CHRIST IS ALL*
But Christ is all, and in all. Col 3.11
What use and improvement are we to make of this subject?
1. IT SHOULD PUT UPON US SOLEMN AND SERIOUS SELF-EXAMINATION. Shall I put the question, and will you make the answer? not outwardly with the voice, but inwardly, in your own conscience before the Lord. We shall be examined for certain in the world to come in another manner, and by another examiner. Doing it well now may prevent doing it then, for ‘if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged’ (1 Cor 11.31). The thing to be enquired after is; whether Jesus Christ be our all or no, our all in all? Look within and enquire –
(a) Have you renounced all other things for your All, and have you received Him to be your All? This must be; God has so ordered it. The terms are so laid; there is no remedy. If we look for any other we must seek another gospel.
Is the renouncing act done? Have you seen everything else, besides Christ, to be so far from being likely to make an all for you, that all else is just nothing at all? And therefore, have you disowned and disclaimed it, saying, This is no portion for me, no propitiation for me, and so of the rest? Three things are thus to be renounced the devil, the world, and the flesh; likewise, our sins, our own righteousness, and all our worldly possessions. Away with them; else how can Christ be said to be our all?
Is the receiving act done? Have you heartily closed with the gospel call, and taken Christ as your all? I do not mean in word and tongue only, for that will not do, but in deed and truth, inwardly, heartily? The hand is faith (Jn 1.12). I do not ask whether it were not a trembling hand, whether it were not done with some difficulty, as against the grain; but whether it be done, really and truly done?
(b) It may be known by the value we put upon Him, and by the daily use we make of Him.
That which is our all we esteem and prize above everything else, let it be what it will. It is uppermost with us; it has the pre-eminence. Now what say ye? Is Christ uppermost with you? Has He in all things the pre-eminence. (Col 1.18). There is reason He should; He best deserves it (Ps 45.2). It is the Father’s will He should have it (Jn >.23). And, if He shall not be uppermost. He will be nothing. Either he will be in the throne, or not at all. It is said there was a motion made in the senate at Rome, that Jesus Christ might be taken in among the rest of their gods. The answer was made, No: because if he were one He must be all; they must put away all the rest; He would be partner with none of them. The poor, low, mean thoughts that many people have of Christ, is a clear argument that He is far from being their all; they heed Him not, neither His friendship nor his fellowship.
That which is our all we make use of daily, upon all occasions wherein it may be advantageous to us. A potion, a balsam, a friend, we so use. If we want anything our trust is to it, our reliance is on it. Now, is Christ made use of by us daily, as our foundation to build on, our food to feed on, our refuge to fly to, our righteousness to rest in, our wisdom to guide us, our way to walk in, our lesson to learn, our ladder to climb by, our temple to look towards when we pray, our treasure to have recourse to when we want anything, our ark to run into when the deluge threatens, our altar to offer our gifts on? If He be not all this to us, who is, what is? We must have it somewhere. It is all one to have no Christ, as to make no use of Him.
(c) It may be known by our concernedness for Him, and our carriage towards Him.
As to concernedness for Him, that which is a man’s all, he is careful to keep, and cautious not to lose (Job 2.4). The reason is because his life is his all; when that is gone, all is gone with him. Now is Christ our life? Shall skin for skin, or skin after skin, and all we have, go for Him, to get Him, and to keep Him? What is His name, and honour, and glory, and gospel, and day, and book, and people, and ordinances to us? Are they all precious, more precious than thousands of gold and silver? If it go well with them, can we rejoice, and grieve if it be otherwise? It was so with David, as to ordinances (Ps 84.10), and as to His church and people (Ps 137.5,6). Never call Christ thy All unless this be so.
As to our carriage towards Him, that which is a man’s all, he loves, delights in, and is pleased and satisfied with. Is it so with thy soul towards Christ? (Ps 73.25). Dost thou love Him above all? Are thy desires towards Him, thy delight in Him? Is He the head, the gladness of thy joy? Dost thou see Him to be enough for thee, and canst thou say, ‘O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee – to see thy power and glory. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness’ (Ps 63.1,2,5) – satisfied; None but Christ, none but Christ. Now by these marks we may try, if we will be faithful to our souls, whether Christ be made all this to us, or no; that is, whether we be for heaven or no? I beseech you, be not unwilling to come to the touchstone:
once well done, and it is done for ever.
2. HERE IS GROUND FOR SHARP REPROOF TO THOSE TO WHOM OTHER THINGS ARE ALL IN ALL, AND CHRIST IS NOTHING AT ALL. Are there any such? Certainly there are. But are there any such here? I wish there may not be. Why – who are they? They are of several sorts.
(a) With the Jews, to this day, Moses is all in all. They are altogether for the ceremonial law, not believing that the Messiah is come, and hath put an end to it. Their condition is sad (Jn 8.24). It is our duty to pity and pray for them. There were, it seems, among the Christians, some that were for both Christ and Moses too; but that would not do (Gal 5.2-4). Those among ourselves with whom a pompous worship is all in all are too like them.
(b) With Roman Catholics, in matters of faith, the church is all in all. They believe as the church believes, though what that is, they know not. They practise as the church enjoins, without enquiring -is it agreeable to the mind and will of Him that is the King of the church? ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these’ (Jer 7.4). When Christ sent forth His apostles, their commission was not. Go teach what the church commands, but what Jesus commands.
(c) With the same people in matters of devotion, the Virgin Mary
is all in all. They go on pilgrimage to her shrines; they vow to her;
pray to her. For one chapel and altar that Christ hath, she hath twenty, forty. For one Pater noster there are ten Ave Marias. They call her ‘queen of heaven’, ‘gate of glory’, ‘fountain of mercy’, ‘mother of all graces’; their mediatrix, their advocatress. In the Psalms where God and Lord is, they put Lady, and apply all the passages to her blasphemously; our Lady’s Psalter. They call her to command her Son to do what they would have Him to do.
(d) With the same people, in matters of power and supremacy, St Peter is above all. The popes call themselves the successors of St Peter. If in anything, it is in denying his Master, and in cutting off the ear of Malchus with his sword. Their church lands they call the patrimony of St Peter; they count him the rock on which their church is built, as if he were the foundation, not Christ. God deliver us from the church that is so founded. When the time of its fall comes, it will appear it was sand-built, not rock-built.
(e) With some the light within is all in all. It is so for guidance and direction. As it dictates they say we are to do, without trying by the written word; whereas – ‘To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them’ (Isaiah 8.20). Time hath been, said Paul, ‘I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth'(Ac 26.9).
So also for justification and salvation. Some have said they expect these things not by a Christ crucified at Jerusalem, but by obedience to the light within. By which I am well sure they will never have it (Ac 4.12). We deny not a light within, but we deny its sufficiency in these two things.
(f) With some, and those too many, their own righteousness is all in all. The merit of their own performances, what they are, have, do, suffer; their prayers, tears, alms, their innocency, and their freedom from the common pollutions that are in the world through lust, as the Pharisee (Lk 18). These are the things they trust to; at least in conjunction and co-partnership with Christ. No; if this be so, how is Christ all in all? See the mind that Paul was of, and be likeminded: ‘But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I lave suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him’ (Phil 3.7-9).
(g) With some, carnal pleasures and sensual delights are all in all. Let them have their fill with these, and they have enough. Wine, and music, and dancing, and mirth, and jollity; sports and pastimes, and recreations; horses and hounds, and hawks and harlots; these their hearts are upon – rioting and drunkenness (Rom 13), making
provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. And will this do? In sober sadness, tell me, canst thou think thou art made for such a purpose? (Ecci 11.9; Jas 5.1, 5).
(h) With some, worldly wealth is all in all. Let them have money enough, and land enough; and much good may others have with God, and Christ, and heaven, with grace enough, and glory enough. Poor creature, what a miserable choice dost thou make! (Prov 23.5;
1 Tim 6.9, 10, 17). See a sad instance of the consequences of this folly in Luke 12.16-21.
(i) With some, a thing called reputation is all and in all. To have a name amongst men, especially great men; to be in honour and power, and to have preferment. They will sell God and their souls to compass it. And what a vain, poor, empty thing is this when they have it – a puff, a bubble! How uncertain; of how short continuance;
how many ways exposed!
(j) With some, in one word, self is all in all. The great idol of the world is loving self, and seeking self, and pleasing self, and applauding self (Phil 3.21). O let us all take warning, and look to it. Our first lesson in Christ’s school is to deny self.
3. THEN, SUFFER THE WORD OF EXHORTATION. It is to you all, without exception, one or other.
(a) To make Christ, Christ, I say, and Christ alone, your all in all. If you make Him so to yourselves, it is the best evidence you can have, that God hath made Him so to you. Make Him so by a cordial and speedy embracing Him as your foundation, food, and root. Teach these things to your children, and when they have learned them, explain them to them as well as you can. It will be a means to increase your own knowledge. God will make it so (Mt 25.29). Into what are ye baptized? Was it not into Christ? And did ye not put on Christ? (Gal 3.27). A Christian, and Christless? A Christian, and Christ nothing to him? If Christ be not all in all with you, He will be nothing at all to you for justification and salvation. If Christ be not all in all with you, you are nothing at all to God; not only as sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal; your praying is nothing, your repenting is nothing.
(b) To walk as those that have made Christ their all. Circumspectly and watchfully. Leam Paul’s lesson – ‘To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain’ (Phil 1.21). ‘Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him’ (Col 3.17). Pray, repent, deny yourselves, give alms, suffer reproof; all in His name, and strength, and merit.
Walk comfortably, and cheerfully in Christ. There is cause. Thou art a happy man. All is thine if Christ be thy All: ‘Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines: the labour
of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy the God of my salvation’ (Hab 3.17, 18). ‘Christ is all, and in all.’
Philip Henry (1631-1696)
* Concluded from Vol. 9 p.286.