All are yours

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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 Cor. 3:21-23

In Romans 8:38-39, the apostle Paul gives us a similar list of things to show us that nothing can separate the elect from the love of Christ. In that list, things such as life and death and things present and things to come are presented as potential threats to the welfare of the Christian, things which might separate us if we were not held by God's omnipotent grace and love.

But in this list, these are things that are ours. They are not presented as potential threats but as the present and future heritage of the believer. How do we reconcile these two passages? How can that which can be against us be something to be celebrated as belonging to us?

I think the key is Romans 8:28, where the apostle reminds us: "For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." The "all things" that work for our good are not always good in themselves. Life can be brutal at times and death is the ultimate fruit of sin. Things present can come pressing upon us with the terrible weight of suffering and things to come awake us from a peaceful calm into a feeling of crushing anxiety. But what the apostle is reminding us, both in Romans 8:28 and in 1 Cor. 3:21-23, is that God is working all these things for our good and so in that sense they are indeed ours.

The reason they are ours, and the reason why we are more than conquerors is because of him that loves us (Rom. 8:37), because "ye are Christ's." It is because we belong to him that our future is unassailably great and glorious. In dying and then rising from the dead for our sins, Christ has conquered all and we conquer in him.

On the other hand, there is nothing that man apart from Christ can give us that has any such lasting value. The wisdom of men will perish and pass away. What is valued by this world is temporary at best. But what is of God will last forever. "And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever" (1 Jn. 2:17). Let us therefore not "glory in men." Rather, let us rejoice and glory in the one who gives us all things, and who will turn even our enemies into our servants in the age to come.

By: Jeremiah Bass