Where Christ Is All in All
October 6th, 1957 @ 7:30 PM
WHERE CHRIST IS ALL IN ALL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-6-57 7:30 p.m.
Now if we’re any humor to do so, let’s turn to the Bible – preaching through the Book of Colossians: the third chapter of the Book of Colossians – Colossians 3. Now we left off at the eighth verse, so tonight we begin at the ninth verse, and let’s read to the end of the chapter – all of us. The text is going to be the eleventh and the twenty-fourth verses in the third chapter of the Book of Colossians.
Now, do we have it? And if your neighbor didn’t bring his Bible, you share it with him. The third chapter of Colossians beginning at the ninth verse, and let’s read to the end of the chapter. Colossians 3:9 – all right, all of us together:
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds,
And have put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him,
Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
And 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.
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives and be not bitter against them.
Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as menpleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men;
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ.
But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done, and there is no respect of persons.
Our text is the eleventh verse: "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision" – that is, Jew or Gentile – "barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all and in all" [Colossians 3:11]. And the text is followed by a "therefore" [Colossians 3:12]. And the summation of all you have read is in the twenty-fourth verse: "Therefore serve ye the Lord Christ." In our text it is translated as an indicative: "For ye serve the Lord Christ" [Colossians 3:24] – a declaration which is true, but it also can be translated an imperative: "Serve ye the Lord Christ."
So that is our text: "There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all and in all" [Colossians 3:11]. This is a most meaningful and precious little text. It has such a vast, expansive meaning. In fact, how could one preach on that and encompass it within any allotted time? "Christ is all and in all" [Colossians 3:11]. Sometimes, you can look upon a jewel, and the worth of it is the price of empires though you could carry it in your hand, hold it in the palm of your hand. So a text like this: "Christ is all and in all" [Colossians 3:11]. In all history, in all time, in all eternity, in all the plan and revelation of God, in all angelic tongue and language, in speech, "Christ is all and in all."
Now, the apostle does not say that Christ is all and in all to all men. He merely makes this avowal as an inspired prophet of God that in Him there’s not Jew, there’s not Greek, there’s not barbarian, there’s not provincial, there’s not Scythian, there’s not bond, there’s not free, but Christ is everything. "Christ is all and in all" [Colossians 3:11].
Now, there are some to whom Christ is nothing at all. The only mention they make of Him is in blasphemy. They may name Him in an oath. They may use Him as a curse word. To them, Christ is nothing at all. They sense no need of an atoning savior. They are altogether outside and beyond the pale of what we love and what interests us. If they were here tonight instead of at the fair, if they were here tonight instead of at the TV, they’d sit here and listen to the service going away saying, "What a weariness it is."
There are those, I say, to whom Christ is nothing at all. When you think of the future when He shall come in His glory [Matthew 16:27], when He shall judge the quick and the dead [2 Timothy 4:1; 1 Peter 4:5], what an awful and a terrible thing to die without God, without Christ, without hope, without mercy, without advocate, without mediator, without intercessor – to die and to be lost, to fall into the flames of hell and damnation! [2 Thessalonians 1:9-10; Revelation 20:11-15] Just to think of it is almost a call to prayer.
We ought to pause right now and pray for those who face the awful judgment of God, who in prospect and in destiny can look forward to nothing but "a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation that shall devour the adversaries" [Hebrews 10:27]. The man without Christ is lost. The man without Christ is damned. The man without Christ faces an eternal judgment. It is hell. It is perdition. It is the most horror of all horrors that one could conceive or think of; and yet, there are those who spurn the overtures of mercy, who do despite to the Spirit of grace, who trample underfoot the blood of the covenant [Hebrews 10:29]. To them, Christ is nothing at all.
There are those to whom Christ is something but not much. This thing of the judgment day of God, of death and of damnation, scares them to death. They are filled with fright at the prospect of dying, so they seek a palliative. They seek an amelioration. They seek a refuge of some kind for their fearful and frightened souls. So they find, if they can, a faith and a religion that shall deliver their souls from hell using Christ as a deliverance, but for nothing more. He means something to them but not much. To them, the world is everything: its pace, its pleasure, its embellishments, its rewards – enjoying it to the full, in it, a part of it, but at the same time afraid to die, afraid to meet God, afraid of the fires of hell and of judgment.
So they seek for the moment a respite in Christ, and it is very interesting to me to see how they do it. They will observe Good Friday. They will observe Lent. They will have certain special days, certain things through which they go through. These they hope to deliver their souls from damnation. But to them, Christ is nothing but just that. On a certain day, He’s to be revered. On a certain occasion, He’s to be respected. At a certain place, He is to be worshiped. But beyond that and beside that, He is nothing, nothing at all.
I think one of the truest parables of that kind of religion I ever heard is this. Two robbers had held up a bank, and in seizing the money that belonged to the people, in their escape, they had shot the banker and left him dead in blood. They were seated in their escape in a little place eating lunch, and suddenly one of them said, "Wait!" And he pushed back the meat and added, "This is Friday. I had forgot." Christ is something but not much.
There are those to whom Christ is a mistaken social and political philosophy. I meet it here in this text. How many times have I heard it so quoted: "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all and in all" [Colossians 3:11]. There are those who take this text and warp it to a false and mistaken social and sociological and political and economic and ecclesiastical ideal. They say, "This means away with all demarcations – no longer national pride and patriotism, no longer church and churches. All of us are to be in one government. All of us are to be in one state. All of us are to be in one church. All of us are to be in one world." And they work by day and by night, by compromise, by false propaganda, by ever insidious insinuation, to undermine and to outline for the whole world these great political concepts that they think are in Christ.
Well, Paul was a Jew, and he gloried in his forefathers. He said in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans that the Jew would be here until Jesus came again and that at His appearing, iniquity would be turned away from Jacob. "Out of Zion shall come a Deliverer and all Israel shall be saved" [Romans 11:26]. The Jew’s still here, the nation of the Jew, and he was proud to belong to them [Romans 9:1-5]. Paul was proud of his Roman citizenship, and he claimed it upon occasion after occasion. Proudly did he say, "But I was freeborn" [Acts 22:24-29].
What Paul means by this is that the Christ-man is elevated and sanctified to a new spiritual level that enhances and makes sacred all of the relationships in life. I can be a good Christian Canadian, loyal to my state, and proud of my country. I can be a faithful, loyal American citizen, proud of my country and faithful to its great destiny. I, if I were so born, I could be a faithful and loyal Englishman or Frenchman or Italian. These things to which we commit ourselves in Christ do not at all mean that therefore all of the distinctions by which we live in this life are to be automatically wiped away. Not so.
I think an African can be proud of the fact that he is an African. I think these separate nationalities that meet in the UN, though they may represent small countries, they can be proud to say, "I am a citizen of Holland. I am a citizen of Norway. I am a citizen of Pakistan. I am a citizen of South Africa. I am a citizen of the British Commonwealth. I am a citizen of the United States of America." At the same time, he can be a Christian citizen not dedicated to war and to hate and to malice and to strife and to tension but dedicated to the great ideals as we have them and are taught them and know them in Christ Jesus where Christ is all in all [Colossians 3:11].
There are those to whom Christ is all in all in some things. For example, there are people who are anxious to look upon Jesus as the justifier of their souls, the savior of their souls, but they think of their perseverance as a thing of themselves. They look upon Christ as the only One who could forgive sins, but they look upon themselves as being the instruments by which that grace is mediated to them and is kept by them. That is, Christ is all in all in some of this, but He’s not all in all in all of this. Their salvation is not all of Christ. It is also some of them. Christ was everything, dying on the cross, justifying our souls, forgiving our sins, but in our deliverance to God, there is also me in it, of me in it, my work in it.
For example, some say so frequently, "I believe in Jesus – that He’s all that He said He was, able to do all that He promised, but I don’t feel that I ought to come. I don’t feel that I ought to respond. I don’t feel that I ought to be down at that aisle." I see. I begin to understand. It is Christ as a savior, as a forgiver, as a justifier, but I see there must be also your feeling in it. The work of Christ was not finished. It must also be added to by your feeling. I see.
Or you will say, "I don’t believe I have the right penitence. I must somehow mourn and feel these things on my heart." I see. I understand. We are to add to the unfinished work of Christ your penitence and your mourning, your praying. I see.
Oh you say, "I see Jesus as Savior and Lord, forgiving sins and justifying the soul." I see. "But I must also straighten things up before I come. I have to do these things before I would stand up for them." I see. I understand. You must add to the unfinished work of Christ what you can do. I understand. He isn’t all in all.
My sinner friend, which is I and you [Romans 3:23] – to us sinners, we are all emptiness. Christ is the fullness [Romans 10:4; Colossians 2:9-11]. We are all filthiness and dirtiness [Isaiah 64:6]. Christ is all cleansing [1 John 1:7]. We are all feeble and weak and mistaken, and He is strong and able and mighty [Romans 14:4, 16:25; 1 Corinthians 10:13]. There is in no sense in any wise where Christ has failed and we must take up and carry on. Our salvation in the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last [Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13] – our salvation is Christ [Acts 4:12]: Christ who initiates it [John 15:16], Christ who mediates it [1 Timothy 2:5], Christ who gives it [Titus 3:4-6], and Christ who keeps us in that faith and in that way [Jude 1:24].
All of Christ, not anything of us – not anything that we could do, not anything we could give, not anything we could buy where Christ is all in all [Galatians 2:21; Colossians 3:11]. When we get to heaven and sing these songs of Zion [Psalm 137:3], it will not be, "All glory to Christ and to my good works. All glory to Christ and to my prayers. All glory to Christ and to the way that I felt. Oh, glory to Christ and to my penitence."
No, but it shall be: "All glory to Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His blood. To Him be glory and honor, world without end, where Christ is all in all."
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and give not all glory to Him, I am nothing. Though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I can remove mountains and give not all glory to Him, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned and give not all glory to Him, I am nothing [from 1 Corinthians 13:1-3].
"Where Christ is all and in all" [Colossians 3:11]. Thank the Lord there are many to whom He is just that – everything. He’s our righteousness [2 Corinthians 5:21]. He’s our intercession [Romans 8:34]. He’s our praying [Hebrews 7:25]. He’s our mediator [1 Timothy 2:5]. He’s our strong keeper and preserver [John 10:27-30; Hebrews 7:25, 10:14]. He’s our guide [John 10:27] and defender [Romans 8:33-34]; trusting in Him, all in all, our Lord Christ.
How do I know I won’t fall into hell – live in the hope of Jesus for sixty-nine years then in my seventieth year fall into hell? How do I know I won’t? Trust in the Lord for the days of my life since I was a boy then in my age fall into damnation. How do I know I will not?
Bless your heart, I never think of it. He said, "Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out" [John 6:37]. He said, "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish" [John 10:28]. He said, "No one is able to pluck them out of My hand. My Father, who gave them Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand" [John 10:28-29]. He said that whosoever trusts in Him "should never perish but have everlasting eternal life" [John 3:16].
I never think about it. When I get to be an old man and face that final and inevitable hour, I don’t look upon it any different than I do at this present moment. I trusted Jesus when I was a boy. I trust Jesus tonight. I’m trusting Him to the end of the way"where Christ is all and in all" [Colossians 3:11].
Now, in the little moment that remains, he follows it with a therefore: "Where Christ is all and in all, therefore" [Colossians 3:11-12] – then is that long passage that we read together – "Therefore" [Colossians 3:12] – and he sums it up in that twenty-fourth verse: "Therefore serve ye the Lord Christ" [Colossians 3:24]. We are to serve the Lord Christ in the common, everyday acts of our life in the kitchen, out in the office, on the playground, walking down the street. We’re to preach sermons for Jesus everywhere.
Let me tell you something. It is a vicious thing, and it is not according to the Word of God. It is a fearful and tragic thing when our people fall into the habit of saying, "This is sacred, and this isn’t. This is religious; this is secular. This is a special and holy day or season; this is an open day and an open season."
To the Christian, everything in life is of God, and we live and move and have our being in the divine presence [Acts 17:28]. When a man puts on his work clothes, they are the vestments of the Lord. When we sit down to eat, it’s a sacrament of God. When we breathe, it’s an incense of prayer. When we walk, it’s in the presence of the Lord. Our whole life is ennobled by the grandest conception the earth has ever seen: that a man lives his life unto God [1 Corinthians 10:31]. He may toil, but he’s serving Jesus. The galley slave may tug at the oars, but he’s pulling for Jesus – all of life dedicated to Him.
"Where Christ is all in all . . . serve ye therefore the Lord" [Colossians 3:11, 24]. We’re to serve Him in His church, in the common acts of everyday life – sweeping, washing, working, coming, going – and we’re to serve Him in His church. All of us have a part [1 Corinthians 12:7].
I have seldom been encouraged more than I was last week. I wrote in my "Pastor’s Pen": "We can’t all stand up and preach like Paul or sing like an angel, but all of us have our gifts from God." And I said in that little passage, "We need a bus driver for the Good Shepherd department. Is there somebody that would drive a bus for Jesus?" And bless your heart, the next week, I saw the leader/superintendent of our Good Shepherd department, and he said, "Pastor, you know that little thing you wrote in your ‘Pastor’s Pen’?" He said, "We just got the finest fellow." I don’t suppose he could preach – I don’t know who he is yet – and I don’t know whether he could sing like these glorious testifiers here tonight, but he could drive a bus. He could drive a truck, and he could drive it for Jesus.
Maybe all I could do is to open a window for God. There is a way to open a door so as to glorify the Lord. Did you know that? There is a way to show somebody a seat in the auditorium so as to open his heart to the message of the preacher. There is a way just to shake hands with a fellow. There’s a way just to park a car. There’s a way just to point to the road that glorifies God. God has His preachers, and God has His evangelists and His apostles [Ephesians 4:11-13], I know, but He also has His door openers and His car parkers and His bus drivers and His hand-shakers – all for God.
Then, we ought to serve the Lord Christ all in all: "Therefore serve ye the Lord Christ" [Colossians 3:24]. We ought to serve Him personally. Oh, organized religion is a condescension to the flesh. Some of these days, there won’t be any organized religion. It’s because of the world that we’re in that we have it. We have to have it. But the essence of true religion is always this: it’s between you and Jesus. It’s a personal thing – serving Him, communing with Him, talking to the Lord, adoring Him, letting Him speak to you, and you speak to Him.
Martha, Martha, busy about many things, but Mary, seated at His feet, just listening to Jesus [Luke 10:38-42]. "And a woman stood up and said, ‘Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which Thou hast sucked!’" [Luke 11:27] I suppose the greatest gift that could have come to any woman would be to minister to Jesus in His childhood. But what did the Lord say? "Nay, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and do it!" [Luke 11:28]
Listening to Jesus, seated at His feet, filling your heart with His words, serving Him, extolling Him, praising Him, bearing His reproach [Hebrews 11:24-27], outside the camp with Him [Hebrews 13:12-13], drinking the cup that He drank [Matthew 20:22-23, 26:36-46], baptized with the baptism He was baptized with [Mark 10:37-40].
While we sing our song tonight, somebody you, give his heart to the Lord. Would you come and stand by me? A family you, put your life with us in the church. While we make this appeal, would you come and stand by me? In this balcony around, down these stairwells, "Here I come, pastor, and here I am." In this great throng of people on this lower floor, somebody you, give his heart to the Lord. "Pastor, I give you my hand. I give my heart to Jesus," or putting your life with us in the church. While we sing this hymn, into that aisle or down that stairwell here to the front, "Here I come, pastor, and here I am." Make it now while God is here. The Spirit calls while we stand and sing.
WHEN CHRIST IS ALL IN ALL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Most meaningful and precious little text(Colossians 3:11)
B. Who can compress "all things" into a sermon?
II. Paul does not say that Christ is all in all to all men
A. Some to whom Christ is nothing
1. Sense no need of an atoning Savior
B. Some to whom Christ is something, but not much
1. Fear death, judgment;so seek to use Christ just as a deliverance
C. Some to whom Christ is a mistaken social and political philosophy(Colossians 3:11)
1. Paul gloried in being a Jew, and was proud of his Roman citizenship(Romans 11:26)
2. The Christ-man is raised to a new spiritual level that sanctifies him and all he does
D. Some to whom Christ is all in all in some things
1. Some of Christ, some of self(1 Corinthians 13)
E. Some to whom Christ is all in all(John 3:16, 6:37, 10:28-29)
III. Therefore serve ye the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:12, 24)
A. In the common acts of life
B. In His church
C. Personally(Luke 11:27-28)