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All things are yours

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All things are yours

1 Corinthians 3: 21b,22

All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.


all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.


παντα γαρ υμων εστιν 22 ειτε παυλος ειτε απολλως ειτε κηφας ειτε κοσμος ειτε ζωη ειτε θανατος ειτε ενεστωτα ειτε μελλοντα παντα υμων εστιν 23 υμεις δε χριστου χριστος δε θεου

I have a difficult task this evening. I want to mix in equal proportions a message of encouragement and criticism.

I do not doubt that some seeing the printed reading might have concluded that we are to study the divisions and difficulties that dogged the church at Corinth – and that may well dog the church at Bristol Road.

Most of you will know of my deep love for this place and its people – and some of you will know how I will always try to go out of my way to make it possible for me to share the word with you whenever there is an opportunity.

But this weekend has been hard for me.  I do not know all the things that have been happening here – and I do not regard it as my duty to meddle in the affairs of the local church – but, as I have said before – this is a kind of spiritual home for me – it was here I was married and ordained to the ministry. 

Such news of recent events as has reached me has troubled me – and I prayed much that the Lord would give me the right word for you.

Tonight I have to share the sharp side of the Word and the soft side of the Word – and both together.

The sharp side lies in the CONTEXT – the problems that Paul recognised at Corinth in the opening verses of this chapter.

The soft side lies in the AMAZING PROMISE of verses 21b – 23.

All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Peter or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

If we are to appropriate the promise we must absorb the criticism too – so that God may bring us all alike to a place of obedience and blessing.

Paul has been addressing the problems of the Corinthian Church. It must have grieved him greatly that they had become so preoccupied with new leaders and with different allegiances.

This was the problem first referred to in 1:11,12 – divisions and strife, and Paul returns to it again after a discourse on the Wisdom of God.

The verse we are taking as our text is really the climax of Paul’s criticism of their division – but it is striking because it contains so much more beside – and not a little encouragement and strength.

Paul sees the Corinthian need in FIVE ways:

(a)    They are spiritually immature         v1

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ.

How sad that must have made him.  Having devoted so much time to their growth and development.

The partisan spirit that was at work in the folk at Corinth was evidence of their INFANCY.   Their growth has been stunted. 

(b)    They are wordly – not spiritual               v3

You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

These two criticisms go together.

Paul condemns them because of the strong currents of envy and jealousy, strife and dissension that mark them out.

It’s a feature of immature behaviour isn’t it?

Clearly they had not grown up in Christ as they should.

(c)    They have forgotten that it is GOD at work in His church  vv 5-9

5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labour. 9 For we are God’s fellow-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Paul who could have majored on his own part in establishing the Corinthian church emphasises that aspect of spiritual life which they seem to have missed – the DIVERSITY of ministries that must be at work within the fellowship.

These things are most clearly seen when we understand that the work of God is at stake at Corinth – and here – not our work, or Paul’s or Apollos’ or Peter’s.  That misses the point which concentrates on the servant and fails to recognise what the MASTER is saying and doing.

What does God do?

“assigns to each his task”   v5


“made it grow”  v6


“ONLY God made it grow”  v7


Provides the “one purpose” of verse 8


God works WITH us – we are HIS FIELD    HIS BUILDING  v9

(d)    They have misunderstood the PROCESS BY WHICH THE CHURCH GROWS vv10-15

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

Paul invokes DIVINE PLANNING LAWS and DIVINE BUILDING REGULATIONS – he reminds them that all that we do as workers for God is SUBJECT TO EXAMINATION – in fact a test to destruction.

He does not explain the merits of the widely differing BUILDING MATERIALS used



costly stones




in stead he reminds them that these will be tested – and WHAT SURVIVES THE TEST will produce a reward.

It is not SALVATION that is at risk – but lasting work done for Christ Himself. (15)

And, lastly:

(e)    They have forgotten that the church is made up of INDIVIDUALS who are God’s temple     3:16,17

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

Paul sets out a reminder that the Church is made of INDIVIDUAL BELIEVERS who are themselves THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

He warns against the judgement that awaits those who HARM or DESTROY GOD’S TEMPLE.

We have a responsibility for our own spiritual worship –


And we have a responsibility for how we treat other individuals in the church.


I have never forgotten the stern words of Jesus to His disciples when talking about the way that young people may be offended:


42 “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. 

                                                                    MARK 9 v 42

That is a solemn responsibility to those who lead or exercise ministry.

But - against that background of CRITICISM Paul sets out the PROMISE:

all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.


What a glorious, triumphant statement!

He offers us       The greater View

                        The grander perspective

                        The glorious inheritance


In     a variety of Ministries

        a variety of circumstances

        a variety of surroundings

              A Variety of Working

              A Single Allegiance

              A Wonderful Security


whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come



Life is not a simple, singular experience: it is full of great variety and challenge and change.

So it is in the Spiritual Life – Yet that is not how we often view it.

It is full of variety and challenge and change.

Those are the very things God uses to mould us into the likeness of His Son.


whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas,

(Now there’s a shortlist for any pastorate) 




Variety in ministry.  Each with a different emphasis and ministry, and an individual part in the whole :




This should make us ask whether we do indeed use and exploit the variety of ministries around us. Whether our diet is varied and suitable to growth, and whether we have specialised in one aspect of Spiritual work to the detriment of others that God supplies.

Whether we unrealistically expect that all those gifts will be found in one person – or one role view of ministry.



or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come


It is interesting that these three strands do provide a remarkable challenge to the growth and development of the spiritual life:

WORLD     an opportunity for temptation and for purity

                the challenge of compromise and worldliness

LIFE          the challenge of a yet unfulfilled ministry of our own

DEATH      the often undiscussed but ever present challenge that

                things come to an end and do not always continue


“you are Christ’s”


This is the central core – the main thread of our Spiritual life: we are His!

Whilst we may benefit from many ministries, and a variety of circumstances and situations,  we must recognise that one central ALLEGIANCE.

On the one hand ALL THINGS ARE YOURS – we are to revel in the diversity and strength of God’s promises – but we are to wonder more at our ONE BELONGING

You belong to no human leader – you belong to Christ.

In all the rich tapestry of spiritual and everyday life are we really aware of that central belonging?

Not to a fellowship however special – but to Christ.

We are NOTHING apart from this truth.

No matter who we follow, or which doctrine we espouse – the supreme truth is our belonging to Christ.

We have NOTHING apart from Him.

“All things are yours … you are Christ’s”

31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

                                                                                ROMANS 8 v 31,32

Like the apostle himself we value the freedom which knowing Christ brings – but all that freedom and ministry and entitlement is to be brought to HIM through whom we have all things.

We live in a world of multiple allegiances :  family, employment, interests, views, persuasions – even doctrinal views : but our text reminds us that we have but ONE ALLEGIANCE and that is to our Lord Himself.

3.  A WONDERFUL SECURITY    “and Christ is God’s”

We cannot escape this – it is stated and restated.   This is Paul’s restatement of His Lord’s words in JOHN 10 –

JOHN 10 27~

27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no-one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

A very dear friend of mine who has since passed into glory used to constantly remind us in his congregation of this truth.

He would say, holding something in his one hand:  “No one can snatch them out of my hand”  and then surround that hand with his other hand “I and my Father are one”

It was a simple demonstration.

“His for ever, only His;

Who the Lord and me shall part?

Ah with what a rest of bliss

Christ can fill the loving heart! …


I am His and He is mine.”


So we survey the landscape of the Christian life. So often dominated by change or by weakness.  

We reflect on the range of experiences – and the different ministries and indeed ministers that have influenced us in our way – but when all is said and done Paul’s words for the Corinthians will suffice for us.

-         A variety of working

-         A single allegiance

-         A wonderful security

all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

Are we content with that?

To rejoice in the variety of his provision?

To own it more important to belong to Him than to hold to our own persuasions?

To find in Christ all that our hearts need – and most of all to know Him by whom we have all things, and that we are secure in Him and in the Father?

Yes you have it ALL – but YOU are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.

The Belonging is more important than the having.

I beg you to put that central in your lives individually and together.

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