, calling out in childish wonder at every new sight, "Is this ours, father? and is this ours?" The child did not say "yours"; and the father was not offended with the freedom. The infant's confidence in appropriating as his own all that his father had was an important element in his satisfaction. Such, I suppose, will be the surprise and joy and appropriating confidence with which the child of our Father's family will count all his own when he enters the infinite of things to come.
(W. Arnot, D. D.)
I. ALL THINGS ARE YOURS.
1. All ministers are yours. "Oh, yes," you say, "that is true enough; but what are we the richer for that?" But I am by no means sure that all ministers are yours. I am quite sure that, if they are, you are much the richer for it.
1. St. Paul's general principle is that the teachers are for the Church, not the Church for the teachers. But the intention of God is one thing and the intention of the Church, as shown by its conduct, is often another.(1) God intended eloquent Apollos, learned Paul, and sagacious and enthusiastic Peter for the Church at Corinth; but some said, "We are of Apollos." They were charmed with the eloquence of the mighty expositor of Scripture, but they did not care for the learned Paul or the plain Peter. Others attached themselves to Paul, but thought Apollos too rhetorical and Peter too rustic, &c. Thus this ancient Church flung away two-thirds of its treasure.(2) All the ministers of the Church universal are yours in the design and intention of God; but do you permit them all to be yours? What, all the ministers of the Apostolic, Patristic, Mediaeval, Roman, Episcopal, Presbyterian, &c., branches of the one Catholic Church? All are yours, and yet how few of them are yours!
2. But here you may object: "We have neither the means nor the opportunity of learning from many of Christ's ministers." But do you learn as much, and from as many of them, as you might? Do you study the apostolic preachers with the devotion they deserve? When wise and holy men of other communions than your own publish a volume of choice discourses, do you take as much pains to get it as you take for the last new novel, and read it with even as much interest as you bestow on your daily newspaper? There are those in our Churches who so attach themselves to one minister that, like the Corinthians, they care to hear no one but him. Now I do not say that if you find a minister who can most effectually touch the springs of spiritual thought and emotion within you you are not to love and to addict yourselves to his ministry; but I do say that if you so addict yourselves to one that you can hear no other you are flinging away the greater part of your spiritual heritage. But not only all ministers, "all things" are yours, in precisely the same sense, viz., to use and to profit by.
2. The world. If a deed of gift were placed in your hand which made over a whole country, or even a whole cosmos to you as your private estate, you might be the worse and poorer for it. So vast an estate would entail responsibilities under which the strongest and wisest must faint. If you cared only to make a personal and selfish use of it, and if your possession of it robbed you of all stimulus to labour, to mental and moral culture, you would simply sink into the most astounding sot and sinner under heaven. Property is what we can appropriate. And what in the world is there of which, with due pains and trouble, you cannot get the best it has to give? The splendour of sunrise and sunset, the glory of the seasons, the beauty of flower and herb and spreading tree, the starry canopy of heaven, do they not become yours in proportion as you have power to appropriate their teaching, their value? Any house or piece of land that you have bought you may lose by a thousand accidents, and at the best you will soon have to leave it behind you; but the culture wrought into your very spirit by your love and admiration of the natural world, this will never leave you.
3. What is there in all the forms and varieties of human life which you may not so observe as to learn its highest lessons, as to work the very essence of it into the very substance of your mind? What have men ever done, what great and noble thoughts have they uttered, of which you may not so read as to make all that is so permanently valuable in them your own? Christ has thrown open to you the whole domain of history and of human life; and it rests with you to determine how far you will go up into it and possess yourselves of it.
4. And He has made "death" your friend and servant; for if you believe in Him what is death to you, or to those whom you love, but a transition to more life and fuller?
5. So with "things present," with which we are so seldom content, and "things to come" which we are so apt to fear. All are yours in proportion as you make them yours.
II. ALL ARE YOURS BECAUSE YOU ARE CHRIST'S, AND THAT YOU MAY MAKE THEM CHRIST'S AND GOD'S. Nay, we can only make all things ours as we give them all to Christ and God.
1. All ministers are yours; but when do you make them all yours in fact? Only when you make the best use of the best that is in them, and suffer it to minister to your highest and most enduring welfare. And when you do that, do you not both take them as God's gift to you and give them back to Him?
2. And in the same way you make "life" yours, viz., as you yield to its nobler influences and suffer them to mould and reform you. That is to say, all life becomes yours as you give your personal life to God.
3. So, again, with death. Only those who believe that Christ has overcome the sharpness and taken away the sting of death, only those know that death is a minister of God for their good. And who are these but those for whom to live is Christ and to die gain? Who but those for whom to depart is to be with the Lord? Death is ours only as we are Christ's and God's.
4. And only on the same terms are things present ours and things to come.
(S. Cox, D. D.)I. THE GENERAL SCOPE OF THE DECLARATION. Of course all things are not the Christian's in the sense of actual right or control. A man possesses that which he turns to his own account. A miser, though abounding in wealth, is a very poor man; although he has all things he possesses nothing. So all things in creation and providence shall as certainly minister to the Christian's present and eternal welfare as if they were absolutely his own. "All things work together for good to them that love God."
II. THE SEVERAL PARTICULARS.
1. All ministers are yours. Whatever their talents, zeal, piety, fruit, you have an interest in them all. Christ thought of you when He gave some apostles, &c. Feel that you have a personal property in your ministers, not only in their time, talents, prayers, but also in their spiritual prosperity and their growth in grace.
2. The world is yours. The world is created for the saints, and for their sakes is it preserved. It is a mere stage of action for them, and when of these the last has obtained his crown it shall be burned up, having fulfilled its mission in preparing man for a higher condition of existence. The earth hath God given to the children of men, but in an especial sense to the redeemed. It belongs not to men of the world to whom providential gifts are often a ruin.
3. Life is yours, i.e., as it is a blessing, as it serves us for doing the work of God. He lives twice who lives for life's great end. Only use it rightly, and life is yours.
4. Death is yours; because to the Christian to die is gain.
III. THE SOLID GROUND UPON WHICH THESE ASSURANCES REST: because "ye are Christ's." Ministers, &c., are not yours by any right of your own, not yours for your obedience, your prayers. And therefore remember that if you are not Christ's, then none of these things are yours. Ministers are not yours, for they shall rise as a testimony against you; nor the world, for it is a master by whom you are held in bondage; nor life, for its things are not blessed to you; nor death, for he comes as God's executioner, to drag you from your tenacious hold on things present, and to make you view your forfeited interest in all the joys of things to come. Oh, see to it, then, that ye are Christ's by a good confession, by a choice of service, by faith, by love.
(D. Moore, M. A.)I. WHEREIN DO THESE RICHES CONSIST?
1. It was not without intention that the apostle placed at the head the great apostolic personalities. For the highest of man's possessions is man. What would this whole creation be but for man, the image of God?(1) But it is man who appears to be least of all ours. How many a man would have given thousands to rescue the life of a beloved child, or have cheerfully laid aside his dignities to lengthen a beloved partner's life, or have sacrificed a portion of our own life to redeem that of a friend? How then can we say that men are ours, if we cannot hinder their being snatched away from us?(2) It is true that what is earthly and perishable in man does not belong to us; of that we must be deprived. But all that is imperishable and holy in human nature is ours, and cannot be snatched from us. Centuries have passed since the great apostles passed away; but have they ceased to be ours? The word of repentance which they preached, has it not awakened us? The testimony they bore to the grace in Christ, has it not converted us? The example of love which they have set forth, has it not enlightened us? This Paul, this Peter, &c., are ours. And not only they, but all who walk in their footsteps. Yes, they too are ours who seem to be far removed from us. Paul had been a persecutor of the Church, and became its protector. Peter was a shaken reed, and became like a rock. Apollos was a disciple of the false Greek wisdom (Acts 18:24), and became a scholar of Christ. We will not despair, then, of those whom we cannot call ours in reality.
2. All other created things.(1) On few things do we seem so dependent. There is the lightning, the hailstorm, the flood, the pestilence, war. These forces, which neither the mind nor the will of man can tame or control — are they ours? That wonderful power that carries men across the country, as on the wings of the wind, that still more wonderful power which multiplies thought with lightning speed; that gold which rules the hearts of men; the spirit of inquiry — do these powers belong to us, Christians? Even the gentle gifts which summer scatters over the trees and fields, will not misuse desecrate them, will not sin poison them?(2) But we must not be misled by appearances. The apostle's statement is true. For can misfortune touch us when we know that all things work together for our good? When we know that we are not the sport of chance, but that an almighty and all-loving hand sends these trials to us; when we have the experience, too, that we are purified by them as gold by the fire? It is true that the commercial activity of the day may serve the purposes of sin; but does it fail to serve the purposes of the kingdom of God? It is true that a prolific press forges weapons of falsehood and ungodliness; but does it fail to forge the weapons of truth? It is true that gold enters many a house with a message of hatred and hostility; but does it cease to be an angel of love and comfort when we carry it into the dwellings of the poor and wretched? It is true that the spirit of inquiry kindles a fire-brand and casts it into the very sanctuary of God; but does it not also kindle the flame of wisdom and throw light into the sanctuary of Divine truth?
3. But, says the doubter, there is one thing you cannot make your own. It is all-embracing time with life and death, the past, the present, and the future.(1) We will not dispute that there is nothing on which men seem so dependent as time.(a) What are we to say of life — is this ours? We devise a plan of life to-day, to-morrow it lies in ruins at our feet. We build to-day on our health, to-morrow we are stretched on our bed.(b) And how about death? When we shall die we do not know; that we shall die is certain. There are some who during life never cease to be in bondage to the fear of death (Hebrews 2:15).(c) And is the past ours? What we have done, we have done and cannot recall.(d) And how can the present or the future belong to us? At the present moment is not the future dark before us? What will happen in the next hour or day we cannot tell.(2) Amid these apparent contradictions we hold immovably to the apostle's word when he calls time ours.(a) Of course the empty, perishing, earthly life is not ours. But what does this signify? On the other hand, eternal life, whose pledge for us is the resurrection of Christ, will after this life first attain its full perfection. This eternal life is ours, and death cannot rob us of it. For death is ours in Christ.(b) The past, too, is ours. The centuries have swept away a hundred signs of human devotion; one is left, it is the Cross. Thousands of words of human wisdom have been forgotten; the Word of God remains. Names that once shone brightly in the firmament are now never mentioned; one name remains, it is the name Christ. Numberless hopes have vanished like the morning mist; one hope remains, is ours — the hope of eternal life. The past is ours: all that is worthy and imperishable in it.(c) And therefore are the present and future ours too. Let men set up new signs, the Cross alone will remain. Let them utter wondrous words, they will all cease to be heard; the Divine Word will remain. Let new names rise into favour, they will all disappear like meteors, while the name of Christ will be like the sun. Let new hopes delude men, our hope is an anchor sure and steadfast.
II. THE CONDITIONS TO BE FULFILLED THAT THIS MAY BE SO. The natural man cannot inherit the kingdom of God; therefore, cannot say "all things are mine," but must rather confess "I belong to all things." The context shows how freedom may be gained, and with it the assurance that all things are ours. The apostle is not addressing the unbelieving, but (ver. 16) those who have received the Holy Ghost. This is the condition. The way to become possessed of the Christian's wealth is the way of repentance which leads us to the knowledge of what sin is before the Father; the way of faith which causes us to find in God the Son reconciliation and redemption from sin; the way of regeneration-we are renewed and sanctified by God the Holy Ghost.
(D. Schenkel, D. D.)
I. THE WORLD HAS OFTEN USED THESE WORDS TO DECK OUT A GOSPEL OF THE FLESH. Do we not hear men calling out, "All is yours"? Lordship over the earth is yours; therefore seize, rule, and enjoy. And because all is yours, ye must all equally rule and enjoy; therefore demolish the old distinction between masters and servants, rich and poor. We know, indeed, that in the early Apostolic Church there was a short time when the word, "All is yours," was quite literally fulfilled (Acts 2:44), but this state of matters had of necessity very soon to disappear. The providence of God is not uniform, and in different ways will lead different men, setting some as stewards over much, others as stewards over little. But —
II. THE HIGHEST GOOD IS COMMON TO ALL. In the sense of faith, and hope, and love, we say with the apostle, "All is yours; for ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." What can be more my own than what I possess in best thoughts and feelings? Name anything in the whole world, and I ask whether it is not mine if it may serve my inner man and serve me for growth in wisdom and grace. Wert thou ever so poor, art thou Christ's, then the whole world must serve thee, for Christ is God's; but wert thou so rich that thou wouldst have to pull down thy barns and build greater, &c., the days of thy riches are soon numbered. Here, however, are riches which moth and rust cannot corrupt and which cannot be counted. "All is yours."
1. Paul, Apollos, and Cephas belong to thee, with their varying gifts. For thee the evangelists write, apostles preach, the sacred poets unfold the depths of their soul. For thee is the exhortation and the promise.
2. The world. Yes, not only the kingdom of grace, but also the kingdom of nature, and the lilies of the field and the birds of the air reveal to thee the glory of God.
3. Life or death. How poor would we be if death, too, did not belong to us. The gospel of the flesh leads its adherents up to the gates of death, and just there death, as it were, calls out, "Nothing is yours!" But art thou Christ's, then "to die is gain."
4. And whosoever can speak thus can also say, "things present or things to come." Many perhaps will say, "Yes, no doubt the present is ours — these misfortunes and sufferings — but where are our joy and peace?" But art thou Christ's, then these times contain a great wealth of Divine exhortations, warnings, appeals, which also belong to thee for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness. And if thou yieldest to these, then also the great word belongs to thee: "We are saved by hope," hope in the brighter morning of eternity, when all the children of God will reap with joy, for they bring in the fruits of righteousness.
III. IF THE LORD IS TO BE ABLE TO GIVE US ALL, THEN MUST WE BE ABLE TO GIVE THE LORD ALL. "Lord, we have left all and followed Thee." Luther sang, "Everything may go... To us the crown remaineth." This we too must learn if we would obtain the promise. Let all go that is now thine own; the earthly, selfish desires which hold thee back, because thou thyself holdest them so fast; and many a thing which, though it has had a noble origin, yet turns thee from the riches of God, if thou wilt hold it fast against the will of God. Let go, therefore, the vain dreams of a happiness which knows neither sufferings nor the cross. Perhaps thou hast thyself already experienced the disappointments of this life. There were perhaps some dear ones whom thou couldst truly call thine own! The grave covers them, and why wilt thou still cling to the earthly possession? In the name of Jesus, let it go. For in Him we know that we should not seek the living among the dead; we know that what is sown in corruption will be raised in incorruption, &c. And the better we learn to say from the heart, "Let everything go, to us the crown remaineth," the freer, the more joyous, the richer will we be. For then that dies in us which ought to die, and then that lives in us which ought to live. And then we feel that all is ours.
(Bp. Martensen.)I. THE BELIEVER MAY BE SAID TO POSSESS ALL THINGS IN GOD.
1. The mind of a great author is more precious than his books, of a great artist than his pictures. To have the mind is better than to have merely the products of that mind. Give the fountain, and you virtually have the streams. But no earthly or finite mind can transfer its gifts to another. But there is a sense in which we may become sharers of the Infinite Mind from which all that is true and good and fair in the universe proceeds. As really as true, or noble, or holy thoughts become a portion of the mind which apprehends them, does God communicate Himself through the spirit of the believer.
2. The happiness of this mysterious nature of ours is never to be found merely in the possession of God's gifts; the soul can find its true satisfaction only in rising beyond the gifts, and claiming the Giver as its own. When you covet the friendship or love of a fellow-man, it does not satisfy you that he bestows upon you only outward gifts; unless the man give you himself, the rest are but worthless boons. So the wealth of worlds would be, to the heart longing after Deity, a miserable substitute for one look of love from the Great Father's eye.
3. Now, admitting the truth of the thought that God is the portion of the soul, then the argument of the text becomes obvious and conclusive. As the scattered rays of light are all included in the focus, as the fountain contains the streams, so all finite and created good is contained in Him who is the Supreme Good; all earthly excellence is but the partial emanation, the more or less bright reflection of the Great Original. The man who is in possession of some great masterpiece need not envy others who have only casts or copies of it.
II. SOME OF THE SPECIAL BLESSINGS HERE ENUMERATED.
1. "The world is yours." Not, obviously, in the literal sense. This earth is not the exclusive property of the good. It is not their Master, but another who, displaying "all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them," said, "All these will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me." As often as otherwise the rich in faith are poor in this world's possessions. The best of the sons of men "had not where to lay His head"; and even this last resting-place the hand of charity bestowed. But the world belongs to the Christian in that he only has a legitimate title to the benefits and blessings he enjoys in it. This earth was not meant to be the home of evil.(1) Even mute and material things, the laws and agencies of nature, have in them something that asserts their Divine origin, and proclaims that wrong is done to them when forced into the service of sin. If, therefore, you are living a sinful life, you are out of harmony with the world in which you live. You are an intruder on its soil, a misappropriator of its benefits, a usurper and perverter of its laws. And so long as you continue in estrangement from God, it is as if His sun were unwilling to shine upon you, and His air to inspire you, and the fruits of His earth to nourish you, and that earth itself to hold you, and as if "the whole creation," weary of a bondage so degrading, were "groaning and travailing in pain."(2) On the other hand, let your soul be brought back into living union with the Father of spirits through His Son, and thenceforward the world will become yours, because you are God's. In harmony with the Great Centre, you will be in harmony with all things in His universe. Nature will serve him who serves her God. The earth will be fulfilling its proper function in yielding you bread, and the heavens in shedding their sweet influences on your path. You will be able to claim a peculiar property in the works of your Father's hand, and the bounties of your Father's providence. You will have served yourself heir to Him who is the Universal Proprietor, and become "heir of God, and joint heir with Christ." And so "the world" and the fulness thereof will become "yours," because "ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's."
2. "Life is yours."(1) Of course, considered as mere existence or duration of being, "life" cannot be regarded as the peculiar property of the Christian. For though it is true that religion is really conducive to health and longevity, and that, in absence of its restraints, vicious excess often impairs the health and shortens life, yet it is not always the holiest men who live the longest.(2) But if the good do not live longer, they live more in the same space of time than other men. Life is to be reckoned not only extensively, but also intensively. An oak lives for centuries; but who would exchange for it a single day of the existence of a living, conscious, thinking man? The briefest life of rationality, again, has more of real life in it than the longest of a mere animal. And, amongst rational beings, that life is longest, whether brief or protracted its outward term, into which the largest amount of mental and moral activity is condensed. "We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths," &c. But if so, it is only the man who lives to God who can really be said to live at all. For in him alone the whole man lives — in him alone all the energies of man's being are called into fullest, noblest activity. The man who merely vegetates through existence, who rises day by day only to eat and drink and pursue the same unreflective round, without one lofty thought or pure spiritual emotion — surely, to such an one, life, in its real essence, its true significance, is lost. The man of property, who has an undiscovered gold mine on his estate, is no richer for his latent wealth; and whatever other men contrive to extract out of life — as comfort, honour, knowledge, power — they are, after all, possessors only of its surface wealth; the Christian alone, the man who has discovered and appropriated its hidden treasure of holy thought, feeling, energy, he alone can be said to be its true possessor. Confine a bird for life to a cage, and could it be said to be in reality possessor of the unexercised, unenjoyed power to soar and sweep the heavens? But within every human breast there are capabilities of heaven, folded wings of thought, aspiration, energy, which need only the liberating touch of the Spirit of God to call forth their hidden power, and bear the soul upward to the true region of its life. The true ideal of man's life is that of a heavenly life. To that man only who can say, "To me to live is Christ," can we say, in the full significance of the words, Then "life is yours."
3. "Death is yours." Outwardly, indeed, death bears the same aspect to all. But yet, whilst of all other men it may be said that they are death's, of the believer alone can it be averred that death is his.(1) Sin renders a man, in a sense, the rightful property of death, so that, when the hour of dissolution arrives, it is but the lawful proprietor coming to claim his own. In human society, a man by the commission of a crime is by right, if not in fact, the property of the law. The criminal may elude for a while the hands of justice; but, go where he may, he has no right to liberty or life. And when at last, it may be in some unwary moment, he feels a stern hand laid upon his shoulder, and the terrible words, "You are my prisoner," fall upon his ear, his guilty freedom is at an end. And though shrinking in dismay from the fate that awaits him, go he must with the officer of justice to meet it. Now, similar to this is the condition of the irreligious man in relation to that law which he has dishonoured, and that dread penalty which he has incurred.(2) On the other hand, if you are Christ's, then death is yours. His power over you is gone. For your condition will be analogous to that of the innocent man in the hands of the law. Over him the law has no power. All its authority, its sanctions, its penalties are on his side. And so, if ye be Christ's, the stain of guilt no longer rests upon you, and- death has no longer any claim to your person. It may be still your mysterious fate to pass into the prison-house of the destroyer; but He to whom you belong will soon claim you as one who, like Himself, cannot be "holden of death." And then when "this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality," then shall the believer discover the full and blessed import of the words, "Death is yours."
(J. Caird, D. D.)Genesis 1. and 2. we learn that according to God's creative ideal, man was designed to subject all things to his own will, to have the power of enjoying all things. But the realisation of that was subject to the condition that man should retain the form and spirit of that Divine life of which he was created. Therefore the truth of the text is that when man is restored to his true character, he recovers his original dominion. Now Christ is the image of God; therefore to be Christ's is to recover the original character which God created in man. When it can be said of us, "Ye are Christ's," it can also be said, "Ye are God's," and "all things are yours." Now the two main characteristics in the Divine life in Christ are light in the understanding, love in the will and the heart. And we shall find that progress in enlightenment, and sympathy makes man more and more capable of reducing all things to His service, and of drawing tribute from all things.
I. THE GIFTS OF MEN.
1. "Paul, Apollos, and Cephas." Each had his own special power of setting forth some aspects of the Divine truth. To the narrow-minded and narrow-hearted these teachers were of no service; but to the enlightened and unselfish man the powers of thought, of feeling, and of spirit that existed in these men added to his inward wealth.
2. This is for ever the case. Our ability to make use, for our own good, of the splendid gifts of other men depends upon our own state of heart and mind. For instance, the soul of a great poet is a mine of mental and of moral wealth to those who can make him their own; but the coarse, the unintellectual man cannot grasp its treasures. When Paul's body was bound by Nero at Rome, the apostle was not possessed by the brutal emperor who could not enter into his ideas; but the humblest Christian slave in Nero's household was able to make the genius of the great apostle contribute to the inward wealth of his own soul.
II. THE WORLD.
1. The material form of the world becomes ours not by virtue of our external position but of our inward state of heart and mind. The man of cultured mind and heart, who knows the inward life and the hidden history of the world, who looks at and loves the glorious landscape, who sees everywhere the signs of God's wisdom and power, who sees the beauty of His works; and above all he who knows how to appreciate the greatest of all — the moral nature of man — is more truly the owner of wide provinces of the world than a king dark in mind and debased in heart.
2. So the wealth of the world does not belong to a man really until he has become renewed in mind and in heart. The narrow-minded, narrow-hearted churl may have countless hoards, but he is not the master of his money, but his money is the master of the man.
3. The callings, the social intercourse of the world, do not really belong to us in the sense of doing us any good until we are renewed in heart and mind. A selfish, Christless man may have a large practice, a lucrative business, a high social position, but he cannot derive from them any rich inward happiness; but the man who is animated by the spirit of Christ, finds in doing his every-day duty a resource that gives strength and satisfaction to the whole being, and he can say, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me and to finish His work."
III. LIFE. The desire for life is innate in man. How shall I see life? is the cry of the young human heart. The only answer is, "I am come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly." Mere animal existence is not the all of life. The enlightening of the mind by the rays, and the enlargement of the heart by the ardour of that fire of love that came down on Pentecost give the fulness of life. Sensual and worldly life as old age creeps upon us, becomes a burden, not a treasure. But if we are animated by the spirit of Christ we have an undecaying life that we realise day by day more and more our own possession. There are other masters who wish to supersede Christ, that tell us of life sensual and of life intellectual, but they admit that the life of which they speak is not to be our own, and that it is to become the spoil of the grave. Christ alone rescues our life from corruption and makes it ours, ours for ever. "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou alone hast the words of eternal life."
IV. DEATH. If we are living worldly, sensual, thoughtless lives, then death is not our possession but our enemy; but if we are deadening the lower life and giving ourselves to the life of the spirit in Christ day by day, then death is ours. As the exile welcomes the white-winged ship that is to bear him away from the strange land of his sojourn where he cannot find lasting rest, and to take him across the storm-tossed waves of the ocean to the calm shores where stands the home of his inheritance, so is the approach of death to those who are in Christ. As is the opening of the door to the guest that has long been wearily waiting in the ante-room of the outward existence to be ushered into the presence-chamber where he shall "see the king in his beauty," and find the bounty of his favour, so is the approach of death to those who have been all through their life straining the gaze of the soul to catch the vision of the higher life.
(Dean Edwards.)I. ALL THINGS ARE YOURS.
1. "Paul, Apollos, Cephas." Therefore Peter is not the head of the Church. He is named here in the third place. Peter is the Church's, and therefore cannot be the head and commander.
2. The world.(1) The world natural — the frame of heaven and earth. All things are made for man, and he is made for God. They have their happiness and misery together with men (Romans 8:21).(2) The civil world. The commonwealth is for the Church. Therefore St. Paul bids us "pray for kings and princes," &c. (1 Timothy 2:2). Commonwealths stand because the Church is mingled with them.(3) The world of wicked men, all their plots, and the "prince of the world" are the Church's. He and all his instruments are under the command of Him who turns all his designs contrary to his own intention.
3. Life. Why doth God prolong the life of good pastors and good people, but that they may be blessed instruments to convey truth to posterity? (Philippians 1:23, 24). And so the life of good magistrates (Acts 13:36). And then our own life is ours, in order to a better life, which is the only life. This present life is nothing but a shadow. Again, life is ours, because the time we live here is a seed time. This time is given us to do a great many good things in, the harvest of which is reserved for the world to come. And life is a special benefit, because by the advantage of life we further our reckonings after death. A good Christian, the longer he lives, the more he soweth to the Spirit.
4. "Or death." Paul joins these together, for if life be not ours for good, death will never be ours. But if life be ours, and we have made a blessed improvement of it, then death also shall be ours (Revelation 14:13). It tends to our benefit many ways.(1) It unclothes us of these rags, these sick, weak bodies of ours, that occasion so much disquiet to our souls, and puts on a new robe of immortality, and garments of glory. It ends all that is ill.(2) It ends labour in our callings, and the miseries and afflictions that accompany them. Death is ours because it is our resting-place.(3) It frees us from wicked men, and sets us clear out of Satan's reach.(4) It is a passage to another world. It is the gate of glory. Our death is our birthday. For when we die, we begin to live, and we never live indeed till we die. Death is ours every way. It is our greatest friend under the mask of an enemy. It is a good messenger; it brings good tidings when it comes (Ecclesiastes 7:1). It is the best physician. It cures all diseases whatsoever of soul and body. And, indeed, death is the death of itself; for after death there is no more death (Romans 6:9).
5. "Or things present."(1) The good things present are ours, for our comfort in our pilgrimage and passage towards heaven (Titus 1:15; 1 Timothy 4:4).(2) And as good things, so ill things. Afflictions are ours, because they fit us for a happier state; they exercise what is good in us, and mortify what is ill.
6. Things to come — whether they be good or evil.(1) For good. The remainder of our life, that is ours to be good in. Death is to come, and that is ours. And judgment, that is ours; for our Brother and Saviour shall be our judge (1 Corinthians 6:2). And then after judgment heaven is ours. Indeed, the best is to come.(2) And evil things to come are ours also. They cannot do us harm (Romans 8:35, 38).
II. BUT WE MUST UNDERSTAND THIS WITH SOME LIMITS. We therefore answer some cases.
1. It may seem there is no distinction of property if all be a Christian's. If every Christian may say, "All is mine," then what is one man's is another's, and there will be no property. Undoubtedly there is a distinction of properties in the things of this life. "All is ours," to help us to heaven; in order to comfort and happiness.
2. If all is the Church's, nothing belongs to the wicked. Therefore say the Jesuited papists, the pope may excommunicate ill princes. They are evil governors; nothing is theirs, all is the Church's. But political government is not founded upon religion, but upon nature and free election, so that the heathen that have no religion may yet have a lawful government and governors. But it is further objected that they succeed Christ, &c., and He was the Lord of the world; and therefore they may dispossess and invest whom they will. But Christ as man had no government at all (John 18:36), only as God-man, Mediator; and so He hath no successor.
3. Doth not this hinder bounty? It is mine, and therefore I do not owe any bounty unto others (1 Samuel 25:11). However all that we possess is ours in law, yet the bonds of duty, both of humanity and religion, are larger than the bonds of law. Therefore "all things are ours," not to possess all we have, but to use them as He will have them used, that gives them.
4. If all be ours, we may do what we choose in all things. Not so. There is difference between right, and the use of that right. God's children have right to that which God gives them, but they have not the use of that right at all times. Again, though all be ours, yet we have not a sanctified use, but by the Word and prayer (1 Timothy 4:4). We must take them with God's leave.
5. Again, "all things are ours." Therefore truth, wheresoever we find it, is ours.
(R. Sibbes, D. D.)I. CHRIST IS GOD'S.
1. God's Son.
2. God's image.
3. God's gift.
4. God's great ordinance of salvation.
II. YE ARE CHRIST'S.
(1) (2) (3) 2. Positively, "Ye are Christ's." His property, His spouse, His members, His riches, His glory. III. HAVING CHRIST, WE HAVE ALL THINGS. I remember reading of a lady looking over certain treasures of the house. She says, this is mine, and this is mine, and this is mine. The husband very pleasantly smiled, and said, Yes, my dear, all this is yours, because you are mine. Now all belongs to the believer that belongs to Christ, officially, relatively, and by covenant, and by mediation. 1. All the fulness stored up in the person of Christ belongs to His people. "It hath pleased the Father that in Him all fulness should dwell." "Of His fulness we have received, and grace for grace." 2. All the merit of His work. 3. All the triumphs of His victories. (G. Murrell.) 1. Those who esteem the doctrine because of the teacher. Paul seems to have had those in his eye when he wrote this chapter. This is a mistake, as bad as it is prevalent. 2. Those who esteem the teacher because of his doctrines. A man who preaches to them, they feel, is estimable only as he embodies and propounds the true doctrines of the gospel. The impropriety of glorying in teachers, rather than in their doctrines, is strikingly illustrated by three things in the text. I. THE UNIVERSE IS FOR THE CHURCH. "All things" — not some things. 1. The ministry. "Whether Paul, or Apollos." In every way it serves man — intellectually, socially, materially. Rut its grand aim is to restore the human spirit to God. Now this ministry, in all its varieties, is the property of the Church. Why, then, should it glory in any one form? 2. The world. In the sense of legal possession the world of course is not the property of Christians, nor of others. Yet in the highest sense it is the property of the Christian. He feels an intense sympathy with God who created it; he rejoices in it as the workmanship of a Father's hands, as the expression of a Father's heart, the revelation of a Father's wisdom and power. Spiritually he appropriates the world to himself, he gathers up its truths, he cherishes its impressions, he drinks in its Divine spirit. 3. Life. There are certain conditions in which men cannot be said to live. The prisoner under the sentence of death; his life belongs to the avenging justice of his country. There are others whose faculties are so paralysed they can neither speak nor move. Life is not theirs. Morally man is dead in trespasses and in sin; his life is not his. But life is the Christian's. His sentence of death is removed; his moral infirmities are healed, and he is enjoying the right of life, he is prosecuting the mission of life, he is answering the grand purpose of life. 4. Death. It delivers from all that is incompatible with our peace, safety, and advancement; and introduces us into the scenes, the services, the society of a blessed immortality. It is ours; the last step in the pilgrimage, the last storm in the voyage, the last blow in the conflict. 5. General events. "Things present," whatever their character — painful or pleasant — are ours. "Things to come." What things come to us in a day! What things, therefore, are to come in eternity! II. THE CHURCH IS FOR THE REDEEMER. There are two very different senses in which Christian men are Christ's. They are His — 1. By His relationship to them. He is the Creator of all. "By Him were all things created, visible and invisible," &c. He is the Mediator of all. "Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price," &c. 2. By their pledge to Him. They have pledged themselves to Him as their moral Leader. III. THE REDEEMER IS FOR GOD. Christ is — 1. God's Revealer. He reveals Him —(1) In creation. God's creative plan was wrought out by the hand of Christ; He, as the builder of the universe, revealed the mind of the infinite Architect.(2) In His personal ministry. He was the Image of the invisible God, the brightness of His Father's glory. 2. God's Servant. He came here to work out God's great plan of saving mercy. Christ is God's Revealer and Servant in a sense in which no other being in the universe is, and therefore to Him men should give their undivided attention.Conclusion: Learn — 1. The infinite worth of Christianity. It gives "all things" to its true disciples. None of the "all things" specified here are possessed by those who are not His genuine disciples. 2. The contemptibleness of religious sectarianism. (D. Thomas, D. D.)
(2) (3) 2. Positively, "Ye are Christ's." His property, His spouse, His members, His riches, His glory. III. HAVING CHRIST, WE HAVE ALL THINGS. I remember reading of a lady looking over certain treasures of the house. She says, this is mine, and this is mine, and this is mine. The husband very pleasantly smiled, and said, Yes, my dear, all this is yours, because you are mine. Now all belongs to the believer that belongs to Christ, officially, relatively, and by covenant, and by mediation. 1. All the fulness stored up in the person of Christ belongs to His people. "It hath pleased the Father that in Him all fulness should dwell." "Of His fulness we have received, and grace for grace." 2. All the merit of His work. 3. All the triumphs of His victories. (G. Murrell.) 1. Those who esteem the doctrine because of the teacher. Paul seems to have had those in his eye when he wrote this chapter. This is a mistake, as bad as it is prevalent. 2. Those who esteem the teacher because of his doctrines. A man who preaches to them, they feel, is estimable only as he embodies and propounds the true doctrines of the gospel. The impropriety of glorying in teachers, rather than in their doctrines, is strikingly illustrated by three things in the text. I. THE UNIVERSE IS FOR THE CHURCH. "All things" — not some things. 1. The ministry. "Whether Paul, or Apollos." In every way it serves man — intellectually, socially, materially. Rut its grand aim is to restore the human spirit to God. Now this ministry, in all its varieties, is the property of the Church. Why, then, should it glory in any one form? 2. The world. In the sense of legal possession the world of course is not the property of Christians, nor of others. Yet in the highest sense it is the property of the Christian. He feels an intense sympathy with God who created it; he rejoices in it as the workmanship of a Father's hands, as the expression of a Father's heart, the revelation of a Father's wisdom and power. Spiritually he appropriates the world to himself, he gathers up its truths, he cherishes its impressions, he drinks in its Divine spirit. 3. Life. There are certain conditions in which men cannot be said to live. The prisoner under the sentence of death; his life belongs to the avenging justice of his country. There are others whose faculties are so paralysed they can neither speak nor move. Life is not theirs. Morally man is dead in trespasses and in sin; his life is not his. But life is the Christian's. His sentence of death is removed; his moral infirmities are healed, and he is enjoying the right of life, he is prosecuting the mission of life, he is answering the grand purpose of life. 4. Death. It delivers from all that is incompatible with our peace, safety, and advancement; and introduces us into the scenes, the services, the society of a blessed immortality. It is ours; the last step in the pilgrimage, the last storm in the voyage, the last blow in the conflict. 5. General events. "Things present," whatever their character — painful or pleasant — are ours. "Things to come." What things come to us in a day! What things, therefore, are to come in eternity! II. THE CHURCH IS FOR THE REDEEMER. There are two very different senses in which Christian men are Christ's. They are His — 1. By His relationship to them. He is the Creator of all. "By Him were all things created, visible and invisible," &c. He is the Mediator of all. "Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price," &c. 2. By their pledge to Him. They have pledged themselves to Him as their moral Leader. III. THE REDEEMER IS FOR GOD. Christ is — 1. God's Revealer. He reveals Him —(1) In creation. God's creative plan was wrought out by the hand of Christ; He, as the builder of the universe, revealed the mind of the infinite Architect.(2) In His personal ministry. He was the Image of the invisible God, the brightness of His Father's glory. 2. God's Servant. He came here to work out God's great plan of saving mercy. Christ is God's Revealer and Servant in a sense in which no other being in the universe is, and therefore to Him men should give their undivided attention.Conclusion: Learn — 1. The infinite worth of Christianity. It gives "all things" to its true disciples. None of the "all things" specified here are possessed by those who are not His genuine disciples. 2. The contemptibleness of religious sectarianism. (D. Thomas, D. D.)
(3) 2. Positively, "Ye are Christ's." His property, His spouse, His members, His riches, His glory. III. HAVING CHRIST, WE HAVE ALL THINGS. I remember reading of a lady looking over certain treasures of the house. She says, this is mine, and this is mine, and this is mine. The husband very pleasantly smiled, and said, Yes, my dear, all this is yours, because you are mine. Now all belongs to the believer that belongs to Christ, officially, relatively, and by covenant, and by mediation. 1. All the fulness stored up in the person of Christ belongs to His people. "It hath pleased the Father that in Him all fulness should dwell." "Of His fulness we have received, and grace for grace." 2. All the merit of His work. 3. All the triumphs of His victories. (G. Murrell.) 1. Those who esteem the doctrine because of the teacher. Paul seems to have had those in his eye when he wrote this chapter. This is a mistake, as bad as it is prevalent. 2. Those who esteem the teacher because of his doctrines. A man who preaches to them, they feel, is estimable only as he embodies and propounds the true doctrines of the gospel. The impropriety of glorying in teachers, rather than in their doctrines, is strikingly illustrated by three things in the text. I. THE UNIVERSE IS FOR THE CHURCH. "All things" — not some things. 1. The ministry. "Whether Paul, or Apollos." In every way it serves man — intellectually, socially, materially. Rut its grand aim is to restore the human spirit to God. Now this ministry, in all its varieties, is the property of the Church. Why, then, should it glory in any one form? 2. The world. In the sense of legal possession the world of course is not the property of Christians, nor of others. Yet in the highest sense it is the property of the Christian. He feels an intense sympathy with God who created it; he rejoices in it as the workmanship of a Father's hands, as the expression of a Father's heart, the revelation of a Father's wisdom and power. Spiritually he appropriates the world to himself, he gathers up its truths, he cherishes its impressions, he drinks in its Divine spirit. 3. Life. There are certain conditions in which men cannot be said to live. The prisoner under the sentence of death; his life belongs to the avenging justice of his country. There are others whose faculties are so paralysed they can neither speak nor move. Life is not theirs. Morally man is dead in trespasses and in sin; his life is not his. But life is the Christian's. His sentence of death is removed; his moral infirmities are healed, and he is enjoying the right of life, he is prosecuting the mission of life, he is answering the grand purpose of life. 4. Death. It delivers from all that is incompatible with our peace, safety, and advancement; and introduces us into the scenes, the services, the society of a blessed immortality. It is ours; the last step in the pilgrimage, the last storm in the voyage, the last blow in the conflict. 5. General events. "Things present," whatever their character — painful or pleasant — are ours. "Things to come." What things come to us in a day! What things, therefore, are to come in eternity! II. THE CHURCH IS FOR THE REDEEMER. There are two very different senses in which Christian men are Christ's. They are His — 1. By His relationship to them. He is the Creator of all. "By Him were all things created, visible and invisible," &c. He is the Mediator of all. "Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price," &c. 2. By their pledge to Him. They have pledged themselves to Him as their moral Leader. III. THE REDEEMER IS FOR GOD. Christ is — 1. God's Revealer. He reveals Him —(1) In creation. God's creative plan was wrought out by the hand of Christ; He, as the builder of the universe, revealed the mind of the infinite Architect.(2) In His personal ministry. He was the Image of the invisible God, the brightness of His Father's glory. 2. God's Servant. He came here to work out God's great plan of saving mercy. Christ is God's Revealer and Servant in a sense in which no other being in the universe is, and therefore to Him men should give their undivided attention.Conclusion: Learn — 1. The infinite worth of Christianity. It gives "all things" to its true disciples. None of the "all things" specified here are possessed by those who are not His genuine disciples. 2. The contemptibleness of religious sectarianism. (D. Thomas, D. D.)
2. Positively, "Ye are Christ's." His property, His spouse, His members, His riches, His glory.
2. All the merit of His work.
3. All the triumphs of His victories.
I. THE UNIVERSE IS FOR THE CHURCH. "All things" — not some things.
2. By their pledge to Him. They have pledged themselves to Him as their moral Leader.
III. THE REDEEMER IS FOR GOD. Christ is —
2. The contemptibleness of religious sectarianism.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)