For All Things Are Yours
May 29th, 1955
FOR ALL THINGS ARE YOURS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 3:21-22
5-29-55 10:50 a.m.
You’re listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled All Things Are Yours, and Ye Are Christ’s.
In our preaching through the Bible, we are in the third chapter of the first Corinthian letter. We left off last Sunday evening at the fifteenth verse. Now the message is from the concluding verses of that third chapter of the first Corinthian letter, and it reads like this. First Corinthians 3:21, 22, 23:
Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come – all are yours.
And ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
[1 Corinthians 3:21-23]
That’s our text. You can’t separate it. If you do, you do violence to the truth and the revelation of God. "For all things are yours . . . and ye are Christ’s," [1 Corinthians 3:21, 23], and the two must go together. All things are reckoned ours when we are Christ’s. But we cannot separate my text. They go immovably, irrevocably together. All things are yours if ye are Christ’s. If ye are Christ’s, all things are yours.
But I say you cannot separate it. For example, a family that I watched one time lived in penury and in poverty. All of the economic barriers that surround a poor home surrounded that home. Then one day came sudden affluence, wealth, riches, and it was as though an emancipator had said to that poor family, "The whole world lies before you. Behold, all things are yours!"
I know of a youth who grew up in a puritanical home interdicted on every side. "Don’t" here. "Don’t" there. Proscriptions and prescriptions surrounded the lad every day of his life. The pressure of the codes and the patterns of home and church pressed him on every side. Then one day he came of age and he snapped his bonds asunder as though a great liberator had said to him, "Look, the whole world lies before you. Behold, all things are yours!" But there’s a catch in it. There’s something the matter with it. That family I think of – so poor, so economically pressed, so suddenly affluent – came to live in misery and in wretchedness, and the youth who found himself suddenly liberated in his self-expression, in his freedom, made a wreck of his life.
Strange thing this complex human nature of ours. Just once again, the only way to express it is in those self-contradictory statements you find so many times in the Bible such as: "He that would save his life must lose it" [Luke 9:24]. So in my text this morning, he that would be free must first be a bondsman. He must first be a slave. Belong to Christ then all things are yours, but you can’t separate the text.
Paul in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans and the second verse says: "For the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free" [Romans 8:2] – no law, no commandments, no ritual, no ordinances, no anything – free. "For the Spirit of life in Christ has made me free:" liberty.
Yet he begins that same Book of Romans, Romans 1:1, with these words: "Paul, a doulos of Jesus Christ. Paul, a bondservant; Paul, a slave of the Lord Jesus." It’s like a mother. She is enthralled, bound by cables of iron and steel to that child. The child calls in the daytime, she’s there; in the nighttime, she’s there. She is the slave of that child. She’s in bondage. Then upon a day, the child dies, and she is free. No more calls. No more ministries in the early hours of the morning. She’s free, but this strange thing. That woman – she’s broken-hearted over her freedom. She is lost. She grieves over the chains that have been broken. Give her back her child. Give her back her bondage, and she will be herself again. She’ll be free again.
So I say, just one other of those strange contradictions by which you try to explain the complexities of life. To be free, you must be a slave. To be at liberty, you must be in bondage. To have the world, first you must belong to Christ [Matthew 6:24-34; Mark 10:28-31; Luke 18:28-30].
Now, let’s start. "For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come – all are yours. And ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s" [1 Corinthians 3:21-23]. Paul is a certified public accountant here, and he is reckoning the wealth that accrues to God’s man, to Christ’s man, and he lists it.
First of all he says, all Christian teachers and all interpreters of the Word of God, they are ours. Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, they belong to us [1 Corinthians 3:21-22]. Over here in the twelfth verse of the first chapter of the first Corinthian letter, there were some of them who were saying, "I belong to Paul" [1 Corinthians 1:12]. They were Paulites. And others were saying, "I belong to Apollos" [1 Corinthians 1:12]. They were Apollosites. And others were saying, "I belong to Cephas" [1 Corinthians 1:12]. And they were Cephasites. And Paul says, "You don’t belong to anybody except Christ [1 Corinthians 1:13-17]. You don’t belong to Paul. You don’t belong to Apollos. You don’t belong to Cephas. They belong to you. All teachers are yours. You belong to Christ; therefore you can lay unto tribute every teacher, every preacher, every expositor, every hymn-writer, every poet, every literary figure in the land: they all are yours." And that’s a wonderful thing.
These commentaries that I have in my study and all of those theological books that line the shelves there where I study, they’re all mine in Christ. Very few of them are Baptist – very, very few. Most of them belong to other faiths and other communions. That doesn’t make any difference. They’re still mine. And the treasures of their devotion and the glories of their interpretations, they’re all mine. As I read them, my soul grows and my mind grows and my heart grows. They’re all mine in Christ Jesus, every one of them.
It was in divine wisdom that the Lord when He wrote His New Testament He said, "Paul, then you write," and then "Cephas, you write," and then "John, you write," and then "Luke, you write." Or over there in the Old Testament, you have the princely, courtly city preacher Isaiah. He writes. And then you have that country man whose very words smell of the new cloud soil. You have Amos, and he writes. Isaiah writes like a courtier; Amos writes like a country preacher; and all of their treasures are ours in Christ Jesus – all of them, all of them. Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, they’re all ours in the Lord [1 Corinthians 3:21-22].
Then he says, "And the world is ours." And the world is ours. "All things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world," [1 Corinthians 3:21-22]. The world is ours – the whole world."
You know there’s a world that is sordid and seamy: this last week, two thugs fighting on the streets of Dallas over prostitution, knifing one another, and one almost destroyed. Isn’t that a terrible thing? There’s a world like that: pagan, heathen, dirty, bloody, black and dark, ruled over by the princes of vice. There’s a world like that, but that’s not God’s world. There’s another world: a glorious, glorious world – God’s world – and it’s all around us, and it’s ours [Romans 1:20]. It belongs to those who love God. The dawn in the morning and the sunset in the evening; the glorious firmament above us and the verdant meadows around us; the mountains and the prairies, the trees and the rivers, the birds and the flowers, beautiful art, glorious music, love and friendship and devotion – all of these, all of them are ours [1 Timothy 6:17]. They belong to us in God.
In this very pulpit where I now stand, Ellis Fuller, president of the Southern Seminary at Louisville, Kentucky – since gone to glory – Dr. Fuller preached one time here in this pulpit, and he told a story here I’ve never forgotten. He said – he was a South Carolinian – walking down the country road in South Carolina, he met a Negro woman. She was toting – and he called it something else. But when I asked him what that something was, he said they were pine knots that they used to burn in the fire. And there’s a name for pine knots that she was toting in a burlap sack, and he had a name for that burlap sack, and I can’t remember what that name was. But anyway it was all very colorful.
That Negro woman walking down the country road in South Carolina toting – and he used the word tote – toting a burlap sack full of pine knots. And he said, she was singing gloriously down that country lane. And the preacher said he stopped her and talked to her and he asked her, "How is it you can be so wonderfully happy and sing so marvelously and beautifully and you don’t have a thing in the world? Don’t have a thing; you have nothing at all."
And she looked at him and said, "Nothing at all? Why," she said, "the whole world is mine, the whole creation." She said, "It’s all mine. From that horizon to that horizon, everything you see is mine." And she added, "And the white man pays taxes on it."
I can just see that glorious woman. Everything was hers: hers to look at, hers to enjoy, hers to thank God for. And it brought to my mind this poem. Cleon: Cleon’s Possessions.
Cleon hath a million acres, not a one have I;
Cleon dwelleth in a palace, in a cottage I;
Cleon hath a dozen fortunes, not a penny I;
Yet the poorer of the twain is Cleon, not I.
Cleon, yes, possesses acres, but the landscape I;
All the charm to me it yieldeth money couldn’t buy.
Cleon harbors sloth and dullness, freshening vigor I;
He in velvet, I in rags, richer, richer am I.
Cleon is a slave to grandeur, free as thought am I;
Cleon is appalled at illness, strength and health have I;
Wealth-surrounded, care-environed, Cleon fears to die;
Death may come, he’ll find me ready – happier man am I.
Cleon sees no charm in nature, in a daisy I;
Cleon hears no anthems ringing in the sea and the sky;
Nature sings to me forever, earnest listener I;
State for state, with all attendants, who would change? Not I.
["Cleon and I," by Charles Mackay (1814-1889)]
All the world is mine. I don’t have a thing in the world but what You give me [James 1:17]. All things are yours – the world – and you’re Christ’s [1 Corinthians 3:21-22].
Well, he goes on: "All things are yours whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life." Life is ours in Christ: abundant life, overflowing life [John 10:10]. The Lord Jesus one time said: "Whosoever drinks of the water of this world," of this life, "shall thirst again" [from John 4:13].
Bobby Burns spake of it like this:
Pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, the bloom is shed;
Or as the snow falls on the river,
A moment white – and gone forever;
Or like the borealis race,
That flit, ere you can point their place;
Or like the rainbow’s lovely form
Vanishing amid the storm.
[From "Tom O’ Shanter," by Robert Burns, 1790]
"Whosoever drinks of the waters of this life shall thirst again" [John 4:13]. But our Lord added: "But whosoever shall drink of the water that I give him shall never thirst. But the water that I give him shall be in him a fountain of water springing up into life everlasting" [John 4:14].
And again: "For I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly" [John 10:10]. You haven’t begun to live till you live in God. You haven’t begun to see the glories that life can so fully and wonderfully crowd to overflowing into your heart and soul until you walk with the Savior on the glory road. Life is yours. Glorious life, triumphant life, eternal life, never-ending life: it is yours in Christ. "All things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life . . . they are yours and you’re Christ’s . . ." [1 Corinthians 3:21-23].
Then he adds: "And death" [1 Corinthians 3:22]. Death is ours. How strange a thing, Paul. When I read this Bible, sometimes I can hardly believe what my eyes look upon: "All things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death . . ." [1 Corinthians 3:21-22]. Death, death. Death is ours – ours.
How is it that death could belong to us? Into its open and ravenous mall do I see our people rushed and poured out. And yet, we, we possess death and not death possesses us. That’s what the Book says. That’s what my text reads. "All things are yours . . . death . . ." [1 Corinthians 3:21-22]. Death is yours.
Could it be like Paul said: "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is a gain"? [Philippians 1:21]. Could it be like Paul said again?
For the time of my departure is at hand.
I’ve fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me at that Day, and not to me only but unto all them also that love His appearing.
[2 Timothy 4:6-8]
Death. Death is ours. Could it be like Stephen when they stoned God’s first Christian martyr? [Acts 7:54-60] He lifted up his eyes and saw heaven open and Jesus standing at the right hand of glory [Acts 7:55-56]. Could it be that death really, death is ours? Oh, what a contradiction to this world.
Bertrand Russell one time wrote, "No fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling can preserve one individual life beyond the grave" ["A Free Man’s Worship," by Bertrand Russell, 1903].
From a poet:
The world rolls round forever like a mill;
It grinds out life and death and good and ill;
It has no purpose, no heart, no mind, or will.
Nay, doth it use man harshly, as he saith?
It grinds him some slow years of bitter breath,
Then grinds him back into eternal death.
[From The City of Dreadful Night, by James Thomson, 1874]
And another poet, equally as cynical, said:
From too much love of living,
From hope and fears set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives forever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere to the sea.
[From "The Garden of Proserpine," by Algernon Charles Swinburne, 1866]
Oh! What a view. What a way. What a philosophy. What a despair. What a darkness and what a grief! What a death. Paul says death is ours! [1 Corinthians 3:22] It’s ours – belongs to us. We don’t belong to it. All things are yours. Death – death is ours.
John Chrysostom, the incomparable golden-mouthed preacher in the early days of the Roman Empire in the Christian era, was threatened by the emperor of Rome. And as the preacher stood in the presence of the emperor, the emperor said, "I will banish you from the land."
The preacher replied, "The whole land belongs to my Father, and you can’t banish me from my Father’s house" [Psalm 50:10-12].
The emperor said, "I will confiscate all of your property."
And the golden-mouthed preacher said, "But my treasure is in heaven [Matthew 6:19-21]. You can’t touch it."
And the emperor said, "I will separate you from your friends."
And John the golden-mouth said, "But my Friend is in heaven, Christ Jesus" [Luke 22:69; John 15:15].
And the emperor said, "I will slay you."
And John Chrysostom replied, "That you cannot do. For my life is hid with Christ in God" [Colossians 3:3]. Ah, my soul: those Christian men, those Christian men.
In my reading this week, in my reading this week, I fell across one of those old Scotch reformers way back yonder years ago. His name was Andrew Melville, and the Earl of Wharton threatened him and he said, "If you don’t stop your preaching, if you don’t hush your saying, I’m going to hang you up and let you rot!"
And Melville laughed at him. He laughed and said, "Tush, tush, sir." He said, "Fatten your couriers with those words!" He said "It would matter not to me whether I rot in the air or whether I rot in the ground. You can’t hang God’s truth."
I think of Richard Baxter. He preached with such compassionate zeal. He labored so unfailingly and unfalteringly and so zealously among the people of his parish. He so gave himself to the ministry of the Word of God that when he grew sick, the people were surprised that so holy and godly and good a man should suffer so. When his parishioners would come to see him, so sick and in such agony and pain, he’d say to his people, "Don’t think the worst of religion because of what you see me suffer."
And one of the faithful men of the church came to see him on the day that he died, and the great preacher and pastor Baxter said, "I know I’m in great pain. I cannot argue against sense, but I have peace in my heart." And in a moment the blessed friend asked him, "Pastor, how’re you doing?" And the preacher replied, "Sir, I am almost well," and he fell asleep in Jesus.
You know, I think of that and about blind people. When they near the end of the way, they can almost see. Over there are two eyes.
I think of crippled people. Last night, I had a wedding here in the church in Miss Truett’s classroom and the best man was in a wheelchair. I asked the groom. I said, "Who is the lad?"
And the boy with a lot of feeling – he had to kind of get a hold of himself to talk to me without tears. He said, "Sir, he’s my best friend." He said, "Just last July we were playing baseball together." He said, "We went everywhere together, and he was strong like I am. And he had polio cut him down." "But," he said, "I wouldn’t have had my wedding without him. You don’t mind, do you, Preacher, ’cause these other fellows are here to take his wheelchair and set it up on the little platform?"
Paralyzed all together, all of his limbs, I put the ring on his finger. He couldn’t even move his finger. And when time came for the ring, I reached over from his wheelchair and took off the ring and gave it to the groom to give to his bride. And as I looked at the boy, I thought about glory. Death is ours. That’s our triumph. That’s when we get back again all that Satan and this life has robbed us of [Revelation 22:1-5]. He’ll be strong again in glory. The cripple shall walk again. The blind shall see again. The deaf shall hear again. The aged shall be young again, and we shall live again [1 Corinthians 15:54-58; Revelation 21:4]. Death, death, is ours in Christ Jesus.
Then Paul takes one look around. "All things are yours whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death" [1 Corinthians 3:22], and apparently he can’t think of anything else. Everything – all were ours. Then he just adds it all up. "And all things present and all things to come, they’re ours" [1 Corinthians 3:22]. They’re ours. As though he might have overlooked something, as though he might not have thought of something, then he just makes a great concluding sweep here and he says, "All things are yours . . . whether things present or things to come, they’re all yours in Christ – all are yours" [1 Corinthians 3:21-22].
Things present: they’re yours. The day – that’s yours. Let us rejoice in it and be glad [Psalm 118:24]. This is the day God hath made. This day is ours. And the evening is ours; and the nighttime is ours; and the stars are ours; and the firmament is ours; and the sunrise is ours; and all that we see, it’s ours. This church is ours; these services are ours; this glorious choir is ours; the gospel is ours; this Book is ours. All things present: they’re ours. They’re ours.
And things to come: they’re ours. The resurrection day, that’s ours [1 Corinthians 15:50-57]; and the rapture of the church, that’s ours [1 Thessalonians 4:13-17]; and the glorious return of the Lord, that’s ours [2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; 1 Peter 1:13]; and the millennial kingdom, that’s ours [Revelation 20:1-6]; and the beautiful city, that’s ours [Revelation 21:1-22:5]. The golden streets, they’re ours [Revelation 21:21]; the jaspered wall, they’re ours [Revelation 21:18]. All of the fellowship and the saintly, incomparably heavenly celestial things that only angels now enjoy, they’re ours [Luke 16:19-31]. They’re ours.
"All things are yours whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come" [1 Corinthians 3:22]. Whatever they are, they’re ours – all of yours. "And ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s" [1 Corinthians 3:23]. So what a faith. What a persuasion. What a commitment. What a fellowship. What a joy divine walking in the glory road, in the Jesus way, from this earth to the glory world that is yet to come.
Now, while we sing our song, while we sing our song, somebody you give your heart to the Lord. Into the aisle, down here to the front; stand by me.
On that radio, today, if you’d give your heart to the Lord, just bow your head where you are and say, "Lord, from now on, my soul, my life – all I have – I yield to Thee."
By that television – we’re a moment on it longer – listening to this program, watching this service, do you have Jesus as your Savior? Is He your hope in this life? In death? In the world to come? Are they yours – life and death and things to come?
Anybody you, trust in the Lord, putting your life in His hand, take Him today. It means life now [John 10:10] and life eternal [1 John 5:11-13]. While we sing this song, here in this auditorium, somebody you: "Here I come, Pastor. This day I’m trusting Jesus as my Savior," or "Here’s my family, Pastor. We’re coming into the fellowship of the church." One somebody you, a family you, while we sing the song, you come, while we stand and while we sing.
FOR ALL THINGS ARE YOURS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 3:3-6, 21-23
A. If we belong to Christ, the wealth that is reckoned to me
1. Text inseparable – only in Christ we have all things
2. If separatedâ€¦
a. Home in poverty, economically imprisoned; then affluence comes
b. Youth reared in strict home, grows up and lives in world without interdiction
c. Yet affluence is misery, the self-expression a wretched failure
B. Contradicting truth – he that would save his life must lose it(Luke 9:24, Galatians 5:1, Romans 8:8:2)
1. A mother and child
II. The wealth reckoned to us if we belong to Christ
A. All true teachers and ministers of Christ are ours(1 Corinthians 1:12)
1. We are not theirs; they are for our blessing, edification
B. The world
1. There is a pagan, worded world – but that’s not God’s world
2. Ellis Fuller
3. Poem, "Cleon and I"
C. Life(John 4:13-14, 10:10)
1. Poem, "Tam o’Shanter"
D. Death(Philippians 1:21, 2 Timothy 4:6-8)
1. Unbelieving philosophical world is appalled at death
a. Bertrand Russell
b. Poems of cynicism
2. But to the Christianâ€¦
a. John Chrysostom
c. Richard Baxter
E. Paul adds up all the blessings that belong to us
1. Things present(Romans 8:28)
2. Things to come(Luke 12:32)