… Christ is all and in all. (Colossians 3:11, NKJV)
Christ is all, in all the [eternal] counsels of God concerning man
There was a time when this earth had no being.
Solid as the mountains look, boundless as the sea appears, high as the stars in heaven look – they once did not exist. And man, with all the high thoughts he now has of himself, was a creature unknown.
And where was Christ then?
Even then Christ was “with God “ – and “was God” – and was “equal with God.” (John 1:1; Philippians 2:6.)
“And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” (John 17:5, NKJV)
“He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:20, NIV)
Believers was chosen in Him,
“For He [God] chose us in Him [Christ] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4, NIV)
There came a time when this earth was created in its present order.
Sun, moon and stars – sea, land and all their inhabitants, were called into being and made out of chaos and confusion. And, last of all, man was formed out of the dust of the ground.
And where was Christ then?
“Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:3, NIV)
“For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16, NIV)
“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.” (Hebrews 1:10, NIV)
There came a day when sin entered the world.
Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and fell. They lost that holy nature in which they were first formed. They forfeited the friendship and favour of God and became guilty, corrupt, helpless, hopeless sinners. Sin came as a barrier between themselves and their holy Father in heaven. Had He dealt with them according to their deserts, there had been nothing before them but death, hell, and everlasting ruin.
And where was Christ then?
The very day they fell, they were told that “the seed of the woman should yet bruise the serpent’s head,” – that a Saviour born of a woman should overcome the devil and win for sinful man an entrance to eternal life. (Genesis 3:15.)
There came a time when the world seemed sunk and buried in ignorance of God.
After 4,000 years the nations of the earth appeared to have clean forgotten the God that made them. Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires had done nothing but spread superstition and idolatry.
And what did Christ do then?
- He left the glory He had had from all eternity with the Father, and came down into the world to provide a salvation.
- He took our nature upon Him, and was born as a man. As a man He did the will of God perfectly, which we all had left undone: as a man He suffered on the cross the wrath of God which we ought to have suffered.
- He brought in everlasting righteousness for us. He redeemed us from the curse of a broken law. He opened a fountain for all sin and uncleanness.
- He died for our sins. He rose again for our justification. He ascended to God’s right hand, and there sat down, waiting till His enemies should be made His footstool. And there He sits now, offering salvation to all who will come to Him, interceding for all who believe in Him, and managing by God’s appointment all that concerns the salvation of souls.
There is a time coming when sin shall be cast out from this world.
Wickedness shall not always flourish unpunished; Satan shall not always reign; creation shall not always groan, being burdened. There shall be a time of restitution of all things. There shall be a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness, and the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Romans 8:22; Acts 3:21; 2 Peter 3:13; Isaiah 11:9.)
And where shall Christ be then? And what shall He do?
- Christ Himself shall be King.
- He shall return to this earth and make all things new.
- He shall come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, and the kingdoms of the world shall become His.
- The heathen shall be given to Him for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession.
- To Him every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord.
There is a day coming when all men shall be judged.
The sea shall give up the dead which are in it, and death and hell shall deliver up the dead which are in them. All that sleep in the grave shall awake and come forth, and all shall be judged according to their works. (Rev. xx. 13; Dan. xii. 2.)
And where will Christ be then?
Christ Himself will be the Judge.
“Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son…” (John 5:22, NIV)
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (Matthew 25:31–32, NIV)
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10, NIV)
If anyone thinks little of Christ, let him know this day that he is very unlike God! You are of one mind, and God is of another. You think it enough to give Christ a little honour, a little reverence, a little respect. But in all the eternal counsels of God the Father, in creation, redemption, restitution, and judgment – in all these, Christ is “all.”
“… that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent Him.” (John 5:23, NIV)
“Christ is all” in the inspired books which make up the Bible
In every part of both Testaments, Christ is to be found – dimly and indistinctly at the beginning – more clearly and plainly in the middle – fully and completely at the end – but really and substantially everywhere.
- It was Christ crucified who was set forth in every Old Testament sacrifice. Every animal slain and offered on an altar was a practical confession that a Saviour was looked for who would die for sinners – a Saviour who should take away man’s sin, by suffering, as his Substitute and Sin-bearer, in his stead. It is absurd to suppose that an unmeaning slaughter of innocent beasts, without a distinct object in view, could please the eternal God!
- It was Christ to whom Abel looked when he offered a better sacrifice than Cain. He offered the firstlings of his flock, with the blood thereof, and in so doing declared his belief that without shedding of blood there is no remission. “By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.” (Hebrews 11:4, NIV)
- It was Christ of whom Enoch prophesied in the days of abounding wickedness before the flood. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 14–15, NIV)
- It was Christ to whom Abraham looked when he dwelt in tents in the land of promise. He believed that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. By faith he saw Christ’s day, and was glad. “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing My day; he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56, NIV)
- It was Christ of whom Jacob spoke to his sons, as he lay dying. He marked out the tribe out of which He would be born, and foretold that “gathering together” unto Him which is yet to be accomplished. “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.” (Genesis 49:10, NIV)
- It was Christ who was the substance of the ceremonial law: the morning and evening sacrifice, the continual shedding of blood, the altar, the mercy-seat, the high priest, the passover, the day of atonement, the scapegoat – all these were so many pictures, types, and emblems of Christ and His work. God had compassion upon the weakness of His people. He taught them “Christ” line upon line, and, as we teach little children, by analogies. “So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24, NIV)
- It was Christ to whom God directed the attention of Israel by all the daily miracles which were done before their eyes in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud and fire which guided them, the manna from heaven which every morning fed them, the water from the smitten rock which followed them “… and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:4, NIV) “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up…” (John 3:14, NIV)
- It was Christ of whom all the Judges were types. Joshua, and David, and Gideon, and Jephthah, and Samson, and all the rest whom God raised up to deliver Israel from captivity – all were emblems of Christ. They were set for example of better things in the distant future. All were meant to remind the tribes of that far higher Deliverer who was yet to come.
- It was Christ of whom David the king was a type. Anointed and chosen when few gave him honour, persecuted and obliged to flee for his life – a man of sorrow all his life, and yet at length a conqueror: in all these things David represented Christ.
- It was Christ of whom all the prophets from Isaiah to Malachi spoke. They saw through a glass darkly. They sometimes dwelt on His sufferings, and sometimes on His glory that should follow. “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow.” (1 Peter 1:10–11, NIV) They did not always mark out for us the distinction between Christ’s first coming and Christ’s second coming. Like two candles in a straight line, one behind the other, they sometimes saw both the advents at the same time, and spoke of them in one breath. But Jesus dying, or Jesus reigning, was the thought you will ever find uppermost in their minds.
- It is Christ of whom the whole New Testament is full. The Gospels are “Christ” living, speaking, and moving among men. The Acts are “Christ” preached, published, and proclaimed. The Epistles are “Christ” written of, explained, and exalted.
All through, from first to last, there is one name above every other, and that is the name of Christ. If in our study of the Bible we can’t see “Christ is all”, we are like a man who studies the solar system and leaves out in his studies the sun, which is the centre of all. It is no wonder if you find your Bible a dull book!
“Christ is all” in the teachings of all true Christians on earth
I hold the absolute necessity of the election of God the Father, and the sanctification of God the Spirit, in order to effect the salvation of everyone that is saved. I hold that there is a perfect harmony and unison in the action of the three Persons of the Trinity, in bringing any man to glory, and that all three co-operate and work a joint work in his deliverance from sin and hell. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father is merciful, the Son is merciful, the Holy Ghost is merciful.
But I see clear proof in Scripture that it is the mind of the blessed Trinity that Christ should be prominently and distinctly exalted in the matter of saving souls.
- Christ is set forth as the “Word,” through whom God’s love to sinners is made known.
- Christ’s incarnation and atoning death on the cross are the great corner-stone on which the whole plan of salvation rests.
- Christ is the way and door, by which alone approaches to God are to be made.
- Christ is the root into which all elect sinners must be grafted.
- Christ is the only meeting-place between God and man, between heaven and earth, between the Holy Trinity and the poor sinful child of Adam.
- It is Christ whom God the Father has “sealed” and appointed to convey life to a dead world. (John vi. 27.)
- It is Christ to whom the Father has given a people to be brought to glory.
- It is Christ of whom the Spirit testifies, and to whom He always leads a soul for pardon and peace.
In short, it has “pleased the Father that in Christ all fulness should dwell.” (Colossians 1:19.)
What the sun is in the firmament of heaven, that Christ is in true Christianity.
In saying “Christ is all,” I do not mean to shut out the work of the Father and of the Spirit. Now let me show what I do mean.
Christ is all in a sinner’s justification before God.
Through Him alone we can have peace with a Holy God, By Him alone we can have admission into the presence of the Most High, and stand there without fear. “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 3:12, NIV)
“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—He did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:25–26, NIV)
We must come in the name of Jesus – standing on no other ground – pleading no other plea than this, “Christ died on the cross for the ungodly, and I trust in Him. Christ died for me, and I believe on Him.”
- The garment of our Elder Brother – the righteousness of Christ – this is the only robe which can cover us and enable us to stand in the light of heaven without shame.
- The name of Jesus is the only name by which we shall obtain an entrance through the gate of eternal glory. If we come to that gate in our own names, we are lost, we shall not be admitted, we shall knock in vain. If we come in the name of Jesus, it is a passport and Shibboleth, and we shall enter and live.
- The mark of the blood of Christ is the only mark that can save us from destruction. When the angels are separating the children of Adam in the last day, if we are not found marked with that atoning blood, we had better never have been born.
- Do you fear wrath? Christ can deliver you from the wrath to come.
- Do you feel the curse of a broken law? Christ can redeem you from the curse of the law.
- Do you feel far away? Christ has suffered, to bring you nigh to God.
- Do you feel unclean? Christ’s blood can cleanse all sin away.
- Do you feel imperfect? You shall be complete in Christ.
- Do you feel as if you were nothing? Christ shall be “all in all” to your soul.
Never did saint reach heaven with any tale but this, “I was washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14.)
“Christ is all” in a sinner’s sanctification
No man is ever holy till he comes to Christ and is united to Him.
No man can grow in holiness except he abides in Christ.
- Would you be holy? Then Christ is the manna you must daily eat, like Israel in the wilderness of old.
- Would you be holy? Then Christ must be the rock from which you must daily drink the living water.
- Would you be holy? Then you must be ever looking unto Jesus – looking at His cross, and learning fresh motives for a closer walk with God – looking at His example, and taking Him for your pattern.
- Looking at Him, you would become like Him.
- Looking at Him, your face would shine without your knowing it.
- Look less at yourself and more at Christ, and you will find besetting sins dropping off and leaving you, and your eyes enlightened more and more every day. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV)
- The true way to be strong is to realise our weakness and to feel that Christ must be all.
- The true way to grow in grace is to make use of Christ as a fountain for every minute’s necessities. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NIV)
“Christ is all” in a sinner’s comfort in time present
- A saved soul has many sorrows. He has his share of bereavements, deaths, disappointments, crosses. He has the world to oppose – a place in life to fill blamelessly – unconverted relatives to bear with patiently – persecutions to endure – and a death to die. And who is sufficient for these things?
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion…” (Philippians 2:1, NIV)
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV)
- Jesus knows exactly how to comfort His afflicted people.
- He knows how to pour in oil and wine into the wounds of the spirit
- He knows how to fill up gaps in empty hearts
- He knows how to speak a word in season to the weary
- He knows how to heal the broken heart
- He knows how to make all our bed in sickness
- He knows how to draw nigh when we are faint. “You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’ You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life.” (Lamentations 3:57–58, NIV)
- In all our afflictions He is afflicted. He knows our sorrows. In all our pain He is pained, and like the good Physician, He will not measure out to us one drop of sorrow too much. “If the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us, … the raging waters would have swept us away.” (Psalm 124:5, NIV)
“Christ is all” in a sinner’s hopes for times to come
- No living man but the real child of God – the sincere, thoroughgoing Christian – can give a reasonable account of the hope that is in him. No hope is reasonable which is not Scriptural.
- What is the hope of a true Christian? It is just this:
- Jesus Christ is coming again
- Jesus Christ coming without sin
- Jesus Christ is coming with all His people, coming to wipe away every tear
- Jesus Christ is coming to raise His sleeping saints from the grave
- Jesus Christ is coming to gather together all His family, that they may be for ever with Him.
For, “In just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.” (Hebrews 10:37, NIV)
“… we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:13, NIV)
- Now is the time of sowing – then the harvest. Now is the working season – then the wages. Now is the cross – then the crown. “My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation [hope] is from Him.” (Psalm 62:5, NKJV)
“Christ will be all” in heaven
- All men and women who reach heaven will find that even there also “Christ is all.”
“And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” (Revelation 5:6, NKJV)
- The praise of the Lord Jesus will be the eternal song of all the inhabitants of heaven. “They will say with a loud voice, saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honour and glory and blessing!’ And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honour and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:12–13, NKJV)
- The service of the Lord Jesus will be one eternal occupation of all the inhabitants of heaven. “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.” (Revelation 7:15, NKJV)
- The presence of Christ Himself shall be one everlasting enjoyment of the inhabitants of heaven. We shall “see His face,” and hear His voice, and speak with Him as friend with friend. “They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads”. (Revelation 22:4, NKJV)
- Sweet is the thought that whosoever may be wanting at the marriage supper, the Master Himself will be there. His presence will satisfy all our wants. “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” (Psalm 17:15, NKJV)
- But alas, how little fit for heaven are many who talk of “going to heaven” when they die, while they manifestly have no saving faith, and no real acquaintance with Christ. You give Christ no honour here. You have no communion with Him. You do not love Him. Alas! what could you do in heaven? It would be no place for you. Its joys would be no joys for you. Its happiness would be a happiness into which you could not enter. Its employments would be a weariness and a burden to your heart. Oh, repent and change before it be too late!
- I trust I have shown how deep are the foundations of that little expression, “Christ is all.”
- Christ ought to be all in a visible Church.
- Christ ought to be all in a ministry.
- Christ is: The High Priest, the Mediator, the Redeemer, the Saviour, the Advocate, the Shepherd, the Physician, the Bridegroom, the Head, the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Way, the Door, the Vine, the Rock, the Fountain, the Sun of Righteousness, the Forerunner, the Surety, the Captain, the Prince of Life, the Amen, the Almighty, the Author and Finisher of Faith, the Lamb of God, the King of Saints, the Wonderful, the Mighty God, the Counsellor, the Bishop of Souls – all these, and many more, are names given to Christ in Scripture. Each is a fountain of instruction and comfort for everyone who is willing to drink of it.
- We are useful so long as we exalt the great object of faith, but useful no further.
Let us learn the utter uselessness of a Christ-less religion:
- Some calling themselves Christians do not have any experimental knowledge of His offices and work, His blood, His righteousness, His mediation, His priesthood, His intercession. Such Christianity will never take them to heaven.
- All notions and theories about God being merciful without Christ, and excepting through Christ, are baseless delusions and empty fancies. The God of heaven has sealed and appointed Christ as the one only Saviour and way of life, and all who would be saved must be content to be saved by Him, or they will never be saved at all.
- Let us learn the folly of adding anything to Christ when it comes to salvation:
- It cannot be Christ and the Church
- It cannot be Christ and the sacraments
- It cannot be Christ and His ordained ministers
- It cannot be Christ and our own repentance
- It cannot be or Christ and our own goodness
- It cannot be Christ and our own prayers
- It cannot be Christ and our own sincerity and charity,
on which the salvation of our souls rest. If so, we are changing God’s plan of salvation into a plan of your own devising; we are in effect deposing Christ from His throne, by giving the glory due to Him to another. Whatever you may practically add to Christ when it comes to salvation, you do Christ an injury.
Let us learn that all who want to be saved should apply salvation directly to Christ:
- There are many who hear of Christ with the ear and believe all they are told about Him. They allow that there is no salvation excepting in Christ. They acknowledge that Jesus alone can deliver them from hell and present them faultless before God. But they seem never to get beyond this general acknowledgment. The world is their “all.” Politics are their “all.” Pleasure is their “all.” Business is their “all.” But Christ is not their all.
- It is not knowing and believing that Christ is a Saviour that can save your soul, unless there are actual transactions between you and Christ. You must be able to say, “Christ is my Saviour, because I have come to Him by faith, and taken Him for my own.”
- Tell Him you want to be saved and ask Him to save you. Rest not till you have actually tasted for yourself that the Lord is gracious. Do this and you shall find, sooner or later, if you are really in earnest, that “Christ is all.”
Let us learn to lean on Christ and trust Him far more than we have ever done yet:
- There are many of the Lord’s people who live far below their privileges!
- Take heed that you do not make a Christ of your faith. Rest not on your own faith, but on Christ.
- Thousands have no more religious feeling than a cat or dog. But oh, beware lest you make a Christ of your feelings and sensations! They are poor, uncertain things and sadly dependent on our bodies and outward circumstances. Rest only on Christ.
- Look more and more at the great object of faith, Jesus Christ, and to keep your mind dwelling on Him. He that would prove a skilful archer must not look at the arrow, but at the mark.
- Change your plan if your conscience tells you you are guilty: change your plan, and learn to trust Christ more. Physicians love to see patients coming to consult them: it is their office to receive the sickly and, if possible, to effect cures. And Christ loves His people to lean on Him, to rest in Him, to call on Him, to abide in Him.