CHRIST IS OUR ALL
Philip Henry 1631-1696
Twice, and but twice is this phrase found in all the Bible. In Colossians 3.11 it is spoken of Christ-‘But Christ is all, and in all’ – and it concerns what He is in this world. In I Corinthians 15.28 it is spoken of God the Father, what He will be to us in the other world; our complete happiness alone, without any other person or thing to help. And the one follows upon the other. If Christ be all with us now, the Father will be all in all to us to eternity.
There are two other Scripture phrases which are to the same purpose; The root of the matter’ (Job 19.28), and The one thing needful’ (Luke 10.42). He alone is sufficient, without any other, to make us happy, and without Him nothing else can do it. What is a sick man’s all in all? – a physician. A condemned man’s?-a pardon. A captive’s?-a ransom. A hungry man’s?-food. A thirsty man’s? – drink. A man in debt? – a surety. This, in all respects is our condition, and Christ is all this to us.
Wherein is the Lord Jesus Christ all in all? He is so to all persons, whether Jew, Greek, Barbarian; no advantage, no disadvantage. Are they in Christ, learned or unlearned, it is all alike. And He is so in all things,
I. Christ is all in all in respect of the benefits we receive from Him, and by Him, and through Him.
(1) Christ Jesus is all in all in election (Eph. 1.14). He has chosen us in Him, in Him as our Head. The free grace and love of God is the head of election. God did therefore choose us, because He loved us; and He loved us because He would love US. No other reason can be given (Jn 3.16; Deut 7.7,8). But the head of the elect is Christ. God the Father gave them to Him to be His body, and Him to be their Head. But for Him, and His undertaking for us, there had been no such thing as an electing of us. We are chosen to be conformed to Him (Ro 8.29), that being made partakers of His image, we might be loved of the Father. There is reason, therefore, to love Him above all.
(2) Christ Jesus is all in all in creation. But for Him the world had never been; we ourselves had never been. We owe our being to Him (Jn 1.3; Heb 1.2). Young men are exhorted (Eccles 12.1) to remember their Creator – their Creator is Jesus Christ. We are all exhorted (1 Pet 4.19) to commit our souls to Him as unto a faithful Creator. Having made them. He will look after them.
(3) Christ Jesus is our all in providences; universally to all, specially to His church; and particularly to ourselves (Jn 5.22). He alone has the ordering of all events that concern us. What pleases Him, that He does. If He be for us, it matters not who is against us.
(4) Christ Jesus is all in all in redemption. He alone is the Redeemer, and there is no other but He. He paid the price alone; and there are no joint-purchasers with Him for the satisfying of God’s justice. He fought the field alone with the devil, whose captives we were, and by destroying him. He rescued us (I Tim 2.5).
(5) Christ Jesus is all in all in conversion. When the fulness of time is come that a poor soul is to be brought home to God, whose work is it, who manages it? Not the man himself for himself. How should he? He is dead in trespasses and sins. Not the minister; he is the tool, the instrument (I Cor 3.6,7). It is only the blessed Jesus, by His Holy Spirit. He is all in all in the work of conviction, and illumination, and humiliation; He opens the eyes, and He softens the heart, taking the stone away, and turning it into flesh.
(6) Christ Jesus is all in all in justification. Who was ever justified without Him? His righteousness it is alone, wherein we appear before God, and are acquitted and accepted. There is not a sin pardoned but for His merit’s sake. His name is the Lord our righteousness (Jer 23.6). He is made righteousness (I Cor 1.30). The quarrel between us and God is taken up by Him alone; He is our peace, and He our propitiation, and He our advocate (I Jn 2.2).
(7) Christ Jesus is all in all in consolation. The Holy Spirit who is the Comforter is of His sending (Jn 14.16-18). And how does the Spirit comfort, but by telling the soul that Christ is ours? Say that, and you say enough.
(8) Christ Jesus is all in all in preservation (Jude 1). We are not our own preservers, neither do we preserve one another. He alone keeps us from falling (Jude 24), from falling away;
from being tempted, from being overcome by temptation. Peter’s faith had certainly failed, but for His praying for him (Lk22.30.31).
(9) Christ Jesus is our all in all for teaching. He is the best teacher (Jn 3.2; Mt 11.29).
(10) Christ Jesus is our all in all for strength. If He be our arm, for doing; our back, for bearing; we can do, we can bear all things.
(11) Christ Jesus is our all in all at death. There is no dying safely without Him, without an interest in Him. We shall certainly perish in that Jordan if He do not part the waters and make a lane for us to go through (Ps 23.4). Never fear to look death in the face, if Christ be thine. There is no dying comfortably without Him. It is He alone that takes the sting out [I Cor 15.55,56). This is the cordial of cordials in a dying hour. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin’ (I Jn 1.7), says one good man; There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit’ (Ro 8.1), says another. Even those who will not acknowledge Him for their all in all living, will acknowledge Him so dying: then – None but Christ, none but Christ.
(12) Christ Jesus will be our all in all at judgement. That is all in all to a man then, that will appear for him, and plead his cause, and bring him off. And that, the blessed Jesus does for those who are His. He is the judge; the absolution must come out of His mouth. He is the advocate to plead on our behalf: this is one of those for whom I shed my blood; he hath loved Me, and owned Me; and now I will love him, and own him. He is our plea also; our best plea, our only plea. What canst thou say, sinner, why sentence of condemnation should not pass upon thee? This I have to say, Christ hath died for me, yea, rather is risen again. But so will every one say: what proof is there of this? I have accepted of Him, believed in Him, yielded myself to Him; and so have not others. Now if this must be our plea then, let it be our plea now, renouncing all others.
(13) Christ Jesus will be our all in all to eternity. What is the heaven of heaven but to be with Jesus? (Phil 1.33) – in the vision and fruition of Him, to behold His glory, and to partake with Him in it?. For this He prayed (Jn 17.24). As if He Himself could not be well there without us. To be sure, we cannot be without Him.
II. Christ is all in all in respect of duty to be done to Him.
As He alone is our Alpha, the beginning, the first, from whom all comes; so He alone is our Omega, the last, to whom all tends.
(1) Christ is all in all to be known. Paul thought Him so, and tells us so much for our imitation (I Cor 2.2; Phil 3.8-10). The understanding part of a man can find no solid satisfaction in the study of anything else without Him, but in Him it is abundantly to be found. ‘In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Col 2.3), that is, not only as the subject, with whom it is, but as the object, about whom it is, conversant.
(2) Christ is all in all to be chosen. He is not only the truest truth, but the best good. Nothing we can name is so worthy of our choice as He is. Creatures are, all of them, jointly and severally, but partial good: each one of them good for some one thing and no more; food will not clothe us; clothes will not feed us; but, here is a universal good, good for everything. Is not this the Christ? All in all for food; all in all for clothing.
(3) Christ is all in all to be loved. It is one of the titles that the spouse gives Him in the Song of Solomon (1.7), ‘O Thou whom my soul loveth! ‘There are many persons and many things that our love is closing with, and running out upon, but none of them all deserves it as the blessed Jesus does. There is no danger of your over-loving Him. Love Him with all thy heart, soul, mind, might, and He deserves it, both upon the account of His loveliness in Himself, and His lovingness to us (Ps45.2; I Jn 4.19).
(4) Christ is all in all to be desired. It is one of the names given Him, ‘The desire of all nations’ (Hag 2.7); that is, worthy to be desired by all, though actually desired by very few. What say ye, brethren, is your desire towards Him? But what kind of desire is it? Warm desire; hearty, lively desire; like that of the hunted stag after the waterbrooks, or the gaping earth after the rain? Can ye say, with the church, ‘The desire of our soul is to Thy name, and to the remembrance of Thee’ (Is 26.8)? There is good reason why it should be so.
(5) He is all in all to be delighted in (Phil 3.3). He is to be made our song, the head, the gladness, of our joy. Rejoice we may in the good things that God gives us; He is angry if we do not (Deut 28.47); but it must be with trembling (Ps 2.11). There is no trembling required here; we may let forth the utmost strength of our souls when we are solacing ourselves in Him.
(6) Christ is all in all to be trusted. As the strength of joy may be laid out on Him, so the strength of faith and hope; and therefore of joy, because of faith and hope. He never failed any that put their trust in Him, for He is faithful and true; in Him all the promises of God are yea, and in Him amen (2 Cor 1.20). He is all in all in the promises. Take any one, either concerning the life that now is, or that which is to come, and act faith upon it, according as it is, and try if it does not prove as I say.
(7) Christ is all in all to be thought on. He is the most excellent, lovely, amiable, sweet, comfortable object that our thoughts can possibly expatiate upon. ‘How precious’ says the psalmist ‘are Thy thoughts unto me, O God’ (Ps 139.17). The covetous man’s money is all in all with him, to employ his thoughts about; the ambitious man’s honour, and the sweet of it, as Haman; and the voluptuous man’s sports and recreations; but the godly man says of Christ – He is my all.
(8) Christ is all in all to be followed, as our pattern for imitation. We have before us a whole cloud of witnesses, but none like Christ, to be absolutely rested in, as a pattern and
sampler. He is a copy without a blot (Eph 5.1,2; Heb 12.2).
(9) Christ is all in all to be preached (2 Cor 4.5). And certainly it is the best preaching, the most affecting, the most edifying, the most saving. To read or hear a sermon, by a Christian minister before a Christian congregation, and Christ not once named from the beginning to the end, how absurd it is! And yet too many such there are! Tell it not in Gath. How unlike herein
to blessed Paul, who did breathe Christ in all his sermons.
(10) Christ is all in all in the Scriptures. When you take your Bible in hand to read a chapter, and have read it, reflect when you have done; and say. What is there of Christ here? He is the treasure in that field, the marrow in that bone, the manna in that dew, the diamond in that ring, the milk in that breast Jn 5.39).
(11) Christ is all in all in the Gospel sacraments or ordinances. What is Baptism without Christ? An insignificant ceremony; a laver without water. His blood for justification, and His Spirit for sanctification, are the main things in that ordinance (1 Pet 3.21). What is the Lord’s Supper without Christ? A table without meat, or drink. 0 take heed of Christless sacraments; not only the bread of the Lord, but the Lord of the bread, should we press after.
(12) Christ is all in all in Sabbaths. The day is His, it bears His
name; and yet how many come and go, and Christ is not once thought of.
(13) Christ is all and in all in praying. A Christless prayer is of as little worth as any of the other. As when we pray in our own strength, and not by the help of the Spirit of the Son; and when we rely upon anything but Him, and His merit and mediation;
either for acceptance, or an answer.
In all we receive from Him, and in all our duty towards Him, Christ is all and in all.