One sure test of whether or not the true gospel is preached is to examine the place given to Christ in that preaching. The trumpet of the true gospel sounds no uncertain sound, but rings with a clear note, Christ is ALL! The gospel may be summed in one word, "Christ" (1 Cor. 1:23). His messengers know but one message: "That in all things He might have the preeminence" (Col. 1:18). His people have one desire: "that I may know Him" (Phil. 3:10). The wealth they seek is found in "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph. 3:8). Their glory is His cross (Gal. 6:14). Their rest is found in Him who "is our peace" (Eph. 2:14). The life they want is "Christ, who is our life" (Col. 3:4). Their wisdom is Christ, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3). And they are "complete in Him" (Col. 2:10)
Our text says, "of Him... are all things." We may understand this part of the passage to mean that all things proceed from Him, that He is the first cause of all events.
Before there was ever a sinner there was a Savior, He was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world"(Rev. 13:8). Then in "due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6). Our sin necessitated the spilling of blood for "without the shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb. 9:22) All the blood sacrifices that have been made by mortal men were of no avail "for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins" (Heb. 10:4). But Christ has offered Himself up for sinners, the just for the unjust, "in whom we have redemption through His blood" (Col. 1:14). Reconciliation is our need. We are reconciled to God by Him (Col. 1:20-22). We read that "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11:6). And we also find that the "Author and Finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2) is Christ.
Then we look again at our text and read, "through Him... are all things". We understand that all things proceed from Him as the eternal God and in like fashion, all blessings, from the Father to men, proceed through Him as the eternal Son (Eph. 1:3). The elect of God are considered in Christ, and only in Christ. Apart from Him we have no election (Eph. 1:4). There is no adoption of sons except in Christ (Eph. 3:11). We have tasted of the kindness of the Father, but all of that kindness has come to us "through Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7). Even now our access to the father is "through Him" (Eph. 2:18). The gift of His indwelling Spirit is ours only in Him (Eph. 1:13, 2:22). God's eternal purpose is made known in the Son (Eph. 3:11). And if we would know the Father, we must know the Son, for He is "the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9), and the "express image of His person" (Heb. 1:3).
Lastly, we read: "and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever." One thing is certain and that is that the Lord shall have glory from every event, every creature, and every object under heaven, in heaven, above the heavens and even in the pit of hell. He said, "I will not give my glory to another" (Isa. 48:11). For all things were created "for Him" (Col 1:16). Old John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim's Progress) said, "Whether to heaven or hell you bend, God will have glory in the end." Knowing this as a certainty, we plead with those who are rebels, against Christ's kingdom, to throw down their arms of rebellion and fall at His feet. Your rebellion cannot hinder this mighty Lord of Glory, all that you against Him is but to heighten and hasten your condemnation. Even the wrath of men shall praise Him (Ps. 76:10). It is simply a matter of time until “every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:10, 11). There is a sweet savor of eternal life to those who bow at His feet now, but nothing but the bitter taste of eternal doom to those who continue their rebellion and are forced into submission in the final day.
My friend, what is your hope of eternal life? Your mortality certainly is no ground for such hope, because outside of Christ all men have immoral hearts. Your supposed obedience to the commandments of God holds forth no hope, "for whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (Jas. 2:10). Your religion and 'faithful' service, even works done in Christ's name will not secure for you a lasting hope, for He has said, "Many shall say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in thy name have done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Mat. 7:22, 23). Even to blindly hope in the mercy God apart from looking to Christ is also to perish, for it is only through Christ and in Christ that His eternal mercy comes to men.
There is only one sure hope of eternal life and that is to be vitally united to the Son of the Living God. So that we are in Christ and Christ is in us. The blessed mystery of the gospel is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (1 Jn. 5:11, 12). So, my friend the important question is not: 'Have you made a decision to be saved?' or 'Do you believe certain things?' but the important question as we stand poised on the brink of eternity is 'Do you have Christ?' All other ground is sinking sand.
I am not one of God's elect because of something good God saw in me. There never was, is not now, and never will be any good in our flesh.
I am not one of God's elect because of something God saw that I would do. Left to my own will, I would have continued in darkness and even now would depart from God. It is no surprise to me when professors of faith fail and fall... it is rather a miracle of grace that any stand.
"Ah, Lord with such a heart as mine"
Unless you hold me fast;
I fell I must, I shall decline,
And prove like them at last."
I am not one of God's elect because God needed me. It disturbs me when we leave the impression with any son of Adam that God, the kingdom of God, or the church of the Lord Jesus Christ can profit in any way from his presence, influence or gifts. We are receivers, beggars, and empty-handed... "What hast thou that thou didst not receive? By the grace of God I am what I am. Twas His grace that set me apart in covenant mercies, twas His grace that made me an object of distinguishing love, twas His grace that laid hold of me in the pit and brought me to Christ, and if it is my lot to continue in the faith, to grow in faith and love, to die in hope and be resurrected in glory... it will be ALL OF GRACE!
"Here I raise mine ebenezer,
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope by thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home."
Henry Mahan, Pastor (1978)
13th Street Baptist Church, Ashland, KY>